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CalendarJune 1, 2022

June Tip: Choose the Best Video Orientation

Choose the Best Video OrientationIn 2013, I published a tip recommending you record video in landscape mode rather than portrait mode. While landscape (horizontal) videos look best on TVs and computer screens, portrait (vertical) videos are sometimes better for smartphones. With the rise of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, portrait videos have become increasingly common.

If you're recording a short video for Snapchat, TikTok, or Instagram, portrait mode is probably best. For videos that you plan to watch on a TV, landscape mode remains the best choice.

The video's content can also inform your orientation decision. For example, portrait mode might work well for recording your golf swing. But it's a poor choice for recording a baseball game since it crops out so much of the action.

CalendarMay 14, 2022

Happy 23rd Birthday, PC.net!

Happy 23rd Birthday, PC.net!Twenty-three. In website years, PC.net is roughly 207 years old. I'm not sure how many websites have lasted twenty-three years without getting acquired, merging with another company, or simply fading away. But somehow, PC.net hit its twenty-third milestone today.

To be fair, "PC.net" is technically just over 11 years old, since the website was Sharpened.net until May 1, 2012. But the name change was simply a rebranding, and most of the website content remained the same. In fact, the last major redesign of the website was 13 years ago in 2010.

I suppose that's another notable stat — 13 years without a redesign. I remember using cutting-edge HTML5 and CSS 3 to redesign the site in 2010. The process was both exciting and overwhelming since so much of it was new to me. It was also the first time I coded a site completely from scratch. I haven't used a WYSIWYG editor since.

CalendarMay 1, 2022

May Tip: Take Digital Call Logs

Take Digital Call Logs"Do you have a pen and paper?"

It's a common question people ask on the phone. Whether it's an appointment reminder, a confirmation code, or something else, the representative might tell you to "write this down."

For many of us, our first instinct is to grab a pen and paper. But if you're already at your computer, it's faster to type the information into a text document. Just open a text editor like Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac) and save a plain text file. It's more efficient than reaching for a pen and paper, and digital files are easier to keep track of than a bunch of notes floating around your desk.

CalendarApril 1, 2022

The Metaverse Faces Real-World Problems

The Metaverse Faces Real-World ProblemsThe metaverse is off to a rough start.

It was supposed to be an alternate reality — free from the stresses and conflicts of real life. But the virtual world can't seem to escape real-world problems. From gender identity to land disputes, people are already littering the digital landscape with garbage from everyday life.

For one, the metaverse promised to avoid issues of race and gender. After all, an avatar can be any character, from an alx to a zorb. But what pronouns does a zorb use? Certainly not "he" or "she," and the neutral pronoun "ze" is also not acceptable. Just ask Gottlebot-12, a self-identified zorb, who posted on Meta-Twitter:

CalendarApril 1, 2022

April Tip: Choose a Good Email Subject

Choose a Good Email SubjectWhile the past few decades have provided us with dozens of new ways to communicate, email has stuck around like a bad habit. Since this ancient form of digital communication doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon, it's important to know how to formulate a good email — and that begins with writing a suitable subject.

Besides the "from" address, the email subject is the first thing people see when receiving an email. It provides a helpful indicator of what the message contains and may even determine if the recipient decides to open the email. When choosing an email subject, consider the following guidelines:

  1. Keep it short. Email subjects should only be a few words long. They don't need to be a full sentence and shouldn't end with a period.
  2. Don't make it too short. A subject like "Question" is too broad to be helpful, especially in a work context. It makes it difficult to reference later since it isn't so general. A more specific message like "Question about tax filing" is better.
  3. Consider future reference. — If you're discussing a topic that you or others may want to revisit in the future, use a unique subject that will make the email easy to find. For example, "2022 Q1 financial results" is more useful than "Financial results."
  4. Use sentence case. — While an email subject is similar to a title, you don't need to use title case (capitalizing nouns and verbs) in the subject line. It's a standard convention to use sentence case — capitalizing the first letter of the first word and using lowercase text for the rest of the subject.
  5. Avoid all caps and exclamation points. Even if you're super excited about an email, refrain from using ALL CAPS and lots of exclamation points!!! Besides appearing unprofessional, your email is more likely to get caught in a spam filter.

One extra tip: If an email thread goes off-topic, don't be afraid to rename the subject or start a new email thread completely. It's usually best to create a new thread after 10+ emails since the appended replies become so long.

CalendarMarch 1, 2022

March Tip: Turn Off Your Smartphone Camera

Turn Off Your Smartphone CameraI've seen it too many times. Someone turns on the camera app on their phone, takes a photo or video, then leaves the camera app open. It's the fastest way to drain your smartphone battery.

In 2013, I published a tip about letting your smartphone sleep whenever possible. In sleep mode, the display turns off, and your phone uses significantly less battery. When the camera app is open, not only is the display on, your phone is constantly processing video data. Even if you're not recording video or taking photos, the camera app processes several dozen frames per second. You can almost watch the battery charge drop with each minute.

While I haven't conducted a study on how much battery a smartphone uses while the camera app is open, it's safe to say it drains more than 10x more battery than when your phone is in sleep mode. So once you take a photo or video, click the sleep button before putting your phone away. You might be surprised how much longer your battery lasts.

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- PC (Per Christensson)

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