In case you didn’t notice, most of the world is suffering from a major outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, and our attempt at slowing the spread and reducing the deaths has been to keep everyone isolated at home. This is meant to slow the spread of the infection so that the hospital and healthcare systems can try to keep up with the pandemic.
Staying at home kind of sucks though! I’m used to doing all sorts of fun things: travelling on the weekends, having dinner parties, going to the movies, going to museums, etc. In today’s world, the options are basically: watch videos on TV at home, play video games at home, go out to get food or medicine, or go outside to run/bicycle/hike by yourself.
Video conference calls have become very popular for socializing in this current reality we’re in though. So how do you do that? What’s the best way? And how do I keep my data safe?
There are dozens of apps and services that allow people to create group video calls or conference calls. Many of them have limitations though. Do all of your friends & family have Apple Facetime? Or Google Duo? Or Whatsapp? Or Teams? If you have a diverse group of friends, probably not. Most of those types of apps are designed to generate a user base and lock it in to a proprietary network for manipulation. That’s not good for freedom. Zoom.us is another video conferencing service that’s been growing in popularity, but that has limitations as well. For example, the free version limits calls to 40 minutes. Plus it has security issues such as sending data to Facebook, allowing other websites to use your camera, and tracking your attention.
In this article, we’ll look at how to use my favorite video calling service and then after that, we’ll look at a few reasons as to why this might be your best choice.
How to use Jitsi Meet
Create a URL link for the video call party.
This is easier than anything else out there. All you have to do is type: “https://meet.jit.si/” followed by a room name that you make up. For example, https://meet.jit.si/PocketnowIsTheBest will be a link to a video conference room with the name “PocketnowIsTheBest”. Click the link, and you go to the conference room. Try to make up a fairly unique name that some one else probably isn’t using at the same time. If you do something super basic like “test”, then someone else might show up in that video call room at the same time.
Share the link to the video call party
Now that you’ve got a URL for your video call party, all you have to do is get your friends and family to open that link at a specific time so that all of you can join the video call party. Copy and paste the URL into whatever messaging apps the myriad of friends you may have may use. It can be sent in SMS messages, emails, Whatsapp messages, Facebook Messenger, Outlook Meeting requests, Gmail Meeting requests, Facebook Events, IRC, Slack, Teams, Telegram, Signal, Conversations, Briar, Riot IM, etc. The list goes on and on… but you can share the same video conference room in all or any messaging app. You can even write it on a piece of paper and mail it to someone if you want. By the way, there is no artificial limit to the number of people who can join a Jitsi Meet video call (the limit is in what the server can handle).
Hold on, don’t I have to sign up for something!?
Nope! We did not miss a step there. You do not have to give Jitsi Meet any personal information whatsoever. It’s totally free to use anonymously. This is what tech freedom, privacy, and security is about.
Joining a video call party in a desktop web browser
When you send that link to your friends and tell them it’s a video call party, they’re probably going to expect that clicking on the URL will load the video call party interface in their web browser and that’s exactly what happens. It doesn’t get much easier than that. One click!
Okay, actually, if it’s your first time accessing a Jitsi Meet meeting, the browser will ask for permission to use your camera and microphone. Obviously that’s necessary to communicate with your friends.
There are a few other minor limitations to know about though. Jitsi Meet is made using Java and WebRTC, so your browser needs to support those things. It won’t work on Microsoft Edge Spartan, Internet Explorer 11 or lower. Your friends will need to have a more modern browser installed like Edge Chromium, Chromium, Google Chrome, Firefox, Vivaldi, Opera, Safari, etc. (It prefers Google Chrome and Chromium, but will usually work on others.) Luckily most of those modern browsers are available on a wide variety of desktop operating systems such as Linux, Windows, and MacOS. They’re even available for ARM based processor architectures!
So if you have a browser that supports WebRTC and Java, all you have to do is click the link. There is no software download like there is with Zoom.us (which can be kind of a pain on Linux.) I have friends who only communicate with email on Mutt in a Linux terminal, so having a standards-based no-download video call system is pretty great.
Incidentally, if you join the meeting in your browser before you share it, there will be an extra “Meeting Info” section that includes the URL as well as plain-old-phone-system dial-in information. So if you have friends & family that don’t have a computer or smartphone at all, they can call in and just talk to everyone via voice. There’s a “Copy” button if you want to copy all of that information and paste it into an email or calendar appointment item.
There are a lot of other video conferencing features in the web app too. You can blur your background, share your screen, share specific apps/windows, text chat, raise your hand, mute everyone, record to DropBox, live stream to YouTube, etc.
Joining a video call party in the smartphone app
If you receive the URL link on a smartphone, clicking the link will load a landing page that suggests you download and install the Jitsi Meet app which is available on iOS and Android. Pro tip: If you have the latest version of Chrome on Android, you can switch it to desktop mode and you’ll get the desktop version which totally works. Still, the Android and iOS apps do provide a better experience.
After installing the app, you may miss the “Continue” button that forwards the URL you clicked to the app in order to load the conference room. If it doesn’t go straight to the room, you can click the link again and it should ask if you want to open the URL in the Jitsi Meet app at which point it will go to the Video Call Party.
You’ll also notice the mobile app has some nice extra features. There’s a Calendar section which (if you allow it to access your calendar) will let you add Jitsi Meet URLs & dial-in info to existing appointments on your calendar. A couple limitations of the mobile app vs the desktop web app interface is that the mobile app doesn’t let you blur the background or share your phone’s screen.
Why is this the best choice?
Short answer: Freedom.
Jitsi Meet was designed like the protocols that built the internet in the early 90’s were designed… for the people, by the people. It’s part of the Free Libre Open Source Software movement that aims to maintain technology freedom for users who care about that.
Jitsi Meet doesn’t collect or require or even ask for any personal information from any users. It’s just there for the betterment of humans, just like DNS, email, FTP, IRC, and the hypertext transfer protocol that the World Wide Web was built on and practically everything uses today. Thankfully Jitsi Meet doesn’t require you to surrender the phone numbers and/or email addresses of all of your friends either like many apps trick you into doing today.
Because of the open source nature, Jitsi Meet is also much more trust worthy than other closed-source services. Even if you don’t want to read the code, you can… and doing so allows you to verify that it’s doing exactly what it says it’s doing. You can be sure that there’s no funny business going on in the background and that’s not true at all with things like Facebook, TicTok, Instagram, Whatsapp, Zoom, Houseparty, etc. “Trust” in those cases depends on you blindly believing someone else. “Trust” in the case of open-source software can actually be verified. It’s like the difference between believing the world is flat because someone said so, and being able to prove that it is not flat using actual science.
Another aspect of the Jitsi Meet system that makes it superior to all of the others is the fact that you can actually download the source code and built your own video conferencing system on your own server. Of course normal people aren’t going to do that, but if you’re a tech enthusiast or programmer, you might. And that would be a good idea because you could increase your privacy/security and even modify the video conferencing software as you see fit in order to either lock things down, integrate with other systems, or add features. I was able to make my own private notification system and web app that uses Jitsi Meet, and it’s great! You can’t do that with Zoom or any other video calling service.
Thankfully there have been a lot of improvements in Jitsi Meet recently, but if you see any bugs or problems, you can post about it in the Jitsi Community Forums. The community tends to be very good at fixing things pretty quickly or at least explaining why there is an issue. You can also contribute to the project on GitHub if you want to fix things yourself… which again, is another big indication of how much freedom this project provides.
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Best deals today: Ring home security systems, Samsung products, and more
Ring Alarm 8-piece kit
Amazon.com is currently letting you save up lots of money on Ring security products to help you keep your home or business safe. First up, we have the Ring Alarm 8-piece kit available for $188 after receiving a 25 percent discount that will get you $62 savings. This home smart security system with optional 24/7 professional monitoring works with Alexa, so you can ask your digital assistant to sound your alarms, disable them, or whatever you want.
The Ring Alarm 8-piece kit is perfect for houses with one or two bedrooms, as the kit includes one base station, one keypad, four contact sensors, one motion detector, and one range extender. This product will also send you mobile notifications when your system is triggered, and you also get the chance to change your Alarm modes and monitor all your Ring devices through the Ring app.
You can also be concerned about what happens outside your home. in that case, you should consider the Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro with Bird’s Eye View and 3D Motion Detection that sells for $200 after scoring a $50 discount that represents 20 percent savings. And if you want something even more affordable without smart functionality, you can also consider checking out the Solar Motion Sensor Outdoor Light that sells for $16; after the latest $12 discount that comes when you enter promo code TUSQ24T7.
Ring Alarm 8-piece kit
Keep your home safe with the Ring Alarm 8-piece kit that comes with one base station, one keypad, four contact sensors, one motion detector, one range extender, and tons of cool features.
Samsung Galaxy S21
This year’s Samsung Galaxy S22 series is undoubtedly one of the coolest smartphones in the market, but its predecessor is also a nice option to consider for those interested in purchasing a Samsung device. For instance, you can get the Samsung Galaxy S21 unlocked for just $520. However, this price tag is only possible because these are refurbished models that may come with a couple of scratches and dents. But don’t worry. They’re fully functional and then come backed up by Woot’s 90-day warranty.
Remember that the Samsung Galaxy S21 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 256GB storage, Adreno 660 graphics, an IP67 rating, and other great features. However, this deal will be gone at midnight or when these devices sell out.
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Samsung Galaxy S21
The Samsung Galaxy S21 looks almost identical to its successor, so it is still a cool option to consider for those who want to get their hands on a Samsung Galaxy phone.
Samsung The Premiere
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And if you want something a bit more affordable, you can also consider the BenQ TK700 4K HDR 16ms Low Input Lag Gaming DLP Projector that sells for $1,299 after scoring a $200 discount. Or check out the latest deals available at Samsung.com, where you will find Samsung’s Class Neo QLED 4K Smart TV and the Frame on sale.
Samsung The Premiere
Samsung’s The Premiere Ultra Short Throw 4K Smart Laser Projector features laser technology to let you enjoy cinematic picture quality from 4K UHD Ultra Bright Laser and 4K resolution with 2200 lumens.
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The ASUS ROG Strix NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti features an Axial-tech dan design with three fans to help your PC keep its cool and to help your battle station deliver top performance all the time.
ASUS ROG Strix NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
The ASUS ROG Strix NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti features one of the world’s fastest, most efficient GPUs; the all-new Ampere SM brings 2X the FP32 throughput and improved power efficiency, third-generation Tensor cores, and support for 8K resolution.
HORI Force Feedback Racing Wheel
Finally, we have the HORI Force Feedback Racing Wheel DLX that has been specifically designed for the Xbox Series S and Series X. This product has been officially licensed by Microsoft, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility or any other thing that doesn’t have to do with you enjoying your racing games. It is now available for $253 after a 16 percent discount.
The HORI Force Feedback Racing Wheel DLX features realistic force feedback, a security mount with a sturdy clamp system, a full-sized racing wheel, and pedals with metal paddle shifters optimized for authentic racing simulation and more.
HORI Force Feedback Racing Wheel
Improve your gaming experience with the HORI Force Feedback Racing Wheel that will help you enjoy your racing games thanks to its realistic force feedback.
HUAWEI Mate Xs 2: specs, price, features, and everything you need to know
HUAWEI unveiled its next-generation foldable device, the Mate Xs 2, recently. The new foldable from HUAWEI comes with a different form factor than the currently available foldables on the market — it comes with an outward folding display. The Mate Xs 2 packs a lot of features and is certainly a worthy competitor to the likes of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and OPPO Find N. For those looking for a new foldable device with a great screen, premium material, and pro-grade cameras, the HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 is an excellent option. Read along and learn everything about the new foldable from HUAWEI.
HUAWEI Mate Xs 2: Display and Design
Most of the foldables available in the market right now look the same. They feature a small cover screen on the outside with a foldable screen inside. The HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 is a breath of fresh air as it brings a form factor that is not seen very often in the foldable market. The Mate Xs 2 sports an outward folding display just like its predecessor — which our own Roland thinks is not a very a wise choice.
Talking about the display, the HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 features a 6.5-inch OLED display that can be unfolded into a 7.8-inch display. The display features a 2480×2200 pixels resolution and supports up to a 120Hz refresh rate. The pixel density is also very high at 424 PPI. HUAWEI says it has added an Anti-reflection Nano Optical Layer on top that keeps the view clear, even in direct sunlight. When unfolded, the Mate Xs 2 is only 5.4mm thick. It is also one of the lightest foldable available, coming in at only 255g.
One of the concerns of the foldables with an outward folding display is that the screen that folds towards the back of the phone is exposed. This raises a lot of concern as the screen can pick up a lot of scratches. HUAWEI has, however, addressed this concern and is bundling in a protective case in the box with the foldable that covers the ‘back side’ of the screen when it’s folded. When the screen is folded with the case on, you can use the Mate Xs 2 just like any normal Android smartphone. But when you want to use full-screen real estate, you can remove the case and unfold the display.
HUAWEI says that the Xs 2 features an all-new Falcon Wing Hinge. This new mechanism allows the foldable to achieve perfect alignment between the display and hinge, all while improving the durability of the device. The company claims that the Mate Xs 2 is 2.5 times better in terms of drop resistance and 2.8 times better in terms of impact resistance than the last generation Xs. The company says it has been possible thanks to the new hinge mechanism and the advanced MIM steel used to build it.
HUAWEI Mate Xs 2: Cameras
Moving onto the cameras, the Mate Xs 2 features a triple-camera setup on the back. This setup includes a 50MP primary camera, a 13MP ultra-wide angle lens with 120-degree FoV, and an 8MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom. The punch-hole cutout in the front houses the smartphone’s 10.7MP selfie camera. Like HUAWEI’s recent flagship smartphones, the Mate Xs 2 also supports HUAWEI XD Optics technology. HUAWEI says this technology enables the cameras to take in more light, all while improving the level of detail.
Thanks to the foldable featuring an outward folding display, you can use the main cameras of the foldable (in folded mode) to take accurate portrait selfies. The 8MP telephoto lens enables 3x optical zoom, so you can move closer to the object without losing any detail.
HUAWEI Mate Xs 2: Processor, Battery, and Software
Despite being a mid-2022 flagship foldable, the HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 4G processor instead of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. The Snapdragon 888 is, still, a powerful octa-core chipset that features one ARM Cortex-X1 Kryo Prime core clocked at 2.84 GHz, three Cortex-A78 cores clocked at 2.42GHzm, and four Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 1.8GHz.
Though the Snapdragon 888 will be able to handle all the day-to-day tasks easily, the only downside of this chipset is that it doesn’t support 5G networks. HUAWEI has, however, tried to compensate for the lack of 5G by improving the Wi-Fi wireless connectivity. The Mate Xs 2 is the first smartphone to support tri-band Wi-Fi.
Backing the Mate Xs 2 is a big 4600 mAh battery cell that supports HUAWEI’s 66W SuperCharge technology. The company claims that HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 can be charged from 0-90% in just under 30 minutes. In addition, HUAWEI has added a Graphene Liquid Cooling System to keep the brain of the smartphone running cool. There’s no support for wireless charging, though.
The HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 runs on a specialized version of EMUI 12, which is based on Google’s latest Android 12 operating system. The icons, display, and text adjust automatically when you unfold the screen. Thanks to the big 7.8-inch display, you can also see up to 12 people at once during a video call on the Mate Xs 2. EMUI 12 also enables smart interactions such as split-screen, multi-window, and floating app windows. Like the other HUAWEI devices, no Google apps are present onboard.
HUAWEI Mate Xs 2: Price, Colors, and Availability
HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 was unveiled in China last month. The company has since confirmed that the device will be available in the international markets starting next month, i.e., June. However, unlike China, where the company launched three variants of the foldable, HUAWEI is bringing only one variant to the global markets.
In Europe, only the 8GB RAM and 512GB internal storage variant will be sold. It will retail at a steep price of €1999 (~£1,700). This is much lower than the price at which Mate X2 was introduced but still higher than the price of Samsung’s foldables (which are available at a price of ~£1,500). The foldable will be available in three colors: White, Black, and Violet.
|Variant||Price (China)||Price (GBP/EUR)|
What’s in the box?
HUAWEI is one of the few rare companies that still includes some essential accessories, tools, and guides in the box. In addition to the HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 itself, the box comes with a USB Type-C Cable, 66W fast charger, SIM ejection tool, quick start guide, an official case, and a protective film that is pre-applied on the foldable.
HUAWEI Mate Xs 2
Latest foldable from HUAWEI
Mate Xs 2 is the latest foldable from HUAWEI. It builds on the legacy that Mate X2 left, and comes with a big 7.8-inch outward-folding OLED display. Other features include a 4,600 mAh battery, 66W charging, 50MP camera sensor, and Android 12. Check out all the deals on the device using the links given below.
HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 Specs
|Category||HUAWEI Mate Xs 2|
|Display||– Unfolded: 7.8-inches (2480 x 2200 Pixels)
– Folded: 6.5-inches (2480 x 1176 Pixels)
|Display Features||Foldable OLED, 120Hz refresh rate, 424 PPI|
|Processor||Snapdragon 888 4G|
|Expandable Storage||Yes, up to 256 GB (Nano Memory)|
|Rear Cameras||– Primary: 50 MP, f/1.8, (wide), PDAF, Laser AF
– Telephoto: 8 MP, f/2.4, 3x optical zoom
– Ultra-wide: 13 MP, f/2.2, 120-degree FoV
|Front Camera||10.7 MP, f/2.2|
|Video Modes||4K @ 30 fps, 1080p HD @ 30/60/120/240/960 fps|
|Security||Pin, Pattern, Password, Fingerprint sensor (side-mounted)|
|Connectivity||Dual-SIM, LTE (No 5G), 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, Bluetooth 5.2|
|Ports||USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, No 3.5mm Headphone Jack|
|Operating System||EMUI 12 (Android 12)|
|Colors||White, Black, Violet|
|Dimensions||– Unfolded: 156.5 x 139.3 x 5.4 mm
– Folded: 156.5 x 75.5 x 11.1 mm
|Release date||April 28, 2022|
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