5 Tips & Tricks That Will Make You Actually Enjoy Writing

You get the assignment, read it a couple of times, open a word document on your laptop, and… nothing happens. Sounds familiar? The truth is that academic writing can be quite exhausting, especially when you lack time, energy, or interest.

As a student, you’ll have to write thousands and thousands of words, and there’s no escaping this. If you feel joy only after you submit your paper and never in the process, you might need to end your misery and learn to enjoy writing all the way through.

In this article, you’ll find advice on how to relish the process of writing, instead of feeling like someone is hitting you with the Cruciatus Curse.

Find Something That Interests You

If there is an opportunity to choose a topic yourself, be sure to choose the one that sparks your curiosity. Why spend endless hours writing something that you yourself don’t find interesting enough?

In case there are no options to choose from, you should still try to write about something that surprises or intrigues you within a given subject. This way, you’ll be able to stay engaged during the whole time. You’ll learn more and cover a topic in the best possible way.

Don’t worry if you can’t think of any exciting topic to write about. You can always turn to an academic writing service like WritePaper and let them help you. As some subjects are less engaging than others, it’s normal if you feel a lack of curiosity or motivation. Just switch to a more interesting assignment while professionals take care of the boring stuff.

Do Your Research

Thorough research is not only a prerequisite for a high-quality paper but also a guarantee that you’ll enjoy the process of writing. It’s also a good way to prove your expertise in a subject matter, which your readers will feel and appreciate.

While researching, you’ll find different perspectives that will provoke your interest and thinking. You might also discover opposite views and ideas as well as ethical problems. Such findings will contribute to your writing by making your argument more vivid. They will also make the whole process more engaging and interesting.

To conduct research in a proper manner, make sure that you’re using effective reading techniques. There’s no need to read books from cover to cover. Instead, look for relevant keywords and search for summaries of the main arguments. This way, you’ll get a sense of what’s important without getting bored, overwhelmed, or lost.

Try Freewriting

Freewriting is a sort of a warm-up exercise for your brain that lets you overcome the fear of blank page and helps to start writing. Also, it might help you get some good ideas for your written assignment, as you’ll tap the subconscious mind.

To freewrite, decide for how long you want to continue this exercise, set the timer, and get down to work. Write down whatever comes to your mind in relation to the topic at hand without stopping, editing, or erasing.

Freewriting is helpful because when you write in the state of flow, you don’t judge your own thoughts and emotions. This way, you might get to some surprising and interesting ideas that exist in your head without you even realizing it. Besides, this practice is very enjoyable, as it doesn’t put you under any sort of pressure.

Let Go Of Perfectionism

You might be shooting yourself in the foot if you want your term paper to be your magnum opus. Striving for perfection might sound good in theory, but really it’s just about turning what is already a difficult task into a monumental one.

By intending to write a perfect paper, you’re saddling yourself with a tedious work that might provoke writer’s block. As a result, you might find yourself procrastinating in a useless effort to write the perfect first sentence. This way, you’re not only losing your time but also depriving yourself of a chance to get the assignment done and move forward.

Remember, “Perfectionism spells paralysis.” Being truly engaged with the topic and diligent when reading and writing is more than enough to produce a high-quality paper. At the end of the day, the process is ultimately more important and valuable than the result.

source: https://unsplash.com/photos/fMbRKk2la0s

Arrange Your Writing Environment

To boost your creativity and enjoy the process of writing, it’s important to think about such an environment that suits your tastes and needs. It’s a matter of preference, so you can come up with anything that makes you feel comfortable and productive. It might be a university library, a noisy cafe, or your room.

Then decide whether you need background music or if you can focus only in silence. If you prefer something to play in the background, then think about the music that helps you concentrate and sets the right mood.

Finally, treat yourself to some healthy snacks and your favorite drink, like coffee, tea, or juice. You’ll most definitely need some fuel, so please don’t starve yourself to death to finish the paper as soon as possible. And don’t forget to take breaks!

Wrapping Up

Once in awhile, any student gets overwhelmed by a written assignment, be it an essay or a term paper. Writing is a demanding and time-consuming process, but with the right attitude and preparation, you might actually enjoy it.

Choose a topic that you find interesting and thought-provoking and research it well. Do some freewriting to warm-up, and don’t forget to silence your inner perfectionist. Then, get down to writing in an environment that makes you feel good and helps work better.

Enjoy the process!

The Best NAS Storage Devices on the Market

Entrepreneurship is on the rise, and in the current global market-space, small businesses and home-business are becoming ever-more-popular. With this comes bigger size, for the business, the demand, and in the background, a bigger need for storage solutions on your home devices. Here are some storage solutions you don’t need to pass around the office because they’re all connected! That’s the greatest benefit of what we call a NAS device (Network Attached Storage). Here, we’ve collected a bunch of top models to find out which is the best for you, but first, let’s learn what they are.

Don’t Compromise on File Access

This is surely the selling point of NAS storage, that you can forget about the days of worrying how much space your device has left, or better yet, those times where you have to delete some files you want, in order to make the space for the files that you need. Instead of this, a good NAS storage device that can connect to your device can connect your files to you from further away, without the compromise. You don’t even have to plug it into the drive, just plug-and-play from the comfort of, well, wherever the internet reaches!

What Can I Even do on This?

Well, that’s what you need to decide! I wouldn’t suggest buying one before you know exactly what you want to use for it. Most commonly, people just want to store their immense collection of word files, but there are different specialized NAS devices for each use. Simple office file sharing is easy work on near all NAS devices as a minimum, so you shouldn’t worry about shopping around too much. You only really have to worry about the small details when doing more demanding work, like HD video-sharing to multiple devices, and other more immense work-load demands. If you get to this point, it’s better to explore NAS devices with higher market specifications for memory, storage, processing, and network power. Price is usually equivalent to stronger components, so these might be more costly than the average device.

NAS Devices are built to accommodate needs, so can make it more customizable, but a little more difficult, to find the one that’s just right for you.

Basic Buying Tips

The reason any person decides to buy a storage device is for just that reason, storage. In a NAS device, the storage cards are held in bays, small drawers that the storage plugs into so that the box it’s plugged into can connect to the internet for you. For the home and small-business users, a NAS device will have about one or two bays. However, if you’re thinking of going into the big leagues, or ARE already working a large-scale operation, bigger offices commonly use a four-bay or more system for their needs!

Back to the basics though, a single bay storage device isn’t recommended, unless you’re using the device simply to backup your work which is also on your work-devices. This is just because of the lack of extra possibilities in the future. You don’t want to limit yourself the second you buy one, especially considering the price of a 2-bay can be found similarly to the 1-bay! One-bays can sometimes allow you to expand more outside of the box too, but it can become a hassle.

A two-bay NAS seems the smart choice for a home user who wants a basic ‘do-it-all’ drive. If you want to mirror your files, bigger drive sizes could be a favored choice, but for bay-sizes, two slots can make the world’s difference. Also, buy on the side of caution. You may think storage is expensive, but if you buy a bigger setup now, you won’t have to resync your data on new drives when it comes to needing more storage. If you set-up for the long run, you’ll be better off. They are reliable and Synology data recovery is more reliable.

Do I go ‘Diskless’ Or ‘Populated’?

So I have to presume that you’re exploring different NAS drives, and you come across the fine detail of ‘diskless’ or ‘populated’. What do they mean? Well, you can buy ‘populated’ NAS devices that come -pre-built with their complimentary storage drives. They’re often usually already configured and must be dedicated to the drives they come in. Often Storage manufacturers who make drives favor pre-inserting their storage. Other manufacturers may tend to sell diskless-NAS devices. These can be some-what cheaper, but you’ll have to buy your own insertable storage. You just have to do a little extra research on what to look for! In this respect, this is a head’s up on the differences between the two, but we won’t take sides on which is better, that’s your decision!

I chose ‘Diskless’: A little extra help on disk-choice?

If you’ve got a little idea that you want to go diskless, here’s the part where you have to think about disks. NAS manufacturers tend to recommend their own proprietary disks or have a favored disk-manufacturer to recommend you to (usually a list of ones they’ve tested and KNOW work with the device well). You can find these compatibility lists online before you buy them. It isn’t 100% required, but we 100% recommend it to be sure, as you’ll get the most optimized functionality out of the device.

Some of the big names in disk-manufacturing, like Seagate, WD, Toshiba, and more have specialized drives that are optimized for NAS storage, so are often the best bet. On top of this, the big names often compete in pricing, so you can get very good prices for the drives on offer. These drives are assured to run near constantly and can be very durable. We recommend you look at NAS-verified drives as your best choice on the market.

The names you want to look out for are listed here. Seagate and Western Digital are the big guns, with Seagate’s ‘IronWolf’ and ‘IronWolf Pro’ being NAS specific, and WD’s ‘WD Red’ line coming up as their NAS choice. Toshiba is also a great choice, with the ‘N’ series of disks. All three of these lines are built to perform heavy and durable and come in a great variety of sizes.

Halfway House: Redundancy and Safe Storing

We’re halfway through the round-up but there’s more to go. We’ll cover the storage choice and their pros and cons, Media-streaming (if you so choose to have it), The physical plugging in choices, and ratings on the markets biggest, to give you that last push in deciding what you need.

So, Storage choice On-board. NAS devices that have more than one drive have a choice of mirroring your files, which in short saves the one file onto both drives. That way, if something happens with one, the other is still up and accessible. After all, who wouldn’t have two parachutes instead of one! The only issue is that you half your storage choice right down. This is usually the base-setup, so if you DON’T want this, delve into your user manual for ways of turning this off.

However, in turning it off, there are two separate ways of saving your files in basic, single-copy formats. There’s ‘striping’ and there’s ‘JBOD’. What striping does, in the easiest terms possible, stretch the file across both drives, as it saves half on one drive and a half in the other, all chopped up. This still means the files functional, and often means that it can write and read faster, with the compromise that both drives cannot be used separately, and won’t work if they’re taken out separately. For this reason, for people who need to carry their drives around for plug and play, you may want to consider the JBOD setting where you can. This setting, meaning ‘Just a Bunch of Disks’, files are saved completely onto a drive in whole, not fragmented, so that you can plug-in and plug-out your drives and the files will be complete. This can be considered safer too as if one of the drives goes turn off at any point, you can still access entire files for the half that’s still available.

            Lastly, for those of you who know something about NAS already, there IS the ability to mirror AND stripe across three or more drives for the added security and speed of data. The NAS could copy data across entire arrays of drives so that the failure of one drive can be patched by another complimentary striping on another drive by reconstruction. This would be for those big businesses maximizing on speed, security and redundancy measures, but can be a bit overkill for the average home user. It’s useful to have the option though!

Movies and Media without the Mayhem

NAS devices often come pre-configured, and for this reason, you need to consider what one you’re buying if you’re going to buy it as a memory bank for your favorite streaming service, or for your home movies. Only certain devices can play certain types of files, so you have to do quite a bit of research for your rig if you’re planning on a home-theatre device of the like. Think for example, that some ‘.avi’ files can’t work in MP4 players. The same can be said for NAS Units. Typically, NAS come complimentary to PC rigs, you can get a plethora of software that plays different formats like a piece of cake. You can further shop around for the NAS devices on the market that can seamlessly connect to smart-boxes, like Apple TV, Chromecast, and so on, for quick on-demand streaming. It can be hard to find the right one, prompting the reason you have to do some ‘rig research’. Look at the specifications of devices closely to ensure it does what you need it to do. At a premium, even 4K streaming NAS devices are on the market, but you’ll pay a few pretty pennies on it, as the processor within the NAS device needs to be able to accommodate such needs.

Control, Connections, and Caveats

When shopping around for different devices, there isn’t much of a casual consensus among the multiple brands on different ports on the device, beyond the commonality on many of a USB 3.0 port, the market standard at the moment. Most NAS Drives carry 2 USB ports for other devices, usually the home printer and a PC wire at most, or whatever other devices with a USB you like! They’re pretty much plug-and-play easy, and once into the NAS, they’re shared among all users on the network. A printer is a great choice for this. If it has a USB 2.0 and 3.0 port, the 2.0 port is plenty enough for a printer. 3.0 ports, the faster ones, should be saved for when you really need them.

If you want real ease of access, some NAS units on the market have buttons on the front for replication. Imagine you have a USB stick with a paper on it and need it in the network quick and easy. Plug it into the NAS, press copy, and it’ll be on the network, literally at the press of a button. Every NAS device can have its own features to alleviate the work from the workplace, so you need to shop around for what you think you’ll need!

If you want a media player, look for the devices that come with an HDMI port, in order for use with your TV-streaming devices, or directly into the back of your device. And lastly, the ethernet port, for a necessary direct connection to your internet. That’s what puts the Network into the NAS.

(Probably) The Reason You’re Here: No Wires.

Most NAS drives enable you to share files from the cloud. This can sound like common sense, considering they’re connected by a network, but it’s a particularity you have to check, for it to be present. NAS manufacturers are proud to share if they have this feature and can be a great selling point. It saves the hassle of downloading from the NAS to device in order to share it. Also, from this, you can access the NAS from any internet connection, not only your local network, meaning you can access it pretty much anywhere there IS internet access if you can log into a cloud service, like dropbox, google drive, etc. A lot of people, including us, believe that there’s no point in getting a NAS without this feature because… well, think about it. You can have a memory bank in your house only, or one you can access anywhere with the internet, altogether. Make sure you do the research on this, too! It’s a no-brainer.

Our Handful Plucked from the Bunch: A Comprehensive Round-Up

So, there’s been quite a large handful of credentials to get our head’s around, and you might want us to spell it out just a bit more clearly, rather than dancing around. Let’s separate ‘wheat from the chaff’ and give up our top picks for each scenario, and their pro’s and cons, for the ‘Home-user’, the ‘aspiring small-business’, the ‘Business Box’, and the ‘Device-Streamers’ out there, below.

The Home User

Credentials: For a home-user, you’ll probably be looking for a box with decent storage that can cover your back for months, or even years, to come. It’ll be useful to have the plug-and-play capability, a decent price, and something that seems to just work. Its own software can be helpful to take you along and not be too confusing.

Our Pick: The Promise Apollo. Looking easy on the eyes, this can fit right onto any desk in your house and look like it could belong. Coming with 4TB right out of the box, you don’t have to worry about buying anything extra.

The Pros: This little box is so easy to set-up that you don’t have to spend any extra time worrying about your externals. You can access it simply, and share files remotely. On top of this, your phone camera roll can auto-upload if you want it to. Such a user-friendly device can’t be commended enough.

The Cons: This device can seem sluggish in demanding workloads, and you need applications in order to access certain storage. In being friendly with home-users, it loses the tech-crowd who need all-access at all times. It’s your choice on this one.

The Aspiring Small-Business

Credentials: A growing business is going to want a little bit more space, and perhaps would be a bit more comfortable delving into the tech-space for something a bit more specific. File-sharing should be a doddle, and the capability for easy expansion is going to be a bit more your style. Here’s our pick.

Our Pick: Asustor AS5304T. This box helps out with a bigger workload, a solid operation, and the similar easy-setup, and that choice for wider expansion.

The Pros: This NAS provides a solid and reliable performance. It runs quieter than many of the other ones in this category, which is a small bonus for the office-space. It has dual 2.5GbE ports, and a toolless set-up (which we love to see). It also comes with apps out of the box, making it easy to navigate and use.

The Cons: Sadly, this box doesn’t come with any drives pre-built. They Do provide a list of recommended drives to go in, however, and it allows for you to buy some off-the-bat, and the rest when you need them. Also, It’s an expensive device, so you need to decide on whether it’s a good company expense or not.

The Business Box

Credentials: We’re in the big leagues. If you’re the team’s tech guru, you’re not going to shy away from a challenge. You want monstrous speed, the capability for large file-size caches, and the ability for mirroring and redundancy support. This sounds like the thing for you.

Our Pick: The Synology DiskStation DS1019+. A big machine, with a huge capability. This machine is definitely worth the money, but it IS still a lot of money.

The Pros: This NAS device is fast, it runs with impressively speedy performance. It’s a very easy device to install and set-up, which you don’t usually get with bigger devices. There’s a generous selection of built-in applications to help the user and a lot of storage options. It’s user-friendly, and runs quietly, a MUST for business. It holds five bays, an expansion unit, AND dual native SSD slots. Some eye-watering storage capabilities here. We’re talking 160TB Maximum.

The Cons: This is very pricy, and it shows. We don’t have really any other cons, other than storage, which you would have to buy. Very inconvenient, but also allows you to personalize the storage size, and for an office, that’s all the more important.

The Device-Streamer

Credentials: This is a bit of a niche, but NAS can support it really well. If you get the right NAS, it can feel like a breeze to jump on the sofa, touch a few buttons, and you’re watching your favorite movies again. You’ll want HD, and even 4K capability for a great image at uncompromising speed, a strong processor to keep up the foot-work, and a good amount of storage to host your impressive movie library. A MUST is a comprehensive support for applications.

Our Pick: Asustor AS5202T. With up to 5GbE Speed, a tool-less set-up, great out of the box applications and that 4K video-decoding we were looking for, this offers a great at-home experience for the average user.

The Pros: 4K Video-Encoding, out-of-the-box applications to help you on your way, tool-less set-up for the home user, 5GbE speeds and link aggregation, and a solid and reliable file-transfer performance. 2 Drives for your mirroring or JBOD choice (JBOD can create a great library size).

The Cons: This one can seem a little pricey. It’s understandable why, with its great hardware and software supply, but still, the price is a downfall. On top of this, it comes diskless, so the price of getting disks can be a headache! Picking up 2x1TB drives can get your on your way at the lowest price per decent storage, but enthusiasts may need a little more. There’s a lot of choices here, but choosing when it comes to home appliances like these is a good thing to have. We hoped we helped you in the right direction for your next big storage solution, and helped you understand exactly what you’re looking for. Good luck on your search!

What To Know About Payroll Taxes

There has been a lot of discussion recently about payroll taxes and the ways that they affect business owners.

The President recently announced executive action suspending payroll taxes through the end of the year in response to coronavirus and the shutdowns it led to. For businesses, this is one of the ways the government has stepped in to offer aid to struggling businesses.

It’s been much-needed relief, particularly as a lot of employers discovered their business interruption insurance policies had little coverage for a situation like a pandemic.

The following are some of the things employers should know about payroll taxes, particularly in the situation we’re in right now.

What Are Payroll Taxes?

Payroll taxes are paid to the federal government on wages, and the money is then primarily used to fund social insurance benefits, including Social Security and Medicare. Some of the federal income taxes also pay for security and defense.

Employers are required to report taxes on a quarterly basis in most cases, and to deposit their employment taxes.

Employment taxes are withholdings from employees’ checks. They cover not only federal income tax, but also in some cases, state and local tax and the employers’ Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA). They also include the portion of FICA paid by the employer and federal and state unemployment taxes.

There are things that employers are required to do as it pertains to payroll taxes, including figuring withholdings, depositing employment taxes on a set schedule, and reporting quarterly about employment taxes.

If an employer doesn’t handle payroll taxes properly, they can be penalized.

In 2020, the Social Security tax rate is 6.2% on the first $137,700 of wages paid. The Medicare rate is 1.45% on the first 200,000 of wages, plus 0.9% on wages above $200,000.

Nine states don’t have an income tax on wages currently. These are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. There isn’t a tax on wages in New Hampshire and Tennessee but there are taxes on interest and dividends in some situations.

There are voluntary payroll deductions that may be withheld from employee checks, too, only if the employee agrees. These can include life insurance premiums, health insurance premiums, and retirement plan contributions.

Penalties

If you don’t pay payroll taxes or they’re late, then as an employer, you may face penalties, and there is going to be an accrual of interest.

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure deposits are timely, the deposits are made in the right amount and that the deposit is made in the correct way. If you don’t do any of these, you may be subject to what’s called an FTD penalty, which stands for Failure to Deposit.

There is a penalty system that is four tiers if you make incorrect or late deposits.

The rate you have to pay is based on how many calendar days you are late.

There is a 2% rate for deposits that are 1 to 5 days late. Then it’s 5% for deposits that are 6 to 15 days late and 10% for deposits more than 15 days late.

There is a 10% rate for deposits not paid by EFT.

There’s a 15% rate for all amounts that are unpaid more than ten days after the date of the first notice requesting payment.

COVID-19 Changes

Under the CARES Act, passed in response to the pandemic in spring, there were measures intended to relieve some of the financial pressure on small businesses. For example, there was something called the Employee Retention Credit, and there was also a modification of net operating losses and a write-off for property improvements.

What Does The Payroll Tax Deferral Mean for Employers and Employees?

In August, the president announced he would be taking executive action regarding payroll taxes after Congressional negotiations failed to yield results.

When announcing the order, the president said it was a way to put money in the pockets of American workers and create incentives for employment and work.

Under the order, the employee’s obligation to pay a 6.2% Social Security tax per check is deferred. It applies to people who make less than $4,000 every two weeks, which would mean an annual salary of around $104,000.

The Treasury Department, under the order, has been instructed to see how the government might be able to forgive the deferral of the payments, but right now that’s not in place.

In 2018, the median household income was just over $63,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If a worker made $64,000 before taxes, that would mean being paid on a biweekly basis would come out to around $2,400 before taxes. Then, based on a rate of 6.2%, the taxes for Social Security out of that check would be around $152.

That would mean a deferred amount of $1,220 from September through the end of the year. It would be similar to the amount that was sent out in stimulus checks earlier in the year.

Some are describing is at an interest-free government loan, however.

Unless something happens that changes the situation, businesses will still have the taxes due at the start of 2021.

It may be that employers don’t necessarily pass the deferrals to their employees, because they’ll be worried about how to get the money back when they eventually make their payments.

What this all means, at least for now, is that there’s a potential for workers to take home more money through the end of the year, but that’s not a certainty under the executive order.

There are concerns that the move doesn’t help the people who most need it either, since there are around 17 million Americans unemployed. The executive orders issued by the President did address unemployment payments, with a $400 bonus.

For employers, it’s important to understand the full implications of a payroll tax holiday, and also what they’ll do when the deferral period is over if there aren’t any changes that address it before then.

Best Video Editing Software To Give Professional Editing Feel In Minutes

Let us face it: creative storytelling in videos comes from the post-production stage. How many times have you shot a video only to realize that you could have made it more interesting? After all, creating the perfect video requires multiple iterations and editing. 

Sometimes the lighting isn’t good, the content isn’t right, or speakers forget their line in-between; there can be several bloopers while producing a video. That is why using a cool video editing software is necessary to take care of these “behind the scenes” moments. And did we mention, working with video editing solutions can allow you to add effects, filters, and even sounds to further enhance your final video.

But how do you choose the perfect solution for your business? With a dime, a dozen video editing solutions available online, selecting the right tool can be a tough decision. That is why we have come up with a list of six video editing platforms that you can use to edit and create high-impact videos in minutes like a pro. 

1. iMovies

Perhaps the easiest video editor, iMovies is ideal for beginners. The software supports multiple templates as well as transition and animated titles for quickly editing projects. It can also make video trimming and merging very simple. 

iMovies is a match made in heaven for marketers who require basic fades and cuts for social media videos. If you are starting with video editing, this tool can help you with its library of templates. However, since iMovies is popular among general consumers, we would advise you to steer clear of it when making critical sales videos. 

Pros

  • Good software if you are new to video editing
  • An easy-to-use tool with a simple drag-and-drop interface

Cons

  • Limited features
  • Works only on Mac or iPhones
  • Does not allow the transfer of project files

2. Blender

Blender is an advanced video editing platform that works on both Mac and Windows. It is an open-source tool and has some useful features such as live preview, chroma vectorscope, luma waveform, waveform visualization, audio mixing, syncing, scrubbing, and histogram displays. Blender only has 32 slots for adding videos, images, audio, and other effects such as a 3D animation suite.

Blender is a great tool to add variety to your videos, whether you are making 3D renders for a real-estate project or working with an animated character for an explainer video. That’s not all, since it is an open-source tool, there are several websites such as Turbosquid to assist you while creating the perfect video. You can also become a pro in no time by perusing tutorials and online support material.

All in all, this software is perfect if you are starting with 3D editing!

Pros

Good professional feel about the videos

Cons

A steep learning curve, but reading material and tutorials can make it easy 

3. Promo

Promo video maker is liked by marketers for several reasons. With all the tools required to make an engaging marketing video, Promo claims itself to be the #1 video maker. Let’s look at some of the tools you can use for video editing. 

To begin with, Promo allows users to add and manipulate the text’s size, font, and color, including a range of pastel colors. Users can also include images, sounds, and other visual effects to appear perfectly on social media platforms. The software also comes loaded with around 2,500 in-built templates, stock images from Shutterstock and Getty, and more than 15 million premium HD videos. 

Pros

  • Online and easy-to-use solution
  • Free trial available

Cons

Limited functionality

4. Invideo

InVideo is a great online video editor with several useful functionalities. The tool is easy-to-use, making it an ideal solution for beginners or marketers that work with deadlines to create video content for social media marketing. Invideo supports more than 1,500 design templates that help users create great video content quickly.

The platform also allows users to export videos in HD and use the text-to-speech feature to convert text-based content into engaging videos. Users can also access Pexels, Pixabay, Unsplash, for images, and royalty-free content.

Pros

  • Online, easy-to-use for beginners
  • A free plan that allows you to create a maximum of 60 videos a month

Cons

  • Video editor falls short of finer video details due to limited features
  • Videos exported by using the free plan has a watermark

5. GoPro QuikStories

Exclusively for mobile apps, this video-editing app lets you edit videos on the go. The tool is user-friendly, with a simple interface and several useful features. It is most commonly used to edit videos shot on the camera of a smartphone. 

As a name suggests, the app can directly interface with a GoPro camera and allows users to edit the video without exporting it on PCs. However, you can also use it to edit various other types of videos. The app has several automatic features and presets that can make video editing extremely quick and easy.

The verdict: the app is best suited for beginners as it doesn’t offer a lot of advanced features for professionals.

Pros

  • Several options and presets to try
  • App-based, making it easy for users to edit and publish on social media channels on the go

Cons

Not suitable for professionals as it does not have many advanced features or control for users

6. OpenShot

Like Blender, OpenShot is also an open-source, free video editing platform that has numerous useful features. The intuitive and simple-to-use drag and drop features make it suitable for even beginners trying to learn the basics of video editing. It also supports some critical advanced features such as video-transitions with real-time previews, unlimited layers, etc. 

Openshot also comes with other options such as video effect, animations, and keyframe. It makes video trimming a breeze, allowing users to shorten the video length for making it appropriate for social media channels.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Unlimited layers

Cons

The software sometimes lags 

Final Word

These were our top six video editing tools that can help you create up-vote worthy video content in minutes. Whether you are a beginner or a video editing wizard, these software solutions have something for everyone to make their job easier.

Google BERT, Translation, and Small Business SEO and Marketing

Google BERT was integrated into the search engine algorithms in November of 2019 and is purported to be so revolutionary that it will directly impact a full 10% of all search results. Google BERT is not something that everyone has been following closely, but virtually all SEO experts have experienced the direct results of BERT whether they know it or not.

Not only was the May 2020 Google update directly related to BERT, but SEO experts should look for an increasing number of changes to the Google SEO algorithms as BERT is more fully integrated into search.

This will likely be extended even further as BERT is integrated more heavily in the analysis from the Google spiders and bots and making it more capable of “reading” and “understanding” website content in a way more similar to humans.

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers and it has revolutionized searches online, translation and will soon reach directly into the realm of websites.

Google BERT and Its Background In Translation

BERT is built on the back of the transformer, which is a neural network architecture created for NLP or natural language processing. BERT has thoroughly beaten more traditional NLP models in both English to French and English to German translation tasks.

One additional standard is the Stanford Question Answering Dataset (SquAD) which is made up of questions to determine the NLP capacity, BERT even surpassed human accuracy rates, scoring 93.2% accuracy where human translations scored 91.2%.

Does this mean that human translators will soon be left by the wayside? While that day may eventually come around, at present machine translation is still severely restricted, most notably in areas like figurative speech and localized vernacular and expressions.

While it presently works very well for translating large volumes of data, post-edited machine translation, or PEMT, or more specifically, human translators are still necessary to finalize the translation.

BERT was released as open-source long before it was introduced into the actual search engines. While there has been amazing progress in some areas by such prestigious Ivy League universities as Cornell, at the end of the day, humans still seem far more capable of providing translation services that are more accurate and complete. In terms of search engine optimization, however, as may have been noted during the May 2020 Google updates, BERT will soon revolutionize search engine optimization or SEO and the approach to small business marketing online.

Google Bert and Its Impact On SEO

Google has estimated that the BERT updates will directly impact 10% of all search engine results, and while important, that is only a part of the outcome that is relevant to small businesses and SEO experts. The latest Google updates have caused many SEO professionals to reconsider how they do business and website owners to rethink their content marketing campaigns.

BERT is exceptionally adept at “understanding” language more similar to humans and as such, makes it much more capable in determining the search intent of people using the search engine. Google was quick to take advantage of this, not only in terms of the actual search results but also through the inclusion of additional “features” on the search page.

Among the many features of Google are paid advertisements, of course, reviews, featured snippets, the knowledge panel, related questions and other inclusions that make it substantially more busy for the searchers, and also more competition even for the top ranking websites.

There were some types of websites that have experienced more radical results from the BERT implementation. There is a complete list on the Search Engine Journal website where it notes that among them were sites focusing on history, natural and traditional medicine, news, music and entertainment; and perhaps most notably here, for small businesses and local business websites.

What Google BERT Means For Small Business

There is a page called SE Roundtable that lists all of the ongoing Google Updates and reports extensively on their impact on various websites. Of particular interest is one conversation pertaining to the May 2020 update and the apparent presence of a “bug” in the update that created adverse results for many local small businesses.

There seems to have been some speculation that this bug was specifically limited to local car dealerships, though further testimony from numerous SEO experts clearly showed that this bug was in fact not ultimately a bug and proved detrimental to a great many local business interests.

While this has been largely sorted out, it would appear that the stabilization of localized search results was as much a result of continued and deeper integration of BERT into the search engine algorithms and others were the result of changes in the practices of SEO for many of these local small businesses.

The Future of BERT and Small Business SEO

Many people have questioned how they can optimize their website content in order to maximize the benefits from the Google BERT updates. Perhaps one of the most wonderful things about the future of SEO and local business content marketing online, is that there is no need to optimize content for BERT.

Small businesses and SEO experts alike need to rethink their content marketing but for their readers and not for the search engines. If there is any tactic that would benefit in terms of SEO, it would be query-related content.

Search engine queries are the actual words, phrases, and questions being asked on the search engines. For the sake of brevity, the results from AhRefs will be considered, where they list four different and distinct types of search engine queries.

What Are The Different Types of Search Engine Queries?

  • Navigational search engine queries
  • Informational search engine queries
  • Commercial Investigative search engine queries
  • Transactional search engine queries

Navigational search engine queries are where the searcher is merely looking for a URL or universal request location, more commonly known as a website address. These should not be mistaken for transactional search queries where the searcher is seeking out directions to a particular store in order to make their final purchase. These results should also be fairly common to the website and not require any specific focus by either SEO experts or the small business online operations.

Informational search engine queries are just that, used by viewers who are seeking out specific information. Some of these informational queries will be immediately answered in one of the many search engine features that were noted before.

If someone searches for the current time in New York City, for example, the answer will come up immediately on the SERP and there is no reason for the search to progress any further. These types of informational queries have a very low click-through rate and focusing on these types of queries is not likely to result in any increased website traffic.

The SEO expert should determine what the common and relevant queries are being searched in any given area, and the small business should focus on an international, multilingual approach to providing answers to those queries in their content marketing campaigns.

The content should then focus on providing meaningful and relevant resolutions for these queries. Ideally, the content should point to the fact that their product or service offers a viable answer to the question being asked. This process should ultimately direct the potential customer into a sales funnel.

Commercial investigative search engine queries are those where the searcher needs to find a particular service or product but have not yet determined the best products or services to meet their needs. This is where queries such as “what are the best translation company online” and similar questions will be asked of the search engines. These types of queries are why the SEO experts and small businesses may want to focus on “listicles” and other review type content for their site.

These types of viewers are the ones that are ready to purchase and who can be more easily directed to a well-planned sales funnel on the website. Look for this type of content to become increasingly popular and common for increasing rankings on the SERP, especially if it keeps the readers on the page long enough to read the entire article. This on-page time will be an increasingly important part of the new ranking factors by Google. SEO experts and small business owners should focus this content on overcoming any objections and leading the reader and soon-to-be consumer to the sales page or the buy now buttons.

Transactional search engine queries are those where the viewer knows the product or service they will be purchasing and are looking for the best price or location to purchase that product or service.

Conclusion:

In the near future, look for the quality of content and the ability of content to directly answer search queries to become increasingly important as opposed to a focus on keyword content. On a side note, albeit a very important one; look for website translations and other multilingual marketing tactics to expand as we expand into a more global digital environment and people recognize the ability to gain tens of millions of viewers with very little direct competition.

How to Recover Deleted Files from Hard-Drive Using EaseUS Data Recovery Software

On the occasion that you’re searching for a quick, entire, and safe data recovery programming to recover eradicated, lost, or orchestrated records or reports from PC, PC, or outside limit devices, by then EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best data recovery programming open on the web.


EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is an outrageous free file recovery software  for Windows customers to discover and recover lost or killed records, photographs, music, sound, messages, compacted chronicles, and so on unequivocally from hard drive, external hard drive, SSD, USB, memory card, moved the camera, cell phones and other putting away media. It can without a lot of a stretch and rapidly recover data from various types of data mishap: abrupt eradication, hard drive contamination, disease ambush especially Want to Cry Ransom ware, structure crash, volume adversity, stupid movement, arranging or by various reasons.

This free data recovery programming works magnificently with hard drives, gear RAID, SD cards, pen drives, iPods, and so on. Memory card data recovery can get back the lost records from hurt or subverted memory card including a memory stick, SD card, CF card, Micro card, and that is only the start. USB drive data recovery can restore records lost from a USB drive, pen drive, streak drive, and other removable amassing devices.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free is unimaginably simple to utilize and requires no earlier association on data recovery. It has a reasonable interface that shows recoverable information beforehand we start the recovery method. It gives you essential “Lively compass” and further “Significant yield” modes to find all lost or erased archives, photographs, and media records completely. Ensuing to inspecting, it empowers us to search for a record by name and channel the discovered pictures by content.

EaseUS free information recuperation programming is besides adaptable and profitable. You can beyond question convey checked results at whatever point and essentially import you’re saved sifting result and resume recovery without rescanning. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free engages you to restore up to 2 GB of information, anyway with Data Recovery Wizard Professional the extent of information you can restore is boundless.

The best technique to Recover Your Lost Data with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free – Step by Step with Screenshots

Stage 1:

Select a region to begin discovering reports that you have lost. You can in like way pick lost sections here. Select and click Scan to begin finding the lost documents.

Stage 2:

Scanning your PC or outside contraptions for lost information begins. First lively sifting is done and after that noteworthy yield begins to discover more lost records by fundamentally examining the document records. You can delay the checking by some coincidence and continue later. After looking at is done, you can channel what you need to restore from the separated outcomes.

Stage 3:

Preview explicit restorable records/archives and tap on ‘restore’ to get lost reports back. That is it your data recovery is finished. (Note: DO NOT keep the archives into the hard drive or outside devices where you lost the information).

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Presently you know how to utilize EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free to get lost data back. You should impart this article to other people, who you feel may benefit from this free data recovery programming.

Essential Phone Apps Every Small Business Should be Using

Mobile devices have entered businesses as the key gadget in various industries. Both small and large companies have employees who use mobile devices for their work. Small companies rely on efficiency and agility to stay competitive. It includes working directly from the office but also while on the go.

Hence, mobile devices have become inevitable in our work routines. Without them, we would not be able to communicate with our colleagues as efficiently as we do. However, to do business while on the go, your employees need to have the right apps. Luckily, there are many apps you can use, and many of them are entirely free. Cost-free options make them ideal for growing businesses.

Task management

All employees juggle multiple tasks at once, finding time to help or consult colleagues in between. However, the more assignments build up, the more difficult it is to keep track of your progress. Hence, you need a sharp and convenient tool to organize all your tasks for the week or month neatly. Luckily, there are many options available. All of them operate on a relatively simple principle and are beginner-friendly. So, do not hesitate to increase your productivity with the help of a simple app.

VPN

A phone VPN can quickly boost your security and privacy. When using your smartphone for private conversations and searches, you expect this data to be confidential. However, this data is easily snatched by marketers, websites, and even your ISP. A virtual private network app is designed to help you stay secure while online.

It encrypts your connection and prevents anyone from seeing what you do online. Hence, such security measures halt data thefts and loss of personal information. At the same time, quality VPNs can also be used to hide your IP addresses and help you pick one that unblocks geo-restricted content. All of these things are very important for businesses since online criminals often target companies. Furthermore, a VPN ensures that your Wi-Fi connection is safe, and knowing its questionable nature, you will be glad to have this protection. 

Skype

Skype has been a standard choice for videoconferencing and overall communication for the last 15 years. Many different apps tried to compete, but none have succeeded. At the moment, the app itself has more than 10 million comments and reviews on Google store.

Skype has been a standard part of everyone’s PC for years. When the app came out, most people simply got Skype for their phones as well. Skype lets you voice or video call anyone for free. You can get a maximum of 25 people in a single call and share various files. However, if you are looking for something new, you can explore alternative apps as well.

Evernote

If your employees have a fast-paced job where they need to remember lots of information and do research, Evernote might be what they need. This app allows you to gather various pieces of online information in a single place.

The information can be changed, embedded, shared, tagged, and much more. At the same time, Evernote can be used as a notebook. You can store social media posts, contacts, create to-do lists, and much more. What’s even better is that all of this is entirely free. There is a paid version that gives more upload space and some additional controls.

Google Drive

Google Drive is cloud storage offered by Google. It’s attached directly to your email, and everyone can use it for free. The Google Drive app is free to download and can be used in many different ways. It’s great for any kind of writing work or documentation.

It lets you upload, store, manage, and share files. At the same time, users can edit those documents, leave comments, and communicate through the platform. The paid version gives more storage space.

Apps for successful cooperation

Project management is vital. It is especially true when doing work on smartphones. So, project management apps need to be clear and provide a nice overview of all essential information. That’s how people won’t make mistakes while doing their jobs.

For this reason, we find Trello to be the best fit, as it’s very visual. It’s designed around boards where users can create, check, move, and modify lists. As a project progresses, the cards are moved. All of the cards can be assigned with members, checklists, or have attached files. At the same time, people can use cards to leave comments or communicate directly. Trello is around $10 for businesses, but it’s worth the expense.

Conclusion

These are some of the best mobile apps for small businesses. Of course, there are thousands of others, but we feel that these will make an immediate difference in the way you do your business. So, do not hesitate to make your business mobile and flexible.

Secure Your Video Conferences With These 5 Steps

Introduction

The security flaws inherent in video conferencing and in particular with certain offerings have been well documented over the last few months while the world at large has limped from one crisis to another. When security firms started predicting what would be the main security concerns for 2020 the increased use of video conferencing tools to support remote work did feature predominantly, however, they had no idea how the current pandemic would create an environment where the prediction became reality almost overnight.

Flaws And Threats

While businesses rapidly adopted video conferencing solutions or look to find the best HD conferencing API, the scramble to remain operational left the important security questions unanswered. Security researchers were quick to point out flaws including those that would allow unauthenticated users joining meetings or poor password management that would see gate crashers arrive to spoil the party. The good news is that steps can be taken to secure video conferences and these should be implemented as part of an organization’s security policy.

Understanding Your System

This step can be done when choosing a solution or even when one has been chosen. Of importance here is to ask what type of data encryption does the solution provide, how the data is managed, and the security features presented to users before they log in. Also, the age of the current solution should be looked at, if the product is older than five years it might not offer the required security measures to help combat modern threats.

Have A Policy in Place

As with policies that dictate how employees are to use personal devices in the workplace, whether in the office or, ever increasingly, remotely, a policy for video conferences needs to be done, if not already in place. Ideally, the policy needs to clearly list the boundaries and expectations of both the company and the employee. Requirements for recording meetings, what information can be discussed, how to use the camera and mute functions following policy guidelines, and what devices may be used are important considerations when drafting a policy.

Domain-Based Security

Too often is the case that these tools are connected directly to the Internet with no firewall in place. This is simply begging a hacker to compromise the company network. A far better approach is what researchers have termed Domain-based security and involves placing video conferencing solutions within the protective barrier of the company network and allows administrators to control access to the tool. As an example, if a video conference is set up between an outside stake-holder and an employee, an employee with the correct privileges will need to allow the outsider to join the call and authenticate their access.

Control Access

Closely linked to the above step is controlling who has access to calls. Technology has provided a handy tool to help manage this in single sign-on (SSO) systems. These systems are tied to users’ privileges and authorization level so that credential theft is made much harder. Further, these systems generate log data that tracks where, when, and how the user accessed the system.

Encryption

Concluding this article is a note on encryption. By using 128-bit AES as a company’s encryption standard for all things including video-conferencing the company has gone a long way to harden their data and keep it away from prying eyes. When using this standard to generate an encryption key for a video conference, it would take a supercomputer billions of years to try and break the encryption key.

4 Ways Local Businesses Can Benefit From An SEO Service

If you’ve done any research into promoting your business, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that search engine optimization makes the business world go round.

And unless you spent a decade in digital marketing, you might not have any idea how to use that information and actually improve your small business’ marketing strategy.

The good news is that you don’t have to worry about the technical complexities of SEO. There are hundreds of tools out there that will handle the details for you, and some of them specialize in small or local business marketing. A good SEO service will handle the details so you can focus on running your business and creating web content to attract new customers.

But before we look at how your local business can leverage an SEO service, let’s take a minute to break down search engine optimization and what it does as a marketing tool.

A Brief Introduction To SEO

At its most basic level, search engine optimization is all about keywords. If you run a local hardware store, you might assume that your ideal customer is interested in a few specific topics like DIY projects, home renovations, tools for rent, etc.

SEO tools help you see which of those topics that customers search for online. You might discover that “DIY bathroom remodel” is getting 10,000 searches a month, which means you should probably write a blog post or create a tutorial about that topic.

And the more of this research you do, the more relevant your content becomes. Which means you’ll start showing up higher in Google search results, which means more people will see your company and head to your website or social media pages.

Yes, an SEO strategy takes a lot of work in the beginning. But it helps you streamline the process to make things easier moving forward. If you use SEO correctly, you’ll be able to focus your time and money on the keywords that matter most to your business.

And to help you get started, here are 4 ways your local businesses will benefit from SEO (and why an SEO service can help you reach your goals).

#1. Tap Into Existing Traffic

Okay, so this one is fairly straightforward. But here are a few shocking statistics from SocialMediaToday:

  • 46% of Google searches are people looking up local information
  • 72% of people who search for local businesses visit a store within 5 miles
  • 78% of local mobile searches resulted in an in-store purchase

Large numbers of people in your area are looking for local businesses. Whether you live in Burlington, Iowa or Brooklyn, N.Y., there is web traffic that you are missing right now.

An SEO service won’t guarantee that every one of those Google searches leads to a purchase from your business. But it does mean that you will suddenly have an “inside man,” someone who is finding the trends and helping you market to people in a way that leads to more brand awareness for your company.

#2. Target The Right Customers

The greatest strength of SEO is that it lets you segment your marketing. Instead of creating a bunch of generalized content, you’re able to build content clusters that specifically meet the needs of the different segments of your target audience.

For local businesses, that can make all the difference. People instinctively want to support businesses that align with their values, represent their hometown, or represent something they care about. But if you aren’t using SEO strategies, you won’t know which keywords will get your brand in front of those potential customers.

An SEO service won’t just take care of that for you — the good ones will work with you directly to make sure that your marketing strategy is as fine-tuned as is possible.

#3. Keep Up With Local Competitors

As a local business, it’s easy to think that your biggest competition is the national brands. You know, the ones with the billion-dollar ad campaigns that seem to haunt your dreams.

But the truth is that those brands aren’t using SEO strategies that target your local community. These mega-companies are going after keywords around their niche, which can make it competitive. But if you run a local bookstore, the best competition to focus on is the one against other local bookstores, both in your city and the greater region.

Let’s stick with the bookstore example. Customers already know what to expect from the nearest Barnes & Noble. But what if that customer wants used books, or fiction from local authors, or regional travel guides? They’ll search for “bookstores near [your town here]” and that’s the kind of keyword you want to focus on.

Targeting a keyword like “bookstores near [your town here]” might pull up a Barnes & Noble location, but if you create enough content that focuses on that keyword, soon enough you’ll start to climb higher and higher up the search results.

#4. Optimize Your Online Presence

SEO isn’t just a way to help your content rank for certain keywords — it’s also a way to build authority around your company’s web presence. (That’s actually at the core of search engine optimization, but in terms of local SEO, it’s more of a side benefit than the main focal point.)

A strong content strategy might get some of your blog posts, tutorials, and marketing materials to rank as a local business on Google. But if you use the same SEO principles on your home page, search engines will start to see your site as an authoritative voice in your community and industry.

Additional SEO Resources

As a reminder, there are dozens of high-quality SEO services out there. (Here’s a comprehensive list of SEO service companies.) Some specialize in local business, while others focus on domain authority. The point is, you can find a service to help you in a specific area or improve your overall web presence and keyword targeting.

If you’re new to SEO, you may want some tips on how to write SEO articles. And it might help to read a huge collection of statistics and facts to support the value of local business SEO. Or maybe you want to start somewhere small and try to get some of that “[enter business type] near me” Google traffic.

No matter where your business is or how you approach advertising, local SEO can help you maximize the time and money you invest in marketing. And an SEO service will take care of all the nitty, gritty details so you can focus on running — and growing — your business.


Drew Gula is the copywriter at Soundstripe, a company that produces royalty free epic music and sound effects to help businesses improve their video content.

How To Block Ads On Your iPhone, iPad, Or iPod Touch

Every year, advertising receives more and more influence on society. It forms a public opinion and imposes its ideas on people. We don’t even notice how advertising invades our consciousness and unobtrusively changes it according to the large corporation’s requirements. Nowadays, it’s impossible to go outside and not immediately see a few billboards or signs that urge us to buy something. Things get worse when advertising occupies our smartphones and laptops. We use them to work and relax, but instead, we get tons of pop-ups and banners that overlap the content in the browser.

Ads litter our consciousness and make us waste our money. Moreover, they waste our time. According to recent studies, the average person spends 4 years of life to view ads. 4 years that you can spend on self-development, family, or hobby. Therefore, many people prefer to block ads on computers and smartphones.

If you are a happy owner of Apple devices, then you’re surely annoyed enough because of ads. Over the past year, iOS users are complaining about the abundance of advertising in the operating system. The problem turned out to be so large-scale that the media started talking about it. Steve Streza, who developed the Tumblr app for iOS, wrote about this issue on his blog. A post titled «iOS is Adware» exposed Apple’s consumerism.

To make matters worse, Safari tracks your site activity, uses your search history, and geolocation to find relevant ads for you. Collected data is stored on the servers. If hackers attack these servers, then the history of your purchases, searches, and locations may be in the hands of scammers.

Besides privacy and obsession threats, advertising can also seriously compromise browser performance. You have definitely faced with a problem when the browser starts to freeze due to many advertising banners. Another problem is redirected links that lead to spam and advertising sites instead of showing the content you need.

So how can we deal with browser ads on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch?

If you want to get rid of all the ads on your iPhone or iPad, then you should think about installing an ad blocker application.

Such apps will secure your data, remove ads from Facebook or YouTube videos, and even increase your device’s battery life! In addition, ad blockers can remove ads in apps and block tracking of your purchase history and behavior on websites. For example, the uBlock ad blocker, that is completely free while featuring many useful functions.

However, any application has its drawbacks. Some blockers take money from marketers for adding the specified sites to the «white lists» — they will show ads even despite the turned on blocker. Other blockers scare away users with a complex interface and settings.

If you are looking for an ad blocker that will simultaneously ensure the security of your data, save traffic and battery power, as well as speed up your browser, then you should install AdLock for IOS. This adblocker fights all types of ads: pop-ups, banners, virus links, and spyware. By installing it, you will not only get rid of ads but also protect your device from viruses. Besides, AdLock successfully blocks ads within applications — play your favorite games, chat in messengers, and listen to music without any distractions.

You can also remove ads through the phone settings. Enter the «Settings» on your iPhone, then go to «Safari», and activate the built-in «Block Pop-ups» function. Thus, you will partially block ads in your device. But this method won’t block them all, so installing a blocker will be much more effective.

Remember that by blocking ads, you save valuable time, which can be spent on more useful things. Furthermore, installing an ad blocker will provide useful features to protect your smartphone, so you never have to worry about privacy or viruses again.