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Essential Tips for a Winning Resume

A resume is a marketing document that gets only six seconds of attention from recruiters. So, it isn’t only a chronological record of your accomplishments but also a statement of your uniqueness and how important you can be for an organization. You already have a record of your personal data. Now, showcase that in the best possible light using the cheat sheet below.

The cheat sheet covers various sections that need to go on your CV. It also gives you content- and design-related tips to help you build a resume that brings results.

Plus, you’ll find a special section on tailoring your resume for ATS compatibility. (ATS or Applicant Tracking Systems are essentially bots used by companies to shortlist applicants.) This section includes pointers for ensuring that your resume passes through ATS without a glitch.

FREE DOWNLOAD: This cheat sheet is available as a downloadable PDF from our distribution partner, TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access it for the first time only. Download Essential Tips for a Winning Resume.

Essential Tips for a Winning Resume

¹General Information
◼︎ Read the job ad carefully.
◼︎ Always tailor your resume to the job in question.
◼︎ Use an online resume builder instead of a text editor, or start out with a resume template.
◼︎ Use verifiable metrics wherever possible because hard numbers catch the eye of recruiters.
◼︎ Focus only on the most important content. Try to fit everything on two pages or fewer.
◼︎ Pick the right resume format: A Functional resume, a Chronological resume, or a Combination resume (if you have experience across different industries).
◼︎ The reverse-chronological resume, where the latest work experience is listed first, is the most popular format.
Design and Layout
◼︎ To make a good first impression, ensure that the layout is pleasing and the content is scannable and easy to read.
◼︎ Balance text with whitespace.
◼︎ Use classic fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, Calibri, Cambria, Helvetica, and Georgia.
◼︎ Don't choose anything less than 10.5 for the font size. A font size of 12 is ideal.
◼︎ Use font sizes 14-16 for section headers.
◼︎ Pick a font that reads well on all screens. Legibility and cleanliness are important.
◼︎ If you can, choose sans serif fonts like Arial over serif fonts like Times New Roman. The former are more legible on screens.
◼︎ Avoid big blocks of text and excessive bullet points.
◼︎ Ensure that sections flow from the most significant to the less important.
Contact Information
◼︎ Place your name and contact information at the top of the document.
◼︎ The font for the name should be larger than the font used in the body, but not so large as to overpower the other elements on the page.
◼︎ Don’t place contact information in the header/footer.
◼︎ Use a home address rather than a PO box or an office address.
◼︎ List one phone number. A mobile phone number is ideal.
◼︎ Use an email address that sounds professional.
◼︎ Place social media icons and URL links to relevant social media pages.
◼︎ Include a link to your LinkedIn profile (if you have one) and ensure that the profile is up to date.
◼︎ Include the URL of a personal website that highlights your expertise.
◼︎ To avoid possible age discrimination at the onset of hiring, avoid mentioning your date of birth unless that information is mandatory.
◼︎ Don't include a profile photo.
Job Summary
◼︎ This section is ideal if you have years of relevant job experience. Skip this section if you have less experience or applying for a job in another field.
◼︎ Highlight your current professional title with a larger font at the top of the section.
◼︎ Write an objective statement that describes a future goal. This is not mandatory.
◼︎ Outline your skills and accomplishments to demonstrate what:
1. Distinguishes you from other applicants
2. Makes you the ideal candidate for the role
◼︎ Highlight skills that are relevant to the role offered.
◼︎ Use the Adjective + Skill + Value formula to frame achievements in bulleted sentences.
Core Skills
◼︎ This section focuses on the skills you’ve gained based on the job roles you’ve performed in the past.
◼︎ Some job roles like programming demand hard technical skills while some like teaching ask for a mix of both hard and soft skills.
◼︎ Exploit the keywords in the target job descriptions and correlate them to your skillsets.
◼︎ Use topical nouns instead of vague verbs to highlight skills and boost recognition by ²ATS.
◼︎ Cover both hard skills and soft skills. For example, a Project Manager can list "Conflict resolution" as a soft skill.
◼︎ List hard skills with experience levels (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert.)
Work Experience
◼︎ If you’re going by the most common resume format, arrange entries by date, with the latest job at the top.
◼︎ For each entry, mention the relevant job title, employer name, location, and job tenure (with start and end dates.)
◼︎ Use the mm/yyyy format while listing dates. It’s the standard format expected by recruiters and applicant tracking systems.
◼︎ Expand on the most critical jobs with a bulleted list of roles and accomplishments.
◼︎ Mention key metrics for every experience.
Example 1: Generated over $25,000 in sales in one month (instead of Managed sales through self-generated leads.)

Example 2: Developed and executed marketing strategy for three new national projects. Increased market penetration by an average of 35%.
◼︎ Some roles may not be quantifiable. In such cases, it’s okay to mention only responsibilities.
◼︎ Don’t duplicate the information from the Summary and Core Skills sections. Use unique phrasing.
◼︎ This section can follow the Summary section for new graduates or for jobs with highly relevant educational requirements.
◼︎ Include educational qualifications, complete with the school/university name, location, degree earned, and the course dates.
◼︎ Mention extra qualifications, certifications, and training under relevant sub-sections if necessary.
◼︎ Include GPA/Class Rank if among the top-half of the class. This information is not mandatory.
Other Details
◼︎ Awards
List awards in the Education section under a sub-heading.
◼︎ Hobbies
These are not necessary in most applications, but they’re also not a dealbreaker. Include them if other details are sparse.
Don’t include inappropriate and commonplace hobbies like reading.
◼︎ References
Don’t mention these unless specifically asked for.
Tips for Compatibility With ²ATS
◼︎ Keep the resume structure simple.
◼︎ Avoid fancy/creatively designed resumes and resume templates.
◼︎ Use an ATS-friendly resume template when you don't want to design from scratch.
◼︎ Use simple headers and consistent formatting across all sections.
◼︎ For entries with dates, preface dates with descriptions, such as work experience or academic qualifications.
◼︎ The ATS is programmed to read specific keywords, so scan the job ad for potential keywords you can use.
◼︎ Use concise bullet points instead of full paragraphs.
◼︎ Spell out any abbreviations so the ATS can understand them.
◼︎ Submit the file in the format specified. (ATS reads Word formats better than PDF.)
◼︎ Use Jobscan to enhance your resume for ATS.
Final Round of Editing
◼︎ Always proofread for spellings and other errors.
◼︎ Double-check your contact information.
◼︎ Remove all fluff and keep the resume concise.
◼︎ Print the resume and check for design issues.
◼︎ Save a copy of the resume as a PDF for future use. (Word can mess up the formatting across different computer systems.)
◼︎ Back up a copy of the resume to the cloud so you can access it from anywhere.
¹This covers tips that apply to all kinds of resumes. ²ATS refers to Applicant Tracking System. Many companies use this software as the first screen to filter the flood of resumes.

Save Time With Resume Templates and Apps

Your resume is situational to the job, your experience, and the process the resume goes through before you land an interview. So, there’s no “best resume layout” you can count on. For effectiveness, it’s ideal to stick to the basics and include only the most important information. And yes, always keep your resume updated because you never know when you might have to send it off in a flash.

Don’t want to start your CV-building efforts from scratch? Use one of these Google Docs resume templates or any of these free resume apps to create a striking resume.

Image Credit: Oli Lynch on Pixabay

Read the full article: Essential Tips for a Winning Resume

Source: MakeUseOf | 29 Mar 2020 | 4:00 am(NZT)

Download This Remote Work Cheat Sheet Bundle for Free!

Do you work remotely? You’re part of a growing community!

And chances are you’re always looking to improve your remote work setup. To help you with that, we’ve come up with a free cheat sheet bundle covering top remote work apps like Asana and Slack.

Polish Your Remote Workflow

Remote work cheat sheet bundle cover image

In this remote work cheat sheet bundle, you’ll find cheat sheets for:

Download them all in one convenient package, print and share them with your colleagues.

FREE DOWNLOAD: This cheat sheet bundle is available as a downloadable archive from our distribution partner, TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access it for the first time only. Download The Remote Work Cheat Sheet Bundle.

Want More Remote Work Tips and Tricks?

Whether you’ve just started working from home or have been doing so for a decade, you’re likely to appreciate resources that can streamline your current setup. You’ll find plenty such resources at our remote work hub!

Image Credit: James Fitzgerald on Unsplash

Read the full article: Download This Remote Work Cheat Sheet Bundle for Free!

Source: MakeUseOf | 29 Mar 2020 | 4:00 am(NZT)

Safely Explore The Dark Web With This FREE Guide

You’ve seen dark web in the movies. You’ve heard about it in the news. You know the hackers are down there, planning attacks. But is the dark web really that bad?

Why not take a look for yourself? With this free ebook, we’ll safely guide you into the hidden depths of the internet to show you what you’ve been missing.

Download The Deep and Dark Web Guide

Deep and Dark Web Guide

Over six chapters, you will learn:

If you’re curious to learn more about the dark web, this guide will give you a solid introduction to the subject.

Are you ready to explore? To learn the tricks, tips, and secrets of the deep and dark web, click here to download The Deep and Dark Web Guide from TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access the ebook, but it’s well worth it!

Read the full article: Safely Explore The Dark Web With This FREE Guide

Source: MakeUseOf | 29 Mar 2020 | 12:30 am(NZT)

Stay Fit at Home With These 5 Free Workout Apps & Exercise Tips

You don’t need to go to the gym or jog around the park to maintain your fitness. These stay-at-home workouts keep you healthy while being indoors, without any fancy equipment.

When you are forced to not move out, you don’t need to stop moving around. In fact, health officials say that staying fit and healthy will ensure your immune system can better fight any virus. It’s in your best interest to regularly exercise even at home.

Trainers, celebrities, and tech geeks are making apps and routines to workout at home. Here’s a quick roundup of five of the best indoor workouts, which includes Arnold Schwarzenegger and something for your kids.

1. Terminator at Home (Web): Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Home Workout

Arnold Schwarzenegger shared a free workout routine to do inside your home

That’s right, The Terminator himself shared an exercise routine for everyone to stay fit at home. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote a long Reddit post about how he started his own training without any equipment and continued that even after achieving fame.

In total, there are nine exercises. Schwarzenegger recommends different sets of repetitions for beginner and advanced, depending on your fitness level.

The workout mostly depends on your own body weight, aided at times by items you’ll have at home, like a chair, book, or a cane. He has also shared an Imgur gallery of photos demonstrating the various exercises.

You should actually read the full Reddit post. Schwarzenegger’s words are not only motivational, he also warns you about the pitfalls in working out alone.

He also advises how to track your progress and incrementally increase your capacity, with several commenters piping in with their own tips.

2. Workout Sesh (Web): Timed Browser-Based Workout App

Workout Sesh has free, timed workouts with instructional GIFs

Workout Sesh is a collection of different timed workout routines for the home or gym. Each workout clearly states which part of the body it trains, and how long the entire routine takes. Click any session to find a quick write-up and the exercises of the workout. You’ll see a list of all the exercises and how many seconds you’re supposed to do them for.

Workout Sesh presents a GIF for each exercise. Once you start the session, follow along to the speed of the GIF, and continue with it for the recommended time. The website sends audio alerts to start, stop, rest, and restart.

All of the routines on Workout Sesh are completely free and you can use them as many times as you want. Several routines have celebrity names to them, but don’t fall for that, there doesn’t seem to be any real backing by those celebs. Do them to get fit, not for the fake allure of the famous.

Workout Sesh is a progressive web app that works in a browser on your phone, laptop, or TV. There is no app to install , but it requires an active internet connection. If you want offline workouts, check out these other bodyweight exercise apps for fitness anywhere.

3. 4-Week Runner’s Workout (Web): But It’s Not Just for Runners…

Runner's World magazine has a 28-day free home fitness routine broken into weekly exercise regimen

Runner’s World magazine published a 28-day workout for runners stuck in their living rooms. But the magazine is quick to note that this isn’t only for runners, as it will help anyone get fit at home.

It divides the 28 days into four weekly workout plans. Each week’s routine is more difficult than the previous one. Every routine has five basic exercises, with illustrations that guide you on the correct form. Do each exercise for 30 seconds, and three circuits of all five, with 2-3 minute rest breaks between circuits.

Runner’s World also has instructions that speed up the workout routines at home depending on your fitness levels. For example, if you aren’t a beginner, you can skip directly to the second week’s exercise plan. The third and fourth week’s workout routines require dumbbells.

4. GymPerson’s DIY Weights (Web): Homemade Dumbbells and Alternative Weights

Make DIY dumbbells and homemade weights with GymPerson's step-by-step guides

If you want to keep up with weight training at home but don’t have any weights, you can make your own. GymPerson offers five different DIY ways to make your own dumbbells or other exercise weights with objects and items you probably already have.

In step-by-step guides, the website instructs how to build homemade weights with water bottles, milk jugs, sand, concrete, and a backpack. Some of the guides are more explicit and clear than others.

For example, the DIY water bottle dumbbells weigh 10 pounds or 27 pounds, depending on the size of the bottle. Meanwhile, you’ll have to weigh the backpack on a scale to make it as heavy as you want.

The weights you make will depend on the equipment you have at home, but the website is pretty good at guiding you with different permutations.

You should also check out GymPerson’s DIY section for other equipment you can make at home, such as a pull-up bar, battle ropes, parallettes, and an exercise stepper.

5. P.E. With Joe (YouTube): Free Fitness Class for Kids From The Body Coach

Schools are shut so there are no Physical Education (PE) classes. Plus the kids can’t go out to play. So how do children stay fighting fit in these times? Personal trainer Joe Wicks, a.k.a The Body Coach, is hosting daily PE classes for kids on YouTube.

Wicks does a live class at 9am UK time every weekday, but the videos stay on so your kids can do a workout at timings ideal for them. Start from the first video, there is no pressure to catch up with the live classes.

Each session lasts 30 minutes and doesn’t require any equipment. While they’re meant for kids, they’re perfectly helpful for adults to keep in shape as well, and a fun family activity too. Wicks says he intends to be Britain’s PE teacher for now, promising to get kids “moving, feeling, energized, positive, optimistic.”

The Oldest and Greatest Home Workout

These workout routines and apps are only the tip of the iceberg. The internet is filled to the brim with suggestions for exercises that you can do at home, or without any equipment. For example, Darebee is one of the favorites here at MakeUseOf for its 300 free routines.

But you should also check out a cool, not-so-well known exercise routine. Gymnast J. P. Muller’s 1904 workout takes only 15 to 20 minutes, but it has several loyal supporters over the last century, including doctors, kings, and personalities like Franz Kafka. Find out more about it in our collection of the best free no-equipment workouts to get fit anywhere.

Read the full article: Stay Fit at Home With These 5 Free Workout Apps & Exercise Tips

Source: MakeUseOf | 28 Mar 2020 | 5:30 pm(NZT)

The Microsoft Teams Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet

Microsoft Teams is one of Slack’s top competitors and has exploded in popularity of late.

Once you get past its confusing sign-up process, Teams proves to be a robust solution for hosting your virtual office. Its free tier includes unlimited messages, audio/video calling features, and screen sharing. You’ll also find real-time integration with Office Online apps like Word, Excel, and OneNote.

If a Microsoft Teams workspace is where you head to work every morning, the cheat sheet below is for you. It contains keyboard shortcuts for using Microsoft Teams on web and desktop. With the shortcuts listed you can, for starters, display the commands list and switch between various tabs in your workspace.

The cheat sheet also includes shortcuts for calls and messaging. With these, you can start new chats, reply to threads, attach files, manage calls, and toggle audio and video.

FREE DOWNLOAD: This cheat sheet is available as a downloadable PDF from our distribution partner, TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access it for the first time only. Download The Microsoft Teams Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet.

The Microsoft Teams Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet

Web ShortcutsNavigation
Ctrl + EMove focus to search box
Ctrl + /Display command list
Ctrl + Shift + GGo to…
Ctrl + Shift + 1Open Activity tab
Ctrl + Shift + 2Open Chat tab
Ctrl + Shift + 3Open Teams tab
Ctrl + Shift + 4Open Calls tab
Ctrl + Shift + 5Open Files tab
Left Option + Up ArrowGo to previous list item
Left Option + Down ArrowGo to next list item
Ctrl + Shift + F6Go to previous section
Ctrl + F6Go to next section
Ctrl + . (Period)Show keyboard shortcuts
Ctrl + F1Open Help section
Ctrl + NStart new chat
CMove focus to Compose box
Ctrl + Shift + XExpand Compose box
¹Ctrl + EnterSend message
Ctrl + Shift + OAttach file
Shift + EnterStart new line
RReply to thread
Meetings and Calls
Ctrl + Shift + CStart audio call
Ctrl + Shift + SAccept audio call
Ctrl + Shift + UStart video call
Ctrl + Shift + AAccept video call
Ctrl + Shift + DDecline call
Ctrl + Shift + MMute/unmute audio
Ctrl + Shift + FToggle full screen mode
Ctrl + Shift + SpaceGo to sharing toolbar
²Desktop ShortcutsNavigation
Ctrl + EMove focus to search box
Ctrl + /Display command list
Ctrl + GGo to…
Ctrl + 1Open Activity tab
Ctrl + 2Open Chat tab
Ctrl + 3Open Teams tab
Ctrl + 4Open Calls tab
Ctrl + 5Open Files tab
Left Option + Up ArrowGo to previous list item
Left Option + Down ArrowGo to next list item
Ctrl + Shift + Up ArrowMove selected team up
Ctrl + Shift + Down ArrowMove selected team down
Ctrl + Shift + F6Go to previous section
Ctrl + F6Go to next section
Ctrl + . (Period)Show keyboard shortcuts
F1Open Help section
Ctrl + NStart new chat
CMove focus to Compose box
Ctrl + Shift + XExpand Compose box
¹Ctrl + EnterSend message
Ctrl + OAttach file
Shift + EnterStart new line
RReply to thread
Meetings and Calls
Ctrl + Shift + CStart audio call
Ctrl + Shift + SAccept audio call
Ctrl + Shift + UStart video call
Ctrl + Shift + AAccept video call
Ctrl + Shift + DDecline call
Ctrl + Shift + MMute/unmute audio
Ctrl + Shift + OToggle video
Ctrl + Shift + FToggle full screen mode
Ctrl + Shift + SpaceGo to sharing toolbar
¹The shortcut Enter also works when you haven’t expanded the Compose box. ²On macOS, replace Ctrl with Cmd and Alt with Option in shortcuts.

Make Remote Work Easier

Microsoft Teams is one of the best free workplace messenger apps. Of course, it’s not the only type of app you need for successful remote work. We also recommend these free online collaboration tools.

Image Credit: Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Read the full article: The Microsoft Teams Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet

Source: MakeUseOf | 28 Mar 2020 | 10:30 am(NZT)

Mastering Plex Media: The 25+ Best Tips, Tricks, Tutorials, and Guides

We have all the tips, tricks, tutorials, and guides you’ll need to become a full-fledged master of Plex Media. Newbies and veterans, welcome!

Have you ever wanted to run your own personal Netflix-type service within your own home? Imagine if you could load up all of your digital movies, TV shows, music, and more onto a single device, then be able to stream it on any device on the same internet network.

Well, Plex lets you do that—and so much more. Plex is one of the best home media solutions available today. And the best part? It’s free to use! There are some non-essential convenience features that do require a paid subscription, but they’re truly non-essential. The best bits of Plex are, indeed, all free.

If you’ve never even heard of Plex before, you’ll want to check out our complete newbie’s guide to Plex. It’s long, it’s comprehensive, and it’s everything you need to get started even with zero knowledge.

Choosing a Device as Your Plex Media Server


The beauty of Plex is that it can run on many devices: most computers, certain gaming consoles, network-attached storage (NAS) drives, and even some routers. Perfect for an always-on home media streaming solution!

If you just want to stream Plex off of your laptop or computer, check out our Plex newbie guide that was linked up above!

Configuring Your Plex Media Server

Once the Plex software is installed and running on your device of choice, you’ll want to get it properly set up for your needs. Check out these tips and tricks that we’ve compiled over the years:

More Plex Tips and Tricks

plex library

The general idea of Plex is simple—you select what you want to stream, and stream it—but you can take things up another level with some of the tips and tricks below:

An Even Better Plex Experience

The default Plex software is pretty great right out of the box. However, you can definitely improve the experience using third-party software, apps, and plugins that Plex fans have created over the years:

Understanding Plex’s Paid Features

If you’ve gotten this far, you might be wondering what kinds of  “non-essential” features are hidden behind Plex’s paid subscription called Plex Pass:

Alternatives to Plex Media Server

Plex is arguably the best at what it does, but there are several alternatives out there in case you find that Plex isn’t exactly the right solution for you:

Read the full article: Mastering Plex Media: The 25+ Best Tips, Tricks, Tutorials, and Guides

Source: MakeUseOf | 28 Mar 2020 | 10:00 am(NZT)

Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most?

Is your PC fast enough for the things you want to do? Does it take forever to boot, or grind to a halt when you try to use Photoshop? If so, it’s probably time to upgrade your hardware.

But now you’re wondering, “What should I upgrade on my PC?” What gives the best bang for buck, and which upgrades are a waste of time? Here’s our guide to the best PC upgrades you can make.

1. Why You Should Upgrade RAM

RAM stick sitting on top of a dozen plugged in RAM sticks
Image Credit: Kingston

Adding more memory is the easiest and most accessible way to upgrade your PC. It’s affordable, you can do it on almost any computer, and it doesn’t require much tech know-how. It’s also one of the best laptop upgrades, if your machine allows it.

If you’ve never cracked open your PC case before, this is the place to start.

A RAM upgrade delivers an instant performance boost to almost all PCs that are running slow. For resource hungry tasks—like video editing or gaming—the more RAM you’ve got, the better.

Even for casual use, extra RAM will enable you to have more apps running in the background or keep a greater number of tabs open in your browser.

So how much RAM do you need?

You might also take a look at SuperFetch on Windows and its affect on your RAM along with the best DDR4 RAM to improve your PC’s performance.

If you need to know what RAM is compatible with your computer, memory maker Crucial has a PC upgrade advisor tool that helps you identify the type of memory you need.

2. Consider Upgrading the Graphics Card

upgrade your graphics card
Image Credit: Gigabyte

We’ve got this second on the list, but if you’re a serious gamer then it should probably be the first thing you upgrade. If you aren’t a serious gamer, 3D modeler, or 3D animator, then you might not ever need to upgrade it at all.

Skimping out on graphics is an easy way to save on costs, so PC manufacturers tend to go with integrated graphics cards rather than dedicated graphics cards.

And on modern systems integrated graphics is good enough for most users. It’ll let you do some Photoshop work, or watch 4K video. Around 10 percent of users on Steam are even gaming with integrated graphics.

But if you do need superior graphics performance, for gaming or VR work, then upgrading to something like a Radeon RX 5700-XT will give you a big boost. You can compare the performance of dedicated cards against your current option at

Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700-XT Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700-XT Buy Now On Amazon $419.99

3. Get a Faster Storage Drive

upgrade to an ssd
Image Credit: Samsung

There are two reasons to upgrade your hard drive: you’re running out of space or you want faster performance.

If you’ve done everything you can to free up your hard disk storage and still regularly run out of space, then you will need to swap it out for a larger one. Not only does a full hard drive make it impossible to save new data, but it can also impact performance. At the very least, try to keep 10GB of free space for the operating system to use.

For hard disk drives, consider upgrading the physical speed. If your PC currently has a 5400RPM drive, then upgrading to a 7200RPM model will give you a nice speed boost.

But one of the most useful computer upgrades is to switch to a solid state drive. These use flash memory instead of a spinning disk and are many times faster than a typical hard disk drive.

On average, a 5400RPM drive might achieve write speeds up to 100Mbps, a 7200RPM drive up to 150Mbps, and a solid state drive over 500Mbps. Higher end SSDs like the Samsung 970 EVO Plus have incredibly high write speeds of 3300Mbps and more.

Samsung 970 EVO Plus Samsung 970 EVO Plus Buy Now On Amazon $219.99

Ultimately, a faster data drive impacts your entire system. It means faster boot times, faster program loading times, faster speeds for launching games, and more responsiveness in programs that use large files (like video editing or RAW photo editing).

The big complaint about solid state drives used to be that they had much smaller capacities and were more expensive than hard disk drives. While this is still technically true, it’s much less of an issue today.

1TB SSDs are now pretty common, and very affordable—take a look at the SanDisk SSD Plus as a great example. That should be big enough for many people, but if you need more space you could consider a hybrid drive. This combines both technologies to give you a balance between speed and size.

Samsung SSD Plus Samsung SSD Plus Buy Now On Amazon $109.99

4. Upgrading the Processor

Upgrading your PC’s processor is a far more advanced task than the other upgrades we’ve covered so far. Not only is it physically trickier to install, it’s one of the more expensive upgrades and there are compatibility issues to worry about, too.

More importantly, a processor upgrade isn’t always a good thing and may not bring you the performance improvement you’re looking for.

The benchmark tests at can help you compare the relative performances of different processors. In general, these tests show that modest updates don’t deliver big improvements.

A processor is only worth upgrading if the upgrade is significant, like moving from an i3 to an i5, or from an older generation to a newer one. Don’t go for something just because it has a faster clock speed.

Processors are expensive and may require you to upgrade your motherboard (and that might require you to buy new RAM). Even if your motherboard is compatible with a new processor on paper, it may need a BIOS update to work. It can be a pain, so check before you buy.

Ultimately, if your processor is the speed bottleneck in your system, you might want to consider buying a whole new system altogether.

5. How Upgrading Software Can Improve Performance

upgrade operating system

Chances are that the programs on your PC are set to update automatically. If not, you probably click the Update button as soon as you’re alerted to the release of new program versions.

In most cases this is the right thing to do. But not always. For a lot of software, the version number is depicted in the form of Major.Minor.Revision. So, if an update is 0.0.1, then it’s likely to be bug fixes. If it’s 0.1.0, then it likely includes optimizations and small new features. Minor and Revision updates should be installed right away.

But Major updates—a change in the full version number—are a different matter. It’s almost a given that new versions of programs will use more resources than old versions, so if your PC’s hardware is already being stretched to the max, you should deal with that first.

The same goes for operating system updates. The regular incremental updates are essential for performance and security reasons, but whole new versions aren’t. They will almost certainly have bugs and may run slow on your system.

If your PC is running fine, it’s worth holding off on operating system upgrades until you’re absolutely sure they won’t turn out to be downgrades.

Software tweaks are often a good way to make your computer feel faster without needing to spend any money. Our guide on how to make Windows 10 faster is a good place to get started.

What Else Should You Upgrade?

The motherboard is the most difficult of all upgrades since all of the other PC parts attach to it. It’s only worth considering if you’re dead set on a new processor that’s not compatible with your current setup. It won’t give you much of a speed boost on its own.

There are other components to consider, too.

A keen photographer, for instance, would surely benefit more from having a better monitor than from making Lightroom run a little quicker. Equally, a writer could become more productive with a mechanical keyboard.

Instead of focusing purely on performance, think about how you can upgrade your PC experience. Speed is important, but it’s not the only thing that matters.

The Best PC Upgrades for You

When you’re deciding how to upgrade your PC, we recommend RAM, SSDs, and graphics cards as the main areas to focus on.

Make sure you buy parts that are compatible with your existing kit. A good PC upgrade checker is PC Part Picker, which helps you identify and shop for the right components.

Ideally, you should always tailor your upgrades to your precise needs. If you aren’t sure where your computer’s bottlenecks are, check out our guide to the Windows diagnostics tests you can use to help you pinpoint them.

And watch out for these common mistakes that could slow down your PC. Are you making any of them?

Read the full article: Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most?

Source: MakeUseOf | 28 Mar 2020 | 9:00 am(NZT)

The 7 Best PDF and Ebook Readers for Windows

Over the past few years, ebooks have gone from a novel idea to a broadly embraced alternative to print literature. Devices like the Nook and the Kindle have become commonplace—but they’re not the only option if you’re looking to see what ebooks have to offer. Today, there are several worthy ebook readers for Windows.

If you would like to learn more, keep reading. We’re going to look at some of the best PDF book readers and ebook readers on the Windows platform.

1. Kindle

kindle app windows

The Kindle app for Windows is a well-designed ebook reader—but to get the most out of it, you’ll need to be an Amazon customer. If being able to easily open and read a range of different file formats from different ebook stores is important to you, there are better options available.

Kindle’s interface is excellent. Open the app and you’ll be presented with the books you have stored in the cloud and/or on your device. A single click will put you right where you last left the book, regardless of the device you were reading on previously. The rest of the app is clutter-free; there are no ads and no unnecessary tools to dilute the experience.

If you want to use the Kindle app to access books that weren’t bought via the Kindle store, you will first need to convert them into a supported format, then upload them to your Amazon cloud. You can convert ebooks using Calibre, or you can use one of many online ebook conversion tools.

Download: Kindle (Free)

2. Bookvisor

bookvisor app windows

Bookvisor’s design is different from the other Windows ebook apps we have recommended. Whereas as most apps opt for flat colors and distraction-free UIs, Bookvisor tries to replicate the experience of reading a physical copy.

Some of the app’s most notable other features include automatically changing themes depending on the time of day, customizable margins, spacing, and fonts, a brightness slider, and importable bookmarks.

The app is free to use, but a premium version is available. The best feature of the paid version is the text-to-speech. It’s ideal if you want to “read” an ebook while you are on-the-go.

Download: Bookvisor (Free, premium version available)

3. Cover

cover app windows

While the occasional reader of comics might be able to get by with their standard ebook reader, a tailor-made app is a must for anyone serious about their comic books. Comic books and graphic novels are read a different way to traditional text-based books, so they require different features. Cover offers many of those necessary extra features. For example, you can zoom in on particular panels with a pinch, or swipe between pages with a simple gesture.

A comic book ereader also needs to support many file types, and Cover does not disappoint. The app supports most major formats, including CBZ, ZIP, CBR, RAR, 7Z, CB7, CBT, PDF and EPUB, as well as standard image formats like JPEG, PNG, GIF, and BMP.

Other notable features include customizable shelves, read/unread status, page counts, and support for ebook storage in local folders, network drives, and cloud storage drives.

Download: Cover (Free, in-app purchases available)

4. Sumatra PDF

sumatra ebook app windows

Sumatra is one of the best PDF readers for Windows, so it naturally doubles as one of the top PDF ebook readers as well. However, it can also handle many other common ebook formats, including EPUB, MOBI, XPS, DJVU, CHM, CBZ, and CBR.

The app also earns praise for its tiny footprint. PDF readers can sometimes be bloated and run slowly, but that’s not the case here. Your files will load quickly and you’ll be able to flick through them without any stuttering. There’s even the option to download a portable version so you can run it from a memory stick without installing.

Another great feature that Sumatra offers is tabbed browsing. This might not serve the purpose if you’re reading a novel for pleasure, but it does make cross-referencing texts and documents a breeze. It’s particularly for anyone who has reason to read ebooks or PDF documents for academic or professional purposes.

One drawback is that to tinker with any advanced settings, you’ll have to make manual edits to a text file, which isn’t user-friendly. Most users will likely have no reason to tweak these options, but if you do, the interface can be quite off-putting.

Download: Sumatra PDF (Free)

5. Calibre

calibre app windows

Calibre is the go-to ebook library management tool for Windows. It is perfect for organizing your collection of ebooks and transferring them to your ereader. A lot of people don’t realize, however, that Calibre is also one of the best ebook readers for Windows.

The reading interface is not as aesthetically pleasing as the Kindle and Nook apps, Calibre offers a very functional environment to read in. There’s a broad range of options for customizing how the book appears in your screen, and when you’re in full-screen mode you’ll be free from any distractions.

Nonetheless, Calibre is still at its best when it’s supplementing your use of a dedicated eReader. The app is not a great solution if your reading is going to take place exclusively on your computer, however, if you’re using your Windows PC as well as another device, it’s a great way of consolidating your ebook reader and ebook management tool into a single interface.

Download: Calibre (Free)

6. Freda

freda ebook app

The Freda ebook reader for Windows serves two purposes.

Firstly, you can use it to read any ebooks you own in the five supported file types (EPUB, MOBI, FB2, HTML, and TXT) as long as your books are DRM-free. Secondly, the app lets you read more than 50,000 classic titles that are now in the public domain. It pulls the free ebooks from well-known free ebook sites on the web like Gutenberg and Feedbooks.

If you dig into the app’s settings menu, you can customize the controls, fonts, colors, and more. You can also annotate your ebooks, use the app’s built-in text-to-speech reading tool, and create bookmarks and highlights.

Notably, Freda is also one of the only ebook readers for Windows that offers dyslexia-friendly settings and the OpenDyslexic font.

Download: Freda (Free)

7. Icecream Ebook Reader

Not everyone needs a fancy app with endless bells and whistles. If you’d prefer a more minimalist experience, you should check out Icecream Ebook Reader.

The app supports seven ebook formats, EPUB, FB2, MOBI, PDF, CBR, CBZ, and TXT. There’s a library tool to help you manage your collection, a search tool, an annotation tool, and little else.

Icecream Ebook Reader does not support cloud syncing, but it does have a useful archive and export feature. It’s useful if you need to access your ebook library on lots of different machines.

Download: Icecream Ebook Reader (Free)

Learn More About Ebook Readers

If you’re a bookworm, one ebook reader on your Windows machine is not going to suffice. You will probably also want an app on your tablet, phone, and more.

For advice on which other ebook apps to download, read our article on the best Android ebook readers and our list of the best tablets for reading ebooks.

Read the full article: The 7 Best PDF and Ebook Readers for Windows

Source: MakeUseOf | 28 Mar 2020 | 8:00 am(NZT)

How to Securely Erase Your SSD Without Destroying It

A solid-state drive (SSD) is one of the best upgrades you can make to your PC. An SSD was once a trade-off between disk space, cost, and the speed boost, but large capacity SSDs are now cheaper than ever.

Like other types of flash memory, you can only write to an SSD so many times, which presents an issue if you want to wipe the solid-state drive clean. Using a regular tool can damage the SSD, reducing its lifespan.

So, how do you securely erase an SSD without damaging the drive?

Does Secure Erase Damage Your SSD?

Generally speaking, you should never have to perform any maintenance on your solid-state drive. SSDs are designed with self-sufficiency in mind, using a series of algorithms and fail-safes that the manufacturer puts in place to maximize drive life and ensure data is discarded correctly.

What Is SSD Wear Levelling?

The first protection comes in the form of wear leveling, designed to evenly distribute stored data between SSD blocks to ensure even wear. Wear leveling is one of the major differences between a regular magnetic hard drive and a solid-state drive.

A traditional hard drive stores files in physical locations on a magnetic platter. The operating system indexes the file locations in a file system and accesses the data using a mechanical arm. Whereas, a solid-state drive is a form of flash memory, like a USB thumb drive—but with a much larger capacity.

Instead of writing to a location on a physical disc, an SSD writes the data to a block. Each write process causes the memory to degrade, or “wear.”

While the SSD uses a file system to communicate data storage locations to the host system, it also re-shuffles the data to ensure even wear across all memory blocks. Changes made for wear leveling record to a separate file map.

In other words, SSDs do not use any physically indexable locations, and software cannot specifically target sectors on the disk. Basically, your computer has no way of telling “where” that information was just copied to.

What Is SSD Trim and Should You Use It?

Your SSD constantly moves data around to comply with wear leveling, ensuring all blocks wear at an even rate. What that does mean, however, is that some common secure file deletion methods don’t work as you would expect. At least, not how they work on a magnetic hard drive.

Solid-state drives use a specific command to keep on top of file deletion, known as TRIM. The TRIM command marks the blocks of data the SSD is no longer using, ready for wiping internally. In basic terms, this means when you delete a file in your operating system, the TRIM command wipes the space and makes it available for use.

The next time your operating system attempts to write something to that space, it can do so immediately. Simply put, your SSD manages your discarded data.

The difference in how an SSD handles data deletion and the use of wear levelling is why regular secure drive wiping programs are not recommended for an SSD. You will eventually write 1s and 0s to the drive, but it will cause a significant amount of wear to the drive memory in the process.

Because the drive writes all new incoming data to various blocks, depending on its needs, only the drive knows where this data is written. So, secure deletion tools actually harm SSDs by performing an unnecessary number of additional writes.

For a much more detailed look at TRIM and garbage collection, you should read our article on the usefulness of TRIM on modern SSDs.

How to Securely Erase an SSD

Right now, you’re probably thinking, “How do I securely wipe my SSD, then?” Thankfully, it is still possible to securely wipe your SSD using software, and without damaging the drive. The difference is that instead of securely wiping all data from the drive, an SSD “resets” to a clean memory state (not factory, which implies there is no drive wear!).

The “ATA Secure Erase” command instructs the drive to flush all stored electrons, a process that forces the drive to “forget” all stored data. The command resets all available blocks to the “erase” state (which is also the state the TRIM command uses for file deletion and block recycling purposes).

Importantly, the ATA Secure Erase command does not write anything to the SSD, unlike a traditional secure wipe tool. Instead, the command causes the SSD to apply a voltage spike to all available flash memory blocks in unison. The process resets every available block of space in a single operation, and the SSD is “clean.”

Using the ATA Secure Erase command does use a whole program-erase cycle for your SSD. So yes, it does cause a small amount of wear, but it is negligible in comparison to a traditional secure wipe tool.

Secure Erase Your SSD Using a Manufacturer Tool

Most manufacturers supply software to use with their SSD. The software usually includes a firmware update tool and secure erase tool, and perhaps a drive cloning option. While it’s impossible for MakeUseOf to check the software of every manufacturer, you can find a list of tools for the major SSD manufacturers below.

The SSD manufacturer’s management app is the first place to check for a secure erase tool. However, some manufacturers do not include the ATA Secure Erase command as an option. Furthermore, in some cases, your SSD model may not support the command. If that is the case with your SSD, move onto the next section.

Secure Erase Your SSD Using Parted Magic

Although the SSD manufacturer tool may come with a secure erase tool, many experts advise using Parted Magic instead. Indeed, Parted Magic features as an essential tool to keep in your PC repair USB toolkit.

Parted Magic is a whole Linux distribution featuring all manner of disk erasing and partition managing tools. The tool does cost $11, but you have access to the suite forever, whenever you need it.

Parted Magic is a bootable Linux environment, meaning you install it to a USB drive and boot from there. Here’s a quick list of exactly what you need to do:

  1. Download Parted Magic and create a mountable USB drive using Unetbootin.
  2. Boot the drive and choose option 1, Default Settings.
  3. Once booted head to Start (bottom-left) > System Tools > Erase Disk.
  4. Choose the Internal:Secure Erase command writes zeroes to entire data area option, then confirm the drive you want to erase on the next screen.
  5. If you are told the drive is “frozen,” you will need to click the Sleep button and repeat this process until you can proceed further. If your drive indicates a password requirement, leave the password as “NULL.”
  6. Confirm that you have read and understood the risks, then hit Yes to erase your drive.

Secure Erase Your SSD Using PSID Revert

There is a third method to erase your SSD securely. The Physical Security ID (PSID) revert effectively cryptographically erases the content of your SSD, then resets it to the erase state. However, this method only works if you cannot securely erase the drive due to full disk encryption.

samsung ssd with psid

A PSID Revert wipes the entire drive. This process also works if the drive is hardware encrypted but not encrypted using third-party software. Find out if your drive supports PSID Revert by completing an internet search for “[your drive name] PSID Revert.”

Securely Erasing an SSD for Mac Users

Attempting to boot Parted Magic on a Mac can cause some issues. The issues relate to the method you use to create the Parted Magic bootable USB drive. Some burning programs work fine, while other options never seem to work.

A forum post on the Apple Stack Exchange provides details on how to boot Parted Magic on a Mac, with some handy pictures, too. You should also check out our guide on how to create a bootable USB for a Mac—but remember, your mileage may vary!

Other forum posts advise that if you experience issues with your Mac SSD and it is still under warranty, you should let Apple take a look.

You Can Wipe Your SSD Clean

Wiping an SSD clean requires different tools to a regular hard drive. Now you know the options, you can securely erase your SSD before selling or donating it. Manufacturer secure erase options are handy, but the Parted Magic secure erase option is best.

Remember, if you’re not selling or donating the drive and just want to destroy the data, you can always smash it up with a giant hammer. Of course, this will obliterate your data, as well as the drive itself. But you will securely erase your data in the process.

There are other reasons for erasing your SSD, of course. Check out the most common warning signs that your SSD is about to break down and fail!

Read the full article: How to Securely Erase Your SSD Without Destroying It

Source: MakeUseOf | 28 Mar 2020 | 7:00 am(NZT)

How to Search for Words in a YouTube Video

If you ever find yourself skipping through a YouTube timeline trying to find a punchline or a specific part of a tutorial, this article is for you.

It can be time-consuming and mind-numbing to try and find a specific moment in a YouTube video. However, you don’t need to do this manually.

In this article, we show you how to search for words in a specific YouTube video, as well as how to find words across all YouTube videos.

How to Search for Words in a Specific YouTube Video

It’s easy to find the exact spot in any YouTube video by using your browser’s search function, in conjunction with YouTube’s closed caption feature.

Most YouTube videos come with captions—either manually added or automatically generated. However, if a video doesn’t then it won’t be possible to follow these steps.

YouTube transcript

  1. Navigate to the YouTube video you want to search.
  2. Beneath the video, click the More icon (three horizontal dots).
  3. Click Open transcript. This will open a timestamped list of captions to the side of the video.
  4. Press Ctrl + F to open your browser’s search function. Input the word or term you want to search. If it’s found in the transcript, it will be highlighted.
  5. You can click that caption line to jump to the part in the video where your search term is spoken.

Remember, this relies on the accuracy of the captions. It isn’t guaranteed that the captions are all correct, especially if they have been automatically generated.

How to Search for Words Across Many YouTube Videos

This method is useful for when you want to find any YouTube videos that contain a specific word or phrase.

YouGlish search words

  1. Go to YouGlish.
  2. Input the word or phrase you want to find in the search field and click Say it.
  3. Use the controls beneath the video to Play and jump to where that word or phrase appears.
  4. Press Ctrl + Right arrow to move to the next video.

YouGlish doesn’t work on automatically generated captions. As such, it will only find videos where the captions have been manually added.

How to Make YouTube Fun Again

If you think this method for searching YouTube videos for words has been useful, you should take a look at these YouTube cheats to make YouTube fun again.

Read the full article: How to Search for Words in a YouTube Video

Source: MakeUseOf | 28 Mar 2020 | 6:00 am(NZT)

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