So the New York Knicks made it to the NBA playoffs, so what’s next?

For the first time in EIGHT years, the New York Knicks managed to qualify for the NBA Playoffs, while their dream may have come to a short end after they suffered an opening round loss. Things are however on an upward trend, despite them having come up short, with the potential to enter the offseason with plenty of space on the salary cap, meaning WAY bigger things could be on the horizon for the New York based franchise. With that the focus now shifts towards the 2021 offseason, so it’s time for us to take a look at where the Knicks stand. Let’s get into it.

So, where do we begin? First is the NBA’s Most-Improved Player of this season, Julius Randle has a partial guarantee of $4.0 Million for the 2021-22 season and as much as he struggled in the playoffs, the Knicks guaranteeing the entirety of his $21.8 million salary for the upcoming season feels like a pretty safe bet, considering he had a really solid season. Not only that but the Knicks may be set to lose a fair few players, leaving them with quite a lot of roster spots to fill.

Almost certainly the most notable would be Derrick Rose, the Knicks acquired him in the lead up to the trade deadline of this season. He played 35 games this season, in those 35 games D.Rose averaged 4.2 assists and 14.9 points on .487/.411/.883 shooting splits. This man earned enough votes for him to finish in THIRD PLACE in the voting for Sixth Man of the Year, sitting just behind Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson who both play for the Utah Jazz.

Not only that however, Alec Burks, Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson and Nerlens Noel are going to be unrestricted free agents, alongside that, Theo Pinson, Jared Harper and Frank Ntilikina will all be Restricted Free Agents while there’s a team option worth $1.8 million on the contract of Mitchell Robinson.

One thing that the Knicks need to do now they managed to push into the playoffs, even if they didn’t make it deep, is to manage their expectations. There isn’t a single team in the NBA this season that has outperformed their expectations more than the New York Knicks, nobody expected anything from the Knicks. They were predicted to win “24.7 games” which would’ve put them with the 3rd worst record in the NBA. Instead, they went on to win 41 games pushing them into the playoffs for the first time since 2013!

The work that the Knicks have put in this season has not gone unnoticed. In the most recent edition of ESPN’s Future Power Rankings, New York jumped from Number 27 last March to Number 7.

An improvement of 22 wins isn’t the result of just taking one quick year of spending like crazy in free agency, making panicked trades hoping for a quick patch up. What they did was acquire the correct coach for their project in Tom Thibodeau, they then worked hard to pick and choose the right talent that would also fit in with their project. The result? New York now has a blueprint to use as the people in charge build their roster, not only for the upcoming offseason, but for the future of the franchise in general.

So, what are the steps they should be taking for the upcoming offseason? There are a few things they could do, they could go ahead and try to build through the draft, they can push development on the inside and re-sign some of their key free agents, such as Alec Burks and Derrick Rose. They could try and land one big-name free agent to try and build their system around, since they may have up to $50 million in salary cap space, though this would definitely be at the cost of their own free agents. Or they could make a big trade using draft picks and young players combined with their cap space.

Realistically what the team currently needs is a starting point guard and a starting short forward, they also realistically need some depth to manage the quick turnaround in games that the NBA has, in almost every position but power forward. They have the following they can use to rebuild;

  • Potentially $50 million in cap space
  • Two first round picks and a second round pick in the draft.
  • Draft assets for 2023
  • $4.9 million cap room around their midlevel in exceptions
  • $5.8 million in cash to send or receive in a trade.

What do you think? What would you do with the resources they have available? Where do you think the Knicks will end up next season? I think there are many Pennsylvania betting sites that are tipping them for a playoff place again, but they have a lot of work to do to ensure they make the playoffs back to back, would you agree? Let us know!

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LGBTQIA+ Therapists Are Essential: Here’s how to find the right one

The right fit makes a world of difference when it comes to finding a therapist. Many people are aware that therapists often use different therapy modalities, have varying educational backgrounds, or focus on specific concerns such as anxiety or trauma. However, what you may not know is that there are also therapists who specialize in working with various populations. This is imperative for many people when it comes to getting the most out of therapy.

Why LGBTQIA+ Therapists Are Essential

Why are LGBTQIA+ therapists so important? It just makes sense that someone that has a similar identity may have shared experiences in which they can help delve deeper into. There are many reasons as to why this is the case, but here are some of the most vital:

Understanding

Since an LGBTQIA+ therapist is more likely to be versed in matters that impact LGBTQIA+ individuals, finding an LGBTQIA+ affirming therapist can give you a sense of understanding that you might struggle to find otherwise. Sometimes, you’ll want to talk about your life in the context of an LGBTQIA+ experience, and having someone who understands that context makes a world of difference. This may come down to the nuances of your relationships, gender dysphoria, systemic barriers facing LGBT community, world issues or events that impact LGBTQIA+ individuals, terms that you use, or something else.

Trust

Whether you’re seeking individual therapy, group therapy, or couples therapy, it can be a lot easier to start trusting a mental health professional if you go into it knowing that you’re safe both physically and emotionally. You don’t have to trust a provider on the first session in any case, but it can help you have a better therapeutic connection in the sense that you know that you can truly be open and show every aspect of who you are in therapy.

Even if a therapist is accepting, if they don’t specialize in the LGBTQIA+ population, what can sometimes happen is that a person feels as though they have to keep things inside as a reflex. On the other hand, if you know what population a therapist works with, it can be a lot easier to let your guard down and talk about what’s going on in your life, especially if that’s something you’d struggle with otherwise.

Progress

When you feel like you can talk to your therapist about anything that’s on your mind, and when you’re able to achieve that sense of safety and understanding we all want in and outside of therapy, you’re more likely to make the progress you want to make. Depending on what you’re looking for (some people will seek ongoing mental health support, whereas others may attend one or two sessions to get a letter for a medical procedure through the informed consent model, etc.), this can save a lot of time, money, and stress. It’s also worth noting that certain concerns, such as eating disorders, are more prevalent in the LGBTQIA+ population. An LGBTQIA+ therapist is more likely to understand how these different factors may intersect so that they can support you holistically.

Finding A LGBTQIA-Friendly Therapist

Here are some ways to go about finding an LGBTQIA+ therapist:

  1. Ask your doctor for a referral to an LGBTQIA+ therapist in your area.
  2. Search the web for an LGBTQIA+ therapist in your area using search terms such as “LGBTQIA+ therapist near me.”
  3. Ask local LGBTQIA+ community organizations for recommendations. This may be particularly beneficial if you aren’t comfortable asking your doctor or are struggling to find providers who meet your needs. If you are a student at a college or university, you may have a counseling center or LGBTQIA+ student resource center that can help.
  4. Use an online therapy website. Many online therapy websites like BetterHelp have licensed LGBTQIA+ therapists. Often, when you sign up for a reputable online therapy website, they’ll have you take a quick questionnaire that’ll help you find the right match. It’s also often faster and more affordable to find a provider through an online therapy website.

If you want to learn more about mental health and therapy, visit Mind Diagnostics to take mental health quizzes and read about everything from depression to even video game addiction. When you’re ready to try therapy, you can tap in your zip code and you’ll see a range of providers in your area who work with various populations, concerns, and modalities.

Simply type in your zip code, and you’ll see a range of providers in your area who work with various populations, concerns, and modalities. Regardless of how you reach out for support, take pride in doing so. Asking for support is something to be proud of, and you deserve to get the help you need.

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How online therapy Is bridging gaps: How effective is it, and how do you find a reputable site?

Maybe, you’ve been considering online therapy for a while and are ready to take the leap, or perhaps, you’re considering it for the first time and want to learn more.

There are many advantages to choosing online therapy, but how effective is it, and how do you find a legitimate site? Here are some major ways online therapy is bridging gaps in mental health care as well as information on the efficacy of online therapy and how to know if an online therapy website or platform is reputable.

Ways Online Therapy Bridges Gaps

Here are some of the ways that online therapy bridges gaps and makes mental health care more accessible to individuals and communities:

  • Online therapy is often more cost-effective (and it should be cheaper considering). Particularly if you seek services through an online therapy platform, website, or app, therapy or counseling will often be more affordable than it is if you seek traditional in-person counseling or therapy. Without insurance, a therapy session can cost up to $200 or more in a private practice setting, where online therapy websites often start at around $90 per week and bill you on a monthly basis rather than at the end of each session.
  • There’s no need to commute. Online therapy allows you to access a licensed mental health provider from anywhere with a reliable internet connection. This is advantageous not just for those with busy schedules but also for those in remote areas or those who struggle to make it to appointments due to lack of access to transportation or for any other reason. You can typically choose between phone calls or video calls depending on what you prefer, too.
  • It can make it easier to find the right fit. This might be a surprising benefit of online therapy services, but it’s a very real one. It can be hard to find a specialist in your local area, but with only therapy, you can see anyone who is licensed to practice in your state. If you’ve found it hard to find a specific kind of therapy, a provider with a particular specialty, or something else that you’re looking for in a therapeutic environment, online therapy might be the answer.

The Efficacy Of Online Therapy

Is online therapy effective? The research says yes. Online therapy has been studied and proven effective for individuals, couples, families, and groups. All of the above show that online therapy is indeed beneficial for people seeking various types of therapy for a range of concerns. With all of this in mind, the question that you’re probably asking is, “Is online therapy for me?” The answer to this question will vary from person to person based on their needs and preferences, but if you think that it might be a good fit for you, it’s an excellent option with a ton of advantages.

Remember that if you don’t like the first therapist you see or if you don’t like the first modality of therapy you try, you can always switch. The same is true for a preference between online therapy and therapy you’d receive face-to-face. More and more providers are offering services online, and remote services have continued to gain popularity over time, so if you want to give it a shot, there’s nothing to lose.

Finding A Reputable Platform

There are a number of ways to find a therapist both in person and online. If you’re looking for an online therapy website or platform and want to make sure that it’s legitimate, the main thing you’ll want to check on is if the providers who work through the platform are licensed.

You can sign up for an online platform with licensed professionals like BetterHelp, search the web for a provider in your area who offers remote sessions, ask your doctor for a referral, or use a website like Mind Diagnostics to learn more about common mental health issues.

All that you have to do is type in your zip code, and you’ll see a diverse variety of providers near you. Regardless of if you see someone in person or online, the important thing is that you reach out for help when you need it. Taking care of your mental health is vital, so don’t hesitate to get started.

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Be an ally to the Asian community by supporting their mental health #stopasianhate

The world has become a very scary and confusing place over the last several years. Some groups of people are much more afraid and stressed than others at the moment, though. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, and many people have struggled with these changes. There are positive signs that things are moving in the right direction so that the world can get closer to feeling normal again, but there are also many troubling things happening in society.

There are people out there who wrongly place the blame for the pandemic on Asian people. COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China, and this has caused certain hateful individuals to terrorize Asian communities in the United States. Some Asian-Americans have been attacked and many hate crimes have been perpetrated.

#StopAsianHate

If you’re one of the many people who are horrified that this is happening right now, then you likely want to be an ally to the Asian community during this trying time. The Stop Asian Hate movement is doing what it can right now to try to battle these hate crimes. There are many ways that you can be an ally to the Asian community right now that will make a difference.

Educate Yourself

Educating yourself is one of the best things that you can do right now when you’re trying to be an ally to the Asian community. The reason why there are so many people coming out against the Asian community is that people are misinformed. Yes, racism has a lot to do with these attacks and hate crimes, but people often develop these beliefs due to ignorance and misinformation. Being educated and informed about the topics might help you to dissuade others from believing falsehoods.

At the very least, being cognizant of what’s going on in the world is important. Understand what’s really happening and don’t turn a blind eye to the situation. It isn’t always going to be comfortable for people to see what’s happening. It’s still imperative to educate yourself and try to help in the ways that you can.

Challenge Racism

Challenging racism is another thing that can help the Asian community (and all communities) during this time. Some people might think that it’s fine to make racist remarks about Asian people or other minorities. They might say things that aren’t true about them or try to blame them for things that they had nothing to do with. Staying silent doesn’t help and you should attempt to challenge racism wherever you can.

Be supportive of Asian people and other minorities. Let people in your family know that they’re wrong if they hold hateful beliefs about other races. Racism isn’t something that should be given oxygen. Shut it down and let the people in your circle know that racism and hate crimes are acts of evil.

Listen to Asian Voices and Amplify Them

Just listening to Asian voices is very important during this difficult time. Many Asian people are doing what they must to stand up to this threat. It’s a scary time for the Asian community, but there are powerful individuals letting their voices be heard. You should take the time to listen to what they have to say and to try to understand where they’re coming from.

If possible, you should try to amplify their voices by sharing videos on social media so that more people will get  the message. Hopefully, this Stop Asian Hate movement will help people to understand each other better. The goal is to stop the violence and to put an end to people trying to blame the world’s problems on minorities. Keep an open mind be willing to listen to Asians that are bravely standing up right now.

If you’re feeling depressed or anxious due to everything that’s happening right now, then you’re far from alone. These are tumultuous times, but it’s possible that things will get much better soon with so many people cooperating for the greater good. Even so, you might need help if you feel like your mental health isn’t where it needs to be. Knowing that you can reach out to an online therapist at any time if you need someone to talk to.

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Coming up with a Relapse Therapy Plan can help you to stay on the right path

Addiction is something that takes a toll on your life. Getting sober is a great accomplishment, but that doesn’t mean that things are going to be easy moving forward. Many people struggle with sobriety, and some are going to relapse over time. Coming up with a relapse prevention plan might help you to stay on the right path.

Keep reading to learn about some helpful relapse prevention plan tips. This could make it easier for you to enjoy long-term sobriety. There will be difficult times in the future, but knowing what to expect and having a plan can help to mitigate things. When you feel like you have the support that you need, it’s going to be possible to keep walking down a positive road in life.

Understand What Your Triggers Are

People who struggle with addiction will generally have triggers that they will need to learn to identify. Some people will have common triggers, but many different things can act as a trigger. For example, if you’re someone who is recovering from alcohol addiction, then certain things might make you feel a strong urge to have a drink. If you understand the types of actions and situations that make you feel this way, then you can do your best to actively avoid them.

It’s also good for the people in your life to understand what your triggers are. This allows the people closest to you to try to help you make good decisions. They can also do their best to avoid accidentally triggering you so that you will feel the urge to relapse. Planning ahead truly does have the potential to make things go a lot easier, and it’s worthwhile to try to be honest about your triggers.

Join a Support Group of Some Kind

Joining a support group of some kind is a great way to keep yourself from relapsing. There are many different support groups out there that you can consider. Some of them might be religious in nature, but not all of them are. Generally, these groups are about getting people together that are going through similar struggles, and the group can share experiences so that they understand that they’re not alone.

Groups usually consist of people at different stages of recovery as well. There are often people who have many years of sobriety in the groups to help act as mentors for those who are new to sobriety. Groups like this help because they make you feel like you’re being held accountable. You’ll be getting ample support and you’ll be able to talk to people that truly do understand the things that you’re going through as a recovering addict.

Try to Focus On Positive Behaviors

Many people have had a good experience with trying to replace negative behaviors with positive ones. Focusing more of your attention on things that will benefit your mental health and physical health might make a difference. For instance, you could try to dedicate yourself to improving your physical conditioning. Working out has mental health benefits and it can help you to improve your overall self-confidence.

Keeping yourself busy with positive things while also being surrounded by supportive individuals can help you to avoid relapsing. Exercise alone isn’t going to be enough of a relapse prevention plan for most people, but there are many other things that you can do. Try to find good ways to use your time that won’t make you feel like you did in the past when you wanted to drink or use drugs. Eventually, you’ll start to feel more confident about sobriety, but you’ll still need to be careful to protect yourself.

You can get back to leading your life and focusing on your goals while recovering from addiction. Just be careful and use positive actions to cope with the stress of your everyday life. If you run a business or have a stressful job, then you’ll need to be especially careful not to fall into old habits. Positive behaviors can help you to focus your energy on good things, and you can learn to cope with stress effectively.

Online Therapy

Online therapy is a great thing for anyone who is recovering from addiction. You can be matched with an online therapist who specializes in treating patients who have addiction issues. It’ll be possible to come up with coping mechanisms while also working through various mental health issues. You never have to face things alone when you have an online therapist on your side.

This is a convenient way for anyone to get help and support when they’re going through a tough time. You can also receive online relationship counseling if you need to work on things with your significant other. Addiction can negatively impact your life in so many ways, but you can reclaim your happiness. Understand that help is available and that you can contact an online therapist whenever you’re ready.

Here’s 6 SEO techniques that will get you results (and improve organic traffic)

It’s easy for business owners to get so wrapped up in keyword research that they forget the big picture of SEO, which is to get results.

But what are the best ways to measure results, know you’re doing things right, and maintaining a positive brand image? Fortunately, there are several techniques that can help any entrepreneur get solid results from SEO efforts. Here are some quick, no-cost, effective ways to make your search engine optimization what it should be.

SEO Audit Yourself

If your SEO work has been successful, your site will not only show up in most rankings but will be easy to open and view. Do regular testing to see whether your company’s pages are quick to load and are mobile friendly. If they’re not, or if they don’t show at all in the first 50 results, consider re-tooling your search engine optimization efforts.

Learn Basic SEO Principles

There’s no need to become an IT guru or SEO expert. If you want to see a boost in ranking, the wisest way to begin is by reviewing a guide on SEO principles for beginners. Once you understand the basics, it’s easy enough to teach yourself a few advanced techniques from there. Another benefit of learning the ABCs of SEO is that you’re adding to your own store of knowledge, which means your skills will improve over time, and each new page or site you build will be that much better.

Track Ranking and Stay Informed

Not everyone can hope for a page one, or number one, ranking. Some fields are so competitive that unless you’re a major corporation, the best you can hope for is the bottom of the first page. Even so, it’s essential to track progress from week to week and stay fully informed of any fallback. If you pay someone to do SEO work for you, expect them to show you regular updates of progress in several areas, including page ranking. There’s no sense in putting time and money into a chore unless you can measure success.

Make an SEO Wish List

Don’t assume that your goals never change. At least once per month, make a search engine optimization wish list. What do you want from the planning, expense, strategizing, and implementation? Many owners write down 10 goals that pertain to page ranking, site visitors, turnover rate, and more. And at least twice per year, revamp the wish list by adding or subtracting items.

Investigate Your Brand’s Search Visibility

At least once per week, spend five minutes investigating your key brand term. For example, if your branded identity is “Jill Smith Widgets,” or “John Jones Piano Movers,” do a deep dive on the search engines and see what comes up when you place the term within quotation marks. Using quote marks is important, because it will tell the search engine to return instances with those exact words in that precise order. This quickie investigation method tells you a lot. It can reveal positive and negative online reviews, mentions on competitors’ sites, whether people are talking about your company on blogs, and much more.

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How slot games are evolving with the help of technology

The first modern slot machine was created by Charles August Fey, a Bavarian-born American inventor. While working as a mechanic in San Francisco in 1884, he built the first coin-operated gambling device. By 1898, Fey had developed his machine into the Card Bell, which was the first three-reel slot machine with automatic payouts. But it was the following year when Fey’s machines really caught the public’s imagination. When his 1899 Liberty Bell slot machine was launched, which featured symbols like horseshoes, bells, and traditional playing card suits on the reels, it soon spread to establishments all across America. It wasn’t long before other manufacturers saw the potential of slot machines and began making their own. The slot machine has evolved in many ways over the last century, and now online slot games are evolving even more with the help of modern technology.

More Innovative Slots

So, slot games have come a long way since the simple one-armed bandits of old. In recent times, video slots have become very popular. At the same time, game developers are finding new ways for people to play slot games. For instance, cluster slots have recently become a favorite of online casino-goers. With a cluster slot game, there’s no such thing as a pay line. Instead, to win, you need to form a cluster of matching symbols. Cluster games are more exciting than traditional slot games. If you’re new to cluster slots, you can play reactoonz, in which symbols drop into a 7×7 grid to form potential matching combinations, to see what all the fuss is about. You can expect to see a lot more cluster slot games emerge this year and beyond. But slot developers are also looking at other types of slot games to replace traditional pay-line ones. 3D slots are already on the market and look to become much more prevalent over the next year or two. And multiple progressive slots will soon become commonplace. At the moment, there are only a few multiple progressives on the market, but that looks set to change soon. Progressive slots are basically games that offer multiple jackpots and require a minimum bet.

Virtual Reality Slots

There are already virtual reality video games available, and now the technology that gives users a lifelike simulation is being used to develop slot games. While the tech is still in its infancy at present, leading slot games developer NetEnt is already testing its first virtual reality slot titles. The only problem at present is you need a powerful computer, with at least 8GB of RAM, in order to render the 3D environment in real-time while you wear a VR headset and bio-sensing data gloves that allow you to feel like you’re touching things in the virtual world. But as hardware continues to evolve as much as slot games, we’re betting there will be lots of cool VR slot titles emerging in the coming years.

Cross-platform Slot Games

Cross-platform video games have revolutionized the way that people play video games, and in the very near future, you’ll have lots more options regarding the devices you can use to play slot games. At present, people can play slots on mobile, PC, or tablet. But slot games are already being developed that can be played on consoles like PlayStation and Xbox and devices like smartwatches and smart TVs. In the same way in which slot developers began making games specifically for mobile platforms, they are now looking at various cross-platform options. Actually, some slots are already available to play on specific smartwatches like the Samsung Gear 2 and the Apple Watch. As hardware improves in the coming months and years, so will the slot games that can be played on it.

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Roku spars with Google, may remove YouTubeTV as negotiations break down

Roku sent out a recent announcement warning their users that they may remove YouTubeTV from their available apps; impacting millions of YouTubeTV using Roku to access the Google product. They put out a communication as negotiations broke down between the two companies. Here’s some of the excerpts from Roku this morning’s email:

We are sending this email to update you on the possibility that Google may take away your access to the YouTube TV channel on Roku. Recent negotiations with Google to carry YouTube TV have broken down because Roku cannot accept Google’s unfair terms as we believe they could harm our users.

Of course, seeing as this email came from Roku, they had to get in front of the issue, spin what’s happening in their favor and play up their good intentions while knocking down Google for being “unfair and anticompetitive.”

Ensuring a great streaming experience at an exceptional value is the core of our business. We will always stand up for our users, which is why we cannot accept Google’s unfair and anticompetitive requirements to manipulate your search results, impact the usage of your data and ultimately cost you more.

To be honest, I’m not sure who the bad guy is here. If you’ve been in the Roku game for a bit, you know they also had a similarly troublesome past with HBO Max where the two companies had a 2-3 week disagreement where HBO’s new streaming service HBO Max wouldn’t be offered on Roku. Ultimately the companies came to an agreement after a few weeks, but we never knew what the disagreements were.

While we are deeply disappointed in Google’s decision to use their monopoly power to try and force terms that will directly harm streamers, we remain committed to reaching an agreement with Google that preserves your access to YouTube TV, protects your data and ensures a level playing field for companies to compete. We encourage you to contact Google and urge them to reach an agreement to continue offering YouTube TV on Roku and to follow standard industry practices pledging not to require access to sensitive search data or to manipulate your search results.

It will be interesting to see what happens here. Not only because personally, I use Roku to access YouTubeTV, but it’s interesting battle between two powerhouses using their market power and leverage in society’s slow-and-steady cord-cutting.

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Is Flock Social legit or a scam? We attempt to verify if Flock Social is a real company or not

We’ve all been there: we arrive at a website where we really, really want to purchase the product or service they provide, but have never heard of the brand so we pause. And this being the Internet, we have to be extremely careful where we put our credit card and personal information not to mention whether that website will provide what they promise.

So is Flock Social a real company?

You’re reading this review because you’re interested in but never heard of Flock Social and want to you know whether it’s a legit service or fake. Having a career in the tech industry that often needs to vet the quality of websites, we’re going to use those same check points to evaluate Flock Social so you can make a more informed purchase (or not).

At the end of the day, it’s not unlike visiting a bookmaker, you assess the chances and odds before placing your bet down. We’ll do that below by auditing their site to see if you can trust Flock with your money. Check out the following 10 check points on how we audited Flock Social for legitimacy as a company:

Legit Flock Social has a LinkedIn company page.

Legit  On that company page, they have a published out physical address. Obviously this could be a P.O. Box or a fake address, but most fake companies wouldn’t go to the trouble of faking an address for $50.

Locations Primary
Kneza Mihaila 11-15
Belgrade, Stari Grad 11000, RS

The fact that Flock Social provides an actual address tells us they’re not concerned with angry customers showing up to their doorstep.

Legit Unlike the vast majority of these social media grow-your-follower platforms that have a two “employees” working out of their homes, Flock Social has 24 employees according to LinkedIn. If you scan their employees, they have actual titles you’d see in a company: Customer Service, Content Creators, Developers and Engineers, Optimization Manager, and Human Resources.

Neutral As of this analysis, the company has 79 reviews on Trust Pilot with an overall rating of 4.7 stars. That’s nice but we can only provide a neutral on this because the first review was just a few months ago in December 02, 2020 and many of the reviews come from reviewers with only one review — Flock Social.

Legit Their website also passes the eye test. There’s a difference between a website being run by a couple people vs. one that has multiple employees. Usually that attribute manifests itself in how robust the website is (or not). Sites that are questionable typically only have a homepage and pricing page, Flock Social’s site also has a how-it-works page, a blog, a contact us page, an FAQ page and a case studies page.

Neutral On the blog, we wish they had more than seven blog posts. A sign of a good company will usually have enough resources to create quality content to show their expertise in their area of focus.

Legit Flock has a couple different in-depth programs you wouldn’t see from a company trying to scam; they have a page that offers white label, marketing agency integration where they can be subcontracted to do social media marketing and an affiliate program.

Neutral Though they have a contact us page, it’s just a form. When vetting sites, we prefer seeing email addresses published on the site. The presence of an email address on the site is one way they show that they care about their customers.

Legit Flock Social also has a case studies page which purportedly features real customer testimonials. The presence of real customer reviews is always a relief as it shows that there are other companies/people using the product (and vouch for it).

Legit Flock Social also has a professionally shot video talking about their service and features their CEO. Again another effort that most scam websites wouldn’t provide.

Legit Flock Social also offers up a one-week free trial of their service and doesn’t require you to put in a credit card or any personal information (outside of your Instagram credentials). We ran through the steps and found that to be true.

So is Flock Social a scam or legitimate? 

Now this being the Internet; it’s actually really easy to fake many of our points above, but typically companies that are looking to scam or provide a fake product or service won’t go to that level of detail especially for the money that Flock Social is asking for. All things considered with eight legit scores, three neutral and zero scams, we’re ~90% certain that Flock Social is a legitimate company.

So if you’re interested in growing your Instagram followers, you can be confident that the company is on firm grounding so go ahead and get started on that 7-day free trial to test out if their service works. If you have experience with the company, please share your comments and reviews below.

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Unlimited PTO (Flexible Time-Off) is great for proactive, empowered workers, not so much for passive employees

The unlimited PTO policy — also referred to as Flexible Time Off — has gone from an edge perk that technology companies used to stay competitive when wooing talent to their organizations to being adopted outside of that industry.

On the surface, Unlimited PTO presents the company as progressive and at the least, the appearance that they care about work-life balance.

Maybe the company is progressive and genuinely care about their employees’ well-being, but being forward-thinking and truly caring about your workforce requires more than offering a perk to make it seem so.

The cons of an Unlimited PTO policy

Whether the consequences of unlimited time off are intended or not, we have to understand and respect that those problems can arise. And that is especially true if the company’s goal is employee happiness.

Some believe that an Unlimited PTO policy is actually chipping away at your hard-earned right to paid time off.

In other words, many workers feel less empowered to take PTO when they feel as if they haven’t “earned” those hours. No longer can they look into their PTO balance, see that they have 14 hours of PTO leftover that will expire at the end of the month. That triggers the decision to take a quick long weekend to Vegas to play free no download slots and enjoy some time off.

That feeling of needing to “earn” your paid time off is due to the built-in power structure that capitalism instills in us when we enter the workforce, but that’s a topic for another time.

On top of that feeling of losing power over your own “free time,” studies have shown that employees tend to take less vacation time under an Unlimited PTO policy.

A limitless PTO policy also means that Human Resources no longer has to track or police PTO hours and the company no longer has to pay out thousands of dollars from that accrued paid time off at the end of the year or when the employee decides to leave the company.

What do workers actually say about Unlimited PTO?

Also known as an Open Vacation policy, it all comes down to how the workers and employees adapt to the new program.

In order we cover all angles, we actually surveyed and interviewed workers and participated in forums on the topic. These workers all worked for companies that went from a traditional accrual system for time off to an Unlimited PTO policy and here’s how some of them responded.

Some weren’t sure how the new system would translate or didn’t really understand that “Unlimited” actually means “unlimited:”

So how will it work with those that have earned 5 weeks a year? Should we continue to take 5 weeks a year? What if our managers decline to let us take that amount?

So PTO is now NEED based, so if I need only 2 weeks I lost 3 weeks of my PTO benefits.

Others wanted a choice to pick between the new and old policy.

Can we opt out of the Flexible Time Off? I am not a fan. I have been here over 10 years and like my 5 week a year entitlement. With Flexable Vacation plans, it all up to the manager or the workload of the team and could not be applied equally.

While many were concerned how the policy would be applied company-wide, specific managers, workload, etc.

How are you going to ensure that PTO allowances are applied fairly? Will there be guidelines for managers to allow for min and max.? I have seen from other companies some people take 5-6 weeks and others due to workload can only take 2 weeks. Some managers are more liberal and others are not. Having worked at my company for over a decade, I like to know I have earned PTO.

And there are some edge cases that make Unlimited PTO a problem. Say for example, imagine that you planned out a vacation and then were laid off – zero payout for that planned vacation.

How it gets administered matters, my friend at another tech company had a manager that implemented and unspoken policy of two to three weeks of vacation max in one year.

Concerns of how the policy would be administered and potentially-abused (by managers) was a common concern that popped up in our conversations and interviews.

Yeah, this is going to get abused like crazy. I already know a few managers who aggressively discourage PTO even when they are required to let their people take it. Now that it’s optional I can only imagine the creative reasons they will come up with to deny it. Will be interesting to see what impacts this has on attrition long term.

The key is to change your mindset; own your time off

Personally, I’ve never had a problem with Unlimited PTO because I never had an issue taking vacation whenever I wanted to. I worked. The company profits off me. I deserved as much time off as I could get. If I wanted to take a three week trip to Thailand or spent my time off playing free casino machines like sun and moon slots, Candy Crush or binge 56 hours of Netflix, I never flinch to request that time off. Ever.

Nor should you. This is about flipping a small part of the power structure (that’s been developed in American workplaces) on it’s head. That said, I understand that not everyone is down to fight that battle nor want to rock the boat, so getting out of that old capitalist mindset is difficult.

While I appreciate the spirit and idea that goes into Unlimited PTO Policy, I understand that people don’t take to change and especially ones that force them to be more proactive than passive.

So unless the new FTO policy comes with a minimum amount of PTO, it seems subject to causing a reduction, not increase, in PTO taken. At least in the mid term as workers get used to how to manage that additional freedom.

We’ll leave you with one of respondent’s replies to a fellow workers complaints about the new unlimited system.

What I’m getting at is the main opposition to this model is based on the idea that the previous model somehow protected you. If you’re truly worried about being able to take your time off, challenge yourself to take a minimum amount of PTO. If your manager rejects your requests without good reason and/or doesn’t approve your PTO request multiple times, that’s a direct violation of our corporate culture guidelines and should be brought up with a higher authority.

 

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Here’s the best ways to keep up with the latest MotoGP news, betting odds

MotoGP is one of the world’s best-followed motorsports, with new fans following every Grand Prix. The 2021 season is now in full swing as the teams enter a hectic few weeks of races across Europe.

The Americas Grand Prix was postponed, but there’s plenty for lovers of MotoGP betting to get excited about this year.

The MotoGP races scheduled for this summer include;

  • Grande Premio de Portugal
  • Gran Premio Red Bull de España
  • Grand Prix de France
  • Italian Grand Prix
  • German Grand Prix

You can see the full race calendar and schedule at https://www.motogp.com/en/calendar

 “The start of the MotoGP” by Dorna is licensed under CC BY 3.0 

The frantic pace of MotoGP

Keeping up with the frantic pace of the MotoGP season is no mean feat, and each Grand Prix is thrilling, fought out at high speeds with races often decided on the final lap. From the start, the drama unfolds, with crashes, overtaking, head-to-heads and car malfunctions.

How do MotoGP bettors not only keep up by profit from the season with their bets? We have enlisted the help of a sports betting expert to explain how you can target a profit by betting on the MotoGP 2021 season.

A shared passion for MotoGP

To have any chance of keeping up with MotoGP and making a profit from your bets, you require the best equipment. You need to be betting with an online bookmaker that shares the same passion for motorsport as you do. All Grand Prix should be covered with betting available well in advance. There should be race winner betting, several specials and even outright markets on the season.

If you are betting on MotoGP, your chosen bookmaker should have a dedicated motorsport tab. MotoGP is no longer a niche market, followed only by a few fans on the most significant Grand Prix of the season. It’s a big business worldwide, and the coverage given by your bookie should reflect that. If it doesn’t, you should consider changing to a new bookmaker.

Get the right equipment

The top MotoGP drivers strive to ensure they have the best equipment and latest technology, knowing it could mean the difference between winning and losing. Each Grand Prix is decided by the tightest of margins, and racers demand the best performance from themselves and their equipment.

As a fan gambling on MotoGP, you should have the same high standards. You want to bet with a mobile app that is quick enough and responsive enough to keep up with the fastest drivers. Whether you are betting pre-race or in-play, you want your betting app to offer you a smooth, reliable service without lags, out-dated information or slow response times.

“MotoGP crash in pit” by moto1pro is licensed under CC BY 3.0 

A warm welcome is a must

Like in any industry, you want to know your custom is appreciated, and you are valued as a member. The leading bookmakers show love to their MotoGP bettors in many ways, but the most important is bonuses and promotions. This special treatment starts when you first join an online betting site. The welcome bonus is a free bet offered to you when registering for an account and placing your first bet on MotoGP. With many sportsbooks, the bigger your first bet, the higher your free bet will be. This is standard practice in the industry.

After registering for an account, betting and securing your welcome bonus free bet, the generosity doesn’t end. The most successful betting apps don’t then simply move on to the next new customer. As an existing member, you’ll receive recurring promotions on MotoGP, including free bets, price boosts, cashback and more. The more, the merrier from your perspective, and you want to see promotions offered on every Grand Prix. That’s not asking too much either, as the most famous bookmakers do just that.

Get off to a fast start

Now you know what is available to you as a MotoGP fan hoping to profit from your love of the sport, there’s no stopping you. What are you waiting for? Get out there and take advantage of the market. 

Use your knowledge of MotoGP to beat the bookies, and it could be a double celebration as your favourites cross the line. One cheer for the winning driver and another for the cash making its way to your betting account as your predictions make you profit.

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How small businesses can save on taxes with Biden’s COVID-19 relief programs

The COVID-19 crisis has hit many US small businesses hard, but with an estimated $5 trillion being set aside for financial relief schemes, no one has to struggle through the coming months alone.

Under Joe Biden’s leadership, the government stimulus programs have focused on tax breaks for the year 2021, but there are other sources of funding that can deliver additional support when it’s needed. Along with these smaller county resources, five federal schemes are open to small businesses across the US. Not all companies will be eligible for every scheme, so take the time to review what you’ve spent over the lockdown period and find out whether you can make a claim.

The carryback of losses scheme

A tax benefit born as part of the Cares Act, this scheme is aimed at companies that made a loss in 2018, 2019 or 2020. It represents a huge change in standard tax rules and is a one-time-only offer allowing employers to carry back losses they have experienced. Essentially, companies that have previously paid tax can use their losses to reduce the amount they owe in 2021 and many could be due money back. Businesses that have recorded a loss in any of the qualifying years should act fast to be included in the refunding process. Once a corporate return is filed, it could be around six weeks until the funds are released. To maintain a beneficial tax rate in future, speak to the experts at Capital Preservation Services. They assist employers with financial planning and suggest legal tax strategies to significantly lower your annual bill.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act tax relief

Recently amended as part of the Tax Relief Act of 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives small to medium-sized businesses another way of recouping losses related to COVID-19. This tax credit is designed to cover the costs of employee sick pay and family leave when it has been taken as a result of the pandemic. The refund matches exactly what employers were obliged to pay out to comply with the initial FFCRA. Staff were able to take up to 80 hours of paid time off to care for others, or themselves. Business owners can claim a rebate on their payroll tax return depending on what they had to payout. This credit is available until September 2021, although compliance with the FFCRA is voluntary.

Continuation of Health Coverage tax credit

Created as part of many new stimulus plans, COBRA or the Continuation of Health Coverage is a federal law that provides employers with tax credits for the health plans of their employees. Currently, employers must enroll staff in their corporate plan when they have lost their health plan or a group health plan because of a reduction in their working hours or losing their job. This is to ensure people still have access to healthcare insurance when they are no longer working due to COVID-19. Employers will be able to claim during the six months between April and September 2021, assuming they support previous employees by covering their health insurance premiums. Business owners can find out more and claim by speaking with their designated COBRA administrators.

Work Opportunity tax credit provisions

Just like choosing when to invest cash, choosing when to invest in new employees is a big step. However, as the economy moves into a more stable position, a new tax credit delivered to companies that are hiring is being extended until 2025. The Work Opportunity tax credit provides a credit on the tax of employers who hire a person who was on welfare or unemployed for over six months or is a veteran.

Employee Retention tax credits

Employee Retention Credit or ERC encourages business owners to hang on to their team for the duration of the pandemic and can be claimed until December 31st 2021. The tax credit matches up to 70% of wages paid to employees and the maximum that can be claimed for each employee is $28,000, or $7,000 per quarter. The first step toward making a claim is proving your eligibility. These credits are available to companies that have been forced to close entirely or partially, or those which have seen their revenue decline by over 20% in the quarter they are claiming for – compared to the same quarter in 2019. If the amount that can be claimed is larger than the tax owed, the business will be reimbursed in cash.

Small businesses have not been left high and dry by the Biden administration, but if you’ve been affected by the ongoing pandemic, you’ll need to be proactive in seeking help. Many of these tax breaks and cashback schemes have a limited shelf life, so start researching what’s available soon or speak with your tax advisor for more information.

 

 

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Can I use Roku to watch Netflix in another country? Officially the answer is “no,” but unofficially….

Even though you’re traveling to get away, we do enjoy some comforts of home when on an international trip. 

One of the challenges of being abroad is when you do have some downtime, you don’t often have the comforts of home you can lean on. To keep oneself busy in your hotel room: you can read a book, peruse social media, play free slot games on our mobile phones, or reach for the remote to watch a little telly. 

If you turn on the TV, all it does is remind you that you’re in a non-English speaking country. It sounds counterintuitive to sit in your room on a vacation, but sometimes it’s nice to relax in your nice hotel room.

Having the option to be able to pull up your favorite Netflix or Hulu show on the hotel’s TV would be a nice way to feel comfortable.

Enter Roku and other streaming devices

Wait a minute, now that I think about it — maybe I can bring my shows with me to Mexico, Thailand, Japan or France.

Roku is a device that allows you to stream from a host of different entertainment apps directly to your tv. There are different levels of Roku devices, including the premiere, which is a step up from the most basic Roku express. Have a look at the different devices to see which one is best for your situation. There is no subscription for Roku once you’ve purchased the hardware, but it does allow you to tap into channels that do require a subscription, like Netflix and Hulu. Searching for content is easy, as you can search through Roku and it will pull up results from any streaming service that matches.

Roku and other streaming devices make it easy to bring your TV content with you and they’re simple to setup. To do so when traveling, is have a TV with HDMI and wifi. So in theory you can bring your Roku, plug it into the outlet and TV, connect it to the hotel’s wireless internet and you should be able to stream whatever you have a subscription to, right?

Will Roku allow me to watch my favorite shows when I travel?

Unfortunately, nothing is that easy. Different countries have different ways of accessing television shows and movies and moving across a border could mean you no longer can watch your favorite binge-worthy content. Not to mention the biggest barrier is that when connecting to a wifi network in another country, that IP address is recognized as non-US and Roku will block content that is not supposed to be accessible in a different country due to legal stuff: copyrights, licensing agreements, trademarks, and among other contractual limitations.

This link shows you all the countries where Roku accounts are supported. An issue here is that many streaming services geo-block content, so you might have issues in actually watching them.

The problem is your Roku is tied to the country where the account is set up so if you move with your US-registered device, it will still show US shows and movies.

How to use Roku in other countries

So if you’re staying in Singapore for business, that hotel’s IP address will tell Roku it’s in Singapore and you’ll be blocked. Meaning you won’t be able to watch Netflix or Disney Plus or Hulu or Amazon Prime Video, but there’s a way to get around that; it just takes some technical savvy.

There are ways to show your IP address is originating in the United States even if you’re in say, Germany. You can do this by setting up a VPN on your router.

Use Roku internationally with a virtual VPN

That’s all well and good if you have access to the router at the hotel, but sometimes you won’t and if you do, sometimes your hotel router won’t support VPNs.

If that’s the case, then you can set up a virtual VPN on your computer then share your Wi-Fi connection. Basically you’re laundering the hotel’s Wi-Fi through your computer. It’s not the most straightforward method, but it’s also not rocket science if you know the basics. Here are the steps

  1. Choose a reputable VPN software
  2. Register/Sign up for that VPN service
  3. Open up your VPN
  4. Set up a VPN connection (in the US)
  5. Share your Wi-Fi network.

The first four steps are computer-neutral, but sharing your wireless network requires different steps on the PC vs. a MAC. Go to this TechRadar article for those specific steps.

Now that your Wi-Fi hotspot is activated through your computer, you can now easily connect your Roku device to your personal Wi-Fi hotspot. And since the Roku is connected to the hotspot, they’ll recognize it as a US-based IP and you should be able to access all your services and channels as you would back home.

Roku, VPNs and using it while traveling internationally

Roku has disallowed for VPNs to be used directly on the device because legally, they can’t allow you to watch a Netflix show in Argentina if that’s not apart of the agreement between the two companies.

By using your computer, you can use that VPN to change your IP address to a US-based one in order to get the channels you want and access to your streaming services.

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Here’s our 2021 NBA Power Rankings going into the NBA All-Star break

 

We are at the midway mark of this season’s unique NBA schedule. This break in the schedule is as a good time to evaluate which teams are contenders and the pretenders as anytime.

A handful of the teams that we predicted to be NBA championship-worthy have fallen short while others that were overlooked have risen to the top. Let’s rank the teams from No. 1 through No. 30 and reveal the odds and the top free NBA Picks on each to win the world championship this season.

The Contenders

  1. Utah Jazz (+700) – The Jazz aren’t battle-tested and lack experience, so the team from Salt Lake led by Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, and Rudy Gobert might not be there when the dust settles three months from now. That said, right now, the Jazz are absolute fire at home and own the best record in the NBA so we have to put them at the top of the list.
  2. Los Angeles Lakers (+280) – The Lakers proved they were mortal when Anthony Davis reaggravated his Achilles and immediately dropped four of five with the big man sidelined. However, the Lakers have gotten back on track and are the odds-on-favorite to repeat as world champs.
  3. Brooklyn Nets (+300) – Offensively, the three-headed monster of Harden, Durant, and Irving is the most lethal in the league but can these egos continue to  coexist, can they dig down defensively when the time comes, and do they have enough bench depth to see them all the way through to the finals?
  4. Los Angeles Clippers (+550) – Their more celebrated neighbors steal all the headlines but this Clippers’ team shouldn’t be underestimated, particularly with Kawhi and company on a redemption tour after they exited the playoffs earlier than expected last season.
  5. Milwaukee Bucks (+800) – The Greek Freak is having another monster season and the Bucks could very well be the Eastern Conference entry into the NBA Finals and nobody would be surprised.
  6. Philadelphia 76ers (+1200) – Joel Embiid has elevated his game this season and the 76ers are better because of it. They currently own the best record in the East but until they prove they can do it in the postseason, we remain unconvinced.
  7. Phoenix Suns (+3300) – The Suns have never won a world championship and have done nothing but lose for over a decade. But a new day is dawning in the desert and the confluence of all their young talent with an 11-time All-Star in veteran Chris Paul has the makings of a Cinderella story.

The Pretenders

  1. Boston Celtics (+2800) – Boston is undeniably the most disappointing team this season, treading water at about .500 for a team that has arguably the two most talented youngsters in the league by the names of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The only slack we will cut the Shamrocks is that their defensive wizard, Marcus Smart, has been sidelined for much of the season but when he returns Boston needs to improve…in a hurry!
  2. Portland Trail Blazers (+6000) – Damian Lillard is a scoring machine but without help from CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers can be bested on any given night. But wait until the duo returns and then you will see Portland takes its rightful place among the Western Conference leaders.
  3. Denver Nuggets (+2800) – Mercurial might be the best adjective to describe this iteration of the Denver Nuggets but whatever you call them, they are certainly a talented squad that tends to lapse against teams they should easily handle.
  4. San Antonio Spurs (+12,500) – The Spurs missed the playoffs for the first time in forever last season but Gregg Popovich has his charges back on track and intent on atoning for their first losing season in 22 years. DeMar DeRozan has been a world-beater this season for the Spurs and this team is doing everything right that they did wrong last year.
  5. Miami Heat (+2800) – It would seem reasonable that last year’s Eastern Conference champions would be considered a stunning disappointment with a .500 record at the midpoint of the following season. However, they were never expected to get that far and the fact that they are not performing at a championship level this year surprises no one except their most ardent fans.

The Rest of the Bunch

  1. Golden State Warriors (+10000)
  2. Toronto Raptors (+4000)
  3. New York Knicks (+15000 )
  4. Dallas Mavericks (+5000)
  5. Indiana Pacers (+6600)
  6. Atlanta Hawks (+15000)
  7. Memphis Grizzlies (+15000)
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (+15000)
  9. Washington Wizards (+15000)
  10. Charlotte Hornets (+20000)
  11. Chicago Bulls (+30000)
  12. Houston Rockets (+40000)
  13. Orlando Magic (+40000)
  14. Cleveland Cavaliers (+50000)
  15. Sacramento Kings (+60000)
  16. Detroit Pistons (+100000)
  17. Oklahoma City Thunder (+100000)
  18. Minnesota Timberwolves (+150000)

 

Here’s 5 ways to motivate yourself so you can finally get to writing your essay

If you think that you’re a lazy bone or a full-on procrastinator that cannot manage to write an essay in the time allotted, you’re not alone. From my experience most students struggle to write an essay or even a writing a simple book report is an extreme challenge of discipline.

Instead of meeting all the deadlines, students tend to spend time on social media, watching reality TV, streaming or other social things that could be easily postponed. Let’s investigate what approaches out there that will help you come up with a high-quality essay without having to devote all of your time and energy to it.

Why most procrastinate writing a school essay 

It is kind of a rhetorical statement since you may have different reasons to postpone the writing. Instead of facing any of them, and preventing the bad grades, some students often type in the search engines – can you pay someone to write your essay where they find agencies that help students. However, let’s overlook some of the reasons why you can’t write your essay.

  • An essay is homework. It sounds very logical, an essay equals homework. Yes, this is what makes the assignment feel like such a burden. Students wish to come back home and have free time instead of spending time more time invested in schoolwork. By imagining that you have to “waste” half an hour or hour for an essay is daunting and renders most lazy, so change up your perspective.
  • You want to impress a professor. Some students cannot even start writing the outline for an essay because they think too much of what their professors would like to read the most about. Such intentions to impress someone are 1) strange since you should write to share your opinion only, 2) time-consuming since you waste time thinking about your professor’s preferences.
  • You are afraid to fail again, and again, and again. If you have had a bad experience in submitting past essays, you are most likely to postpone such tasks for later because they’re associated with bad feelings and disappointment. ? 

If you find yourself in any of the above-mentioned descriptions, you are half the way to solving their reasons for not writing. If you do not write for other reasons, read the next paragraph too. It helps to approach the challenging essay easily.

5 tips to get writing on your essay

So, here we go to the actual approaches to writing the essay. All the advice is based on students’ tips, experiences, and just feedback found online from graduates who succeeded in getting a diploma with honors, etc.

Make It a Fun Process

Yes, you may now complain about such advice but think of making your room comfy, asking your best friends to join you, and make some drinks to refresh your mind. Instead of sitting glued to the chair, you may share ideas about the essay with your friend, and have a prolific discussion that will lead you to the best structure and content of your paper.

Spend Some Time on Research

Prior to starting writing, give yourself 1-2 days for research. You should surf the Internet to get inspiration on topics, and arguments to use. Try to find look-alike works to your preferred topic, and overlook what you should not use to be caught with plagiarism further on. Or, just see how one student wrote it, and what structure he/she followed.

Recruit Your Willpower to Avoid Distractions

Obviously, the first enemy of every student is a mobile phone. It always distracts one from the studying process and cannot give a second even to concentrate due to messengers. If you want to write an essay, set a timer or download an app that blocks the mobile phone activity for some time. For instance, give yourself 30 minutes of prolific research and writing, and then 10 minutes of social media. If you are a real superhero, you may hide your mobile phone until you are done with the essay.

Relax When No Ideas Come

Do not make yourself struggle from writing the essays. If you have a good day and believe your boosted mood may give you some ideas for writing, use this chance. If you are not feeling well, or just tired, exhausting yourself in front of the laptop will do no good. When you do not have a single idea or strength to start writing, go for a walk or do other activities. Otherwise, you may simply end up having a bad grade because your mood dictated the ideas instead of your fresh mind.

Ask for Help Online

Together with agencies that help students write essays, you may join social media groups on Facebook where other students (and companies) can share tips, free examples, advice on researching, etc.

Beyond that, some may even post the problem, and receive the solution from others. For instance, write your topic name, and ask others for any suggestions on how to make it good. Please, do not write something like – what should I write? It looks like you expect others to waste their all-time on your lazy bone’s tasks.

Now, you are equipped with fundamental approaches on how to beat your writing procrastination. If you require more tips, never neglect the help of professors, who may share their personal experience in writing.

 

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Can I refrigerate and reheat espresso? Yes you can, but follow these steps for the best results

Whether you love the flavor of espresso in the morning or rely on the quick jolt of energy coffee gives you to get work done, we have a strong, solid relationship with coffee and espresso drinks.

However thanks to the lockdown, our relationships with coffee and espresso has forever changed. Many of us that had a daily morning routine that brought us to our local café or Starbucks before work has now been replaced by at-home coffee makers, French Presses, Nespresso and Keurig machines because we don’t leave the house.

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a latte at a coffee shop or making one at home, the days of tossing away your leftover coffee drink at work are of the past because well, many of us are working from home.

Espresso-based drinks ain’t cheap!

Served in small amounts, espresso is essentially concentrated coffee and has a much-higher amount of caffeine per serving. The shots of espresso are pulled from the machine and most often combined with milk or alternative milks into drinks like lattes, americanos, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and flat whites.

And these espresso drinks ain’t cheap. Whereas a cup of coffee can run you anywhere from less than a dollar to $3, espresso-based drinks often start out at $3 and can be as much as $7.50 depending on where you live, the size, and how much they upcharge for alternative milks.

Paying $3 to $4 to $5 to $6 everyday adds up. That’s not to mention that theer are plenty of days you order/make a second latte in the afternoon. By the end of the workday, you have a not-insignificant amount of that latte left over, so what do you do with that remaining coffee/espresso?

So should I refrigerate espresso and re-heat coffee?

It’s been ingrained in me never to waste anything and my instinct with food is if it can be safely stored for consumption at a later date, that’s what I will do. Same goes with coffee and espresso.

But should I be saving espresso and espresso drink by storing it in the refrigerator and reheating the following day?  The answer is; I can, but whether you should depends on your taste and how long you plan on saving it for. It’s important to note that there’s nothing unhealthy about day-old espresso, coffee or a drink that has milk in it.

Of course if you ask Todd Carmichael, the CEO and co-founder of La Colombe coffee, the answer is: Never reheat coffee. “Coffee is a one-time use kind of deal. You make it, you drink it and if it gets cold, you make some more.”

Now if you’re not an owner of a coffee shop in New York City that’s all but required to discourage it, but if you’re not a snob about it, the answer is not ironclad. Personally, I actually think the taste of reheated espresso isn’t that bad. It’s not nearly the same, but a reheated espresso drink still satisfies more often than not (especially if you take a couple extra steps — more on that in a minute).

That’s to say the flavor is what really changes, so whether you should be saving and storing and refrigerating espresso to be reheated the next morning really comes down to whether you still enjoy reheated espresso drinks the following day.

I say give it a shot and see if you like it. If it still tastes good, go ahead and save yourself a couple bucks. If you don’t like the taste — don’t.

Why does the taste of reheated coffee change?

You may have noticed that if you reheat black coffee or espresso (without milk), it can become very, very bitter. That’s because when coffee cools, its chemical makeup changes so if you toss it in the microwave, the heat will break down the remaining aromatics, and you’ll be left with a bad-tasting drink.

Having milk or an alternative milk in the drink definitely helps to soften the bitterness, so a reheat doesn’t bring out more bitterness in the same way. As long as that milk hasn’t gone bad.

From a purist point of view, espresso and coffee are meant to be drunk hot. Specifically, espresso is meant to be consumed as soon as possible after pouring. Italians tend to drink it immediately after it’s made, as part of the culture around the coffee bar, but also because that’s when you get the best taste. 

The answer you want: Yes, refrigerate and reheat espresso (but follow these steps to make it better)

I’ve reheated espresso drinks hundreds of times using a pot on the stove or microwave, but I’ve learned a couple things now that I’ve started reheating coffee drinks almost daily. Here’s a couple points to keep in mind if you plan on storing and reheating while trying to maintain the original flavor of your coffee-based drinks:

    • Use a double-walled bottle so fresh, hot coffee stays hot.
    • Store your coffee/espresso in airtight glass container.
    • Add fresh coffee or fresh milk to it before reheating.
    • Reheat it with a milk frother.
    • Add your favorite powder or syrup.
    • Don’t keep for more than 36 hours.

The most-important step is what you use to reheat the coffee/espresso. While the microwave is quick and efficient, the goal is to maintain as much of the original flavors as possible. So I suggest you not nuke any remaining tastiness of the espresso drink you enjoyed the day before.

While placing the espresso in the fridge will help to maintain some of that original flavor, reheating it at unregulated temperatures using a stove or microwave isn’t helping it keep that same flavor profile. That’s true for all foods: cooking, heating or reheating any type off food (including both coffee and espresso) alters the chemical makeup of that item and changes the flavor profile.

So to help maintain the flavor that’s leftover, we recommend reheating the espresso-based drink with an electric milk frother that’s designed to not only regulate the temperature to within the range reserved for optimal espresso but froths milk — all with the press of a button.

Think about it, the process of making espresso is forcing pressurized water at a very specific temperature through ground coffee beans tamped into a filter that produces the espresso. A milk frother won’t replace the thick, concentrated espresso and crema, but it will heat it at a temperature that won’t make it more bitter and if it has milk, will create a nice froth.

Using a milk frother may seem like it’s more trouble than it’s worth, but trust someone that’s used a stove, microwave and a milk frother to reheat my lattes. If you’re reheating coffee or espresso often and the difference in flavor is right on the edge, the investment in this little machine makes a world of difference in that regard.

Even better, use old coffee to make new iced coffee!

That’s all to say that reheated espresso, even espresso that has been refrigerated, will never taste exactly as it does when it comes out of the espresso machine or French press.

That said, if you choose to save your espresso for the next day, the better option is to not reheat it all. Place a couple ice cubes into it and have an iced coffee or iced latter instead.

“If you’re absolutely out of coffee and staring at a cold pot from that morning.” said Carmichael, “Don’t reheat it. Drink it over ice. Trust me, it’ll be better.”

You can always start with a reheat attempt and see if your taste buds like it. Or you can go with a method that is tried and true. If you run to a cafe to grab a takeaway espresso and it’s cold by the time you get back to your home office – try it over ice! It may not be the hot coffee you were hoping for, but it definitely won’t be as bitter as if it was straight from the microwave. 

As long as you store and refrigerate it properly you can ignore the coffee snobs because it really comes down to your personal preference. I’ll leave you with this quote from this reddit thread on refrigerated espresso:

Try it and decide for yourself. As long as you enjoy it, hey.

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Woohoo! Citi Bike improves ‘Bike Angels’ loyalty program so you can earn free e-bike minutes coupons

The Bike Angels program – Citi Bike’s loyalty program – started a few years ago and allows Citi Bike member to earn points by redistributing bikes to stations running low across the city.

By doing so, Bike Angels can earn members a week extension on their membership and redeem those points toward a limited number of Citi Bike branded items like a white Citi Bike FOB key or helmet. Needless to say, there’s a lack of motivation to get excited with the program.

Bike Angels refreshed and ready to ride

While you’ve been riding up, down, and around, Citi Bike has been putting in work behind the scenes. The good news is that the recently refreshed app also came with changes to the Bike Angels program. To show their appreciation for sticking with Bike Angels, they’ve made some exciting improvements to the program.

What’s changed:

  1. Opportunities to earn e-bike minutes every month Earn 10 ebike minutes at 10 points each month, and a minute for every point between 80 and 200 for more than 2 hours of free ebikes every month!
  2. All new swag there is a lot more options in the swag store including collectible pins for each lifetime reward.
  3. See your points in the new Citi Bike app The new Citi Bike app shows your monthly and lifetime points totals. See points across the app, including mid-ride or when planning a trip. High-value stations are highlighted in pink.

Earning free e-bike minutes is the incentive we need

Since Citi Bike has brought so many more e-bikes to their system, they’ve become incredibly useful in getting to your destination 50% faster especially during months with extreme weather.

So with the announcement that Citi Bike is allowing points earned via the Bike Angels program to be redeemed for e-bike minutes is exactly the incentive that I need to more proactively participate in the program.

When you hit 10 Bike Angel points, you’ll earn a coupon for 10 free ebike minutes that you can find in your account. If you have multiple ebike minute coupons, you can redeem as many as you need for that ride you’ve been dreaming about.

With as much as I use e-bikes during the colder months, those free e-bike minutes will come in handy.

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Love sports but being a pro athlete is out of the question? Here’s how you can still have a career in sports

So you played on your high school baseball or football team and aspired to be a professional athlete, but then a couple injuries hit or maybe you simply hit your ceiling (or stopped growing). That doesn’t necessarily mean your career in sports is over, it’ll just be much different. You’ll just have to find a way to continue it off the court.

The great news is the rise rise of technology has opened up many doors all over the world; the range of jobs and careers now available thanks to the internet.

You can now make a living by making YouTube videos or writing blogs, and in many cases – if you have what it takes – you can earn as much, if not more, money than the ‘traditional’ career paths that were deemed necessary in order to live out your American Dream in the 20th century.

This means that if all you care about is sports, this will not hold you back. You can apply your knowledge in various ways and not have to succumb to the 9-5 lifestyle that you simply aren’t cut out for.

Here are some of the ways in which you can make a living within industries that are related to sport.

Start a Blog If you build it, they will come. It’s true. What’s missing from that cliche passage is your passion. If the first you do is look up scores and game recaps, watch videos and read articles about your favorite player, team, or league, you can turn that fire into content. And then you can put that content online.

With website software like SquareSpace, Wix, WordPress, SubStack and a host of other free one click website makers  — starting a website has never been easier or cheaper.

There might be a slight learning curve as you learn all the functionality of whatever platform you choose, but once you get the basics down, you’ll be turning your desire and passion for Zion Williamson, the New Orleans Saints or the MLB into content others will want to read. Once you have the readers, you can turn those eyeballs into clicks via ads from Google Adsense or other marketing platforms that will pay you for the views.

Starting a website and making money from it is a slow burn, but if you stick with it, you can easily make good money over time. Take a look at the ad below for inspiration…

Buy and Sell Collectibles  Sports cards’ biggest boom in decades has occurred since the spring of 2020, and this has provided an opportunity for savvy investors to buy and flip cards and stickers of their favorite players.

Fans have always collected cards from baseball, basketball, American football, ice hockey, and other North American sports, but soccer is now a big player and its cards may only continue to increase in value due to its global appeal.

If you are smart about your investments, you can make a living by flipping cards, or you could even open your own online store.

Online Betting and Sports Books Making money through placing bets is very difficult. It usually requires setting up your own sophisticated system and essentially working full-time hours in an attempt to find value, and even then, it’s all very high-risk.

Trading on betting exchanges can be a lower-risk approach that is easier to master for some people, but you can make money through sports betting in ways that don’t require you to actually be gambling all of the time.

Affiliate sites are a good option, and by writing reviews on Bet365, or guides on how to bet on certain sports, or lists of betting offers, you can send new players to bookmakers.

If you like to bet for fun, you can create content around it such as podcasts, videos, and blogs.

Become a YouTuber I watched my friend take his passion for the Golden State Warriors into a successful website and even more successful YouTube channel.

Football (soccer) fan channels have become a huge hit in the UK over the last decade, and there are many excellent creators who simply talk about their teams in front of a camera and gain popularity and a large following.

By building an audience on YouTube, other opportunities within the media may present themselves, as traditional media outlets look to embrace influencers as this can be the best way to attract younger viewers or listeners.

After building your profile, you may be able to secure brand deals while also potentially earning a steady income through Google AdSense.

Collect Data at Live Events

Live scores services now provide updates for the most obscure leagues all over the world, and this means that no matter where you are based, there may be a need for people to go to events and cover games.

If you have a good enough understanding of a particular sport, you may qualify to be able to go and gather data from stadiums. All you need is a phone and an internet connection while you are there.

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If you have multiple Google Nest or devices, you need to try the “multi-room control”

With multi-room control, you have all of your speakers, at your command. At once. The multi-room control functionality makes it easier than ever to stream music across your Google Nest speakers, Google hub and displays as well as with Google Chromecast. Learn more how to use multi-room control here.

Use your devices as your all-in-one dashboard. For example, play the audio you want on the Google devices you want, all from a single screen. With multi-room control, you have the ability to do things like:

    1. Group Nest speakers, displays, and Chromecast in real time to play audio in multiple rooms.
    2. Transfer audio from one group of devices to another.
    3. Adjust the volume on each individual device, or across the entire group.

Google’s multi-room control also works with popular streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, not to mention all Google and YouTube services, so you can seamlessly enjoy your streaming entertainment.

Compatible devices include the Google Nest Audio, Google Home, Google Nest Mini (2nd gen), Google Home Mini (1st gen), Google Home Max, Google Nest Hub, Nest Hub Max, Nest Wifi point, Chromecast, Chromecast Ultra, Chromecast Audio, and devices with Chromecast built-in

Take your music with you, hands-free.

“Hey Google, move the music to kitchen speaker”

With a simple voice command, you can switch between speakers, displays, and speaker groups mid-song with just a couple words.

Get instant stereo sound, surrounding you. Expand your sound with Nest Audio.

If you’re wanting stereo sound, you can then pair two Nest speakers of the same type in the same room for immersive music and media. Crisp vocals, powerful bass, and hands-free controls for the music you love. In those specific situations, we love being able to connect all our Google devices together (two Nest hub displays and two Chromecasts) — it makes for a more rich experience.

 

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Citi Bike NYC updates app, introduces new functionality including “Scan to Unlock”

You may have noticed the Citi Bike updated their app. Not only did the app get a makeover, but it the new release version introduces new functionality that will make your Citi Bike experience more convenient and easy. With your new upgraded Citi Bike account, here’s some of the latest and greatest improvements the company has made.

So what’s new with the new Citi Bike app? Here’s some of the new features and functionality.

  • More ebikes: Grab an ebike from more even places with our expanded fleet.
  • Better feedback: Rate your experience with bikes, rides, and stations in the app.
  • Help when you need it Ask questions and report issues right away right from the app.
  • Easy membership management Renew right from the app.

We love that they’ve added more e-bikes to their system, but we love how you can view which e-bike at the station has the most battery charge.

In addition, probably our favorite update to the app is adding the ability to unlock any bike with your phone. Yes all you have to do is scan the QR code on any bike, wait a couple seconds and the bike should unlock. No more 100% reliance on the keys or finding a station that will create you one.

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Locast.org launches their free local channel service in Orlando and Charlotte

Locast.org announced earlier today that their service is now in two more markets: Orlando, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Those new local channels are available today and makes cord cutting a little simpler for those that live in those cities in Florida and North Carolina, and just in time to watch the pro-football conference playoff games this Sunday, you can now stream local broadcast TV channels in nine counties in Orlando and 22 counties in Charlotte.

And if you’re a NFL fan like, here’s where to find this Sunday’s games on your local TV channels through Locast:

    • Tampa Bay at Green Bay (3:05 p.m. ET)
    • Buffalo at Kansas City (6:40 p.m. ET)

Residents in Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne as well as Charlotte and Statesville and the surrounding areas will be able to watch all of their local TV stations via the Internet on their phones, tablets, laptops, or streaming media devices.

The new local service also gives access to important local news, storm coverage, emergency information, election coverage, sports, and entertainment programming to internet-connected devices.

Learn more about Locast service in the Orlando and Charlotte areas by going to www.locast.org or on the company’s news page.

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These four recent technologies actively changed (and connected) the world

 

The year 1995 might seem like a very long time ago, but it was the year when everything changed. If you had a DVD player then you had a top of the range entertainment system. Mobile phones were around and even though they were bulky, they were certainly worth the investment if you were in the business world.

WiFi was released for consumer use and if you had a router then you could easily access whatever you wanted on the go as well. You could unplug your network cable and you wouldn’t have to worry about a thing there. The internet has also given rise to sites such as Unibet Pennsylvania and similar gaming sites, sites which have been driven and thrived since the launch of reliable WiFi.

Search Engines

What good is the internet if you can’t find what you’re looking for? Without the advent of the search engine, we wouldn’t be able to navigate the internet with the ease we can today. The history of search engines can be traced back to the early-1990s, but really, search engines all bow down to the great Google. The search company not only revolutionized how search engines worked, but gave birth to the most-influential company of our modern times.

Google changed how we looked at and used web browsers, maps, paid ads, virtual storage and mobile phones. Speaking of which…

Apple’s iPhone

Even though Apple didn’t bring out the very first smartphone, it would seem that they got the ball rolling in 2007. Social media was on the rise and it wouldn’t be half as powerful as it is now if it wasn’t for all of the emerging tech out there. Social media platforms have also been optimized for users as well and this is incredible to say the least. Who knows where we would be if it wasn’t for social media, but at the end of the day, it certainly helps to keep the world much more connected.

Voice Assistants

The world has also been changed thanks to voice assistants. Of course, the world has certainly changed a lot but at the end of the day, it has also paved the way for new and exciting advancements. Voice assistants can now be asked to set alarms, turn the lights on and off and more. This is all fantastic and it has also helped to spur on the launch of the Amazon Alexa.

Of course, on top of this, you also have things such as the Google Home device. This takes all of the things that you have to do, and it puts it in an easy to use format so that you can be reminded about everything you need on a regular basis.

 

 

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Here are a four important items to consider before investing your hard-earned money

If you truly want to create lasting wealth, investing is the way to go. Unfortunately, even parents and schools that are good about teaching skills for personal finance often don’t show you how to do this. No matter if you’re investing in the stock market or mutual funds or currencies or certificate of deposits or permanent life insurance; some of it much more complicated but all it requires research and serious consideration. 

So before you even get started, you need to think long and hard about your resources and the approach you want to take. The four investing points below all need consideration before you move forward on how to best-invest your hard-earned money.

Review Your Financial Situation

First, you need to organize your finances. Investing can be both fun and lucrative, but it might not make sense if you are paying more in interest on debts than you will earn on your investments. The sensible thing in that situation is to pay off the debts first or get lower interest rates on the existing balance. For example, if you are paying off student loans, you can find out in just two minutes if you are eligible for lower rates. This can also cut years off what you owe. You can use the money that you save to put toward investments. You should also have an emergency fund before you start, with enough to cover at least three months of expenses.

Time and Interest

You need to consider how hands-on you want to be. This is a function of how much time and energy you have and how much you want to learn. There’s nothing wrong with approaching investing passively, putting your money in funds and largely allowing it to do its thing. This would be the case with mutual or index funds. You could also have a robo-advisor select a strategy for you. You probably won’t get super-rich taking the passive approach, but you can do very well. On the other hand, if you have the passion to do the research, you could make a huge amount of money if you become more active.

Budget and Risk Tolerance

Whether you have $100, $10,000, or even more, will it affect the kind of investments you can make? There is actually a lot you can do with $100, but some approaches will require larger minimums. Whatever you decide on, it should be money you can afford to lose or at least not have access to for a certain period of time. This is where your risk tolerance comes in. When assessing your appetite for risk, consider your age and your aim as well. If you are older and hoping to boost your retirement savings, you may not want to be too risky because you have less time to recover from setbacks. On the other hand, you also have less time to watch your money grow, so if you’ve got some cash to spare, you may want to throw it to risky prospects and see what sticks.

 

Professional Help

These days, going online makes it easy to get started with needing a professional, especially since you can use a robo-advisor. However, just for peace of mind and to better understand various strategies and the landscape ahead of you, you might feel better if you meet with a professional to discuss your goals. Friends and families may be able to provide recommendations.

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Call of Duty: CoD: Mobile finally gets its long-awaited launch in China

After many years of rumors and wishes from supporters, the Call of Duty family is now fully launched in China.

The hit Call of Duty (CoD: Mobile) landed on Western shores back in October of 2019, but has now travelled the world over with a huge launch in China this month.

The travel version of Activision’s top-selling shooter game has already earned a massive player base of over 250 million downloads, generating over $330 million by June 2020, making it one of the biggest game launches ever recorded.

CoD: Mobile followed the same vein in just it’s first week in China, earning a small fortune for it’s creators in just a matter of days, which will be a relief after such a long time in the making.

Because of China’s strict rules on gaming, CoD: Mobile has been in China’s authorization stage since it was launched into circulation in 2019, but thanks to Tencent working with TiMi studios and Activision, technology is helping to change the gaming world forever.

With the ability to play the new addition on the smaller screen of a mobile or tablet, it quickly became the number one Christmas present in China, with thousands playing it on Christmas Day.

How Well Did CoD: Mobile really do in China?

According to data from a gaming marketing agency, the new launch generated over $14 million in the first week alone, with all of that coming from player spending.

Despite the huge figures, that makes it the fourth best game in terms of revenue, with Honor of Kings, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile and Fantasy Westward Journey still ahead of CoD: Mobile in the pecking order.

However, as of the end of 2020, the game had worldwide revenue of an eye watering $644 million, with the United States of America being the top spender, with $287 million spent so far.

On the downloads front, Apple is dominating this digital playground with Android lagging someway behind in terms of the numbers. Apple currently has 61% of the CoD: Mobile downloads, with Android via Google Play clocking in at 39%.

This could all be set to change though, with China set to have continued impact on the CoD: Mobile figures. After already hitting over 300 million downloads in the country, it’s likely that China will soon be replacing the United States of America as the big spenders on the game.

Betting on CoD

Call of Duty was one of the first eSports games that became available with sports bookmakers to bet on, and is continuing to grow in popularity with punters across the globe.

The biggest COD tournaments now tend to be available with a number of different bookmakers, who offers markets on everything from the outright tournament winner to who you think will win that particular match-up.

With the recent surge in interest around betting on Call of Duty and eSports in general, many of the bookmakers are fighting for your custom with special promotions.

That often means that as new players you can receive your stake bet as a free bet or even get a free bet just for signing up.

What’s Next for CoD: Mobile in China?

Along with betting, the launch of the new game has been very lucrative for Tencent and Activision, who already have a monopoly on the Chinese market.

Tencent, alone, have made $20 million from bringing Supercell’s Brawl Stars to China, and already have their hands in Fortnite and League of Legends to name just a few. Mobile gaming is where it’s at right now and where it’s going to go in the future. Despite many people still seeing it as the poor man’s alternative to playing on a console or PC, the new launches continue to prove their critics wrong.

According to Statista, figures show that mobile gaming is only getting stronger in its popularity in China; growing from 133 million in 2010 to nearly 620 million in 2019. For reference, that’s more than double the population of the United States. However, the growth in mobile gamers and gaming isn’t only happening in China, but around the world.

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