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Best Portable Phone Chargers 2021: College Essentials!

Darth Sidious looks on approvingly

You found my article? Gooood…good…

Ever wish your phone had unlimited power? There’s nothing worse than having your battery die just as you’re about to text a friend of yours during class. If you’re having trouble getting through a long day of classes, getting a new phone may not be your only option. In what follows, I’ll share the best portable phone chargers for students in 2021.

What Is a Portable Charger?

Portable phone chargers and portable battery packs are an extra battery that you can carry around to plug your smartphone into to give it a charge while on the go. Portable chargers for iPhones and Android phones in 2021 are a popular way to extend the battery life of your device and I firmly believe that they are essential for getting through the day at college.

I always keep my portable charger in my backpack along with a fairly long charging cable. In case I need it, I can plug in my phone while the portable charger is still in my backpack. The cabling can be a bit annoying, but if I need to recharge while on the go this is the perfect solution. Once we can get back to walking around school in 2021, portable chargers will be essential once more!

Why Use a Portable Charger?

A portable charger or a portable battery pack are excellent choices for recharging during a long day of classes. It can get very hot for the first few months of fall semester, and that can take a toll on your battery life. When your phone gets hot, it can use more power and slow everything down.

Portable chargers are some of the best accessories to add to your arsenal in 2021. They fit well in your backpack and can keep you going all day long.

Having a portable charger with you also ensures that you can recharge even if there are no outlets available. I like to sit next to wall outlets during class so I can recharge my laptop but I’m not always guaranteed to have that luxury. Having a portable charger with me allows me to be certain that at least my phone will be able to make it through the day, even if my laptop doesn’t.

What Makes a Portable Phone Charger One of the Best?

Portable chargers are mostly the same. They serve one primary function: charging your phone. However, a few of them have different features like flashlights or the ability to charge multiple devices at once. It really all depends on what you need.

The main variable that you need to worry about when it comes to portable chargers is their capacity. The higher the capacity, the more charging you’ll be able to do and the longer it will be able to keep your phone on life support. The capacity of portable battery packs for your iPhone or Android are measured in milliamp hours (mAh). 

It’s important to keep in mind your phone’s battery capacity. My Galaxy Note 9 has a capacity of 4,000 mAh. If I had a battery pack that was rated at 8,000 mAh, it would be able to charge my phone from 0% to 100% twice. The best portable phone chargers of 2021 have very high battery capacity greater than 10,000 mAh.

Save Your Battery

Saving your battery is an important survival skill to learn to get through school in 2021. You’ll need a portable battery pack, but ideally you won’t need to use it if you can manage your battery life naturally.

There’s more you can do to save power throughout your day if you find yourself reaching for a portable phone charger a lot. If you’re looking for ways to save your Android phone’s battery life, I recommend you check out my article on Android battery life-saving tips.

Help Out a Fellow College Student

Whether you’re a student here at OSU or elsewhere, I want to help you make sure you have the right gear to make it through the term. If you want to do me a solid in return, the Amazon links you’ll find below to portable chargers are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, if you buy a portable battery pack for your phone through one of my links, I’ll get a small commission from Amazon to help me pay my tuition.

Thank you, and go Bucks! Below are the best portable phone chargers of 2021, according to me!

Anker PowerCore 10,000 Portable Phone Charger

An Anker PowerCore portable phone charger.

When you’re walking around on campus, you want to make sure your backpack is as light as possible. I had some back trouble my freshman year when I was trying to carry around a giant laptop. Speaking of which, you should see my thoughts on laptops for college students if you haven’t already.

The Anker PowerCore portable charger may be super small, but it packs a huge punch. With its 10,000 mAh battery, it can charge my Galaxy Note 9 smartphone two and a half times from empty to full! This definitely is one of the best portable phone chargers of 2021 thanks to its versatility.

Most smartphones have batteries less than 5,000 mAh, so this charger is guaranteed to be able to charge your Samsung, iPhone, LG, Motorola, Google Pixel, or any other phone at least twice in one charge.

Gnceei Wireless Portable Charger Power Bank 25,000 mAh

The gnceei wireless portable phone charger.

Let’s face it: most portable phone chargers are pretty much the same. They’re all big battery bricks that charge your phone. But what if you could charge your phone without wires?

It’s not quite as amazing as you’d hope. Your phone and the Gnceei Wireless Portable Charger Power Bank need to be in very close proximity in order for the pack to charge your phone. This isn’t so great while you’re on the move, but it’s a nice way to stop damaging cables.

Although it may not be as traditional as the other portable chargers on this list, this one definitely is one of the best of 2021 because of the wireless charging.

Best of all, this thing has an even larger capacity than the last charger with 25,000 mAh. That can charge my Note 9 six and a quarter times. You probably won’t need that much, but it could be helpful to have your phone rest on one of these while you’re studying at the library or eating lunch.

GETIHU Portable Charger With Flashlight & LED Display 15,000 mAh

The GETIHU portable phone charger.

So, everybody’s smartphone has a camera flash that can double as a flashlight, but lets say you don’t want to waste your phone battery when you need to see at night on campus. The GETIHU Portable Charger has a flashlight built in that you can use to light your way.

With its 15,000 mAh capacity, there’s no doubt you’ll be able to get through the whole school day on this portable phone charger. It also has two outputs so you can charge two devices at once! If a friend needs a little pick-me-up, you can be there to help.

The LED display is really cool. This is one of the best portable phone chargers of 2021 because you can see how much battery you have left with the display. Thumbs up for that!

Luxtude myColors 5,000 mAh Mini Power Bank (x2)

Two Luxtude myColors mini portable phone chargers.

If you don’t need something super powerful, the Luxtude myColors portable phone charger twin set is the perfect solution. With 5,000 mAh each totaling up to 10,000 mAh, you’ll have at least one charge for each power bank. You could also share one with a friend so they can get a charge when they need it too.

These are probably the smallest out of the ones I’ve covered in this article, so of course they don’t have a lot of juice in them. However, if your phone has a decent battery that can get you through the school day, this might be all you really need.

I’m not sure I would really call these the best portable phone chargers of 2021. However, if you need something extra portable and charges back up quick, these should be your go-to.

Crave PowerPack Portable Phone & Laptop Charger 50,000 mAh

The Crave PowerPack portable phone and laptop charger.

Okay, okay, so maybe this is a little bit overkill. However, you’re the overkill kind of student.

The Crave PowerPack offers up to 50,000 mAh of energy. That’s a bit ridiculous when we’re talking about phones. If we’re sticking to my Note 9 example, it would charge that phone twelve and a half times. So, maybe this thing has other uses…how about laptops?

Indeed, this thing might do as a good laptop charger! If you need to charge your laptop during the day, such as a MacBook or a Surface Pro 7, this might do the trick. It has two USB-C and two USB-A ports so you can plug in your phone and a compatible laptop.

The sheer massive capacity of this portable phone charger definitely justifies it being one of the best of 2021.

Unlimited POWAH!

Darth

Now that you know the best portable phone chargers of 2021, you can achieve unlimited power! Well, almost. Go get yourself a portable phone charger and never have your battery die during the school day again! Just remember to charge the battery pack! Thank you for reading!

Retail Technology Careers: Data Science, AR, and More

Retail Technology Careers data science, augmented reality, pos, and more

Having computer science, data science, or other technical skills on your resume can make you competitive in a variety of industries, but which should you choose? Finding a career that fits your needs and interests is important for remaining engaged and fulfilled after graduation. This short post will talk about some of the various retail technology careers and topics that I’ve found are up and coming.

These are sectors that are continuing to grow, so jobs are certainly going to be available over the next decade for these topics. Let’s consider some of the interesting stuff that’s going on out there in the retail industry.

Cutting Edge of Retail Technology

Some of the leading retail technology trends are point-of-sale, augmented reality, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. When it comes to selling things like the latest fashion, these technologies might sound like overkill, but they provide a significant competitive advantage to some of the largest businesses and franchises out there like Amazon, Macy’s, Sephora, and more.

First I’ll briefly go over what each technology is and then what skills you’ll probably need in order to get into these types of careers that build and maintain these systems.

Point of Sale

Whenever you buy a sandwich at Curl Market through Grubhub, you’re using a point of sale system. Most of the time when people talk about POS (when they aren’t using it as a rude expression), they’re talking about cash registers. Grubhub, however, is a virtual POS system that can help manage transactions.

One of the biggest problems that we have at Curl Market is that Grubhub’s POS system is great for taking your money, but horrible for supply management. There is very little integration between Grubhub and our supply count, meaning that Grubhub’s order menu doesn’t always understand that we are out of a certain product. You’ll often wind up getting substitute items when you order something that we don’t have.

To resolve this, our employees have to manually turn off certain items on the menu so that you don’t see them. In an ideal world, Grubhub’s system would be able to identify what product we have perfectly. This might utilize solutions such as automated item counts, and special storage solutions that better enable a computer to count items. This is a bit overkill for a business like Dining Services, but extremely competitive in a retail situation like Target or Walmart.

Augmented Reality

You’re probably familiar with AR already if you’ve ever played Pokemon Go. It uses your device’s camera to view the world, and then places virtual objects in that space for you to see and interact with. A very large number of people have access to AR-compatible devices, so this has huge potential in almost every industry.

In retail technology, AR can be used for things like virtual fitting rooms. Sephora lets you try on products this way with your selfie camera. It’s very similar to how Snapchat applies filters to your face, but in Sephora’s case it’s for marketing and shopping purposes.

Portable AR technology is improving rapidly. One of the best devices on the market right now is the iPhone 12 Pro with its advanced LiDAR sensor. Personally, I think that the holy grail of this technology would be something mounted on your face. It’s irritating to take out your phone and wave it around a store and drains your battery. Perhaps you could be one of the frontrunners for developing comfortable, affordable AR glasses? 

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

This is the less obvious of the four technologies I mentioned, but one that has boundless potential. If you are interested in data science, I’m sure this has no doubt crossed your mind. Machine learning and artificial intelligence drive technologies like AR, but they also are essential for businesses to compete in areas like demand forecasting, supply chain management, personalization, and more.

The basic principle is that machines can perform tasks more efficiently than we can. However, they need a human to feed them quality training data in order for them to succeed. For example, finding defects on a product line is a common task that you’ll find AI systems doing in manufacturing.

In retail, data can be used to predict changes in demand from customers very quickly. This can give businesses enough time to reallocate their resources and order more product to meet that demand so that there aren’t any shortages. This is extremely helpful in times of crisis like the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when panic buying resulted in shortages of toilet paper and other goods.

The Skills You Need

Although a good knowledge of how the retail industry works is essential to all of these new technologies, the core of all of them involves highly technical knowledge in programming and data science.

Point of Sale: Network Management and Security

Point of Sale technologies in the retail industry aren’t just about exchange of money and supply management. Some other things that you should be good at are network management and network security. Some corporations have very complicated Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to aid their stores. Amazon has gone as far as removing cashiers from some stores entirely, relying on complicated arrays of cameras and IoT devices to track which products customers are buying.

If any part of the system is hacked or otherwise compromised, it can be serious. Identity theft is only one of the many problems that can arise from this, so having network security on your resume can make you a very competitive applicant.

Augmented Reality: Programming Languages

Computer science majors, this one is for you. Augmented reality shares a lot in common with video game design. C# is one of the most popular programming languages in use for both. 3D modeling and animation tools like Blender and Maya are useful skills as well since the goal of AR is to display virtual objects in the real world on a screen. In the retail industry, this will likely include things like clothes, furniture, and more.

AI and ML: Data Science

Those who are good at working with data, data processing, mathematics, and statistical analysis might be interested in artificial intelligence and machine learning applications in the retail industry. If you like numbers and aren’t afraid to experiment with data, building algorithms that can perform tasks like demand forecasting for retail businesses may be right up your alley.

Majors at Ohio State

Now that you know the types of skills that you need to get into up and coming technologies in retail, what are some programs here at Ohio State that could help expand your skills?

Ohio State’s Data Analytics major program offers a variety of different specializations. Their business analytics specialization I believe lends itself well to tasks like demand forecasting in the retail industry. The Computer Science Engineering department also has several programs that can help prepare one for careers in areas like augmented reality. The CSE department can also help prepare you for managing POS systems with its focuses in network security and management.

I hope that this was helpful for you in finding out what careers you might be interested in with respect to the retail industry and what programs Ohio State offers that can prepare you for those careers. If there are any careers you’d like me to look into to make suggestions about in another article, please let me know in the comments!

The Ohio State App: An Unofficial Guide!

There are a lot of great resources here on campus for Ohio State students. However, there is one resource that I find helpful every day — the Ohio State mobile app. Whether you heard about it at orientation or from the constant reminders while riding CABS busses, this app is one of the best on-the-go resources for an OSU student. In this article, I’ll show you how to use the Ohio State app.

Please keep in mind — I’m not a developer for the Ohio State app. I am just offering my advice as a fellow student.

What is the Ohio State App?

A phone with the Ohio State app.

The Ohio State mobile app is an all-in-one resource for students on the go. You can use it to check your grades, your dining plan balance, bus routes, news, and more. There are a lot of features that you can’t do without, but there are also a bunch of extra features that most students don’t know about!

Install the Ohio State App

You can download the Ohio State mobile app from the OSU App Download page, but you can also skip that and go straight to the Apple App Store for iPhone or Google Play Store for Android.

About You: Essential Features

A pair of screenshots showing the About You and Health Reporting pages of the Ohio State app

If you zoom in on the left, I’m pretty broke.

The About You section has some of the most essential features of the Ohio State mobile app: BuckID balance, health reporting, grades, class schedules, digital BuckID, and push notification settings.

BuckID Balance

Checking your BuckID balance is what you’ll be using this app the most for, excluding health reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can see how much BuckID cash, dining dollars, and visit exchange swipes you have left for the current week. As of right now, visit exchange balances reset on Friday nights. It may take a little bit for this screen to update after a purchase.

Health Reporting

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio State has required that all students submit a health report each day that they are on campus. This is handled through a third party app called Compass, but you can also use the OSU app to submit your report. Just tap Health Reporting to get started on your daily form.

You can also set the app to give you notifications at a certain time each day to complete your health report.

Grades

A screenshot of the final term grades page

You can see your grades on the app too. The Final Term Grades section is a quick and easy way to see your term GPA and cumulative GPA as well.

Class Schedule

A screenshot of my class schedule in the Ohio State app.

This is my last semester!

You can view your class schedule in the Ohio State app by tapping Current Term or Weekly Calendar. You may not have known this, but you can tap on a class in either of these views and export it to a calendar of your choice. I export my classes to Google Calendar and share it with my parents and my boss so that they know how work with my schedule.

Digital BuckID

A screenshot of the digital Buck ID page on the Ohio State app.

It’s censored, but you can see that the short number is displayed on this screen. However, you won’t be able to see the long number unless you use your real card.

I only learned about this while writing this article! If you ever forget your BuckID and need to know the shorter of the two numbers on your card, you can click Digital BuckID to see a virtual copy of your card without the longer number.

The shorter number on this digital BuckID could be a lifesaver for student staff. If you work for Ohio State’s Dining Services, Residence Life, or elsewhere on campus, you likely punch in for your shifts using your BuckID. If you ever forget your BuckID, having this screen on your phone can help you type in the numbers on the timeclock. Mischief managed.

Push Notifications

A screenshot of the Ohio State app push notifications settings.

No, you can’t turn off BuckeyeAlerts. Sorry!

The OSU mobile app can notify you about important stuff like health reporting, final term grades, SIS holds, and SIS Waitlisted Classes. You can configure all that stuff here at the bottom of the About Me page.

Strangely, as of the writing of this article, you can also find app security settings in here too. You can tap to turn on fingerprint authentication in order to open the app. This will only work if your phone has a fingerprint scanner. I’m not sure what iPhones use instead for the Ohio State app, but I assume that you can use Face ID.

Campus: Busses, Dining, Parking

The Campus tab on the Ohio State mobile app is great for getting around. I use it most to check bus routes, but there are a few more features here that you should know about.

Busses

A pair of screenshots showing how to get to the bus routes screen.

It used to be that this screen by default would show the bus routes. Now you have to tap into it.

I think the last update to this screen made finding bus schedules a bit annoying, but this feature still works very well. On the Campus screen, tap See All at the top right to see bus routes.

Swipe up from the bottom get some more info. You can see the nearest stops to you and what busses they are expecting. You can choose the routes you’d like to watch at the top right by tapping Change Routes. 

As of right now, the three I can recommend to most students are Campus Loop South, West Campus Loop, and if its running, Campus Loop North. Right now Campus Loop North isn’t running as far as I know.

Dining: Check the Menu, Allergen Safety

A pair of screenshots showing how to access dining services menus to find nutritional information.

Curl Market is better than Union Market, change my mind!

This is extremely important if you have a food allergy of any kind, but it is also handy if you want to know what’s in the meal you always get at Scott Traditions. Tap Campus and then Dining to find a dining location. Tap on it to get a short description of it. Then, click Menu. 

From here, you can see everything that that dining hall serves. All meals that they make are approved by the University Dietitian Cara Chase.  You can tap any dish to find nutrition facts and ingredients. This will tell you a ton of stuff, like calories per serving, serving size, protein, vitamins, fat content, and more.

Most importantly, you can check for allergens and other things you might have concerns about. If you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out to Dining staff. They’re more than happy to help keep you safe and healthy!

Parking

A screenshot of a parking garage on the Ohio State app.

If you are a commuter student, this page could be a lifesaver for you. Not only can you get information about parking garages on campus, but you can also see how full they are. This is great if you want to find parking garages with lots of parking available.

Find Other Stuff

A screenshot of additional items at the bottom of the Campus screen.

There are also lots of great things you can check out by scrolling down on the Campus Page. You can find gender inclusive restrooms, lactation rooms, BuckID merchants, and even Wi-Fi locations.

More: Academic Calendar, Find People, Fun Stuff!

On the More tab, you can find a bunch of miscellaneous stuff. The most useful of which are the academic calendar and Find People features.

Academic Calendar

A screenshot of the academic calendar in the Ohio State app.

Ah yes, it appears that Spring 2021 semester starts on the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, AND 17th!

When do classes start? When does Spring Break begin? When does the semester end? These are all questions you can get answered really quickly on the Ohio State mobile app. Just tap More -> Academic Calendar. 

Find People

A screenshot of the find people tool in the Ohio State app.

The Find People feature is great for finding email addresses of other students, faculty, and staff. Just start typing their last name or name dot number to find people.

Fun Stuff

You can find information about athletics, events, student organizations, alumni societies on the More section of the OSU app. You can also download ringtones and wallpapers from here!

For You: Quick Ohio State Articles

A screenshot of some articles on the Ohio State app.

This isn’t exactly a news section, but it looks really nice. This is mostly a page with helpful articles to help make your life easier. They often share tips on how to cope with studying woes, best practices for navigating the student experience, and other things that are relevant to just about every Ohio State student.

Wellness

A screenshot of the wellness screen on the Ohio State app

The Wellness section of the Ohio State mobile app has a lot of helpful stuff. It has some select articles from the For You section that can help you deal with worries about school, and you can get some help for different issues such as COVID-19, anxiety, depression, physical wellness, substance use, relationship concerns, and more.

This is a great ‘launch pad’ for finding resources on campus like Counseling and Consultation Services that can help you succeed despite the dystopia we all live in right now!

Theme: Turn on Dark Mode!

A screenshot of the theme settings in the Ohio State app

I highly recommend turning on dark mode for the Ohio State mobile app by going to More -> Settings. It looks fantastic and will help save your battery life if you are using an AMOLED display.

My Ohio State App Isn’t Working!

If you are having issues with the Ohio State mobile app, don’t panic! I have a few tips for you that can help you on both iPhone and Android.

  1. Try logging out and logging back in. Doesn’t exactly work if the app is completely frozen sadly.
  2. Force close the app and open it again.
  3. Restart your phone.
  4. Uninstall the Ohio State mobile app and reinstall it.
  5. Pray to the Tom W. Davis clocktower.

I have had a very good experience with the app, so I haven’t run into any trouble. However, technology is technology. If you ever run into any problems, you can tell the developers by tapping About You -> Feedback. The developers take the app’s performance very seriously and I occasionally see them responding to concerns on the /r/OSU subreddit.

Ohio State App: Explained!

Now that you know how to use the Ohio State mobile app, you’re ready to kick some butt this semester. Make sure to share this article with your friends so that they can learn a thing or two about this awesome app!

Thank you for reading, and Go Bucks!

AirPods Battery Drain: The Truth & The Fix!

AirPods battery drain

Ever since AirPods first showed up back in late 2016, I saw them everywhere on campus my Freshman year. There were so many memes. It was a simpler time. Even as an Android guy myself, I will admit that AirPods are pretty cool, even if I don’t own a pair.

I may not own AirPods, but I know for a fact that AirPod battery drain is a very real problem. If it hasn’t happened to you already, it will eventually. It happens to all lithium-ion batteries, in fact. I have some tips that will help you keep your AirPods going strong and I’ll tell you what you need to do if you start noticing that they are going bad.

What Is AirPods Battery Drain?

You know how you gradually lose energy over the course of the semester, ultimately feeling like you just don’t have anything left to give by the time finals week rolls around? That’s pretty similar to how AirPod battery drain works. Over time, the lithium-ion batteries degrade and make each charge shorter and shorter. Simply put, they will run out of power more quickly as time goes on.

This isn’t because they are using more power. Over time, the maximum capacity of the batteries inside the earbuds will start to decrease. Battery degradation is caused by all sorts of factors, one of them being the growth of dendrites, which if left to grow inside of a battery unchecked can, in extreme cases, cause the battery to catch fire and explode.

Dendrites

Not lithium-ion dendrites, but this is pretty much the same thing. From Royal Society of Chemistry.

Ultimately, there is no way to completely prevent battery degradation in AirPods. The only thing you can do is to slow down the process to make the most out of your AirPods before they will need to be replaced.

Severe Drain

Sometimes batteries just go bad, no matter what you do. A hard impact can damage a battery. I got the opportunity to hold an AirPod I found at Curl Market once. It has since been returned to its rightful owner, but man these earbuds are small. I can imagine them getting crushed very easily, even just a little bit, if you happened to leave one on a desk and sat a book on top of it by mistake.

me, holding an airpod I found at Curl Market

This AirPod has since been returned to its owner!

Sometimes it can be difficult to explain why AirPod battery drain happens. If you find that your AirPods aren’t lasting as long as they used to, it might be time to get them replaced. However, you really shouldn’t just throw them away. The batteries can cause serious fires, even the battery is no good anymore. There have been many chemical fires at recycling plants and garbage disposal locations because of people throwing away cell phones, tablets, computers, and other devices.

What Should I Do With My Old AirPods?

Instead of throwing them away, it might be worth trading them for a fresh pair of AirPods. When trading them in with Podswap, you don’t have to worry about the hassle of taking all the correct steps to recycle them. You’ll not only help protect the environment, but you’ll get a fresh pair of headphones for cheap. Thumbs up for that!

How to Keep Your AirPods Going Strong

Praying to the clocktower won’t keep AirPod battery drain at bay, but there are some steps you can take to keep your AirPods in top shape for longer.

Don’t Let Your AirPods Get Too Hot or Too Cold

One lesser-known killer of lithium-ion batteries is temperature. AirPod battery drain can be accelerated by extreme temperature. A quick walk from the Ohio Union to Thompson Library in sub-zero weather won’t kill them, but don’t spend a long time outside while wearing them while it’s that cold. The same can be said about hot weather.

According to the University of Michigan (yeah, I know), it’s especially important not to charge devices when it’s too cold. So, if for some reason you thought about charging your AirPods in the freezer, think again!

Don’t Leave Your AirPods Case Plugged In Continuously

I’m sure we’ve all left our laptops plugged in for long periods of time before. It’s just easier, and you never have to worry about them running out of battery. I doubt that very many people do this with AirPods because they are so portable. Leaving them plugged in doesn’t make much sense.

Let’s imagine though that you aren’t going to be using them for a while. Leaving the case plugged in for a long time is bad for the battery. So, don’t do that! If you are going to store them for a while, leave the case unplugged for a bit. If it’s for a really long time, then make sure you take them out every once in a while and at least have them play some music for a little while so that it discharges the batteries a little.

Don’t Get AirPods Wet, or Abuse Them in General

AirPods aren’t exactly the most durable things in the world. However, with cell phones these days pushing water resistance ratings further and further, it’s easy to be a bit careless with our technology. AirPods do not have a water resistance rating, so they are definitely not waterproof. They might survive a splash here and there, or even a washing machine cycle, but don’t count on it.

Try to take care of them in general. Make sure not to leave them anywhere exposed where they might get crushed. The case might help protect them, but it is also a battery itself. Try to protect the case with a case cover! It’s like a case for your case. Plus, it gives you an excuse to decorate and change up the color a bit.

red airpods case cover

I really like this red AirPods case cover. Show off your school spirit by making your AirPods case don scarlet. Go Bucks!

Upgrade Your AirPods

If you are looking for a pair of AirPods with better battery life, performance, and features, AirPods Pro are definitely the way to go. Again, I’m an Android user so I enjoy my Samsung Galaxy Buds and Surface Earbuds, but AirPods Pro definitely make my mouth water.

AirPods Pro have excellent battery life

AirPods Pro have active noise cancellation and ambient sound pass-through, which makes them an excellent choice for an Ohio State student. You need a pair of earbuds that can allow you to hear things around you and also block out sound when necessary.

Have you ever seen that meme, “Oh no, they can’t hear us! They have AirPods in!” Well, that won’t happen to you if you use AirPod’s Pro’s transparency feature. If you’re at Thompson Library and don’t want to hear the guy chewing his potato chips next to you while you’re trying to study, active noise cancellation will be a life saver on these things.

Best of all, AirPods battery drain won’t happen to you as quickly because they have longer lasting batteries in their charging cases.

Take Care of Your AirPods!

Now that you know everything you need to know about AirPods battery drain, I hope that I’ve convinced you to take care of your earbuds. Make sure you take care of yourself too!

We can’t completely stop battery degradation, but we can slow it down with best practices. Don’t let your AirPods get too hot or cold, don’t abuse them, and don’t overcharge them. If they’ve got you in the dumps, try trading them in for a new pair or upgrade to the next level.

Thank you for reading! If you have any friends with AirPods, be sure to send this article their way. You might be able to save them from bad battery drain. Drink lots of water and Go Bucks!

Best Wireless Carriers in Columbus, OH? The Truth!

Looking for the best wireless carriers in Columbus, OH? This is a map of Columbus with an icon of a cellular tower. Ah, Columbus. The home of the Buckeyes, the Blue Jackets, and my favorite: the Columbus Crew SC. It’s also home to you and I! I’ve been in Columbus for three years now working on my undergraduate degree at Ohio State.

Columbus is a pretty big place. That urban sprawl has spread the city out for miles and miles. As a very technology-forward city, I don’t know what I would do without my cell phone. I don’t own a car at Ohio State because I don’t want to fork up my soul to CampusParc’s parking monopoly, so if I want to get around I need other options.

My phone helps me get around Columbus and stay in touch with the people I care about. I can call an Uber or Lyft, or I can check the bus routes. The COTA bus system is super robust and nobody should take it for granted, especially when Ohio State students get to ride ‘free’ (an extra fee on your tuition, of course.)

However, you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t have good cell service. That leads us to the big question: what are the best wireless carriers in Columbus, OH? Which one should you get a plan from? Read on to find out.

Coverage In Columbus? No Problem.

If you’re looking for coverage, I have good news. Pretty much every major carrier covers 100% of Columbus. UpPhone has a great coverage map that shows this. Just zoom in on Columbus and select the carrier you’re interested in and you’ll see the whole city is in their service area.

Okay, so every carrier covers Columbus. That’s great and all, but what about quality of service? Are some spots ‘spottier’ than others? Is this the deciding factor in figuring out the best wireless carriers in Columbus?

Remember that wireless connections will always be variable because of certain factors. For example, your speed might be slowed down if there is a lot of data usage going on in a particular area. When I used to go to Columbus Crew games (you know, before they started charging insane prices for seats at their new stadium), my Internet connection would be terrible because everyone watching the game is on their phone.

This has gotten better over time, but keep in mind that factors like this might effect your connection, regardless of which carrier you choose.

What Else Is There?

If we don’t need to worry about coverage, then what can we use to decide which are the best wireless carriers in Columbus, OH?

Well, quality of service is one other factor to consider, aside from natural variables like we talked about earlier. You might find that one company has better customer service than other, or maybe you just prefer one over the other.

However, I think the one thing you care about most is what you get for your money. So, finding the best deal!

An article I wrote for UpPhone.com goes into a lot more detail about this, so you should definitely go check it out to see how much you can save on a phone plan in Columbus.

Best Wireless Carriers in Columbus By Price

We have to split this up a little bit. You may be familiar with Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T. These are mobile network operators (MNOs), or major carriers. 

They aren’t the only wireless carriers out there! There are also mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs. These are carriers that lease out cell service from one of the major carriers. You may be familiar with a few of them like Cricket Wireless, Tello Mobile, and Mint Mobile.

Generally you will find that MVNO carriers like Cricket Wireless offer better deals than the major carriers. However, they tend to offer fewer features like International options, and hardly ever bundle extra services like Netflix into their plans.

If you are looking for the basics of a data plan, I personally recommend you go with an MVNO like Visible. You’ll get a better deal for sure, but you’ll just miss out on some features you may or may not have used.

If you have a little extra to spend or would just like better service in general, go for one of the major carriers. They’re huge and have a lot of resources to help you out. You can also be sure that they will be reliable outside of Columbus if you’re traveling.

Which Carrier Do I Use In Columbus?

I’m currently on Verizon’s network which works perfectly here in Columbus! I definitely recommend their service for the coverage and connection quality. However, their customer service does leave something to be desired.

I’m not a big fan of the bloatware that they tend to ship with their phones, but it’s easy to just disable and forget about. For example, Verizon’s texting app is pretty lame compared to alternatives out there like Google Messages. Just disable it and move on.

The Best Wireless Carriers in Columbus, Explained!

Now that you know the truth about the best wireless carriers in Columbus, you should be able to make an informed decision about your next wireless data plan if you’re getting one. If you know anybody else who would benefit from this information, feel free to share it with them!

Thanks for reading my article, and go Bucks!

 

 

 

Best Laptops For College Students In 2020 – Top 5 Picks!

You’re getting ready to head off to college, but before you go, you’re going to need a laptop. Whether you’re going to a large school like the Ohio State University or somewhere else, a laptop is an essential classroom tool. In what follows, I’ll help you choose from the best laptops for college students in 2020.

Why Do I Need A Laptop?

If you’re like me, you didn’t get to use laptops much in high school. My school was lucky enough to get a ton of Chromebooks for us to use under special circumstances, but they weren’t personal machines. When you’re at college, you’ll have the freedom to use your laptop both in class and at your dorm.

Laptops aren’t just great for watching Netflix and messaging your friends during class (don’t do that). They’re great for taking notes, completing online homework assignments, and staying in touch with your friends and family.

At Ohio State, I rely on my Surface Pro 4 heavily. You’re going to need a reliable machine that will last you through college, so you should consider some of the best laptops available in 2020. The price tags might seem a little high, but consider it an important investment.

Should I Get a Laptop Or A Two In One?

This question is all about form-factor and power. Laptops traditionally have the most power, but they tend to not be as powerful. Tablets are extremely portable, but they lack productivity and multitasking power. Two-in-ones are more portable than laptops and more powerful than tablets, but they tend to not be perfect in either area.

I use a two-in-one computer, the Surface Pro 4. It’s a bit older, but I love it to bits. It was one of the best ‘laptops’ available for college students in 2017.

The answer to this question is totally up to your needs. If you need a lot of power and resources, a traditional laptop is probably what you should stick with. If you aren’t a power user and you’d like the comfort of portability, a two-in-one should do just fine.

What About Tablets?

Some schools like the Ohio State University give their freshmen an iPad for free with some caveats. For example, OSU’s IT department pretty much has control over your device, so your privacy isn’t entirely protected. These have become an invaluable resource for OSU’s freshmen.

However, while these are great note-taking machines, these iPads are not great all-round computers. There are some mobile alternatives to some powerful apps like the Microsoft 365 suite (formerly Office 365) for iPad, but they aren’t nearly as capable as their PC and Mac counterparts.

A tablet is a great, portable way to take notes, do basic homework, read, watch videos, and video chat when needed. However, a laptop is needed for more power-intensive tasks. This is especially in the case that you need precision tools like a mouse pointer.

All About Configurations

Although you and another person might have the same model of laptop, you may not have the same capabilities. This is because laptops are generally sold in different configurations. An entry level version of a laptop might have a lower end processor than the higher end version.

As a student shopping for the best laptop in 2020, you’ll have to consider what configuration is best for you. A lower configuration generally means you are getting a less capable processor and less internal storage. This means you won’t be able to multitask as well and you won’t be able to store as much on the device.

However, you may not need to store that much if you are using cloud storage. You may also not need a very powerful processor if you don’t intend to run that many programs at once or run any intensive programs like games. It’s best to choose the configuration that is right for you and your budget.

One More Thing!

The Ohio State University Marching Band doing script ohio in Ohio Stadium

As a fellow college student, I’m happy to help you out by sharing my thoughts about the best laptops for college students in 2020. Below in my list, you’ll see some links to the devices. If you choose any of them and make a purchase on Amazon, I could get a small commission for that purchase.

I did my best to find some good prices for each of them to help you out. If you appreciate my recommendations, it would be awesome if you could lend a hand and make a purchase through my links below! Thanks, and go Bucks!

Microsoft Surface Go 2

A Surface Go 2 in laptop mode.

I mentioned earlier that I use a Surface Pro 4 in this article. The Surface Go 2 is probably what I might have chosen had it been available at the time. It’s a two-in-one machine that’s probably the best versatile laptop for students in 2020.

Combined with the Surface Go type cover keyboard and Surface Pen, the Surface Go 2 can run Windows 10 apps in desktop mode and tablet mode. Its small size makes it perfect for taking with you throughout your day without taking up too much space in your backpack. Whether it’s taking notes, working on homework, or watching videos, the Surface Go 2 can handle it.

The Go 2 isn’t meant to be a powerhouse, though. Even with its higher level configurations, you should consider that the Surface Go 2 is still a very small device and isn’t meant for very intense use.

MacBook Pro 2020

A MacBook Pro viewed from the top down. A touch bar is visible at the top of the keyboard close to the screen.

A MacBook has been a classic choice for students looking for a powerful and reliable machine to get through their college experience. However, it can be quite the investment, but it’s definitely worth your money. The newest MacBook Pro comes in two models: 16-inch and 13-inch. Although the larger version definitely gets a power boost compared to the smaller version, the 13-inch model still holds its own with a powerful Intel Core i7 processor.

The MacBook Pro is one of the best laptops for students in 2020 because of its reliability, all-day battery life, and elegant form factor. Aside from its fantastic retina display, you also get the benefit of its Touch Bar for media controls and even Touch ID for security.

Although MacOS arguably isn’t as flexible as Windows, plenty of my classmates have used these computers without problems with compatibility. My only recommendation is that you submit your assignments as .pdf or .docx files instead of .pages, as many of my professors have had difficulties opening these files.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

A Surface Pro 7 in laptop mode.

Let’s say you’re still a Windows user. The Surface Go 2 looks great, but you’re not sure it’s big enough or powerful enough to do what you need to do. Enter the Surface Pro 7, the Surface Go 2’s big brother, and one of the best laptop two-in-ones for students in 2020.

The Surface Pro 7 has everything the Surface Go 2 has and more. With a more powerful set of processors in its configurations, this machine can allow you to multitask a lot more than a Go 2 would.

As a Surface Pro 4 user, I can confirm the Surface Pro 7 is pretty much the exact same machine, except it has modern components inside of it. It also has a USB-C port on the side that you can use for peripherals or for charging. These modern components like the processor make this device much more powerful than my Surface Pro 4.

MacBook Air

A MacBook Air with a swirly blue background.

So, the MacBook Pro is a bit out of your price range. No problem! The MacBook Air is a great alternative, offering a good amount of features and performance that make it one of the best affordable laptops for college students in 2020.

You aren’t getting a lot of processing power with the base model with its Intel Core i3 processor, but you should remember that Apple’s apps are very optimized for MacOS, since Apple is responsible for the hardware and software. This will help you run your apps fast even with a less powerful processor.

You’ll also still get that awesome all-day battery life which is extremely important for getting through a long day of classes.

Samsung Galaxy Book 2

A Samsung Galaxy Book 2

Wait, doesn’t Samsung make smartphones? Well, apparently they make awesome laptops too, and I think this one might be one of the best laptops a college student can have in 2020.

The Galaxy Book 2 is an interesting machine because it’s actually running Windows 10 on a Qualcomm ARM processor, but what does that mean? ARM processors are very similar to the ones that run in your smartphone. They are small and use much less battery, but they are a bit limited in what programs they can run.

When using the Galaxy Book S, you’ll see a dramatic increase in battery life. Samsung claims you can get up to 25 hours of video playback on a single charge, which blows all the devices on this list out of the park.

However, the ARM processor is only effective with apps that are optimized for it. Other apps may have to be ’emulated’ which can take more power, or they may not run at all. It’s best that you do some research before you buy to make sure that the apps that you intend to use on this device will work.

Did I mention that the device has a detachable keyboard and pen? Yep! It’s a two-in-one convertible laptop like the Surface Pro series!

Which One Will You Choose?

And there you have it, those are my picks for the best laptops for college students in 2020! I hope that this helps you figure out which laptop is best for you. Please be sure to share this with a friend or family member and if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment down below.

The Best Phone For College Students – The Truth!

While it might seem like the world’s biggest distraction for a full time scholar, smartphones are actually a necessity in our increasingly digital world. If you’re looking to go to a big school like Ohio State, you might be wondering what phone is the best pick for you. While it ultimately is up to you to decide, I can definitely help give you my take on the best phone for college students.

Why College Students Need Phones

A Galaxy Note phone with a stylus

Okay, the pen might be a bit overkill, but having a pen can be useful for taking notes on the fly.

This might seem like a silly question, but let’s think about the reasons why.

  1. Smartphones are the ultimate communication device. If you need to reach someone about something, they’re the way to go.
  2. If you’re doing a lot of walking around campus, having an easy and portable way to look up your assignments and grades is essential.
  3. Having a way to contact help is essential when traveling on a college campus. You never know what could happen.
  4. With a pair of headphones, your phone can be a great music player when studying somewhere.

Your Needs Are Unique

The front and back of a Windows Phone

Remember Windows phone? I must be the only one…

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that there is a universal, best phone for a college student. The reality is that it’s all up to your needs and your preferences. Take a minute to think about your needs and what works for you.

Phone Features Useful for College Students

A 3.5mm headphone cord

My favorite smartphone feature: the headphone jack. Change my mind.

I personally think that the most important qualities of a phone are battery life, processor speed, and reliability. These are what make a phone the best choice for a college student.

Battery Life

A very thick energizer phone sitting next to a thin iPhone

Now THAT’S a thick phone. The Energizer P18K is supposed to last 50 days in stand-by mode.

There’s nothing more frustrating when your phone is about ready to die and you have two more classes left to go during the day. Hunting for that seat by the wall outlet to charge your phone just isn’t the best college student experience. For me, a phone with a powerful battery is a necessity so that I can check my homework, call for help, or submit that assignment I forgot about until the last minute.

Look for phones rated with a high milliampere hour rating (mAh), generally in the range of 4000 mAh. If these are a bit out of your price range, consider investing in a portable charging pack instead.

Processor Speed

a snapdragon 855 processor development board

Is it just me, or do those components not look like they fit in that phone at all?

This is a more nuanced topic, but it’s still very important. The best phone for a college student is fast when you need to use it to manage your busy schedule. You don’t want to spend 5 minutes trying to load that assignment because your device’s processor can barely keep up with reading your fingerprint.

How can you tell when a phone has a good processor? Well, the unfortunate thing is that you just won’t know until you’ve used it for a while. Processing speed varies depending on use case.

Generally you’ll find that higher end flagship devices will have more powerful processors, but midrange phones in the $400-600 can have decent processors too. You may have to see how well your friends fare with their phones to see what causes them to throttle, and then you might get some ideas about what brands you want to focus on.

Reliability

Someone using an iphone in front of their macbook

I like to use my phone to check when my next class is.

This is a combination of the previous two, but also a few other things like build quality, software support, replaceability, and whatever else you need to rely on to work. It may seem like phones are getting more and more expensive, but remember that if you choose carefully, your investment might keep you from having to pay more on a phone later. You need something that will last, and that phone is something that you’ll need to count on as a college student.

Mobile Data Plan

A SIM card being held between two fingers.

SIM cards are tiny, don’t lose them! They are what allows your phone to connect to the wireless network.

Your phone isn’t very useful if you can’t call or text anyone. While it’s entirely possible that you might be able to get by with only using your school’s Wi-Fi networks, it’s not the safest or most convenient option. Based on my personal experience, Verizon seems like a good pick, especially from my experience as a college student at Ohio State.

Mobile data is what you use to call, text, and browse the Internet when not using a Wi-Fi connection. I am very fortunate that I’m in a family data plan with my parents!

Verizon’s cell phone plans can be a bit complicated. Fortunately, I found this awesome tool that will let you compare the plans to see which one fits your needs. Personally, I don’t think that you’re going to need more than 6GB of data. Any more than that and you’d be cutting a bit too deep into your already burning wallet from those student loan payments.

Go Explore Phones!

A Galaxy Note 9 sitting upright on a desk

Your most useful digital tool is waiting to be found.

Now that you have a good head start on what you need to think about when choosing a new phone as a prospective college student, you can go see what’s out there! Try watching some reviews of phones that interest you to narrow down what fits best for you. You may find something you didn’t expect!

Thank you for reading, and I hope that this was helpful for you. If you did find it helpful, please share it with a friend who may be looking for a new phone as well!

OSU Students Using Zoom – Helpful Tips!

Regardless of your opinions on Zoom, it has no doubt been a necessity for us here at Ohio State. I’ve had some great experiences, and some bad ones. Let’s talk about some helpful tips for OSU students using Zoom.

Zoom and Devices

Woman holding two cellphones shrugging

What even is an iPhone anyway?

I’m an Android and Windows user primarily, so I admit that I’m not a very good person to consult about troubleshooting for Mac, iPad and iPhone. Most students at OSU have Apple devices for using Zoom. However, I’ve found some useful articles about this subject for you here and here.

When it comes to Android and Windows, I’ve got you covered! Let’s get started.

Zoom for Windows

Surface Pro 3 with type cover

Without my Surface Pro I don’t know how I would have gotten through Junior year.

For a more focused setup, OSU students will probably will be using a laptop or desktop for Zoom. Make sure that you have a good Internet connection. Video conferencing can use a lot of data, so the better your Internet connection is, the better experience you will have.

Two problems you may run into are your microphone and camera settings. In the top right of Zoom’s main screen, click your profile picture and then click settings. You’ll find your video and audio tabs here.

Video

Closeup of a webcam

Don’t worry, your O-Chem TA definitely isn’t watching you pick your nose during your lecture.

Under video, you can select the webcam that you’d like to use. Most laptops have an internal camera, but if you need one you might need to get a webcam. Make sure that the camera you are trying to use is connected to your computer and select it here.

A silly problem I had once is that Zoom would only use the rear camera on my Surface Pro rather than the front camera. How confusing! Despite my confusion, I have not decided to switch over to iPad like many of you here at OSU using Zoom.

Audio

A very old CBS microphone

Make sure you find the oldest microphone possible and use your best Transatlantic accent. Seriously though, any microphone will do.

For this, make sure that you select the correct speaker and microphone. Try to use a headset or set of earbuds with a microphone, and always make sure that you have headphones selected as your speaker. This can help prevent echo and feedback.

If you have to, use the microphone on your laptop, but use your headphones as your speaker. This should eliminate feedback so long as you aren’t using your laptop’s speakers as the output device as well.

I’ve heard bad feedback from even professors using Zoom here at OSU. If you can’t seem to fix bad feedback and echo, try muting yourself when you aren’t speaking.

Zoom for Android

Someone holding a Samsung Galaxy S20

My wallet is crying looking at this Galaxy S20.

For Android smartphones, you’ll find the settings in the lower right hand corner of the main screen. You won’t have as complicated settings here for audio and video, the app will simply use your phone’s camera and microphone. If you have headphones with a microphone connected, it should use that microphone as the input by default.

Under the meeting tab however, you’ll find some helpful options such as always mute my microphone which can help keep your classmates from hearing you munching on Cheetos when you enter a lecture late. Trust me, you aren’t alone, fellow OSU Zoom user.

Zoom On, Buckeyes!

Brutus Buckeye with his hands in the air

You know now that I look at him again, Brutus seems a bit scary…

I hope that helps you improve your experience as an OSU student using Zoom. These are some troubling times right now, but hopefully things will get better soon and you can enjoy skipping your in-person classes instead!

Thanks for reading, and Go Bucks!