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3 Productivity Hacks that Will Actually Make Life Awesome

I’ve been all over the place lately. You probably feel it, too. Work commitments, kids’ schedules, social events, and more. When life flows without a hitch, it can still wear you down. A disruption in your plans can completely derail what you work so diligently to keep together. Since adding an hour to each day to catch your breath isn’t an option, it’s crucial to work with what we’re given, to become intentional with time and other resources. With a few life hacks, it’s possible to maximize what we’re given. These tips can apply to whatever consumes us. They're for busy parents, time-strapped executives and students pushing the course-load limits.

1. Try Trello

Trello is a collaboration tool that creates online sticky notes to help you organize your to-do list. A Trello board contains lists of cards you create with all your to-do list details. Create a card with a link to a recipe you want to try, and include a checkbox list of ingredients to buy. Invite collaborators to any card, which you can label for easy identification. You can even add due dates to stay on track.

2. Multitasking? That’s so 2010

Multitasking has gone from virtue to vice. Ever find yourself slipping into multitasking without realizing it? Just count all the windows you’ve opened in your browser. How often is too often to check your phone in 20 minutes? Set aside time on your calendar – a book or online – for a specific task. Stay off social media for the duration. Resist the urge to check for texts. Give yourself time for uninterrupted work. Do it for family interactions and conversations with colleagues, without a screen between you. [Try RescueTime to track your habits]

3. Establish email rules

Try limiting responses to three sentences. If it needs more, it needs a phone call. Email represents my glaring time-management flaw. I have two-month-old email waiting in folders I established to streamline the process. (It's safe to say the process failed.) Gmail users can mute conversations. Future emails won’t show in your inbox; you can still access them in your all-mail archive. Download an app, such as CloudMagic, to lend a hand for email management. Newton, CloudMagic’s email program, connects to other productivity apps to keep you in line. Minutes stolen back here and hours won back there will impact productivity. Ask friends and colleagues what works for them, too. You’ll find that the combination of collected hacks might just be the formula that works for you.

FAQs

Common Fiber FAQs

There’s a lot of talk circulating about the super-fast Internet speeds of a fiber-optic network. Especially for cable or dial-up Internet subscribers, fiber-optic speeds have piqued a lot of interest. Fiber optics delivers data on flexible glass fibers, in pulses of light. It sounds space age, and kind of is. “Speed” in fiber optics doesn’t refer to the speed of light. Data doesn’t move faster on a fiber-optic line than it would on copper wires used for cable Internet. The bandwidth, though, exceeds that of cable. Also, lower attenuation on fiber-optic networks allows them to move data longer distances without weakening the signal. A fiber-optic line can carry more channels for voice or video than cable can. Here are common questions that crop up when it comes to fiber.

Can fiber-optic cable be repaired?

Yes. Fiber-optic strands are high-quality glass. During installation, fiber-optic networks sometimes need splicing to cover more ground. These splices can be seamless, and won't degrade the network. Technicians can attach connectors to broken fiber-optic lines for repair, too.

Can fiber-optic cable freeze?

It’s not the cables that freeze, but water near them. When water near fiber-optic cables freezes, it can impact performance. Crystallized water causes micro-bends in the glass fibers, which can result in signal degradation. When the ice melts, the strands’ integrity and network speed usually return to normal.

Does fiber-optic need a modem?

No. Fiber Internet subscribers need an Optical Network Unit. It serves a similar function as a modem, for Fiber to The Home (FTTH.) The fiber-optic line connects to the ONU, and coaxial cables connect to your router. Fiber to the Cabinet (FTTC) or Fiber to the Node (FTTN), don’t connect fiber to the customer. For those networks, fiber carries the signal for most of the distance. Coaxial cable connects a home from a cabinet or node off-site.

Is fiber-optic Internet wireless?

It can be. For FTTH, FTTC, or FTTN connections, a router disperses a wireless signal. Homes can act as hot spots, allowing wireless devices to share the bandwidth. Wireless Internet through fiber-optics can support more than one user. It can even support simultaneous data-heavy activity, such as gaming, streaming, and videoconferencing.

Is fiber optic cable expensive?

A complete overhaul of a copper network with fiber-optic cable can become expensive. Fiber networks tend to need less maintenance, and carriers can recoup costs over time. The gap in cost for copper repair and fiber installation is shrinking. Fiber is cost-effective. Fiber-optic lines aren’t susceptible to electromagnetic interference, as wire networks can be. Technicians don’t install fiber cable in conduit, a protective sheath, to guard against interference. That's one less cost.

How fast should fiber-optic Internet be?

That depends on the speed tier chosen from a provider. Copper-wire Internet can be distance-sensitive. Fiber Internet doesn’t degrade with distance from the provider’s access point. It's not subject to speed fluctuations the way networks whose customers share a connection are. Fiber-optic lines send data far faster than cable or DSL modem speeds.

What is fiber-optic TV?

The technology works the same as for fiber-optic Internet. Fiber-optic cables aren’t susceptible to interferences that can affect copper wires. That can make them more reliable. Fiber’s resistance to signal degradation also gives it an advantage.

Where was fiber optics invented?

Ancient Romans drew glass into fibers. This came way before telephones and the Internet, of course. French inventors Claude and Ignace Chappe built the first optical telegraph. Developed in the late 1700s, it used a series of lights on towers to send messages. Physicists contributed to fiber development in the 1800s. By the late 1800s, Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. Inventor William Wheeler developed light pipes to illuminate homes. His technology led to fiber-optics. Fiber-optics were also used for medical purposes and inclusion into television’s early years during the 1900s. In 1930, Heinrich Lamm sent an image through a fiber-optic bundle. By midcentury, cladding, lasers and light pulses had made their way into fiber-optic lexicon. In 1975, a British police department installed the first non-experimental fiber-optic link. Telephones on fiber-optic networks debuted in 1977, in Long Beach, Calif. By the 1990s, optic systems carried 100 times more data than cable. The Trans-Pacific Cable 5 Network runs under the Pacific Ocean. It connects Japan, Guam, Hawaii. Continental U.S. Global fiber networks followed. Today, fiber-optics delivers the highest technology for broadcast, medical, military telecommunications use, and more. It’s also the source for fast, consistent Internet speeds. Fiber networks support crystal-clear landline phones, and comprehensive TV packages, too.  

Sources:

http://www.thefoa.org/tech/FAQS/FAQ-GENL.htm

http://www.timbercon.com/history-of-fiber-optics/

https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/getting-broadband

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FAQs

Common Cable FAQs

Cable Internet is a popular choice for those living in urban areas. Users connect to the Internet by sharing the same copper cables that also transmit TV signals to subscribers’ homes. Typically, cable customers share their connection with others on the line, and usually have 1.5Mbps of download speed on average. Cable Internet strength is contingent on location, so the closer you are to your Internet service provider, the stronger your signal will be.

Can cable internet be wireless?

Yes. Just buy a wireless router and connect it to your cable modem so that all of your devices can connect at once.

Where can I learn how to convert cable to Wi-Fi?

This is a fairly easy process if you already have a wireless router. Just connect your new router to your modem and follow these steps.

How fast can cable Internet go?

This depends on your provider, and the plan you’re paying for. When picking the right speed tier for your home, you’ll want to know how many devices will connect. It is also important to take into account how much you will use your connection. If you’re a gamer or stream a lot of TV and movies, you’re going to want a plan with the fastest speed option available.

What is cable internet speed, and how is it measured?

Cable Internet speed is measured in megabits per second, which is a way of measuring data transfer speed. Most cable companies offer download speeds ranging from 30 to 100 Mbps.

When did cable internet come out?

According to the Federal Communications Commission, access to broadband happened first in Canada in 1996. Rogers Communications provided the first cable modem service.

Does cable internet require a phone line?

No. Cable Internet is delivered to your home through cable TV lines, or coaxial copper cables. Your cable modem connects to these cables to provide Internet in your home. Cable Internet is often called “last mile access” because it connects the Internet Service provider (ISP) to the cable subscriber.

Is cable Internet shared, and does cable Internet slow down with more users?

Yes, and sort of. Cable Internet is shared across lines among various users in the ISPs service area. Typically speeds are steady. But, at certain hours, if too many people are online at once it can start to use up available bandwidth, slowing down the service for everyone connected.

Does cable internet require a modem?

Yes. Your cable modem connects to the cable line that runs to your home. When your computer is connected to the modem you are able to access the Internet. Many homes access their connection via a wireless router that is connected to the modem. This allows more devices to be connected at once. A cable modem is “always on,” technology, meaning it’s always connected to the Internet.

Sources:

http://www.linksys.com/my/support-article?articleNum=142912

https://transition.fcc.gov/omd/history/internet/making-connections.html

http://mashable.com/2012/11/07/high-speed-internet-technologies/#TIrtN_hgnPqX

http://fios.verizon.com/beacon/cable-vs-dsl-internet/

News

6 College Football Apps You Need to Download Now

Go Sports! College Football Apps that score big College football is back! If you’re one of those people who cried a few tears of joy on College Football Opening Day, then we have some apps for you. Whether you want to keep tabs on teams, scores, touchdown dances, fantasy leagues, or all of the above, there’s a little something for everyone. Plus, no matter how well your team does, the all-knowing and wise selection committee could still pick someone else. We have a great beer app to help you drown your sorrows if things don’t go your team’s way. ESPN App   The gold standard for tracking any and all sports, the ESPN app lets you customize everything. Pick which league and teams you want to follow (you can pick all of them if you want). The app also gives you:

  • Up-to-the-minute scores
  • Video highlights
  • Breaking news
  • Podcasts
Plus, when college football season ends, switch to another sport all within the app. College Football Scoreboard Just want a standalone scoreboard of FBS and FCS conferences? This is the app for you. It’s no-nonsense, for the hardcore college football fan, with up-to-the-minute scores, news and schedules for top conferences. College Football Playoff Gameday App It’s the app for that long-awaited moment—the playoffs. If your team is headed to the semi-finals or national championship, the College Football Playoff Gameday App is a fabulous resource. The coverage takes a deep dive into all things college football playoffs. Check the latest rankings, social media updates, and breaking news. It also delivers an official Gameday Fan Guide with all you need to know about events leading up to the big game. ESPN Fantasy App and Yahoo Fantasy Sports Want to start a fantasy league by aren’t sure whether you should choose between the ESPN Fantasy App or Yahoo Fantasy Sports? Well you’re in luck. Both have similar features, and continually rank first and second on top fantasy football app lists. (Yes, there are quite a few, here and here.) ESPN’s fantasy app experienced a few setbacks on opening weekend, but it still has plenty of great features such as a Watch List to monitor players to add to your team, live scoring, customizable logos and more. Yahoo does have an ace in the hole, though-- a team of writers constantly adding the latest information and articles, along with player notes and game highlights. TapHunter Don’t want to watch the big game at home? Or need a place to escape after the final touchdown has been scored? Try out TapHunter. It has one simple function: To inform you of what bars are closest to you. Plus, while you’re drinking, tap into the college sports community with the College Gameday Sports Chat and Fan Community app. Talk smack to other fans while you keep up to date on what’s happening around the stadium.  

Sources:

http://www.androidheadlines.com/2013/12/feature-top-10-best-college-football-apps.html

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=smartPhones.collegeScoreboard.football&hl=en

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cfp-gameday/id924095955?mt=8

http://www.espn.com/espn/mobile/products/products?id=6857590

http://phandroid.com/2014/08/05/best-android-apps-football-nfl/

http://www.androidpolice.com/2014/08/26/espn-renames-college-football-app-championship-drive-gives-big-makeover-v4-0/

http://www.androidheadlines.com/2013/12/feature-top-10-best-college-football-apps.html

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/espn-get-scores-news-watch/id317469184?mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cfp.gameday&hl=en

FAQs

Best On-The-Go Internet Options

Connecting to the Internet has never been easier. Whether you have a cable provider, DSL or a fiber-optic line, there are plans for every household and budget. But what about mobile wireless Internet providers or Internet on-the-go plans? Most mainstream carriers have options for mobile Internet, which is especially great if you’re a frequent traveler or work in different locations.

What is mobile high-speed Internet?

Mobile high-speed Internet, or broadband, are 3G and 4G networks that use mobile phone networks to provide Internet service. While cable companies use cable lines and phone lines to deliver Internet to your home, mobile wireless internet providers don’t need routers or cables for Internet. Accessing wireless Internet on the go can be done two ways: with a USB stick or a hotspot. USB sticks are smaller and more portable than a hotspot, but they require you to download software to use them. Mobile hotspots and phone hotspots are becoming far more popular these days. Mobile hotspots are useful because they let you connect more than one device. The best mobile broadband is LTE and major carriers like Verizon and AT&T have some of the best mobile broadband plans around. Best Wireless Internet on-the-go There are plenty of mobile hotspots on the market. But how do you go about picking from the best mobile broadband plans?  Here are a few Internet on-the-go plans and devices that will help you stay connected no matter what. For those who have the travel bug: The XCom Global International MiFi Hotspot is great for international travelers because it lets you have unlimited Internet in 44 countries For long road trips: AT&T’s Unite Pro is great for the most seasoned road warrior. Critics love it too. This portable device earned PCMag’s Editor’s Choice award for AT&T mobile hotspots. For those who want more reliability: The Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile hotspot is great because of its incredibly long battery life and reliability. Also, you can see your data usage in real time, so you don’t go over your limit. For those who want to connect more: Freedompop is another great option for casual data users. Their Freedom Spot MiFi 4082 lets you connect up to 8 devices. It also has 6-plus hours of battery life and it small enough to grab and go for the weekend or for an international flight. Smartphone WiFi: Internet in your pocket If you are in a pinch, or don’t want to invest in a mobile high speed Internet, most current smartphones allow you to turn on a built-in hotspot. Once it’s on, your phone’s hotspot allows multiple devices to browse and connect on a secure network. Just be sure that your Wi-Fi password is enabled for a secure network. The only downside is that turning on the hotspot will use your phone’s data plan. So it is important to make sure that you either have enough data, or have a plan that includes the use of the hotspot.

Sources:

http://lifehacker.com/5974761/how-to-choose-the-fastest-cheapest-and-most-reliable-mobile-hotspot-to-stay-connected-everywhere-you-go

https://www.uswitch.com/broadband/guides/mobile_internet/

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2381232,00.asp

http://www.verizonwireless.com/archive/mobile-living/tech-smarts/how-to-use-your-smartphone-as-a-mobile-hotspot/

https://www.uswitch.com/broadband/guides/mobile_internet/

Technology

Who Has Fiber Internet? A Guide to Providers

Many of the fastest Internet plans come from fiber-optic networks. Fiber-optic Internet, especially Fiber to the Home (FTTH), delivers consistent broadband access. It’s a technology many providers have turned to for the bulk of their networks. Fiber provides better network reliability and speed potential than other Internet options. Fiber-optic Internet provided the first gigabit speeds for residential use. Hair-thin, flexible glass strands make up a fiber-optic network. Cables of these strands make up a delivery method that can provide speeds faster than that of cable or DSL. A fiber optic network means your Internet signal can cover more distance without signal degradation than cable or DSL. Fiber's efficiency allows for more distance covered than cable or DSL without signal degradation. At today’s speeds, most tasks, even the most data-rich, are instant with fiber. Future technology could create a need for another level of speed for support. Fiber networks have the capacity to eventually accommodate speeds of 1,000 times faster than what’s possible today. Data moves at higher frequencies than it does in copper systems, which gives fiber optics more data capacity. At basic plans, users can stream movies or music as others game online or videoconference. A resistance to electromagnetic interference gives fiber an edge over systems of metal cable.

Does Comcast have fiber-optic Internet?

Yes, but it’s not FTTH. Comcast advertises 2Gbps speeds on a network with fiber optics until the final mile. Then Comcast uses cable lines to deliver the final gigabit of Internet service To your home. Comcast, founded in 1963, upgraded its cable network to offer speeds of 1,000Mbps. Comcast’s business FTTN network covers 39 states and the District of Columbia. Comcast business fiber Internet covers large cities, concentrated on the east coast. It offers a non-fiber product called Metro Ethernet to some of its fiber markets. It's also available in a few second-tier-population cities. Customers must live within a third of a mile of the Comcast fiber network to get Gigabit Pro. Comcast's website spells out other conditions of service.2

Does Cox have fiber optics?

Yes, and as with Comcast, it’s FTTN – Fiber to the Node, not the home. It’s known as a hybrid fiber-coax network. It connects a customer’s cable modem to an optical node, which fiber-optic cables feed. This technology is known as Data Over Cable System Interface Specification, or DOCSIS. Several clients share the broadband signal from the node. Cox distributes bandwidth among the customers connected with a method called statistical multiplexing. The communications channel gets split into many data streams for more than one user to share.

Does Centurylink have fiber optic Internet?

Yes, it’s referred to as “fiber-enabled.” Centurylink says the network is capable of speeds of as much as 1Gbps. At that speed, it’s possible to stream more than one HD movie and conduct a videoconference at the same time. In-home Wi-Fi can connect more than one enabled device on the same network. Centurylink advertises symmetrical speeds. That means equal capacity for download and upload. Homes with more than one high-bandwidth user need a higher tier of Internet speed. Centurylink offers a business plan for 1Gbps Internet, too.

Sources:

http://broadbandnow.com/Fiber

http://www.xfinity.com/multi-gig-offers.html

https://www.cox.com/aboutus/policies/internet-service-disclosures.html

https://www.centurylink.com/fiber/

 

FAQs

Guide to the Internet Apocalypse (and Other Fun Things To Do When the Internet is Down)

Your Internet is down. You’ve turned it off and then back on again and then once more just to be sure. Now you’re asking yourself what you could have possibly done to deserve this. You have deadlines looming, Netflix to catch up on, and people to stalk on Facebook. You get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Beads of sweat appear on your forehead. Your mouth goes dry. Here, breathe into this paper bag and calm down. We’re here to help you survive the apocalypse. Acceptance is the first key, my friend. It’s time to get back in touch with your inner caveman. Second course of action? Call your Internet provider with a few choice words. Just kidding, you catch more flies with honey. Still, call them, try to see if there is an Internet outage in your area. If not, ask if your ISP can diagnose the problem and if a technician is needed. No matter what the issue, there’s going to be a wait time for your Internet to come back on. Here are a few things to pass the time.

Be productive

Channel your feelings of rage into cleaning out your closet or making a gourmet meal. Just don’t rely on Googling fancy recipes with French words in them. Actually, chicken nuggets might be easier.

Contemplate

With the Internet down, it’s a good time to contemplate the meaning of life. What are we doing here? Why is karma so cruel? I should have tipped the pizza delivery guy more, you whisper to yourself.

Back to basics

Read a book. Remember those? Square things with pages. I bet you have a few lying around you’ve been “meaning” to read for a while now. Or, weep uncontrollably.

Conversate

Actually talk to people in your house. When’s the last time you looked someone in the eye? Yeah, we can’t remember either. There’s been too many Pokémon to catch.

Don’t procrastinate

Start that screenplay you’ve always wanted to write. Or pretty much any project you’ve been telling yourself you’re going to tackle once you finish streaming every episode of “Orange is the New Black.”

While you wait …

Organize your computer’s files and folders. Go to Starbucks for the free Wi-Fi. Try to steal your neighbor’s Wi-Fi. Their password is probably something like “password.”

Reconfigurate

Use your phone as a hotspot to get back online. This website has a great how-to guide to help you do that. Just be sure your phone company won’t charge you more for the extra data.

Get out …

Rediscover the great outdoors. What’s that smell? Nature. We bet it’s been awhile since you’ve strolled through a park or taken a leisurely bike ride.

… or move on

Get in your car, drive away and start a new life where there is no Internet outage, free healthcare and puppies: Canada.

Technology

What Will I Get With Unlimited Internet Plans

A household’s connection to the Internet can become a round-the-clock proposition. From TV marathons to videoconferencing to streaming music, Internet connections rarely get turned off. With an array of devices able to connect, unlimited wireless Internet can be essential. Price-per-minute usage once dominated the home Internet landscape, with whopping bills to boot. Now, unlimited Internet plans represent the majority of ISP offerings. Some providers offer connection speeds as high as 1Gbps, yet won’t limit the time you spend online. Unlimited Wi-Fi plans have become common. ISPs offer incentives for customers shopping for new service or to switch providers. Among those: FIXED PRICING | No data limits or caps every month. Customers pay one monthly price for unlimited home Internet. HOME PAGES/EMAIL ADDRESSES | Arrange your home page with stocks and headlines you’re interested in. Add your horoscope and favorite team tracker to get everything on one homepage. ISPs provide a few email addresses too. SECURITY SUITE | Free or at a set cost, ISPs have software to safeguard against Internet fraud and identity theft. Some even cover wireless devices, like insurance.

Will I be able to find truly unlimited mobile broadband?

Unlimited high-speed Internet isn’t limited to the home. Some service providers offer plans that include mobile Internet. A mobile modem provides an Internet signal close to what the customers has at home. It’s rare to find a carrier with unlimited broadband Internet for mobile devices, though. Mobile phones’ capacity to access the Internet has increased. Carriers’ ability to provide unlimited data decreased as a result. Strain on 3G and 4G networks forced data caps on some mobile broadband plans. Once a subscriber reaches the preset data limit, they could face: OVERAGE FEES | Carriers could charge per unit of data above that specified in the service plan. THROTTLED SPEED | Providers could reduce mobile broadband speeds for the billing cycle. DISCONNECTION | A provider could interrupt service for the billing cycle - or longer - for data usage beyond the tier limit.

What can I expect from unlimited Internet providers?

For the home, the outlook remains clear. Few carriers will charge anything but a flat rate for access. Fast Internet isn’t tough to find. Carriers emphasize a lack of data caps you might expect with Internet access on mobile phones. Unlimited wireless Internet can become a matter of having enough speed, and a dependable      modem. Unlimited Internet plans vary from 1Mbps to 1Gbps. Internet speed represents just part of the picture, though. Performance of Internet speed at any level depends on various factors.
  • How many devices will access the network?
  • How much media-rich activity will become commonplace on the network – especially at the same time?
  • Is the connection on a dedicated line? Must you share with other subscribers in the area?
Before you order unlimited home Internet, research your options. Call to speak with a rep from some providers. With details of your Internet needs and device profile, they’ll be able to suggest a speed tier for you.  

Technology

How Cable Internet Works

https://www.youtube.com/embed/IOZjdDHYB0g Video Transcript: A cable Internet provider sends Internet data over the same lines that bring you your cable TV. They’re called coaxial cables. One coaxial cable can carry 750 to 100 megahertz of data. It takes each cable TV channel about six megahertz to operate. That leaves plenty of space for hundreds of channels – and lots of Internet bandwidth. A cable Internet signal takes up about the same amount of space as a TV channel for both downstream data (data that comes to your computer from the Internet)  and upstream data (things you upload like posts to social media, or files sent to email recipients). To use your cable TV network for high-speed Internet, you need a cable modem and a cable modem termination system. The termination system stays at your Internet provider’s headquarters. In between – there’s that coaxial cable we mentioned before, that carries your TV channels and high-speed Internet data. National cable operators set up several hubs to connect neighborhoods. The coaxial cable system splits available bandwidth evenly among subscribers at any given time. To prevent users from taking more than their share, operators can impose data limits. Need more bandwidth to game, stream and more in your home? Cable Internet providers offer higher pricing tiers to give you access to more Internet speed. Under optimal conditions, when fewer users are on the network, cable Internet speeds can reach as much as 100 megabites per second! Users will find far less speed during high-traffic hours, though. Cable Internet operators can sometimes use a partially-fiber-optic network, from the control center to distribution points near a neighborhood. They then use copper wires for that final mile, to the subscriber. Often a cable carrier will offer phone services in a bundle, too. Usually, the more services you sign up for from a provider, the more you save on individual services if you bought them separately. Whether you’re a cable TV subscriber or want to be one, you have an option for high-speed Internet – without a lot of equipment to add!