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Buying Sewing Machine

Getting Started

What’s the best sewing machine for you? That depends on your skill level and budget. Before buying a sewing machine, assess your needs and skills. Consider, too, how you might use the machine when your skills improve (independent shops often offer a free tutorial; many also have classes).

A few hundred dollars buys a good, basic sewing machine that can handle most clothing and crafts projects or quilting. Spending even more gets you additional automated functions, while a top-of-the-line machine can cost thousands. The best part? It will produce professional-quality designs and you don’t even need to know how to sew.

This information is meant to help make shopping for a sewing machine easier. Today’s machines can recommend the proper presser foot, determine the right thread tension and stitch length, size and sew a buttonhole, and automatically cut the thread.

What We Found

The Basics
Singer, Brother, and Kenmore are long established, well known brands, and Bernina, Husqvarna Viking, and Janome have gained popularity. Choose your retailer wisely. Different retail channels offer different advantages. An independent shop might not have the lowest prices but usually offers lessons, more personalized service, and repairs can often be done in the store, sometimes even on the spot. Note that some models are only sold at authorized dealers (usually independent stores), and they offer instructional classes and repairs.

Ask About the Warranty
What does it covers, and what does it exclude. Look for sales (stores typically discount sewing machines around Mother’s Day and Christmas) and try before you buy. Bring fabric samples and test several machines on a variety of fabrics and settings to make sure that they stitch evenly and are easy to use.

Use the Right Needle
A dull one, or the wrong kind, can bend and damage the fabric and/or machine. Change your needles after every project or when switching fabric types. And at least every two years (more if you sew a lot), take your sewing machine in for a tune-up.

Ways to Save
Search online for coupons and ask about upcoming sales and trade-in allowances. Don’t be shy about negotiating with dealers and asking for free sewing lessons.

Check Repair Polices
Many dealers offer in-store service. If not, they’ll send you to a repair center or to the manufacturer. No matter who does the repairs, ask about turnaround time, which can vary from days to weeks. Remember that repairs made by technicians who are not factory-authorized can void the manufacturer’s warranty. And keep your machine’s box and packaging, in case it needs to be shipped for repairs.

Sewing Machine Types

Mechanical models are still around but more skilled sewers can take advantage of all that electronic and embroidery/sewing models offer. Here are your options.

Mechanical Machines
If you’re an occasional sewer or on a budget, this type should work fine. They require you to manipulate most controls by hand and can handle the basic repairs, hems, simple clothing, and crafts projects.

Electronic Machines
If you sew frequently or can spend more, an electronic model can be a worthwhile investment. These shift many tedious sewing jobs from your hands to computer chips. A typical machine offers touchpad controls, LED screen, an array of presser feet for challenges such as piping and topstitching, and settings for dozens or even hundreds of stitch types.

Embroidery/Sewing Machines
In addition to all of the features and options found in an elaborate electronic machine, you’ll also have the ability to do monogramming and embroidery for projects such as garments, bedspreads, and pillowcases.

The machine holds a hoop under its needles and moves the hoop in all four directions as the needle sews. You start by stretching fabric over a hoop. Then, secure the hoop under the needle. Designs are built into the machine’s memory, or purchased on memory cards, CDs, or data sticks or linked from your computer. A touch screen or computer link lets you position the design and specify colors for design elements. Often machines let you resize, reposition and mirror designs and sound an alert to let you know when to change colors.

Sewing Machine Features

Even the most basic machine should be able to handle a variety of fabrics, from satin to denim and corduroy, without stretching or puckering the fabric or producing loose, loopy stitches. Good task lighting is essential, of course, and there are a number of features to consider.

Automatic Buttonholer
Sew a buttonhole in one step and you won’t need to stop and turn the fabric or manipulate a dial. Some machines allow you to insert the button into a slot so that the machine will sew a buttonhole to fit.

Feed-Dog Adjustment
Some machines allow you to drop the toothy mechanism below the sewing surface to do free-style embroidery or darning.

Good Ergonomics and Controls
The machine should be responsive to pressure on the foot pedal, and not stall or growl when sewing thick fabric or multiple layers. The controls should be easy to reach and manipulate, and the symbols on the machine or LED display should be easy to read. Machines that have more room to the right of the needle provide more space for fabric and your hands.

Lightweight
If you’ll be storing the machine in a closet and hauling it out when you want to sew, look for a machine that’s easy to lift and has a handle on top.

Needle Position
This feature allows you to move the needle, and stitching line, from left to right, and to have the needle up or down when you stop. Needle down makes it easy to lift the pressure foot and turn a corner without a jump stitch.

Needle Threader
It pulls the thread through the eye of the needle and saves you from squinting and prevents frustration.

Presser Feet
Find out how many come with the machine. For basic sewing a multi-purpose foot lets you do straight and zigzag stitches, but you’ll want a zipper foot and buttonhole foot too. An adjustable presser foot regulates how tightly the machine holds the fabric while you sew, preventing puckering in fine fabrics and stretching in knits. You’ll find there are hundreds of specialty presser feet to choose from.

Power Switch
Use it to turn the machine on and off. It’s a safety feature if kids are milling about. If the machine doesn’t have a power switch think about plugging it into a safety strip with a master switch, says the Sewing & Craft Alliance.

Speed Control
Determine the pace at which fabric is fed through the machine, enabling you to sew at a nice, steady tempo rather than stopping and starting.

Stitches
The number varies wildly, from the basics, such as straight and zigzag, to decorative stitching. When shopping check a machine’s maximum stitch length and width.

Tension Adjustment
You’ll need to change how tight the thread is. When it’s too tight it can result in puckered fabric; if the thread is too loose, the result is loopy stitches.

Top-Load Bobbin
Unlike older machines, in which you had to thread the bobbin in a recessed compartment, many machines now allow you to simply slide open a panel and drop the bobbin in. A clear cover lets you see when thread is running low. 

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Gym Going Guide

If you don’t know what to do in the gym or you’ve never stepped foot in one before, it can seem like a pretty scary place. What are all the machines for? How do I do use them? Is everyone looking at me?

That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate gym guide for beginners, that covers everything from what to pack in your gym bag, right up to your very own beginner’s workout. Once you’ve read through this guide, you’ll know everything there is to know about working out in the gym and smashing your fitness goals.

BEFORE YOU START

HEALTH REQUIREMENTS

The gym is designed to give everyone the tools they need to reach their dream fitness goals. Whether it’s to tone up or build strength, anyone is welcome to train in the gym, but before starting your fitness journey, you may be asked to disclose any medical conditions. This helps personal trainers to tailor a routine that suits you.

Here are a few examples that you may be asked to disclose:

  • Any existing heart conditions
  • Ongoing medical conditions like diabetes
  • Any major operations you’ve had in the last 12 months
  • Whether a doctor has advised you to abstain from exercise in the past

GYM INDUCTIONS

A gym induction is a brief tour of the gym’s facilities. It covers gym etiquette (which can vary between clubs), how to use the machines, and how you can access each area of the gym.

A good induction is key to getting you started on the right foot. The staff that run inductions will always have tips and advice that could save you a lot of hassle later on, like the best times to use what equipment and what exercises are great for beginners. 

PREPARING FOR YOUR FIRST VISIT

THE BEST TIME TO GO TO THE GYM

One question every new-starter asks is “what’s the best time to go to the gym?”

Morning is often hailed as the best time to fit in a workout, as it can reduce stress levels and leave you energized for the rest of the day. However, it all depends on your ‘circadian rhythm.’

A circadian rhythm is your internal clock, the one that causes you to fluctuate between alert and sluggish throughout the day. If you consider yourself a morning person, it should be easy to motivate yourself for an hour in the gym before work. But, if you can’t get anything done before your 9 am coffee, don’t beat yourself up about it — hit the gym on your way home instead.

There really is no ‘best time’ to exercise, it all depends on your body, so listen to it and hit the gym when it’s most convenient for you.

WORKING TO YOUR SCHEDULE

If your schedule is getting in the way of your circadian rhythm, it can help to get an extra hour of sleep every night. You feel the pressure of your circadian rhythm more when you’re tired, so getting to bed earlier might be the push you need to crush those 7am laps in the pool!

DODGING PEAK TIMES

The other factor to consider when scheduling your session is when the gym is likely to be busy. If you’re looking for space when working on your strength, it is worth considering avoiding peak times. This is usually just before or after the working day, although on-site staff will be able to advise you further.

WHAT TO WEAR AND TAKE WITH YOU

If you’re truly looking to power through your session and achieve your peak performance, you’ll want to come prepared.

Here’s a list of gym bag essentials:

  • Gym-appropriate training gear (avoid denim or replica shirts)
  • Gym shoes (sturdy trainers work best; avoid weak canvas shoes)
  • Sweat towel (for wiping down equipment after you use it)
  • Towel and shampoo (for a post-workout shower)
  • Post-workout snack
  • Water bottle

WARMING UP

If you’re feeling self-conscious on your first gym visit, your initial instinct might be to skip straight to the treadmill or weight machine and ‘prove your worth,’ but this is a rookie mistake. One of the most important parts of a good workout is to properly warm up.

Warm-ups are crucial as they prepare your body for the demands of exercise, loosening up the muscles and reducing the risk of injury. This also means you’re less likely to pull a muscle during your workout and minimizes the chances of lactic acid building-up, which can lead to cramping.

YOUR FIRST GYM SESSION

WHERE TO START

Once you’re warmed up and fully prepared, it’s time to train. But where do you begin? If you’re unsure of how to start at the gym, we’ve got you covered.

Good workouts aren’t improvised: they’re meticulously planned ahead of time. Those people who seem to glide from treadmill to tricep press are actually following a well-kept schedule, tailor-made to get the most out of each session.

So what’s the secret to mapping out a workout that works for you? It’s understanding what each piece of gym equipment is designed to do — and how it can help you reach your goals

GYM MACHINES EXPLAINED

Your induction should include a brief ‘how-to’ for each machine. If there’s one that was missed out and you want to use it, don’t try to figure it out on your own: ask a staff member to show you how to use it properly.

Using a machine incorrectly can damage the equipment or in extreme circumstances can lead to injury — not a great way to start your time at the gym.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some machines you can expect to find in most gyms:

SECTION 1: CARDIO MACHINES

BEST FOR: Losing weight; strengthening your heart and lungs.

  • TREADMILL — A running machine that can provide a great workout to improve your cardiovascular strength. You can adjust incline and pace depending on what type of workout you’re looking for.
  • ELLIPTICAL CROSS TRAINER — A dual-action trainer that works both your upper and lower body in tandem. Provides a low-impact way of exercising your hamstrings, quads, glutes, chest, back, triceps and biceps.
  • ROWING MACHINE — Simulates the movements of a rower’s body, swapping the water and oars for a handle and chain. A fantastic full-body workout that puts emphasis on your core and melts away fat.
  • EXERCISE BIKE — A sit-down cardio machine that works all of your leg muscles. You can increase resistance to strengthen and tone your legs.
  • STAIR CLIMBER (OR ‘STEPPER’) — Like a treadmill, only with steps! Provides a workout that’s easy on your joints but still works every muscle in your legs.

SECTION 2: RESISTANCE AREA

BEST FOR: Building strength and mass; muscle toning.

  • CHEST PRESS — Simulates a barbell or dual-dumbbell press in a more controlled environment. Sitting at a 45-degree incline is a great way to engage your upper chest muscles without feeling overwhelmed.
  • CHIN-UP MACHINE — Designed to help you become stronger simply by using your own bodyweight. Beginners can use the assisted mode to help make things a little easier.
  • BICEP CURL — A machine that isolates a workout to just your biceps.Good for toning or developing muscle in your upper arms.
  • TRICEP PRESS — Works your triceps, along with your shoulders and lateral muscles, as you push down to lift a weight behind you.
  • CABLE MACHINE — Can be used in multiple ways to work triceps, biceps, chest and more. Doesn’t follow a rigid movement like other machines so it works more of your muscle fibres, which is better for building strength.
  • LEG PRESS — Builds muscle and tones your legs by making you push with your feet against a selected weight. Targets your quads, hamstrings and glutes — perfect for shaping up that behind!

SECTION 3: FLEXIBLE SPACE 

BEST FOR: Conditioning; targeted stretching; rehabilitation; functional training; freestyle group training.

  • KETTLEBELLS — Cannonball-shaped weights with handles. Ideal for merging cardio workouts with strength-training to blast away fat while toning your arms and core.
  • MEDICINE BALLS — A weighted ball typically the same size as a basketball. Best used for strength conditioning and rehabilitation exercises.
  • TRX (flexible suspension system) — A rope-like system that allows you to use your own body weight to tone up and build core strength.
  • WEIGHTED SLED — A piece of equipment you can add weights to and push or pull to develop your strength. Great for sports conditioning.

USING FREE WEIGHTS

People who are new to free weights can sometimes make mistakes that lead to injury. Wandering into the free-weight area of a gym and grabbing whatever dumbbell you fancy can promptly cause you to hurt yourself when it turns out to be heavier than it looks.

The good news is that free weights aren’t dangerous if you use them properly. Here’s how you can get the most out of this area at your club.

  1. START WITH BODYWEIGHT TRAINING

Bodyweight training is a form of training that doesn’t require you to use weights in order to build strength. And building strength — not just muscle — is key.

Bodyweight training is a safer way to prepare your body for weight training than going straight in. Things like squats and push-ups are simple ways to get your muscles used to working against resistance. Ask the staff at your club to recommend somewhere you can strength train. If you’ve never used free weights before, it’s a good idea to do bodyweight training for your first few sessions.

  1. GO FOR LIGHTER WEIGHTS FIRST

The first time you pick up free weights, start at the bottom and work your way up. If you’re training with a barbell, try doing a few reps using just the bar. You’ll be surprised by how heavy they are. If you’re feeling self-conscious, know that experienced deadlifters still warm up by using the bar on its own, so you won’t be the only one.

  1. REMEMBER THE ETIQUETTE

There are a couple of rules you should follow in the free weights area:

  • DON’T DROP WEIGHTS — Dropping weights constitutes a safety hazard. Not only that, but it also damages the kit and disturbs other members. Instead, you should slowly lower weights back down to the floor when finishing your sets.
  • PUT WEIGHTS BACK — Nothing is more frustrating than getting half-way through your session before finding the next set of dumbbells is missing because someone misplaced them. As soon as you’ve finished with your weights, place them back in the correct place on the rack.
  • ASK FOR A SPOTTER BUT BE CONSIDERATE — Some exercises (such as a bench press) are dangerous without a spotter. Our staff are always happy to help, so ask if they could spot you, or try using one of the machines instead. Don’t drag someone else out of a focused workout if you don’t need to.

It can be a little bit daunting to use free weights if you’re unfamiliar, so don’t be afraid to ask a member of staff for some pointers on your technique. It’s what we’re here for!

GYM WORKOUT FOR BEGINNERS

Now that you’re properly acquainted with the equipment, it’s time to start using it.

Though there’s no “one-size-fits-all” workout, we’ve teamed up with Zanna Van Dijk, creator of the #girlgains movement to bring you the ultimate gym workout for beginners. This example workout uses a variety of gym equipment and works your whole body, done right it should take between 45 minutes and an hour to complete.

1. 5-MINUTE CARDIO

A 5-minute fast-paced incline walk on the treadmill to get your heart rate up and mobilise your joints. You can just use the ‘Quick Start’ option

2. RESISTANCE TRAINING 

Choose a weight that you can comfortably lift for 10 reps. The last few reps should be really challenging! Do three sets of 10 reps for each of the following exercises, leaving around 60 seconds’ rest between each set. 

  • Dumbbell lunges
  • Leg press
  • Dumbbell shoulder press
  • Lat pull-down
  • Cable chest fly
  • TRX planks (3 sets of 30 seconds)
  • HIIT cardio circuit

3. HIIT CARDIO CIRCUIT

A HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) circuit is all about intervals of contrasting training, consisting of brief but intense bursts of exercise (where you give maximum effort) are followed by low-intensity recovery or rest periods.

For this HIIT, repeat 5 rounds with minimal rest:

  • 10 burpees
  • 10 press-ups
  • 10 sit-ups

4. STRETCH AND COOL-DOWN

Stretching and cooling down after a workout is essential to preventing injury and be as simple as a gentle 5-minute walk on the treadmill.

SUPPORTING YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY

BOOKING A GYM CLASS

Attending the gym regularly is a fantastic step towards achieving your fitness goals. If you really want to reap the results, though, you should sign up for a gym class.

Gym classes are sessions led by a professional trainer who will take you through a fixed set of exercises. They’re done in groups, so it’s the perfect opportunity to build some friendships as well as pushing yourself a little further than you might when training solo.

There are hundreds of different classes to choose, ranging from yoga and aqua aerobics to boxing and even dance classes. Each class varies in intensity and duration. If you’re just starting out, we recommend going for a low-intensity or low-duration class so you don’t push yourself too hard.

BOOKING A PERSONAL TRAINER

Classes are great for giving you new ideas for workouts, but they can’t always help you move forward with bespoke goals. For this, you might need to work with a personal trainer.

Personal trainers are fitness professionals who work with clients to create custom workouts and provide advice during exercise.

What can a personal trainer help with??

  • Reaching an ideal weight
  • Developing strength
  • Rehabilitation after an injury
  • Improve their performance in a particular sport

Personal trainers usually aren’t covered in the standard membership fee. However, many gym members find it’s worth the cost of even just a few sessions when you’re starting out because it sets you out on the right path, meaning your workouts are more effective going forward. Personal trainers will also keep you accountable to your goals, preventing you from slowly drifting away from your routine.

Gym staff will usually set up a brief ‘meet and greet’ with your personal trainer so you can get to know their training style and they can learn what it is you want to achieve. If you’re wondering how you’ll know if your personal trainer is right for you, these 6 questions can help you decide.

BECOME A GYM PRO

So there you have it: the gym is no longer a mystery. 

In time, it’ll all become second-nature to you. As you build confidence, you’ll begin achieving the goals you set out for yourself and establish a routine that keeps you fit, happy and energised.

Whatever level of fitness you’re at, always remember that if you’re unsure about anything during your exercise experience, staff members and PT’s are always happy to lend a hand. 

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History Of Computer

The computer was born not for entertainment or email but out of a need to solve a serious number-crunching crisis. By 1880, the U.S. population had grown so large that it took more than seven years to tabulate the U.S. Census results. The government sought a faster way to get the job done, giving rise to punch-card based computers that took up entire rooms.

Today, we carry more computing power on our smartphones than was available in these early models. The following brief history of computing is a timeline of how computers evolved from their humble beginnings to the machines of today that surf the Internet, play games and stream multimedia in addition to crunching numbers.

1801: In France, Joseph Marie Jacquard invents a loom that uses punched wooden cards to automatically weave fabric designs. Early computers would use similar punch cards.

1822: English mathematician Charles Babbage conceives of a steam-driven calculating machine that would be able to compute tables of numbers. The project, funded by the English government, is a failure. More than a century later, however, the world’s first computer was actually built.

1890: Herman Hollerith designs a punch card system to calculate the 1880 census, accomplishing the task in just three years and saving the government $5 million. He establishes a company that would ultimately become IBM.

1936: Alan Turing presents the notion of a universal machine, later called the Turing machine, capable of computing anything that is computable. The central concept of the modern computer was based on his ideas.

1937: J.V. Atanasoff, a professor of physics and mathematics at Iowa State University, attempts to build the first computer without gears, cams, belts or shafts.

1939: Hewlett-Packard is founded by David Packard and Bill Hewlett in a Palo Alto, California, garage, according to the Computer History Museum. 

1941: Atanasoff and his graduate student, Clifford Berry, design a computer that can solve 29 equations simultaneously. This marks the first time a computer is able to store information on its main memory.

1943-1944: Two University of Pennsylvania professors, John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, build the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC). Considered the grandfather of digital computers, it fills a 20-foot by 40-foot room and has 18,000 vacuum tubes.

1946: Mauchly and Presper leave the University of Pennsylvania and receive funding from the Census Bureau to build the UNIVAC, the first commercial computer for business and government applications.

1947: William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain of Bell Laboratories invent the transistor. They discovered how to make an electric switch with solid materials and no need for a vacuum. 

1953: Grace Hopper develops the first computer language, which eventually becomes known as COBOL. Thomas Johnson Watson Jr., son of IBM CEO Thomas Johnson Watson Sr., conceives the IBM 701 EDPM to help the United Nations keep tabs on Korea during the war.

1954: The FORTRAN programming language, an acronym for FORmula TRANslation, is developed by a team of programmers at IBM led by John Backus, according to the University of Michigan.

1958: Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce unveil the integrated circuit, known as the computer chip. Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000 for his work.

1964: Douglas Engelbart shows a prototype of the modern computer, with a mouse and a graphical user interface (GUI). This marks the evolution of the computer from a specialized machine for scientists and mathematicians to technology that is more accessible to the general public.

1969: A group of developers at Bell Labs produce UNIX, an operating system that addressed compatibility issues. Written in the C programming language, UNIX was portable across multiple platforms and became the operating system of choice among mainframes at large companies and government entities. Due to the slow nature of the system, it never quite gained traction among home PC users.

1970: The newly formed Intel unveils the Intel 1103, the first Dynamic Access Memory (DRAM) chip.

1971: Alan Shugart leads a team of IBM engineers who invent the “floppy disk,” allowing data to be shared among computers.

1973: Robert Metcalfe, a member of the research staff for Xerox, develops Ethernet for connecting multiple computers and other hardware.

1974-1977: A number of personal computers hit the market, including Scelbi & Mark-8 Altair, IBM 5100, Radio Shack’s TRS-80 — affectionately known as the “Trash 80” — and the Commodore PET.

1975: The January issue of Popular Electronics magazine features the Altair 8080, described as the “world’s first minicomputer kit to rival commercial models.” Two “computer geeks,” Paul Allen and Bill Gates, offer to write software for the Altair, using the new BASIC language. On April 4, after the success of this first endeavor, the two childhood friends form their own software company, Microsoft. 

1976: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak start Apple Computers on April Fool’s Day and roll out the Apple I, the first computer with a single-circuit board, according to Stanford University. 

1977: Radio Shack’s initial production run of the TRS-80 was just 3,000. It sold like crazy. For the first time, non-geeks could write programs and make a computer do what they wished.

1977: Jobs and Wozniak incorporate Apple and show the Apple II at the first West Coast Computer Faire. It offers color graphics and incorporates an audio cassette drive for storage.

1978: Accountants rejoice at the introduction of VisiCalc, the first computerized spreadsheet program.

1979: Word processing becomes a reality as MicroPro International releases WordStar. “The defining change was to add margins and word wrap,” said creator Rob Barnaby in email to Mike Petrie in 2000. “Additional changes included getting rid of command mode and adding a print function. I was the technical brains — I figured out how to do it, and did it, and documented it. “

1981: The first IBM personal computer, code-named “Acorn,” is introduced. It uses Microsoft’s MS-DOS operating system. It has an Intel chip, two floppy disks and an optional color monitor. Sears & Roebuck and Computerland sell the machines, marking the first time a computer is available through outside distributors. It also popularizes the term PC.

1983: Apple’s Lisa is the first personal computer with a GUI. It also features a drop-down menu and icons. It flops but eventually evolves into the Macintosh. The Gavilan SC is the first portable computer with the familiar flip form factor and the first to be marketed as a “laptop.”

1985: Microsoft announces Windows, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. This was the company’s response to Apple’s GUI. Commodore unveils the Amiga 1000, which features advanced audio and video capabilities.

1985: The first dot-com domain name is registered on March 15, years before the World Wide Web would mark the formal beginning of Internet history. The Symbolics Computer Company, a small Massachusetts computer manufacturer, registers Symbolics.com. More than two years later, only 100 dot-coms had been registered.

1986: Compaq brings the Deskpro 386 to market. Its 32-bit architecture provides as speed comparable to mainframes.

1990: Tim Berners-Lee, a researcher at CERN, the high-energy physics laboratory in Geneva, develops HyperText Markup Language (HTML), giving rise to the World Wide Web.

1993: The Pentium microprocessor advances the use of graphics and music on PCs.

1994: PCs become gaming machines as “Command & Conquer,” “Alone in the Dark 2,” “Theme Park,” “Magic Carpet,” “Descent” and “Little Big Adventure” are among the games to hit the market.

1996: Sergey Brin and Larry Page develop the Google search engine at Stanford University.

1997: Microsoft invests $150 million in Apple, which was struggling at the time, ending Apple’s court case against Microsoft in which it alleged that Microsoft copied the “look and feel” of its operating system.

1999: The term Wi-Fi becomes part of the computing language and users begin connecting to the Internet without wires.

2001: Apple unveils the Mac OS X operating system, which provides protected memory architecture and pre-emptive multi-tasking, among other benefits. Not to be outdone, Microsoft rolls out Windows XP, which has a significantly redesigned GUI.

2003: The first 64-bit processor, AMD’s Athlon 64, becomes available to the consumer market.

2004: Mozilla’s Firefox 1.0 challenges Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, the dominant Web browser. Facebook, a social networking site, launches.

2005: YouTube, a video sharing service, is founded. Google acquires Android, a Linux-based mobile phone operating system.

2006: Apple introduces the MacBook Pro, its first Intel-based, dual-core mobile computer, as well as an Intel-based iMac. Nintendo’s Wii game console hits the market.

2007: The iPhone brings many computer functions to the smartphone.

2009: Microsoft launches Windows 7, which offers the ability to pin applications to the taskbar and advances in touch and handwriting recognition, among other features.

2010: Apple unveils the iPad, changing the way consumers view media and jumpstarting the dormant tablet computer segment.

2011: Google releases the Chromebook, a laptop that runs the Google Chrome OS.

2012: Facebook gains 1 billion users on October 4.

2015: Apple releases the Apple Watch. Microsoft releases Windows 10.

2016: The first reprogrammable quantum computer was created. “Until now, there hasn’t been any quantum-computing platform that had the capability to program new algorithms into their system. They’re usually each tailored to attack a particular algorithm,” said study lead author Shantanu Debnath, a quantum physicist and optical engineer at the University of Maryland, College Park.

2017: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a new “Molecular Informatics” program that uses molecules as computers. “Chemistry offers a rich set of properties that we may be able to harness for rapid, scalable information storage and processing,” Anne Fischer, program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, said in a statement. “Millions of molecules exist, and each molecule has a unique three-dimensional atomic structure as well as variables such as shape, size, or even color. This richness provides a vast design space for exploring novel and multi-value ways to encode and process data beyond the 0s and 1s of current logic-based, digital architectures.”

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Motherboard Buying Guide

If you’re looking to build your own PC, or to buy a pre-built PC that you might want to expand or upgrade later, then there’s one component that will serve as its foundation. That component is the motherboard, and it’s an incredibly important piece of the PC puzzle. It determines many of the other components that you’ll be able to choose, and at the same time some other choices — such as the processor that you’ll use in your new PC—determine which motherboard you can use.

After picking a CPU, a complementary motherboard will typically be the next component you select for your build. Let’s break down your motherboard selection into a few (relatively) easy steps.

Before we get started, though, here’s a big tip. One way to make your decision easier is to use Newegg’s comparison feature. If you go to the Newegg motherboard page, you can select up to five motherboards and receive a detailed look at how they compare in terms of many of the topics discussed in this how-to.

What is a motherboard?

A motherboard is a printed circuit board (PCB) that creates a kind of backbone allowing a variety of components to communicate, and that provides different connectors for components such as the central processing unit (CPU), graphics processing unit (GPU), memory, and storage. Most computers made today, including smartphones, tablets, notebooks, and desktop computers, use motherboards to pull everything together, but the only kind you’ll typically purchase yourself are those made for desktop PCs.

ASUS Prime motherboard

Looking at motherboard from the top down, you’ll see a collection of circuits, transistors, capacitors, slots, connectors, heat sinks, and more that all combine to route signals and power throughout the PC and allow you to plug in all of the required components. It’s a complicated product, and many of the technical details are beyond the scope of this how-to. Some of these details are important for your buying decision, though, and we’ll outline them for you below.

As you’re deciding on the right motherboard, you’ll want to make sure that it meets your needs both today and tomorrow. If you know that you’ll never want to upgrade your PC beyond its original configuration, then you can choose a motherboard that provides exactly what you need to get up and running. But if you think you might want to expand your PC later, then you’ll want to make sure your motherboard will support your needs as they grow.

Platform

Perhaps the first decision to make is which CPU you want to serve as the brains of your PC, which means choosing between two companies: Intel and AMD. Both offer CPUs ranging from entry-level options good enough for web browsing, productivity, and low-end gaming all the way up to ultra-powerful beasts that can rip through video editing projects and run today’s most demanding games at high frames per second (FPS).

Both companies are constantly upgrading their products, and so this information can become stale very quickly. As of when this how-to was written, though, Intel is on its ninth-generation of CPUs and AMD has recently introduced its Zen 2 architecture, with Zen 3 expected soon, and third-generation Ryzen CPUs. Which one is right for you will depend on your needs, such as whether you’re most worried about apps that can use multiple processor cores (which might favor AMD’s Ryzen processors) or you’re most worried about games that benefit from the fastest single-core performance (which might favor Intel’s Core processors).

An Intel motherboard

Once you’ve decided which CPU is best for you, then you’ll need to pick a motherboard that uses the right socket and the right chipset. Basically, a processor socket is the mechanism through which a CPU is firmly attached to a motherboard. A chipset is the motherboard software and hardware that combines to allow all the various components to communicate.

Sockets and Chipsets to know

Here are the most important sockets and chipsets today:

SocketSupported CPUsChipsets
LGA 120010th-generation Intel Core Comet Lake (10th-gen): Z490
LGA 11518th and 9th-generation Intel Core Coffee Lake (8th-gen): H310, B360, H370, Q370, Z370
Coffee Lake (9th-gen): Z390, B365, B360
LGA 2066Skylake-X/Kaby-Lake XX299
sTRX43rd-generation AMD Ryzen ThreadripperTRX40
sTR4AMD Ryzen ThreadripperX399
AM4AMD Ryzen, 7th-generation A-Series, and AthlonA300, A320, B350, B450, X370, X470, X570

It’s not so important to understand everything that goes into making a chipset, but it’s vital to understand that you need to select a motherboard with the right chipset—and the right socket—for the CPU that you plan to purchase. It’s also important to know that different chipsets provide support different combinations of components such as RAM, GPUs, and others.

As you do your research and compare motherboards, you will want to make sure that everything you want to accomplish is supported.

Form factor

ASUS Strix motherboardMotherboards come in different sizes, meaning that you have some flexibility in building your PC to fit into your environment. If you have plenty of space then you might want to use a full-size tower case, while if you’re building a home theater PC (HTPC) that’s meant to sit beneath your family room TV then you’ll likely want a much smaller case.

That’s why motherboards come in various sizes, or form factors, and these standards define not only the size of the motherboard but also how many of various components they tend to support. There are variations in the latter, but generally speaking, the larger the motherboard’s physical size the more components it will support. Not all cases support all form factors, and so you’ll want to make sure your motherboard and case match up.

Motherboard form factors to know

The following are several of the more popular form factors and their most common specifications:

Mini-ITXMicroATXATX
Size9.0 x 7.5 inches9.6 x 9.6 inches12 x 9.6 inches
Expansion Slots147
RAMDIMMDIMMDIMM
RAM Slots2Up to 4Up to 8
GPUsUp to 1Up to 3Up to 4
SATA portsUp to 6Up to 8Up to 12

These are general guidelines for some of the most common motherboard form factors. There are more, and they vary in their capabilities. The most important thing is to decide what size PC you want to build or buy, how many components you will want to configure now and into the future, and then pick the motherboard form factor that best fits your needs.

Motherboard Expansion Options

Shielded motherboard baysMotherboards can connect a variety of components in addition to the CPU, including graphics cards, sound cards, networking cards, storage devices and connections, and a host of others. There have been many kinds of expansion ports over the years, but fortunately things have gotten much simpler. Today, you’ll primarily be dealing with Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) ports, with some motherboards also including PCI slots for legacy devices.

PCIe is the most important port and the one you’ll use to connect most components today. There are four sizes of PCIe slots, and the latest standard in common use is PCIe 3.0, with PCIe 4.0 available on the latest Ryzen and Intel Comet Lake compatible boards. These four sizes dictate both the throughput of the connection and its size – you’ll want to make sure that you have enough expansion slots and that they’re of the right sizes to support all of your present and future needs.

The four slots sizes are x1, x4, x8, and x16, with x4 and x16 being the most common. Motherboards vary widely on how many slots they include, and also on their placement. You’ll want to be sure that you have enough slots, and that they have enough space around them to fit all your required components.

GPU support

A GPU in a motherboard, with liquid coolingAll PCs need a way to output information in a visual format that we humans can utilize. In its simplest terms, that means displaying images on a monitor. The component that performs this function in a typical  PC is the graphics card, or GPU, and you’ll need to make sure that your motherboard can support the kind of GPU that you need for your intended uses.

Some Intel Core CPUs come with integrated GPUs that provide the means to display output to a monitor, and AMD has its own version of the same thing called the accelerated processing unit (APU) that combines a CPU with a GPU on the same package. These are relatively low-powered GPUs that are great for the usual productivity tasks, but only support less graphically demanding games (like e-sports titles).

If you need a more powerful GPU, either for gaming or for more demanding applications like video editing that can make use of a GPU for faster processing, then you’ll likely want a standalone GPU. In that case, you’ll want to keep in mind which kinds of GPUs you can connect to your motherboard, and even how many GPUs your motherboard can support.

Connecting your GPUs

PCIe slots

Today, most GPUs connect via PCIe slots, and most use PCIe x16 slots. In addition, most contemporary GPUs require PCIe 3.0 or later. The final requirement is the width available to each PCIe slot, and many GPUs require a width of two slots. This can block some x1 PCIe slots and render them inaccessible, which is okay as long as it doesn’t surprise you. Note that some GPUs can use just the 75 watts of power provided by the PCIe slot, but that most GPUs require more power via six-pin or eight-pin connectors from a large enough power supply.

In choosing your motherboard, therefore, you’ll want to make sure that it provides the right kind of PCIe slots. That means checking the GPU specifications carefully and comparing them to the motherboard’s specifications. If you want to connect two or more GPUs, called “Scalable Link Interface” or SLI by NVIDIA and Crossfire by AMD, then you’ll need two available PCIe slots and a compatible motherboard.

We’ll stress this again because it’s so important: make sure to check your GPU requirements against what your motherboard can provide to ensure that everything will fit together correctly. We’re not discussing power supply specifics in this how-to, but you’ll want to make sure to select a power supply as well that can meet the needs of your GPU at full load along with the rest of your components.

RAM

RAM slotsYour CPU needs somewhere to store information while your PC is turned on and working. That’s called “random access memory,” or RAM, and today PCs are commonly equipped with at least 4GB of RAM. How much RAM you need for your own PC depends on how you plan to use it, and 8GB is typically a safe recommendation for most lighter users with 16 or more GB being a good bet for heavier users.

Today’s RAM plugs into a motherboard via a rectangular slot that’s named for the kind of RAM in use today: the dual in-line memory module (DIMM). The number of DIMM slots in a motherboard determines how much RAM you can add, and it most commonly varies from two to eight slots. You can add one RAM module at a time, but you will get the best performance when you install RAM in matched pairs.

RAM in a motherboard

Capacity ranges from 1GB DIMMs up to 128GB DIMMs, the latter of which are extremely expensive and are typically purchased for use in servers. Most consumer PCs will be equipped with a total of 4GB to 64GB, and RAM is usually purchased in kits of two or four DIMMs. For example, if you were looking to equip your PC with 16GB of RAM, then you would typically buy a kit with two 8GB DIMMS or four 4GB DIMMs.

When you’re selecting your motherboard, be sure it has enough slots, can support all the RAM that you ever plan to configure, and that it can support the fastest RAM that you’ll want to buy. At the same time, you’ll want to think about how to buy your RAM. For example, if you want to start with 8GB of RAM and then grow to 16GB, and your motherboard has four DIMM slots, then you’ll want to start with a kit of two 4GB DIMMs and not a kit of four 2GB DIMMs, since that will allow you to add another kit later and avoid being left with unused RAM.

Storage

Intel Optane SSDsTo use your PC, you’ll need somewhere to store the operating system, applications, and data when the power is off. Today, that means choosing between a hard disk drive (HDD) with spinning platters that store data and solid-state drives (SSD) that store data in much faster flash memory. HDDs are typically less expensive for more storage space, while SSDs are more expensive but offer extra speed, and are great for holding the operating system and applications.

There are a few main storage connectors that you’ll want to consider with buying your motherboard. That includes both the kinds of connections and how many connections you’ll have for adding storage to your PC. Some of these connections are internal, and some are external.

NZXT N7 Motherboard side profileThe most common storage connection today is serial ATA, or SATA. SATA is in its third revision, and SATA 3.0 is a connection that provides up to six gigabits per second (Gb/s) transfer rate. That translates to up to 600 megabytes per second (600MB/s) in read and write speeds for SATA SSDs and usually significantly less than 150MB/s read and write for HDDs.

You can buy both HDDs and SDDs that support SATA 3.0 connections, and motherboards can contain several SATA ports. There are variations of SATA 3.X that provide faster speeds and slightly different connections, including SATA revision 3.2 that uses an M.2 form factor.

An increasingly common storage connection type is NVM Express, or NVMe, that connects via the PCIe bus. This is a newer protocol that offers increased bandwidth, lower power, lower latency, and other advantages. Common NVMe SSDs today can provide theoretical speeds of over 3GB/s read and 1.5GB/s write. NVMe SSDs come in two form factors, cards that plug into PCIe slots and compact versions that plug into M.2 connections.

A small SSD and large HDD

An M.2 connection

Like with many of the components in this how-to, there are many factors involved in choosing the right storage. One common tactic is to buy a relatively small SSD for the operating system and applications, which makes for significantly better performance, and then larger HDDs for storing massive amounts of data like photos and video.

Whatever storage you choose, you’ll want to make sure your motherboard supports your needs for now and into the future. That requires carefully studying a motherboard’s specifications to ensure it can connect all the storage you might one day require. Remember that you can also attach external storage devices if necessary, and that’s a requirement for data that you need to carry around with you.

Connectivity

Motherboard I/O panelWe’ve covered several different ways to connect components to a motherboard, including PCIe, DIMM slots, and storage connections. There are a host of other connection types that motherboards can support today, and once again you’ll want to consider your needs very carefully when selecting a motherboard.

Also, some connections are located directly on the motherboard and internal to the case, and they’re sometimes meant to connect to ports on the front, top, sides, or rear of a case. You’ll also want to consider what ports your case supports and make sure your motherboard provides the required internal connections. Motherboards also have externally-accessible connections in a rear input/output (I/O) panel that fits into a generally standard location on the rear of a case.

Motherboard connections to know

Some connections are located directly on the motherboard and internal to the case, and they’re sometimes meant to connect to ports on the front, top, sides, or rear of a case as well as to other internal and external components. You’ll want to consider what ports your case supports and make sure your motherboard provides the required internal connections, and the same goes for other additions. These connections include a variety of on-board headers that are used to support things like fans, external USB ports, RGB lighting systems, and a variety of manufacturer-specific proprietary products.

This is something that you will want to check carefully as you are selecting components for your new PC. For example, your case might have multiple USB ports that require multiple internal USB headers. And, some water-cooling systems require specific headers for connecting to software that controls lighting and thermal sensors. You will need to make sure that a motherboard includes all of the necessary headers to support all of these kinds add-on components and case features.

Gigabyte motherboard

Basically, think of it this way. The more complex your new PC, the more you will need to dig into your motherboard choice. Nowhere is this more true than regarding the kinds of connections that are present on a motherboard as compared to the various components that you will need to add.

The following are some of the common connections on modern motherboards. Not all motherboards have all these connections, and you’ll find some others as well. The important thing is to make sure that your choice of motherboard has all the connections that you need.

ConnectorLocationPurposeTypical number
Audio for rear panelInternalAllows connecting to a case’s rear external audio jack (if any).1
Audio for front panelInternalAllows connecting to a case’s front external audio jack (if any).1
Digital audio headerInternalAllows connecting to a digital audio jack.1
Front panel headerInternalProvides pins for connecting to font panel LED lights and buttons, such as for power and reset.1
8-pin CPU power connectorInternalAllows for power delivery from the power supply through the motherboard to the CPU. On modern motherboards, this is usually an eight-pin connector.1
24-pin main power connectorAllows for power delivery from the power supply through the motherboard to a variety the connected components, such as PCIe components, RAM, and certain kinds of storage. On modern motherboards, this is usually an eight-pin connector.1
Ancillary power connectorsInternalIn addition, there might be power connections for fans and other additional components.Varies
USBInternal or externalProvides for USB connections, including USB-A 2.0, USB-A 3.X, and USB-C 3.1 ports. There will be internal connectors available for external case ports as well as USB ports for direct connections on the motherboard’s rear I/O panel.Varies
FirewireInternal or externalAn older connection, it allows hooking up a Firewire device.Varies
SATAInternalThese are the connections for SATA HDDs and SSDs.Varies
Display portsExternalIf you have chosen a CPU with integrated graphics, then you will want to use one of the display ports that are in the rear I/O panel. These can include VGA, DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI ports.Varies
Audio jacksExternalIf your motherboard has built-in audio, and most do today, then it will have audio jacks to connect speakers and microphones. How many jacks and what kind of speaker setups they support (from stereo up to 7.1 channel surround sound) will vary based on the motherboard’s audio system.Varies
EthernetExternalToday’s motherboards typically come equipped with gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting to wired networks.1
Wi-Fi antenna jackExternalIf your motherboard includes built-in Wi-Fi networking, then there will typically be a screw-on jack for connecting an external antenna.1

Motherboard Manufacturers

ASUS ROG motherboardNow that you’ve identified what kind of motherboard you’ll need to build out your specific PC, or that should serve as the foundation of that pre-built PC you’ll be picking up, you’ll want to give some thought to its manufacturer. Some companies focus on providing motherboards aimed at gamers, with tons of space for adding GPUs and with LED light systems, while others focus on more mainstream systems.

Some of the best-known motherboard manufacturers are ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, and ASRock. You can view the different options from those companies, as well as others.

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CPU Buying Guide

The CPU matters a lot, whether you’re upgrading your existing system or building a new PC. Higher clock speeds and core counts can make a major difference in performance, providing a snappier system, smoother gameplay and faster completion of intensive tasks such as video editing and transcoding. Plus, the CPU you choose will also dictate your motherboard options, as each processor only works with a specific CPU socket and set of chipsets.

Also, like most aspects of consumer tech, you’ll have to decide to buy the best processor that’s available right now, or wait to see what next-generation chips bring to the table. AMD’s Ryzen 3000 CPUs have continued to impress overall, while Intel continues to iterate on its 14nm Skylake-based architecture. This means that despite price drops on a per-core basis, Intel’s Core i9-10900K isn’t all that impressive, though the Core i5-10600K is much more appealing to those primarily concerned with gaming and mainstream computing tasks. Still, those Intel CPUs have been hard to find in stock since launch, while very good alternatives like the Ryzen 7 37000X and 3800X are readily available and ship with in-box coolers. The 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X brings even more performance to the “mainstream” CPU market, easily impressing us more than Intel’s top-end mainstream 10900K.

If you already know a lot about CPU specs and want recommendations, check out our picks for best CPUs for gaming and best CPUs for performance / desktop applications and the best cheap CPUs of 2020, tested and ranked. But no matter which desktop processor you get, here are some things to keep in mind.

TLDR:

  • AMD has overtaken Intel (in some respects): These days, you’ll generally get more for less with an AMD processor, including a nice in-box cooler and more cores/threads. If you primarily care about gaming, Intel still generally does slightly better on 1080p gaming on some titles (owing primarily to higher clocks). And handles tasks like video editing faster. At many price points, so long as you don’t care only about gaming, AMD delivers more cores and general performance (plus PCIe 4.0 on its latest chips), at a better value.
  • For many tasks, clock speed is more important than core count: Higher clock speeds translate to snappier performance in simple, common tasks such as gaming, while more cores will help you get through time-consuming workloads faster.
  • Get the latest gen: You won’t save much money in the long run by going with an older, previous-generation chip unless that previous-generation chip is a Ryzen that hasn’t been replaced by a current 3000-series part.
  • Budget for a full system: Don’t pair a strong CPU with weak storage, RAM and graphics.

AMD or Intel: Which Should You Get?

Up until 2017, AMD was the clear underdog. But with its Ryzen / Threadripper series chips, the company has moved steadily toward performance parity with Intel. And in workloads that tax many cores, AMD’s latest Ryzen 3000 CPUs have pulled ahead, especially if you factor in the security patches that have arrived over the past year or so. Some fans will have strong opinions, but if you don’t have your heart set on one brand or the other, you should be open to either.

Intel still holds a slight lead in gaming at 1080p in some games, if you’re looking to extract the most frames-per-second possible out of your graphics card to display on your high-refresh monitor. But AMD has narrowed that gap considerably with its new Zen2 architecture, and tends to offer more cores and threads, which makes its CPUs better for professional-grade video editing and animation.

For much more on this, see our Intel vs AMD: Who Makes the Best CPUs? feature.

What do you want to do with your CPU?

It’s tempting to just spend as much as you can afford for a CPU, but you might be better off saving some of your cash for other components. Determine your processor type and max budget based on what you need your computer to do.

  • Basic tasks: $50-$100 (£35-£80) range. If you’re only after a chip that will let you watch video, browse the Web, and do basic productivity tasks like word processing and light spreadsheet work, then an entry-level chip with two or four cores might be just what you need. But if you often find yourself doing more than one of those basic tasks at once, it would be better to step up a model or two. Consider a Ryzen 3, like the AMD Ryzen 3 1300X or AMD Ryzen 3 2200G, or Intel Pentium on the high end of this price range and an Intel Celeron or chips like AMD’s Athlon 200GE on the low end.
  • Gaming: $150-$250 (£120-£220) range. If you’re primarily interested in high-end gaming performance, you should opt for a mid-range Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU. Considering that the graphics card is more important for gaming than the processor, you can save money by not getting a more powerful Core i7 or Ryzen 7 chip.
  • Creative media work or overclocking: $250-$350 (£220-£320) range. If you want more cores or speed for things like video editing—or you just want a fast, capable system with extra overhead for future computing tasks, splurge on a Ryzen 7 chip.
  • Workstation muscle: $400+ (£370+). If you often find yourself waiting minutes or hours for your current system to render your 3D animation or 4K video, or you’re dealing with massive databases and complex math, consider an Intel Core X or AMD Threadripper CPU. These beasts offer massive amounts of physical cores (up to 64 as of this writing) for extreme multitasking (ex: gaming at high settings while streaming and editing) or time-consuming compute tasks. Business users can consider an Intel Xeon (like the recent Xeon W-3175X) or AMD EPYC processor, but those aren’t consumer friendly–or reasonably affordable. For those not quite willing to step up to multi-thousand-dollar CPUs and platforms, AMD’s 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X or 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X are both excellent alternatives that basically bring workstation-class performance to a mainstream platform.

What generation CPU do you need?

Each year or so, Intel and AMD upgrade their processor lines with a new architecture. The current generation for Intel is the company’s “10th Gen Core Series,” like the Core i5-10600K and higher-end Core i9 10900K. AMD’s latest chips are part of its Ryzen 3000 line, like the AMD Ryzen 9 3900XRyzen 7 3800X, and Ryzen 7 3700X, or more recently the Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100. When looking at the model number, you can see the generation as the first digit of the four number (ex: the 8 in Core i7-8400 or the 3 in Ryzen 7 3700X).

How do you read the model names and numbers?

The jumble of brands and numbers that make up a CPU product name can be confusing. Intel and AMD both break down most of their chips into three “good, better, best” categories, starting with Core i3/Ryzen 3, stepping up to Core i5/Ryzen 5, Core i7/Ryzen 7, and Core i9/Ryzen 9. Intel has the Core i9-10900K at the top of its mainstream product stack, as well as extreme/premium tier like the Core i9-10980XE, priced at around $1,000. But for the vast majority of users, these chips are unnecessary and well out of most people’s price ranges.

For users on a tight budget, Intel offers its Celeron and Pentium chips (Pentium is slightly faster) while AMD has its Athlon line. On the extreme high-end, you’ll find AMD’s Threadripper and Intel’s Core X series, along with the Core X/i9 and Xeon W (both mentioned above).

Now, what about the model numbers that come after the 3, 5, or 7? The first digit designates the product generation (Intel’s Core i7-8700 is an 8th Generation Core processor, and AMD’s Ryzen 5 2600 is a 2nd Generation Ryzen processor). The rest of the numbers just mark various models in the line, with higher generally being better (with more cores and/or higher clocks), while a “K” at the end of an Intel chip means it’s unlocked for overclocking. Only a handful of mainstream Intel chips are “K” skus, while nearly all of AMD’s Ryzen processors are unlocked for overclocking (no “K” designation required). An X at the end of AMD model numbers means higher stock clock speeds.

Should you overclock?

Overclocking, the practice of pushing a CPU to its limits by getting it to run at higher-than-specced clock speeds, is an artform that many enthusiasts enjoy practicing. But, if you’re not in it for the challenge of seeing just how fast you can get your chip to go without crashing, overclocking may not be worth the time or money for the average user.

In order to make your CPU achieve significantly higher clock speeds than it is rated for out of the box, you’ll likely spend extra on an enhanced cooling system and an overclocking-friendly motherboard. While nearly all recent AMD chips are overclockable to some extent, if you want to dial up an Intel chip, you’ll have to pay extra for one of its K-series processors (which don’t come with coolers at all). By the time you factor in all these extra costs, if you’re not shopping at the top of the CPU stack already, you’d be better off budgeting another $50-$100 (£30-£70) for a CPU that comes with higher clock speeds out of the box. And remember, even if you do get all the right equipment, you could still get a chip that doesn’t overclock well. Or worse if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could damage your CPU or shorten its lifespan by pushing too much voltage through it.

What are the key CPU specs and which should I care about?

If you’re looking at a spec sheet for a given CPU, you’ll see a lot of numbers. Here’s what to look out for.

  • Clock speeds: Measured in gigahertz (GHz), this is the speed at which the chip operates, so higher is faster. Most modern CPUs adjust their clock speeds up or down based on the task and their temperature, so you’ll see a base (minimum) clock speed and a turbo (maximum) speed listed.
  • Cores: These are the processors within the processor. Modern CPUs have between two and 64 cores, with most processors containing four to eight. Each one is capable of handling its own tasks. In most cases these days, you’ll want at least four cores–or at least four threads (see below).
  • Threads: This is the number of independent processes a chip can handle at once, which in theory would be the same as the number of cores. However, many processors have multithreading capability, which allows a single core to create two threads. Intel calls this Hyper-Threading and AMD calls it SMT (Simultaneous Multithreading). More threads means better multitasking and enhanced performance on heavily-threaded apps such as video editors and transcoders.
  • TDP: The Thermal Design Profile/Power (TDP) is the maximum amount of heat that a chip generates (or should generate) at stock speeds, as measured in watts. By knowing that–for example–the Intel Core i7-8700K has a TDP of 95 watts, you can make sure you have a CPU cooler that can handle that amount of heat dissipation and also that your PSU can provide enough juice. But note that CPUs put out significantly more heat when overclocked. It’s good to know what your TDP is so you can get the right cooling and power equipment to support your CPU. Also, a higher TDP usually coincides with faster performance, although things like process node size and general architecture efficiency come into play there as well.
  • Cache: A processor’s on-board cache is used to speed up access to data and instructions between your CPU and RAM. There are three types of cache: L1 is the fastest, but cramped, L2 is roomier but slower, and L3 is spacious, but comparatively sluggish. When the data a CPU needs isn’t available in any of these places, it reaches for the RAM, which is much slower–in part because it’s physically farther away than a CPU’s on-chip cache.

You shouldn’t pay too much attention to cache size, because it’s hard to equate to real-world performance, and there are more important factors to consider.

  • IPC: Even if you have two CPUs that have the same clock speed and number of threads, if they’re from different companies, or built on different architectures from the same company, they will will produce different numbers of IPC (instructions per clock cycle). IPC is heavily dependent on the CPU’s architecture, so chips from newer generations (ex: a Ryzen 7 3700X with Zen2 versus a Ryzen 7 2700X with Zen+) will be better than older ones.

IPC is not usually listed as a spec and is usually measured through benchmark testing, so the best way to learn about it is to read reviews.

What do you need more: clock speed, cores or threads?

The answer to this question really depends on your regular computing tasks. Higher clocks translate to quicker responsiveness and program load times (though RAM and storage speed is key here as well). Higher clock speeds also mean single-threaded tasks (like audio editing and certain older applications) can happen faster. Many popular games are still lightly threaded.

But many modern programs can take advantage of lots of cores and threads. If you do lots of multitasking or edit high-res videos, or do other complex, time-consuming CPU-heavy tasks, you should prioritize the number of cores. But for the vast majority of gamers and general-purpose computer users, a clock speed ranging from 3-4GHz with four to eight cores is plenty.

What socket does my motherboard need for this CPU?

Different processors require different socket types. If you already own a motherboard and don’t want to replace it, you’ll need to purchase a CPU that matches your board’s socket. Alternatively, you need to make sure that the motherboard you buy is compatible with your new processor.

With its current-generation Ryzen and Athlon parts (barring Threadripper), AMD has adopted a single socket—AM4. That means you should, with a BIOS update, be able to put a first-generation Ryzen chip into second-generation Ryzen motherboard, and vice versa. But due to limitations to the size of available data stored inside BIOS chips and the vast numbers of CPUs AMD has released on AM4, this issue has gotten much more complicated lately.

Intel, on the other hand, has a tendency in recent years not to support backward compatibility with its new chips and older motherboards, even if the socket is effectively the same. For instance, Intel’s socket LGA 1150 and 1151 differ by a single pin, and the version of 1551 designed specifically for 8th Generation Core chips is physically the same as that made for previous 6th and 7th Generation Core processors. But those older 1151-socket motherboards don’t work with newer 1151-socket CPUs, because (Intel says) the newer chips (which have more cores) have different power delivery subsystem needs. Note this just happened again with the move from 9th Generation Core (socket LGA 1151) and 10th Generation (socket LGA 1200).

This complexity is both frustrating from a future upgrade standpoint, and it means you have to buy a newer, more-expensive motherboard for a current-gen chip, even if a more-affordable previous-generation board has all the features you want. Here’s a list of all the current sockets and their respective chipsets for reference.

Socket and Chipset Table

Intel MainstreamIntel MainstreamAMD MainstreamIntel HEDTAMD HEDT (Threadripper)
Current CPU SocketsLGA 1200LGA 1151AM4LGA 2066TR4
Compatible ChipsetsZ490, H470, B460, H410Z390, Z370, Z370, Q370, H370, B365, B360, H310X570, X470, X370, B550, B450, B350, B450, A320, X300, A300X299X399

Bottom Line

When choosing a CPU, first ask what you’re going to do with it, then see how much you can budget for it after you’ve figured out how much you’re spending on other components like your SSD, RAM, GPU and PSU. While processors are important, there’s no point in pairing a high-speed chip with weak graphics (unless you aren’t a gamer) or a slow, spinning mechanical hard drive. While reading about specs like clock speed and thread count is helpful, the best measure of a processor’s performance comes from objective reviews, like those we write here.

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Ghost Hunting Guide

Do you hear strange creaking or rattling noises in your house late at night? Have you had paranormal experiences in the past? It might be time to get a few beginner ghost hunting tips under your belt. Next time you hear or see something mysterious, you’ll be prepared to investigate and document evidence of a ghostly guest.

Be Prepared

Before you embark on your ghost hunting adventure, make sure you have all the necessary supplies. For a beginning ghost hunt, you’ll need a pen and paper to keep track of any paranormal observations, a camera, a flashlight with plenty of batteries and, if possible, a mobile phone for use in emergencies or to track time. You will also want to dress appropriately for your excursion by wearing comfortable shoes or bringing a jacket. More advanced ghost hunters can purchase higher quality materials, such as video cameras, audio recorders or digital laser thermometers, to locate sources of energy. Since this equipment can be pricey, beginners should test the waters with basic gear before investing lots of time and money.

Do Your Research

Even if you’re investigating your own home, it’s a good idea to research a particular location’s haunted history. You can prepare yourself for potential challenges and learn more about the paranormal sightings in an area. For example, if sightings commonly occur in the evening, you’ll know to plan your ghost hunt around that time. You might even find a few pictures of orb backscatter in your research, where a camera’s flash picks up invisible spirits and auras.

Most paranormal interactions take place near battlefields, forts, cemeteries, schools and houses, so you’ll want to check out these locations in your area first.

Never Investigate Alone

Ghost hunts are not only much more fun with a group, but they’re also much safer. You never know what kind of ghouls you’ll encounter, so bringing a buddy or two is advised.

Take special precautions in secluded areas or at night since the terrain might be unfamiliar and your sight may be impaired in the dark.

Plus, if you spot some frightening phantoms, you’ll be able to prove you’re not crazy since all your friends will have seen them as well!

Always Ask Permission

If you’re investigating property that isn’t your own, always ask permission. It’s often best to have the property owner give written consent to avoid any legal troubles due to trespassing. If a property owner doesn’t want you to ghost hunt in a particular area, there’s probably a good reason! To be on the safe side, don’t forget your personal ID if you need identification at any point during your adventure.

Be Safe and Cautious

Safety during a ghost hunt is very important. If you’re well prepared and research the best ghost hunting locations beforehand, your exploration should be exciting and safe. In order to err on the side of caution, you may want to bring a first aid kit with at least bandages and antibiotic ointment to accompany your ghost hunting party. Safe and cautious ghost hunters won’t disturb any angry spirits and will have a more enjoyable adventure overall. After reading these tips, you are equipped to investigate the haunted happenings in your home or elsewhere.

Learning more about a site’s history and the people who lived there is a memorable experience for all ages.

Don’t forget to take plenty of pictures during your expedition to document paranormal sightings and remember your first ghost hunting adventure!

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Mobile Game Development Guide

Mobile Game Development

Mobile gaming has been a potential market for leading companies in the world. From Angry Birds to Clash of Clans, there are so many stories in game development. The mobile game development industry has been using advanced technologies to indulge rich user experience with interactive user interfaces because of mobile devices’ increased utilization for playing games. 

In another record of data, users who used to spend 152 minutes on their mobile phones in 2014 were increasingly using it 215 minutes a day in 2018. And, this too is expected to increase to 234 minutes by 2021. These are the times when people of different age groups use smart devices like smartphones or tablets. The mobility industry has transformed the ways games were presented to the users before. 

Leading marketing company Mediakix reports that about 62% of users installed a game application within the first week of purchasing their brand new smartphones.

A large number of users do not purchase a complete game set up to play their favorite games and play them on their smartphones, laptops, or tablets. 

What Do You Need For Mobile Game Development?

When we plan to develop a mobile game application, code is not the only thing you need to mull on. There are many other significant concerns for any mobile game development company to develop a fully-fledged mobile game. 

  • Impressive Story

The story refers to the media a game development company used to give an interactive overview of the game to let the users know about features and advantages they can leverage with the application. If you know how to put an impressive story at work, then you almost know how to create a mobile game app. 

  • Firm Game Plan 

A game development company can document and implement a strategic game idea, so any deviation in the future can not affect it adversely. 

  • Interactive GamePlay

It is significant to have sustainable GamePlay to indulge in a better game development strategy, which defines the actions performed by any particular character.

  • Advanced Development Tools

Choosing an advanced game development tool can help a good development company efficiently to develop robust game apps. 

  • Capability to Collaborate with External Resources

To gain positive business outcomes from a game application, a company can collaborate with external partners like an app store.

What Are The Different Types Of Mobile Games?

With transforming technology, the range of mobile game applications has widened than before in terms of user experience, usability, and accessibility. Mobile game developers make sure that a single game can have features and properties of other types of games too. 

  • Casual Single-Player Games

Alto’s Adventure, Fortnite, Clash of Clans, etc.

  • Casual Multiplayer Games

PUBG, Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, etc.

  • Location-based mobile games

Geocaching, BotFighter, Ingress, etc.

  • Augmented reality games

Pokemon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Jurassic World Alive, etc.

  • Multipurpose games

Miitomo

What Are The Platforms Used for Mobile Game Development?

Mobile game developers are using different types of tools and platforms to develop mobile games. Although all of the mobile game development platforms comprise some unique features, there are a few most used mobile game development or Android studio game development platforms as listed below;

  1. Unity,
  2. Godot, 
  3. Amazon Lumberyard, 
  4. BuildBox, 
  5. Unreal Engine, 
  6. CryEngine, 
  7. SpriteKit, 
  8. GameMaker Studio, etc.

What Makes a Mobile Game Successful?

The world of mobile gaming has gained immense popularity in recent years. With transformative resources adopted by mobile game development companies, technology has played significant roles in delivering outstanding user experience. Mobile games are accessible to everyone with no cost payable. Mobile game companies and game designers are using highly interactive designs that make mobile gaming more lively and interactive. These are the things that make mobile gaming a popular technological asset of this decade. 

Total Spending on Digital Products in Canada

Mobile Game Development

Developers of a successful mobile game always know who their audience is and how to develop a successful game app. They synchronize the design and development of the game to create a perfect combination for any world-class level game that would be played by people sitting in different parts of the world. 

It cannot be something that people of a community or area do not find interesting. An ideal game always interacts with its users with no complexities or time-taking installations or updates. 

Process of Turning Your Mobile Game Development Idea Into Reality

With immense market potential, the mobile gaming industry inspires numerous business leaders to take the initiative to develop more engaging and transformative games. The mobile game application development community should understand what modern-age gamers seek in this age to conform their creations to modern age gamers’ needs and interests. 

Organizations in mobile game development are utilizing engaging graphics, secure & structured mechanics, increased number of utilities and have made things feel more realistic. The best mobile game developers consider social gaming in mobile game development a significant factor. 

Mobile Game Development

In modern-age games, social gaming has provided gamers with a facility to share their scores to a large community comprising their friends, family members, and other connections. 

1. Do Your ‘Research’ for Mobile Game Development

Before going into game development or designing, it is considered a good practice to begin with thorough research of the game development. Research may include a prototype or presentation emphasizing the features of the product you are going to transform into reality. 

Building a viable game prototype first rather than diving directly into the development of a full-fledged business idea is considered the best practice in the process of mobile game development. 

In the initial game development steps, you can begin by analyzing your competitors’ charts and trends. You can know about the behavior of your target audience to develop games of their interests. A research plan can help you to understand the needs and scope of the game development market. 

The fundamental idea of game-oriented research conceptualizes knowing all specific requirements of different methods that participate in mobile game development. Your research would define the need for creating blocks. 

Some of the elements of research comprise studying game development components like user studies, community dynamics, design analysis, tool support, marketing, and effective business models. 

2. ‘Tell Your Story’ for an Engaging Mobile Game Development

Game stories play a particular role in the field of mobile gaming. To make your users or gamers know about the purpose and features, you can tell a game story comprising a thorough explanation of characters, stages, and rewards. 

The utilization of ideation can play a significant role in mobile game apps development and engaging game stories based on a unique idea. You can draw the story of your game in a way that would appeal to your target audience to help you gain benefits. 

The story of your game should dictate things like:

  1. Characters in your game like hero & villains 
  2. An engaging elaboration of their powers
  3. How do they win & lose?
  4. Additional rewards and possible updates

It is not mandatory to create stories for games such as a puzzle game where you do not need to create unnecessary story elements. Those elements themselves should tell the story of your game.

3. ‘Create a Plan’ for Prioritizing Tasks in Mobile Game Development Process

For any game development project, it is significant to create and indulge in a careful game plan. The prime reason for this approach is to avoid deviating to new ideas from indulging in a thoroughly contemplated plan during the Android game development process. An apt game development plan helps game developers to convey and implement your ideas to the team members more effectively.

A typical game plan may include the below-mentioned elements in particular:

  1. The technical architecture of the game & its development
  2. Art or Graphics
  3. Design or Gameplay
  4. Marketing

Moreover, it is not feasible to emphasize any particular component of the above specifically. Considering an agile process for game development, you can work with all the plan components collaboratively. Any transformation introduced in one element of the game plan can probably amend other game plan components too. 

4. Know the ‘Total Cost’ for Making Viable Mobile Game Development Budget

To determine an estimated mobile game development cost and making it into a market-ready product, a game development company considers several factors that may affect the total development cost of a mobile game. 

Since the market for game development has lots of opportunities for earning a high return on investment (ROI), it becomes more significant to analyze the factors to estimate the cost for game development. 

Below are some of the most significant factors besides of development contributing to determine the total development cost for a mobile game;

  • Mobile OS, the Game Will Run On

There are differences in the cost of payment integration and administration systems for different operating systems. iOS-based games are typically costlier for integrating the afore-mentioned game components for mobile gaming app development.

  • Pre-development Expenses

Before you get into your game’s development process, you need to have a game design or gameplay that determines the characters and their actions. Alongside this, you may also need an effective game plan, as mentioned in the earlier sections of this blog. To convey it to your members, you need to document it with the help of an expert.

  • Post-development Expenses 

There is still a significant part of the expenses spent on processes like testing and marketing after game development. 

5. Start ‘Developing’ the Game Using the Best-Suited Mobile Game Programming

Development is the most significant part we are discussing in this blog. The process of mobile game development can transform a game design and user-experience with tweaks of code. The first thing rising in a developer’s mind is the environment or platform that the game will run to develop a mobile game. 

Choosing among multiple platforms or making cross-platform, is the particular thing a developer is required to contemplate. It can directly affect the number of revenues a game can generate in the future. So it is recommended to choose an OS that you consider the most profitable for your business and most used by the gamers. 

6. Creating an ‘Interactive design’ for Profitable Mobile Game Development

The significance of design in mobile games is far more than in mobile apps. The gamers would prefer to use a game application not because it would provide them with some sort of product or services or information that may create impacts on their lives directly but for entertainment and win rewards after qualifying different stages. 

It is highly significant to empower the interface with an interactive design to keep the game users engaged in a game app. 

7. Plan the ‘Monetization Strategy’ for Your Game

Every game development company probably wants to earn high ROIs from the games they develop. An organization can utilize In-app purchases (IAP), ads, or both ways to monetize their games. Monetization strategy is probably decided based on the genre of the games.

Profitable Mobile Game Development

The best time to plan the monetization strategy of your games is in the earliest phases of developing a mobile game. It will avoid any setbacks before launching the game and help you grow revenues for your business right from day one. Collaborating with an ad network can ensure faster growth of your game. 

8. Increase ‘User Engagement’ for Successful Mobile Game Development Process

User engagement is a prime way to convert non-paid mobile gamers into paid customers. Organizations can utilize different methods like coordinating emails, push and in-app notifications with interactive messages featuring exciting benefits for game users. 

It encourages them to perform actions that may help you to gain more user engagement on your games. Marketing is a critical task when it comes to growing your player base. 

Many game app development companies collaborate with a mobile game publisher to gain more user engagement.

Online Games Market in the United States from 2010 to 2020

Mobile Game Development

9. Collaborate with a Game App Development Company

Pitching your game to a successful mobile game publisher can help promote your game in many relevant forums and app stores where you can get an unparalleled reach to many users visiting their platforms. These game publishers provide excellent monetization and marketing benefits to a game developer to gain high ROIs. 

Conclusion

Emphasizing all significant components of mobile game development, we tried to explain the mobile game development guide to our readers about how they can indulge the benefits of a strategic mobile game app development to grow their businesses. To provide users with rich user experience, game developers can make a mobile game with regular updates, and new features. 

Transforming a game idea into reality is never an easy thing to do. To utilize the next-level game development for businesses, organizations can consult a mobile game development company that knows how to develop a mobile game and grow themselves like never before. 

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SMS Marketing Guide

What Is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing refers to the use of text messages to promote a business’s products and services, as well as build customer loyalty. This digital marketing strategy is often referred to as mass texting. It works similarly to email marketing but has been shown to be significantly more effective. 

SMS marketing has come a long way since the early 2000’s. It’s no one-trick pony. Businesses use it to:

  • Boost sales: Send promotions, discounts, and limited-time offers to grow revenue
  • Build relationships: Provide customer service and support with 2-way conversations
  • Engage your audience: Quickly share important updates and new content
  • Generate excitement: Host text-to-win sweepstakes or text-to-vote polls
  • Collect leads: Allow potential customers to sign-up for texts or send in one-off questions
  • Nurture leads: Follow-up with leads and keep them engaged with the occasional text

Does SMS Marketing Really Work?

Yes. On average, 98% of all text messages are read. And 90% of those messages are read within just three minutes. 

With social media, you could have the greatest marketing messaging in the world—but the algorithms only show your content to a fraction of your followers. And with email, you can spend a lot of time on design and copy that ends up in a spam folder or is just plain ignored. 

That’s why texts are the ultimate marketing medium. They’re easy to send, and almost always read.

Benefits of SMS Marketing

In our 2020 SMS marketing report, we surveyed hundreds of U.S. consumers, business owners, and marketers. According to the data, 60% of businesses reported that they plan to increase their text marketing budget over the next year.

Here’s why:

Case study after case study backs up the effectiveness of SMS. 

From higher customer satisfaction to increased conversion rates, businesses that use mass text messaging are reaping the benefits.

Measuring the Results of Text Message Marketing

A common misconception is that marketing via SMS can’t be measured. The truth is, just like email, you can easily see if it’s driving ROI. 

Common SMS marketing benchmarks include:

Click-through rate (CTR)
The average email open rate is just over 21%. The CTR is under 3%. With texts, 98% of messages are opened and links receive an average CTR of 17%.

Conversion rate
This is how many people took an action—such as making a purchase—after clicking your link. You can use Google Analytics and UTM parameters to determine the conversion rate of your texts, for free. The average SMS conversion rate is about 45%.

Why is it so high? Well, consider the fact that people who sign up for your texts are your most engaged fans. They want to hear from you. This is the last group of people who you’d want to miss out on by relying on email alone. 

On top of this, people spend close to three hours a day on their phones–making it less likely they’ll miss your message.

List growth
Without a list of phone numbers, you have no one to message. Steady, consistent list growth is a good indicator of success. Later in the guide, we cover how to grow your list.

Unsubscribe rate
Churn happens. People will inevitably reply STOP to your message. Once they do, they will no longer receive messages. Unsubscribe rates vary by industry, but as a rule of thumb, it should be less than 3% per campaign. 

ROI
The big kahuna. This lets you answer whether SMS is making you money or not. Just take a look at the purchases made or influenced by SMS, subtract how much you spent sending the messages, then divide by the total amount spent on SMS marketing.

How to Collect Phone Numbers for SMS Marketing

If you’ve read this far, we hope you’re convinced that text messaging is a useful tool that drives measurable results. Now, let’s talk about how to get started.

The first step is to collect phone numbers. There are several ways to do this and they work best when used together.

No matter which tactic you decide to use, you should always provide value. This can be in the form of a discount or exclusive content that can’t be found elsewhere. People are protective of their phone number. You have to give them a reason to trust you with it.

Keywords
A keyword is a short word or phrase people can text in to your number to sign up for messages. For example, a shoe store may encourage customers to “Text RUN to 900900.” 

Keywords can be advertised on:

  • Television ads
  • Radio commercials
  • In-store signage
  • Social media posts

Mobile Sign-Up Widget
Capture phone numbers from visitors to your site with this free tool. When someone clicks on the widget, the text message app on their mobile device will open with your keyword and phone number pre-filled in.

Click-to-Text Buttons
If your goal is to start 1-on-1 conversations with customers, a click-to-text button is for you. When someone is browsing your site from their phone, all they need to do is click the button to start a text conversation with you.

Web Forms
You likely already have a form on your site to collect emails. Add an optional phone number field to it and watch your SMS list grow. Just be sure to add a checkbox people can use to provide express written consent.

Email
This sounds like a weird one, we know. Use email to get people to sign up for texts. Here’s the thing: your top fans probably don’t want your messages getting lost in their promotions folder. 

They want to read your messages as soon as they’re sent. All you have to do is send an email with a call-to-action that includes a link to your web form—or a keyword!

Facebook Ads
You can use Facebook ads to go after highly specific groups of people. One underutilized tactic is to create a Facebook Lead Gen Ad. This allows people who click on your Facebook ads to provide their phone number to you to learn more about your product or service.

Text-to-Vote or Text-to-Win Contests
This is another tactic that relies on keywords. Encourage people to text in to your phone number to win a prize or vote in a contest. A bit like American Idol, if you will, but you don’t have to be ABC to afford it.

Checkout
Encourage people to sign up for texts as they’re checking out. This can either be done in-person if you have a retail location with a digital POS or on your online store. You must follow TCPA law and use the proper disclaimers.

Popular SMS Campaign Ideas

Follow the advice above, and you’re sure to build your list quickly. So now comes the million-dollar question: what should you send? Here are our favorite ideas.

Send a Discount

The text message inbox is normally reserved for family and friends. It’s a good idea to thank your subscribers for signing up by sharing a discount. This can be as simple as 10% off one of your products, like this message from Outer Aisle:

Provide Advice or Tips

What are you an expert at? If you have a cosmetics brand, it may be on how to develop the ultimate nighttime skincare routine. If you sell cookware, maybe you have useful cooking tips. 

Leverage your knowledge to provide value to your audience in a unique way. Consider sharing weekly tips with your audience. 

The brand Equal Parts takes things a step further by encouraging customers to text in their questions to a professional chef:

Share Your Content

Creating content is hard. Distributing it doesn’t have to be. Just send a text. Consider this example:

The Twenty is a QVC-style show that’s hosted on Instagram live. They partner with brands to offer exclusive discounts.

Leading up to an episode, they send out a text announcement revealing which brand will be featured that week. On the day of the show, they send a link to the livestream. 

You can use this tactic for any piece of content. Our customers have seen their mobile traffic increase by 400% after sending an SMS.

Collect Reviews

Customer reviews can seriously boost conversion rates. Texts are a convenient way to collect them. After a customer makes a purchase, you can send a text message with a link to Google Reviews, Trustpilot, or even your website’s review page.

Reviews are especially important for brands trying to sell on Amazon. Matykos beauty used SMS marketing to increase their rankings:

What Number Should You Use for SMS Marketing?

We’ve spoken about how to get your customers’ to share your phone number. But what number should you share with them? Or in other words, if someone wants to text you—what number should they type into their phone? You have a few options.

Toll-free numbers

The most popular option is a 10-digit, toll-free number. They’re extremely versatile. They can be used to send text blasts and have 2-way conversations. Every SimpleTexting account comes with a toll-free number by default.

Local numbers

If you plan to use texting to have 1-on-1 conversations with customers, you should consider getting a number with your area code. People will appreciate how familiar it feels. 

That said, local numbers have limitations. You cannot text large groups of people at once. If you need to reach groups of 200 people or more at once, a toll-free number is a better bet.

Keep your current number

If your brand already has a phone number, you can also text-enable it with SimpleTexting. Yes, even if it’s a landline. 

That’s exactly what our customer, Yesterday’s Books, did. They had been using the same number for 40 years. Customers recognized the number and the store is now able to send texts from the same number.

Short codes

Have you ever come across a company advertising a short, 5 or 6-digit number? Something like “Text WIN to 900900 to enter our sweepstakes!” This type of number is known as a short code. 

We can help you lease your own dedicated short code, but the prices can be prohibitive for most small businesses. 

A more accessible option is a shared short code, which as the name implies, is a number shared by many brands. However, AT&T and other carriers plan to discontinue this type of number soon. Therefore, it’s not a great long-term solution.

SMS Marketing Best Practices: Do’s and Don’ts

Text marketing is easy, especially when you know what pitfalls to avoid. We have an entire guide dedicated to SMS marketing best practices. 

Here’s what you absolutely need to know:

Do Get Consent Properly

Just because you have a list of phone numbers, doesn’t mean you’re in the clear to start texting them.

If you use SMS marketing, you must follow the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). It’s not just important. It’s the law. 

And according to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), customers must give businesses “express written consent” before a business sends them automated promotional text messages. 

Our SMS compliance guide is a good starting point to educate yourself on this topic. 

Do Check Your Replies

Many SMS marketing platforms only offer one-way texting. With SimpleTexting, you can also manage replies.

Even if you only want to send bulk SMS, people will intuitively think they can reply to your messages. (Incoming SMS messages on SimpleTexting are completely free.) 

Make it a habit to log in to your account and reply to any questions that may have been sent in. 

Take a look at how 1-800-Contacts uses texting. They send shipping notifications, and allow customers to text in their prescription. Agents are ready to reply if there are any issues:

Do Get Creative

Have you ever listened to a song so much that you get sick of it? The same can happen with your texts. Keep things interesting with a variety of offers. 

Send a discount one week, a tip the next, and then a fun piece of content the following. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Texts are no longer limited to 160 characters. With MMS, you can include up to 1,600 characters of text and even attach images too!

Here’s an example from Jurassic Quest, a traveling dinosaur exhibit. They don’t just send announcements, they also let people text in their dinosaur questions which are answered by an expert!

Don’t Send Too Often

Use your texts wisely. People ignore or filter their emails, so they may not mind getting several per week. On the other hand, one text per week is likely enough for most brands. 

This isn’t a hard and fast rule. For example, professional organizer Tanisha Porter sends daily tips to her subscribers. Actually, they pay for these daily tips.

The key is to set expectations. When someone signs up for your texts, they should be aware of how many times per month they can expect to hear from you.

Don’t Forget to Provide Value

To get, you have to give. Customers will be thrilled to provide their phone number if you’ll give them something valuable in return. 

When you promote your SMS marketing program, take the time to craft a great offer that will get people excited. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Delta Sonic offered a free slushie to customers and went from zero subscribers to tens of thousands.

Don’t Be Spammy

Before you send a text, ask yourself whether it sounds like there’s a real human on the other end of the line. If the answer is yes, your customers are much more likely to reply or click on your message. 

However, if your message says something like “Do U want HUGE savings? Shop now!!!” then it’s more than likely that customers will unsubscribe.

Can SMS Marketing Be Automated?

The idea of texting thousands of people can sound time consuming, but it’s not. It only takes a few minutes to write a text and click send. Not to mention you can also automate your texts:

Connect Your Apps

With Zapier, you can create if/then statements to automate your work. For example, if a customer fills out a Google form, then send them a text. 

This list goes on. You can send an automated text when:

  • A new lead is entered into your CRM
  • A customer schedules an appointment
  • A purchase is completed on your website

Also, you can make text messages the trigger of other actions. You may want to do the following:

  • Add new SMS subscribers to your email service (We have a native integration with Mailchimp!)
  • Forward incoming text messages to Slack
  • Add new SMS subscribers to a Google sheet

These are the tip of the iceberg. There are many ways to connect the apps you use most to SimpleTexting.

Create a Drip Campaign

Campaigns are a great way to send your latest announcements, but they have one problem: new subscribers don’t see the campaigns you previously sent. That’s where drip campaigns come in. 

With a drip campaign, you can create a series of messages that go out on a schedule. This schedule is trigger after someone signs up for your list.

For example, you could have one SMS go out immediately then another two days later, and once more the following week. You can even set delivery windows to ensure no messages go out at night or on weekends.

The point is, text messages drip campaigns are an easy way to keep your subscribers engaged automatically. 

Turn On Your Away Message

In our section on the do’s and don’ts of SMS marketing campaigns, we mentioned how important it is to check your replies. If you have a small team, you may not be able to do this frequently. Luckily, you can set up an automated away message that replies for you.

You can even set your office hours so the auto reply will send outside of them:

This is also your chance to set expectations around when and how often you check your texts:

So, Is Email Dead?

With all of this said, should you stop sending emails? No. We’re text marketing evangelists, but even we don’t think you should forego all other marketing channels. 

That’s because text messages can easily fit into or complement your other marketing channels. This is especially true for email marketing. 

A lot of business owners and marketers worry that these two channels will compete with each other, diluting their individual value.

The opposite happens, and we’ve seen brands like the multi-location restaurant Blue Baker use SMS and email together to drive a 162% increase in its coupon redemptions.

This is because it requires communication across multiple channels to drive someone to take action.

The Wrap on SMS Marketing

Thousands of businesses are realizing how powerful SMS marketing can be. It’s being used by top-selling real estate agents, growing churches, successful e-commerce brands and everyone in between. 

Despite its popularity, SMS continues to be one of the most underutilized marketing channels. This presents huge upsides for companies who are willing to try it. There’s never been a better time to get started than now.

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Cement Type Guide

Hydraulic cements are the proper name for the binding agents used in concretes and most mortars. They are so-called because they interact with water to produce a hydrated gel of the calcium-, silica- and aluminate-containing mineral mix that comprises cement. This reaction produces the strength and durability of cement.

Hydraulic cements are broadly divided into inherently hydraulic cements, which set when reacted with an excess of water, and pozzolanic cements, which are siliceous and must be mixed with hydrated lime.

Types of Cement

Hydraulic lime

This is a niche product, and refers to lime-containing mostly calcined pozzolanic clay-rich limestone, with free lime, which forms the active constituent in natural cements.

Natural cements

Also called Roman cements, these consist of argillaceous limestone (“cement rock”). The quality may depend on the presence of other ingredients in the local limestone which enhance cementing properties. These were prominent before the introduction of Portland cement and faded out subsequently.  

Portland cement

This artificial cement is preferred for its standardized properties, achieved by mixing multiple raw ingredients in a uniform composition and holding them at much higher temperatures than with natural cements. It comprises Portland cement clinker finely inter-ground with a small percentage of gypsum or another form of calcium sulfate, at up to 5% ground limestone. The final properties may be fine-tuned by changing the mix, physical characteristics, and temperature.

Types of Portland cement

These are classified as:

  • Type I or general use or ordinary Portland cement or (in Europe) Portland cement CEM I: this is

the cement most commonly used throughout the world in civil engineering, and building works.It makes versatile, durable and forgiving concretes and mortars, but is the least sustainable type of cement.

  • Type II or general use Portland cement with moderate sulfate resistance and heat of hydration
  • Type III or high early strength (rapid-hardening) Portland cement
  • Type IV or Portland cement with low heat of hydration
  • Type V or high sulfate-resistant Portland cement

Types I, II, and III may have air-entraining agents added to them, to incorporate tiny bubbles which confer freeze-thaw resistance.

Hybrids such as Type I/II meet the specifications of more than one type.

Factory-made composite cements

As used here, the expression ‘factory-made composite cements’ means any cement that comprises Portland cement clinker (usually Type I) inter-ground with 5% to 30% of one or more additional inorganic constituents (power station fly ash, blast furnace slag and/or limestone), plus gypsum.

The British/European standard for common cements, BS EN 197-1, classifies factory-made composite cements into CEM II – V, or any ‘non-CEM I’ cement specified in the standard.

Two of these, CEM II/M and CEM V, include the word ‘composite’ in their names. In general, these cements, when used appropriately, perform as well as CEM I cement and with better strength under certain conditions.

Blended cements resist chemicals, are denser, with enhanced flux and reduced heat of hydration, and have comparable strength. Most blended cements today are not factory-made, but blended by cement/concrete production companies.

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In the ASTM C-595, blended cements are classified as:

  • Portland blast furnace slag cement (IS) with 25%–70% slag, for general purpose uses, subcategorized as; type IS (MS) which is moderately sulfate-resistant, type IS (A) which contains air bubbles when placed, and type IS (MH) that has moderate hydration heat.
  • Portland-pozzolan cement based on Portland or IS cement, plus 15%–40% pozzolans of unspecified type. Two types are distinguished: types IP and P, for general use, with subtypes IP (MS), IP (A), and IP (MH) as before; and type P with less early strength, with the same subcategories, plus type P (LH) with low hydration heat.
  • Portland-limestone cement or type IL
  • Ternary blended cement or type IT

Blended cements with special performance characteristics include:

  • Pozzolan-modified Portland cement or I (PM) based on Portland cement and <15% pozzolans, for general use, modified as types I(PM)(MS), I(PM)(A); and I(PM)(MH).
  • Slag-modified Portland cement or I (SM), with < 25% slag, for general use, and the same modifiers as before (types I(SM)(MS), I(SM)(A), and I(SM)(MH)).
  • Slag cement or type S, containing 70% or more of slag, and with air entrainers, used to make concrete with Portland cement, or a pozzolan-lime cement (mortar) with lime. In the US, slag cement means unblended 100% granulated blast furnace slag used in concrete as a cementitious additive or part-replacement for Portland cement, like IS or I (SM) cements.

Factory-made composite cements can be substituted for CEM I cements in masonry mortars on a 1:1 basis .

Sulfate-resisting cements

Sulfate-resisting Portland cement (SRPC), conforming to BS 4027, is a CEM I cement with a high iron oxide content and low mineral phase, making it low-alkali and sulfate-resistant. It is no longer manufactured in the UK due to its high clinker content. This category includes CEM II/B-V type of Portland-fly ash cement with 25% or more fly ash.

Rapid-hardening Portland cements

Rapid-hardening CEM I cements have smaller particles and faster strength gain than ordinary CEM I.  it produces more early heat, suitable for colder climates, and is used mostly for precast concrete units, ensuring rapid reuse of molds and formwork.

Rapid-setting and extra-rapid hardening cements are mixtures of CEM I and a non-Portland cement such as calcium aluminate or calcium sulfoaluminate.

White cement

White cement is CEM I typically made from pure chalk and white clay (kaolin) containing very small quantities of iron oxides and manganese oxides.  It is used mainly for architectural details exposed to the eye.

Masonry cements

Masonry cements are used for low-strength applications like bricklaying, block laying, rendering, and plastering work.  They contain Portland cement CEM I plus 6% to 35% limestone or hydrated lime – properly called Portland-lime cements. Masonry cements produce workable, cohesive mortars that resist freeze/thaw. Another type is plastic cement with <12% additives such as air-entraining plasticizers.  

Expansive cements

Most concretes shrink as they dry out.  Expansive cements are typically mixtures of Portland and calcium sulfoaluminate clinker, optimized for gypsum content, and retain or enhance their volume.

Environmental cements

In principle, environmental cements are of two types: those that treat and encapsulate environmental residues (contaminated soils, sludges, and wastes), and those that reduce environmental impact (eco-cements/low energy/low carbon cements) by less energy usage, use of recycled materials, and/or lower emissions.

Non-Portland cements

These products have less embodied energy and a smaller ‘carbon footprint’, making them more sustainable. Their potential depends on local material availability. Niche products include calcium aluminate cement (high alumina) for refractory or rapid-hardening cements, magnesium oxychloride cement for flooring, and magnesium phosphate cement for rapid repair of roads and airport runways.

ASTM C-1157 cement classification

ASTM C-1157 is a performance-based classification:

  • Type GU: general use cement (performs like Type I in ASTM C-150)
  • Type HE: high early strength cement (like Type III)
  • Type MS: moderate sulfate resistance (like Type II)
  • Type HS: high sulfate resistance (like Type V)
  • Type MH: moderate heat of hydration (like Type II)
  • Type LH: low heat of hydration (like Type IV)

Option R is added if they are not alkali-reactive.  

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Teeth Care Guide

Take care of your teeth

Achieving healthy teeth takes a lifetime of care. Even if you’ve been told that you have nice teeth, it’s crucial to take the right steps every day to take care of them and prevent problems. This involves getting the right oral care products, as well as being mindful of your daily habits.

1. Don’t go to bed without brushing your teeth

It’s no secret that the general recommendation is to brush at least twice a day. Still, many of us continue to neglect brushing our teeth at night. But brushing before bed gets rid of the germs and plaque that accumulate throughout the day.

2. Brush properly

The way you brush is equally important — in fact, doing a poor job of brushing your teeth is almost as bad as not brushing at all. Take your time, moving the toothbrush in gentle, circular motions to remove plaque. Unremoved plaque can harden, leading to calculus buildup and gingivitis (early gum disease).

3. Don’t neglect your tongue

Plaque can also build up on your tongue. Not only can this lead to bad mouth odor, but it can lead to other oral health problems. Gently brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.

4. Use a fluoride toothpaste

When it comes to toothpaste, there are more important elements to look for than whitening power and flavors. No matter which version you choose, make sure it contains fluoride.

While fluoride has come under scrutiny by those worried about how it impacts other areas of health, this substance remains a mainstay in oral health. This is because fluoride is a leading defense against tooth decay. It works by fighting germs that can lead to decay, as well as providing a protective barrier for your teeth.

5. Treat flossing as important as brushing

Many who brush regularly neglect to floss. “Flossing is not just for getting those little pieces of Chinese food or broccoli that may be getting stuck in between your teeth,” says Jonathan Schwartz, DDS. “It’s really a way to stimulate the gums, reduce plaque, and help lower inflammation in the area.”

Flossing once a day is usually enough to reap these benefits.

6. Don’t let flossing difficulties stop you

Flossing can be difficult, especially for young children and older adults with arthritis. Rather than give up, look for tools that can help you floss your teeth. Ready-to-use dental flossers from the drugstore can make a difference.

7. Consider mouthwash

Advertisements make mouthwash seem necessary for good oral health, but many people skip them because they don’t know how they work. Schwartz says mouthwash helps in three ways: It reduces the amount of acid in the mouth, cleans hard-to-brush areas in and around the gums, and re-mineralizes the teeth. “Mouthwashes are useful as an adjunct tool to help bring things into balance,” he explains. “I think in children and older people, where the ability to brush and floss may not be ideal, a mouthwash is particularly helpful.”

Ask your dentist for specific mouthwash recommendations. Certain brands are best for children, and those with sensitive teeth. Prescription mouthwash is also available.

8. Drink more water

Water continues to be the best beverage for your overall health — including oral health. Also, as a rule of thumb, Schwartz recommends drinking water after every meal. This can help wash out some of the negative effects of sticky and acidic foods and beverages in between brushes.

9. Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables

Ready-to-eat foods are convenient, but perhaps not so much when it comes to your teeth. Eating fresh, crunchy produce not only contains more healthy fiber, but it’s also the best choice for your teeth. “I tell parents to get their kids on harder-to-eat and chew foods at a younger age,” says Schwartz. “So try to avoid the overly mushy processed stuff, stop cutting things into tiny pieces, and get those jaws working!”

10. Limit sugary and acidic foods

Ultimately, sugar converts into acid in the mouth, which can then erode the enamel of your teeth. These acids are what lead to cavities. Acidic fruits, teas, and coffee can also wear down tooth enamel. While you don’t necessarily have to avoid such foods altogether, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful.

11. See your dentist at least twice a year

Your own everyday habits are crucial to your overall oral health. Still, even the most dutiful brushers and flossers need to see a dentist regularly. At minimum, you should see your dentist for cleanings and checkups twice a year. Not only can a dentist remove calculus and look for cavities, but they will also be able to spot potential issues and offer treatment solutions.

Some dental insurance companies even cover more frequent dental checkups. If this is the case for you, take advantage of it. Doing so is especially helpful if you have a history of dental issues, such as gingivitis or frequent cavities.