By: Andres Leon
Virtual learning in 2020 has every student seemingly spending every waking moment in front of a computer, making us exhausted and feeling zoom fatigued from having to put up with our machines. The last thing any student needs while they're cramming for the third exam of the day is a computer that is being stubborn and uncooperative. The same goes for professors or instructors having to grade an endless amount of work submitted by all of their students.
It's crucial to know the full extent of what your computer can do for you. And you should use that knowledge to your advantage, instead of it being the other way around… or at least reaching a mutual understanding between you and your machine.
Today, I'll give a handful of important bits of information about optimizing your computer that I've picked up while improving my own computer and helping fellow students with their computers.
What does optimization mean for my computer and learning?
Your computer is a center for everything now, meaning it has many processes running at the same time. Each process bogs down your computer by either a substantial amount or an inconsequential amount.
Typically, the smaller programs like Zoom, Adobe Creative Cloud, or any other background process don't take up too much of a computer's processing power or memory when idling. However, it is more likely that with online class, you will be more likely to have all those and more running, plus a browser with multiple tabs open, an active Zoom call with screen sharing on, and sometimes a resource intensive program such as Photoshop, Illustrator, or any other software used for public relations.
If you have an expensive computer, this won't be an issue typically. But for a casual or older computer, it will can become slow or unresponsive overall. This can lead to frustration and kill your motivation to want to learn or do any work. It's worse than being on bad Wi-Fi!
How to optimize your computer and learning
1. Reduce your computing and memory usage
-For windows, access your task manager by pressing ctrl+alt+delete, and select task manager.
-To close any background processes such as zoom or creative cloud when not in use, simply right click them and select end task.
-If you want to run multiple processes at once and your computer is struggling, you can allocate less resources to them individually so they can all run at the same time healthily by the details tab in the task manager, finding the process, right clicking it, and selecting set priority and selecting. This will result in a lower, but more stable performance.
-Mac users fret not! These steps are very similar, but to access your equivalent of the task manager, the activity monitor, use command+spacebar and search for activity monitor and you may close background processes from there.
2. Activate your night light on your computer
-To activate your night light in windows, type night light into your windows search bar, and select the option, and fine tune your settings to better suit your eyes throughout the day.
-Alternatively, you can download f.lux from justgetflux.com, a low-power software used to automatically adjust your computer screen's brightness and color change as the day passes so you're not micromanaging the night light setting.
3. Other tips for optimization
Remember, setting your priority low should be used whenever you have multiple tabs/windows open at once. But, once you are done, you should turn these settings back to normal so that you're not holding your computer back when not needed.
Additionally, ending processes such as Creative Cloud and Zoom is important because even when you exit them, they are always running in the background eating away at your processing power by idling. Every bit of processing power counts! Also, setting your night light, or downloading f.lux can greatly improve your work output. By default, our computers have very intrusive, bright lights that strain your eyes and can cause your headaches, especially at nighttime.
Finally, be diligent with how many tabs you keep open! Some browsers are highly resource intensive such as Google Chrome. And even with other more efficient browsers, one tab open counts as one process, so having a needless amount open can bring your performance down significantly. Only have open what you need at the moment.
Computer optimization is crucial to your learning experience, especially in this online learning world. While these simple steps can help improve the smoothness of your education subtly, it does wonders for your mind if your computer isn't giving you a hard time during class, late-night copywriting, or any internship work on social media. If you're going to be stuck in front of a computer for a great chunk of your education, you might as well pony up and get well-adjusted and familiar with your main learning tool.
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