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Technology

What do I need to work from home due to coronavirus?

How best to set up a home office for the short or long term if you’re self-isolating

What do I need to work at home during the coronavirus outbreak? At this rate, we might all be working from home for a year! How will the broadband providers cope? Do we need a plan B? FranklySwiss

Everyone will need their own customised solution, but there are two things to think about. First, will you be working at home for two weeks or four months or possibly forever? I share the view that Covid-19 could cause a permanent shift towards home working.

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Which streaming stick should I buy for Disney+?

Adnan has an old smart TV and Now TV box, so needs something new to stream Disney+

My smart TV is old (Samsung, 2014) so I watch BBC iPlayer on my Now TV box (also old and discontinued). What is the best device for all the popular streaming services including the upcoming Disney+? To my knowledge, it is not yet confirmed if it will be available on my Roku-powered Now TV box. Adnan

You may be in luck, because Disney has just signed a deal with Sky. As a result, Disney+ will be available via Sky from its UK launch on 24 March, to be followed by Now TV in the coming months, says Sky. It’s not clear how many months that means. Perhaps Sky does not know. However, I’d assume it means some time this year, not next.

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How do I shrink the size of my phone videos?

Yanis’s Samsung Galaxy S10 shoots high-quality videos but they take up too much space

How can I compress videos so I don’t lose a lot of the quality? My phone, a Samsung Galaxy S10, makes really high quality videos but I would be satisfied if they looked like normal videos. Yanis

Videos take up a lot of space, and a lot of research goes into making them smaller. Other things being equal, a key factor is the size of the image, just as it is with still photographs. You can also reduce the file size by arbitrarily reducing the data rate or, for preference, by using a more efficient video compression system. The current favourite is MPEG-4/H.264/AVC (Advanced Video Coding), which is usually called MP4 for short. Technically, MP4 is the file container while H.264 is the codec that codes and decodes the video.

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Can I move my data to the EU before Google shifts it to the US?

Post-Brexit, Sean wants to keep his data protected by the EU’s GDPR rather than laxer US privacy laws

Given Google’s recent announcement about moving UK users’ data to US jurisdiction, what’s the best way to migrate to EU-based services? Can you download+upload or crossload your Gmail to another service? And are we in for the same treatment by Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram et al? Sean

Last week Google notified users that “because the UK is leaving the EU, we’ve updated our terms so that a United States-based company, Google LLC, is now your service provider instead of Google Ireland Limited. We’ve also changed our privacy policy to make Google LLC the data controller responsible for your information and for complying with applicable privacy laws.”

This article was amended on 28 February to correct a geographical error that placed Taiwan in the southern hemisphere

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How do I get my name to the top of Google’s search results? Jack Schofield

An academic shares his name with a notorious drug dealer. Here’s how he can raise his profile so his name appears first

I’m a researcher at a major university. Unfortunately, I happen to share my name and middle initial with an unrelated drug dealer who has been in and out of prison. My name is sufficiently rare that I’m worried that confusion might arise, because a cursory Google search tends to give prominence to negative news stories that feature him.

The standard advice online seems to be to open as many social media accounts as possible. I also have my own domain, but none of these has displaced the negative news stories in the search rankings. What should I do?Name withheld

How to get the top spot in Google’s search engine results has been a hot topic for years. It’s still vitally important to all types of business, to consultants and other professionals, bands and musicians, authors and journalists, politicians and many others. For those who can justify the fees, personal branding and “reputation management” companies do it for a living.

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