While working from home, we’ve grown accustomed to using Zoom for work and for fun, so you’ve probably seen people change the scenery behind them while using Zoom’s virtual backgrounds.
This feature allows you to change your background to one of Zoom’s presets or to a photo or video you upload yourself.
While it’s fun to change your surroundings to a funny photo, there is the added benefit of privacy. Working from home doesn’t mean we want coworkers to gain a glimpse into our homes, and the feature is great if you haven’t had time to declutter your workspace.
Changing your background is easy. For the best results, you may want to purchase a green screen but it’s not necessary.
Also, for virtual backgrounds to appear, the admin of the call (which may be you) may have to enable the feature.
How a green screen can improve your Zoom backgrounds
If a clean, quality background is important for your work, you may want to consider using a green screen.
Green screening is an old filmmaking technique also known as “chroma keying.” We’ll save the history lesson, but the basic idea is a uniform background in high contrast with the color of human skin tones is easier to digitally paste over with another image.
Consistent, uniform lighting also helps separate you from the background, whether or not you have a green screen behind you.
You’ll also want to avoid wearing green unless you prefer to look like a floating head with floating arms.
Without a green screen, your virtual background may look imperfect or “glitchy” at times with objects of the room you’re in. For casual and most work settings, this is not a big deal.
But if you’re giving a presentation or livestreaming, you probably want the viewer’s focus centered on you instead of a distracting background.
It’s easy enough to get lost in an endless scroll through your Twitter feed, without having to sift through tweets from people you don’t even follow. Yes, we’re talking about the retweet.
Retweeting lets you repost someone else’s tweet onto your own profile. It’s great for sharing tweets that you love.
But if someone you follow retweets everything in sight – and not much of it is interesting – you can mute their retweets, so you only see original content. Just note that you can’t turn off all retweets at once; instead, you’ll need to mute each account individually.
Here’s how to turn off retweets from accounts you follow, using Twitter’s desktop website or app.
Claiming an order links it to your Etsy account. Creating an account and claiming your order will also allow you to review the item you purchased.
Luckily, doing this is easy. You can’t use the app, however – you’ll need to go to the website on your desktop computer or mobile phone browser.
How to find your order confirmation receipt for your Etsy guest purchase
If you’re unable to locate the email with your receipt, check your spam or junk mail folder for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org. Use your email search function to find emails from that address. If this doesn’t work, contact Etsy Support.
If nothing happens when you click the email’s confirmation number, double-check to make sure you’re viewing your order receipt. Other notification emails, like shipping updates and new message notifications from the seller, don’t include links for claiming your order.
If you see an error page, sign out of Etsy and sign into your account associated with the email you used during guest checkout. If you’re trying to claim the order on a mobile browser, make sure you’ve signed out of the app first.
When you’re watching a movie with friends and family using Disney Plus’s GroupWatch feature, you might not be able to see one another – but that doesn’t mean you can’t share your reactions.
Unlike some other streaming platforms’ Watch Party tool, Disney Plus’ GroupWatch allows you to emoji react in real-time and help emulate the experience of watching together.
Desktop users may notice an emoji icon on the bottom right of the screen (next to the volume icon). Mobile users also have access to the reactions library, which is located between the GroupWatch ticker and language icon in the app’s top right corner.
Here’s how to use GroupWatch reactions.
How to use Disney Plus GroupWatch reactions on desktop
1. Start or join a GroupWatch on Disney Plus.
2. While the movie is playing, hover over the reactions icon. It looks like a smiley face.
3. Click a reaction to select it. It will pop up on your screen’s bottom-left side with your profile name alongside it to indicate whose reaction it is.
How to use Disney Plus GroupWatch reactions on mobile
1. Start or join a GroupWatch on the Disney Plus app.
2. While the movie is playing, swipe left to reveal reactions. You can also tap the screen, then tap the smiley face reactions icon to reveal reactions.
3. Tap a reaction to select it. It will pop up on the bottom of your screen with your profile name alongside it to indicate whose reaction it is.
Food delivery apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash seem nearly ubiquitous in the restaurant industry – if you’re running a restaurant and you want people in the area to know about you, getting on at least one of these apps is essential for your exposure.
These apps, however, take a cut of what restaurants earn – even if you order pickup and not delivery. Most of them take 20% to 40% of each order, which is, in many cases, nearly the entire profit margin on the food they’re selling.
The people behind ChowNow saw this trend and worried that it would take down the small, local restaurant as we know it, and decided to do something about it. ChowNow is a service that sets up food delivery for restaurants on its own app (available on Android and iOS), like other food delivery service apps. However, the company doesn’t charge a percentage for it.
What to know about ChowNow
Unlike UberEats or DoorDash, ChowNow doesn’t stop after putting a restaurant on its app. It does more – it helps make it easy for a restaurant to have its own ordering app, and an easy-to-use order function on its website.
Instead of taking a percentage of each order, ChowNow structured its service as a paid monthly subscription – the base cost is $149 a month, with a one-time $399 setup fee per location, but these prices go down when a business signs a contract for a longer period. Its annual plan is $119 a month with a $199 initial setup fee, and the two-year annual plan is $99 a month, with the same discounted setup fee.
On top of helping a restaurant set up its own ordering app and website, ChowNow also offers a wide range of other services to customers, including comprehensive training, an iPad for order consolidation, an ongoing marketing strategy, and 24/7 support.
One thing to note about ChowNow is that it is not actually a delivery service. ChowNow does not employ its own delivery drivers – it is, more or less, a marketing team and middle man. Instead, the company gives restaurants the option to hire and use their own delivery drivers for orders that go through the site.
If restaurants don’t want to hire delivery drivers, though, they’re not out of luck – ChowNow has partnerships with some of the delivery services they are competing with, including Postmates, DoorDash, UberEats, in different areas. ChowNow isn’t trying to drive these companies out of business – just reimagine how they function so the process works for everyone.
ChowNow can help customers, too
As a customer, using ChowNow doesn’t have to be that different than using other ordering apps. It works more or less the same, but when you use it instead of one of the other apps, you’re doing your part to help local restaurants keep more of what they earn.
When you download the ChowNow app, it looks a lot like any other ordering app you may be familiar with. You enter your location, and it shows you a list of available restaurants in your area, and you can tap on them to see their menu. From there, you just add items to your cart, check out, and wait.
If that’s all you use ChowNow for, then you’re still helping your local small businesses – plus, you might be helping yourself out, too. Because of the high commissions on apps like GrubHub and Postmates, many restaurants increase their prices on the app in order to compensate for what would otherwise be a net loss. So when you use an app that charges restaurants a fee, you could end up paying more for your food than you need to.
However, customers can also look at the ChowNow app as a map to new restaurants – ideally, they would try a restaurant once, and, if they decide they really like it, simply go and download that restaurant’s app, rather than adding it to a list of favorites. This puts customers in a position to get bonuses and deals that the company may be offering.
If you’ve ever found Twitter’s character limit suffocating or felt frustrated by the tone of your tweets being misconstrued, one of Twitter’s newest features may be of interest.
The social media platform recently launched a voice tweet tool to make sharing your fleeting thoughts with your followers even easier. By clicking a few simple buttons, you can record a message and post it to your timeline. This will add a personal touch and ensure your message doesn’t get lost in translation.
Voice tweets appear as regular tweets with audio attachments complete with a play button for anyone to listen to. You’ll retain the ability to write text with the tweet, which means you can also mention users or add hashtags. The recorded audio files also have a maximum length of two minutes and 20 seconds, though longer files can be saved and automatically threaded into multiple messages.
While voice tweets are currently limited to a select group of iOS users, the company plans to roll it out to a broader audience in the future. Should you have access to it now, here’s how to use voice tweets.
How to post Twitter voice tweets
1. Open Twitter on your iOS device by tapping the app icon on your home screen.
2. Select the tweet composition button, which looks like a feathered pen and a “+” sign.
3. Next, choose the voice button, which looks like a soundwave icon.
4. Tap the red record button and begin speaking to record your message.
5. When your message is complete, tap “Done.”
6. Add text to the tweet, if you want, and then tap “Tweet” to send.
Depop is one of many apps for online thrift shopping. On sites like this, buyer feedback is paramount, because it’s the main way other users on the site know if they can rely on a seller to be honest, timely, and easy to communicate with.
Since feedback and ratings on Depop are so important – and because ratings are calculated by collecting reviews over a certain time period, rather than over the history of an entire account – the site makes it easy to leave them after making a purchase.
How to leave a review on Depop
1. Go to your profile by tapping the icon of a person in the bottom-right corner of the app.
2. Tap on the receipts icon at the top of your screen – if you have an item you haven’t left feedback for yet, it should have a red notification bubble next to it.
3. Go to the Purchased tab and tap the listing for the item you want to review.
4. Tap the “Leave feedback” button at the bottom of the screen.
5. Give the seller a star rating from one to five, based on your experience with both them and the item you bought. Underneath, leave a comment explaining why you gave them that rating.
6. When you’re finished, tap the checkmark in the top-right corner.
How to delete a review on Depop
If you later feel your review was unfair, you can’t change it but you can delete it.
1. Return to the Receipts section of your profile and find the item you want to delete the review for.
2. Tap on your feedback.
3. Tap the trashcan icon in the top-right corner of the screen to delete your review.
Conditions of Depop reviews
Before you leave a review, you should note that if the seller believes your review was unfair or left in bad faith, they can contact you to try and work it out.
You should also know that if you can’t reach a resolution with the seller and they still believe your feedback was unfair, they can appeal to Depop to have it removed, provided they have enough evidence to prove that it was incorrect or biased.
On its website, Depop says it will not remove feedback above three stars unless it can be categorized as one or more of the following:
Posting feedback as revenge, including messages that are beyond a suitable time limit after the transaction.
Including feedback that’s vulgar, abusive, and/or bigoted toward another user.
Feedback that is blatantly false at the time of its writing.
Blackboard is a customizable online learning tool that can replace or supplement traditional face-to-face classes for a school or any other classroom structure. Many conventional classroom functions have equivalents in Blackboard Learn, allowing students and teachers to emulate just about every physical classroom experience element.
In a fully online format, the teacher might assign all materials to the students digitally, communicate outside of class using online tools, and have students discuss and collaborate online. But in a hybrid model, the class might meet in person only a few times a week and use Blackboard activities that students complete outside the course. Finally, in a web-enhanced model, the classes may be face-to-face, but instructors may post supporting materials like syllabus, assignments, or optional discussions online.
Here’s what else you should know about Blackboard.
Blackboard’s features and tools
Blackboard is host to many virtual and digital learning tools, but all revolve around its core component: courses.
Courses, which instructors can only start, are accessible through the “Home” section of a student’s Blackboard account under “My Courses.” Classes are supplemented by various tools, focusing on several critical areas of the classroom experience: content, interaction and discussion, and announcements and scheduling.
Courses & Content
Instructors can post content, including files, text, images, audio, and video, in their courses. That content can then be organized using learning modules, folders, or lesson plans. To help students navigate their course content, instructors can post a syllabus with descriptions of the course materials, assignments, grading expectations, and more in a section of the course menu or elsewhere within a course.
Other content that you’ll likely see includes surveys, tests, and assignments. Instructors can customize grading for and assign grades to submissions. Students can view assignment and class grades by navigating to the “My Grades” section in the dropdown menu by their name. Meanwhile, surveys and tests are highly customizable and may be multiple-choice, timed, or written. While tests are graded, surveys are not. Surveys may instead be used to poll students or assess their knowledge and are marked as complete or incomplete.
Announcements & Calendars
Blackboard offers several ways for students and teachers to stay on track throughout their class. Instructors can post announcements on changes to a syllabus, due dates, exam schedules, and more. Notifications may appear on the “Home” page of a student’s Blackboard account for their institution or within specific classes. Instructors and students can also keep track of important dates through the calendar tool, combining course, individual, and institutional schedules.
Interaction & Discussion
Instructors can set up discussion boards within their classes, with both students and educators can start new discussion threads and reply to an original prompt. Students in a class can also send direct messages to one another by clicking “Messages” in their course menu.
Instructors may set up groups of students within their class to complete group projects, have discussions, or share work. In addition to sharing files and having group-specific conversations, this feature lets users create shared journals. These are a way for students to interact privately with their instructor. Instructors create journal topics within the journal topic page, and students respond with entries that can be graded.
Blackboard has some other features that help students and instructors stay connected, whether with Blackboard Ultra, the mobile apps, or the accessibility toolkit. Here’s what you should know about them.
Blackboard Ultra is a cloud-based service like Google Workspace (formerly GSuite) or Dropbox, rather than a downloaded or installed software. It’s an updated version of the original Blackboard that institutions can access if they opt for SaaS (“Software As A Service”) deployment.
Blackboard Ultra’s updated user interface and workflow include a responsive design that works on any device. It also features an “activity stream” that allows students to see updates from all their classes together in an organized list rather than class-by-class. Ultra’s calendar gathers due dates from all courses and offers a grades page that features all your performance together without navigating to each class.
If you’re unsure if you have the Ultra or Original version of Blackboard, look at your browser window’s left panel after log in. If your name is shown in the left-hand menu, you’re using Ultra. If it’s in the top right, you’re using Original.
Blackboard’s apps, including Blackboard and Blackboard Instructor, are iOS 11+ and Android 5+ compatible mobile tools that work with both Original and Ultra interfaces. Once downloaded, the app will ask you to find your institution and log in with your Blackboard Learn login information.
To optimize accessibility on Blackboard, instructors can design content for students with visual, hearing, learning, and mobility-based disabilities in mind.
Blackboard Learn is compatible with screen readers, and pages are designed to follow a common structure to allow quick navigation. Others can enable high-contrast styles on the login page of Blackboard Learn to match their computer configuration. Students who use keyboard navigation will find commonly used web formatting, while those who rely on key commands to navigate through pages can access them in the Quick Links tool or through hitting Shift+Alt+L.
Instructors can caption all media types that they upload so that students can read information instead of listening. To reduce visual clutter and increase executive function, users can collapse menus or set up Blackboard Learn to send notifications and reminders. Instructors can also design tests with accommodations for extra time, varying visual displays, or more attempts.
The Blackboard App also offers built-in accessibility features, like VoiceOver navigation, zoom for enlarged visuals, color filters, navigation through Bluetooth switch hardware, AssistiveTouch in iOS, and Switch Access for external devices in Android.