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10 Tips for Working From Home

10 Tips for Working From Home

10 Tips for Working From Home

Everyone who works remotely has to figure out when to work, where to work, and how to create boundaries between work and personal life. What about office equipment, career development, training opportunities, and building relationships with colleagues? Working remotely, especially when working from home most of the time, means figuring out these issues and others. Here are 10 tips for leading a better and more productive remote-working life, based on my experience and what I’ve learned from others.

1. Maintain Regular Hours

Set a schedule, and stick to it…most of the time. Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many remote workers maintain work-life balance. That said, one of the benefits of remote work is flexibility, and sometimes you need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else’s time zone. When you do, be sure to wrap up earlier than usual or sleep in a bit the next morning to make up for it.

2. Create a Morning Routine

Deciding you’ll sit down at your desk and start work at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you into the chair is another. What in your morning routine indicates you’re about to start work? It might be making a cup of coffee. It might be returning home after a jog. It might be getting dressed (wearing pajama pants to work is a perk for some, but a bad strategy for others). A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you get started each day.

3. Set Ground Rules With the People in Your Space

Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space for when you work. If you have children who come home from school while you’re still working, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. Additionally, just because you’re home and can let service people into the house or take care of pets doesn’t mean other family members should assume you will always do it. If that’s how you choose to divide up the domestic labor, that’s fine, but if you simply take it all on by default because you’re home, you may feel taken advantage of, and your productivity may suffer.

4. Schedule Breaks

Know your company’s policy on break times and take them. If you’re self-employed, give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen and phone. A lunch hour and two 15-minute breaks seems to be the standard for full-time US employees.

5. Take Breaks in Their Entirety

Don’t short-change yourself during breaks, especially your lunch hour. Or you can just launch a simple clock or timer on the screen when you take a break. If you return to your desk after only 40 minutes, walk away for another 20.

6. Leave Home

To the extent that it’s allowed and safe where you are during the COVID-19 outbreak, get out of the house, provided you can maintain social distancing of course. The same advice applies to people who work in traditional office settings, too. Leave the building at least once a day. Your body needs to move. Plus, the fresh air and natural light will do you good.

7. Don't Hesitate to Ask for What You Need

If you’re working from home unexpectedly due to coronavirus, ask for what you need within reason. You could be working from home for weeks on end and you should be comfortable, but ordering a new office chair and desk might be asking too much. Consider a mouse and keyboard, plus a back-supporting cushion instead.

8. Keep a Dedicated Office Space

In an ideal world, remote employees would have not only a dedicated office, but also two computers, one for work and one for personal use. It’s more secure for the employer, and it lets you do all your NSFW activities in private. But not everyone has a separate office in their home, and keeping two machines isn’t always realistic. Instead, dedicate a desk and some peripherals only for work use. For example, when your laptop is hooked up to the monitor and external keyboard, it’s work time. When it’s on your lap, that’s personal time. You may want to go as far as partitioning your hard drive and creating a separate user account for work.

9. Maintain a Separate Phone Number

Set up a phone number that you only use for calls with colleagues and clients. It doesn’t have to be a landline, second mobile phone, or even a SIM card. It can be a free VoIP service, such as Google Voice or a Skype number. Similar to some of the other tips, having a separate phone number helps you manage your work-life balance.

10. Socialize With Colleagues

Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts. Companies with a remote work culture usually offer ways to socialize. For example, they might have chat channels where remote employees can talk about common interests, meetups for people in the same region, and (once the coronavirus ends) in-person retreats. It’s important to figure out how much interaction you need to feel connected and included. Even if you’re highly introverted and don’t like socializing, give a few interactive experiences a try so that you’re familiar with them if you ever decide you want them. If you’re not at a company with a strong remote culture, you may need to be more proactive about nurturing relationships.

What Is 5G?

What Is 5G?

What Is 5G?

Read in PCMAG News Spotlight:  https://www.pcmag.com/news/what-is-5g

5G stands for fifth-generation cellular wireless, and the initial standards for it were set at the end of 2017. Let us take you down the 5G rabbit hole to give you a picture of what the upcoming 5G world will be like.

First of all, if you’re hearing about 5G Wi-Fi or AT&T’s “5G E” phones, they aren’t 5G cellular.

And if you’re hearing that 5G means millimeter-wave towers on every lamppost, that’s not true. That’s only one of the three main forms of 5G we’re seeing right now.

The G in this 5G means it’s a generation of wireless technology. While most generations have technically been defined by their data transmission speeds, each has also been marked by a break in encoding methods, or “air interfaces,” that make it incompatible with the previous generation.

1G was analog cellular. 2G technologies, such as CDMA, GSM, and TDMA, were the first generation of digital cellular technologies. 3G technologies, such as EVDO, HSPA, and UMTS, brought speeds from 200kbps to a few megabits per second. 4G technologies, such as WiMAX and LTE, were the next incompatible leap forward, and they are now scaling up to hundreds of megabits and even gigabit-level speeds.

5G brings three new aspects to the table: bigger channels (to speed up data), lower latency (to be more responsive), and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once (for sensors and smart devices).

The actual 5G radio system, known as 5G-NR, isn’t the same as 4G. But all 5G devices in the US, for now, need 4G because they’ll lean on it to make initial connections before trading up to 5G where it’s available. That’s technically known as a “non standalone,” or NSA, network. Later this year, our 5G networks will become “standalone,” or SA, not requiring 4G coverage to work.

It turns out that SA 5G is much more important than we thought it was in 2019. Except on Sprint, carriers’ 5G cells are shaped differently than their 4G ones, so they’re losing coverage where the 4G signal cuts out but the 5G one continues. When the networks evolve into standalone mode, we may see a sudden growth in urban coverage.

4G will continue to improve with time, as well. The Qualcomm X24 modem, which is built into most 2019 and 2020 Android flagship phones, supports 4G speeds up to 2Gbps. The real advantages of 5G will come in massive capacity and low latency, beyond the levels 4G technologies can achieve.

That symbiosis between 4G and 5G has caused AT&T to get a little overenthusiastic about its 4G network. The carrier has started to call its 4G network “5G Evolution,” because it sees improving 4G as a major step to 5G. It’s right, of course. But the phrasing is designed to confuse less-informed consumers into thinking 5G Evolution is 5G, when it isn’t.

How 5G Works
Like other cellular networks, 5G networks use a system of cell sites that divide their territory into sectors and send encoded data through radio waves. Each cell site must be connected to a network backbone, whether through a wired or wireless backhaul connection.
5G networks use a type of encoding called OFDM, which is similar to the encoding that 4G LTE uses. The air interface is designed for much lower latency and greater flexibility than LTE, though.

With the same airwaves as 4G, the 5G radio system can get about 30 percent better speeds thanks to more efficient encoding. The crazy gigabit speeds you hear about are because 5G is designed to use much larger channels than 4G does. While most 4G channels are 20MHz, bonded together into up to 140MHz at a time, 5G channels can be up to 100MHz, with Verizon using as much as 800MHz at a time. That’s a much broader highway, but it also requires larger, clear blocks of airwaves than were available for 4G.

That’s where the higher, short-distance millimeter-wave frequencies come in. While lower frequencies are occupied by 4G, by TV stations, by satellite firms, or by the military, there had been a huge amount of essentially unused higher frequencies available in the US, so carriers could easily construct wide roads for high speeds.

5G networks need to be much smarter than previous systems, as they’re juggling many more, smaller cells that can change size and shape. But even with existing macro cells, Qualcomm says 5G will be able to boost capacity by four times over current systems by leveraging wider bandwidths and advanced antenna technologies.
The goal is to have far higher speeds available, and far higher capacity per sector, at far lower latency than 4G. The standards bodies involved are aiming at 20Gbps speeds and 1ms latency, at which point very interesting things begin to happen.

Sony PlayStation 5’s Controller

Sony PlayStation 5’s Controller

Here’s What the Sony PlayStation 5’s Controller Will Look Like
The upcoming ‘DualSense’ controller promises to offer improved haptic feedback to make you feel like you’re inside the game. The base controller also drops the single color scheme for two.

The company gave the public its first look at the “DualSense” wireless gamepad, which Sony has started shipping to developers so they can begin customizing their games around it. 

The new look features two colors instead of a single color scheme. The controller also retains the same layout as the DualShock 4 model, but it’s been outfitted with a curvier shell case. (Some might even say it looks a bit like the controller for the rival Xbox Series X.)

Sony is calling the gamepad DualSense due to the improved haptic feedback, which can shake the controller at varying degrees of intensity to make you feel like you’re experiencing the gameplay in real life. To immerse you even more, the company has now placed “adaptive triggers” into the L2 and R2 buttons, “so you can truly feel the tension of your actions, like when drawing a bow to shoot an arrow,” Nishino said.

“Based on our discussions with developers, we concluded that the sense of touch within gameplay, much like audio, hasn’t been a big focus for many games,” he added. 

The potential downside of adding more haptic feedback is how it can drain the controller’s battery. However, Sony is indicating it was able to add the new features to the DualSense gamepad without diminishing the rechargeable battery life or loading too much added weight on to the device.