Trending February 2024 # 8 Job Blogs All Graduates Should Be Following # Suggested March 2024 # Top 4 Popular

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With this in mind, here are eight of the best job blogs that all recent graduates should be following.

Graduate Coach

This is a great all-encompassing blog that features articles pertaining to every aspect of post-graduation life and entering the job hunt space. You can really do your homework to make yourself as attractive as possible to some of the best executive recruitment agencies in the country.

Education Hub

Another website that caters to both pre-graduate and postgraduate individuals, presenting lots of different articles and resources that aim to guide people into postgraduate life and the subsequent job market.

Office For Students

This site is particularly good at creating articles that have a special focus on helping students to adapt to post-graduate life, providing tips that will help individuals to get on their chosen career path as early as possible for the best head start versus their peers.

HEPI

Graduate Outcomes

This site offers a lot of data that has been collected from previous graduates to help new graduates see exactly what kind of trajectory they might be on based on their qualifications and goals. It is really helpful to have access to real data that has been collected and collated into helpful predictions etc.

Digital Marketing Institute

On this site, you will find a lot of information and help for making yourself as attractive as possible to prospective employers in the business world. In this modern age of online job hunting, it is vital that you present your best self at all times.

Also read:

Best Online Courses to get highest paid in 2023

Prospects

LinkedIn

Though not strictly a blog site, LinkedIn is the central hub of all modern graduate job hunting these days, and having a strong presence and profile on the site is the best thing you can do to make sure you are seen.

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You’ll Never Be #1, Nor Should You Try To Be…

Transcript:

As a culture, especially in America, we like to rank things. There’s top 10 lists of all sorts, competitions to determine who’s the best in a given category and even outside of these so-called competitions, people and companies claim to be “the best” or “number one.” Here’s a question for you? How can there be millions of “the world’s best pizza” pizzarias? There can’t. Deep down, I think we all understand that it’s a marketing ploy by all those restaurants. But then, how do you know if someone is number one? More importantly, does it even matter? I say not. Stay with me to find out why.

First off, I want you to know that many of the concepts I’m sharing here are from a thinker I admire more and more every day, and that’s Simon Sinek. He recently came out with a book called The Infinite Game, which I encourage you to check out. I got introduced to his thinking about 10 months ago via a podcast and his words shifted my thinking dramatically. And I hope you’ll have the same epiphanies now as I did almost a year ago.

The core of what Simon teaches is that there’s two types of games. Finite and infinite. Most of us are familiar with finite games. A game of baseball is a finite game. A sport’s league constitutes as a finite game. The hot dog eating contest at your local fair counts. What each of these have in common is that there are set rules, players, objectives and timelines that are agreed upon by everyone. Pretty much any sport of competition is an example of a finite game, as long as it meets that criteria. And I’ll be the first to admit, I love sports and more specifically, sports metaphors. However, there’s one flaw with sports analogies and that’s the fact that they’re finite and not infinite. 

The difference between a finite game vs an infinite game is that in an infinite game there’s unknown rules, players, objectives and timelines because no one has agreed upon them. No one wins in business. Business, like politics, is an infinite game. The sole objective of the game is to keep playing. How do you keep playing? You keep improving over time. 

A huge problem with our society, in business and in politics, is that we have leaders who don’t know the game they’re playing. They’re viewing things from a finite perspective. It’s most evident in phrases such as “we’re number one” or “we’re the best.” No they’re not. According to who’s definition? 

Let’s examine a company that played by finite rational in an infinite game. Remember Blockbuster? In case you don’t, it was a movie rental company. It was a household name and was poised to be Netflix by entering the streaming game in the 2000s. One executive certainly wanted that but his board disagreed. With the benefit of hindsight, you might be wondering how could that be? It’s because at the time late fees accounted for 12% of profits for Blockbuster. By switching to streaming, they’d lose out on that revenue because there’d be no DVDs to have to return. That 12% lose would only be temporary, as Netflix has shown, but something the Blockbuster board was unwilling to let go of. And long story short, they’re out of business. 

When you think about it, it’s no coincidence that this happens to companies. Why is it that taxi companies didn’t invent Uber? Or why haven’t hotels created AirBnB? It’s because companies are too concerned with maintaining the status quo, wrongfully thinking that it’ll preserve their dominance. That’s an example of finite thinking in an infinite game. 

Here’s a concrete example of someone who exercises existential flexibility—Steve Jobs. Apple was almost ready to release their computers when Jobs met up with some people who showed him a graphic interface. Immediately he went back to his team and said they needed to jump on that and make it part of their product. Many people told him it was impossible and that’d they’d not only miss the deadline but bankrupt the company. Steve said, “Better us than someone else.” 

The rest as they say is history. That decision changed the computer industry and technology landscape as we know it. Steve wasn’t concerned with the short term. He had a mission, or mindset if you want to call it that, for Apple to develop user friendly products to their customers to make their lives easier and better. That value still holds today and is one that doesn’t have an end. It’s ongoing. Hence, it’s part of the infinite game where the objective is to keep going, improving, developing, etc.  

So how come there’s so much discourse around us about being the best and so forth? Well, because as I mentioned, many people in high up positions aren’t aware of the game they’re playing. By definition, finite games are easier to understand and thus they’re perpetuated through sports metaphors and culture in general. Consider a song like Nelly’s “Number 1.” It’s a catchy tune that makes you feel good. But that’s because as a society we’re tried to simplify what success is and how it should be defined for people. This is bullshit. You’ll never be #1, nor should you want to be. Keep playing the game aka keep making content. When you do that, you’re successful.

In the past I’ve described the entertainment industry as a shaking tree. As long as you can hang on to that tree, you’ll do well. That’s a great analogy for the infinite game and while I may have talked about the infinite game primarily in terms of companies, this principle applies equally to us as individuals. The infinite game mindset is a lifestyle. By thinking and acting in these terms, you won’t be trying to shove a square peg in a round hole which means you won’t be as stressed out. I certainly shed a lot of anxiety once I learned about the infinite game. This is because I stopped putting so much pressure on the short term gains and focused on my long term goals and objectives. I had a mission for myself and that’s my guiding light every day. And when I see something that can help me achieve my mission easier, faster, smoother or perhaps better… well then I embrace it. Social media is an example of this. Rather than think of social media as good or bad, it is a tool which I use to help reach, inspire and teach people along with the other tools and tactics at my disposal. That’s the way you need to see it. 

The other way in which making the shift to an infinite mindset helps you is that you’ll stop being jealous of people. When you’re so desperate to be #1 you become vicious in your pursuits. It’s why there’s stereotypes about the LA lifestyle of people being overly narcissistic. Mind you, this is an upward trend throughout the country but it just happens to be more easily noticeable in artists. The point being though, you’ll no longer see people as threats. They may be your rivals but a rival is good. A rival is like a mirror that showcases your weaknesses so you can adjust and grow. Remember, the goal is to stay in the game. You can’t stay in the game if you don’t improve. 

Look at it from this perspective: over the next decade along, the ways in which we create and consume content will change drastically many times over. You need to be able to keep up. If you view it with finite terms, such as “I know how to do x, y and z and I’m great at those,” you’ll eventually be blindsided because a shift will happen sooner or later and you’ll have made yourself obsolete. Be a constant learner. That’s really what the infinite game is all about. 

Here’s where it gets trippy, at least to some people. The infinite game, aka your life or career, is comprised of finite games. Plainly stated, it means you should have deadlines for yourself. The difference is don’t beat yourself up if you miss a certain deadline. For example, my goal has been to write a novel and when I began the process I obviously had written nothing, hence I created timelines of when I wanted things to be done by. Boy, was I off on those. But, by doing that, it propelled me to knuckle down and get to work. Now I’m in the final phase of the novel! So do the same. Set deadlines… but don’t be harsh on yourself if you miss them because you’re still better off than when you began, right? And in the words of Obama, “better is good.” Simon Sinek thinks so. And I agree. 

Ecommerce Scams Everyone Should Be Aware Of

The ease and convenience of eCommerce have made it an essential part of our lives. But, with this comes the risks associated with online shopping – cybercriminals are always looking for opportunities to perpetrate fraud. To protect yourself from these scams, familiarize yourself with some of the most common eCommerce scams and how to avoid them.

Fake Shopping Site Scams

One of the popular eCommerce scams people should look out for is fake shopping sites. These types of frauds are designed to steal customer information or money, often pretending to be a valid online shop. For example, the Wayfair scam involved a website that appeared to be an actual and legitimate discount furniture store but was a ruse to extract payment and personal details from unsuspecting customers.

Consumers should always exercise caution when it comes to shopping online. They must ensure they fully vet potential suppliers before providing them with financial details or their credit card information.

Gift Card Scams

Watch out for gift card scams as they become increasingly frequent in the eCommerce industry. Fraudsters craft seemingly legitimate cards at discounted rates to tempt unsuspecting buyers. Make a purchase, however, and you’ll likely get either a counterfeit or absolutely nothing in return.

As a precaution against gift card scams, always obtain your cards from reliable sources. This includes the retailer’s official website or eCommerce site you are looking to purchase from. Also, avoid any discounted offers, as these could be counterfeit items. Furthermore, never give out personal information when purchasing gift cards because legitimate businesses usually do not need such data.

Counterfeit Products

The eCommerce industry is facing a dangerous rise in counterfeit products. Fraudsters are creating knock-off versions of legitimate goods and selling them online at discounted prices. Despite their convincing exterior, these counterfeits usually lack quality and can be hazardous to your health or safety.

Shield yourself from counterfeit products, and only purchase items through trusted sources. Investigate the reviews and responses of previous customers, then research meticulously to confirm that the product you are purchasing is genuine. Please exercise caution when looking at goods sold for an unusually low price since they could be imitations.

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are one of online criminals’ most frequently used tactics. These fraudsters erect fake websites that imitate legitimate eCommerce sites to acquire personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Furthermore, they might transmit emails with links or act like real businesses to extract sensitive data from you. By being vigilant and aware of these dangers, we can safeguard ourselves against phishing attacks.

Fake Shipping and Delivery Notifications Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks are menacing online scams that use phishing emails or counterfeit eCommerce sites to gain access and install malicious software, locking you out of your device or files until the ransom is paid. This puts companies – small and large – at risk for complete data loss with no recourse but to pay up if they want their information restored.

To protect yourself from ransomware threats, ensure that all your applications are up-to-date and utilize anti-malware and antivirus software. Furthermore, be wary of any emails or messages sent by unfamiliar sources – do not open links or attachments if they seem suspicious in the least bit! By following these simple tips, you can easily secure yourself against potential hackers.

Conclusion

The Questions You Should Be Asking References

Employers conduct reference checks by contacting a job candidate’s professional and personal connections. The goal is to better understand the candidate’s skills, qualifications and demeanor.

Your reference check questions should discern whether a candidate would fit in at your company. They cannot pertain to your candidate’s personal information.

Your company should develop a process to ensure consistency among all reference checks and determine which questions to ask references.

This article is for business owners and hiring managers who are planning to conduct reference checks for prospective employees.

A job candidate may ace the interview, but that doesn’t always make them a perfect hire. You can better understand an applicant’s compatibility with your company by checking their references, especially if you ask the right questions. We’ll share 32 reference check questions that focus on a candidate’s performance and what it was like to manage and work alongside them. These questions can help ensure a successful hire and a valuable new team member.

What is a reference check?

A reference check is when an employer reaches out to people who can shed light on a job candidate’s strengths and speak to their qualifications. These contacts tend to be previous employers but also may include university professors, longtime colleagues and other people familiar with the applicant’s work. 

As an employer, you may find that reference checks help paint a full picture of a potential hire. Unfortunately, people lie on their resumes sometimes and present qualifications they don’t actually possess. If you ask your applicant’s professional references the right questions, you’ll learn more about the candidate’s skills and qualifications than you would from a traditional job interview alone.

Reference check goals include the following: 

Confirm the written or verbal information the potential employee provided.

Learn about the candidate’s skills and strengths from someone other than the candidate.

Gather information about the applicant’s job performance in past roles to predict their success at your company.

With all of this information, you should have an easier time choosing which candidates to move forward in the hiring process.

Did You Know?

Reference checks can help you avoid hiring horror stories and costly personnel and management headaches.

What information should you ask a reference?

When developing your list of reference check questions, you should determine the information you want to confirm about the job candidate. You may be interested in the references’ insights about the candidate on these topics:

Job performance

Ability to understand and follow directions

Ability to work well as part of a team

Standards for office behavior and ethics

Interests, specialties and demeanor

Ability to give directions and ensure that subordinates follow them (if they’re applying for a leadership role)

Anything else that stands out on the candidate’s resume or emerged during their job interview

Some of these topics are more appropriate to discuss with professional references; others may be more suitable to ask personal references. For example, a former supervisor can speak to how well a candidate operates as part of a team, while a close friend or mentor can describe the candidate’s interests, specialties and demeanor.

Just as there are specific questions you should never ask a job candidate, there are questions you can’t ask a reference. You must only ask questions that pertain to the job; inappropriate questions can subject your company to discrimination claims. 

Consider the following problematic questions you should never ask references:

Anything related to demographics or personal information: Don’t ask about a candidate’s sexuality, age, religion or similar matters.

Anything related to personal health: Don’t ask about a candidate’s medical history or the existence of disabilities. You can ask whether the candidate is capable of performing the tasks the job requires.

Anything related to credit scores: Although you can request a credit score from a job applicant, the Fair Credit Reporting Act bars you from asking references about an applicant’s credit score.

Anything related to family: Don’t ask whether a candidate has (or plans to have) children or a spouse. If you worry that a job applicant with a family might not have enough time for the job, ask references if they think the job’s time demands will suit the candidate.

Tip

Gathering references is an important step to ensuring you make the best hiring decisions for your vacant positions. Check out these other tips for hiring the best employees to build your team as effectively as possible.

32 reference check questions to ask

Now that you know what information to request from a reference, you’re ready to develop your list of reference check questions. Below are 32 common reference check questions to use. You may think some don’t apply to your company, but you should speak with your hiring manager before eliminating any questions.

Introductory reference check questions

Is there any information you and/or your company are unwilling or unable to give me about the candidate?

If you can’t share any information with me, can you connect me with any former employees who worked closely with the candidate?

Can you confirm the candidate’s employment start and end dates, salary and job title?

What is your relationship to the candidate, and how did you first meet?

Reference check questions for getting to know the reference

For how long have you worked at your company?

For how long have you had your current job title?

For how long did you work with the candidate, and in what capacities?

Can you think of any reasons I should be speaking with another reference instead of yourself?

Performance-related reference check questions

What positions did the candidate have while at your company?

In what roles did the candidate start and end?

What did these roles entail?

What were the most challenging parts of the candidate’s roles at your company?

How did the candidate face these challenges and other obstacles?

What are the candidate’s professional strengths, and how did they benefit your company?

In what areas does the candidate need improvement?

Do you think the candidate is qualified for this job, and why or why not?

Reference check questions to ask managers

For how long did you directly or indirectly manage the candidate?

In what ways was managing the candidate easy, and in what ways was it challenging?

How did the candidate grow during their time working under you?

What suggestions do you have for managing this candidate?

Reference check questions to ask employees who reported to your candidate

For how long did the candidate manage you, and in what capacity?

What did you like most and least about the candidate’s management style?

How did the candidate’s management style help you grow and learn?

How could the candidate have better managed you and your co-workers?

Reference check questions to ask co-workers

For how long were you among the candidate’s colleagues, and in what capacity?

What did you like most and least about working with the candidate?

How did you grow and learn while working with the candidate?

How did the candidate support you and your other colleagues?

In what ways could the candidate have been a better co-worker to you and your colleagues?

Reference check questions about ethics and behavior

Why did the candidate leave your company?

Did this candidate’s behavior lead to any workplace conflicts or instances of questionable ethics?

If the opportunity arose, would you be willing and/or able to rehire the candidate, and why or why not?

Just as you can speak with your hiring manager about potentially removing certain questions from this list, you can discuss adding other questions. As long as any additional questions shed light on how your candidate would perform during employment with your company and you don’t ask for personal information, there’s a good chance you’re asking the right questions.

Did You Know?

Some candidates may need more scrutiny than others. Some employers conduct background checks to verify job candidates and their credentials.

How to conduct a reference check

If you decide to check references for new hires, implement a formal procedure at your company. This will streamline the process of obtaining your candidates’ references. From start to finish, your hiring team should follow these steps to conduct a thorough reference check:

Decide how many references to obtain from each applicant. Two or three should suffice.

Include a section for references in every job application. Ask candidates to include their references’ full names, phone numbers, email addresses and relationship to the candidate.

Get permission to contact the reference. Include a clause in your job application that the applicant signs to give you permission to contact their references. You should also email a reference to get their permission to ask them questions about the candidate.

Decide whether you’ll conduct your reference checks by phone or email. While sending questions by email will save your company time — especially if you have a standard list of questions you send to all references — verbal checks via phone or video chat, or even in-person meetings, can offer you a clearer understanding of a candidate.

Develop a list of reference check questions. Consider the list above to determine potential questions.

Watch out for red flags. Not every candidate is entirely truthful on their resume, so do your research before contacting a reference.

Establish a standard note-taking process. Don’t expect to remember every single thing you discussed during a reference check. Work with your hiring team to develop a note-taking format and process the whole team can understand and use.

Tip

If an employer discovers that a job candidate misrepresented their qualifications or lied on their resume, they can rescind the job offer.

Reference checks help employers make good hiring decisions

Reference checks give you a chance to fill gaps that arise while you’re getting to know a candidate during the interview process. Talking to an applicant’s personal references can tell you if they’re the right fit and help you avoid a costly bad hire. By allowing you to discover the candidate’s management style or determining how they’ll respond under pressure, reference checks can tell you much more than an interview alone. 

Once you’ve conducted reference checks on all of your job candidates, you should have all of the information you need to decide which one is best for the job and reach out with a formal job offer letter. If the candidate accepts, congratulate them and yourself — and start your onboarding process.

Natalie Hamingson contributed to this article.

8 Best Kodi Alternatives You Should Use

Kodi is a versatile tool that comes in very handy for watching movies, TV shows, live TV, sports, or playing retro games online. You can also use it to manage offline content that you already own. The best part about Kodi is that it is open-source and supports third-party add-ons that augment its utility in a large number of ways. However, getting to learn and use Kodi can be taxing on some users, especially those who are not very keen on DIY. So, if you are looking for a more refined media consumption experience, we have listed out Kodi alternatives that will offer you nearly the same amount of flexibility in terms of content discovery, management, and viewing.

Best Kodi Alternatives to Use in 2023

List of Best Kodi Alternatives (Updated June 2023)

In our recent update to this article, we have added three new Kodi alternatives and we hope that you find a suitable pick from the list. For better coverage, we have included media centers like Kodi which bring local content management, online viewing, live TV, and also some client-server apps like Plex. With all that said, let’s move to the list, shall we?

1. Plex

Undoubtedly one of the best Kodi alternatives that you can get, Plex is loaded with a truckload of features. In fact, it is perfect for streaming locally stored digital media to multiple devices (e.g. smartphones, set-top boxes) over the network, thanks to its client-server architecture.

What’s more, since Plex’s media server module takes care of transcoding media for streaming to different devices, it can even run on low powered PCs and optimize bandwidth usage. Other notable features include availability on a diverse range of platforms, and a premium level subscription, which gives you even more features, such as movie trailers, and wireless syncing of photos to the media server.

Wanna know how Kodi and Plex compare with each other, in detail? Read here.

Platform Availability: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux (Desktop); iOS, Android, Windows Phone (Mobile), Android TV, Roku, Chromecast, Xbox, PlayStation (Others)

Download Plex

2. Emby

If you like the media streaming approach of Plex, but not the fact that it comprises proprietary software components, then the open-source Emby might just be the Kodi alternative for you. It’s also built on the client-server approach and makes streaming locally stored media to network-connected devices super easy. Emby also includes a bit of live TV functionality and lets you manage DVR recordings as well.

But more importantly, Emby comes with features like parental controls and web-based tools to edit metadata, search subtitles, and more. Emby can also transcode media files according to different target streaming devices, and supports streaming to DLNA compatible devices as well

Platform Availability: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux (Desktop); iOS, Android, Windows Phone (Mobile), Android TV, Roku, Chromecast, Xbox, Samsung Smart TV (Others)

Price: Free, Paid subscription starts at $4.99/month, for exclusive features.

Download Emby

3. OSMC

OSMC (Open Source Media Center) is perhaps the best looking Kodi alternative that you can find among the score of media centers. It’s based on the same Kodi project but brings a new and modern user interface that is best suited for TVs and larger screens. Similar to Kodi, OSMC is also open-source and brings the identical tabbed-layout UI.

Not to mention, OSMC can play almost all the major media formats out there with a powerful built-in transcoder. Apart from online content, you can also use OSMC as your media center just like Kodi. You can manage your library of movies, TV shows, music, pictures and more.

Platform Availability: Windows, macOS, Raspberry Pi, Apple TV

Download OSMC

4. Jellyfin

Jellyfin is a new media center, but it has gained quite a reputation among the erstwhile Kodi users. The software is open-source and completely free, just like Kodi, but that is not its selling point. It allows you to manage your library of content locally, but at the same time, you can host a server and access your content over the web.

Having said all of that, the best part about Jellyfin is that it supports live TV and you can even record the stream using the built-in DVR feature. That’s just great and this feature makes Jellyfin a suitable Kodi alternative. All in all, Jellyfin is a media center built by the community and you must give it a try for its sheer number of features that can even dwarf Kodi.

Platform Availability: Windows, Linux, macOS, Web Browsers, Android, iOS, Xbox One

Price: Free

Download Jellyfin

5. Stremio

Stremio allows users to create a personal library of things they want to watch on the service. In case any particular movie is not available online and is exclusive to theaters, Stremio will also inform users. I really like the fact that the media player lets you stream movies directly from both – premium services such as Netflix as well as from free torrents portals, also showing the current number of seeders for a particular movie or TV show.

There is a slew of add-ons which enable access to a variety of content. Some of the available options include Popcorn Time, Vimeo, Twitch, etc. Besides displaying a healthy library of content, Stremio also notifies you when a new episode is added to the TV shows in your library. Overall, the highly interactive and modern interface, as well as automatic add-ons, make Stremio one of the best media players and Kodi alternatives.

Platform Availability: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS

Download Stremio

6. MediaPortal 2

MediaPortal 2 is an open-source media player that is primarily designed to work with – and improve the utility of – hardware such as a DVR, Blu-ray player, or a TV Tuner. Besides playing media from a connected player with greater ease, MediaPortal 2, also fetches information related to DVD movies and TV shows from IMDb automatically as well as saves this information so that it can be retrieved and readily displayed when you watch the same movie or listen to the same album again.

Apart from supporting a wide range of TV cards – including the analog ones like ATSC and DVB, as well as DVR and disc players, MediaPortal also organizes your image files. Like Kodi, MediaPortal supports a variety of plug-ins which will let you listen to online radio, check the weather, read the news, or use a mobile device to control the media center over Wi-Fi.

Platform Availability: Windows

Price: Free

Download MediaPortal 2

7. Universal Media Server

If no-fuss media streaming via DLNA-compatible devices is all that you want, Universal Media Server is going to serve you just fine. It has an extremely simple UI and can be set up fairly easily. It supports streaming to a huge variety of devices and can transcode most of the audio, video, and image formats without any configuration. Among its many features are bit-rate adjustment according to network speed, and a web interface to work even with devices that don’t have DLNA support.

To set up Universal Media Server, just add the location of the stored media in the Navigation Share settings. Now, open a web browser (or DLNA browser app) on any device connected to the same network which is used to host the server and enter the IP address of the hosting device followed by “:9001“.

The beauty of Universal Media Server is that it works on any device having Java support. To make sure it works properly on your Windows, Mac, or Linux PC, you might need to download Java on your machine.

Platform Availability: Windows, Mac, Linux

Download Universal Media Server

8. JRiver Media Center

If you want a media center for your computer and not for TVs or larger screens then JRiver is an apt alternative to Kodi. Similar to Kodi, it allows you to organize all your local library of movies, TV shows, music, images, and more. It can even collate information about all your content and neatly categorize them in a tabbed-layout.Unlike Kodi, you don’t have a huge collection of addons here but JRiver brings a handful of services and plugins for scheduling, downloading, and managing cloud-based media networks. As for streaming, JRiver offers built-in support for YouTube, RadioTunes, BBC, and some more radio channels.

The best part is that through its Cloudplay server, you can upload tons of lossless music that you can play using its client on any device. That’s really cool, right? Coming to video playback, it can play popular media formats like Blu-Ray, MPEG4, AVI, MOV, etc. Basically, you are covered on all fronts with JRiver Media Center.

Platform Availability: Windows, Linux, macOS

Price: Free Trial for 30 days, One-time purchase of $59.98

Download JRiver Media Center

Slow Streaming or Facing Buffering Issues? Here Are Some Tips

If the primary reason you are looking for Kodi alternative is slow streaming or intermittent buffering issues then you must look into how much video cache memory has been allotted to Kodi. Sometimes, users allocate too little memory for Kodi to work properly. To fix that, you can install Ares Wizard (Free) addon and customize the video cache size. As a rule of thumb, you should at least provide 500MB of RAM for no buffering on Kodi. You can follow our article on the best Kodi tips and tricks to find more solutions to Kodi issues.

Best Kodi Alternatives You Must Try in 2023

If you mostly rely on online content, we would recommend you to start with Stremio as it has many free video sources and then (maybe) and then move to Plex or Emby if you wish to enjoy more premium content. Alternatively, if you want to manage your TV and DVD/Blu-ray hardware, you can start by choosing OSMC while Jellyfin will come in handy for hosting files stored on a single system to be played on others.

Sony Tap 20 Review: A Windows 8 All

As you might guess, this new Windows 8-based Sony all-in-one isn’t your average AIO. Inside the modest exterior beats the heart of an Ultrabook, along with a ten-point multitouch screen and a built-in battery. So you can either think of the Tap 20 (also known by the sexy name SVJ20245CXW) as a smallish AIO or a really big tablet. In reality, it’s a little of both.

Sony’s latest desktop effort is one cool example of the experimentation in form factors we’re starting to see with Windows 8 hardware. Yes, manufacturers will be shipping stock clamshell laptops and ordinary desktop PCs with ten-point multitouch as an option, and PCWorld will be reviewing many of them as they come out. But if Windows 8 is to be truly successful, products such as Sony’s Tap 20 will be key.

In putting the Tap 20 through its paces, I started with a little photo editing on its decidedly smallish (at least for an AIO) 20-inch, 1600-by-900-pixel display. It was a constraining experience, compared with the more expansive displays I’m used to working with. Then I unplugged the unit, took it upstairs, laid it flat on my dining-room table, and played Pinball FX 2.

Loyd CasePinball!

Notice the smudges on the Sony system in the photo above. Fingerprints on glass will become a way of life, as it is with normal tablets. As more touch-enabled PCs arrive, accessories such as cleaning cloths will be a hot item for those users who dislike fingerprints.

Under the hood

Sony has built its new AIO on mobile PC technology, including the same 1.7GHz Ivy Bridge ultra-low-voltage Core i5-3317U CPU used in many mainstream Ultrabooks, with a Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz when needed. The system also has 4GB of system memory and uses Intel’s own HD 4000 integrated graphics to take care of display chores. Storage tasks fall to a 750GB mobile hard drive with no SSD cache, so the storage performance can be a little poky. No optical drive is built in; either you get your video or audio content via the network, or you attach an external optical drive.

Although the 1600-by-900-pixel resolution seems a little low for a 20-inch all-in-one, Sony uses an IPS panel, so the color fidelity and video saturation look pretty good, and viewing angles are generally decent. Sony also built in the same Bravia video-rendering engine it uses in its Bravia HDTVs, so video looks nice—when you can get it to run. The problem with video in this case isn’t the hardware but Windows itself, which no longer plays back MPEG-2 content, either DVD or high-definition. Sony should consider bundling some type of MPEG-2 playback tool going forward. WMV high-definition video looks quite attractive on the IPS screen, however, as do high-resolution photos.

The Tap 20 offers a robust set of connectivity options, including Bluetooth 4.0, gigabit ethernet, and 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity. Surprisingly, the system sports only two USB 3.0 ports, though one incorporates sleep-and-charge functionality. Also included is an SD/Memory Stick slot, as well as an audio input and output jack. The system lacks monitor inputs and outputs, however—you won’t find HDMI ports, or any other video connectors.

To alleviate some USB port congestion, Sony supplies a wireless keyboard and mouse. They’re competent, though the keyboard looks and feels more like a Chiclet-style laptop keyboard, right down to the shallow keystroke and lack of sculpting. Loyd CaseWireless keyboard and mouse

The stand is large and U-shaped, mounted to the unit via hinges. You can adjust the tilt, but not the height. The stand can rotate parallel to the system, allowing you to lay the machine completely flat on a tabletop or other surface.

SonyFingerpainting!

That flexibility allows you to use this Sony system as a flat surface for interactive gaming, shared art, or presentations. Angling the stand for setting the system up in portrait mode is also possible, but the machine isn’t very stable in that mode.

To facilitate use in the shared tabletop mode, Sony has built in a 5000 mAh battery, which can run the system for up to 3 hours sans power cord, depending on the brightness setting and use mode.

Performance

Since the Tap 20 carries an ultra-low-voltage mobile CPU, the performance is somewhat lacking compared with that of other all-in-one PCs. PCWorld is in the process of building the new WorldBench 8 suite for Windows 8 testing, but it isn’t quite ready yet. We were able to run PCMark 7, including storage tests, plus startup times. In comparison with previously tested AIO systems running Windows 7, the Tap 20 is seriously deficient in sheer CPU performance: Although you can use the system for video editing or gaming, those activities are most certainly not its strong suit.

For example, on the office productivity test, the Tap 20 garnered a score of just 730, less than half the mark of Lenovo’s ThinkCentre M92z. And the Sony’s image-editing test took 596 seconds, versus 157 seconds for the Lenovo, in average usage scenarios. Some of the performance issues are attributable to the slow, 5400-rpm laptop-style hard drive.

On the other hand, the power usage is low. The idle power of the Sony Tap 20 is just 23 watts, about half the 41W idle power of the Lenovo all-in-one.

Using the Tap 20

I set up the Tap 20 in my home office, installing some additional software and getting used to the touch-enabled display. After a time, I discovered that I was using the mouse less, even in the Windows desktop, though some operations in desktop mode were still easier with a mouse. The user interface was responsive and smooth. When I ran Office-style applications, or surfed the Web, both Firefox and Internet Explorer seemed well behaved, even with multiple tabs open. Web-based video playback was mostly clean and stutter-free.

However, if you plan on writing or editing longer documents, you may want a different keyboard. The Sony keyboard’s keys are slightly textured, but still slippery, and I found myself making many more errors while typing than I usually do. Non-touch-typists may not encounter the same issues.

Using the system untethered is an interesting experience. At well over 11 pounds and a 20-inch width, this machine is not something you sit on your lap. It does make for a very cool Xbox SmartGlass device. I set it up on my coffee table in front of my entertainment center, within easy reach. Even though SmartGlass is still in its infancy, the technology has the potential to turn a device such as the Tap 20 into a powerful adjunct to your home entertainment setup, if Microsoft keeps enhancing it.

I also laid the machine flat and played around with some of the games, like Xbox Taptile and Pinball FX2. These titles show off just a little of the potential of the system as a shared gaming device. Here’s hoping that more board-game ports come to the Microsoft Store, as we’ve seen with iOS games; I’d love to see Ticket to Ride, Elder Sign, or Alien Frontiers on this system.

Bottom line

The Tap 20 is an unusual product. It’s relatively underpowered as a desktop system, but its strong suit is as a shared family PC, with the ability to be moved easily around the home. And its potential as a shared gaming device is impressive. Unfortunately, it isn’t as strong on the productivity side, and the lack of MPEG-2 playback—more a Windows 8 problem than Sony’s—makes it an imperfect entertainment system.

In many ways, the Tap 20 showcases both the good and the bad of Windows 8. Its seamless integration with the Windows 8 user interface shows off Microsoft’s new operating system at its best, but the lack of capabilities that users have come to expect, such as MPEG-2 playback, is oddly jarring. When you use this machine with Windows 8 native apps, it excels, but the uninspired keyboard and mouse make desktop use more of a chore than it needs to be. The Tap 20 is undeniably cool, but some of the details need to be fleshed out. Still, at about $880, it’s not all that expensive, particularly if you consider that it’s both a small all-in-one and a really big tablet.

Productivity Tests

Content Creation

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