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Five Zoom Hacks For Your Virtual Meetings

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Work From Home has become the default arrangement for many employees across the globe. In the spirit of staying home and staying safe, our ability to meet friends and colleagues face-to-face has been limited. Now that we’re advised not to gather in person, video meetings and virtual hangouts on platforms like Zoom are the next best thing, whether it’s for work, school, or fun!

With these Zoom hacks, your virtual video meetings might very well be even better than boring, old in-person conferences.

  1. Hide your messy room with a background

In such distressing times, not everyone’s got their act together a hundred percent. If moving all your messy items on short notice has left mayhem in its wake, Zoom’s Virtual Backgrounds let you easily hide your mess from fellow participants without spending hours dealing with it.

It’s convenient, too. Zoom swaps out your IRL background for preset ones like a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge or a view of outer space. You can even set your own backgrounds for humorous effect – perfect for a moment of levity.

  1. Touch up your appearance without any makeup

Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you show up to work looking all scruffy. But if this Circuit Breaker is the perfect time for you to go #bareface and recuperate from your relentless makeup routine, Zoom has got you covered.

Take a quick tour of the settings, and you’ll find “Touch up my appearance” in the settings. It isn’t perfect, though.

  1. Split the meeting into smaller breakout rooms

Bigger isn’t always better, and that’s especially true for meetings. To avoid muted mics and awkward nodding, Zoom hosts can split large meetings into breakout rooms. 

Participants can be automatically split into a set number of rooms randomly, or be manually assigned by the host. This feature isn’t enabled by default and requires you to access the advanced settings.

To enable: Settings > General > View More Settings (which will open a new browser window and prompt you to sign in) > In Meeting (Advanced) > Breakout Room

  1. Quickly invite contacts from your email address book

In real life, roping in participants in a meeting can be as easy as spinning around and calling for them. However, with all the tech involved, online meetings can be more of a hassle. 

On Zoom, you’re able to quickly invite email contacts to join in your video meeting with a simple keyboard shortcut. If your Zoom account isn’t connected with your email, you can obtain a simple link that will allow participants to join in without the need for any downloads, installs, or sign-ups.

To enable: In a video call, simply press ⌘Cmd + I (Mac) or Alt + I (PC) to invite a participant from your contacts list.

  1. Allow Annotations

Sometimes, a visual aid is necessary to convey complex ideas. Like many other video calling services, Zoom supports screen sharing, but it goes the extra mile. 

Meeting participants are able to concurrently annotate screen shares or a blank whiteboard, and you can choose to share an entire screen, a specific app window, or even a crop of your screen.

To enable: Settings > General > View More Settings (which will open a new browser window and prompt you to sign in) > In Meeting (Basic) > Annotation/Whiteboard

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Design

Five Ways On How To Transform Your House Into A Smart Home

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There are no specific requirements to make your smart home, well smart. Installing one or more different smart devices into your home would categorize your home as a smart home. You can make your home as smart as you want it to be. There are many different devices that can be installed to enhance your home living.

  1. Choose your smart home assistant

The first step to making your home into a smart home is choosing your assistant. The most popular voice-controlled assistants are the Google Home and Amazon Echo. These devices are similar but still have differences. The assistant will help you to use your other smart devices. Say “O.K Google, turn on the lights” or “Alexa, play music”.  

When selecting other devices for your smart home, make sure that those devices are compatible with your assistant. 

  1. Invest in Smart Lights

With smart lighting you can walk into your home and say “Alexa, I am home” and program which lights you would like to turn on once that is said. Some of the options can dim and have multi-colors. Smart lighting can also be controlled from a phone app which allows you to control your home lights even when you’re not at home. This is a great security feature if you’re away from home or on vacation but don’t want your home to appear empty. Some systems require a bridge to connect the device to Wi-Fi. The bridge allows you to control multiple devices all at once and when you are outside of your home. 

  1. Smart Plug

The smart plug is a great way to start turning your home into a smart home. These plugs can be found for as cheap as $15 a plug. You will be able to use an app to turn on/off what is plugged in or use voice activation from your assistant when you’re at home. For example, the app will allow you to turn off your bedroom light from miles away. You can control when your plugins are using energy or not to stay energy efficient. Schedules can be created to turn on/off certain devices at specific times. There are also smart plugs designed for the outdoor elements so you can conveniently control your patio or holiday lights with ease. 

  1. Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat is a great way to be energy efficient by tracking your usage. This thermostat will allow you to improve your energy use by sensing patterns in the home to adjust the temperature based on movement at certain times of the day. You can see on your app the daily and monthly energy history and where you can cut back to save energy and money.

  1. Home Security

Smart cameras can be placed inside or outside of the home. These cameras connect to an app allowing you to watch what is happening inside or outside of your home wherever you are at. The app will notify you when motion is detected on the cameras. If you choose to install cameras, make sure that you are on a secure network to keep your private life confidential.

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Business

Top Three Tech Start-Ups To Watch in 2022

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The enterprise tech startup sector is packed with companies capitalizing on growing demand — even amid the disruptions caused by the pandemic — for tools in the world of big data, devops, cloud, mobility, the internet of things and cybersecurity. 

According to Gartner, global IT spending is expected to grow by 6.2% this year, with total spending  projected to hit $3.9 trillion. The unprecedented acceleration of digital transformation in 2020 to satisfy the move to remote work, changes to education and new social norms presented by lockdowns has largely offset the early hit to IT spending caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Despite a rocky year, funding hotspots emerged from during the pandemic, with Massachusetts in the US, India, Indonesia, Israel, Australia and New Zealand, France, Belgium, and Brazil all reporting above average levels of funding.

“COVID-19 has shifted many industries’ tech-quilibrium,” said John-David Lovelock, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. “Greater levels of digitalization of internal processes, supply chain, customer and partner interactions, and service delivery is coming in 2021, enabling IT to transition from supporting the business to being the business. The biggest change this year will be how IT is financed, not necessarily how much IT is financed.” 

In this list, we highlight some of the hottest startups building software and services aimed at large enterprise customers, who their customers are, their funding so far and how close they might be to initial public offerings (IPOs) or acquisition in 2022.

  1. Cockroach Labs

Cockroach Labs is a software firm that develops commercial database management systems. Founded in 2015 by three ex-Google employees, it’s best known for CockroachDB, a cloud-native, distributed SQL database that provides “next-level consistency, ultra-resilience, data locality, and massive scale to modern cloud applications.”

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Cockroach Labs saw its revenue more than double in 2020, thanks in part to wide-spread cloud adoption. The startup expects to see similar levels of growth this year and claims to be on track to double its workforce from 200 to 400 employees by the end of 2021.

  1. Cohesity

There are a lot of factors that make Cohesity a ‘hot’ enterprise startup: unique technology, a founder on his second act after co-founding the now public software company Nutanix and $250 million in funding from SoftBank’s Vision Fund. 

The startup was originally pitched as a cheaper way for enterprises to store what it calls “secondary data” — backups, files, test/dev and analytics data — all monitored using a single cloud platform. It has since expanded into other areas of enterprise data management, including analytics, security and rapid recovery.

  1. Confluent

Founded by the creators of open-source Apache Kafka, Confluent is a commercial version of the software that helps developers manage system and application messaging at high volume and add real-time streaming data to their apps. 

Kafka has proved popular with companies like LinkedIn, which uses the technology for activity stream data and operational metrics; Netflix for real-time monitoring and its event-processing pipeline; and Spotify, where it’s used as part of the company’s log delivery system. 

The idea behind Confluent is to make it easier for companies that don’t have a surfeit of developer power to harness Kafka.

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Featured

A Beginner’s Guide To Flying Your Drone

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You’ve picked up a drone, congratulations! You have taken the first step into a fun new world. A limitless world with new perspectives and freedoms that come with being un-tethered by gravity, free to travel the skies any way that you choose. Drones can be fun to fly as a hobby, or perhaps you want to create inspiring aerial photography. While this can be a little intimidating at first, with a few simple steps you can take to the skies and master your aerial platform in a safe and controlled way. Today we’ll take a look at some of the important steps and elements that come with flying a drone.

How Well Do You Know Your Drone?

Before going airborne, take a few minutes to become familiar with your drone. Learn about the controls, settings, and discover key information about the battery performance. It’s also a good idea to do some research about air traffic and drone rules in your area.

Even if you have never flown a drone before, you can become a master in a short amount of time with some practice. Many drones offer beginner modes and simulators that allow you to get used to the controls and fly in a safe way, without putting your drone or anyone else in harm’s way. Many of the drones in the DJI lineup offer both a simulator that connects the controller to your phone or tablet and a beginner mode that restricts the drone altitude and speed. These two modes provide a great opportunity for novice pilots to build their confidence before embarking on a full-fledged flight.

Drone Controls

Many drones on the market use a standard controller layout, consisting of control sticks and buttons. While the appearance of some controllers can differ in shape and size, the fundamental controls are the same. For the sake of simplicity, today we’ll talk about the modes commonly found on consumer drones like the Mavic, Phantom, and Spark.

Pushing the left joystick up causes the drone to fly up while pushing the joystick down causes the drone to descend. Alternatively, pushing this joystick to the left and right rotates the drone to the left and right, respectively.

The right stick controls the drone’s heading or movement. Pushing the right joystick up, down, left, and right causes the drone to move forward, backward, left, and right, respectively.

You will most likely also have several buttons that allow you to control the camera. These controls can take photos, record video, tilt or pan the camera, as well as give you access to menus. It can help to learn what each button does before flying.

The drone control layout is quite intuitive and easy to operate. Just be sure to remember which side of the drone is the front, so that you can remember which way is forward and backward. For added safety, keep your drone in GPS mode while flying; so that it hovers and maintains its position if the input to the control sticks is ceased.

Pre-Flight Checklist

  • Check the physical condition of the drone. Look for signs of wear, or cracks in the propellers;
  • Check the rules and regulations for the area you plan to fly in;
  • Check that your batteries are charged and have adequate power for flight;
  • Check that your controller and drone are properly connected;
  • Pay attention to the weather conditions;
  • Check that the immediate area around your drone to determine if it’s clear to take off and land;
  • Check your camera settings. Being able to see what your drone sees makes for safer flight;
  • Be sure there’s a memory card in your drone if you plan to take pictures or video;
  • Announce to anyone close to the drone that you are about to take off;
  • Monitor the drone settings as you fly.

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