If you’re not sure where you want your career to head next year, then you should highly consider IT. With the right training, you can pass IT certification exams and pursue high-paying jobs in the ever-expanding IT field. Luckily, you don’t have to wait until New Years to make your career resolution. This Black Friday, we’ve lined up four deals on IT certification training bundles that you can get for 60% off using BFSAVE60 at checkout.
Newcomers to the IT field will need to learn the basics first, and this bundle is a great introduction. Here, you will learn the foundational skills necessary to implement, manage, and troubleshoot local and wide-area network solutions.
This massive bundle features 11 courses on IT certifications for both Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle. These courses will teach you how to use relational database management systems (RDBMS) to implement databases, write queries, manipulate data, and more.
Few cloud computing vendors offer as many services like Amazon. In this bundle, you’ll learn about the solutions AWS offers. The first course covers training essentials such as how to navigate the AWS Management Console, but subsequent courses focus on individual solutions like Amazon S3 and AWS Database Migration Solution.
An IT department can’t be successful unless it values efficiency. This bundle will introduce you to Lean and Six Sigma, two methodologies used to systematically eliminate areas of waste such as time and over-production. A skilled project manager can implement these skills in any industry, whether it’s IT or app development.
The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are the first iPhones to include a USB-C to Lightning cable for 18-watt fast charging. That’s great and all, but the included cable is only one meter (three feet) long.
If you want to use your iPhone 11 while it’s charging (maybe you’re in bed, maybe you’re tall, maybe both), then you’ll want to upgrade to a longer USB-C to Lightning cable.
Sure, you could just use one of your old (and slow) Lightning cables. But then you won’t reap the benefits of 18-watt charging, which can fill half of an iPhone’s battery in just 30 minutes. And if you’re a MacBook owner, then a USB-C to Lightning cable is your only option for plugging the iPhone 11 into your laptop.
It’s also worth mentioning that the standard iPhone 11 can work with 18-watt fast charging, it just doesn’t come with a USB-C to Lightning cable (in fact, it’s packaged with 5-watt charging accessories). If you’re using the regular iPhone 11, then now’s a good chance to upgrade your cable for 18-watt fast charging. Just make sure you have a USB-C power brick, too.
USB-C to Lightning Cables (6-Foot+)
Apple sells an official 6.6-foot USB-C to Lightning cable, but it costs over $30. You can go down that route if you really want to, but plenty of cheaper MFI-Certified chargers should work just as well. (For quality’s sake, we’re only listing MFI-Certified cables in this article.)
Here are the longest USB-C to Lightning cables you can buy:
Nomad Goods (9.6-Foot): This cable’s taller than I am! And in fact, it’s three times as long as the standard iPhone charging cable. Why not?
Apple (6.6-Foot): This official Apple USB-C to Lightning cable is 2 meters (6.6 feet) long. That’s exactly twice as long as the cable that comes with the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max.
AUKEY (6.6-Foot): AUKEY’s 6.6-foot braided iPhone cable is basically a half-priced version of the official 6.6-foot Apple cable.
CHOETECH (6.6-Foot): This cable has the same length and price as the 6.6-foot Aukey cable, except it isn’t braided.
Microsoft today began selling additional space on its OneDrive cloud-based storage service to customers who subscribe to its consumer-grade Office 365 plans.
The extra storage starts at $2 per month for 200GB and climbs to $10 per month for 1TB (terabyte). The additional support is available only to customers who already subscribe to Office 365 Personal or Office 365 Home, the two consumer-targeted plans whose primary benefit is the right to run Office on Windows or macOS.
The consumer Office 365 plans provide 1TB of OneDrive storage space for the account holder, in the case of the single-user Personal, or for each of six possible users, under Home’s rules. The additional OneDrive space would be atop the 1TB.
In fine print at the bottom of the plans’ presentation page, Microsoft said that the additional space would not be accessible to every user on an Office 365 Home plan. “For Home subscriptions, only the primary subscription holder may purchase additional storage, and only for that user’s account,” the tiny type read.
In June, Microsoft announced plans to provide supplementary storage to Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home subscribers but did not tip to a timetable. Around the same time, Microsoft also touted something it called OneDrive Personal Vault, a protected partition for storing the most sensitive and important files. Personal Vault, Microsoft said, would be accessible only through a second step of identity verification, such as a fingerprint, face scan or one-time codes texted to the user’s smartphone.
Personal Vault has debuted in some markets, and should be available globally by year’s end, according to Microsoft. Some Computerworld staffers based in the U.S. have been offered the feature.
Microsoft’s prices for added storage are higher than its main rivals in the consumer market, Apple and Google. Both those companies lease 2TB of space for $2 per month, or twice the amount from Microsoft but for the same number of dollars.
Business-grade Office 365 subscriptions also come with a standard 1TB of OneDrive space but unlike the lower-priced consumer deals, many – yet not all – corporate subscribers do not have to pay for additional storage. Office 365 Enterprise E3 and Microsoft 365 E5, along with 17 other subscriptions, are allowed, with caveats, an unlimited amount of cloud storage. This support document spells out the per-user storage space for each subscription service Microsoft offers.
Company administrators can boost OneDrive from 1TB per user to 5TB per user without intervention by Microsoft through the admin center.
Google is famous for its no-frills approach to displaying search results. At various times, it has tried introducing extra features (the Discussion button and Instant Preview, anyone?), but they’ve always fallen by the wayside eventually.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t change both the look and the functionality of Google’s search results. You just need to head to the Chrome Web Store and download some extensions.
So, here are the best Chrome extensions for customizing your search results.
1. Google Search Filter
Most people have a selection of sites that are their go-to domains for specific types of content (such as MakeUseOf for technology, hint hint!). Similarly, you probably have a few sites that you’ve mentally blacklisted (like certain newspapers or domains with low-quality content).
Google Search Filter is a way to make sure that your favorite sites are always noticeable in your list of results. It also simultaneously hides any results from the sites you dislike. Your preferred sites will be highlighted in green.
In the configuration file, add a + before a domain to highlight it, add a # to take no action, and type the domain “as is” to remove it.
Until a few years ago, Google used to offer a Discussions tab at the top of its list of results (alongside Images, Videos, News, etc.). It used to filter your results so they only showed hits from forums, message boards, blog post comments, and other similar content. Then, in typical Google fashion, it mysteriously disappeared.
The Discussions Button for Google Search extension brings back that tab. It doesn’t work in the same way as the original tab; Google has completely removed the feature from its backend. Instead, the extension uses a selection of filters and Boolean operators to find search matches from discussion-based sites.
Remember when you used to be able to see a preview of a site directly from the list of search results merely by hovering your mouse over the entry? Google Results Previewer restores that functionality. If you’re a tab hoarder, it’s a must-have extension.
To make the preview appear, hover your mouse over the link in the list of results. Note that to make the preview disappear, you’ll need to click elsewhere on the screen manually. Presumably, this is to make sure previews aren’t constantly opening and closing based on small mouse movements, but we do wish there was an option to disable it.
Note: You may need to clear your cookies to make it work.
Look, we like Pinterest. It’s a great way to find inspiration for DIY projects, interior design, meals, and a whole lot more.
But due to the site’s popularity, it now dominates the list of Google Image Search results in certain topics. At times, that can be annoying, especially considering you can’t do much with the images you find unless you have a Pinterest account.
Unpinterested! removes all Pinterest pages from your search results—in both image searches and regular searches. The filter can be enabled and disabled with a simple toggle, so if there are times when you want to see the Pinterest results, it is easy to do so.
Dark modes and night modes are becoming increasingly popular among users. They help to reduce eye strain, especially if you’re using your machine in the small hours.
If you use dark modes on your operating system and apps, it can be jarring when an app that doesn’t offer night modes suddenly presents you with a light screen. Google Search is one of the biggest culprits.
Night Mode for Google Search fixes the problem. There’s a switch to quickly toggle between a light and dark display, and various settings you can adjust to customize your experience.
Sometimes, it’s useful to know when you last visited a webpage. It makes it easy to recognize a site that you found valuable if you want to revisit it in the future.
WhenX for Google Search provides an elegant solution to the issue. It simply adds a tag with your last visit on the right-hand side of the link in the search results. The label contains both the time and date. And importantly, WhenX for Google Search works with sites that you visited before you installed the extension.
All the extension’s browsing history data is saved locally; nothing is sent to WhenX’s servers.
When you’re researching something, you might want to find something from a specific period. Content such as old articles and new stories spring to mind.
Natively, Google provides a date filter, but you have to click on Tools to open it, and the list of preset ranges is quite limited.
If you install the Google Search Date Range Shortcut extension, two things happen. Firstly, the Tools menu will always be open and visible. Secondly, you can add additional date ranges to the dropdown menu and customize the existing ones.
The Chrome extensions we’ve discussed will help you to make Google work exactly the way you want. If we’ve missed your favorite extension for customizing Google Search results, make sure you let us know in the comments.
Windows lets you choose large, medium, or small desktop icons. But did you know many other size options are available? You can fine-tune the size of your desktop icons with a quick shortcut that involves your mouse wheel.
The standard desktop icon sizes are available in the desktop’s context menu—right-click the desktop, point to view, and select “Large icons,” “Medium icons,” or “Small icons.”
For extra size options, position your mouse cursor over the desktop, hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard, and scroll the mouse wheel up or down. Stop scrolling and release the Ctrl key when you’ve found your preferred size.
This shortcut lets you select a wider range of desktop icon sizes than the typical desktop context menu does—we counted a range of 28 sizes, from extra tiny to surprisingly huge. The mouse wheel shortcut will give you extra control over resizing your icons, shrinking or enlarging them much more than you otherwise could.
This trick works in File Explorer or Windows Explorer, too. You can quickly resize file and folder icons by holding Ctrl and rotating your mouse’s scroll wheel.
Want to guarantee you get that post-vacation, stress-free relaxed feeling after every trip? Well, the secret might surprise you: instead of trying to cram as much vacation into your vacation as possible, take an extra day or two off at home at the end.
Vacation, all you ever wanted: sunbathing by the sea not a care in the world, or feasting on fresh pasta in Rome so immersed in Italian culture you’ve forgotten where you work. Sounds ideal, but we all know it’s never like that. However relaxed the actual trip, the hassle of the long-distance drive or flights home and the looming reality of work the next day mean your last day or two of vacation and your first few days back in action are just a blur of pressure and stress. I know some people who’ve gotten off a 12-hour, long-haul flight at 7 am and been at their desk in work at 9 am—they were ruined for days.
But things don’t have to be this way. Instead of trying to hit the ground running after your trip, hit the ground walking. If you take an extra day or two off at the end of your vacation—or even just come home on Saturday instead of Sunday—you can ease yourself back into real life without stress. You’ll enjoy your vacation more, and your life the following week will be easier. Here’s why.
Get Your Sleep Back on Track
Even if you’re not jet-lagged from hopping six timezones, your sleep schedule is almost certainly messed up after a few days of late nights and lie-ins. Vacations play havoc with carefully tuned sleep routines.
If you take an extra day or two at the end of your vacation, you can adjust your sleep properly, rather than crashing into the next week on four hours sleep and letting your body just deal with it. The extra 24 hours are enough for you to deal with most of your jet lag, catch up on any sleep debt, and get to bed at a proper time in your own home so that you can go into the next week well-rested.
Unpack and Prepare for the Week Ahead
Have you ever left your luggage sitting in the corner of a room, still packed until you run out of clothes or your next trip away? Of course you have. Unpacking is even worse than packing.
When you arrive in late at night with work the next day, unpacking is one of those things that end up on your “Tomorrow’s Problems” list—and it stays there. On the other hand, if you have a day or two of free time to deal with it, you can do it at your leisure, get all your clothes through the wash, and feel super productive about having done it. Look at you, you functional human!
You also get to do any of your regular pre-week routine like meal prep, make school lunches, check everyone’s homework is done, and the like. Especially if you’ve got a family to organize, being able to stick to your routine the following week is a godsend.
Don’t Worry About Delays and Other Problems
Flights get delayed, luggage gets lost, kids get colds on airplanes—travel is pretty fraught with mild disasters. If you have no buffer and your plane gets delayed, or even canceled, then whatever zen state you reached when you were away is not going to last. You might even have to call your boss and beg for an extra unpaid day off. It’s a pretty miserable situation to be in.
On the other hand, if you already have another day off scheduled, then your plane getting delayed turns from a major problem into a mild inconvenience, or even an adventure. Lost luggage isn’t a crisis; it’s a bit of a drag. You might be a bit more stressed, but it’s not vacation-undoing levels of stress.
Vacations aren’t cheap—even if you follow our great tips on saving money when you travel. One of the easiest ways to lower the cost is to go away for a shorter length of time. By coming back a night or two early, you save on accommodation and things like car rental. And, if you’re a little bit flexible, you can also save money on your flights too.
But now for the real trick: you can save the money and do something boring like stick it in your 401k or pay off college debt, or you can use it to treat yourself during that extra day at home. Is there a nice restaurant you haven’t gone too yet because it’s a bit pricey? How about taking the kids to the cinema and splurging on all the popcorn and ice cream after? Or even just going all-in on a massive takeaway and movie at home? You just saved money on your trip! You’re entitled to do something big and fun at home (your vacation isn’t over yet, anyway). You’ll still come out with more money in your pocket than if you’d stayed away for the last day or two.
Get Ahead of Work
Okay, I’m super hesitant to recommend this one because I don’t believe people should be working on their vacation time but, if you work in the kind of high-pressure job where a little bit of preparation in your personal time makes everything a lot easier, then the spare day might be exactly what you need to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed as soon as you walk into the office on your day back.
If you know you have a few hours at home after your trip ends to catch up on email and check the week ahead, you can permit yourself to ignore your phone while you’re away on vacation. You’ve already set aside the time to get back up to speed, so you don’t need to stay kind-of-in-the-loop the whole time you’re off.
Vacations are lovely, but they can also be super stressful if you’re doing something other than just lounge by a pool. Half the time, people come back from a trip away and feel they need another trip only to recover.
The best place to relax, other than a private island in the Bahamas, is your own living room. You’ve got your favorite chair, your pets, and all the usual comforts of your own home. With an extra day of vacation at home—and remember, you are still on vacation—you can chill at home guilt-free. Catch up on the movies you’ve missed, play your PlayStation, or just binge a new show on Netflix. Trust me; you’ll enjoy it as much as your time away.
Trust me, the next time you’re away, take an extra day off at home after. You’ll love it.
Eufy (an extension of Anker, the portable battery company), has been in the robotic vacuum game for a while. Its aim is to sell no-nonsense, reliable robotic vacuums that can start cleaning right out of the box. The RoboVac 11S Max is, as the name suggests, an updated version of the standard RoboVac 11S.
But the differences between the 11S and the 11S Max are few and far between. While the standard 11S has 1,300 Pa of suction power, the 11S Max has 2,000 Pa of suction power (pascals are a measurement of force or pressure). And while the 11S has disposable dust filters, the 11S Max has a washable dust filter. Aside from a $40 retail price increase and a slightly larger dustbin, those are the only noticeable upgrades.
Do these upgrades make the 11S Max a worthwhile mid-range robotic vacuum? And is it really worth $40 more than the standard 11S? Here’s our experience.
Easy Setup and a Straightforward Remote
Setting up the RoboVac 11S Max is a breeze. Its modest packaging is easy to get through, and everything is clearly laid out. It comes with a remote control, a charging station, two pairs of corner brushes (the bug-like arms on the vacuum), a detangling brush, and a pack of zip ties to keep any loose TV or USB cables off the floor (the vacuum can get stuck on cables).
If you read the RoboVac’s quick start guide, you’ll find that it’s easy to set up. So easy that I skipped the instructions and still had the RoboVac in action after about two minutes. I didn’t even put the batteries in the remote or plug in the charging station, although Eufy recommends that you charge the vacuum before its first cycle. I guess I got a little excited.
My initial reaction to the remote was one of hesitation. Remotes tend to be clunky and unintuitive, and I couldn’t help but think of all the robotic vacuums (including Eufy’s “C” vacuums) that can be controlled with a phone. But, as it turns out, the remote is great. It’s easy to use, it has a handy key on the back, and the buttons are laid out intuitively.
Technically, you don’t even need to use the remote. When the RoboVac is removed from its charging stand and set on the carpet, you can simply tap its power button to begin auto cleaning mode. But you should use the remote, as it gives you access to a slew of other cleaning modes. You can tell the RoboVac to focus on the room’s edges, to spot clean an area, or to go back to its charging dock. You can even set the vacuum on a daily cleaning schedule, or control its direction manually with a few buttons.
A Small Vacuum with Big Suction Power
The RoboVac 11S Max is pretty good at sucking. It offers 2,000 Pa (pascals) of suction power, which is almost double the power of the standard 11S. But that’s still a lot less suction power than a traditional vacuum, which usually operates around 20,000 Pa, so how effective is the 11S?
The 11S Max has three different suction modes. A “Standard” mode, a high-powered “Max” mode, and a “BoostIQ” mode that automatically adjusts sucking power depending on the floor’s cleanliness and texture.
I’ve rarely seen the RoboVac 11S Max enter its maximum power mode, which is fine by me. Even in its standard mode, the 11S Max looks like it has the suction power of a full sized vacuum. It picks up crumbs, cat hair, dirt, dead leaves, and it leaves pleasant “vacuum trails” across the carpet. In my house, it always accumulates a disgusting amount of cat hair (enough to build a new cat), which is much appreciated.
Somehow, it does all this without making a racket. Even with the 11S Max’s upgraded suction power, it only puts out about 60db of noise (some of which is probably absorbed by the carpet). I’ve tried running it while watching TV, and it’s hardly a disturbance. That being said, its “Max” suction mode is a bit loud, but it rarely enters the “Max” mode.
But the thing that I appreciate from the RoboVac is its insect-like brushes. These brushes are meant to knock dirt and dust out from the edges of walls and furniture, and they do a great job. I didn’t realize how much nasty crap I was missing with my full-sized vacuum. If anything, I’d suggest the RoboVac just for its ability to clean corners—it’s a luxury.
All of this said you should watch how the RoboVac works when you first use it. It takes away some of the magic, but you need to make sure that there aren’t any weird obstacles lying around. If the RoboVac runs into a loose USB cable, a funky rug, or a pile of yarn, then it’s going to have a hard time dealing with the situation. And while the RoboVac automatically turns off if it gets stuck on something, its better to avoid that problem in the first place.
It Cleans the Floor by Bumping Into Everything
Some robotic vacuums have built-in “mapping” technology. They use radio or lidar to learn how a room is shaped, and then use that information to make cleaning as efficient as possible.
The RoboVac 11S Max isn’t that high tech. Instead, it blindly runs around, bumping into everything until its 100-minute battery is drained. In a way, it’s a bit frustrating to watch. When my RoboVac happens to miss a spot, I just have to remind myself that it’ll get there eventually. I also have to remind myself that room mapping technology is expensive and that a more efficient cleaning style probably isn’t worth an extra $100 to $200.
Now, to be fair, it’s clear that the RoboVac takes full advantage of its clunky cleaning method. When it bumps into a wall, it tries to run along the wall and clean its corners. When it bumps into a table leg, it skirts around to try and find some hidden dirt and debris. It also knows how to avoid danger, and that’s something we need to talk about.
I Tried to Push My RoboVac Down the Stairs
I live in a two-story home, and upon taking the RoboVac upstairs, I stumbled on an interesting idea. The RoboVac doesn’t come with any boundary strips, so what’s to stop it from falling down the stairs? It bumps into walls and furniture like a clumsy idiot—will it treat a ledge with the same foolhardiness?
So, like any good citizen, I tried to trick my RoboVac into falling down the stairs. I’m not ashamed to admit this, as all of humanity’s great achievements come at the expensive of life itself. In the words of Voltaire: “When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the mice on board are at their ease or not?”
I’m still amazed by the results of my experiment. When the RoboVac runs into a ledge in auto mode, it merely stops, turns around, and continues cleaning as nothing happened. Even in manual mode, the RoboVac refuses to fall down the stairs, no matter how hard you press the forward button on its remote control.
Upon close inspection, it’s clear that the RoboVac has a downward facing IR sensor that must be a ledge detector. I really appreciate this design choice. I can run my robotic vacuum upstairs without worrying about the consequences. But, at the same time, I’m not sure that this makes up for the lack of boundary strip compatibility. Specific rooms or areas of the house (the kitchen, a room full of yarn and fabrics, etc.) can be unsafe for the RoboVac. Since it has a built-in scheduler for unsupervised use, it only makes sense to include boundary strips to aid this unsupervised use.
Maintenance Is a Breeze
Like any vacuum, the RoboVac needs to be cleaned regularly. Eufy suggests that you dump out its contents and rip any pet hair from its brushes after every use. But don’t worry, the RoboVac is a lot easier to clean than a full-sized vacuum.
The dust bin is easy to remove from the RoboVac 11S Max, and it contains a small washable dust filter (an upgrade from the standard 11S). While these components don’t need to be washed with every use, I rinse them often. Vacuums can break down fast if they aren’t taken care of, and I don’t want to take a chance with the RoboVac.
The RoboVac’s brushes also need occasional cleaning, especially if you have pets. Thankfully, these brushes are easy to remove, and the RoboVac comes with a handy cleaning tool that makes pet hair removal a breeze. This tool can also be used to clean the vacuum’s wheels, but in my experience, pet hair doesn’t get caught in the wheels too often.
As for the RoboVac’s corner brushes, they don’t need a whole lot of attention. They simply wear out with use. Eufy throws in an extra pair of these corner brushes with the RoboVac, and they’re super cheap on Amazon, so they’re really not worth worrying about.
A Few Complaints
It’s hard to complain about the RoboVac 11S Max. It works well, it’s easy to use, it’s easy to clean, and it doesn’t fall down the stairs. I only have three complaints, and to be honest, I feel a bit silly for finding anything to complain about.
At $270, this is a great vacuum. I think it’s reasonably priced. But shouldn’t all robotic vacuums (especially $270 robotic vacuums) come with an app and smarthome integration? The remote control works well, don’t get me wrong, but everything would be quicker and easier with my phone. Plus, with smarthome integration, I could control the RoboVac with voice commands or custom routines. It just seems like a mysteriously absent feature, and while it isn’t a deal-breaker for me, it could be a deal breaker for others. It’s also worth noting that Eufy’s “C” line of vacuums come with smarthome integration at basically the same price, but they don’t have nearly the same suction power (1,300 Pa) as the RoboVac 11S Max (2,000 Pa).
There’s also the issue of room mapping. Some robotic vacuums use radar or lidar to map your room in 3D, which makes cleaning more efficient. And while I don’t mind the RoboVac 11S Max’s blind cleaning method, I feel like it wastes its energy by slamming into walls instead of looking around a room. It’s a minor complaint (especially because room mapping technology would probably double the RoboVac’s price), but with its 100-minute battery life, the RoboVac would benefit from a more efficient cleaning method.
And as you already know, I’m hung up on the lack of boundary strips. They aren’t necessary—the RoboVac 11S Max knows not to fall down the stairs, but I’d still like to keep it out of certain rooms without having to close the door. And it’s not like I can just buy some boundary strips, as the 11S Max doesn’t support them at all.
The RoboVac 11S Max is a great little vacuum. I’d happily suggest it to anybody, mostly for its ease of use and ability to clean corners. For its price, it’s one of the best robotic vacuums that money can buy, even if it doesn’t come with a handy app.
Still, the 11S Max isn’t very different from the standard 11S. The extra suction power and washable filters are worth an additional $40, and the $199 promotional price for the 11S Max makes it a no-brainer between the two. Once the promotional pricing period ends on June 24th, however, it may be worth keeping an eye on any deals for the 11S—it may be worth checking out.
Most streaming services offer SD and HD video at different price points. But with the availability of 4K, is this price disparity fair? Should streaming services treat different video resolutions like different products?
Most Streaming Services Charge Extra for HD
Despite the rise of 4K video and high-speed internet connections, streaming services are still hung up on the difference between standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) video—nevermind 4K! In fact, many streaming services, like Amazon, YouTube, and Vudu, treat SD and HD video like two different products, selling SD and HD digital copies of the same movies at different prices. Heck, even Netflix handles different resolutions like different products—the “Basic” Netflix plan doesn’t come with 1080p streaming. 4K is even more expensive!
Now, this practice is pretty easy to overlook. It’s been going on for a long time, and plenty of people are happy to “save” a dollar or two by purchasing SD content. But are streaming services doing you a favor by offering low-resolution video at a discount? Are these companies paying extra to store and deliver SD copies of movies? And with the current popularity of 4K, shouldn’t we think of HD video as the baseline for video streaming quality, and 4K as the extra-cost upgrade?
This Isn’t Like DVD and Blu-ray
When Walmart stocks its shelves with DVD and Blu-ray copies of Toy Story 3, it has a good reason to sell those different copies at different prices. For one, Blu-ray discs are more expensive to manufacture than DVDs. Not to mention, both products take up shelf space, and the shelf space for Blu-ray discs is (at this point) more valuable than the shelf space for DVDs.
People try to carry this logic over to digital streaming services, but it doesn’t hold up. Sure, the storage centers that are used by streaming websites could be thought of as shelf space, but streaming services don’t store SD and HD copies of video as different products. Even if you’re paying for HD, you might get SD to prevent video buffering.
Remember video buffering? It’s a lot less common than it used to be. That’s because every streaming service keeps SD and HD copies of their library so that, when your internet connection takes a nosedive, you can seamlessly switch to a crappy low-resolution video and avoid the buffering screen.
YouTube Doesn’t Have Trouble Storing Video
Let’s compare YouTube (a free streaming service that offers 4K video) to our favorite premium streaming websites. For every minute that passes by your short little life, about 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube (you can observe this in real-time on everysecond.io). Do a little math, and that comes out to about 30,000 hours of new YouTube content every hour. For comparison, the entirety of Prime Video’s 2017 library clocked in at just 19,200 hours.
Clearly, YouTube uses a lot of storage space. But here’s another thing to consider. In a fascinating Computerphile video from 2013, a group of bright-eyed YouTube employees explain how every single video on YouTube is copied into “more than a couple dozen” file formats and video resolutions (1080p, 720p, etc.) to ensure the website plays nice with any device at any connection speed. When coupled with YouTube’s ridiculously huge library, this practice requires a ton of storage space.
Do premium streaming services copy files to this extent? Not even close. All modern browsers support a few ultra-popular (and highly compressed) video encoding methods, like HTML5, H.264, and WebM VP8. Naturally, most (if not all) premium streaming sites stick to these popular formats.
Storage space isn’t a good excuse for the price disparity between SD and HD videos on streaming services. If YouTube can offer 4K video for free in spite of its ridiculous storage needs, then why does Amazon charge people $1 extra to watch Toy Story 3 in 1080p? In fact, why does Netflix offer different prices for premium SD and HD content? If you can watch a 4K unboxing video on YouTube for free, then why do you have to pay extra to watch movies in HD on paid streaming services?
Content Delivery Isn’t Much More Expensive
Premium streaming sites can’t use storage and web hosting as an excuse for selling SD and HD video at different prices. Maybe it just costs more for websites to deliver HD video to customers, so they offer SD video at a reduced price. That makes sense, right?
Internet traffic is like regular traffic. If everybody tries to take one road, then they’re going to create a traffic jam and move very slowly. The same thing happens on websites. To combat this problem, streaming services build CDNs. A CDN is a dense, global network of servers that all contain the same content. They’re like different roads to the same destination. This way, Netflix doesn’t come to a standstill every time a new season of Stranger Things comes out.
OCAs are similar to CDNs, but they’re built to prevent traffic jams on the entire internet, rather than just a single website. Like OCAs, CDNs contain an extensive library of videos, and they’re spread around the globe. The big difference is that CDNs are operated by your internet service provider. When your entire neighborhood goes to watch the new season of Stranger Things, your ISP will redirect that internet traffic to a CDN, which keeps non-Stranger Things fans from experiencing any internet traffic jams.
Obviously, these CDNs and OCAs cost a lot of money to maintain. But they’re what you might call “internet infrastructure.” The investment’s already been made, so the cost of delivering HD content instead of SD content is negligible at best. Yet some premium streaming services still want to charge you different rates for SD and HD video, and they’re still behind the ball on 4K.
Is Content Licensing to Blame?
Streaming services don’t have a real excuse for the price disparity between SD and HD video. They’re already storing each video in multiple resolutions, and content delivery hardly costs them a penny.
It’s hard to tell precisely why streaming services are selling SD and HD videos at different prices, but the weird relationship between TV networks and streaming companies could be the answer. In a Reddit thread from 2016, a group of confused YouTube users complained that some of the HD shows and movies sold by YouTube are only stream-able in 480p (not HD at all). As it turns out, some of these shows and movies came with a tiny disclaimer, stating that “HD viewing isn’t available on web browsers.”
Why wouldn’t HD be available on web browsers? Well, one of the shows in question is Silicon Valley, which is owned by HBO. It’s possible that YouTube bought the rights to sell HD copies of the show for mobile devices, but wasn’t allowed to purchase the rights for HD web streaming. After all, why would people subscribe to HBO GO if they can just watch Silicon Valley in HD on YouTube?
It’s also possible that this weird business practice extends to other services. Netflix may have to pay extra to get the HD license for Friends, and Amazon may have to pay extra to get the HD license for Toy Story 3. 4K content is likely even more expensive to license!
Is this a stupid excuse? Of course. Streaming services and TV networks are treating different video resolutions like different products, and they’re leaving consumers to deal with the mess. What’s so ironic and frustrating about the situation is that these companies are so caught up in their own nonsense that they’re ignoring the booming 4K video market. 108-million people are expected to buy 4K TVs in 2019, don’t you think they’d pay $2 extra to rent a 4K copy of your movie?
Will Everyone Charge Extra for 4K?
Some people would be willing to pay a dollar extra for 4K video. If you splurged for a nice-looking TV, why would you pinch pennies when it comes to the content?
At least 4K is new and shiny. Paying extra for HD video vs. low-resolution SD video in 2019 seems silly. If HD replaced SD as the “discounted” video resolution on streaming sites, we’d be happy. Kind of.
It’s hard to let go of the fact that YouTube offers free 4K video in spite of its storage costs. If YouTube can show 4K video for free, then why should we pay extra for 4K video on premium streaming platforms?
Not Everyone Charges Extra for 4K
As of right now, the future looks decent. Google Play, YouTube, and Apple offer 4K as the standard (and only) video resolution for a handful of movies and shows, and Amazon is trying its best to provide 4K video to Prime subscribers for no extra cost. But at the same time, these services are still guilty of creating a price disparity between SD and HD content, and Netflix only offers 4K video for its highest-paying subscribers.
Want to install Windows 7 on your computer but the device doesn’t have an optical drive? Perhaps you’re using a laptop without a built-in DVD drive, or even an old netbook or Windows tablet. Whatever the case, you’ll need to make a USB installation disk.
You can do this without any extra software, or you can use tools provided by Microsoft and third parties.
Two Ways to Make a Bootable USB Windows 7 Installation Disk
You have two choices for making a bootable USB drive that can install Windows 7.
Create a bootable disk using Windows tools: this requires no additional software
Download the install from Microsoft: this is a far simpler solution
Let’s take a look at each option.
What You’ll Need to Install Windows 7 from USB
Without an optical drive on the target computer, installing Windows 7 as your preferred operating system is impossible. But if you have the original installation media and a USB flash drive, you can make it work.
To get started, you’ll need:
A working Windows 7 computer with a DVD drive and administrator rights
A Windows 7 installation DVD
4GB USB flash drive or larger
This will also work with external USB hard drives instead of a USB thumb drive. However, all the data on the drive will be formatted and deleted.
The following steps can be completed on a Windows 7 computer. However, they’re almost the same whatever operating system you’re using, including Windows 10.
Open an Elevated Command Prompt
To start, insert your USB flash drive in your main PC—the one with the optical drive. You should also insert the Windows 7 installation DVD.
Click Start > All Programs > Accessories and right-click on Command Prompt. Select Run As Administrator. Of course, you need to be able to authenticate as the administrator on the PC you’re using.
On Windows 10, click Start then type “command”. Right-click the first result and select Run as administrator.
In the black command prompt window, open the disk partitioning tool with the command:
This will open in a new command prompt window. Here, call up a list of disks attached to your PC.
One of the drives listed will be your USB drive. You’ll probably be able to spot it based on the drive’s capacity. Make a note of the disk number of the USB drive.
This is important to get right; otherwise, you’ll end up losing data on other drives.
Next, partition the disk. Begin by selecting the disk and cleaning it.
Where you see the # sign, substitute it with the disk number of your USB device.
select disk #
You can then create a new partition.
create partition primary
select partition 1
Make the partition active, then format as NTFS:
format fs=ntfs quick
Next, issue the single command to set the disk as drive E:
assign letter e
Finally, exit the DiskPart tool.
The USB flash drive is now ready for Windows 7’s installation files.
Make Your Windows 7 USB Bootable
The format step may take some time, depending on your computer’s specification.
In the command prompt type
d:/boot/bootsect.exe /nt60 e:
(This assumes D: is your DVD drive with the install DVD inserted, and you named E: your USB drive. This may differ on your PC, so check before entering the command.)
This will make your USB drive bootable.
Copy Windows 7 Installation Files to USB
The final step can be done from My Computer. Just open the installation DVD, highlight everything, and drag it across to the USB drive.
This can also take a while. When complete, you should be all set. Insert the USB disk into your new PC, then enter the BIOS to adjust the boot order. Your target computer may even have the Choose Boot Device option during start up.
Use Microsoft’s Windows 7 USB Installer Tool
If you want a simpler solution to installing Windows 7 from a bootable USB drive, try Microsoft’s dedicated, downloadable tool.
While you wait for the download, install the installer tool, then launch from the Start menu.
You’ll be prompted to find the ISO image file for Windows 7. Find the ISO file on your hard disk drive, then click Next.
Here, select USB device for the media type you plan to create. In the next screen, use the dropdown menu to select the USB drive, then Begin Copying. Wait while the process completes.
When the bar reaches 100%, you’ll spot some status information. Any problems that occurred are listed here. If you need another bootable USB Windows 7 installation disk, click Start Over to repeat the process.
Otherwise, click the X in the top-right corner to close, before safely ejecting your USB disk. It is now ready to install Windows 7 on a suitable computer of your choice.
It’s Easy to Create a Windows 7 USB Installation Disk
If you’ve been stuck trying to get an operating system set up on your old laptop or netbook, you’ll be relieved to see how simple it really is. Indeed, Windows 7 and later already have the tools built in to help you make a bootable USB installer.
Failing that, you can take the simple option by grabbing Microsoft’s own USB installer tool for Windows 7 and later.
Microsoft today launched Windows 10 May 2019 Update, aka 1903, after running the feature upgrade through additional testing with Insider volunteers, hardware manufacturers and third-party software developers.
“The May 2019 Update is available for customers who would like to install the latest release,” John Cable, director of program management in the Windows delivery and servicing team, announced in a post to a company blog.
Under normal circumstances, 1903 – the four-digit label in Microsoft’s yymm format – would have gone public six or more weeks ago. But in early April, Microsoft said it would send the feature upgrade – the first of two presumably slated for the year – into more testing. The decision was an obvious reaction to the debacle of Windows 10 1809, which in October 2018 launched with a known-yet-still-overlooked bug that destroyed user data. Microsoft pulled 1809 and while the upgrade eventually debuted, albeit months late, in March the company gave up on getting the new version to users.
Microsoft did not want a repeat performance of 1809, or to be viewed as pooh-poohing testing with 1903.
The delayed debut meant that the 18-month support allowance will not expire until Dec. 8, 2020, about two months later than if 1903 had followed the usual schedule.
Enterprises: Get ready, get set, don’t go!
With the full 18 months stretched out in front of it, Windows 10 1903 is ready, argued Cable, for “targeted deployments” by business customers. “IT administrators should begin targeted deployments to validate that the apps, devices and infrastructure used by their organizations work as expected with the new release and features,” Cable wrote in a section titled “Semi-Annual Channel release for commercial customers.”
Cable’s use of “targeted” to describe 1903 at its release is pivotal to enterprises, as it designated the upgrade as fit for testing and piloting but not widespread deployment. Later this summer, probably in two to four months, Microsoft will put out the word that Windows 10 1903 is “business ready” or something to that effect (if not in those words).
After several name changes of Windows 10’s release channels, Microsoft recently trashed “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)” (SAC-T) as the label for the opening months of each feature refresh. IT administrators and corporate Windows 10 users, who marked the shift from SAC-T to the shorter “Semi-Annual Channel” (SAC) as Microsoft’s stamp that the upgrade had been thoroughly tested, rebelled; they worried SAC-T’s demise meant the same for Redmond’s guidance.
In late March, John Wilcox, a Windows-as-a-Service (WaaS) evangelist, told commercial customers to rest easy. “We will continue to communicate for future releases the transition from targeted to broad deployment status,” Wilcox wrote.
How Microsoft will communicate the transition is unclear. Most likely? A revamped Windows 10 release informational webpage, which the firm dubbed “Windows release health dashboard.” The one-stop site will list all update holds, known issues and the status of ongoing fixes. It will also show each version’s current status. Currently, the page for Windows 10 1809 reads, “Windows 10, version 1809 is designated for broad deployment and available for any user who manually selects ‘Check for updates’ via Windows Update.”
For commercial customers, Windows 10 1903 can be obtained via Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Windows Update for Business (WUfB), and the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) using System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or another patch management platform.
Others, including Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro users, get 1903 by manually checking for updates. To do that, users should type “Settings” in the operating system’s search bar, open that app, first choose “Update & Security” and then “Windows Update.” Select “Check for updates.”