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When your PC stops booting, a boot drive is the electronic version of a defibrillator. If you can boot your PC, you can detect bad memory, chase bad sectors, change passwords, and recover data … all the things you need to get the machine back to normal. I’ll show you how to make the boot drives you need.

In your Windows Vista/7/8 system

You may not need to install extra software to make your boot drive. Windows Vista, 7, and 8 can create a system-repair disk. In many cases it’s all you need when things go bad, and it’s the first place most users should start. If you can still boot to the operating system but it’s locking up, throwing error messages, or squirming in the grip of malware, the repair disk allows you to retreat to a safe system-restore point.

A Windows 7 or 8 recovery disk is often the best place to start when your system fails.

The command prompt gives you access to useful tools such as Microsoft’s disk-partitioning utility and, of course, the venerable chkdsk hard-drive scanning and repair utility, which can fix file-system errors or map bad drive sectors. Don’t give up on a quiet hard drive with errors until you’ve tried chkdsk; it may fix the issues you’re having. (A noisy hard drive may be failing, in which case you’re better off backing it up before doing anything else, including running diagnostics.)

If you can’t recover using the aforementioned tools, the disk also allows you to restore the entire system partition (and other partitions, if you included them in the backup) from a Windows backup image file you’ve created. This is usually your second-best option, however, as you lose any data written to the hard drive since the image was created.

Diskpart is Microsoft’s effective, but command-line-only, partition editor.

Unfortunately, Windows’ image-restore feature isn’t reliable at restoring to different hardware, such as a functioning hard drive brought in to replace a failing one. You can still recover data from the .vhd (Virtual Hard Drive) images by attaching them through Computer/Drive Management, but only after you’ve reinstalled Windows.

Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool

Windows won’t create bootable flash drives, but Microsoft provides a utility that will: the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. It’s simple and it allows you to create bootable flash drives from both recovery and installation .iso files.

To use it, first download the free InfraRecorder Portable to convert CDs and DVDs into the .iso files the utility requires. Windows also lets you create a password-recovery disk, though if you can remember to do this, the odds are good that you’ll remember your password. Still, it can be handy; you can create it from the User Accounts area.

If you work with lots of PCs, you’ll need both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the recovery disk so you can match the system you’ll be trying to repair. The 32-bit one won’t work with 64-bit systems, and vice versa.

The big(ger) guns

R-Drive Image

If the Windows recovery disk won’t work for you (and it sometimes won’t), then you need to turn to something more capable, versatile, and reliable, such as one of the boot drives described below.

R-Drive Image’s basic interface will make you want to gag yourself with a spoon, but it uses very little memory. Maybe it will challenge you to a nice game of chess.

The R-Drive Image image-recovery utility works with a minimal amount of memory and supports every modern file system: FAT, NTFS, Linux, Mac, and BSD types, and even the latest ReFS in Microsoft’s Server 2012. As of version 5.1, it supports the vast majority of SATA, USB, and network hardware. The basic interface (as low as 64MB) is an adorable back-to-the-’80s, character-based affair, but the program also has a modern interface with a more Windows-friendly look.

R-Drive Image’s minimalist modern interface is easier for the less geeky to navigate.

Because it additionally offers a full-blown Windows version that mounts images as virtual hard drives, R-Drive has been my go-to boot-drive and backup tool for the past few years. It’s especially reliable.

Active Boot Disk

At $80, this boot drive may seem pricey, but it provides top-notch file and partition recovery in addition to the ability to create and restore images. Active (branded as “Active@”) also lets you change Windows passwords. I can’t even tell you the number of times that ability can save the day, whether by permitting you to log on to a computer for which you’ve forgotten the password, or by allowing access to data stored on a former employee’s PC. Just keep in mind that changing a password will kill your ability to recover data from Windows-encrypted accounts.

Offline NT Password and Registry Editor

This little Linux-based beauty, written by Petter Nordahl-Hagen, is a free alternative to Active Boot Disk for resetting Windows passwords. Its command-line interface can be a little intimidating, but in most cases all you need to do is follow the prompts. If you’re locked out of an account or PC, Offline NT Password and Registry Editor is probably all you need.

Parted Magic

The free Linux-based, multifaceted repair and recovery disk Parted Magic has some great features, including secure erase (software- and firmware-based), a graphical partition editor, disk cloning, and a virus scanner.

Parted (short for ‘Partition Editor’) Magic is a Live Linux tool that provides quick access to partition ops, and also has an excellent memory test (Memtest 86+).

Even better, one of the boot options (under extras) is Memtest 86+, the most capable memory-testing utility I’ve ever run across. If your computer is acting flaky or randomly freezing up, Memtest86+ will let you know if it’s because of bad memory. By noting where in memory the errors occur, you can even determine which stick is bad and replace it.

Hiren’s Boot CD

While I generally prefer separate boot drives dedicated to a task, other people like the all-encompassing toolkit approach, and that’s what you get with Hiren’s BootCD. The authors actively solicit suggestions for programs to include. The disc’s large and ever-changing lineup covers disk-imaging, antivirus, partition-editing, and hardware-status and reporting tools. You’ll also find a mini version of Windows XP, Linux (Parted Magic), and DOS environments and tools.

Yes, it’s DOS-like. Scroll down one option in Hiren’s Boot CD, however, and you can run Windows XP.

The only real issue with Hiren’s is the time it can take to find any one tool. This package is not for occasions when you need to log in and out in a hurry. Still, if you were stuck on an island with only one boot drive, this is probably the one you’d want, as it can handle virtually any troubleshooting chore—and it’s free.

Ultimate Boot CD

As shipped, the Ultimate Boot CD contains a trove of command-line utilities, including many for your CPU, hard disk, peripherals, memory (again, Memtest86 and Memtest86+), malware, and so forth. It also includes Parted Magic and grub4dos.

Like Hiren’s, it’s also highly configurable, and you may add your own stuff. I’ve seen versions that boot to Windows PE. It’s a little more work to create, but you wind up with your own custom-tailored product.

Looking at Live Linux

Sometimes it’s easier to browse, manipulate, and recover files from within a real operating system such as a Live Linux (runs from CD) distribution. It’s also great when you’re trying to remove malware manually from a PC (when you’re unable to do so from within Windows).

Slax Linux

The notably lightweight Slax Linux is a great choice: It has scant hardware requirements (48MB in text mode, 256MB for the KDE desktop), so it will work when other Linux distributions may not. It’s clean and simple, and it has basic command-line partition editing (Parted).

However, Slax’s primary appeal is that it boots quickly and lets you speedily copy important files. When a hard drive is starting to go bad, every second can count, and Slax makes short work of it.

Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu’s system requirements are steeper than those for Slax or Parted Magic, but if a system has enough memory, it’s a good Linux pick. Ubuntu is a full-blown operating system with lots of hardware support and applications.

Running a full-blown OS live from a CD or DVD is great for recovering files and removing unwanted ones. Ubuntu is up to the task.

You can run it as a LiveCD (the OS will run, but you can’t save or install apps) or install it and run it from a USB flash drive. In the latter mode, you can install any Linux application that’s available, and a lot of Linux repair tools are available.

Slax and Ubuntu are my current top choices in Live Linux distributions, but you can find plenty of alternatives, including Backtrack, Fedora, Knoppix, and SUSE, that vary in size, features, and utility.

Antivirus boot drives

AVG, Avira, Bitdefender, F-Secure, Kaspersky … take your pick. Nearly all the major antimalware companies provide a free Linux-based boot drive for scanning systems that won’t boot, or rescuing systems that are exhibiting malware symptoms that preclude scanning within the OS.

Avira Rescue System is Avira’s free boot-disc software. Most antimalware companies offer their own version of this kind of utility.

I’ve used all of them with equal success—or lack thereof. Call it about a 50 percent chance that you can completely clean your system immediately, as many successful attacks predate antivirus vendors’ countermeasures.

Waiting a few days after your PC tragedy will typically mean that the antivirus folks have caught up with any brand-new attack you may have suffered. Generally speaking, you’ll need to keep your antivirus boot drives current, though most will automatically download the latest definitions given an Internet connection.

Universal USB Installer can even download the Linux distro to install to your USB drive.

It couldn’t be easier to use. Simply pick the distribution .iso file (such as Parted Magic, Slax, Ubuntu, Avira, or Bitdefender) from a drop-down menu and have at it.

Fruitless booting to UEFI

There’s one nasty exception to the boot-drive technique: UEFI-only systems. I’ve run across just a few PCs that boot exclusively from Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, as most vendors heard enough complaints early on to allow a BIOS boot. But they’re out there, and the workaround is tricky. Windows 8 installation or repair disks will boot from UEFI, so you might want to keep one in your toolkit.

What I carry to the rescue

Currently I carry Windows Restore 32-bit and 64-bit, Slax, Ubuntu, Parted Magic, Active Boot Disk, Hiren’s, and R-Drive Image, so I’m covered in nearly all situations. But when disaster strikes, the first out of the bag are Parted Magic for partitioning, Active Boot Disk for passwords, R-Drive Image for backup and recovery, and Ubuntu for file operations.

I break out the others when my top choices don’t work or prove to be incompatible with a particular PC or operating system. For the same reasons, I have .iso files for all the other utilities on an external USB 3.0 drive. I also carry a spare flash drive, a USB optical drive, and a DVD-RW disc, so I can create whichever one I might need in a pinch.

Worth their weight in gold when a PC’s hard times arrive, boot drives will help you explore, recover, and repair hard-disk contents. Now that you know how to make the ones you need, you’ll be ready for PC emergencies.

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10 Best Mini Pcs Of 2023: Most Popular On The Market

10 Best Mini PCs of 2023: Most Popular on the Market

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Mini-PCs are an excellent choice for those that want to blend te processing power of a PC with the compact nature of a laptop.

This list will showcase the best mini-PCs that are currently on the market, based on a performance/price ratio.

To read more about these amazing devices, check out our Mini-PC Hub.

We have plenty of other lists like the one below in our Computers section, so head over there.

Mini-PCs are small, capable devices that can deliver enough computing power for on-the-go jobs.

Most users do not need the latest i7 processor teamed-up with 16 GB of RAM, they only need a computer capable of performing basic to medium tasks.

Compared to regular desktop PCs, mini-PCs are cheaper, they run on less power, have eye-catching design, and don’t take as much space on your desk.

Mini-PCs can also be customized for specific performance.

The main downside is represented by the task limitation they impose, with very few exceptions. You cannot use a mini-PC to edit videos of photos because the results will not be satisfying.

Also, don’t buy a mini-PC to use it to play games, it simply does not have the computing and the graphics power to run games smoothly.

If you do want a small, portable gaming device, check out this mini-tower gaming PC from MSI.

Very thin caseu003cbru003ePowerful specificationsu003cbru003eEasy accessibility to output portsu003cbru003eGreat for business apps and more

Slightly higher price than other mini PC

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This is definitely not your standard definition of a mini-PC. It is small but is very powerful.

Powered by an Intel Quad-Core i5-6500T (up to 3.1GHz) processor with 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, HP EliteDesk 800 is a perfect business mini-PC but it can also tackle more demanding apps.

It doesn’t have a discrete graphics card but it compensates with high storage from a 512 GB SSD.

Supports two drives (mSATA)

2 USB 3.0 ports available

WiFi/Bluetooth combo card included

265 GB SSD included

Can be considered a bit thick

Check price

This device is powered by an Intel Core i5-5257U Processor (up to 3.1 GHz). You can also rely on 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD for storage. And if that’s not enough, you can easily extend it with another 2.5 inch HDD or SSD.  

For fast data transfer capabilities, it supports dual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. It doesn’t have a discrete graphics card but the Intel Graphics 6100 does a pretty good job with most casual purposes.

Beelink 157 has average dimensions for a mini-PC (8.54 x 5.35 x 2.44 inches) and it weighs only 1.81 pounds / 821 g. 

Competitive price

Interesting design

Good heat dissipation and excellent cooling fan

Can be used as DVR

Slightly bigger than most mini PCs

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Chuwi CoreBox looks like a fancy desktop PC that was shrunk by some kind of spell. Even so, its dimensions (6.81 x 6.22 x 2.87 inches) can be considered a little too big for a mini PC. 

This pretend-desktop PC is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of DDR3 RAM. Its included 256GB SSD can be expanded with a 2TB 2.5 Inch HDD.

As for the connections, you’ve got a 2.4GHz/5GHz dual WiFi/Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 4.2.

Very competitive price

Powerful specifications

Easy accessibilty to output ports

Can be used as DVR

Slightly higher price than other mini PC

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Thinkcenter M700 is one of the few mini-PCs equipped with 6th Gen Intel processors for blazing-fast responsiveness.

Unlike other devices, it has been tested to military specifications against high temperatures, vibrations and shocks.

This mini-PC will be just fine even if your three-year old drops it to the ground. Lenovo’s dust shield reduces dust intake by nearly 40%.

M700 is packed with plenty of ports: 6 USB 3.0 ports, DP + DP, LAN, audio ports, and an optional VGA, HDMI. With all these features, you may be wondering how big it is: 1.36″ x 7.20″ x 7.05″ / 34.5 x 182.9 x 179 cm, weighing only 1.3 lbs /0.6 kg.

Ultra-compact and light

2 HDMI ports

Perfect for both office and home

4K video output

Small price

Not fanless

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This mini-PC is indeed a monster. It is powered by a Quad-Core Intel Celeron J3455 processor (up to 2.3 GHz) with 6 GB of RAM.  

This tiny box supports 4K resolution output from 2 HDMI ports, has a 120 GB SSD, and supports Gigabit Ethernet and dual-band Wi-Fi. 

The Guzila Mini PC has average dimensions measuring 8.86 x 6.06 x 2.68 inches and it weighs only 1.72 pounds (780 g) which makes this mini-PC extremely portable. 

USB 3.0 charging port

Crystal clear images

Core i5 processor

Easy to build into

Not recommendable for gaming

Check price

This mini-PC comes with audacious specs for its size.  It is powered by an Intel 1.6 Ghz dual-core i5-5250U processor with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 which gives you extra GHz on demand and packs 16 GB of RAM – sold separately.

Images are stunningly clear thanks to its HD Graphics 6000 card. It weighs only 2.2 lbs/1 kilo. The high-speed USB 3.0 charging port allows you to connect and charge your tablet or smartphone.

Perfect for Home Theatre or office use

Crystal clear images

Micros SD card slot

Small price

Not recommendable for gaming

Check price

Expert tip:

However, with its Intel Celeron N3450 processor and 8GB of RAM it can also go on any desk for office jobs. It connects seamlessly to any wireless or wired network with its dual-band Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet port.

You can also connect lots of peripherals using the 4 USB ports but also the Bluetooth 4.2 connection.

If we were to choose three words to describe this mini-PC, they would be: small, inexpensive, fast.

The device is powered by an Intel x5-Z8350 processor, and it has 2GB of RAM and only 32 GB. The storage can be upgraded with a Micro SD card up to 128GB, a USB stick, or a USB external drive.

It’s not the highest configuration in this top but still, this small gadget can throw a 4K image through its HDMI connector. The 3 USB 3.0 ports are also ready to connect your peripherals. 

Azulle Access3 Mini PC Stick Fanless Windows 10 Pro 4GB RAM + 64GB eMMC Apollo Lake N3450

If you’re looking for an extra small and fanless mini PC, look no further than Azulle Access3. It’s actually a PC stick and connecting it to the HDMI port of any screen will transform it into a Windows 10 ready PC.

This small gadget is powered by a quad-core Intel Apollo Lake N34 Series processor that combined with 4 GB of RAM (up to 64 GB!) can get you a great computer in seconds.

Kaby Lake-G Core i7, Radeon RX Vega Graphics (8GB RAM + 256GB SSD, No OS)

The only reason we left this awesome mini PC is because it’s pretty expensive and big for a mini PC. This little monster comes with an Intel Core i7-8705G processor and Radeon RX Vega Graphics. 

As for the memory and storage, the mini PC is pretty flexible. You can settle for 8GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD or you can go up to 32 GB of RAM an a 2 TB SSD.

This rig doesn’t come with a Windows 10 OS but you can install it and it will run just great. The mini PC’s weight is no less than 7 pounds (3.1 kg).

This mini PC was designed by HP, especially for CAD users so they packed the performance of a business-class desktop PC in a size that’s 90% smaller. To be more precise, it has an Intel Core i5 8th generation processor (i5-8500) that is helped by 8 GB of RAM (up to 32 GB).

For storage, the HP mini PC has prepared a 265 GB but the nice surprise comes from the dedicated NVIDIA Quadro P600 graphics. It’s not gaming-grade, but it can do charms for CAD.

Other great additions are the Intel Wireless-AC 9560 (2×2) Gigabit Wi-Fi and the Bluetooth 5 connectivities.

This mini-PC was announced at IFA 2024 and has a 14 x 14cm/ 5.1 x 5.1 inch footprint and 5cm/ 2 inches in height.

Revo Base Mini has a flexible configuration, and can also be powered by Intel Core i7 processors, becoming a genuine powerhouse.

If you need a powerful PC for home entertainment, this is the right choice for you.

The Intel HD graphics on board deliver crystal-clear images for the best movie experience in the comfort of your home.

Windows 10 is pre-installed on the Revo Base Mini, and the 2TB HDD offers you enough storage capacity for you to download as many movies as you wish. A 256GB SSD version is also available.

In terms of connectivity, this mini-PC has a display port, an HDMI port that can support two screens at once, four USB 3.1 ports, and a LAN cable.

While all these mini-PCs that we mentioned above are indeed the best, at least in our opinion, there are many others that are being released.

Have you already tested out one of these mini-PCs? Do share with us your experience.

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Indian Enterprises Accelerate Their Pace To Become Future Ready With ‘Rise With Sap

With the aim to drive holistic transformation with stronger resilience, agility and efficiency

India – June 22, 2023: As Indian enterprises march towards becoming future-ready, they choose SAP’s cloud ERP solution ‘RISE with SAP’ a holistic business transformation as a service offering. It’s a bundle of products, tools, and services that addresses the needs of our customers as they embark on their journey on to the CLOUD. Offered on a subscription basis, RISE with SAP extends organizations a completely new way to redesign processes for better business outcomes.

Recently, Indian enterprises who have adopted RISE with SAP in this fast-changing market conditions are  Ola Electric – a leading player in electric mobility sector, Wakefit Innovations Pvt Ltd – the leaders in innovative sleep solutions and Neogen Chemicals Ltd – one of the largest Manufacturers of Bromine Derivatives, Lithium Salts and Grignard Compounds. Additionally, those that have also joined this trend include KLT Automotive and Tubular Products Ltd – the leaders in Automotive mobility and engineering solutions and Pacific Development Corporation Ltd, one of India’s leading real-estate developers are  leveraging RISE with SAP to gain greater flexibility and scalability.

Nakul Markhedkar, Director, Vikran Engineering & Exim Pvt Ltd, shared his experience and benefits gained with the deployment of RISE with SAP: “In our endeavour to become a leader in EPC industries, it was important for us to streamline and set up our business processes in a way that helped us access all our projects anytime, anywhere. SAP’s cloud ERP solution provides us with that flexibility and enables us to seamlessly access all our business functions and data on a single platform in real-time.”

“By adopting RISE with SAP, we have taken a significant step towards our digital transformation journey. This will enable us to build a strong foundation in India’s pharmaceutical industry and support our vision of providing quality, affordable and innovative solutions in medicine and treatment.” said Venkat Srinivas, CIO, RA Chem Pharma Ltd, another early adopter of this business transformation as a service from SAP.

Indian enterprises are increasingly adopting the cloud, and RISE with SAP is at the forefront leading them to experience the tangible benefits of cloud-enabled digital transformation. SAP and its ecosystem are committed to help our customers become more resilient, more efficient, and more agile – making it possible for them to innovate easier and faster.

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About SAP

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Any statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “predict,” “should” and “will” and similar expressions as they relate to SAP are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. SAP undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. The factors that could affect SAP’s future financial results are discussed more fully in SAP’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including SAP’s most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates.

© 2023 SAP SE. All rights reserved.

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Frustrated With Reminders? Taskful Could Be The Answer To Your Woes

Not all tasks are created equal. No doubt you either have taken the trash out or you have not, but there is a vast number of daily challenges that are conquered in increments, tasks that can be taken on for an hour, then sidelined at their half way point and ultimately capped off in the afternoon. Users of Apple’s Reminders app might know the struggle to approximate a progression-based task to the binary reminder framework we are provided: ever tried to make the Reminders app nudge you every day until you have hit the treadmill five times per week, or let’s say read ten chapters of your book? For all intends and purposes, it’s cumbersome.

Taskful sets out to remedy the pain of that. It also lets the user select only certain days of the week to remind you of due tasks (e.g. weekdays) and will smartly display the items relevant to you on a specific day and, more crucially, blank out tasks set for a future date. Needless to say this can be priceless for people quickly throwing their hands up when faced with a dauntingly long list of tasks. To bolster the sentiment, the app also automatically breaks up longer tasks into daily chunks.

How intelligent is this thing really?

So let’s briefly talk about the mechanics of it:

On the face of it, Taskful and Apple’s Reminders app share some structural traits. That is, both offer category based sorting of items, in which each category (Urgent, Finance, Work) is represented by a color of your choosing. That’s about where the similarities come to an end however, because on Taskful, filing away a task properly is swiftly accomplished by swiping left and right to change the background color of your note during creation. At the same time, the app will analyze your task as you scribble it down and immediately glean information such as dates and numbers.

Based on its reading, smart bubbles right below the draft will interpret your input and suggest measuring sticks for your task. You can tap and confirm or manually alter them. To exemplify, use a number like ‘4’ in your task, now mark the little ‘Amount: 4’ bubble magically popping up beneath the text and as a result, the reminder needs to be tapped four times to be considered finished by Taskful. Until then, a big and rewarding progress bar will grow in 25% increments every time you come one stop closer to your goal.

Along the same lines, Taskful is also capable of acting as a quirky step tracker. On launch, the app asks permission to read and write HealthKit data, meaning the app can track your step count and remind you to get off the couch if you haven’t ticked the ‘walk 600 steps’ reminder at night.

It goes without saying that these are just two hands-on examples of how to put Taskful to good use, not so much selected at random but rather intentionally to demonstrate the app’s versatility. What’s more is that it comes with a good deal of UI customizations such as a built-in dark mode. In other words, both in scope and depth Taskful decidedly one-ups Apple’s Reminders. And above all else, it feels good to look at one unifying ‘All Tasks’ tab, something Reminders’ stacked business cards look sort of makes impossible.

Competing in the world of task managers and to-do lists is a tough gig on the App Store, yet it appears as though Taskful has found the sweet spot to prevail. It is also earning the right accolades along the way, with Apple just recently featuring the app in the ‘Apps We Love’ category in various countries including the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Taskful is available on iPhone and iPad, the latter of which just added split screen support to round the package off nicely. If you want to give the app a whirl, it is currently priced at a reasonable $1.99.

Link to App Store: Taskful ($1.99)

How To Be A Dancer (With Pictures)

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Seek guidance. Watch music videos and watch people’s moves, buy dancing lessons on a video, read dancing instructions in books and on the internet, watch YouTube tutorials, find a tutor, get tips from friends/professionals, etc. Dancing is hard, but with hard, dedicated work, you will excel in many ways.

Experiment. Stand in front of a full-length mirror, turn up the tunes, and move your body! Or you could use a rented out dance studio. Practice different moves on different parts of the body. Be sure that each move transitions nicely into the next. Also make sure you’re stretched and do not have cold muscles. Cold muscles can lead to pulling muscles.

Dance schools can range from a local youth centre to a more intense independent school. If you are planning on dancing throughout high school and college into professional dance you will want to pick a more intense school. Talk to other dancers in your area as well as the teachers of each school to pick the best one for you.

Sign up for as many dance classes as possible. Remember that it is important to have a base in ballet as well as to branch out into other classes. You do not have to take every class offered, and you can always sign up for more classes. Talk to your dance teacher and ask her to recommend classes and to evaluate your level. The more you practice, the better you will get. If you cannot afford to sign up for lessons, you can always find some nice DVDs at Target or other stores that will teach you good dance technique. However, if you plan to become a professional dancer, it is necessary to take lessons from a reputable school.

If you have the space, you may want to put a barre somewhere in your home, preferably in a room with wood floors. Even if you do not have the perfect flooring, you will be able to stretch more if you have one.

Practice. Now that you have your dancing style, lessons, and have chosen the moves that look best on your body, you need to put that knowledge into action! The best way to do this is freestyle dancing in the privacy in your bedroom, and then when you’re at an average dancing level, attend school dances to enjoy yourself!

Be healthy both mentally and physically. Dance is a very demanding sport. It is essential to eat a healthy, balanced diet and keep hydrated. If you feel that you are overdoing it, talk to your dance teacher and ask if it is possible to drop a class.

Sign up for a dancing competition. Now that you have learned and put your new skills in front of your peers, it’s time to step it up a notch! Whether you come first or last, you’ll always be a winner for putting in the time and effort to accomplish your dreams!

Balance your schedule. You can dance for up to four hours a day, but remember to schedule your time. Make sure you are able to do your homework every night. Schedule in friend time for those close to you who do not take dance classes with you. Dance can take over your life, but remember that you need to be a rounded person. If you are not planning to become a professional, and just dance for fun, it is not necessary to put as much time into dance.

Speak up! If you don’t understand a dance, ask for help, you’re not going to learn it by standing in the corner watching! Always talk to your dance teachers if you are having a problem and they will help sorts things out.

Know that it is going to be hard. Learn to distinguish between “good” and “bad” pain. Dancing isn’t an easy thing to do, but it doesn’t have to be painful all the time. It’s supposed to be fun! If it gets to the point where you’re not having fun at all, stop. It’s not worth it if you’re not enjoying yourself, or if you wish you were pursuing something else.

Never just dance the steps. Get into the song, and put feeling into it. If it’s an upbeat or happy dance, smile, make big, sharp movements, and smile! If it’s a sad or emotional dance, make each move slower and use your facial expression to guide your body. That makes every performance a lot better.

Keep your confidence. Know that you can do it for sure! Imagine yourself as a brilliant dancer!

Be passionate. The best dancers in the world are not only great dancers because they are good at dancing. They are so passionate that they decided to work hard, dedicate themselves, and go through much pain so they could be the best dancer they could be. If you know this is what you want to do, put all your heart into it.

Finally, and most importantly, never let go of your dreams. If you have always wanted to dance hip hop, but you’re the least cool person you know, go for it. For all you know, it could change your life!

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Celebrate Year Of The Rooster With The Best Chicken Science

Saturday is the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, and celebrations have already started around the globe. This year is the Year of the Chicken (or Rooster, if you will). And what better way to celebrate than with a roundup of chicken science?

Chickens are more than meals on our table. From sacrificing embryos for the early research of developmental biology, to serving as handy dinosaur stand-ins for research, chickens deserve more than just their reputation as a protein source.

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Domestic chickens, like pigeons, navigate with built-in compasses, or biological sensors that detect the magnetic field of the Earth. As researcher Wolfgang Wiltschko told LiveScience, some scientists believe that chickens’ magnetic sensors probably lie somewhere in their eyes, because chickens seem to need short wavelengths (like blue light) to navigate. In Wiltschko’s experiment, their sense of direction was lost under longer wavelengths.

So next time when you meet a chicken that’s crossing the road, don’t honk at it. Be patient. It knows where to go. Probably.

Running with a steady head

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A handy substitute for a dinosaur

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Watch the gif. This might be how dinosaurs took a stroll.

Chicken are actually the last living dinosaurs, so researchers decided to stick a fake tail onto some chick butts in order to study how those ancient ancestors might have walked. As the researchers announced in the abstract of their PLOS paper: “Here we show that, by experimentally manipulating the location of the centre of mass in living birds, it is possible to recreate limb posture and kinematics inferred for extinct bipedal dinosaurs.”

Chicks raised with the fake tail indeed changed their postures, and had a more vertical femur structure as result, confirming “a shift from hip-driven to knee-driven limb movements through theropod evolution.” Not too surprisingly, this groundbreaking first-of-its-kind study won the Ignobel Prize for Biology in 2024.

Becoming “Chickenosaurus”

Make way for the Chickenosaurus. Pexels

Resurrecting dinosaurs by tweaking the chicken genome is not a new idea. Last year, Chilean researchers successfully grew a dinosaur-like bone structure in the legs of a chicken, making some solid progress towards the Chickenosaurus goal—an ambitious idea envisioned and popularized by the American paleontologist Jack Horner.

However, (as humble and cautious as scientists always are) the authors of that study told Motherboard that Chickenosaurus was not their ultimate goal. They just wanted to better understand how birds evolved from earlier dinosaurs.

Establishing the pecking order

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Chickens don’t usually peck buttons in a power plant, except in the Simpsons. But they do peck to establish a social order, a hierarchy within the flock for access to food and water. The pecking order of a flock is often set in their chick stage, but can also be slightly changed with later fights.

Thorleif Shjelderup-Ebbe, a Norwegian zoologist, was the first one to coin the term pecking order from his close observations of chicken flocks. Social hierarchy has also been found in other living organisms such as insects, fish, and primates.

The ultimate form of rejection

Female chickens have an amazing birth control method—postcopulatory sexual selection. pexels

Chicken social status actually matter a lot. Hens selectively reject sperm from low-status roosters. If the mating male is low in rank, researchers found, the female is more likely to eject his sperm.

“It is beginning to appear females can play a much more subtle, but powerful role in the battle for fertilization,” the study author Tommaso Pizzari of Oxford University told LiveScience.

The Cosmopolitan Chicken

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The idea of breeding a Cosmopolitan Chicken—a hybrid of all types of chicken in the world—is one of the more grandiose chicken-related endeavors. Rather than using chickens for food, Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen thinks of them as a symbol of multiculturalism and diversity, which led him to start the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project (CCP) in the 1990s.

“The CCP is a mirror. Every organism needs another organism to survive,” says Vanmechelen on the CCP website. The Cosmopolitan Chicken is up to its 20th iteration now, and such hybrid chickens with diverse DNA might be healthier than purebred poultry, according to Modern Farmer.

All this human inquiry is great, but what do the chickens think? As the Year of the Chicken begins, some of us might be curious about what intelligence and emotional depth these creatures have. Here’s a starting point for that intellectual journey: Neuroscientist Lori Marino, science director of the Nonhuman Rights Project, recently penned a review article called “Think Chickens”.

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