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Category: Useful Things

Lithium and sulfur batteries: a new project that promises that we will not have to charge our smartphone in five days

According to new research published in Science Advances, a team from the University of Monash, in Melbourne, claims to have developed the “most efficient lithium and sulfur battery in the world,” which can “exceed up to four times” the performance of Traditional lithium-ion batteries. Learn more about new devices at

The lithium and sulfur and are not new, today are used for some small tasks in airplanes and automobiles. However, its use is very limited due to the insulating nature of sulfur, which causes them to degrade rapidly and their useful life is lower than those of lithium ions.

A reconfiguration that would extend the life of the batteries and their density

Lithium and sulfur batteries offer up to five times more energy by weight, the problem is in its useful life. According to these researchers, they have managed to develop a new type of architecture to join the components so that the battery efficiency can be extended for a longer time.

Dr. Mahdokht Shaibani of Monash University, and lead author of the study, stated:

“Ironically, one of the main challenges for mass adoption of lithium and sulfur batteries so far has been that the storage capacity of the sulfur electrode is so great that it cannot handle the resulting stress.”

As explained in the study, the key is in the binder material found in the carbon matrix responsible for passing electrons to the insulating sulfur. This polymer binder keeps those two materials together, and stress during charging causes a break in this connection that causes rapid deterioration in battery performance.

What these researchers have done in focusing on this material, and instead of using the binder to form a dense mass with little free space, they decided to “give the sulfur particles some breathing space.”

That is, this lithium and sulfur battery is now based on a traditional binding agent, but processed differently to form strong bridge bonds between the carbon matrix and the sulfur particles, allowing for extra space as the Battery expands during charging.

According to their first tests, they subjected the battery to 200 charge and discharge cycles showing the efficiency of “more than 99%”, something that had never been seen before in this type of lithium and sulfur batteries. Given this, they claim that this battery could power a smartphone for five continuous days, or have an electric car with up to 1000 kilometers of autonomy.

In addition to this, they ensure that this lithium and sulfur battery would also represent a lower manufacturing cost and a lower environmental impact compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries.

The project is funded by the Australian government and has just applied for the patent for this investigation. They also plan to carry out more tests towards the end of the year, among which is the storage of solar energy, this with a view to commercializing its development in early 2021.

How to prepare your computer for the arrival of Windows 10 May 2019 Update

The next major update of Windows 10 is about to arrive, if everything follows Microsoft’s plan, the May version should arrive, so in May. It is important that you take some things into account before updating, because with this release changes the way Windows Update behaves.

In addition to this, May 2019 Update will need more disk space than any other, so an important part of the process is to make sure you have that available space or recover it. In any case, we tell you everything you should do to update your Windows 10 without major inconvenience.

Remember, if instead of updating immediately, you prefer to postpone the update as much as possible, Windows now gives you more control, and we explain how to exercise that control over this and the next Windows 10 updates.

Make sure you have the latest version of Windows 10

Here is an important detail, and that is that the previous update, the October 2018 Update, famous for its multiple launch problems and subsequent bugs, took a long time to reach all computers, so much so that six months after its arrival it had barely been installed by a quarter of users.

So it’s possible that you haven’t even installed it, consciously or unconsciously, and if you don’t have the October 2018 update (version 1809) you won’t be able to install the May 2019 (1903) version.

To check your version of Windows 10 just press the Windows + I key to go to the Configuration, then select System, and finally choose About in the left menu.

If you already have version 1809 then you can proceed to check for updates from Windows Update to check if your computer has already reached version 1903.

Make sure you have enough disk space and how to free it if you need it.
Open the File Explorer and navigate to “This computer”, there you should see all your available drives and the space they have left. You will need at least 32 GB to install this update.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Windows 10 is going to take up 32 GB more, it’s just its minimum space requirement. Usually the system downloads the new files and after installing the update, deletes the files from previous versions of Windows that are no longer needed.

To free disk space you can try using the same tool integrated in Windows 10. Just open the Configuration again, go to the Storage section and free space according to Windows 10 tips, either deleting temporary files, uninstalling unused apps or features that do not interest you, among other things.

Once you are ready both in free space and in current version of Windows 10, just go to Windows Update and check for updates manually, and Windows 10 will not download or install automatically without your permission, so you must tell him to do it by hand.

27 Excel templates to organize EVERYTHING

You like to have everything under control. You have a calendar where you write down each day’s activities, manage your tasks in a diary, make lists of everything you want to take with you every time you make a trip, write down all the household expenses to control finances, and keep track of what you eat, the sport you do and the hours you sleep.

While to many this will sound like total freak control, many others can fully identify with that image. To a greater or lesser extent, many of us like to make lists, keep agendas, write things down (whether online, on an app or on paper), in short, organize your life a little better. And look where, a program that can help you with it, even if it doesn’t seem it at first glance, is Excel.

Excel in a program that leaves no one indifferent: either you love it, or you hate it. It’s usually synonymous with work (who hasn’t had to fill in countless Excel sheets at the request of their boss?), but it also has a wide repertoire of tools and functions with which the most experts can do real wonders.

But in addition to its more standard uses, the flexibility of Excel allows you to use it for many other things, thanks to the use of templates. With them you can do exactly what I mentioned at the beginning of the article: manage absolutely everything, from your daily tasks to children’s homework, through all kinds of lists, agendas, planners and tracking sheets.

All this range of possibilities comes from Vertex42, an impressive collection of Excel templates that allows you to take advantage of this program in every conceivable way. Whether you want a simple calendar to print and have it visible on your desktop, or you need a budget sheet to organize a wedding, this website has just about everything you need. And here we have made a selection of those that we found most useful.

There are two things to keep in mind: first, that the templates are all in English (although they are completely customizable); and second, that although you can download them for free, most of them are only for personal use.

Calendars and schedules

  • Class time. A very simple but very useful weekly class schedule, with which you will not lose a single hour of class times and you will be able to make the most of your time. It is also available in printable PDF format, if you prefer to fill it in by hand.
  • Generic timetable: Don’t you go to class, or do you simply prefer a more generic timetable that you can adapt to your needs? Try this weekly template, perfect for keeping your days organized (morning, afternoon and evening shifts), and that even works with Google Sheets.
  • Calendar of cleaning tasks. If there are several of you at home, the most logical thing is to clean it together, and this template can be of great help for it. In it you can organize the distribution of cleaning tasks for a month, each day of the week, deciding who cleans what. Download it, personalize it and hang it with magnets in your fridge.
  • Children’s homework calendar. Speaking of cleaning, involve the children in it too! With tasks appropriate to their age, of course, so that they can take habits such as picking up their room, helping to set or remove the table, or not leaving dirty clothes lying around. This template is perfect for that.
  • Calendars of various types. If what you are looking for is a simple calendar (perhaps to print and have at hand), in this section you will find a bit of everything: blank calendars to fill them by hand, calendars that you can decorate with a photo, birthday calendars, ovulation calendars, weekly, monthly, annual …

Agendas and planners

  • Menu planner. If you’re worried about your diet and want to start eating better, one way to do it is to organize your meals better, controlling what you eat every day and how you distribute proteins, hydrates, fruits, vegetables and so on. This template for planning your week’s meals will surely help you.
  • Daily diary. For those who have the good habit of writing down the tasks of the day as soon as you start the day (or even the day before, at night) this template is going to come that not even painted. In it you can organize your whole day: tasks, meetings, calls, things you can not forget …
  • Weekly agenda: Would you prefer to have the whole week in view, in order to organize yourself better? This weekly version of the daily diary makes it easy for you. Like the previous one, but with seven days to have everything under control.
  • Homework agenda. A template that can help young people to be a little more organized with homework. It allows you to make a list of the tasks assigned to each subject, as well as distribute them in a calendar so that each one has its moment.
  • Family planner. This template combines a bit of everything (meal plan, household chores, shopping list, list of tasks …) on a single sheet, to organize life in your home easily. It is also available in PDF format, to print and fill out by hand.

Calculators and budgets

  • Family budget. A complete template with which to manage in detail the financial movements of the family. It allows to make a budget for the whole year and to control exactly the balance between income and expenses. It is not a template and requires familiarity with Excel, but it is one of the most complete in this section.
  • Monthly budget for home. Although this template is used for the same as the previous one, the difference is that in this one the budget is monthly, and includes a lot of detailed expense categories.
  • Personal budget. But if what you are looking for is to be able to control finances on a personal level, then this is your template. Customize the categories and easily track your income and expenses throughout the year. Prefer to go into more detail? Use the monthly template to keep your finances under control month by month.
  • Annual budget calculator. This calculator combines functions from the family budget and monthly budget templates. With it you can create and manage a monthly budget, all in a single Excel sheet. It allows you to customize categories, plan irregular expenses, and make predictions that can help you make decisions.

Task and Control Lists

  • List of tasks with priority. A simple template for creating task lists organized by priority. It is also available in two-column design (portrait orientation) or three-column design (landscape orientation), and in PDF format for printing and hand-filling.
  • Weekly task list. Sometimes it’s good to be able to go over the pending tasks for the whole week, so you can have everything better organized for the next few days. This template is perfect for that, with separate task lists for each day. They are also available in PDF format.
  • List of tasks with date. The most important thing about your tasks is the date they should be completed? Then use this template, which emphasizes just that point: the deadline for each task.
  • Family to-do list – no one gets off! The whole family can have a more organized control of their tasks in this one template for everyone, with a different section for each member of the family. And who says family says flatmates, for example.
  • Ready to pack. Going on a trip? With this template you make sure you put everything you need in the suitcase. It’s available in three versions, to pack for a vacation, business or college trip – but you can also customize it for whatever you need.
  • Moving list. Moving is a tiring and stressful process we all go through at some point in our lives. Make it a little easier (or at least more organized) with this template.
  • Ready for thorough cleaning. If you’re one of those who does a thorough house cleaning at least once a year, take note of this template by the time that time comes, and you’ll make sure you don’t leave a single corner unreviewed!

Ready to organize a wedding. Are you getting married soon?

  • Congratulations! Be patient, though, because planning a wedding is often quite complex. Arm yourself with patience and this template, with which you will have all the details (dress, invitations, decoration, photographer…) under control.
  • Ready for the arrival of a baby. The birth of a child is another one of those exciting and stressful moments at the same time. Do you want to make sure you’ll have everything ready when you come home from the hospital with your little one in your arms? Download this template and start organizing it all.

Health and sport

  • Food diary. The first step to start losing weight is to control exactly what you eat, so you can better distribute the intake of calories, protein and carbohydrates. And although nowadays there are many apps that allow you to do it from your mobile, if you prefer to use Excel this is your template.
  • Exercise table. As with food, exercise tracking can also be done via mobile apps. But if Excel is your thing, who’s stopping you from using it for this too? With this template you can take note of your entire fitness plan. It can also be useful if you are a monitor in a gym and you want to distribute them among your students.
  • Weight loss table. From the combination of exercise and food control comes weight loss. And thanks to this template you can have it completely under control, week by week, with the possibility of setting a goal and graphs based on your numbers.

Microsoft Paint Not Only Doesn’t Disappear: You’ll Receive New Features in Windows 10 May 2019 Update

Paint’s life in the last two years has truly been a roller coaster of emotions, when Microsoft released Paint 3D to replace it in 2017 it seemed that his days were numbered and that by the next version of Windows 10, it would disappear forever.

But in practice, Paint never really disappeared from Windows 10, and after recently confirming that it would still be part of the operating system, Redmond’s have now gone even further by announcing that the program will receive new features.

In a recent note in Microsoft’s blog about the Windows Insider program, MS Paint’s responsible team announced the arrival of new accessibility features for the tool, these new features will reach all users with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update that should begin to arrive at some point in the coming weeks.

Drawing in Paint using only the keyboard

The most important novelty is that Paint will now allow you to draw using the keyboard, that is, the keyboard will become one of the primary input methods of the app, and you will be able to make all forms simply by using combinations of keys.

For example, using the keyboard arrows you can move the cursor on the screen, with the space bar you activate a tool, using CTRL + Arrows you can scroll the canvas, Space bar + Arrows move the cursor to select a part of the canvas, and so on.

There are enough shortcuts for several complex operations that will allow you to draw and insert shapes using only the keyboard, if we are lucky, perhaps from the same app of Windows 10 Recommendations will show us in detail the news after updating so that they do not go unnoticed.

In addition to keyboard support, Paint has also received improvements in the way it interacts with screen readers as in Windows Narrator.

CSS Scan, a tool to inspect and copy the CSS of any element just by passing the cursor.

Everyone or almost everyone knows the tools of the different browsers that allow us to inspect elements of any website. In the case of Google Chrome, for example, just right-click and click Inspect in the menu. It’s an easy and simple way to see what’s behind it.

However, these utilities are for many somewhat archaic. They haven’t evolved at the same time as other browser options have evolved for the majority of users, and not so much for those closest to development. Therefore, the margin for improvement that they have is evident.

And the example of this are alternatives, in this case when it comes to visualizing the styles of a web page, such as CSS Scan.

“Don’t ever open DevTools again to check the styles”.

Perhaps the first thing that needs to be said is that CSS Scan is fee-based. It usually costs $24.99, although occasionally it can be found at a promotional price of $14.99. But, given your options and ease of use, your purchase is justified if it solves our life in terms of style inspection.

Its creators, in fact, rely so much on its tool that they are clear on its website: “Don’t ever open DevTools again to check the styles.

One of the goals of CSS Scan is to make you waste less time inspecting styles.

CSS Scan uses the same technology used by Google and Github with, according to those responsible, “improvements to quickly clean up any CSS garbage”. It is designed to go to the important and avoid wasting time trying to understand why a style sheet is not delivering the expected result. You use the cursor, take it to the problematic element, and you’ll get the answer to the code that’s defining it.

CSS Scan also makes it clear that besides inspecting, it allows you to copy the CSS code. All you have to do is pass the cursor and click. So it is copied to the clipboard and can be copied anywhere else for the purpose you want. The tool is available in Google Chrome extension and Firefox add-on. The payment of $24.99 offers lifetime utility.

Translation: Google’s epic tool that translates what we say by imitating the way we speak

In its blog, Google presents Translation, its new integral model of translation from voice to voice. That the company has been perfecting its translation models for years is not something new, but that these models are capable of imitating people’s voices is.

Google points out that the main objective of this is to help people who speak different languages to communicate with each other. To achieve this new voice-to-speech system, they propose a unique sequence-to-sequence model, which moves away from cascading systems and improves, according to Google, speed, composition errors and the translation itself.

Imitating accents and pronunciation

Google tells us that Translation is based on an end-to-end model, superior to traditional cascade systems. With this, they intend to demonstrate that it is possible to translate speech from one language to another without the need for an intermediate representation of text in either of the two languages, something that cascading systems do require.

Google’s new tool takes the source spectograms and directly generates other spectograms with the content translated into the desired language. To do this, it uses a neural Vocoder, in charge of giving the desired shape to the waves of the output spectogram. They also use an encoder capable of preserving the characteristics of the voice being recorded.

The main novelty of Translation is that it does not work in cascade, and that it adds elements such as an encoder capable of retaining the characteristics of the speech of the recorded voice.

When training Translation, Google uses a multi-tasking objective that seeks to predict source and target transcripts, while simultaneously generating final spectograms.

In short, Google registers the voice of the speaker, manages to preserve the characteristics of his speech, and manages to generate an output spectogram translated into the target language, maintaining these characteristics of speech.

Emulating natural language

Creating natural voice models has long been a Google obsession. We could see it in the way Google Assistant talks. This is mainly the difference that they look for with the rest of assistants and models, the naturalness.

Google itself admits that its results are below the traditional cascade systems, but demonstrate the viability of end-to-end voice systems, which was its main objective.

First, they show us how Translation works under a cascade model. We have a Spanish input, a reference translation, and the output translation itself. If we listen to the translation of the cascade model, we are faced with the typical locked and sequential language of the old attendees.

VClip: a free tool for Windows that lets you record your screen in various formats and with audio included

There are plenty of ways to record your screen in Windows, some more complicated than others, some more limited than others. In Gen beta we have shared multiple utilities that serve for it, and now we are going to share one more for how simple and efficient it is.

Its name is VClip and besides being completely free, it is compatible with all modern versions of Windows (10, 8/8.1 and 7). Its advantage is that it allows you to record in multiple formats, either video or GIF, and even allows you to record all the audio you hear on your system.

VClip supports Hi DPI and screen scaling. When processing the video and making the recording, it will work better, the more cores your processor has. And they also recommend adding it as an application allowed to Windows Defender so that it takes less time to write data to disk, but this is optional.

How to use it

One of the best features of this application is that it is portable and therefore does not need installation, you can take it anywhere and run it on any computer. Once you download the .ZIP file from its official website, you only have to extract it in the folder of your preference.

This folder contains two executable files, an audio file, and a folder in which the frames captured by the application are stored. To record your screen just run VClip.exe and a recording window will appear immediately.
You can move this recording frame to where you want and adjust its size as you see fit. To start recording just press Rec.

If you click the down arrow next to the record button, you can choose between three frames per second (FPS) options: 15,25,30. Remember that the higher the number, the smoother you’re recording and of better quality, but also heavier.

When you have finished recording the part of your screen you were interested in, just click on Stop. This will give you several options: first, you can click Edit to crop your recording, and second, you can choose the format in which your recording will be stored.

You can select MP4, WEB M, OGG, AVI, or GIF. You can also select “Mute” before recording in video format, in case you want to mute your recording, as by default, the sound is recorded.

Once this is done, you only have to choose the name of the file and a folder to store it. Then, you will have to wait for VClip to encode your recording, the time this takes will depend on the duration, quality, format chosen, and the power of your hardware.

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