Samsung will host virtual livestream of Galaxy Unpacked 2020 in August


Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2020 will be be held online, in an all-digital version, on August 5.

Image: Samsung

Samsung will host its Galaxy Unpacked 2020 event in an all-digital version this year.

On Tuesday evening, Samsung announced that Galaxy Unpacked 2020 will be held online at at 10 am ET on August 5.

Samsung traditionally holds two Unpacked events each year, with one event in February and one in August. The February event is typically when phones in its Galaxy S line are unveiled. 

This year, on February 11, Samsung announced the S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra phones, all with built-in 5G. As Lance Whitney reported in TechRepublic, all three Samsung models come with built-in 5G, an Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED display, and a Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 processor, but each has different display sizes and different camera specs.

The Galaxy Z Flip, a foldable phone that folds into a square, was also announced at the February Unpacked event earlier this year, as were the Galaxy Buds+ earbuds. The Z Flip is a $1,380 phone with a hinge design that makes it possible to have an AMOLED screen made of seamless, foldable glass. The Galaxy Buds+ are designed to be a notch (or two) cooler than competitor Apple’s AirPods, coming in four different color options instead of basic white. 

SEE: Samsung Galaxy S20: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 

Previous Samsung Galaxy Unpacked August events

There could be a range of items announced at next month’s event.

August Unpacked event has typically been when the Note line of Samsung phones have a new reveal. The Galaxy Note 10 was announced at the event on August 7, 2019. In 2018, it was the Galaxy Note 9. Both of those events were held to huge crowds at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. 

The Note 9, in its 512GB configuration, was the first phone to offer a terabyte of memory, which was achievable through an optional MicroSD card to tack on an additional 512GB. That made it ideal for business users who needed to store and access large files. It also offered an easy DeX connection, which is Samsung’s Android-based interface that allows mobile users to connect a Samsung phone or tablet to an external monitor for a PC-like experience.

Also revealed at the August 2019 Unpacked event was an ultra-thin laptop with cellular support, the Galaxy Book S, and the Galaxy Tab S4 2-in-1 tablet

Samsung Unpacked held in February before COVID cancellations

This year, the February 11 Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event was one of the last tech events to be held before the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the cancellation of conferences and similar events around the globe. The very next day, on February 12, Mobile World Congress stunned the tech community when it announced it was cancelling its conference in Barcelona set for later that month. Many other conferences were quick to follow suit and within a few weeks, it was commonplace to see a daily stream of cancellations due to COVID-19. 

Now, virtual conferences and events are the norm for the foreseeable future. 

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Where to find the best virtual backgrounds for Microsoft Teams


A host of websites offer creative and clever background images for your Teams meetings.


Image: Microsoft

Microsoft Teams now lets you use your own custom images as your virtual background. Microsoft offers a few built-in images, or you can upload your own from your photo library. But maybe you can’t find the right type of image from your own collection. Whether you’re looking for professional images for a business meeting or fun images for a social call, you can browse for wallpaper and other pictures at a variety of websites. Let’s check them out.

SEE: Microsoft 365: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 


You may not be able to travel to different parts of the world right now, but you can use background images from Airbnb to give your meetings a more exotic look. At this site, you’ll find images from France, Ireland, Norway, Mexico, and other countries showing everything from a bamboo house to a home by the sea (Figure A).

Figure A

Image: Airbnb


Canva mostly offers images for a fee. But you’ll also find several background images for free. Just click on an image that interests you to preview it and you can then download it as a PNG or JPG file (Figure B).

Figure B

Image: Canva

Content Labs

At Content Labs, you’ll discover an eclectic mix of background images from the worlds of business, science, pop culture, and more. Click on the thumbnail for an image you like to download it as a JPG file (Figure C).

Figure C 

Image: Content Labs

Fox Entertainment

If you enjoy The Simpsons, Family Guy, and other Fox TV shows, you’ll find an array of background images at the page for FOX Microsoft Teams Backgrounds. The page even explains how to save and add the images to Teams (Figure D).

Figure D

Image: Fox Entertainment

Getty Images

Getty  is another site that sells most of its images for a fee. But you can grab a small selection of background images for free. In Getty’s library are photos of landmarks, animals, buildings, offices, and living spaces. Just click on an image that intrigues you to download it as a JPG file (Figure E).

Figure E

Image: Getty Images

Hello Backgrounds

Hello Backgrounds is a perfect spot to find business-oriented images for your Teams meetings. The site boasts more than 300 photos, ranging from offices to conference rooms to living spaces to outdoor buildings and landmarks. You can browse the entire gallery or narrow your focus by choosing a specific category such as offices, meeting rooms, or skylines. You can then download each image as a small JPG file or pay $19 to snag the entire library at a higher resolution (Figure F).

Figure F

Image: Hello Backgrounds


Ikea offers a range of images spotlighting offices, spaces, celebrations, and even romantic dates. Pick a category and cycle through all of its photos. Click on an image to download it as a JPG or click the link to download them all as a ZIP file (Figure G).

Figure G

Image: Ikea


Fans of Marvel comics, movies, and superheroes should enjoy the company’s gallery of free background images. You’ll find images from several Marvel films, such as Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Thor as well as logos from The Avengers (Figure H).

Figure H 

Image: Marvel

Microsoft Pride Images

Microsoft created a series of Pride images in support of the LGBTQI+ community. Scroll down to the bottom of the Microsoft Pride page and click the link to Download backgrounds. Extract the downloaded ZIP file and you’ll find more than 60 images from which to choose (Figure I).

Figure I

Image: Microsoft


Pexels offers a potpourri of background images from offices to outdoor scenes to more artistic designs. You can freely download each image and select a specific size and resolution for the file (Figure J).

Figure J

Image: Pexels

Room for Zoom

Room for Zoom provides a unique cavalcade of images for Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Most of the images are entertainment oriented with photos from popular TV shows and movies. But the site also kicks in images of living areas and famous outdoor landmarks (Figure K).

Figure K

Image: Room for Zoom


Most of the stock photos at Shutterstock require a paid subscription. But the site also provides a variety of free wallpaper images for virtual meetings. You can save each image individually, though you’ll need to set up a trial subscription to do that. Instead, download a free pack to grab them all in one shot. The pack comes as a ZIP file, so just unzip it to set up the individual images (Figure L).

Figure L

Image: Shutterstock


Unsplash offers 114 photos of rooms, homes, offices, landmarks, and other images ideal for Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings. Just click the download arrow for an image you want to use and you can download it as a JPG file (Figure M).

Figure M

Image: Unsplash

Wallpaper Hub

Wallpaper Hub displays an array of artistic and realistic images for download. You’ll find photos of nature, wildlife, outdoor landmarks, TV shows and movies, technology, and famous people (including a few of Bill Gates). Find an image you want to download it as a JPG file (Figure N).

Figure N

Image: Wallpaper Hub

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How to use virtual desktops on Chrome OS


Learn how to make your Chromebook a more efficient and productive tool with the help of virtual desktops.

Image: Jack Wallen

The Chromebook is a simplistic take on the laptop that takes working efficiently to a completely new level. But, just because Chrome OS is a simplified platform doesn’t mean you can use it in ways similar to those found in other, more full-featured, operating systems. 

Take for instance the virtual desktop. You might think this feature to be one relegated to more traditional platforms. In that thinking, you’d be wrong. In 2019, Google added virtual desktops to the Chromebook, and they’ve been refining them ever since. Now, the feature works to perfection (with one tiny caveat).

I want to show you the ins and outs of using virtual desktops on your Chromebook.

SEE: Tips for becoming a Chromebook expert (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

What you’ll need

The only thing you’ll need is a Chromebook with an updated version of Chrome OS. I’ll be demonstrating on a Chromebook Pixel 2015 (my all-time favorite laptop), running the beta channel of Chrome OS, version 84.0.4147.67.

What is a virtual desktop?

First, let’s answer the simple questions: What is a virtual desktop? To put it simply, a virtual desktop is a way to expand the desktop into multiple screens. So, instead of having just one desktop, you can have numerous desktops.

With virtual desktops you can dedicate different screens for different tasks. For example, say you want one screen for productivity, one screen for web browsing, and one screen for entertainment. With virtual desktops, that’s possible.

Let me show you how to make this work on your Chromebook.

How to create a new desktop

The first thing you’ll want to do is create a new virtual desktop. To do that, hit the Show Open Windows key (the button on the top row of your keyboard with a square and two vertical lines). When you hit that key, you should see a button at the top-right of the screen labeled New Desk (Figure A).

Figure A

The open window overview in Chrome OS.

Click the New Desk button and you’ll see the new desktop listed at the top of the window (Figure B).

Figure B

Our new virtual desktop has been added.

If you click on the default name (Desk 1, Desk 2, etc.) you can rename the desktops to indicate what they’re used for (Figure C).

Figure C

I’ve renamed my desktops.

How to switch between desktops

The one caveat to using virtual desktops is that, although it was rumored to be coming, there is no keyboard shortcut to make it easier to switch between desktops. Even though that has yet to come to fruition, switching between desktops isn’t hard. To do this, hit the Show Open Windows key and then click on the desk you want to use. 

There is, however, another way. If you have a window open on a specific desk, you can click that window’s icon in the shelf to be taken to that desk. You can even open multiple Chrome windows, place them on different desks, and move back and forth between those desks by clicking the Chrome entry from the shelf icon (Figure D).

Figure D

Selecting between different Chrome windows, each on a different desk.

How to move windows to a different desk

Say you open a window and realize it needs to be moved to a different desk. Easy. Go to that new window and then click the keyboard shortcut Shift+Search+[ or ]. If you want to send the window to a desk to the right, you use the right bracket key (]). If you want to send the window to a desk to the left, use the left bracket key ([).

You can also move a window to a different desk by clicking the Show Windows button and then dragging the window to the new desk (Figure E).

Figure E

Dragging a window to a different desk.

And that’s the gist of using virtual desktops on your Chromebook. With this feature, you can turn that simplistic platform into a much more productive and efficient machine.

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Unemployed? 9 virtual career fair tips to help you land your dream job


Before you log into that virtual career fair portal, follow this advice from CareerBuilder to stand out in a market overrun with candidates because of the pandemic.

Businessman on a video or conference call on his computer

Image: iStockphoto/AndreyPopov

Months into the pandemic, the coronavirus continues to take its toll on populations and local economies worldwide. While lockdown measures have lifted and many organizations have reopened for business, the economy is still far from normalized and millions remain unemployed. Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported strong monthly gains as more organizations begin to add employees. Now, some organizations are hosting virtual career fairs to help organizations engage with prospective employees. We spoke with a representative of the talent acquisition organization CareerBuilder to help candidates stand out in an employers’ market rife with competition. That said, what is a virtual career fair?

What is a virtual job fair?

Virtual career fairs allow prospective job seekers and hiring organizations to safely engage with one another amid an ongoing pandemic. Within the virtual portal, attendees can peruse a wide range of available positions quickly and conveniently. Video and chat functionalities enable further engagement and virtual interviews for some candidates.

“Now with the virtual hiring solutions, candidates can really get to that stage in the vetting process that much more quickly. Same goes for the recruiter, they can vet the candidate out that much more quickly. Both sides can determine if this is a match and we’ve heard it I hate to say it, but we’ve heard this compared to speed dating or online speed dating of the recruiting industry,” said Chris Salzman, director in healthcare at CareerBuilder.

These virtual career fairs are accessible via computer, smartphone, or tablet for connectivity at home or on the go. In many ways, these virtual platforms offer many advantages compared to the traditional job fair format. At times, the hiring process is expedited, with some employers offering candidates positions on the spot.

“If I’m a job seeker, I’ll log into the portal, I can either do it from in front of my computer or on my phone or tablet. Then I’m able to express interest in different job opportunities that the company is hiring for, and then I’m able to chat with a recruiter one-on-one about that specific job, so it really shortens the process from being interested in a job to interviewing with the recruiter,” Salzman said.

SEE: Budget planning tool (TechRepublic Premium)

Tidy up the resume

There are many basic tips prospective job seekers can keep in mind to increase their chances of employment heading into a virtual career fair. Whether it’s an in-person event or a virtual variant, a candidate’s resume can be a deciding factor. There are a few general concepts candidates should consider when updating their resumes.

“Don’t spend a ton of time with really driving home every little detail about where you’re working, but make sure everything is accurate. There are no grammatical errors. All the information is current. That’s what recruiters are looking for the most,” Salzman said.

A 2018 report, found that recruiters spent about seven seconds looking over a candidate’s resume. For this reasoning, it’s important to include as much information as possible with brevity in mind. In general, the resume should act as a concise description of past experience and interests related to a given position or sector.

“The content itself is the most important. The layout and all of these other aesthetic things, not so much, it’s just really getting to the point and why you are a qualified candidate for the role that you are applying to. That’s still super important to do even in a virtual career fair setting,” Salzman said.

Leverage artificial intelligence tools

In the age of digital transformation, it’s always a great idea to leverage all of the technology at your disposal, especially in a competitive employment market. Today, there are numerous AI platforms job seekers can utilize to increase their chances of landing a new position. CareerBuilder offers an AI-enhanced tool to help individuals tailor their resume for a specific position using keywords present in the job description.

Show off the soft skills

In the era of the virtual workplace, effective communication and collaboration are invaluable across industries. More employers are seeking out candidates with exceptional soft skills to enhance their existing teams. Even if your correspondence with a hiring manager is limited to text communication, try to leave a lasting impression.

Communication matters: Maximize your exchanges

While some virtual career fairs have video chat built into the platform, many rely on text communication. As a result, effective communication skills are fundamental parts of the virtual career fair format. Professional grammar is important and Salzman suggests avoiding acronyms and abbreviations in these exchanges. While text communication is certainly limited and increases the risk of indeterminacy, it is still possible to illustrate your personality in this setting.

“What makes you kind of stand out from the competition? What separates yourself from other people? Is it your past experience, skills, education, or hobbies, relevant both in office, outside of office activities? Showing those types of things through your text dialogue is still important,” Salzman said.

Do your homework

Again, some employers will be fielding interviews on the day of the virtual career fair. This means a candidate could quickly transition from the virtual career fair floor to an interview in a matter of minutes. For this reasoning, it’s always a good idea for candidates to research prospective employers in advance. This proactive strategy is a solid move to show recruiters they’ve done their homework. This will provide candidates with a clearer understanding of the company’s reputation and decide if the position would be a good fit for both parties.

Pepper-in the anecdotes

Upfront preparation will also allow candidates to feel more at ease during the interview process.

Before the event, attendees should come prepped with a few professional anecdotes that exemplify their skillset. This will help candidates stand out from the crowd and leave a lasting impression.

“I think having a couple of very relatable stories that you’re passionate about that exemplify the qualities and skills that are displayed on your resume will set you apart. That’s how you can use emotion and creativity to make yourself stand out amongst the rest of the pack,” Salzman said.

It’s important to not over-rehearse these key stories and instead deliver this information in a more natural, conversational way. This will give the personal touches a more genuine feel.

Practice the sales pitch

Virtual career fair attendees will have the opportunity to interact with a host of potential employers. The classic elevator pitch approach is a great way to approach a new career pathway. During event interactions, quickly highlight your valuable assets and engage your audience using your past experience as your foundation.

“Make sure that you let them know quickly why you’re qualified for this position. And then some things that you want to lead with that you would like to be able to demonstrate out of the gate. So being able to quickly ‘sell yourself’ within a 30-second elevator pitch is something that I would definitely recommend for candidates,” Salzman said.

SEE: Video teleconferencing do’s and don’ts (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Seize the opportunity

Overall, a virtual career fair allows job seekers to peruse a variety of unique opportunities. Again, many employers are looking to hire on the day of the event. An attendee’s next career pathway could be one conversation away. That why it’s important to maximize the event and make as many connections as possible.

“Find as many events as you can attend that are relevant to your skillset and have as many conversations as possible. And sometimes you may even have a conversation with a different recruiter with the same company within even that same event that might be hiring for a different role,” Salzman said.

Remember traditional interview etiquette

Basic interview etiquette still applies to virtual career fairs and virtual interviews. After an underwhelming in-person interview, it’s always a good idea to send a follow-up email thanking the interviewer for their time. Even if you may not have landed this particular position, maintaining contact and a positive rapport with a company could keep your resume at the top of the stack for future positions.

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PwC finds that virtual reality is the best place to practice difficult conversations at work


The company found people learned faster and better in a VR environment that included strong emotions and a safe place to make mistakes.

A new analysis from PwC found that virtual reality can save time and be more effective but must be rolled out at scale to be cost effective.

Image: PwC

When it comes to difficult conversations at work, virtual reality (VR) may be the best place to practice talking about sensitive subjects like race, hiring, and bias.

PwC compared classroom training, e-learning, and VR training and found that people who took a VR course about inclusive leadership learned more, spent less time in the training, and felt much more confident about putting the new skills into practice. The learners also felt more emotionally connected to the topic, which makes it more likely that they will remember the material and put it into use.

The new report, “The Effectiveness of Virtual Reality Soft Skills Training in the Enterprise,” found that the main disadvantage of v-learning was the startup cost, which was 47% higher than the cost of building classroom and e-learning courses.

PwC’s Emerging Technology Group, US Learning and Development spent a year developing, deploying, and assessing an e-learning and a VR version of an existing classroom course. The  training focused on how familiarity, comfort, and trust influence hiring, staffing, and performance reviews. During the training, learners are asked to understand personal and team member behavior that could potentially be caused by unconscious bias. The goal is to train learners to use only objective criteria in decision-making.

SEE: Virtual hiring tips for job seekers and recruiters (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Employees from a group of new managers in 12 US locations took the same training in one of three formats: Classroom, e-learning, or a virtual reality module. The project included pre- and post-assessments as well as a follow-up assessment to measure how well trainees had retained the information. The report found that:

  • 78% of all v-learning participants preferred the VR experience over traditional formats
  • VR learners were 40% more confident than classroom learners and 35% more confident than e-learners about acting on what they learned

As the report authors stated, “Confidence builds employee satisfaction, which can lead to better employee retention, and help improve work quality and reduce mistakes.”

The v-learning took a quarter of the time required for classroom learning and two-thirds of the time of an e-learning session. Also, learners were less distracted than students in both other formats.

The VR environment also provides a better place to practice new skills and uncomfortable conversations. The PwC team was first attracted to VR training after viewing a simulated conversation during which the participant had to fire a colleague. The virtual environment recreated the stress of that kind of conversation and allowed for a learner to make mistakes and receive feedback. In the PwC v-training, the learner gets dynamic feedback so that when he or she makes a choice, the strong behavior choices are reinforced while mistakes are met with corrective feedback, reasoning, and an opportunity to retry.

The researchers found that “because it was a realistic simulation where they played themselves, v-learners reported making decisions based on what they would have done in real life.” The VR sessions seemed to spark more personal reflection as well:

  • 75% reported experiencing a “wake-up call” moment about the inclusivity of their behaviors
  • 75% of VR learners said the training helped them identify moments from their past when they were not as inclusive as they had previously believed

Recommendations for developing VR training

The learning team has this advice for companies thinking about developing v-learning courses:

  • Build a cross-functional team that includes HR, IT, designers, and learning scientists
  • Schedule a debrief after the training to reinforce the instruction with the team lead as the facilitator

  • Create tools and templates for easier script writing and content collaboration
  • Include VR as part of a hybrid curriculum that includes classroom and e-learning

The report authors found that VR is ideal for practicing soft skills in a safe environment, e-learning is good for learning how to use software, and classroom training is a good fit for topics that require collaboration and discussion.

The PwC team has reduced the course development timeline from 10 months down to three months since the start of the project.

Calculating the cost of developing VR training

In addition to measuring the effectiveness of v-learning, the PwC team calculated the ROI of the investment. The PwC team included 25 variables in the ROI calculation and had more than 28 different calculations to determine the overall return on investment. PwC found that these factors influenced the cost of v-learning:

  • Cost of facilitation
  • The number of locations needed to conduct training

  • The number of employees needing training

  • The fully loaded cost of each employee to be trained

  • How quickly the employees needed to be trained

The report authors found that “while VR requires more upfront investment to build and deploy than classroom or e-learn training, when delivered to enough learners VR training can be more cost-effective at scale.”

Building VR training courses is more expensive due in part to the need for 3D artists and software developers, which aren’t required for traditional classroom or e-learning content.

PwC found that with 375 learners, VR training is similar in cost to classroom training and at 1,950 learners, VR training hit cost parity with e-learning programs.

The key to a positive ROI is scale, but the time required to complete the training is also a factor because “the faster an employee can return to work, the faster you can achieve a positive ROI.”

Managing the hardware

The PwC team used the Oculus for Business platform in part because it had a remote management component. The software allowed the team to turn on and off specific features, manage access, monitor the health of the device, and control which applications were loaded on the Oculus Quests. The study team sanitized the HMDs after each use.

The team deployed six headsets per location and expects to increase the inventory over time as more content is onboarded.

As of February 2020, the learning team has 250 HMDs across 25 locations and can host a one-hour training simulation for up to 2,000 PwC partners and staff a day, and train the 55,000 partners and staff in the US firm in less than five weeks.  

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