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General

5 To-Do’s for your Remote Team’s Conference Call

Online conference calls have become an essential part, if not an absolute necessity in business teams working together. We’re fortunate enough to live in a time where companies can attract talent from all over the world without having to uproot them from their current living situations.

Are you trying to push for more remote work balance at your current job? To do so, you need to be able to demonstrate that teams can be just as effective when working remotely as they do in the office. Let’s be honest, it’s great to have that occasional work-from-home day. Try some of these tactics when organizing your next conference call to demonstrate the effectiveness of remote meetings.

Does your company have offices located in different parts of the United States? Or even the world? If you’re struggling to have impactful meetings with these different office locations, try some of the tactics below.  

1. Get the Agenda out Ahead of Time

If you take away anything from this article, I think this is hands-down the most important point. Providing the meeting agenda, with estimated time frames along with the invitation can work wonders for your meeting efficiency.

It gives the attendees an idea of what your goals are for the meeting and allows them plenty of time to prepare as well. If you are inviting higher-ups to the meeting this also provides them a snapshot of what to expect and makes you look very prepared and respectful of their time.

This also eliminates the risk of Bob’s story about an awkward elevator encounter taking up the first half of your meeting.  

2. Designate Roles

This is a great way to make sure that all of the attendees stay engaged. We’ll look at another way to do this as well, but designating roles, especially including post-meeting deliverables will keep everyone focused. Some possible roles to include are:

  • Leader: This person’s job is to set up the meeting, develop the agenda and guide everyone through the meeting.
  • Recorder(s): This person’s job is to take and keep track of notes during the meeting. It’s most effective when you have multiple recorders as more likely than not, people can miss important points.
  • Timekeeper: It’s not an easy job making sure the meeting stays on track, but somebody has to do it. This is also why it is important to estimate time slots for each point on your meeting agenda.
  • Participants: These are the other attendees on your call, but this ultimately falls back on the leader to make sure all the participants remain engaged. You can do this by asking direct questions or asking for feedback from certain individuals.  **Note that both the recorder and timekeeper should be viewed as participants as well.

3. Start with Some Kudo’s

While this can seem minuscule, a great way to start off a meeting is to open it up with positivity. For example, as the leader, you can start off by recognizing an individual or team for a job well done, or something positive that you noticed. Then, open up the room to do so as well, but be sure to confine this to an applicable time-frame.

4. Computers Have Webcams, Use Them

Chances are if your business is using online conference calling then your employees have computers with webcams built-in. Requiring that all attendees turn their webcams on for meetings not only instills that in-person conference room feel but also makes attendees feel obligated to at least “look engaged.” This is great for all remote and semi-remote teams alike. Another huge benefit from this is that you can see people’s facial expressions, and get a sense of when someone is about to say something. There is nothing worse than everyone tripping up on each other because they’re trying to talk at the same time.

5. Utilize Meeting Tools

Online conference calling has come a long way in terms of functionalities and add-ons. Finding some useful tools that your team can use to collaborate, will elevate your calls to the next level. What’s one thing that’s missing from the online conference room that can be found in the office? You guessed it, whiteboards! These are a few tools that you can add to your online conference calls:

  • ExplainEverything: An interactive whiteboard that allows you to interact with designs, documents, and drawings.
  • RealtimeBoard: This is just like being in the conference room with a whiteboard. RealtimeBoard generates a link that you can send out during your meeting so everyone can collaborate on the same board.
  • LiveBoard: It’s free, you can interact with an unlimited number of participants, and you can save multiple iterations of the whiteboard. What more could you ask for?

Conclusion 

Whether your team is fully or partially remote, or you’re hoping to create a more remote work culture, it’s crucial that your team stays engaged during online/remote meetings so that you can continue to achieve those great results. By establishing some new meeting protocols and leveraging some new tools, you can quickly become the person who holds the meetings that nobody dreads!

 

 

 

Categories
General

Yes Bank’s effort in Bridging the gap between the Industry and Academia

A recent NASSCOM report suggests that by 2020, 2 out of 3 millennials would like to take up a managerial job within 3 years of their joining and the core skill set required by the industry will change fast and newer skills like creative thinking, higher level problem solving, interpersonal skills, innovation, decision making will be in great demand. There is a need to Emphasise on skill-based education. YES Bank is exactly trying to play a role here with creating a data science community. 

The Datathon provides a bridge between industry and academia, allowing a flow of intelligence and interest between the two, enabling universities to learn about using Cadence tools and build a network of other academic users of our products. The 6 Data Science/Machine Learning challenges hosted in partnership with IITs/BITS will lead up to YES Datathon 2019 to be hosted in June 2019. 

There is a growing need for people from academia to be a part of the industry. It shall be mandatory for the graduates to have industry exposure for example Internships etc. While academia can argue that internships are already in place but in most cases, this model has failed miserably. Today, mostly it’s just a formality and for the industry, these interns are mostly restrained to clerical activities ranging from the filing of documents to set up jobs at day end. In rare case scenarios, they gain relevant practical knowledge and exposure that matters. A better idea is to bridge Technical knowledge with business knowledge. No technical project can be successful without a business case and vice-versa no project can be successful without analyzing the technical aspects. These kinds of well-timed exposure to the industry provide much-needed experience to the students which would help them shape their careers. 

Also, given the rapid changes in the technology front, the bank has adopted a great strategy to keep pace with the trends. Not just this, YES BANK has invested massively on scalable solutions like Hadoop to leverage on commodity servers as opposed to specialized hardware results in quantum cost savings on the infrastructure alone which is required to analyze large data sets – and lay the foundation for a successful AI journey. Further, leverage and engage the data science community in setting up a unique ecosystem of leaders and learners to collaboratively co-create AI led innovations.

YES Bank also plans to use Datathon, to prominently meet the talent pool requirements. They plan to use its platform Datathon, to hire and train budding talent in the data science domain to ultimately create a 100 + team of data scientists, developers and coders as part of their YES TechTonic Initiative. This nationwide community of industry leaders, students and professionals is a first of its kind initiative to boost the conversation of data science in India. YES DATA community will further serve as a platform for constant knowledge sharing and crowdsourcing of new ideas and concepts on future technologies.

In short, It is nice to see both academia and industry working together to being in necessary synergies focused towards delivering quality graduates that can play an effective role in business for the future. 

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General

The Most Important Case in Video Game History

The Brown V. Entertainment Merchants Association court case had a tremendous impact on the gaming industry. Without this important court victory, the gaming industry would not be nearly the way it is today. The main reason why the case took place were concerns over children’s violent behavior and public incidents. Even the earliest video games dating way back in the 1970s incorporated a lot of violence and inappropriate scenes that children should not be exposed to. Parents of children aged from 12 to 18 years old were most concerned that this type of content would influence their children in a negative way. 

The rise in public incidents and tragic school shootings forced people to connect the dots between video games and destructive behavior. All of this lead to the court battle between Brown and the Entertainment Merchants Association. Even though this case had significant importance in the gaming industry, many gamers haven’t even heard of it. That is why we are going to briefly cover the events following the court case, as well as discuss the importance of using a gaming VPN to increase safety.

The Case of Brown V. Entertainment Merchants Association

The said case took place in 2011and, as a landmark case by the Supreme Court of the United States, it took down a significant California law from 2005. The law prohibited the sale of video games that contained violent content or inappropriate scenes. Children and teenagers were able to purchase these types of games under parental supervision only. However, the Brown V. Entertainment Merchants Association case put an end to this prohibition. 

The final decision was a 7-2 votewith which the court annulled the 2005 law. The court decided that video games, regardless of their content, are protected speech under the First Amendment, just like any other kind of media. This court victory has shaped the gaming industry that we know of today. If the case had gone in a different direction, many of today’s popular video games wouldn’t even exist. 

Despite having won a big battle, the gaming industry might not be in the clear yet. In fact, several court’s justices have suggested to re-examine the issue of violence in video games. The reason for this move is the fact that video games are changing at a rapid pace and some of them might not be fit for children under the age of 18. However, we are yet to see how things are going to play out in the future.

Why You Should Use a Gaming VPN

We cannot talk about video games and this industry without mentioning the importance of a gaming VPN. Being exposed to violent scenes might not be the only danger that gamers are facing these days. The question that should be raised here is how safe are video games in terms of cybersecurity?While original games purchased from genuine vendors are harmless, copied CDs and files might pose a threat to users’ devices. Video games can lead to numerous security threats including malware and virus installation, data breaches, or even identity theft.

Online gamers face even more security threats lurking in online forums and communities. The best way to stay safe while gaming online is to use a gaming VPN that will encrypt the users’ data and address. A VPN comes with many advantages that gamers can benefit from. Besides increased security, a gaming VPN will allow users to gain access to unreleased contentin their region. Some areas have internet censorship laws and might prohibit certain types of content. However, users can virtually change their location through a VPN and easily access any geo-restricted content or games.

Conclusion

The court case between Brown and the Entertainment Merchants Association will be remembered as one of the most important events in the history of gaming. Who knows what kind of games we would be playing nowadays if it weren’t for this court victory! However, even though the case clarified the issue related to violence in a video game, it did not solve the security aspect of the problem. Gamers are still left to face security threats on their own.

Unfortunately, not many users are aware of the dangers they are taking while gaming online. We are not only looking at the risks of unauthorized downloads of viruses or malware. This threat can easily be solved with the use of an advanced anti-virus system. However, what gamers cannot fight against are the security threats they are not aware of. A great example is potential scammers who hide behind usernames in gaming communities. These scammers will do everything in their power to get their hands on people’s data and credentials. Online gamers should learn more about potential security risks and start using a gaming VPN to protect their data.

Categories
General

Why you Should Monitors your Kid’s Snapchat

If you have teens, then you probably know about Snapchat. It is pretty much what most teenagers think about these days as it is one of the most popular social media sites. As a parent, figuring out exactly how it works can be hard, but you are not alone. Snapchat is precisely what kids want these days. It can share every day’s moments as well as make the user look awesome. What’s even better unlike Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms, Snapchat makes use of messages that disappear so teens love to use it to share things they wouldn’t want to remain on the internet. Either way, it’s not as safe as it sounds and that’s why as a parent you should monitor what business you kid carries online. The following are some reasons why Snapchat monitoring is necessary for your kid’s;

It can harm your kid’s online reputation

There is a common notion that Snapchat is one of the safest social media platforms, but if not used wisely it can be disastrous as well. As a parent, you need to know what your kid is doing with the app because it’s noted that approximately 25% of the users send explicit content which when leaked can destroy anyone’s reputation. Likewise, people tend to think you can’t save a photo with Snapchat, but there is always a possibility of taking a screenshot and keeping the latter. Knowing what your kid is up to is always a good idea, and you can protect them from such mishaps.

It’s extremely addictive

Like many social media apps, Snapchat can end up consuming a remarkable amount of your kid’s time. The worst time is they get absorbed sending photos and socializing with their colleagues they barely pay attention to anything else. They end up wasting most of their time on the app rather than studying or sleeping which can have real consequences.

It’s easy for predators to befriend your children

People from all parts of the globe use the app, and it’s no surprise that pedophiles extensively use it. Making friends on this platform is quite easy, so ensure you talk to your kids on reasons why they shouldn’t befriend strangers. Let them know it’s not everyone that is trustworthy and that many people are out to take advantage. It’s for their safety

To ensure your kid does not undergo cyberbullying

Online presence always has a downside, and it’s no surprise that people with bad intentions can use Snapchat to bully their victims. In most cases, they can send an embarrassing photo or create an ugly meme which can have consequences on your kid’s self-esteem. As a parent, it’s your job to monitor how your kid deals with such scenarios. Read here about Cyberbullying and how can you stay aware.

Being a parent is never easy. Every day presents a new challenge, and you should always be ready to deal with it accordingly. Your kid needs guidance. If they are using a platform like Snapchat for instance, it’s your responsibility to ensure that whatever they are up to does not have adverse consequences on their future. Fortunately, you will find apps that allow you to track everything they do on snapchat and this way; you know when to talk to your kids about the consequences and keep them safe.

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General

How to make money with Videos Online

With the affordability of the internet, watching video have become popular over the years. Many internet users rush on the internet to watch their favorite videos or videos that have been shared by other people. With Roundee’s for PCs, you can easily record your videos and watch them later.

If you are passionate about creating videos and sharing them online, then you can use that opportunity to make some extra money. According to a study, YouTube receives more than a billion users who visit their site every month. Another research also shows that 77% of the total U.S audience view online video. This shows the significance of online video.

The following are some of the ways that you can make money with online videos.

  • Upload your videos on YouTube

This is one of the common ways that people make money with videos. It is very simple and doesn’t require much capital to start. The only thing you are required to do is to create a channel on YouTube, then start uploading videos on the channel regularly.

The moment you start getting viewers and their number increases, you can monetize your videos by allowing YouTube to display ads on your videos. The more the number of views you get, the more money you will earn from people who view or click on your video ads. Making money on your YouTube channel doesn’t happen overnight, it takes some time.

  • Create video lessons

If you are an expert in a certain field/subject, you can start creating videos related to your field. These videos can be on how to or tutorials videos to help your audience learn more about something that they are interested in or to solve their problems.

For example, if you are a chef, you can create video lessons on recipes. If you are into fitness, you can train your audience on how to lose weight or how to do particular exercises. To monetize your video lessons, you can offer them via a subscription fee- where the clients pay either monthly or yearly for them to access your videos. You can also provide them online on a pay-per-view basis.

  • Produce video services to other people

Some people may want to make an extra income with videos, but they are not able to create quality videos for themselves. In this case, you can help these people to create great videos for their projects on a freelance basis.

So you can basically accept their orders by creating, editing, or even marketing videos and get paid for these services. You can also produce videos locally for events such as weddings and business conferences.

  • Affiliate advertising

You can also make money with videos by creating or acquiring the rights to viral videos and then sell affiliate products through those videos. Viral videos are usually short and people enjoy watching and sharing them.

You can also create an inspiring, funny, or emotional videos and share them on your social media accounts with the hope that people will comment and share them with their friends. Though this is not easy because there is no guarantee that your video will go viral.

Categories
Enterprise Tech Microsoft

Microsoft begins the Private Preview of SQL Server on Linux

Microsoft announced their plans to bring SQL Server to Linux. A step towards making the industry-leading data management and business analytics platform available for any data, to run any application, anywhere. SQL Server on Linux gives developers the power to build and deploy intelligent applications on a single data management and business analytics platform. This will enable SQL Server to deliver a consistent data platform across Windows Server and Linux, as well as on-premises and cloud. The preview of the core relational database capabilities is available today, and are targeting availability in mid-2017.

SQL Server on Linux will provide customers with even more flexibility in their data solution. One with mission-critical performance, industry-leading TCO, best-in-class security, and hybrid cloud innovations – like Stretch Database which lets customers access their data on-premises and in the cloud whenever they want at low cost – all built in.

Bringing SQL Server to Linux is a welcome step and is in-line in the efforts to make products and new innovations more accessible to a broader set of users on other platforms. Performance monitoring tools like SQL Sentry and others are now available and provide support for SQL servers running on Linux

SQL-Server-Loves-Linux

“This is an enormously important decision for Microsoft, allowing it to offer its well-known and trusted database to an expanded set of customers”, said Al Gillen, group vice president, enterprise infrastructure, at IDC. “By taking this key product to Linux Microsoft is proving its commitment to being a cross platform solution provider. This gives customers choice and reduces the concerns for lock-in. We would expect this will also accelerate the overall adoption of SQL Server.”

“SQL Server’s proven enterprise experience and capabilities offer a valuable asset to enterprise Linux customers around the world,” said Paul Cormier, President, Products and Technologies, Red Hat. “We believe our customers will welcome this news and are happy to see Microsoft further increasing its investment in Linux. As we build upon our deep hybrid cloud partnership, spanning not only Linux, but also middleware, and PaaS, we’re excited to now extend that collaboration to SQL Server on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, bringing enterprise customers increased database choice.”

“We are delighted to be working with Microsoft as it brings SQL Server to Linux,” said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical. “Customers are already taking advantage of Azure Data Lake services on Ubuntu, and now developers will be able to build modern applications that utilize SQL Server’s enterprise capabilities.”

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General

The Rise in the Trend of Gamers with the Advancement of Technology

The technology has taken us into its grasp, with each passing day you will find yourself spending more and more time using the electronic gadgets that are around you. Especially mobile phones, laptops, and tablets have the relative importance in an individual’s life. This is primarily because these devices have helped us in multiple ways and has improved our standard of living.

From work to entertainment, from calling or texting to getting help from video tutorials over YouTube, everything is dependent on these devices.

In the pool of a large number of sources of entertainment, gaming is one thing which a lot of people opt for whenever they want a change in their daily monotonous routine. This not only gives a bit of enjoyment but also strengthens your reaction time if you are into the right kind of games. The reflexes and instincts of subconscious mind get improved, automatically if you regularly play games over desktop or laptop.

The craze of gamers

  • Those who are involved in gaming and spend most of the time of their day in playing games want to have everything up to date. 
  • Their desktops or laptops are personally customized to give the best performance while gaming, whether it be RAM or graphics or anything else. Such enthusiasts don’t want to compromise with the experience of gaming due to lack of accessories. The amount of money they invest in making their desktop the best can be considerably large.
  • Platforms such as Definite point makes it possible by providing a wide range of products to satisfy your needs and making your gaming experience a smooth and exciting one. The most amazing among them remains the mouse and mouse pad which can actually motivate you through the game.
  • What about a celebration whenever you defeat your opponent to win the game? The customizable lighting effects can actually cheer you up if you win the game; the mouse along with the pad comes with automatic wireless charging support.
  • The non-slip mouse pad comes in a variety of materials like rubber, cloth, etc, which will enable each gamer to select the pad as per their own preferences. And also you can choose from a number of different sizes to fit on your table for just the perfect experience.

The most number of people who prefer playing a lot of pc games are the youth, so these things fascinate them a lot, and hence they want to have it with them to gain more popularity among the peer group. Being a good option to invest your money, it is a thing which you are not going to regret if you buy it.

So if you are a gaming enthusiasts then domains such as Definitepointwill help you to identify the correct equipment which will not only enhance your skills but will also elevate the overall experience of playing an online video game. So make a wish list now and purchase the products which you need to come out on top.

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General

Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Manage a Website at Home

Want to start a business? Want to tell the stories of your travels? Want to share your expertise to the world? Whatever your goal is with starting your website, hold onto it. You can succeed and take your personal website to new heights and new successes, but only if you buckle in for the long run. This means you need to master your time and commit to routines that support your productivity and your website. If you need help creating such a routine, then look no further: 

Success Comes from Dedication 

A successful website comes from dedication. There are 1.9 billion websites out there in the world, but many of them – and in fact most of them – are not active. By simply committing to your website, you automatically put it ahead of many other potential competitors. 

Improve Your Productivity 

To be dedicated, you must work on improving your productivity. When you first start your website chances are you won’t have the funds or means to quit your day job. In some cases, you might not ever want to stop your career to manage your website. This means you need to adopt ways to stay productive even after a full day’s work. 

Work at the Same Place at the Same Time 


Working in a designated home office or in café can help you stay focused and on task by eliminating distractions until it is time for your break. At home, this should be the same location, but if you plan on working outside of your house you can easily choose a variety of settings. Café’s offer the same environment, for example, so you can often work productively even if the physical location is different. 

Take Designated Breaks 

Mental fatigue is a very serious issue that hampers productivity and exacerbates stress levels. This fatigue is what will make working on your website at home after a full day of work so difficult, so don’t worry if you need to take breaks at home. Instead, make those breaks better. Play casino games on Unibet for a thrill while you relax on your couch. Watch an episode of a show after you have completed half of your tasks. You don’t need to force yourself to work on your site in one big chunk, and it shouldn’t stress you out. 

Always Learn and Improve 

The internet has only been around since 1989. Since then, the capabilities of websites and how you use the internet has vastly changed again and again. You need to commit to learning how to market, how to optimize your site, and how to gain readership every day to stay on top of trends and survive the changing tides. Some websites take years to build up a strong audience, and that is with constant effort. So long as you don’t give up and try new things to bring in the readers, customers, or subscriptions you need to succeed, however, there is always hope your website will take off. 

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General

Google Pixel 3 Lite: A Pocket-Friendly Pixel that MAY Supersede Apple!

It is an established fact that the smartphone market keeps on evolving with the passing times, introducing newer, innovative sets at the expense of ousting the older, outdated models. The aim of the mobile developers is to unlock fresh avenues of human convenience. Take, for instance, AI integration in the handsets, which promises to reduce the time and effort spent on executing everyday tasks. What does this signify? That it is incumbent on you to keep your ear to the ground, learn about the latest addition in the smartphone families, and then, take advantage of the advanced devices to bring a boatload of ease into your life. Am I right or what?

So, continuing the same thread, I have got news for your tech-savviness, and it has Google written all over it. Yes, this tech giant has hit the hardware market with an unprecedented force, presenting trendy items from speakers to displays, and has even dabbled in the smartphone tech. This year, it’s rumored to release its most cheap handset yet—expecting to lure the disgruntled iPhone users towards its unique software and OS. How do we know about this secretive project? Through leaked videos and photos, showing Google Pixel 3 Lite along with its anticipated specs.

This upcoming smartphone is a toned-down version of the expensive Pixel duo that came out last October. Its specs are said to have been designed ‘mid-tier’, without compromising much on quality, to bring it under the ‘budget-friendly’ banner. The reason behind Pixel 3 Lite’s idea generation is perhaps that Google wishes to capitalize on the dearth which is hitting iPhone sales at present. It wants to be the dissatisfied consumer circle’s “knight in shining armor”, showing them that they can enjoy a mighty-featured smartphone without tearing their pockets apart. For now, the buzz seems to be working in its favor.

If you are curious about Google Pixel 3 Lite, then take a few minutes out to read the in-depth review, dealing with its possible specs and features, mentioned below for your convenience.

What’s the Display Feature?

When it comes to a smartphone, the display matters a lot, because that’s what establishes the basis of your interactivity with it. If the screen size is too small, it over-exerts the eyes. If it’s too large, it messes with the hand-to-phone clutching ratio. That is why it needs to be just perfect to complement your on-the-go needs. Google Pixel 3 Lite is rumored to have a 5.56-inch screen display, 18:9 ratio and 1080 x 20160 pixels, according to the video leaked in January by Rozetked.

What’re the Camera Capabilities?

One of the most marked traits of our generation is that we love to document anything we can get our hands on. Social media is full of such pictorial representations of people’s everyday lives. Without a workable smartphone camera, this would not be possible. That is why whenever we go mobile shopping, we always ask about the camera capabilities and features. Lucky for you, Google Pixel 3 is anticipated to have a great camera profile. According to the leaked video, it is supposed to consist of a single 8 MP front camera, while the rear one is attuned to a full 12.2 MP with a 28 mm wide lens. Though this may not compare well with other high-priced devices having more than one multipurpose camera slots, still it is ample enough to serve your daily documenting needs with the affordable price range that it fortunately falls in.

What’re the Additional Specs?

According to the leaks, Google Pixel 3 Lite is rumored to feature a 3.5mm port headphone jack, unlike its predecessors. Perhaps, this has something to do with addressing the frustration of the Apple users who are bound to acquire wireless earbuds just to enjoy music. Interesting move, Google. Other than this, the phone is expected to run on a 2915 mAh battery, and consist of the Snapdragon 670 chipset at its core. Though this might sound like a setback for people who are used to the latest Snapdragon 845. However, you have to take the remarkable affordability of this smartphone into consideration. In addition, Pixel 3 Lite supports the latest Android 9.0 version in its OS. Cool, right?

What’s the Price?

Last year, we lined up outside the smartphone stores to get our hands on the cheapest iPhone model ever to make the lineup, i.e. the XR. That, in addition to the tons of orders we placed on Amazon over our Windstream Online connection, just so we might call ourselves the cool, ‘Apple’ users. For what? A price tag that did not prove as worthwhile in the end? We got an okay-ish handset for a whopping $749. Google may have observed this booming trend and its subsequent silence. That’s what might’ve inspired it to launch a smartphone that didn’t fall in the low-priced/low-quality range nor in the high-priced/low-quality one. But, in the balanced low priced/high-quality spectrum. At present, Pixel 3 Lite’s price is rumored to be somewhere between $400 and $500—budget-friendly, right?

When’s the Release Date?

One important thing you need to understand is that no official date has been given for the release of Pixel 3 Lite by Google. However, speculation by tech experts places its US release date to be in the early spring of this year, before the flagship Pixel 4 comes on the scene in October.

In conclusion, Google Pixel 3 Lite may still be in the pipeline, but the leaked specs and rate range is enough to get us at the edge of our seats. Not everyone can afford an iPhone, but anyone may be able to experience the high-quality functionality of a Pixel. What do you say?

Categories
Tools

Best Tools for Aspiring Data Journalists: from Data Gathering to Text Editing

Journalism in contemporary times is taking a new turn and has become focused on data driven reporting. This new wave of journalism often referred to as “data journalism” incorporates technology with journalism and depends on numerical data and statistics to establish a premise and draw up conclusions. With the astronomical rise in the number of internet users since its inception and our over dependency on digitized information, more data is being generated and this will help bring into perspective the dominant role of a data journalist in today’s journalism.

Who is a data journalist?

Simply put, a data journalist is a person who is able to combine the field of journalism with several other fields or skills such as design, programming, statistics etc. to produce a story based on the information derived from data. It requires a combination of skills and expertise of which journalism takes the lead.

Listed below are some of the best tools that are used by data journalists at different stages of their work:

  • Data collection
  • Data filtering and analysis
  • Report writing and editing

Handy Tools to Find & Collect Data

Apart from typical statistical sources such as ONS (Office of National Statistics), Data Gov and Data Gov UK, a few alternative databases might come in handy.

Google Trends is a great tool to monitor what keywords, phrases and topics that are being searched. You can also classify the hottest trends by countries and certain time periods. Keep in mind the fact, that this tool is based only on Google search queries and thus might not be completely accurate for your Bing or Yahoo target audience.G

Google Forms is an application that is used to collect and organize information by creating surveys or questionnaires. Forms can be used to manage events, polls, registrations etc. The raw data generated using Google forms can be accessed and analyzed with Google sheets or other platforms. Google forms can also be shared with multiple users providing flexibility for users to update their data.

Google sheets is an application that helps users create and format spreadsheets. Like other Google tools it is simple to use with multiple users working on the same document in real time. This tool is easy to use and does not require any knowledge of programming.

Data Cleaning Tools

Open Refine (formerly Google Refine) is a powerful tool used by data analyst to clean messy data and also transform it from one format to another. It is similar to Microsoft Excel but offers additional features like extended web services and links to databases.

On the surface, Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet that can be used to record and analyze numerical data but for power users this tool can be used to do much more. Apart from the native functionality embedded within the software, several plug-in such as Power Query and Data Cleaner are available and offer additional functionalities.

DataWrangler is a web-based service that’s designed to clean and arrange data into a form that can easily be used and understood by other tools. Although widely used, this tool is no longer actively supported and the attention of the Stanford/Berkeley research team has been shifted towards a newer version of the program called Trifacta Wrangler.

Trifacta Wrangler is a free cloud service that helps data analyst clean and manage data effectively. The entire cleaning process is done automatically once the dataset is imported and after restructuring the data, the resulting dataset can be exported easily. Trifacta is available as a freeware but the pro version enables multiple users to work, connect with more data and also share their work within the cloud platform.

Data Analysis Tools

RStudio is a powerful application that can be used for data analysis (all types of numerical and spatial analysis) and visualization. It is a versatile tool with an active community which keeps adding to its database. One downside with using R is that the user must get familiarized with the programming language.

Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) is an interactive tool that is widely used by researchers and analyst for statistical analysis. As the name implies, this tool has found a wide application and use within the field of social sciences, however it is also used by data miners, researchers, analyst and managers in other fields where statistical analysis and data management is required.

Statistical Analysis Systems (SAS) is a software suite that is used in statistical analysis. This tool is embedded with many features that will help in data retrieval, manipulation and analysis. The SAS data can be published in different formats including HTML, PDF and Excel. It also provides graphical point–and–click interface for non-technical users while power users who are conversant with the program can take advantage of its advance features.

Data Visualization Tools

Google fusion tables is an experimental data visualization web application for gathering, visualizing and sharing data tables. This tool can easily be used to map and chart data. It also includes geographical information system (GIS) functions for analyzing data by geography.

Tableau tool is mainly used to create interactive data visualization. It offers a wide range of customizations and is suitable for any task ranging from simple to complex. The ability to drag and drop data and also connect multiple visualizations onto a single dashboard makes it quicker than manually coding as in R or Javascript.

Data Mapping Tools

QGIS is a sophisticated GIS software can be used to map geographical data. It provides a detailed data-based analysis of geographic regions and can also be used for data overlays and spatial analysis. Its functionalities can further be enhanced using plug-ins which adds support for geocoding, generating HTML maps, exporting to MySQL and managing underlying tables.

Leaflet is a mapping tool based on open-source JavaScript which provides a higher level mapping capacities and functionalities such as the ease to switch between different map providers like OSM, Mapbox and Google Maps. Leaflet is simple to use and works effectively across all major desktop and mobile platforms. Its functionalities can be extended using third party plugins like layer switching, markers and renderers etc.

Report Writing & Text Improvement Tools

Hemingway Editor is a wonderful app to sharpen your writing. It will indicate if any of your sentences are too long or structurally complex. Some phrases highlighted with purple color have a simpler or more suitable alternative. Hemingway will also suggest that you replace hesitant adverbs and passive voice.

EssayPro is the custom paper writing service which provides writing and editing help online. Although their major focus is writing assignments for students, academic writers are the best helpers when it comes to text editing, proofreading and rewriting. Since plagiarism is not a merely college issue, Google penalizes all articles that have a sufficient amount of copied content. Professional writers can detect and remove all duplicated content for you.

Copyscape is one of the most trusted plagiarism checkers. Even if journalists write their reports themselves, they might be accused of unintentional plagiarism. Be careful with common phrases, cliches and quotes. If any questionable phrase or sentence is present in your text, it will be highlighted by Copyscape and the page which has the very same text will be shown so that you can rewrite this particular piece.

Evernote is yet another good tool for text editing. However, its’ biggest advantage is the option to bookmark useful sources and add personal notes about them. You can also add customized tags like “work”, “sports”, “AI news” or whatever you want to go back to in the future.

Final Words for Young Journalists

We hope that the above mentioned tools will help you to become a successful journalist easily operating with big data massives. Pick proper topics, find relevant and up-to-date statistics and proceed with writing your report. Well-researched and thoroughly checked reports always find their readers.