Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Google offers its Home app a makeover and advanced audio controls, just in time for Max

Just in time for the impending release of its higerh-fidelity Google Home Max smart speaker, Google has offered its Home app a makeover, bringing advanced audio settings, smarter search, and better navigation. So now on that note, anyone who owns an Assistant or Chromecast device knows how easy it is to set it up using the Home app, but now Google is offering us a reason to open more often. The entire app has been redesigned, with a clean aesthetic and more intuitive navigation. For example, when you want to find a movie or song, the search bar is at the bottom of the screen, just like it is on the new Pixel phones. It’s a small change for sure, but it’s much kinder on your fingers.
google home app
In regard to this, the Browse section will now showcase content from your installed services, and you can quickly navigate new and popular shows and movies on Netflix, Hulu, and other apps. Search has been enhanced as well, with some Assistant-like smarts. For example, if you search for “Jeremy Renner Movies” you’ll see movies for sale and videos on YouTube, but a list of options at the bottom of the screen will also invite you to explore Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans movies (since all three stars were in the Avengers movies). You’ll also be able to cast Google Play Store movie trailers within the app and browse through related content, but the coolest addition is the new playback controls. If you tap the device that’s playing, you’ll be taken to a screen that lets you adjust the volume, as well as the bass and treble on some devices. Google says the advanced audio options are available on "Google Assistant supported speakers, like Google Home," but the equalizer icon didn't appear when playing music through my Home devices. The Google Home app update is rolling out to all Android and iOS devices.
How it impacts your Home: First here I'll like to admit, the Google Home app isn’t one I visit very often. In fact, the only time I use it is when I have to set something up, whether it’s a new speaker or adding a smart home device to one of my existing ones. The changes here aren’t groundbreaking by any stretch, but I could see myself using the new Home app for browsing content or adjusting the sound of the speaker, especially when the Google Home Max arrives. This story, was originally published by TechHive.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Best and Worst Majors (and What You should Do if Yours Falls into the Latter Category)

If you are choosing a college major, it's normal to feel overwhelmed. There are many factors to consider before committing to a specific subject and industry, from money to stability. To offer some guidance on your decision, we outlined the highest-paying, the best and the worst majors – and what to do if your interests fall in a low-paying industry.
Highest-paying majors by degree
A study from PayScale* showed the best-paying jobs for associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees. These are 10 majors in each degree that pay you back, ranked by early- and mid-career salary.
Associate's Degree:
Instrumentation Technology: $42,900-$92,500
Radiation Therapy: $57,900-$87,500
Management Information Systems: $44,200-$78,800
Nuclear Medicine Technology: $57,900-$74,600
Construction Management: $43,100-$73,400
Electrical Engineering: $41,500-$73,200
Electrical Engineering Technology: $41,900-$72,600
Engineering: $39,700-$72,500
Nursing Science: $54,900-$72,400
Economics: $35,500-$72,400
Bachelor's Degree:
Petroleum Engineering: $94,600-$175,500
Actuarial Mathematics: $56,400-$131,700
Actuarial Science: $61,200-$130,800
Nuclear Engineering: $69,000-$127,500
Chemical Engineering: $70,300-$124,500
Marine Engineering: $73,900-$123,200
Economics and Mathematics: $60,000-$122,900
Geophysics: $54,100-$122,200
Cognitive Science: $54,000-$121,900
Electrical Power Engineering: $68,600-$119,100
Master's Degree
Nurse Anesthetist: $140,000-$156,000
Computer Science and Engineering: $95,900-$134,000
Operations Research: $80,800-$130,000
Electrical and Electronics Engineering: $79,500-$129,000
Taxation: $61,100-$129,000
Electrical Engineering: $79,900-$127,000
Technology Management: $65,900-$127,000
Chemical Engineering: $73,100-$125,000
Computer Engineering: $86,700-$125,000
Computer Science: $84,800-$125,000
*Information in this section was taken from an older version of PayScale's study. Overall worst majors
Money isn't everything, and there are plenty of other factors to think about when one is choosing an industry, like hiring demand and job satisfaction. All aspects considered, from pay to projected growth, Kiplinger put together a list of the worst majors:
Radio and Television
Graphic Design
Paralegal Studies
Art History
Exercise Science
Religious Studies
Advice for low-paying majors: The trends may suggest that the communications and art industries are not thriving, while the sciences and mathematics are. But this doesn't mean you should quit your passion without giving it a chance. "Studying a subject you're passionate about is a good idea, whether it's expected to pay well or not," said Stacy Rapacon, online editor at "Just be so sure you go into it with reasonable expectations about what the future might hold for you when it comes to job prospects and potential pay." It all depends on how much you are willing to risk. Now on that note, if you have ambitions burning within you, you might look past the possibilities of low income and instability while focusing strictly on reaching your goals. Or you can find ways to pursue your passions on the side of a sufficient career. Just because you are interested in a given job doesn't mean you need to focus solely on that industry. There are many fields and skills you can study and master that might actually help you in your dream career. "I'd recommend trying to pick up some classes and experience in the fields that are considered more promising," said Rapacon. "You might be surprised to find that you do have some interest in a different field or that you can at least learn some useful skills."

Monday, 6 November 2017

The U11+ is the HTC flagship you desire but can’t have

For a good number of Android die-hards, the U11+ is the phone they’ve been waiting for from HTC. The company’s newest flagship improves on the U11 in every way, with a sleek, modern package that fixes many of its flaws. The only problem is, U.S. buyers won’t be able to buy one. As the name suggests, the U11+ is something of a mid-cycle refresh of the U11. It has the same Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB or 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of storage, and the premier Edge Sense quick launch feature. But you wouldn’t know that just by looking at it. HTC has dumped the home button in favor of a rear fingerprint sensor and upgraded the screen to a 6-inch, Quad HD+ 2880x1440 screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio. However, unlike the Galaxy Note 8 and LG V30, the display is still LCD and not AMOLED. Around the back you’ll find an upgraded camera as well. While the specs are largely the same as the U11—12MP UltraPixel 3 with with 1.4μm pixels, an f/1.7 aperture, and optical image stabilization—HTC says the improved full-sensor phase detection autofocus and HDR Boost will make for crisper images. Additionally, the new 8MP front camera uses the same image processing tech as the main camera to capture better selfies, despite the downgrade in megapixels (the U11 has a 16MP sensor). Also improved is the battery. While the U11 has a relatively pedestrian 3,000mAh battery, the U11+ sports a 3,930mAh one, which is going to be able to power those extra pixels and then some. It also features Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3 but no wireless charging. Elsewhere it has IP68 water resistance, Bluetooth 5.0, and BoomSound support with noise-canceling earbuds and aptX 24-bit high resolution wireless audio. The U11+ features HTC’s Edge Sense technology that lets you squeeze the sides of the phone to launch various apps and actions. Similar to what Google has brought to the Pixel 2 but way more customizable, you can now use Edge Sense to launch a radial side menu similar to Air Command on the Galaxy Note 8. Powering the software enhancements will be a new version of HTC’s Sense UI based on Android Oreo. The U11+ will be available in silver, black, and translucent black on November 20 in the UK before expanding to the rest of Europe. HTC says it has no plans to release the U11+ in the U.S.
The story behind the story: HTC kicked off 2017 with the U Ultra, a disappointing 5.7-inch phone that failed to resonate with U.S. buyers. The smaller 5.5-inch U11, on the other hand, was far better received both by reviewers and consumers. HTC has used that evidence to conclude that U.S. buyers aren’t interested in its phablets, which is why it’s releasing the mid-range U11 Life in the U.S. and the U11+ overseas. That’s in one sense a shame, because the U11+ looks like a great phone. HTC might be right in thinking that U.S. buyers care more about the Pixel 2 XL and the Galaxy Note 8 than they would about a 6-inch U11+, but we hope this doesn't mean HTC isn't done with releasing big-screened phones in the U.S. If there’s a silver lining to this strategy, it’s that HTC has proved that it still has some serious design and engineering chops. That could mean good things for the Pixel 3, which will almost surely be made by HTC, since Google bought a large chunk of the company’s smartphone division earlier this year. So now, if you want a flagship 6-inch HTC phone in the U.S., you might only have to wait another 11 months. Thanks...
This story, was originally published by PCWorld.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Fearless Feedback: The 6 Steps to Successful Constructive Criticism

As professionals, it's more than clear that we want to do better and be better. Giving and receiving constructive feedback allows us to see our behavior and work from someone else's perspective, which is important. Two people can always view the same situation completely differently but not even realize it. Now not giving feedback, especially when it's necessary to address unacceptable behavior, has consequences. However, you can create an action plan to provide critical, beneficial feedback. Girl Develop It Detroit chapter leader Aisha Blake presented a workshop entitled "Giving Feedback Fearlessly" at the annual Ela Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 29. "[Feedback] can be scary to give because we can hurt people's feelings, but it can be uncomfortable to receive because we're vulnerable," an audience member explained. Blake identified two types of feedback: positive and constructive. Positive feedback focuses on what we're doing right; it feels gratifying, and it affirms our work. While it might not always be negative, constructive feedback concentrates on how we can improve what we do. "[Constructive feedback] is the feedback we all think about," Blake emphasizes. "We want to make this about behaviors." It sounds much easier said than done, but, don't forget, feedback isn't a personal attack – unless, of course, the feedback is intended to be taken personally. There's a difference though, Blake said, between evaluation and escalation: "If you feel unsafe, that is something you need to bring to someone, whether it's HR, your manager or someone in your workplace," she said. Finally on this note, follow Blake's six-step method to providing effective, constructive feedback.
1. Be specific: The major goal of providing any type of constructive feedback is to change a behavior. The other person won't understand why their behavior is a problem unless you properly articulate the behavior in detail. "Keep it focused and actionable, so that there's a clear path forward," a slide from Blake's presentation read.
2. Deliver feedback proactively: It's crucial to identify conflicts when they first happen. Otherwise, you're more likely to hold a grudge, which can manifest itself in snapping at the other person unintentionally later on. "You don't need to see into the future, but you need to make sure things aren't festering for too long," Blake explained. "So often the problems we have, whether technical or personal ... wouldn't be such a big deal if someone said [something] the first, second or even fifth time, but the seventeenth time, we snap."
3. Take a breath: Any time you stand in a position to confront problematic behavior, it's important to take a step back and let yourself cool off first. Blake invited the entire audience to take a deep breath in and out twice. "Don't jump in angry," the presentation slide stressed. Because constructive feedbacks takes a lot of energy, especially emotional labor, take time to fully process your thoughts. Unless it's an urgent situation, write down how you would describe the behavior and read it out loud to yourself. Make edits as necessary to help prepare yourself for the real face-to-face conversation.
4. Check your bias: In this regard, there are two sides to every story. "Your perception of the issue may not match the other person's lived experience," stated one of Blake's slides. Acknowledging your bias can help, especially if you're in a position of power based on your race or gender. "I've had people [that were] intimidated by the way that I look," Blake mentioned. For example, in her professional experience, she previously had supervisors make assumptions based on her identity, which prevented both of them from communicating effectively with each other.
5. Invite discussion: "Making too many assumptions can hold the conversation back," a presentation slide read. In order to combat assumptions, initiate a discussion with the other person. Don't make it one-sided either. Hear the other person out. After all, you don't know what stresses, outside of the workplace, they carry every single day.
6. Follow through: Now on this note, after an appropriate length of time has passed, evaluate whether the other person's behavior changed. If it changed, ask yourself how it changed. If they addressed and improved their behavior, consider thanking them at the right time. Conversely, if the behavior is still occurring, be prepared to own your experience and don't invalidate how you feel. "At the end of the day, what you feel is not wrong, because it exists," Blake stressed. An audience member suggested that supervisors should engrain both positive and constructive feedback into their office culture to make both receiving and providing feedback more normalized and less anxiety-inducing. Thanks for reading....

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

How you can use Android 8.0 Oreo's autofill API

Android 8.0 Oreo's autofill API is available now to save you from one of technology's biggest hassles: passwords. Google's API allows apps to act as autofill providers at the system level. So, instead of opening a password manager and copying your passwords, the app can simply authenticate you and fill in the information automatically. This feature requires some setup, but it's well worth your time. Autofill was somewhat possible in older versions of Android using the Accessibility service, which gives room for apps to input text and highlight fields. However, this process was slow and extremely buggy. Filling in passwords is not what it was designed to do. Google's Smart Lock came to Android in Nougat, and it worked a little better, but most developers didn't add support. So, the autofill API was devised to make password managers easier to use. Not all password manager apps work with this feature, but most of the big ones have announced support. 1Password, Dashlane, and LastPass have all added support for Oreo that you can try right now, but it's still technically in beta for LastPass. In addition, if you don't use a third-party password manager, you might still be able to use the autofill feature with Google's own autofill service from Chrome.
How you can use Oreo's autofill API: Oreo's autofill features are disabled by default, and they're rather buried. Now to enable autofill, head into your main system settings and look in System > Language & input > Advanced > Autofill service. You can only have one active at a time, but "Autofill with Google" is built into the OS. Any other apps you've installed with support for autofill will also show up in this menu. Google's option pulls in usernames and passwords from Chrome. That means you'll already have access to lots of account credentials in Android if you've been saving things to Chrome on your desktop. Okay, the first time you open an app with a native login field (not an embedded web frame), a window pops up asking you to confirm your Google account so logins can be found. A drop-down list of matching logins will let you pick among several accounts. If you choose a third-party app like LastPass, the authentication step is different. These apps are a bit more secure based on the early implementation. For example, LastPass will ask you to confirm your identity with a fingerprint (if enabled in the app) or LastPass password before it will autofill in other apps. Like the stock Google offering, these apps have drop-down menus where you can choose from all matching accounts before filling the username and password. There's a bit of setup needed, but you'll never have to worry about awkwardly copying and pasting your long, complex passwords on Android again. If you don't have long, complex passwords, you can start using them with the knowledge you won't have to type them in by hand.
This story, was originally published by PC Advisor (UK).