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Work From Home: Best 3GB Data Prepaid Plans From Reliance Jio, Airtel & Vodafone

The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has forced most of us to stay at home. The pandemic has also left most of us to work from home to maintain social distance. To meet the needs of such users, telcos have introduced new plans with increased data.

Here we have listed some of the best prepaid plans from Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone offering a minimum of 3GB daily data with additional benefits:

Reliance Jio

Jio is currently offering two plans for its customers with 3GB daily data. The Rs 999 plan offers 84 days of validity with a total of 252GB high-speed data (3GB/day) along with free unlimited Jio to Jio calls, 3000 minutes of calling to non-Jio numbers, 100 SMS per day and subscription to Jio apps.

Similarly, Jio also offers the Rs 349 plan offering similar benefits as the Rs 999 but with 28-days validity. So you get a total of 84GB high-speed data (3GB/day) along with free unlimited Jio to Jio calls, 1000 minutes of calling to non-Jio numbers, 100 SMS per day and subscription to Jio apps.

Airtel

Airtel also offers a bunch of prepaid recharge plans offering 3GB of daily data. First is the Rs 398 plan that offers 3GB daily data along with 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls. The total validity of this plan is 28 days. The Rs 598 plan also brings 3GB of high-speed daily data, 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls but is valid for 84 days. There is also the Rs 558 plan that brings 3GB of high-speed daily data, 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls with a validity of 56 days.

Vodafone

If you have a Vodafone prepaid connection, there are a bunch of 3GB data plans for you. There is the Rs 558 plan that brings 3GB of high-speed daily data, along with 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls with 56 days validity. To get slightly longer validity, the Rs 599 plan brings 3GB of high-speed daily data, 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls with 84 days validity.

Similarly, the Rs 398 plan brings 3GB of high-speed daily data, 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls with 28 days validity. There is also the Rs 399 plan that offers 3GB of high-speed daily data, 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls with 56 days validity.



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Tech

Facebook Work From Home Employees to Face Salary Cuts Based on Their Cost of Living

Image for Representation

Image for Representation

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook employees who choose to relocate from Silicon Valley may see a change in their salaries.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 22, 2020, 11:31 AM IST

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has laid out a detailed remote-working plan to make half of his 50,000-strong workforce work from home by 2030, and employees who move to cheaper areas will face pay cuts as salaries are based on the cost of living in each location. In a virtual town hall meeting with his employees, Zuckerberg said that Facebook employees who choose to relocate from the Silicon Valley may see a change in their salaries. “That means if you live in a location where the cost of living is dramatically lower, or the cost of labor is lower, then salaries do tend to be somewhat lower in those places,” said Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg told staff on Thursday that they would need to move back to their homes by January 1, or tell the company where they are choosing to live instead so Facebook can adjust salaries, which he said was necessary for tax and accounting purposes, reports NBC News. “We’ll adjust salary to your location at that point. There’ll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this,” he added. According to him, about half of Facebook employees would work from home five to 10 years from now.

“We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale, with a thoughtful and responsible plan for how to do this. We’re going to do it in a measured way over time,” said Zuckerberg. As of 2018, the median employee compensation at Facebook was more than $240,000 a year.

According to Market Watch, the median home price in Menlo Park, California, where Facebook has its headquarters, is $2.4 million, while the median home price in the wider Bay Area was $928,000 last year. In an internal Facebook survey, about 45 percent employees were “pretty confident” that they would move to another place if they had that opportunity, with an additional 30 percent saying they “might” move.

Nearly 60 percent said they’d prefer to move to a smaller city or town. “When you limit hiring to people who either live in a small number of big cities or are willing to move there, that cuts out a lot of people who live in different communities, different backgrounds or may have different perspectives,” said Zuckerberg. The company has said workers will be able to work from home at least through the end of the year.




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Latest MHA Order on Aarogya Setu Shows Why Contact Tracing Apps Won't Work in India

Representative screenshot of the Aarogya Setu app. (Image: MyGov)

Representative screenshot of the Aarogya Setu app. (Image: MyGov)

Majority of India’s mobile phone users still use feature phones. The new MHA order on Aarogya Setu underlines this, and the problem with contact tracing.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 21, 2020, 11:50 AM IST

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) released its latest order for regulations to be followed during Lockdown 4.0. Among the various sections, one of the key points was around the use of Aarogya Setu on phones, going forward. Following the past order’s decision by the Indian government to make downloading of Aarogya Setu compulsory for all employees (both private and public), the new order dated May 17, 2020 switched the government’s decision from ‘mandatory’ to ‘best effort basis’.

This ruling led many to assume that the central government has “softened” its stance on the use of the Aarogya Setu app. However, a closer look reveals the government’s appreciation of the on-ground situation, where nearly 55 percent of all mobile phone users still use feature phones, and close to a quarter of the population still do not have mobile phones.

The feature phone problem

Elucidating the connectivity problem, Navkendar Singh, director of research at IDC India, tells News18, “There are about 550 million feature phone users in the market in India, and somewhere between 450-500 million smartphone users, which is less than half the mobile phone market size in India.”

Feature phones in India

Feature phones still play a major role in India. (Photo: Reuters)

Even as Aarogya Setu was stated to have crossed the 100 million registered users mark, this covers less than 8 percent of the total population of India. To make matters worse, Singh adds that the adoption of more smartphones in India isn’t really happening. He says, “The growth in the number of smartphone users is not happening. Whoever needs and can afford a smartphone right now, already has one — but, nobody is really doing anything for the so-called “next billion” demographic of India. Out of India’s 550 million feature phone users, about 40-50 percent of them are using devices that cost less than Rs 1,000. For smartphones, even a bad user experience, low-cost smartphone would cost at least Rs 3,500-4,000. The cost of a smartphone for the feature phone demographic is actually too high.”

As the Indian government attempts to reopen various industries across the country, it is this issue that prevents app-based contact tracing from being mandatorily enforced. For example, as factories and supply chains are being opened up, many daily wage and low-salary workers would be coming back to work. However, not all of them would have smartphones at hand, and it hardly seems possible to mandate the use of smartphones all across the country, just to get the contact tracing app installed. In some corners, the government’s rebranding of the status of Aarogya Setu installation is being seen as just this — not a step-down from its previous order, but a realignment to accommodate the reopening of various sectors.

It will be difficult to use technology to track the coronavirus in a country where the statistical majority still live without it.

Singh says that while the stagnation in India’s smartphone adoption was expected to happen in 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic has only brought it forward. As a result, it will be difficult to use technology to track the coronavirus in a country where the statistical majority still live without it. Moreover, issues such as the ongoing migrant crisis across India further underline why the mandatory use of Aarogya Setu for travel across the country is also a difficult idea to implement.

Why the ‘best efforts’ approach might not work

As Apar Gupta, lawyer and executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) explains to News18, “Legally, “best efforts” implies that if you fail to follow the government’s suggestion in certain circumstances, there are no legal consequences to be pursued, and the suggestion works in good faith. Hence, there is ambiguity in the explanation of Aarogya Setu’s scope right now. Giving discretion to employers can create trouble for small and medium businesses, since it hands over more power to authorities such as district magistrates, who may then hold an employer accountable for not following a suggested procedure.”

A photo illustration of the Aarogya Setu app logo

The prevalent ambiguity around Aarogya Setu usage right now is what raises the need for a standard operating procedure even more. (Photo: Reuters)

Gupta states that in order to implement a “best effort basis” operation of the Aarogya Setu app, it is critical to have a standard operating procedure (SOP) issued. The SOP would then work as a guideline for all purposes linked to Aarogya Setu. However, even before the SOP is issued, what needs to be taken into account is the fact that most Indians, particularly in the unorganised and daily wage sectors, do not even own a smartphone.

Gupta further observes that the recent revision of the government’s stance on Aarogya Setu has come without much fanfare. He says, “The MHA has still not issued a press statement explaining the rationale behind revising the Aarogya Setu usage basis. What we can infer is that while it places the obligation of implementing the app on employers, this will only raise obstacles due to logistical difficulties.”

The petition that IFF filed against the compulsory Aarogya Setu mandate with the Kerala High Court was also done from an employer’s end, highlighting exactly how difficult contact tracing of Covid-19 would be in India. With a stagnated number of smartphone users, unclear guidelines towards employers and continuing concerns about privacy, contact tracing in India looks set to be a job half done, at its very best.



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Apple & Google COVID Exposure Notification API: This is How Contact Tracing Will Work

When Apple and Google announced last month that they would be working together to develop one of the most critical tech solutions of all time, that could only be classified as an unprecedented announcement. And perhaps timely too, considering the world is fighting the COVID outbreak. Now, that partnership has taken a crucial step forward, with Apple and Google releasing the COVID-19 Exposure Notification API for iPhones and Android phones, something they have been testing for a while now. The iOS 13.5 update now rolling out for the Apple iPhone line-up includes this new API, that for public health agencies (PHAs) and the contact tracing apps they make and deploy. Apple and Google say 22 countries in five continents have requested and received access to the API, and more are expected to join in the coming weeks.

The API will allow PHAs to define what constitutes an exposure event, the number of exposure events an individual has had, factor transmission risk of positive cases into their definition of an exposure event and data that users voluntarily choose to input into the app allows PHAs to contact exposed users.

“Our technology is designed to make these apps work better. Each user gets to decide whether or not to opt-in to Exposure Notifications; the system does not collect or use location from the device; and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app. User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use of these apps,” Apple and Google said.

The contract tracing solution that uses the Bluetooth technology in iPhones and Android phones, and will allow government and health agencies around the world to track and notify you in case you have met with or have come in close proximity with someone who is now confirmed to have been affected by the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Apple and Google have also detailed the privacy aspects and how the data will be collected, time and again. This will work seamlessly across Android phones and the iPhones.

 This is How BLE Tracing works

The contact tracing is essentially a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) service registered with the Bluetooth SIG with 16-bit Universally Unique Identifier, UUID 0xFD6F, that is designed to enable proximity sensing of Rolling Proximity Identifier between devices for the purpose of computing an exposure event. The two phones, which could be your phone and someone else’s phone in your proximity, will exchange anonymous identifier keys. All the discovered data shall be kept on the device, which is your smartphone. These logs will be uploaded with the user’s consent in case they are confirmed to have been infected by Coronavirus, or COVID. These logs will then be downloaded by your smartphone and matched against the logs your phone has collected via Bluetooth tracing over time. If your logs match any smartphone user who has now been confirmed with COVID, you will see a notification on your phone alerting you about it with steps on what to do next.

If you have met someone who has now been confirmed with Coronavirus, or COVID, your phone will be able to notify you and the health authorities. (Image: Apple and Google)

If you have met someone who has now been confirmed with Coronavirus, or COVID, your phone will be able to notify you and the health authorities. (Image: Apple and Google)

You do not require any location data for this to work

Apple and Google say that at no point does the Bluetooth based contract tracing require any location data access. It can work very well without it too. “The Contact Tracing Bluetooth Specification does not require the user’s location; any use of location is completely optional to the schema. In any case, the user must provide their explicit consent in order for their location to be optionally used,” they have said.

All the data stays private

Privacy remains a very important part of this new COVID contact tracing API.

Apple and Google also take pains to emphasise on the point that the list of contacts never leaves your phone, list of people who you may have come in range with never leaves your phone and at no point is the data shared with Apple or Google, in case of a positive test. Only public health authorities will have access to that data—though Apple and Google will have no say in who these authorities then share the data with.

The device location details are not collected at any point. Random Bluetooth identifiers are used to indicate proximity and no identifiable information is shared or logged. Users decide whether they want to report a positive diagnosis and the user identities are not known to other users, Google or Apple. Matching for exposure notifications is only done on device, which means that data isn’t saved or processed on the cloud.

The roadmap for Apple and Google’s Contact Tracing Rollout

Remember, this is not an app in itself. This is an API that public health agencies around the world can integrate into their own apps. For instance, India’s Aarogya Setu, Austria’s Stopp Corona app, Czech’s eRouska, Iceland’s Rakning C-19, Israel’s HaMagen, Singapore’s Trace Together and Norway’s Smittestopp, Australia’s COVIDSafe, CovTracer from Cyprus, Italy’s Immuni and Poland’s ProteGO are all contact tracing app examples that can use the new API—whether they do it or not remains to be seen.

The second stage would be where Apple and Google will work on a Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform which will also be used by apps made by health authorities to track user proximity data—and this will be built into iOS and Android and the option will be available to all users without having to download another app.

This is why Contract Tracing is critical

Contact tracing is critical in curbing the Coronavirus spread around the country and indeed around the world. A person who may be infected with the COVID-19 virus may not show any signs or symptoms for as many as 14 days more but can spread the infection in the meantime through cough, for instance. As and when a confirmed COVID case is taken in for treatment, health authorities scramble to track as many people this infected person may have met in the past few days. “Contact Tracing makes it possible to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus by alerting participants of possible exposure to someone who they have recently been in contact with, and who has subsequently been positively diagnosed as having the virus,” Apple had said.

Earlier, Apple had released a beta version of Xcode 11.5 and the third beta of iOS 13.5—the Xcode includes tools that developers would need for building iOS apps that incorporate the COVID API, and iOS 13.5 integrates the code needed by apps that will be developed by health authorities around the world. Google has also released similar updates for developers via updates to Google Play Services and the Android Developer Studio.

 



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Lenovo's Profit Slides 64% But Sees Growth As Work From Home Model Takes Centre Stage

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

Lenovo estimated that in two to three years the total addressable market for PCs industry-wide may have increased by 25% to 30%.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: May 20, 2020, 9:15 PM IST

Lenovo Group, the world’s biggest maker of personal computers, reported a deep slump in fourth-quarter profit due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis, although the result was far better than expectations. Lenovo Chairman Yang Yuanqing told Reuters production was back on track and he expects to see year-on-year revenue growth this quarter for its PC and smart devices business and its data center business as more people work from home permanently.

He told a separate briefing the company estimates that in two to three years the total addressable market for PCs industry-wide may have increased by 25% to 30%. Net profit tumbled 64% in January-March to $43 million but was ahead of a Refinitiv consensus estimate of $7.5 million. Revenue slid 9.7% to $10.6 billion.

The stronger-than-expected results lifted Lenovo shares, which were up 5% in Wednesday afternoon trade. Lenovo had to shut down factories, including a big plant in Wuhan, the epicenter of China’s outbreak, due to measures to contain the virus. At some points, the company had in extreme cases, needed to share staff with other firms and send office employees to work on assembly lines when production workers were in quarantine.

“We have resumed 100% production in China,” Yang told Reuters, although he noted that some components were still in short supply. Worldwide shipments of personal computers tumbled 12.3% in the first quarter of 2020, the sharpest fall since 2013 due to the pandemic, research firm Gartner said last month. Lenovo took a 24.4% market share in PCs during the quarter, ahead of rivals HP Inc and Dell Inc which had 21.5% and 19.7% respectively, Gartner said.




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Covid-19 Contact Tracing Has Many Issues to Resolve Before it Can Really Work

A user attempts to unlock his smartphone on the road by using facial recognition. (Photo: Getty Images)

A user attempts to unlock his smartphone on the road by using facial recognition. (Photo: Getty Images)

As USA sees, using tech to track Covid-19 isn’t nearly as simple as enforcing a plug and play smartphone app.

  • Associated Press
  • Last Updated: May 20, 2020, 2:19 PM IST

Harnessing today’s technology to fight the coronavirus pandemic is turning out to be more complicated than it first appeared. The first U.S. states that rolled out smartphone apps for tracing the contacts of COVID-19 patients are dealing with technical glitches and a general lack of interest by their residents. A second wave of tech-assisted pandemic surveillance tools is on its way, this time with the imprimatur of tech giants Apple and Google.

But those face their own issues, among them potential accuracy problems and the fact that they won’t share any information with governments that could help track the spread of the illness. Contact tracing is a pillar of infection control. It’s traditionally conducted by trained public health workers who interview those who may have been exposed, then urge them to get tested and isolate themselves. Some estimates call for as many as 300,000 U.S. workers to do the work effectively, but so far those efforts have lagged.

Other tech companies like Salesforce have offered database tools to assist manual tracing efforts, although those also raise privacy concerns because of the need to collect and store detailed information about people’s social connections, health status and whereabouts. Privacy advocates warn that the danger of creating new government surveillance powers for the pandemic could lead to much bigger problems in the future.

In a new policy paper shared with The Associated Press, the American Civil Liberties Union is warning state governments to tread more carefully and establish stricter privacy procedures before deploying technology meant to detect and curb new coronavirus outbreaks. Even the most privacy-minded tools, such as those to be released soon by Apple and Google, require constraints so that they don’t become instruments of surveillance or oppression. “The risks of getting it wrong are enormous,” said Neema Singh Guliani, a senior legislative counsel with the ACLU.

ACLU’s report says the worst location-tracking technology should be rejected outright, such as apps that track individual movements via satellite-based GPS technology and feed sensitive personal data into centralized government databases. “Good designs don’t require you to gather people’s location information and store that,” Singh Guliani said. She urged governments to set rules addressing both privacy and efficacy so that surveillance tools don’t interfere with more conventional public health methods.

Utah, North Dakota and South Dakota were the first U.S. states to launch voluntary phone apps that enable public health departments to track the location and connections of people who test positive for the coronavirus. But governors haven’t had much luck getting the widespread participation needed for them to work effectively.

Nearly a month after Utah launched its Healthy Together app to augment the state’s contact-tracing efforts by tracking phone locations, state officials confirmed Monday that they haven’t done any contact tracing out of the app yet. Instead, people who download the app have been able to “assess their symptoms and get testing if appropriate,” Utah’s state epidemiologist, Angela Dunn, said last week.

The state with the highest known rate of participation so far is North Dakota, where last week about 4% of residents had downloaded the Care19 app and were using its location services. The same app is getting even less support in South Dakota. “This is a red state,” said Crystal Wolfrum, a paralegal in Minot, North Dakota, who says she’s one of the only people among her neighbors and friends to download the app. “They don’t want to wear masks. They don’t want to be told what to do. A lot of people I talk to are, like, ‘Nope, you’re not going to track me.’”

Wolfrum said she’s doubtful that the app will be useful, both because of people’s wariness and its poor performance. She gave it a bad review on Google’s app store after it failed to notice lengthy shopping trips she made one weekend to Walmart and Target stores. North Dakota is now looking at starting a second app based on the Apple-Google technology. The existing app “was rushed to market, because of the urgent need, Vern Dosch, the state’s contact tracing facilitator, told KFYR-TV in Bismarck. “We knew that it wouldn’t be perfect.”

The ACLU is taking a more measured approach to the Apple and Google method, which will use Bluetooth wireless technology to automatically notify people about potential COVID-19 exposure without revealing anyone’s identity to the government. But even if the app is described as voluntary and personal health information never leaves the phone, the ACLU says it’s important for governments to set additional safeguards to ensure that businesses and public agencies don’t make showing the app a condition of access to jobs, public transit, grocery stores and other services.

Among the governments experimenting with the Apple-Google approach are the state of Washington and several European countries. Swiss epidemiologist Marcel Salathé said all COVID-19 apps so far are “fundamentally broken” because they collect too much irrelevant information and don’t work well with Android and iPhone operating software. Salathé authored a paper favoring the privacy-protecting approach that the tech giants have since adopted, and he considers it the best hope for a tool that could actually help isolate infected people before they show symptoms and spread the disease.

“You will remember your work colleagues but you will not remember the random person next to you on a train or really close to you at the bar,” he said. Other U.S. governors are looking at technology designed to supplement manual contact-tracing efforts. As early as this week, Rhode Island has said it is set to launch a “one-stop” pandemic response phone app. It will pair with a new contact-tracing database system built by software giant Salesforce, which has said it is also working with Massachusetts, California, Louisiana and New York City on a similar approach.

Salesforce says it can use data-management software to help trained crews trace “relationships across people, places and events” and identify virus clusters down to the level of a neighborhood hardware store. It relies on manual input of information gathered through conversations by phone, text or email.

“It’s only as good as a lot of us using it,” Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said of the soon-to-be-launched mobile app at a news conference last week. “If 10% of Rhode Island’s population opts in, this won’t be effective.” The state hasn’t yet outlined what people are expected to opt into. The ACLU hasn’t weighed in on the Salesforce model, but has urged contact-tracing public health departments to protect people from unnecessary disclosure of personal information and to not criminalize the requirement for self-isolation.



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Work From Home Buying Guide: Best Laptops Under Rs 40,000 With Windows 10 & Chrome OS

E-commerce is open again. This means you can now order from Amazon and Flipkart and the orders will be delivered to you in all parts of the country, except in containment zones. This must come as a great relief for those who suddenly shifted to the world from home routine ahead of the lockdown to flatten the COVID curve, a few weeks ago. Chances are, you may not have had a good laptop or PC at home, for it perhaps wasn’t really a critical requirement thus far. But now, you can buy a new laptop or PC to rock the work from home situation, and not be bogged down by an aging and sluggish PC, a bad keyboard, a cracked screen or something you were simply bored of. It is also expected that work from home will be quite a regular thing for a lot of workers in a lot of companies, which means you should be armed with a good computing device.

Do not make the same mistake again of thinking the smartphone can be a PC replacement, because when it really comes down to it, you will need a laptop to get genuine work done. Here are some of the best budget laptops, some running Windows 10 and some Google Chromebook options, which you must add to your arsenal of work from home tools. So that this purchase remains light on your pocket, we are looking at laptops under the Rs 40,000 price point—to get the perfect blend between performance and longevity without breaking the bank. Plus, they should look good too.

HP Chromebook x360 - 12b-ca0006tu

HP Chromebook x360 – 12b-ca0006tu

Around Rs32,990

The biggest advantage of the Google Chrome OS software for computing devices is the sheer simplicity of everything. It is incorrect to assume that you must be locked into the Google ecosystem to be able to use a Chromebook—the variety of apps available for the Chrome OS is as wide as Android phones. That is why the full-fledged Play Store is also available on the Chromebooks. Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps? The Spotify app? Video streaming apps. You name it, and the whole wide world of productivity, utility and entertainment apps are available. For any Android phone user, the switch could prove to be close to seamless—and that is a genuine value addition. In fact, this works brilliantly with the Intel Celeron N4000 processor with 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage and a card slot if you wish to use that for adding more storage space. What’s most interesting is the square-is aspect ratio of the 12-inch display, and the hinge allows it to be folded all the way back into a sort of a tablet mode. Windows machines have never performed as well on this sort of hardware.

Dell Inspiron 14 5490

Dell Inspiron 14 5490

Around Rs 35,585

This started out with a price tag above the Rs 40,000 mark but price corrections have now pushed this beneath that virtual ceiling we have for this buying advice. That means you get the newer 10th generation Intel Core i3-10110U processor with 4GB RAM and a fast 512GB SSD. There is a 14-inch Full HD display which should do well for most productivity and entertainment tasks. The keyboard is not backlit though—perhaps you need to keep that in mind in case working in a dimly lit room is your thing. Dell’s ExpressCharge Boost tops up a fully discharged battery to 35% in 20 minutes and up to 80% in 60 minutes—great if you need to splash and dash. Then there is the Dell Mobile Connect app which pairs your iPhone or Android smartphone with your laptop, which mirrors most things from your phone on the laptop itself, thereby reducing distractions.

Lenovo IdeaPad 330

Lenovo IdeaPad 330

Around Rs 19,990

If you really are on a strict budget, the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 (model number: 330-15IKB) could be a steady enough pick. Do not expect this to be powerful or do anything more than basic computing, but what you get is a comfortable 15.6-inch HD display. This runs an Intel Celeron processor, along with 4GB RAM. There is a 1TB hard drive, and these basic specs are really all you should expect at this price. While there are many similarly priced laptops that don’t give you a preloaded Windows 10 operating system, this one does—and that is very important. A keyboard that is well laid out and the build quality doesn’t really betray its budget price tag.

Acer Aspire 5 A515-43

Acer Aspire 5 A515-43

Around Rs 38,369

This started out in life with a price tag around Rs 50,000 and that means you get specifications which are quite powerful. This runs the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U quad-core processor (for some reason, many potential laptop buyers still have a bit of mistrust towards AMD machines). This has 4GB of RAM to get Windows 10 and your apps purring along. What should also make a difference is the 512GB SSD, which will speed up performance. You get a 15.6-inch Full HD IPS display. The keyboard isn’t backlit. The laptop weighs around 1.8kg. You should probably also consider this if you are taken in by the large screen goodness of the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 (model number 81W800FXIN).

Lenovo IdeaPad S145

Lenovo IdeaPad S145

Around Rs 35,010

We are specifically talking about the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 (model number 81W800FXIN) which runs the Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor with 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD. It looks like it means business and has the sort of serious personality that most good productivity centric machines have. This is ideal if you prefer large displays—this has a 15.6-inch Full HD screen for you to work on. Not the lightest, tipping the scales at 1.85kg, but that’s the compromise for a large screen laptop. You will quite like the keyboard, which has the sort of inspiration from the more expensive ThinkPad laptops, which make these genuinely good to type on. Lenovo also doesn’t clutter Windows 10 too much by preloading apps, which should also be good in the long run.

HP Notebook - 15s-du0093tu

HP Notebook – 15s-du0093tu

Around Rs38,990

And this price point, you get multiple laptops running the older generation Intel Core processors as well as some Celeron versions. However, this HP Notebook – 15s-du0093tu should hold up well with the Intel Core i3-8145U processor, with 8GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive. What you get is a 15-inch Full HD display, Windows 10 preloaded and six months of 25GB bundled Dropbox storage. This weighs 1.74kg and is 19.9mm thick. You also get a fingerprint sensor as an added authentication layer to keep your data safe. The HP Fast Charge feature charges a fully discharged laptop battery to 50% in 45 minutes, which should be handy in case you need to get stuff done in a hurry and don’t have access to power at the time. Oh, and the keyboard is backlit too.



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Tech

Work From Home Buying Guide: Your Health is Important And These Gadgets Will Help

Working from home is great for productivity, if you can put your mind to it. You don’t need to travel every day; you also don’t need to spend time stuck in traffic jams and you save a bundle of energy (and anger) that way. But on the flipside, your health could take a beating if you aren’t careful. Sitting at one place working hour after hour can have a long-term impact on your health. That is where technology has a solution for you.

For starters, there are a lot of gyms that have gone online over the past few weeks and you can simply book a class online, follow the video guidance on your phone or tablet screens. Yet there are times when you may need certain hardware that focuses on health and wellness, around you at home. Not just because you may be unwell, but because it is convenient and safer to test for BP and blood sugar, for instance, at home rather than going to a nearby clinic. And to keep a track of your exercise routine, you need a fitness band with a good companion

TOGO Infrared Thermometer

Around Rs 3,800 on The Earth Store

Infrared thermometers, also known as contactless thermometers, are perhaps the right way forward as far as hygiene is concerned. Unlike classic thermometers which require contact with a human body to register temperature, such as under the tongue or under your armpit, these can simply be aimed at your forehead from a distance of 3-5 centimeters and will register your temperature. In Celsius or Fahrenheit. The TOGO Infrared Thermometer (model number TG8818H ) works for all ages—infants, children, adults and the elderly. The temperature detection time is one second—you aim, and you get the reading. You get a lot of options for infrared thermometers, mostly unbranded ones, and those are best avoided. This one on www.earthstore.in is one of the more reliable options.

Fitbit Inspire HR

Around Rs 8,999 on Fitbit India

To see how often and how much you are moving around and exercising every day, a fitness band is a good companion to have around. And you would be hard pressed to find a more competent than a Fitbit band. We are recommending the Inspire HR to be precise. This has a heart rate monitor with heart rate zones and better tracking of calorie burn. You also get the resting heart rate option, for your night sleep. The Fitbit app for your smartphone (free for Android and iOS) is one of the best fitness companion apps when it really comes down to that—you can track detailed activity and exercise stats, track your food and water intake and more. The Fitbit Premium optional subscription also gets you guided training programs, advanced insights into your activity routine, and dynamic workouts tailored for you. There is also a full library of sleep sounds and peaceful tracks to help you reduce stress, lay in bed for a restful sleep or simply feel better after a bad day.

Dr Trust Digital Blood Pressure Monitor

Around Rs 1,700 on Amazon.in

A blood pressure monitor is essential for homes where you may have elders, parents or even self who may suffer from blood pressure issues. Dr Trust Digital Blood Pressure Monitor (model number 118) is what can be categorized as a smart BP monitor. You can pair this via Bluetooth to your phone using the Dr Trust app (free for Android and iOS) and get all the tracking data on your phone—that quite convenient if you need to make a log or share the data with your doctor. You get a BP monitor and a cuff that you wear around your arm to get the reading and voila. Hope you are doing well.

Dr Trust Glucometer

Around Rs 1,599 on Amazon.in

Having a blood sugar monitor around can be extremely important at times when you may feel suddenly low as far as your health is concerned. You can’t always rush to a doctor these days to get tested. This has three operation modes. There is the General mode which lets you take blood glucose measurements at any point of the day. There is the AC mode which is meant for measurements in the early morning on an empty stomach. And there is the PC mode, where you may take readings after taking your meals. This machine comes with 60 strips and the GDH-FAD Strip Enzyme Technology is meant to avoid any variations in the readings according to interference from blood oxygen changes. This also stores the results of the last 1000 tests in its memory, with the data and time.



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Tech

Work from Home Model Cannot be Continued on a Permanent Basis: Satya Nadella

File photo of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (Image: Getty Images)

File photo of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (Image: Getty Images)

The Microsoft CEO’s comment came after Twitter granted an option to his staff to work from home ‘forever’ even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 18, 2020, 11:14 AM IST

As certain tech companies like Twitter prefer their employees to work from home forever, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has warned that making remote work permanent could have serious consequences for social interaction and mental health for workers as virtual video calls cannot replace in-person meetings. In an interaction with The New York Times, Nadella said that an all-remote setup would be “replacing one dogma with another dogma”.

“What does burnout look like? What does mental health look like? What does that connectivity and the community building look like? One of the things I feel is, hey, maybe we are burning some of the social capital we built up in this phase where we are all working remote. What’s the measure for that?” Nadella was quoted as saying.

His comment came after Twitter granted an option to his staff to work from home ‘forever’ even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Twitter upped the ante after Facebook, Alphabet (Google) and others have asked their employees to work from home till year-end. Microsoft has extended its work-from-home policy until at least October.

The tech giant’s stock price is up 14 percent this year and the company has nearly $140 billion in cash. Microsoft spent $10 billion in its most recent quarter on share buybacks and dividends, up more than 30 percent from the year before. “We’re going to boldly allocate and acquire, build, innovate, partner, whatever,” said Nadella.”We are also going to make sure that we have the ability to do credit for small businesses and other organizations that need that help”.

Microsoft last week signed a definitive agreement to acquire UK-based Metaswitch Networks, a leading provider of virtualised network software and voice, data and communications solutions for operators, for an undisclosed sum. The company also launched new solutions designed to help Indian small and medium businesses (SMBs) maintain business continuity and embark on their Cloud adoption journeys amid the COVID-19 crisis.




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Tech

Jio’s New Rs 999 Prepaid Plan is What You Need to Work From Home

Image for representation

Image for representation

After announcing a new yearly prepaid plan, Jio now has a new 84-day validity plan offering 3GB data per day.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 15, 2020, 11:34 AM IST

Reliance Jio has announced yet another plan for its prepaid subscribers. Priced at Rs 999, customers get up to 3GB high-speed data per day valid for 84 days. This means a total of 252GB of data for the entire period, which is pretty decent. The company has placed it under its long-term plan high-data category for uninterrupted work from home during the nationwide lockdown.

Along with the data benefit, customers also get free and unlimited calls to Jio and landline numbers. For non-Jio numbers, customers get a total of 3000 minutes. Additionally, the plan offers unlimited SMS and complimentary subscription to Jio apps. Airtel also offers a similar 84-day validity plan offer 2GB of data per day, unlimited calling and 100 SMS per day limit at Rs 698. Vodafone, on the other hand, offers 4GB of daily data and unlimited calling with its Rs 699 recharge.

The telco had recently launched a new work from home annual plan that offers 2GB of data per day, as well as unlimited voice calls and SMS messages for 365 days, at Rs 2,399. This offers significantly more value than competitors in the Indian telecom space. Similarly priced plans by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea presently offer 1.5GB of data per day. As a result, while Jio’s plan offers 730GB of data through its validity period, other operators offer 547.5GB of data through the same period. This translates to 25 percent more data by Jio, than competitors.

DISCLAIMER: News18.com is part of Network18 Media & Investment Limited which is owned by Reliance Industries Limited that also owns Reliance Jio.




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