Tech Culture, Gadgets & Games 2021

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2 TECH CULTURE, GADGETS & GAMING • FEBRUARY 2021 • A special advertising supplement to The Frederick News-Post



Tech Culture



he most significant cyber threat to small businesses and individuals is spear-phishing emails. And the most effective defense against them is awareness. As a cybersecurity expert, I feel it’s important to ensure that we are all aware of the threats, but I am often more motivated as a son. As I was video chatting with my mom, she mentioned an email from her bank about fraud on her account. Before I could say anything, she told me that the email address “looked funny,” so she deleted it and called her bank. Seeing the wide grin spreading across my face, she crinkled her nose and told me that she does sometimes pay attention when I go on and on about internet security. I’m still grinning about it.

What is spear-phishing? By its nature, phishing is a spam attack, meaning that targets are nothing more than a list of email addresses, likely purchased off the dark web. In contrast, spear-phishing is targeted at a specific individual, organization or business. These attacks are typically an attempt to steal data, initiate a transfer of money or install malware on a user’s computer. How does it work? Much like a standard phishing attack, it is delivered through email, using familiar formatting and logos. The big difference is in how it’s targeted. A spear-phishing attack is typically addressed to a specific person by name or role. This personalization can be the result of information gained from a pre-

vious phishing attack, a social engineering attack or simple research. And they look real. The email address in the “from” field is typically spoofed to look like it comes from a trusted domain, very often using simple tricks such as swapping the letter “o” for the number “0” ( With this, the use of company logos and addressing the email to a specific person, it’s easy to see how this type of attack can be effective, but the hackers take it a step further, manufacturing a sense of urgency to perform an action before the facade falls apart. Previous spear-phishing attacks revolved around sending zip files or infected PDF documents that when opened would execute malicious code on the computer, and they asked the recipient to open and review the See SPEAR, 13

By using social media to get information about people, it’s easy for hackers to craft emails to impersonate specific people, such as a manager or vendor, in order to distract their target.

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Tech Culture



Get Wi-Fi in your car



echnology advances at such a rapid pace that it can be hard for consumers to keep up. Something that didn’t exist as recently as a few years ago may already be considered obsolete, while some solutions that were on the periphery for years may suddenly become vital to how individuals and businesses operate. Cloud storage likely qualifies as something that, though it’s been available for many years, figures to become a bigger part of people’s daily lives in the coming years. That likelihood means now is a good time for consumers to familiarize themselves with what it is and how to use it. What is cloud storage? According to Amazon Web Services, cloud storage is a computing model that stores data on the internet through a cloud computing provider that manages and operates data storage as a service. Files stored on cloud storage services can be accessed on demand, and access is available anytime, anywhere.

How does cloud storage work? Third-party cloud vendors sell and manage storage capacity. The relationship between cloud storage customer and vendor is not all that dissimilar to the customer-proprietor relationship when you rent a physical storage unit to house items you don’t want in your home. In return for a fee, cloud storage vendors manage data storage infrastructure, including security and durability. But unlike with physical storage units, cloud storage customers won’t have to drive to the outskirts of town to access their data like they might if they want to bring that old couch back to their rec room. Rather, cloud storage enables convenient, instant access to data. All users need to do is log in. How does cloud storage benefit businesses? While it’s convenient for individuals, its most substantial impact will likely be seen in the business sector. According to AWS, businesses that

choose to store their data in the cloud won’t have to purchase any hardware and they’ll be able to add or remove storage capacity on demand. Is cloud storage secure? According to, a website designed by the B2B marketing services vendor TechTarget, cloud storage security has concerned users since its inception. However, as its technology has advanced, so, too, have its security capabilities. For example, AWS noted that all cloud storage data is ideally encrypted, both at rest and in storage. Permissions and access controls should work just as well in the cloud as they do for on-premises storage. More and more individuals and businesses are utilizing cloud storage to house their data. Understanding the technology and how it can benefit users can help allay any concerns they have about storing files in the cloud. –Metro

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Wi-Fi-enabled vehicles are becoming hot commodities. There are various ways to access the internet in a car. Drivers can buy an add-on device, and even mobile gadgets that aren’t specifically designed for vehicle applications can be easily connected. The devices plug into the 12-volt accessory outlet. OBD II devices connect to a car’s OBD II port, which is usually located below the steering wheel. Mechanics use this port to run digital vehicle diagnostics. However, it also can be used to create a Wi-Fi hot spot with an OBD device. Another option is to use a smartphone to create a mobile hot spot through a cellular data plan. Anyone in the car can then tether their phone or other device to the smartphone to access the internet. Many vehicles are now equipped with their own Wi-Fi capabilities. This means you won’t need an extra device to access the internet, but you’ll probably need to sign up for an additional data plan through the service the car manufacturer uses to offer Wi-Fi capability, or through your mobile phone carrier. said Wi-Fi plans for vehicles start as low as $10 per month and may include unlimited data. Wi-Fi has advantages over a mobile hot spot because it is likely to offer a better connection and more security, while also preserving mobile data and phone battery life. Cars not equipped with Wi-Fi can have a wireless vehicle router professionally installed. These routers range from $200 to $600. Dedicated vehicle internet can help save on mobile phone data plans and battery life. Plus, a vehicle’s Wi-Fi system is a good backup when home internet goes down. –Metro

Tech Culture

What You Need to Know about



echnology advances at such a breakneck pace that it can sometimes be hard to keep up. One technological advancement that has been a topic of discussion and anticipation for many years is 5G. What is 5G? The wireless technology experts at Qualcomm noted that 5G is the term used to refer to the fifth-generation mobile network. The excitement surrounding 5G stems from promises that this network will be able to


handle more connected devices than any previous network, giving it the potential to change the way people live and work. Why is the arrival of 5G so highly anticipated? The anticipation surrounding 5G wireless technology is related to its potential. reported that bigger channels, which speed up the transmission of data; lower latency, which is associated with vastly superior, more responsive user experiences;

and greater network capacity are three calling cards of 5G networks. Faster downloads, near-instant access to multiplayer cloud gaming and more uniform user experiences are among the ways that Qualcomm expects fully realized 5G networks to benefit users. Isn’t 5G already here? The answer to this question is both yes and no. While wireless carriers have already rolled out their 5G networks, the user experience on those networks is not yet all that different

from 4G networks. That’s because existing 5G networks currently have very little coverage. In the past, it has taken years before users benefited fully from transitions from one network to another, and the transition from 4G to 5G figures to follow that same trajectory. However, according to estimates from the GSM Association, an industry organization that represents the interests of mobile network operators across the globe, by 2025 about half of all mobile connections will be 5G. –Metro



peedy, reliable internet is something we count on, especially during the pandemic with so many of us working from home and kids remote learning. Various factors can contribute to slow or interrupted Wi-Fi. As a result, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to address underperforming Wi-Fi. But that’s good news, as it means there’s an assortment of strategies that consumers can try to improve the Wi-Fi in their homes. Upgrade your router. Many people rent their routers from their internet service providers, but it may surprise some to learn that they can

buy their own. Buying your own router can be beneficial for various reasons, not the least of which is it can save money. Router rental fees vary, but they typically cost between $10 and $15 per month. Consumers will save money in the long run by buying their own router rather than renting from their ISP, and they can also choose from a host of options, including routers with strong performance ratings that may contribute to better Wi-Fi performance at home. Set up automatic firmware updates. It’s easy to forget a router after it’s been plugged in and internet service starts working. See WI-FI, 15


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Tech Gadgets





echnology has become such a part of the fabric of daily life that it’s easy for anyone to take their favorite gadgets and gizmos for granted. Usually, it’s only when power outages strike or batteries run down that people stop and realize just how vital a role technology plays in their daily lives. Whether it’s system updates on a smartphone or the latest incarnation of a popular tablet, technology is always evolving, and as such, there’s likely a simple tech solution out there to help anyone make daily life a little easier.


Wi-Fi extender: The pandemic forced many people to spend more time at home than ever before. While keeping their social distance, people may have noticed a few spots in their home where it’s hard to get a strong and/or consistent Wi-Fi signal. A Wi-Fi extender is a simple, easily installed and inexpensive way to remedy spotty Wi-Fi. It connects with your router and amplifies the signal to help reach rooms that were weak or dead spots.

Auto shut-off wall outlets can act as something of a safety net.


Auto shut-off wall outlet: Parents working from home as their kids engage in remote learning during the pandemic know that daily distractions abound. Auto shut-off wall outlets can act as something of a safety net, turning off devices like curling irons and panini grills that distracted parents mistakenly left plugged in.






Portable phone charger: Portable phone chargers can ensure that smartphones don’t run out of juice. Battery life diminishes as a phone ages. As people rely on modern smartphones to message friends and family, respond to work emails, stream their favorite songs and movies, and perform a host of other functions, all in a given day, it’s important to be able to keep them charged, especially in

case of emergency. Portable chargers are compact and lightweight, and solar-powered varieties can be especially useful when spending a full day in the great outdoors.


USB port hub: A USB port hub can help professionals who suddenly found themselves working full-time from home using a laptop. Laptops may or may not come with enough USB ports, but a port hub can help professionals adapt to working from home without having

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to change their computers. Such a hub, which may include as many as 10 ports, can ensure wireless accessories like a mouse or keyboard remain charged even when using laptops with an insufficient number of ports. —Metro






Tech Gadgets


PUBLIC SPECTACLE Eye Care for the Whole Family

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rones continue to attract hobbyists across the world. In mid2017, 8 percent of Americans said they owned a drone, and nearly 60 percent had seen one in action, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The Federal Aviation Administration predicted sales of drones would reach seven million units by 2020. Businesses also rely on drones in various applications. Camera-equipped aerial devices can provide bird’s-eye views of real estate for sale or college campuses for promotional purposes, as well as topography assessments prior to construction. When the FAA opened a new drone registration system on Dec. 21, 2015, more than 181,000 drones were registered within a month. The database continues to grow and help prevent potentially dangerous incidents, such as drones flying in restricted airspace. Flying drones where they shouldn’t be is just one potential pitfall of drone use. Consider these tips for safe operation. Upon receiving a drone, register it with the FAA through as an unmanned aircraft if it weighs more than .55 grams and less than 55 pounds. Registration costs $5. Visit and click the Licenses & Certificates tag in the center of the top navigation bar. Read the drone manual first before operating the device. Doing so


will help you become familiar with its specific features. Master the controls by taking the drone out in a wide open and safe space, or use flight simulators if the drone comes equipped with them. Drone usage requires practice, and expertise comes with repetition and mastery of each button and function. Familiarize yourself with restricted areas. Any national or state park is off limits to drone use, according to the National Park Service. This also applies to the many seashores and other sites run by the NPS. The regulations evolve, so it pays to stay up-to-date regarding where drones can be used. Know drone laws where you live, as many states and cities have drone regulations in place, such as how late in the day you can fly. Focus on the drone and try to avoid disruptions. Having too many people around while you’re operating the drone may be distracting, causing you to make errors, so avoid flying one near crowds. Keep the drone in sight. Avoid windy days, as they are among the most difficult conditions in which to fly. Accidents will happen as you get to know the drone. Keep spare parts on hand to make repairs as necessary. —Metro

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HOW POPULAR IS GAMING? VERY. Many adults who are between the ages of 20 and 60 grew up playing video games, but few may have anticipated just how big gaming would become by the time they reached adulthood. The popularity of gaming has only grown since today’s 40-somethings were children, and that popularity is reflected in these eyepopping stats.


2.7 billion That’s the number of gamers across the globe as of 2019, according to data from the games market insights and analytics experts at Newzoo. To put that in perspective, data from the U.S. Census Bureau around the end of 2020 indicated that the global population at that time was right around 7.7 billion. That means roughly 35 percent of the global population qualifies as gamers. GETTY


say that gaming is popular would be a significant understatement. According to WePC, a firm that specializes in helping gamers build the best gaming rigs for their budgets, as of 2019, there were more than 2.7 billion gamers across the globe. If that number raises an eyebrow, it should, as data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the world population was right around 7.7 billion at the end of 2020. That means roughly 35 percent of the world’s population are gamers. Gamers come from all walks of life, but one thing many have in common is the desire to make their gaming environments as enjoyable as possible. Various items can help accomplish that. Chair: In its “State of Online Gaming 2020” report, Limelight Networks found that gamers spend an average of six hours and 20 minutes weekly playing. That amount of time requires a comfortable chair. Many modern gaming chairs, which resemble office chairs, combine comfort with functionality. For example, some chairs may come with lumbar or full-body support and also include Bluetooth capability and built-in speakers. Backlighting: Television backlights are strips that can be easily affixed to the back of a gamer’s television to help reduce eyestrain without adversely affecting the gaming experience. Many backlights

come with an array of color options that can make gamers’ setups more impressive to look at, even if they’re more focused on the look of their favorite games than on their immediate surroundings. Extra monitors: Extra monitors can help gamers take their gaming to the next level. When configuring monitors, make sure they’re on sturdy surfaces and elevated slightly above eye level, which should reduce the risk of neck strain. Gaming lapboard: Many PC gamers play their favorite games while sitting at desks, and a gaming lapboard will let them periodically venture away from that spot while gaming. A gaming lapboard sits right on a gamer’s lap, serving as something of a portable desk for those who would rather play while sitting on a favorite armchair or couch. Gaming backpack: Gamers on the go can benefit from a gaming backpack designed to protect their gear as they travel. These backpacks may feature soft inner linings designed to hold and protect laptops. Extra compartments also provide places to store accessories like keyboards, headphones and portable speakers. Gaming is incredibly popular across the globe. Gamers can enhance their experience with various accessories designed to make gaming more comfortable and immersive. —Metro

$159 billion The amount Newzoo estimated gamers would spend on gaming in 2020

48 percent That’s the video gaming market share of the Asia-Pacific region. The second highest market share belongs to North America, which accounts for 19 percent of global video game industry revenue.

12.3 percent This figure represents the year-on-year market share growth rate in Western Europe from 2018 to 2019. That’s the highest such growth rate of any region in the world during that span.

646 million The estimated number of esports viewers by 2023, according to data from Statista. Esports is generally defined as competitions featuring gamers playing against one another. Statista noted that as recently as 2017 esports viewership totaled 335 million. That means the popularity of esports is likely to double in terms of viewership in the six-year period between 2017 and 2023.

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ideo game ratings suggest age appropriateness so consumers can be confident that the games they purchase are suitable for the person who’ll be playing. These ratings are developed by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, and can be especially valuable to consumers purchasing games for children and adolescents. E: This rating means the content of the game is generally suitable for gamers of all ages. Games rated “E” may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language. E10+: An E10+ rating means the game is generally suitable for everyone ages 10 and up. Games that earn an E10+ rating may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and mild language than games rated E. Games that fall into this category also may contain minimal suggestive themes. T: Games rated T are generally suitable for players age 13 and up. These games may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or use of strong language.

M: An M rating stands for “Mature 17+.” It indicates that the content is generally suitable for gamers ages 17 and up. These games may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language. AO: This rating signifies that a game is suitable only for adults ages 18 and up. The ESRB noted that games in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content and/or gambling with real currency. RP: An RP rating means the ESRB has yet to assign a final rating to the game. An RP rating will not appear on games in a store, only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a physical video game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating. Consumers concerned about the age-appropriateness of games with RP ratings can wait until the ESRB assigns a rating before purchasing the game. Recognizing the meanings behind video game ratings is a great way for consumers to ensure young gamers do not play games deemed inappropriate for their age. –Metro

DECIPHER ACRONYMS ON GAME PACKAGES Gaming packages contain a wealth of information, including various acronyms that may confound consumers who are buying them for loved ones but are not gamers themselves. The following rundown can help consumers understand the contents of a game prior to purchasing it. 3PS/TPS/OTS: This acronym stands for third-

person shooter/over-the-shoulder games.

FPS: This indicates a game is a first-person shooter


CCG: This means a game is considered a collectible card game. MMO: This stands for massively multiplayer online.

This designation means a game is intended for many players who play the game online together.

MOBA: This acronym stands for multiplayer online battle arena and is essentially a subcategory of MMO. These games are team games in which each player controls a single character. RTS: This indicates a game is a real-time strategy game in which all players play simultaneously in real time. RPG: This acronym is used to identify role-playing

games in which players control the actions of a character in richly designed worlds unique to the game. SIM: This acronym designates a game as a simulation. Flight simulations are popular examples of SIM games. –Metro

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more productive at work? ~ IBM, Walmart and others think so. ~ By Gregory Leporati


mazon launches a desperate Zerg rush on Facebook. Microsoft crushes Capital One with a welltimed D.Va self-destruct. Just a typical day in the Corporate Esports Association, an organization that bills itself as a modern take on the traditional company softball league. But for the employees participating in these matches, esports are more than just fun and games, they’re a form of professional development. “Imagine playing League of Legends, Valorant or Overwatch with your co-workers,” said Brad Tenenholtz, co-founder of the CEA. All three games he lists are team based, requiring strategic coordination to achieve a common

goal. “You’d better be communicating really well with those colleagues, or you’ll be left in the dust.” The CEA hosts season-long esports tournaments that pit employees from one company against another’s in what Tenenholtz described as a unique form of corporate team building. Instead of trust falls and personality tests, colleagues bond while playing popular games like League of Legends, Rocket League and Overwatch. And with many Americans working from home as a result of COVID-19, the CEA is enjoying its most successful season yet, with participants from more than 150 companies, including Walmart, IBM, General Motors and Amazon. But how exactly do esports impact office productivity and collabo-

ration? According to a host of gamers working at some of the country’s largest companies, the benefits are surprisingly numerous. For Michael Flores, a client technical leader at IBM who organized the company’s internal gaming community, esports’ primary professional impact is simple: It shapes how employees view themselves within the context of a team. “If a League of Legends game doesn’t go so well, you might be quick to think about everything your teammates did wrong versus what you could have done better,” Flores explained. “For many of my colleagues, they start to realize over time: ‘How can I empower others instead of just think about myself?’ They start to appreciate each other’s individual skills and think of how to maximize that.”

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IBM now has more than 500 members in its esports community, with some competing in CEA and others playing more informally. For junior IBM employees like software engineer Alek Mieczkowski, who began working at the company shortly before the pandemic, IBM esports have been particularly helpful for networking and cross-team collaboration. “Especially during COVID, the connections I’ve made have been really important,” Mieczkowski said. Although he is working at home from North Carolina, he forged a close friendship with a colleague based in Ontario, Canada, through IBM’s Valorant team. “Now we talk almost every day,” he said, “and this never would have happened without our gaming community.” See PRODUCTIVE, 14

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orking from home. Some people love it. Some people hate it. But most of us have a love-hate relationship with it. On the one hand, you can roll out of bed and start your day. You can focus on your actual job without the distractions of your boss peering over your shoulder, that new employee’s constant questions, or Joe in accounting’s yacht rock playlist. No hard feelings, Joe; I myself have the emergency Hall & Oates helpline on speed dial. (Call 719-26-OATES. You won’t regret it). As an employer, you’ll want to make sure these employees have the same tools, support and resources to be as productive and efficient as they were in the office. Ask yourself these questions. While working from home, how does my team: • Collaborate? • Make and receive calls or get voicemails? • View items on their computer? • Print and copy documents? Establish a standard workfrom-home office package. These are examples of equipment a standard office worker might need to effectively work remotely: • Laptop with webcam and VPN capabilities • Two monitors with double monitor stand • PC dock • Wireless keyboard and mouse • Power strip surge protector • Wireless headset or noise-canceling earbuds • Desktop laser printer for specific employees as needed. Additional features like color printing and scanning can vary per employee. • Desktop phone handset, or software phone client used with a headset


Multiple displays Do your team members have more than one computer monitor at their desk in the office? You didn’t invest in multiple displays for each desk in the office for no reason. You did it because that’s what your team members need to do their jobs. Not to mention, without the multiple monitors your team had in the office, they’re likely to print more than usual so they can reference hard copies of the data they would typically display on an additional monitor. If you didn’t invest in multiple monitors in your office, think back to how often you’d see someone referencing a printed document on their desk. Did they really need to print that document?

Or, did they print it because they ran out of screen space? If it’s the latter, here’s your chance to save on printing costs all around. Printing and Copying While we’re talking about printing—are employees coming into the office for no other reason than to print or copy? There are ways to save them travel time to the office for short printing trips and minimize the risk of people using a high-touch in-office device like a printer or copier during a pandemic. On the other hand, if employees are printing at home, are they submitting expense reports for home inkjet printing costs? Managers may over-

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look these seemingly minor expenses when they see a single $30 expense. But when you add up everyone’s $30, you’re likely paying much more for decentralized at-home printing than you did in the office. That doesn’t mean your remote employees shouldn’t print. And you absolutely should reimburse them for out-of-pocket expenses. But you must understand what they’re printing and why. If they’re printing documents to reference because they don’t have room on their screen, it’s likely much more cost-effective to buy them another display—or three. If they’re printing at high volume and need access to those documents immediately—like See REMOTE, 14

SPEAR, con’t. from 3 documents immediately. Newer ones seek to get infected code into file sharing sites such as Google Drive, where their influence and reach can be dramatically enhanced, but that isn’t the only type of attack. These emails may also include requests for sensitive information, instructions to purchase gift cards or links to make purchases at fake websites. By using social media to get information about people, it’s easy for hackers to craft these to impersonate specific people, such as a manager or vendor, in order to distract their target. It is personal The vast majority of spear-phishing attacks begin as hacks and successful phishing attacks. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, your information has value on the dark web. Where a stolen email address will typically get you spammed with phishing attacks, your name, address, phone number, job title, and other such biographical data will make you a target for spear-phishing attacks. Using this stolen information, hackers will begin to delve into your life.


They can use social media sites such as LinkedIn to discover information about you and your contacts and delve further into platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to add personal details to the emails. We tend to share a great deal of ourselves online, sometimes too much, and when our stolen information gets us unwanted attention, it makes it easy for hackers to make it personal. Although businesses are their primary targets, hackers are opportunistic, not only in their attacks, but also in selling that information to other hackers who will take advantage of it. If there is a chance for them to make money off of you and your information, they’re going to take it.

Thwarting these attacks While there are some technical things that can be done to prevent these types of attacks, such as installing antivirus software and using spam filters, it is the human controls that are most effective. Security awareness and training, combined with an established process for reporting suspicious emails, is by far the best defense against spear-phishing. Identifying these types of attacks typically comes down to the details. • Look at that domain name. Is it correct? • Think about the request or instructions. Is it something you do often? • Check the legitimacy of that ur-

gent message, especially if it’s an odd request. • Trust your instincts, especially if you’re wondering why you received that email. Those who have been targeted before or want to take precautions without spending money can tag emails. Tagging is the act of adding a company word to a subject line or including a specific phrase in the top line of the email. This won’t stop a spear-phishing attack, but if the word or phrase is missing, that can be a warning that something about the email is not right. Beyond this, putting into place processes for confirming requests over the phone or by text message can mitigate the effects of this type of attack. Hackers rely on deception to make these attacks work. By educating ourselves to be aware of the tricks they use, we help to make everyone safe from these criminals. – Chuck Sperati is director of Compliance, Media, & Special Projects at Clark Computer Services in Frederick. 301-456-6931

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PRODUCTIVE, con’t. from 10 Joshua Rowell, a product manager at Walmart and one of the company’s esports leaders, said that competitive gaming can be a powerful tool to enhance workplace communications. “I’ve seen people spend more than 30 minutes drafting a simple work email,” Rowell said. “But when you’re in the middle of playing Overwatch or League of Legends, you don’t have time to sit back and think, ‘Hmm, am I being too flowery with this message?’ So esports actually teaches you to be respectful while still being concise.” Rowell established Walmart’s internal esports presence about five years ago, and it has grown to include more than 700 employees spread across corporate headquarters and distribution center warehouses. Outside of personal communications, Rowell noted that esports also serves as a useful way to identify potential managers and discover leadership qualities lurking in employees who don’t necessarily see that potential in themselves. In fact, Rowell has recommended some employees for promotion based partly on the skills

they’ve exhibited as esports captains. “These individuals were great at directing people in a game, but they never thought to apply those same principles to their jobs,” he said. “We were able to reach out and show them how they can carry those skills over to their day-to-day.” With corporate esports on the rise, and companies recognizing the value it could add for team building purposes, the question remains: Can it sustain its momentum once the pandemic is over? According to some longtime career coaches and consultants, workplace esports certainly have the potential to flourish, but could face some serious obstacles. “I don’t see esports or other digital forms of team building ever going away,” said Edward Sullivan, the CEO of Velocity Group, an executive coaching firm that works with clients from companies like Salesforce, Google and Slack. “But I do think that more discerning executives might continue to prefer richer forms of interaction.” In particular, Sullivan predicts that a heavy shift toward off-line team


building could be in store once offices begin returning to normal. “There’s something about when you’re standing, walking around, using your hands and moving,” he said. “A different kind of energy fills your body, and this is an energy that’s been draining out of us for 10 months as we sit at our kitchen tables working on Zoom.” For Denise Rousseau, a professor of organizational behavior at Carnegie Mellon University and a longtime

REMOTE, con’t. from 12 someone who prints batches of invoices—leasing a desktop laser printer could be significantly more cost and time effective. The average home inkjet printer costs around $150 but can cost up to 20 cents per page (even up to $1 per page for color) and prints around 18 pages per minute. That means it costs your accounting assistant $20 (maybe up to $100 if your invoices are color) and six minutes to print 100 invoices. Alternatively, a small, commercial-grade laser printer costs around $500 but prints 33 pages per minute and costs as little as 2 cents per page. Suddenly, those 100 invoices cost about $2 and take only three minutes to print. Basically, with a small upfront investment, you can cut at-home printing costs down to a fraction of what it costs employees to use their home printers (assuming they even have one). The last category of employees are those who need to print but don’t need immediate access to the printed

A small, commercial-grade laser printer costs around $500 but prints 33 pages per minute and costs as little as 2 cents per page. GETTY

documents; think about a salesperson needing to print in preparation for a client meeting or presentation. You can likely add a mobile printing application to your large office multifunction copier, giving those employees touch-free printing capabilities. Through many available technologies, employees can send documents to the cloud and then release them to print

from an app on their phone when they arrive at the office. This eliminates contact with high-touch surfaces, and lets employees pick up batches of documents from the office as needed. Remote Phones There’s no reason your team members can’t field calls from anywhere, just as they do in the office with

14 TECH CULTURE, GADGETS & GAMING • FEBRUARY 2021 • A special advertising supplement to The Frederick News-Post

management consultant, the question is not so much whether esports will be used for team building, but whether it will be used correctly. “Right now, companies are using this to promote team cohesion, which is a superficial but not unimportant goal,” she explained. “There is very clear research, though, that states it’s not so much the exercise itself, but the reflection afterward that creates real learning.” –The Washington Post

today’s phone technologies. IP and cloud-based phone systems allow employees to take their desk handsets home, take calls through their computer with a headset or use their cellphone to accept and receive calls at their office extension. When your employees are not in the office, do they need to call a number to get their voicemail? Many modern phone systems allow voicemail messages to send directly to email as an attachment. Are employees unable to answer the phone outside of the office? Do they have to get a voicemail and return the call? If your team’s been doing that since last March, think of how much time they’re wasting playing phone tag. You can configure most modern phone systems for voicemail to email, remote call-in and forwarding to cell phones. Plus, cloud-hosted phone systems work directly from any internet-connected device. –From Innovative Incorporated 13332 Pennsylvania Ave., Hagerstown, MD, 21742

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WI-FI, con’t. from 5 However, manufacturers routinely issue firmware updates to improve router performance. Turning on automatic updates may improve Wi-Fi performance and provide additional benefits, including security updates. Relocate the router. noted that the location of the router can affect Wi-Fi performance. If possible, locate it in the center of the home so it can easily reach all parts of the house. Locating wireless routers away from walls and other obstructions also may improve performance. Switch frequencies. Switching

frequencies can help wireless consumers whose service might be adversely affected by congestion. Consumer Reports noted that wireless congestion can affect Wi-Fi performance in apartment buildings and densely populated neighborhoods. Check to see if your router is running on the 2.4 GHz frequency band. If so, switching it to the 5 GHz band, which has more channels and is likely to be less congested, may improve performance. Slow and/or interrupted Wi-Fi signals can be very frustrating. Thankfully, various strategies can help consumers quickly remedy such issues. –Metro

In partnership with the State of Maryland, techfrederick – A consortium of local IT business leadership – is offering access to training, in order to upgrade occupational skills and increase employability within the IT industry!

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INTERESTED IN DO IT YOURSELF ELECTRONICS? HobbyTown has components, tools, and computers for your next project as well as STEM and STEAM kits for the younger people in your family.

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A special advertising supplement to The Frederick News-Post • FEBRUARY 2021 • TECH CULTURE, GADGETS & GAMING 15

16 TECH CULTURE, GADGETS & GAMING • FEBRUARY 2021 • A special advertising supplement to The Frederick News-Post