Take control of your phone with ScreenZen (before it controls you!) 📴

Blogpost by Noel Czempik (Student Digital Champion)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Main positives: Free. Customisable settings for different apps. Motivating.

Main negatives: Take a bit of time to set up for each app.

Nowadays, smartphone users often find themselves in a losing battle when it comes to staying focused. Access to distracting apps has become so easy and habit-forming that we get lost in the digital world before we get a chance to make a deliberate choice. This is one of the reasons I decided to try a digital detox in December, and that was when ScreenZen came to the rescue!

What is ScreenZen?

ScreenZen is a configurable app that empowers users to set boundaries with their devices. Unlike traditional app blockers that restrict access entirely, ScreenZen introduces a novel approach by increasing the barrier to entry. By providing users with time and mental space to make conscious decisions about their digital consumption, ScreenZen naturally fosters mindfulness in the interaction with technology and, therefore, better digital wellbeing.

The app is entirely free and available for both Apple and Android users.

What are ScreenZen’s main features?

What sets ScreenZen apart is its remarkable customisability, and its main features are:

  1. Allowing you to choose a specific wait time before you open each app.
  2. Interrupting you whilst using selected apps after a set time (you can set different times for your various apps).
  3. Cutting you off when you’ve reached your daily time limit or pick-up limit (i.e. how many times you open an app each day) and even preventing you from changing the settings to get around it.
  4. Displaying a motivating message or remining you of more valuable activities to you.
  5. Introducing more mindfulness into your digital habits by prompting you to do breathing activities whilst waiting for the app to unlock, which also encourages you to reevaluate your need to use the app you’re trying to open.
  6. For the goal motivated, accessing streaks and other stats to track your progress and encourage you to stay on track, but only for the apps you choose, so you can still read ebooks or use your favourite meditation app without worrying about losing your streak!

My final thoughts on ScreenZen

Will I continue to use ScreenZen? Absolutely!

My favourite thing about this app is that it makes it easier to align my digital choices with my values and routines and can be useful to anyone. Whether you prefer strict limits or simply looking to cultivate awareness of your digital habits, ScreenZen accommodates these diverse preferences. The customisability features mean it takes a while to set up, but once set up, I found this app to be a valuable addition to supporting my digital wellbeing.

DigiTip 23: Recover your tabs 📂

Have you ever prematurely closed a tab you were using? Frantically searching your history to find your page again or even searching through webpages?  

With DigiTip 23, you no longer have to worry.  

Did you know you can open any tabs you have closed by simply selecting “Ctrl +Shift + T”. This will even work if you have closed down an entire window! 

View the video below for a quick demonstration.  

To follow our DigiTips, subscribe to our Digital Skills Blog. Or alternatively, you can bookmark this webpage, where a new DigiTip will be added each week!

6 Tips for Successful Online Meetings 💻

Blogpost by Noel Czempik (Student Digital Champion)

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In today’s digital age, online meetings have become an integral part of academic and professional life. Whether attending a virtual lecture, collaborating on a group project, or attending a job interview, knowing how to navigate online meetings effectively is crucial for success.

In this blogpost I’m going to share some tips to help you navigate online meetings, and you can also visit this webpage for FAQs and training guidance on using MS Teams.

1) Prepare as you would for an in-person meeting

Online meetings provide the convenience of not needing to leave your house. This comes with the temptation to roll out of bed 5 minutes before the start of the meeting. To give yourself the best chance for success:

  • Dress as you would for an in-person meeting.
  • Give yourself some time to get mentally ready to avoid feeling rushed and get into the right headspace.
  • Take the chance to go over your notes, prepare any questions or gather any files you need to share.

2) Connect early

  • This will give you a chance to resolve any technical issues. Test your software, as it might require updates, causing you to have to restart the app or device.
  • You can use this additional time to ensure that you’re familiar with all the available functions in MS Teams, such as the chat, raise-your-hand, screen sharing and live captions functions.

3) Curate your visuals

Here are the top tips for making a positive, professional impression:

  • Choose a laptop over a phone or a tablet if possible. This can help with image stability, as well as allows you to take notes more freely. If you can’t access a laptop, consider using a device stand.
  • Position your camera at eye level, as this will result in the most natural-looking image.
  • Look at the camera rather than the screen when talking, particularly in group meetings. This is as close as you can get to making an eye contact.
  • Ensure that you have good lighting.
  • Choose the right background. Follow this FAQ for instructions on how to add a virtual background.
Screenshot showing the various virtual background that can be added in MS Teams
Virtual background and effects available in MS Teams

4) Optimise your audio

  • Opt for a carpeted and furnished room, if possible. This will result in a warmer, more natural sound without an echo effect.
  • If possible, use a headset instead of the built-in microphone to help improve with the quality of your audio.
  • Keep your microphone muted when you’re not speaking to prevent any unwanted noise.

5) Minimise distractions

  • Choose private, quiet spaces over communal or public spaces.
  • Silence notifications and inform others not to be disturbed if necessary.
  • There may be times when you need to step away from the meeting (e.g. if someone rings the doorbell), in which case let the people in the meeting know by leaving a brief message in the chat.

6) Mind What You Share

If you need to share your screen during the meeting it’s always better to share a specific window rather than your entire screen, but there may be occasions where this is unavoidable. In which case:

  • Close any irrelevant tabs.
  • Mute or close programs to avoid notifications or other pop-ups. Or alternatively, turn on the do not disturb mode.
  • Move, rename, or delete any sensitive bookmarks or files.
  • Consider deleting your cookies and search history if your browser shows previous searches or uses auto-fill.

Get mobile with the LinkedIn Learning app! 📲

Blogpost by Shân Saunders (Digital Capabilities and Skills Development Coordinator)

You may use LinkedIn Learning for a variety of skills development, it could be learning to code, improving your Microsoft skills or even to learn something completely new. You can now learn on the go with the LinkedIn Learning mobile app. This means that you can learn wherever and whenever you want on your phone. Maybe you have hour breaks and want to use that time to learn a new skill without loading your computer. The LinkedIn Learning app means that you can continue your courses on your phone for easy and accessible content.  

LinkedIn Learning on your phone also gives you the option to switch your courses into audio-only meaning if you’re a fan of podcasts you can now listen to your LinkedIn Learning courses during walks or while exercising. With the app, you can also download your course content for offline usage. Now, if you’re travelling on a long train journey you can download your course and watch as you travel. If you’re driving, you can download your content and turn on the audio-only feature to listen and learn while you drive! 

How do I access LinkedIn Learning on my phone? 

  1. Go to your mobile app store and search for ‘LinkedIn Learning’ 
  1. Download the LinkedIn Learning app 
  1. Sign in with your AU details 
  1. Start learning! 

Further Questions? 

For more information read our other blogposts about LinkedIn Learning. If you have any questions or problems accessing the LinkedIn Learning app, please contact the Digital Skills Team (digi@aber.ac.uk).  

DigiTip 22 – Pin your favourite website on your web browser 📌

Do you often feel frustrated with having to scroll back through your browser history to find your favourite tab? Or even accidentally closing the tab and not being able to remember the website?

With DigiTip 22, you can now pin your favourite internet tabs and have it ready for you when you open your browser next.

For internet browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, you can follow these steps:

  • Open your internet browser and type in your chosen URL
  • Right-click on your URL tab and choose the option “Pin

To follow our DigiTips, subscribe to our Digital Skills Blog. Or alternatively, you can bookmark this webpage, where a new DigiTip will be added each week! 

Strategies for Creating the Best Workspace

Blogpost by Joel Williams (Student Digital Champion)

The environment you have around you whilst working can significantly impact how efficiently you work and the quality of your work. A good working environment can also reduce stress; you can read more about this here.  

However, it can be challenging to recommend a good working environment as this is subjective and varies from person to person. In this blogpost, I aim to provide some tips and tools that will enable you to find the best working environment. 

Location, Location, Location 📍

Finding the best location to complete your work is often the first hurdle; this space could be a desk in your room or a table in the kitchen; or you could use one of the many spots on campus, such as the Hugh Owen Library or the Arts Centre. Or, perhaps you sometimes prefer to work away from campus in spaces such as the National Library of Wales or a café. It’s also worth considering the noise level of your chosen location, for example the working environment in the Food Hall will be drastically different to that of Level F of the Hugh Owen Library. 

I’ve always preferred a quieter working environment, and I have always struggled working at home. Therefore, Hugh Owen Library has always been my preferred choice; however, I frequently find that different rooms suit my needs better on different days. While equipment can often decide which space I use, the noise almost always influences my decision. 

Making the Most of the Hugh Owen Library 📚 

This interactive map of the Hugh Owen Library makes picking a space to work easier and saves you from getting lost, especially as there are numerous options of where to work within the three floors of the library. Spaces like the Iris de Freitas room on Level E are brilliant for group study but can get reasonably loud, especially when busy. If you’re looking for a quieter space to work from then Level F may be better for you, or if want a more private space for individual or group work, the Library also has bookable rooms; you can reserve these and view their availability online.

The power of sound 🎧

Music and audio can be powerful tools at your disposal to help you when working if used correctly. Personally, I’ve always found I do my best work when listening to music using services like Spotify. However, members of the Digital Skills Team suggested white noise applications like Noisli, which can be used to play weather patterns and even has its own playlists while offering many customisation options.  

Audiobooks are also a popular option and can be accessed using services like Libby or Audible. These are especially useful whilst completing more mundane tasks, especially those requiring much repetition. 

Your Digital Identity Checklist: 5 Do’s and Don’ts 💼

Blogpost by Noel Czempik (Student Digital Champion)

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Taking charge of your digital identity is now more crucial than ever. Safeguard your privacy, strengthen your security, and unlock potential professional opportunities with the short guide below.

1. Review Your Privacy Settings

Take advantage of tools that allow you to display your content as it’s visible to your audience, customise privacy settings for individual posts or modify what information can be used to search your profile. You can read this article for more information on the privacy settings available on the most popular social media sites.

2. Share Thoughtfully

Don’t solely rely on privacy settings. Think before posting, considering the potential impact on your reputation and safety. Be cautious of content that could be misinterpreted or taken out of context, and don’t share sensitive personal information unnecessarily.

3. Monitor Your Digital Footprint

Regularly search your name online to assess available information. Consider setting up alerts for new mentions or content associated with your name.

4. Curate Your Content

Align shared content with your desired digital image. Remove or update outdated or irrelevant information.

5. Build a Professional Online Presence

Showcase skills and achievements on professional platforms, maintaining a professional tone and image in your communication. For example, you can add certificate of completions for LinkedIn Learning courses on your personal LinkedIn account. For multi-purpose platforms, consider creating separate profiles for personal and professional use. If you are interested in building a LinkedIn profile, a recording of the Careers Services’ LinkedIn session is available here.

For further information about managing your digital identity, you can watch the Careers Services’ session on this topic from the Digital Skills Festival.

Begin a new chapter – Apps to help your reading habits 📖

Blogpost by Shân Saunders (Digital Capabilities and Skills Development Coordinator)

With the advancement of phones and technology there’s now an app for everything – including reading! As an avid reader I like to challenge myself with yearly goals, discuss books with fellow readers and gain reading stats. With my top three reading apps – all of these are possible! 

  1. Goodreads  

Goodreads is great for tracking your current reads and staying on track for your reading goals.  

  • Set yourself a yearly reading challenge and Goodreads will tell you whether you’re on track. 
  • Track your current reads to see how far through you are.
  • Receive a badge if you reach your goal. 
  • View books you’ve read in previous years. 
  • Create reading shelves for your needs like “want to read”. 
  • Scan book covers instead of searching for them. 
  • Discover new books based on your recent reads, new releases and trending books.  

Read More

DigiTip 21: Copy and paste content in Word without messing up your formatting 📃

Have you ever copied and pasted content from a webpage or another document into a new Word document and found that it completely messes up your formatting? Luckily, there are additional options outside of the basic pasting option (ctrl+v) which can help solve this!

Start by selecting where you want to paste your content and right-click with your cursor. You’ll then find several additional paste options (the options visible will be based on the type of content that you’ve copied).

Here’s a summary of what the most common 4 paste options will do:

Keep Formatting

This keeps the formatting of the text that you’ve just copied (be it from a webpage, another document, or another source).

Merge Formatting

This option changes the formatting of the text so that it matches the formatting of the text that surrounds it.

Use Destination Styles

This option formats the copied text so that it matches the formatting of the text where you’ve pasted your text

Keep Text Only

This option discards any existing formatting AND any non-text elements you have copied (e.g. images or tables).

To follow our DigiTips, subscribe to our Digital Skills Blog. Or alternatively, you can bookmark this webpage, where a new DigiTip will be added each week!

DigiTip 20: Introducing To Bach ⌨

Have you struggled to write in Welsh on your computer? Used shortcuts or symbols to insert a circumflex and accents for Welsh letters? Struggle no more!  

Free on all AU computers from the Company Portal you can now download the To Bach software. For personal computers, To Bach is available to download for free! 

Once downloaded, to insert letters with a circumflex all you have to do is select “Alt Gr” and your respective vowel (e.g., â ê î ô û ŵ ŷ).  

Key StrokeSymbol
Alt Gr + aâ
Alt Gr + eê
Alt Gr + oô
Alt Gr + iî
Alt Gr + yŷ
Alt Gr + wŵ
Alt Gr + uû

For further information visit the FAQ here.

To follow our DigiTips, subscribe to our Digital Skills Blog. Or alternatively, you can bookmark this webpage, where a new DigiTip will be added each week!