Friday, December 11, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Holiday Spirit Missing in 2020?!

Most Emporia State University students and employees have headed out for a well-earned break following the Fall 2020 semester. But, the missing holiday spirit is particularly troubling on this cold December day. We are hearing, unofficially, that the holiday spirit may arrive later than expected this year.

Find out more from our globetrotting international anchors! 


Thank you to all of our readers and viewers. We strive to keep you informed (and maybe even a little entertained at times). 

Have a wonderful and safe winter break and we look forward to even greater things in 2021!


- With ♥ from the Web and Digital Strategies team

Holiday Season, Holiday Scams

The holiday shopping season is here once more and that means the online scammers are out in full force threatening to be the coal in your proverbial stocking.  Here are a few things to look out for:

  • We’ve been alerted that users are being targeted by phone calls—allegedly from companies like Apple or Amazon.  The automated caller may tell you there is a problem with a package or your account.  They will then direct you to either "press 1" or call another phone number to "resolve the problem".  This is a scam to get personal information from you.  Do not "press 1" or return the phone call.  If you suspect there may be a problem with Apple account or an Amazon purchase contact those service providers from their company web pages.
  • Watch out for holiday shopping deals that are sent via email or text.  Never click on links in email unless you recognize the sender.  If you're shopping online, stick to places that you've purchased from previously or are reputable.
  • Never, ever give out your social security number to retailers.  If you're asked for personal information in order to complete a purchase--walk away.
  • Buy with credit cards--or better yet use services like PayPal and Apple Pay.  These provide an extra layer of protection when shopping online.  Avoid using debit cards, if possible.  Credit cards tend to have better fraud protection.
  • Start the holiday season by making sure your computer, tablet, smartphone and any other Internet-connected devices are up to date with the latest software and that you're using strong passwords with all of your accounts.
  • If you donate to charitable organizations, use extra caution this year.  Scammers are taking advantage of COVID-19 to send out fake charitable requests, often by email or text.  These can be indistinguishable from legitimate organizations--even using the appropriate charity's logo.  Unfortunately, these scammers don't just take your money, they also steal your identity, banking info, and SSN.  If you want to donate, visit the charity's website yourself--don't click on an email or text message.

Brian Osbourn
Director
Web and Digital Strategies

Thursday, December 10, 2020

2020 Holiday Tech Gift Guide

The holidays are here, and if you are wondering what gifts to get this year, we have come up with an easy list for you! Now, it's time to bring out the wallets and begin the splurge.

GAMING

  1. Xbox Series X / S

    A new generation has begun. It's been 7 years since the last generation of Xbox (Xbox One). This time Microsoft takes a special approach, releasing two separate consoles right out of the gate. The Xbox Series X ($499) and Xbox Series S ($299).


  2. Sony PS5 / PS5 Digital

    Just like the Xbox, Sony has released two PS5 versions, with a much different approach The PS5 Digital edition ($399) and the PS5 with a Blu-Ray optical drive ($499).


  3. Nintendo Switch.

    If you're into gaming, but want to tap into the Nintendo world, the  Switch is a great option for you and the family. Enabling you to play tons of quirky, yet interesting games and numerous 21st century renditions of classics!


MOBILE

  1. iPhone 12 / 12 Pro Max

    The holiday season is always a great time to get a new iPhone. This year, we're recommending the iPhone 12 ($799), and if you want to splurge a little extra, the iPhone 12 Pro Max ($1,099). Now using the latest chips, enabled with 5G, updated cameras, and improved screens.


  2. Apple Watch SE / Series 6


    Looking for a smart watch? Or even 'the future of health on your wrist'? Well you're in luck! Starting at $279 the Apple Watch SE is the best bang for your buck. But if you were feeling extra colorful and wanted to indulge in the new Atlantic Blue or Product Red then the Series 6 is better suited for you (starting at $399)

COMPUTE

  1. Apple MacBook AIR / PRO

    Are you looking for the fastest, greatest, least expensive, most portable laptop? The MacBook Air with M1 is your best bet, and far surpasses the competition. For $899 (after the education discount), it makes you wonder why you would even consider the new AirPods Max for $600.

    Now, if you feel the need to have more battery life and an active cooling system, then for $300 more the MacBook Pro 13" with M1 ($1,199) should get you fully sorted.




  2. Apple iPad AIR

    We are big proponents for the tablet revolution, whether it be for school, work, creativity or even entertainment. The iPad Air ($599) is a great entry point in 2020.


AUDIO

  1. Apple AirPods Pro

    To tag along with all your new devices, you have to have new earphones. Our favorite pick are the AirPods Pro ($250) from last year. We covered this in our list last year, and the technology remains the same!

CAMERA

  1. DJI Pocket 2

    If the camera on your new iPhone and iPad aren't cutting it for you; seriously, what are you doing? Then the new DJI Pocket 2 ($349) is the perfect small pocketable camera for you. With motorized active stabilization, 4K/60 fps, HDR enabled, Stereo Audio Recordings and a wide variety of additional accessories for that Holywood like cinematic shots.

Theo Belmonte + Saandhyarag Sasidhar
Web and Digital Strategies

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

IT After Hours: True Next Generation Gaming with the PlayStation 5

If you are currently trying to buy a Next-Gen console right in time for the holidays, GOOD LUCK!
Trust me, you'll need it.

This is all thanks to the ordeal of pre-ordering, which has been an absolute nightmare. Add on the issues of scheduled deliveries gone missing, and you're set to have a truly immersive Next-Gen frustration. But, sooner or later you too shall receive the all new latest and greatest in the console world. (Exact dates not clear)

PS5 in a cabinet
PS5 (barely) in a cabinet
In the meanwhile, let's quickly glance over this behemoth of a machine! It's quite big in size (15.4 in x 10.24 in x 4.09 in to be exact). Good luck fitting it into your cabinet! Sony clearly wanted it to be a bold statement piece in the room.

There are TWO PS5 versions (PS5 Digital $399 | PS5 $499). The only difference being the Digital version has no Blu-Ray optical drive, making it aesthetically more symmetrical and a $100 cheaper. Besides that the guts, storage and every other hardware component is the exact same. 

Microsoft seems to have taken a much different approach with their Next-Gen Consoles.

The PS5 supports a base resolution of 4K 120 FPS (variable), and has the option for 8K 60 FPS compatibility (future update). It supports HDR 10, a whole new way of hearing in game sounds with 3D Audio, and Ray Tracing rendering support for more life-like and realistic graphics. 

The DualSense controller has been reimagined from the ground up, and when you play Sony's Astro Play Room game/demo you truly feel the Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Triggers fully immerse you into the virtual world you're in. More games will start tapping into these offerings soon.

In simple speak, it'll look, sound and feel like true Next-Gen gaming. Although you don't need to upgrade your TV, in order to experience true Next-Gen be sure your TV has 4K HDR. The PS5 ships with an HDMI 2.1 cable, so you won't need any new cables.

The custom created SSD can transfer data at lightning speeds of 5.5GB/sec. It is worth knowing that out of the box only 675GB of useable space is available. Users will be able to upgrade it through an NVME slot later and we should be receiving more options relatively soon.

Sony has built upon the PS4 user interface, but has redesigned it to be easier to navigate and more user friendly. The PS5 can also act as your entertainment center by playing your favorite movies, shows and music.

If you're ever planning on playing online, you will need to get PSN+ ($60/year). One of the added benefits being, you receive complimentary PS4 games to play, but compared to Microsoft Game Pass it's nowhere close in terms of games and feels like more of an after thought from Sony.

It is worth noting that the current PS5 game catalog is significantly sparse. It also has limited backwards compatibility and not many games tap into its numerous Next-Gen features.

However, in the coming years you will be seeing an uptick in games that tap into all the offerings of a PS5.

If you really think about it, gaming consoles are a great value proposition. For around $500, you get 7+ years of fully supported gaming before having to upgrade.

Now that I've convinced you to get one, GOOD LUCK! We don't know when the next drop is, but you can keep track of stock across all online retailers here.

Saandhyarag Sasidhar
Web and Media Specialist
Web and Digital Strategies

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

IT After Hours: A New Generation of Xbox

 

A new generation has begun. It's been 7 years since the Xbox One, the last generation of Xbox, hit the market. Microsoft takes a special approach to this generation though, releasing two separate consoles right out of the gate. Let's dig into the details.

Xbox Series S

Xbox Series S

The cheaper of the two, the Series S, features a lower price point at the cost of lower specs. Priced at $299, the series S is the more budget friendly option. 

The smaller size of the Series S is appealing to a lot of gamers as well, as it easily fits into any cabinet. The slimmer, shorter, and lighter Series S weighs a mere 4.25 pounds.

As we continually move towards a fully digital future, the Series S axes the optical disc drive. Now this can be beneficial in terms of saving space and money, and digital games are widely available. However with the limited storage out of the box you will need to upgrade, and the 1TB Seagate storage expansion costs a whopping $220. Making the overall cost a lot closer to the bigger sister the Series X.

If you are planning on having multiple gaming consoles, this is definitely a great way to dip your toes into the Xbox world. 

Xbox Series X

The better performing and bigger console, the Series X, comes in at $499. It outperforms the Series S in multiple categories, so you get what you pay for.

The biggest improvement of the new generation is the load times. Review after review shows that the load times between the home screen and the game menu is exponentially quicker than the Xbox One. There's also a pretty neat feature called 'Quick Resume' that comes in handy when you want to switch between games.

Another improved feature is the noise level of the console. Though the Xbox One has been reputably loud, the fan and cooling system of the Series X is near silent. It’s difficult to judge the dust build-up's impact on the noise and fans in just a few weeks since its release, but there hasn't been any immediate causes for concern (except for the fake smoke fiasco).

Microsoft has stuck to the tried, tested and true Xbox controllers and have very slightly changed the controllers. Along with the addition of features like Smart Delivery for Games, 3D Spatial Audio, and Enhanced Backwards Compatibility for Xbox One, 360 and Original games.

Another great addition to the lineup has been the release of Microsoft Game Pass for $14.99/month. This gives you the benefits of Xbox Live Gold, along with access to 100+ games from day one, with new titles being added regularly, and EA Play tacked on.

Overall, the Xbox Series X outperforms the Series S, but at a higher up front cost. Our recommendation is to always get the latest and the greatest, if you're trying to get your order in, good luck! Here's a tracker tool that we've used in securing the console.

Tyler Parker + Saandhyarag Sasidhar
Web & Digital Strategies

Friday, November 13, 2020

New Macs + Apple Silicon: The Highlights

This week, Apple introduced their first Macs with Apple Silicon, or processors, fully designed by Apple.  The chip, called M1, builds from the technology already included in iPads, iPhones, and Apple TV's.  This marks the third time that Apple has switched architectures in the Mac, moving away from the original Motorola chips, then the  PowerPC switch in 2005, and now what is expected to be a two-year transition period away from Intel processors.  The change promises to provide faster performance, longer battery life, and less expensive devices.  Announcing earlier this year that the first Apple Silicon-powered Mac would ship in 2020, the California-based company delivered threefold with a MacBook Air, a MacBook Pro, and a Mac Mini at the Mac-focused event on November 10.  All are shipping within a week.


While we've not yet tested the new devices, we can highlight the following takeaways provided by Apple.


  • Software will need to be modified to work natively on the new M1 chip.  Apple has built in the ability for software designed for the Intel-based Macs to run on these new M1-based Macs using a translation layer--think of this as two people speaking two different languages using a translator.  The expectation is that software would run slower using this process, but it should run.  Of course, at ESU, all software will need to be tested.  Developers will have the ability to include the necessary code to run on both platforms by providing a single universal app.  While Apple had converted their catalog of software to the new format in time for the Mac event, we've now started to see mainstays in the Mac software community begin to announce their plans in short order including Microsoft, Adobe and Affinity.
  • For those running Windows on their Mac, the new M1 Macs do not support it any longer.
  • You'll now be able to run iOS or iPadOS apps on a Mac!
  • The MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro 13" do not support more than one external monitor.
  • There are 13" versions of the Intel-based MacBook Pro available to purchase (although at a premium, and why would you?).  The MacBook Air is now only available with the M1 chip.
  • Given the two-year timeline, Apple Silicon-powered versions of the iMac and others are most likely to appear within that time period.  Keep that in mind if you were considering replacing a current iMac.
  • Apple will continue to provide software and OS updates to the Intel Macs going forward.

 

On November 12, Apple released the new version of MacOS called Big Sur.  In addition to being a new version of the operating system, it is also the first to move beyond MacOS X and is now MacOS 11.  We'll be covering Big Sur in a future post.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

8 New iOS Features You May Not Know About



Apple’s new iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 are here! Among the many new features included are widgets on the home screen, apps rearrangement, privacy improvements, and much more! Today we are reviewing 8 of the coolest features you might not know about. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and newer iPhone. We will also review the new iPhones announced on November 13. The new iOS features may improve your experience using your iPhone or iPad--and if you're considering the Apple ecosystem, this is just a sampling of the innovation and ease of use that is available in the most recent releases.


The Safari Privacy Report

One of the new hidden features in iOS 14 includes the Safari Privacy Report. Safari now allows you to see the percentage of websites that contacted trackers, as well as the trackers prevented from following you. To see your privacy report, simply click on the “AA” in the left part of the address bar within Safari.


You can now choose your default email or web browser

We’ve all been annoyed when we can’t use Gmail or Outlook, as our default mail client or even Chrome as our default web Browser. But that limitation comes to an end in iOS 14 as it is now possible to set any browser app you want as your default browser. Similarly, you can set a default email client.

In order to enable this feature, go to the setting app of your iPhone and then scroll down to the app you want to enable as your default web browser/mail and then simply just click on “default app” to choose your favorite app.



Watch videos in “Picture in Picture” mode

When watching a video from your iPhone or iPad, it is now possible to leave the safari app and use your other features of your iPhone like answering your DMs or checking your email and the video will still be playing from the corner of your device.

Unfortunately, this feature is not available for the YouTube app yet, however, this feature is available when watching YouTube from Safari or Chrome.



Tap the back of your phone to enable cool stuff

In order to enable this cool new feature, go to the Setting app>Accessibility>Touch>Back Tap.
For example, you can now take a screenshot or shazam a song you hear by double-tapping the back of your phone.



Lock an App

If you have some apps that contains private information and you don’t want anyone to be able to go on those apps when they borrow your phone, it is now possible to lock some apps on iPhone.

To enable these new features, go to the setting app>screen time>Use screen time passcode (create your passcode that will be used to unlock the applications) then Click on apps limits>Edit list.



The orange and green indicators

Are you scared that face camera is recording you? Well, you don’t need to be scared anymore; a small orange dot next to the battery indicator will appear if your microphone is active, while a green dot will appear if your camera is in use.



Mirror selfies

I don’t know about you, but I used to hate when I took a selfie with my iPhone and the selfie just doesn’t look right because the camera is inverted. But this is not a problem anymore with the mirror selfies! The result is just so much better. Go ahead, try it out!

In order to enable this feature, go to Settings > Camera and turn on Mirror Front Camera.



Stack your widgets

Everyone knows about the new widgets in iOS 14, but did you know you could stack them? To enable this feature, hold your screen and simply drag one widget into another one.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

iPad for College?

Choosing a device for college is a big decision, but is there a device being overlooked for the running?

Taking a dive into what it would be like for students or faculty to use an iPad in the college classroom was something that our team was curious about. We have found that Apple's iPad has made some major improvements over the years on capabilities offered and applications to use. Looking deeper into what the new iPad's are offering, we wanted to see if it would be able to meet the needs of day to day college life. 

    Whether it be checking/grading assignments, emailing a colleague or student back, holding a virtual meeting, or presenting power points. We have a handful of the biggest features we found to make having an iPad in college, seem a little more achievable.

Specs 

    The options with the iPad have a lot of different variables that go into play when considering what is needed from the iPad when you are looking at needs. The two anyone should look for would be between the iPad Pro 4th generation or the iPad Air 4th generation.  Both offer just Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and Cellular capabilities, cellular would more than likely make the monthly phone bill rise. With teaching/learning from home, the cellular might be an addition that would aid with Wi-Fi that could have had issues in the past when trying to connect. The iPad Air comes in 3 additional color choices, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue. 

    The iPad Pro comes in either 11 or 13-inch liquid retina display with Pro-motion technology and true tone. Displays while the Air only has options for the 11-inch liquid retina display. Both models are compatible with magic keyboards or smart keyboard folio, as well as the 2nd generation of Apple Pencils. The keyboard would specifically come in handy if you prefer typing on a physical keyboard rather than the display. Storage size varies with the iPad Pro being able to go up to 1 terabyte of storage and the iPad Air having a max capacity of 256 gigabytes. iPad Pro comes in with the double lensed camera with a 12 megapixel and 10-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and the iPad Air has a 12-megapixel wide camera. 
   
    The differences between the two models do not stray away from the same makeup, the iPad Pro having more camera/speaker options, brighter true tone flash, and promotion technology. The specs show that you can't really go wrong with either model, it just comes down to what size and what capabilities will you need. 

Taking it to the Classroom

    Incorporating your new device into the classroom/work setting, knowing what is compatible, what could aid you more, and what the deciding factor is on the decision you have to make. A lot of the needed software or applications that Emporia State uses are able to be downloaded in the app store. If you prefer to use web-based sites rather than the application, adding a shortcut of the website to your home screen is also an option. 

    A lot of the applications or software that students use are also used by faculty. Faculty, the software, or applications you use specifically for the college also have options for those. 

    Some of the apps that are compatible with both models are:
  •   Some of the apps that are compatible with both models are:
    • All Google Suite applications
      • Google Drive, Slides, Sheets, Docs, etc. 
    • Hornet 365
      • Although this is not an application, you can create a shortcut tile for your home screen to take you directly to the website. 
    • Canvas
      • Input/check grades, respond to student messages, upload lectures, etc.
    • Adobe Creative Cloud
      • Photoshop, Acrobat, Illustrator, Lightroom, etc.
    • Microsoft Office
      • Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, Word, etc
    • LinkedIn
      • Stay connected with students, faculty, or employees promptly and professionally.
    • Quizlet
      • Creating or reviewing study guides, having review sessions

  Note Taking

    Taking notes is something a lot of college professionals and students have preferences on which way they take notes. Apple has provided different options for users to be able to take notes the way they want to, whether it be written or typed, you have the option for both on either model. The iPad Pro got a new capability to split-screen, and allow you to have more than one app or tab open at once, being able to keep lectures and notes open at the same time. Apple Pencils changed the game when they released the second generation of pencils. Within your notes app or an app of your choice, you can use the pencil to write, highlight, bold, relocate, and much more with your text. The pencil gives you quick options to switch from which type of writing utensil you would want to be used with the click of its side button. 
        Two of the apps that we have seen recommended by students multiple times are Notability and Good Notes. Both of these applications require a purchase to download but come at a very minimal price. Notability is $8 to obtain while Good Notes is $10, if you think about it, that is two Starbucks drinks from the Union to be able to take notes you love in your courses! Notability allows you to download notes, slides, and PDF's to interact and personalize to your preferences. Notability is also compatible across all Apple products as well, allowing you to be able to pick up where you left off on any of your devices.
    Good Notes allows you to import lectures, PDF's, or notes and make them your own separate documents. A cool feature about good notes is being able to copy or scan diagrams within your notes, and being able to pull the graphics from the notes you downloaded or scanned. This could come in handy when wanting to put a diagram in your lecture or pull a graphic from a PowerPoint. These features will all enable you to take the notes that you want to take and make them fit best for your study habits. 

Keyboard

    If you are a person that would prefer to type their notes out rather than write them, you are not alone. Some students have an easier time typing their notes and getting everything the professor is saying. Apple has updated its Apple Keyboard for the release of their new iPad Pro series. With the new features, they added and the thinness of the keyboard while still on the iPad is a good reason to consider for school. It is not as inexpensive to be able to compare it to purchasing a Starbucks drink, more rather an actual piece of technology. The cost of the Apple Keyboard is not an underwhelming cost but just a preferred choice of $200. 

The conclusion we can draw from the searching and research we found would prove that iPads are very capable of being used for college loads. Whether it be for textbook usage, editing, and personalizing your notes, or just finding what you need to be a productive and efficient student in your classes.


As always, thank you for reading and any questions or concerns can be answered by contacting the IT Help Desk.

Stay healthy Hornets!

Dakota Taylor
Social Media Student Assistant
Web & Digital Strategies