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This article was published as a part of the Data Science Blogathon.


W Cleaning and Prepr ke up the most time in a Data Science project. While executing various pre-processing approaches, we may find several issues that can primarily be solved by a single library – Pandas. Pandas is a well-known Python module that handles everything from data pre-processing to data analysis. Pandas’ extensive function set enables users to complete jobs considerably faster than traditional .

Source: Image by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels

Operations in Pandas 1. To replace NaN values with Random Values from a List

To replace the NaN values in a Pandas DataFrame, generally, we use the .fillna() method on a DataFrame. To fill these NaN values randomly from a list of numbers (including both float and int), or strings, we can use the .loc() method on the DataFrame.

Let’s see an example below:

Importing the Libraries

import pandas as pd import numpy as np

Creating a Pandas DataFrame with dummy data

df = pd.DataFrame({ 'Name': ['Alex', 'Jimmy', 'Katie', 'Brute'], 'Favourite Sport': [np.nan, 'Lawn Tennis', 'Basketball', np.nan], 'Height (in cm)': [167.7, 182.3, 178.7, 166.2], 'Salary': [12134343, 21312324, 421324554, 234434325] })

On Executing this code, we get the Pandas DataFrame, as attached in the above image. In this dataset, we purposefully added a few NaN values as we would need those to treat in this operation.

Setting the seed value:

Let’s set the seed value as we will be replacing NaN values with random data generated from the NumPy library, and we want the same set of results every time we run this code.


Replacing the NaN values

Now that we have our seed set, we will use the .loc() method on our DataFrame to perform our operation.

df.loc[df['Favourite Sport'].isna(), 'Favourite Sport'] = [i for i in np.random.choice(['Volleyball', 'Football', 'Basketball', 'Cricket'], df['Favourite Sport'].isna().sum())]

Executing this will assign a list of values to the NaN values in the column ‘Favourite Sport’. This list would have randomly picked values from a list of [‘Volleyball’, ‘Football’, ‘Basketball’, ‘Cricket’], and the number of the values to be picked will be equal to the number of NaNs in the selected column, here Favourite Sport.

Putting it all together

# Import the Libraries import pandas as pd import numpy as np # Creating the DataFrame df = pd.DataFrame({ 'Name': ['Alex', 'Jimmy', 'Katie', 'Brute'], 'Favourite Sport': [np.nan, 'Lawn Tennis', 'Basketball', np.nan], 'Height (in cm)': [167.7, 182.3, 178.7, 166.2], 'Salary': [12134343, 21312324, 421324554, 234434325] }) np.random.seed(124) df.loc[df['Favourite Sport'].isna(), 'Favourite Sport'] = [i for i in np.random.choice(['Volleyball', 'Football', 'Basketball', 'Cricket'], df['Favourite Sport'].isna().sum())] print(df)

On executing this code, our final dataset would look something like this:

As explained, for indexes 0 and 3, we see the NaNs are replaced with randomly picked values i.e., ‘Basketball’ and ‘Volleyball’ from the mentioned sports list.

2. To Map Values in a Categorical Column into Codes

Mapping values to numeric codes is a helpful method that might come in handy when we want numeric data in our DataFrame, but it needs to be unique and relate to something else. One use of this function may be the automatic assignment of Roll Numbers in a class from a list of student names.

Let’s begin by repeating the prerequisites from the preceding step: importing the libraries, generating a Pandas DataFrame, and executing the (1.) operation.

Performing the Prerequisites

# Importing the libraries import pandas as pd import numpy as np # Creating the DataFrame df = pd.DataFrame({ 'Name': ['Alex', 'Jimmy', 'Katie', 'Brute'], 'Favourite Sport': [np.nan, 'Lawn Tennis', 'Basketball', np.nan], 'Height (in cm)': [167.7, 182.3, 178.7, 166.2], 'Salary': [12134343, 21312324, 421324554, 234434325] }) # Replacing the NaN values np.random.seed(124) df.loc[df['Favourite Sport'].isna(), 'Favourite Sport'] = [i for i in np.random.choice(['Volleyball', 'Football', 'Basketball', 'Cricket'], df['Favourite Sport'].isna().sum())]

Creating a list of Codes (from the ‘Name’ column)

list(pd.Categorical(df['Name'], ordered = True).codes)

On executing this, we get the following:

Here, we used Pandas’ Categorical() method and passed the ‘Name’ column from our DataFrame. We also passed the value ‘True’ to the parameter ‘ordered,’ and thus, we get the list of numbers based on the alphabetically ordered ‘Name’ column. So when the Name ‘Alex’, the code assigned is ‘0’, while for the name ‘Jimmy,’ the code assigned will be ‘2’ as the name ‘Jimmy’ comes in the 3rd position among the four names in the ‘Name’ column, alphabetically. We passed this entire code into a list to get a list of values.

We can also pass this list of values into the DataFrame as a column.

Creating New Column from Codes

df['Roll Number'] = list(pd.Categorical(df['Name'], ordered = True).codes)

Executing this will create a new column named ‘Roll Number.’

Putting this all together

# Import the Libraries import pandas as pd import numpy as np # Creating the DataFrame df = pd.DataFrame({ 'Name': ['Alex', 'Jimmy', 'Katie', 'Brute'], 'Favourite Sport': [np.nan, 'Lawn Tennis', 'Basketball', np.nan], 'Height (in cm)': [167.7, 182.3, 178.7, 166.2], 'Salary': [12134343, 21312324, 421324554, 234434325] }) # Replacing the NaN values np.random.seed(124) df.loc[df['Favourite Sport'].isna(), 'Favourite Sport'] = [i for i in np.random.choice(['Volleyball', 'Football', 'Basketball', 'Cricket'], df['Favourite Sport'].isna().sum())] # Mapping 'Name' column into numeric codes df['Roll Number'] = list(pd.Categorical(df['Name'], ordered = True).codes) print(df)

On executing this code, our DataFrame would look like this:

3. To format the Integers in a DataFrame

This process aids in improving the readability of the numbers for users. We frequently encounter numbers with numerous digits in a DataFrame, which causes confusion and misinterpretation.

We will format the values in the ‘Salary’ column in the following example.

Let’s begin by completing the requirements from the primary operations: importing libraries building the Pandas DataFrame, and the previous two operations.

Performing the prerequisites

# Import the Libraries import pandas as pd import numpy as np # Creating the DataFrame df = pd.DataFrame({ 'Name': ['Alex', 'Jimmy', 'Katie', 'Brute'], 'Favourite Sport': [np.nan, 'Lawn Tennis', 'Basketball', np.nan], 'Height (in cm)': [167.7, 182.3, 178.7, 166.2], 'Salary': [12134343, 21312324, 421324554, 234434325] }) # Replacing the NaN values np.random.seed(124) df.loc[df['Favourite Sport'].isna(), 'Favourite Sport'] = [i for i in np.random.choice(['Volleyball', 'Football', 'Basketball', 'Cricket'], df['Favourite Sport'].isna().sum())] # Mapping 'Name' column into numeric codes df['Roll Number'] = list(pd.Categorical(df['Name'], ordered = True).codes)

Formatting the ‘Salary’ column

df['Salary'] = df['Salary'].apply(lambda x: format(x, ',d'))

Putting it all together

# Import the Libraries import pandas as pd import numpy as np # Creating the DataFrame df = pd.DataFrame({ 'Name': ['Alex', 'Jimmy', 'Katie', 'Brute'], 'Favourite Sport': [np.nan, 'Lawn Tennis', 'Basketball', np.nan], 'Height (in cm)': [167.7, 182.3, 178.7, 166.2], 'Salary': [12134343, 21312324, 421324554, 234434325] }) # Replacing the NaN values np.random.seed(124) df.loc[df['Favourite Sport'].isna(), 'Favourite Sport'] = [i for i in np.random.choice(['Volleyball', 'Football', 'Basketball', 'Cricket'], df['Favourite Sport'].isna().sum())] # Mapping 'Name' column into numeric codes df['Roll Number'] = list(pd.Categorical(df['Name'], ordered = True).codes) # Format values in 'Salary' column df['Salary'] = df['Salary'].apply(lambda x: format(x, ',d')) print(df)

On executing this code, we get the following:

Here, we passed each value in the ‘Salary’ column in the built-in format() method, using the .apply() method of Pandas.

A potential caveat in performing this operation is that the value becomes object-type or categorical when formatting an integer because of the commas between the digits.

4. To Extract Rows if a Certain Categorical Column has a Given Substring

Sometimes we wish to remove rows that fulfill a specific requirement. This operation is often performed on the categorical columns of a DataFrame. We will perform a similar operation on one of our categorical columns below.

In our DataFrame, we will extract all the rows where the person has a ball game as their favorite Sport. To carry out this process, we will use our Favorite Sport column.

We will start with the prerequisites, including library imports, DataFrame construction, and the previously completed operations.

Performing the Prerequisites

# Import the Libraries import pandas as pd import numpy as np # Creating the DataFrame df = pd.DataFrame({ 'Name': ['Alex', 'Jimmy', 'Katie', 'Brute'], 'Favourite Sport': [np.nan, 'Lawn Tennis', 'Basketball', np.nan], 'Height (in cm)': [167.7, 182.3, 178.7, 166.2], 'Salary': [12134343, 21312324, 421324554, 234434325] }) # Replacing the NaN values np.random.seed(124) df.loc[df['Favourite Sport'].isna(), 'Favourite Sport'] = [i for i in np.random.choice(['Volleyball', 'Football', 'Basketball', 'Cricket'], df['Favourite Sport'].isna().sum())] # Mapping the 'Name' column into numeric codes df['Roll Number'] = list(pd.Categorical(df['Name'], ordered = True).codes) # Format values in the 'Salary' column df['Salary'] = df['Salary'].apply(lambda x: format(x, ',d'))

Extracting the Rows of Interest

print(df[df['Favourite Sport'].str.contains('ball')])

Executing this will extract all the rows where the Favourite Sport of a person has the text ‘ball’ in it.

Putting it all together

# Import the Libraries import pandas as pd import numpy as np # Creating the DataFrame df = pd.DataFrame({ 'Name': ['Alex', 'Jimmy', 'Katie', 'Brute'], 'Favourite Sport': [np.nan, 'Lawn Tennis', 'Basketball', np.nan], 'Height (in cm)': [167.7, 182.3, 178.7, 166.2], 'Salary': [12134343, 21312324, 421324554, 234434325] }) # Replacing the NaN values np.random.seed(124) df.loc[df['Favourite Sport'].isna(), 'Favourite Sport'] = [i for i in np.random.choice(['Volleyball', 'Football', 'Basketball', 'Cricket'], df['Favourite Sport'].isna().sum())] # Mapping the 'Name' column into numeric codes df['Roll Number'] = list(pd.Categorical(df['Name'], ordered = True).codes) # Format values in the 'Salary' column df['Salary'] = df['Salary'].apply(lambda x: format(x, ',d')) # Checking if 'ball' is in the 'Favourite Sport' column print(df[df['Favourite Sport'].str.contains('ball')])

On executing this code, we get the following:

Here, as explained, we got all the rows from our DataFrame having substring ‘ball’ in the column ‘Favou.


Key Takeaways:

We saw how we could replace NaNs with randomized values – numbers or strings.

We also saw how to code the strings into numerics based on the alphabetical arrangement of strings.

In the third operation, we learned how to format the integers and improve the readability for the user.

We also have seen how formatting this can change the column’s datatype from int to str.

In the fourth operation, we understood how to extract rows when a given substring is found in one of the columns specified.

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Professional Bridges You Should Burn Right Away (Powerful)

Professional Life

Professional Bridges You Should Definitely Burn –  If you’re new to professional life, you will soon learn that you need to burn some professional bridges later in your career. When you join the company, it’s like a blank slate, and you dream of painting all your dreams there. But not all people like your dreams. They handhold you, share a pot of coffee with you and talk about their dreams, but behind your back, they’re praying hard for your downfall. How would you explain this type of person wearing two masks and showing you the good one most often? You may not be interested to know much about them. But they won’t forget you until you’re not giving up on your dreams and stooping down to the hard reality.

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Let’s get started with the professional bridges you should burn right away.

People Who Steal Your Time

Jim Rohn said – Time is more valuable than money. But there are people who steal your time from the working hours you devote to the office.

You may not consider these people who steal your time all the time. They will ask you to have a coffee or chit-chat when you’re deeply involved in work. Even if you politely say yes, they will drag you into spending one hour every day of your precious work time, and later you will need to stay late to complete the project.

Sound familiar? Have you met anyone like that in your professional life?

If you have, you know how they are.

Now you can’t always say no, but what if we say you can? What then? In professional life, there are some unwritten rules – like respecting the seniors, listening to people with tons of professional experiences even if they’re speaking something you already know, or a colleague who expects you to chit-chat because she has time. But who said you need to pay heed to them? Don’t follow any unwritten rules that steal your time. You’re in this professional arena because you are here to invest your time to build a career out of it, not to squander your professional time on something that isn’t worthy of your attention.

Whenever they say to you, simply say – “Let me get this done; I would try to join you. But it’s urgent. I need to be here right now.” They will still poke you and say that it’s okay to put your work off and can join them, but don’t.

The best strategy is to select people who are your time wasters. Usually, they are not very good workers. They’re not respecting your time, which means they’re not respecting your time. So, identify them and find ways not to be associated with them by any means, not even in a coffee chat.

People Who Look Down Upon You

No matter who s/he is, don’t pay attention to them or their words. You will find people like that who deliberately make you feel small even when you’re doing excellent work professionally. Now here’s the deal. They will be so good with you in front of you. But behind your back, they blacklist you as if you’re a kind of professional thief. If you have a few years of experience in your professional life, you would know what they look like. No matter how good they tell you, you won’t be able to believe them. There is something that will make you feel not believe them. Find that feeling and pay heed to that feeling.

If you’re new in the professional arena, it would be difficult for you to identify them. The best way to identify them is to see their body language. And it will not match their words, never. They will giggle and speak greatly of you, but if you look into their eyes, their eye movement and the way they shake hands with you will tell a ton about them. But don’t just go by your own feeling. Take feedback from other colleagues who you trust. Or simply wait for some time to see how they behave with you. It’s a tricky thing. People are very complex, but to succeed in your professional life, you need to find these people and show a red flag to them. Even if you know that s/he is your boss. Maintain a surface-level professional relationship, but never associate with these people. They’re dream crushers.

People Who Use You as a Bridge to Get Ahead

There are a lot of people like that who use you as a staircase.

When novelist Ayn Rand talked about being self-centered, people opposed it. But she explained that selfishness is different than thinking about your own self. She mentioned that selfishness is doing something at the cost of someone else; objectivism doesn’t support that.

They will always follow these steps.

First, they will make a professional relationship with you; then, they will say that you’re one of the best in this professional arena; they will ask for a favor which may cost you significant time and effort, even sometimes money; then once you fulfill their wishes, they will just go away and never contact you until they need something from you again.

Don’t entertain these people. However, you need to spend some time in your professional career to understand and recognize them. But once you recognize them, show them the exit door. And don’t go by their sugar-coating words. These people are the perfect mix of the above two types of people we mentioned. If you burn all the bridges between you and them, it will be rather a great investment in your career.

People Who Always Complain, Blame, and Whine

90% of people are like this. They’re always unhappy with something. They don’t like their bosses. They aren’t fond of the desk they’re given. They are not comfortable with the working hours. They aren’t happy with the way they’re treated. They don’t feel good about other co-workers who do great work, and so on and so forth. If we keep writing down what they don’t like and moan and groan about, we may not be able to articulate the remaining words in this article.

Partly we all are moaners and groaners. But you don’t associate with the people who are always doing that. Why? Because eventually, you will be like them, which wouldn’t be good for your professional life. Would it?

If you’re around people who are whiners, it’s difficult to take responsibility. Simply paste a note to your desk saying – “Hey, you’re responsible. Do not put the blame on anyone else.” If you do that, you can always remind yourself that you need to be responsible. A responsible person can’t be a whiner.

Even if you must be with many complainers, detach yourself from them mentally and, if possible, change your job or department. If you stay there for too long, you won’t be able to take responsibility always. And ultimately, you will give in and join their ever-growing appreciators.

Rules, Things, Decorum, and Processes

If you’re someone who likes to stand by your own values and rules, first of all, you need to make sure that you’re joining an organization allowing its employees to think independently. Companies hire smart professionals to use their brains and then tell them not to use their brains at all. It’s kind of funny how autocratic companies are run.

Even if you’re not getting any job, don’t fall for companies with typical rules that will force employees to be under the constant supervision of CEOs. This age is not the age of supervision. This is the age of participation. Thus, “working for someone” has become “working with someone”.

But how would you understand the company’s rules, decorum, and processes? There are two possible ways you can understand.

If you’re giving an interview for this company, you will get to know how it works. Look out, talk to people working there, and get a vibe. You will get it. Don’t join a company where even breathing needs permission from CEO.

Another way is when you’re part of the company. If you’re there and hate every minute of the job environment, begin searching for another job. No employee can grow within that environment. When discussing flexibility, work-life balance, and employees-first-customers-second, these companies exploit their employees under one or more dictatorships. Why do you kneel down to it? Get up, build yourself, and join a company that nurtures you and doesn’t eat your professional possibility.

There are many things you need to say no to. But the above are major. These are the bridges you need to burn right away. Do not wait. Once you recognize them, burn them up.

Your professional life is too precious to waste on these people and companies. It seems hard at first, but once you start practicing, it becomes easier. Start with one of the above and see whether you can remove them from your professional life and career.

Follow the process mentioned below to ease up burning the bridges right away.

First, select one from the above relevant to your professional life.

Recognize them. This will take a major time. Play simple tests with them to get to know them better.

List these people in your journal and write down your observation.

Make a strategy to burn them off completely from your life. Now you may ask, what if my boss is one of these people? You need to find a way to communicate less with your boss and eventually fire your boss and get a new one.

Remember, as our rearing up is concerned, we’re always in a protective environment; thus, being hard on someone wouldn’t be easy. But keep on practicing. Remember, it’s the question of your professional life. If you don’t burn these bridges, they will eventually become obstacles to your professional summit.

Still, thinking about burning the bridges? Why don’t you start with the hesitation you have right now?

Windows 10 Settings You Should Check & Change Right Away

Right from your first encounter with Windows 10, Microsoft keeps on pushing its other services on users. It starts with requiring a Microsoft account login…then you are lured by Bing Search, and Cortana and so on. The OneDrive cloud storage always keeps popping in from the background and not to forget; the new Edge browser is your default search engine. Now get this straight, all these services are good in their own way, but you may or may not want to use them. And so if you would like to change them, here are some important Windows 10 settings you need to take a look at.

Windows 11 user? Here are the Windows 11 Settings you should change right away.

Windows 10 Settings you should change 1] Look at Windows Update Settings

Apparently, forced updates are the most annoying and drastic change introduced with Windows 10. When it was released, Microsoft didn’t furnish Windows 10 Home users the ability to skip or pause any update.

However, later on, Windows 10 Home users were allowed to stop automatic App updates, but they weren’t allowed to pause or stop Windows Update even then.

Setting your network connection to Metered can stop Windows 10 from automatically downloading the Updates.

You can choose to defer or pause Windows Updates. Then there is this way, where you can make Windows 10 notify you before downloading updates.

While here you might want to also check on the Choose how upgrades are delivered and ensure that your settings have not been changed. If you wish, you may move the slider to Off position to turn off Windows Update Delivery Optimization.

2] System Restore

The next important setting you need to check is if your System Restore is turned on. Please check if your System Restore function is disabled or not. If it is, you need to enable System Restore right away, as it is a very useful feature.

3] Manage Wi-Fi Sense

You need to check your Wi-Fi Sense settings. Wi-Fi Sense is a feature in Windows 10 that allows you to connect to your friend’s shared Wi-Fi connections. You can manage your Wi-Fi settings and decide whom the Wi-Fi details should be shared with, or you may turn off Wi-Fi Sense completely. I have turned it off, as I have no interest in sharing my Wi-Fi network details with my Facebook, chúng tôi or Skype contacts.

4] Cortana settings

Set up Cortana, your digital assistant. If you don’t plan to use it, disable Cortana.

5] Use the Battery Saver Mode

Make Windows 10 battery last longer. Use the new Battery Saver mode. When activated, the feature conserves battery life by limiting the background activity and adjusting the hardware settings.

6] Set default programs and browser

Don’t like using the built-in default apps or programs? Change default programs. You may want to set your default browser, change the default media player or any other program.

What Microsoft thinks is the best for you may not necessarily match your work mode and preferences. Luckily, you have the liberty to customize most default apps and settings in Windows 10.

7] Check Privacy Settings

8] System Notifications

9] Disable Web Search in Taskbar

When you search using the Taskbar search, local as well as web results using Bing are displayed. Some users may be okay with fact that web results are displaying additionally even when they don’t look forward to them. However, others may not be convinced by this fact. The reason behind this could be unnecessary data consumption by your system in order to fetch web search results. If you wish to disable web search results completely from being displayed in Windows 10 Taskbar search.

10] OneDrive integration

If you don’t like the fact that One Drive keeps appearing in your face, you could disable it or even completely remove it.

15 Must Have Android Apps You Should Install

There’s no dearth of great apps on the Google Play Store but what are the apps you should install when you set up a new Android device? That is a question we all face from time to time. Sure, you install the popular apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, Uber, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc. but what about the other essential apps? Well, don’t worry, we have curated a list of the 15 must apps for Android that you should install:

1. Twilight

The blue light coming from your smartphone can strain your eyes, resulting in improper sleep and this is where the Twilight app comes in handy. The app adapts your device’s display to the time of the day and filters out the flux of the blue light after sunset with a slightly red filter to protect your eyes. You can also manually set the color temperature, intensity of the filter and screen dim on the display. There’s also an option to create profiles, so that you can set custom filters for a particular time, for instance, bedtime reading.

The app is available in a free version but it only lets you create a couple of profiles. For more profiles, ability to adjust transition time for sunset and sunrise, you can get the Pro version of the app.

2. Action Launcher 3

If you would like to have more customization options on your Android smartphone, installing a launcher is a good idea. Chances are, you are already using a popular launcher like Nova Launcher but that’s an app almost everyone is aware of. Thus, we are recommending you the Action Launcher 3. What makes this launcher a must have is its Pixel Launcher like icons, and features like swipe up to get app drawer and more. Also, Action Launcher 3 packs in a “quicktheme” feature that automatically themes your homescreen based on the colors in your wallpaper. There are some other intuitive features too, like “Shutters“, which lets you swipe an app shortcut to reveal its widget.

Then, there’s “Covers“, which is a unique take on folders. When you tap on a cover, the app opens up and when you swipe a cover, a hidden folder that you have customized opens up. Other than that, the Action Launcher 3 packs in the usual features we have come to expect from a launcher app. Also, while the app is available in a free version, it is very limited and if you want to really enjoy it, get the full version of the app.

Install: (Free with in-app purchase of $2.99 for Plus version)

3. Next Lock Screen

Install: (Free)

4. Chrooma Keyboard

The keyboard on most Android smartphones isn’t always the best, except of course Google Keyboard, which is great. So, if you don’t want to ruin your typing experience on your new Android device, you should install a third party keyboard. Chrooma is a highly customizable keyboard and it’s based on Google Keyboard, so you get the best of both worlds. There are various themes for the keyboard including a color adaptive or chameleon theme, which is nothing but the keyboard featuring the same color as the app. Along with the themes, you can totally customize the keyboard. You can change its layout, style, font, keypress sound, vibration and more.

Install: (Free with in-app purchase for Premium version)

5. Betternet VPN App

It’s always a great idea to have a VPN app installed, in case you want to access geo-locked content, browse the web anonymously or even install apps not available in your country. Well, Betternet is a simple VPN app that gets the job done. In its free version, the app lets you connect to a single virtual location and does not offer any limits, which should be good enough for most people.

However, if you want more locations, better speed, support and widgets, you can get the Premium subscription starting at $4.99/month. If you are looking at paid VPN apps, you can also check out TunnelBear, which is a great VPN app.

6. Snapseed Photography App

Snapseed is the ultimate photo editing app on Android from Google. The app supports JPG and RAW DNG files, which is great since many modern smartphones support RAW. Along with the usual editing features, it brings some great professional tools like the ability to tune image, white balance, change perspective, add text, change details, healing, vignette and more. There are various cool filters too like lens blur, HDR scape, noir, vintage, frames, retrolux etc. All the styles and tools can be tweaked as per your usage, so you have total control on the photo you are editing.

Install: (Free)

7. BlackPlayer Music Player

There are a number of great music player apps available for Android but if you are looking for a modern-looking feature rich offering, BlackPlayer is your best bet. The music player features a gorgeous minimal UI with a tabbed layout that you can customize to meet your usage. Along with support for standard audio formats, the music player supports gapless playback, built-in equalizer, bassboost & 3D surround virtualizer, ID3 tag editor, music scrobbling, crossfading and sleep timer. It also lets you view or edit embedded lyrics for tracks, which is pretty cool. To sum things up, if you are looking for a music player with a customizable and beautiful UI along with all the features, BlackPlayer is the one to get.

While BlackPlayer is available in a free version, it’s limited when it comes to some options. However, you can get the BlackPlayer EX version, which unlocks all the features.

Install: (Free, Premium $2.49)

8. KeepSafe App Lock

Our privacy is of paramount importance and thus, it’s always a good idea to install a good app locker on our Android device. Well, you can check out KeepSafe’s App Lock app, which lets you lock apps via PIN, pattern or the fingerprint scanner, if your device does pack in the hardware, obviously. What I especially like about KeepSafe App Lock is that it lets you set the time after which the app re-locks apps. You can set the appto  immediately re-lock apps or set a delay. Also, you will need to enter the PIN, pattern or fingerprint to uninstall the app, so that nobody else can uninstall the app.

Install: (Free)

9. TickTock To-do List

You can also share a task list to collaborate and there’s also an option to add a task via email. How cool is that? While there’s a free version of TickTock, it’s limited, when it comes to number of members in a collaboration, tasks, lists, attachments etc. So, if you want to use it extensively, you’ll be better off with the Pro version, which also brings features like custom smart lists, calendar view, list & task activity and more.

10. Solid Explorer

Solid Explorer is arguably the most user friendly file manager app out there. Sure, there are a number of great file manager apps you can choose from, but what makes the app unique is its beautiful simplistic UI and some really cool unique features. Along with the usual file management features, the app offers multiple window panels for easy drag & drop of files, support for FTP clients, compressed file formats, root explorer for rooted devices and more. Solid Explorer even lets you hide files and includes a media viewer that supports most of the popular media formats.

What makes Solid Explorer unique is the fact that it lets you protect files and folders with passwords and if you have a device with a fingerprint scanner, you can use it to easily unlock these files. You can even access your cloud storage files with your fingerprint. The app is available in a free trial for 14-days, after which you will have to pay for the full version.

Install: (Free trial with in-app purchase of $0.45 for Premium version)

11. Google Keep

Other than that, not many people know that Keep features a cool built-in OCR feature, which you can use to easily extract text from images and trust me when I say, it works very well.

Install: (Free)

12. Piktures

Install: (Free with in-app purchases)

13. Inbox by Gmail

A list of must have apps can never be complete without an email app, right? Well, that’s what we thought and although the official Gmail app is a compelling offering, if you want to keep things organized, you should take a look at Inbox by Gmail. Thanks to its “Highlights” feature, you will be able to take a quick look at your emails and its “Bundles” feature groups similar emails, so you can choose to skip promotional emails. Other features that I like is the ability to add reminders, snooze emails and the great search capabilities.

Install: (Free)

14. CamScanner

Install: (Free with Premium subscription starting at $4.99/month)

15. Today Calendar

There are a ton of great calendar apps available on the Play Store, so it’s a little tough to choose the best one of the lot. However, we like Today Calendar because it hits the perfect balance between functionality and a good interface. It’s based on Google Calendar, which in itself is a great app but Today Calendar enhances the experience offered by the Google app. The whole calendar UI features a clean themeable design, so you can customize it according to your needs. Also, along with all the usual calendar features, Today Calendar features a cool All-In-One view, which combines the month and agenda views, so that users can easily manage their agendas from a single view.

Install: (Free trial, Pro $4.49)

SEE ALSO: 10 Cool Android Apps You Do Not Know About

Essential Android Apps For Your New Device

Essential Free Software You Can’t Afford To Miss

Free doesn’t have to mean cheesy, especially when it comes to freeware. A developer’s passion project can become something you can’t imagine being without, and the fact that you don’t have to lay out any cash to acquire it is a major bonus. Some developers accept donations to further development, so consider giving what you can if you find value in their efforts.


It’s imperative to secure your PC against the nasty stuff it will encounter on the open seas of the Web. Fortunately, it’s easy to assemble a bullet-proof security suite for nothing.

The free version of Malwarebytes is excellent. Upgrading to the pay-for edition delivers additional features, including protection from zero-day malware (which is new enough to confound traditional AV programs).

Malwarebytes will shield your computer from the nasty stuff floating around on the Web.

Microsoft Security Essentials or AVG AntiVirus Free Edition are other good, no-cost options. Choose only one, though, because it’s usually not a good idea to install two AV programs on the same PC (they’ll suck up system resources and might conflict with each other).


File-archiving utilities make big files smaller and easier to manage, and there’s code for creating those archives—and opening existing ones—right inside Windows. But third-party alternatives are faster and more efficient (meaning they create smaller archives). WinZip and WinRAR are two popular examples, but they’re trialware (meaning you can use them for free for a limited time, but you’ll eventually need to purchase a license). 7-Zip is just as good, if not better, and it’s absolutely free (although the developer does accept donations). It can even secure the contents of a zip file using 256-bit AES encryption.

USB thumb drives are handy for carrying documents and other files with you, but storing files in the cloud saves you some schlepping—as well as the risk of loss or failure. Dropbox is one such service, but we found SugarSync to be even better when we compared cloud-storage services last year. Get the crud out of the hard-to-reach places with CCleaner.

CCleaner is the Murphy’s Oil Soap of disk-cleanup tools. Instead of just dusting out old log files and junk you threw in the Recycling Bin, CCleaner digs deep into your PC’s cracks and crevices to give everything from your browsers to your Windows Registry a good scrubbing.

The folks at CPUID make great hardware-monitoring tools. Two of the company’s utilities, CPU-Z and PC Wizard, deserve a permanent place on your desktop. CPU-Z presents detailed information on your system’s central processor: Its make and model, manufacturing process, clock rate, cache size, and more. It can also tell you which company manufactured the motherboard, its model and revision numbers, which core-logic chipset it uses, and the date of its BIOS. Finally, it will specify the type of memory inside your system and its clockspeed. It’s a great way to make sure you got exactly what you paid for. PC Wizard does all that, plus it benchmarks your system as well as audit its components. PC-Wizard reports everything you’ll ever want to know about your computer.

Your Ultrabook might not have an optical drive, but your desktop machine almost certainly does—and with good reason. CDs and DVDs are the best way to share hundreds of megabytes of data with friends and family: A disc is a much cheaper alternative to a high-capacity USB thumb or hard drive that you might not get back. Burning a disc—be it music on a CD, a movie on a DVD, an image file, or what have you—might be an activity you perform rarely, but you will need to do it at some point. Install ImgBurn on your PC now, and you won’t have to scramble to do it later.

Life on the Web

For those of us with family members—and/or business associates—spread across the globe, staying in touch via landline or mobile phone can be prohibitively expensive. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a much better, considerably cheaper alternative. Microsoft’s Skype adds video (you provide the webcam) and instant messaging to the mix for free, but the person at the other end of the call must also be using Skype. For a small fee (subscriptions are also available), you can call landline and mobile numbers in the United States and in other countries (see the Skype site for details).

Online instant messaging is another great way to stay in touch, but not everyone likes to use the same IM service. Trillian consolidates them all: AIM, Skype, and even Facebook. And since there are versions of the utility for just about any device you might be using, you can start a conversation on your smartphone and finish it on your desktop—or vice versa!

Teamspeak offers tons of options and channels to make talking to the right people in game easy.

If you enjoy playing online games with your friends, utilities such as Ventrilo, Mumble, and Teamspeak let you stay in contact with each without tying up your hands to furiously tap out messages. You can simply speak to each other over the Internet using these push-to-talk VoIP services. They’re light on bandwidth and easy to set up and use.


Speaking of games, Valve’s Steam is the 800-pound-gorilla of games distribution and is the close-to-ultimate service for acquiring and playing games on the PC, Mac, and Linux platforms. Steam is also available in mobile versions so you can stay in touch with your game-playing friends using Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. If you play EA games, such as SimCity, or anything in the Battlefield series, you’ll also want to download and install EA’s Origin. Both Origin and Steam are free to use, and both have free as well as pay-for games in their libraries. Steam organizes your games and saves you cash.

You can’t buy games using Raptr, but this social-networking tool will let you launch all your games from one place, allow you to grab screenshots that you can stream via chúng tôi track how much time you spend playing games, and more.

Other digital entertainment

Spotify is a must-have service for music lovers on tight budgets. We can’t always afford to buy the latest albums, but Spotify lets us listen to unlimited music from countless artists. It’s also a great tool for music discovery. Rate tracks and artists, follow what your friends are listening to, and Spotify will lead you to new music you might like.

Spotify is the best place for free music.

When it comes to managing media libraries, iTunes is hard to beat—it’s essential if you own an iOS device. It will organize all your music, movies, TV episodes, and podcasts, automatically download new content, and then sync that content across your PC or Mac/iOS device.

For a simple media player, the open-source VLC Media Player is the best free program available—especially now that Microsoft has detached Windows Media Center and made it a separate purchase. Why bother with that? VLC Media Player will play virtually any media file, and there’s a version for most every popular operating system.

Creative pursuits

Audacity is a deceptively simply audio-recording and editing tool that’s just the ticket for anyone from podcasters to musicians to audiophiles. This tool is easy enough for novices, but sophisticated enough for engineers.

Become a music-mixing pro with Audacity.

You don’t need to line Adobe’s pockets to gain access to powerful online photo-editing software. chúng tôi delivers a similar degree of power and sophistication (including blending, layers, transparency, and even a host of plugins) as Photoshop at the price of, well, nothing (the developer does accept donations).

Which Iud Is Right For You?

Hormonal IUD contains levonorgestrel which is synthetic progesterone.

The non-hormonal IUD has copper construction and no hormones.

Choosing a Personalized IUD

Some factors to consider are how long the protection against pregnancy is needed. Is the body sensitive to hormones? IUDs carry side effects according to the type chosen, which may include heavy cramps and intense bleeding.

Along with UIDs, some other contraception methods are birth control pills, vaginal rings, injections, implants, and sterilization. IUDs are reversible in the sense that fertility is regained when it is no longer used. Some methods like sterilization are permanent.

4 Hormonal IUDs, Durations, and Levonorgestrel Levels

Mirena protects for 6 years with 52 mg

Skyla protects for 3 years with 13.5 mg

Liletta protects for 6 years with 52 mg

Kyleena protects for 5 years with 19 mg

How does levonorgestrel protect?

Levonorgestrel is a progestin that prevents pregnancy by

Thickened cervical mucus preventing sperm from entering the uterus

Prevention of evolution during the egg release

Thinning the uterus lining that prevents implantation


The LARC acronym stands for long-acting reversible contraception that may extend for several years according to need. When the IUD is removed from the uterus, fertility resumes immediately and the chances of pregnancy rise again to normal.

Side Effects of Hormonal IUDs

The side effects are not common, usually do not last long, and subside on their own. Though the side effects could differ according to the type chosen, some are more frequent −

Periods no longer take place or are light and short

Acne affects the skin

Nausea may occur

Weight changes take place

Bleeding is not regular

Changes in moods are likely

Breasts feel tender



Formation of ovarian cyst

Weight Gain

Does the IUD result in excess weight? It is a possibility but not usually true. Hormonal IUDs may retain water as a result of an increased progestin but the added weight would be little. The copper IUD has no hormones and the weight remains unaffected. All the UID types occasionally report weight gain that could be due to reasons not connected with the UID. Over time, changing metabolism and lifestyles, diet, and nutrition patterns could result in weight changes in both directions.

The Possibility of Complications

Dangers and risks are few and rare but could be serious with 3 events. Perforations could happen with the wrong insertion of the IUD when it pokes through the cervix wall or uterus. Infection that is not treated could also result in perforation. A wrongly placed IUD could be removed with no risk of long-standing issues with minor surgery. Expulsion happens when the IUD is ejected. It is rare but more common when the IUD is inserted soon after delivery. Ectopic pregnancy refers to the fertilized egg being implanted in the tube rather than in the uterus. Pregnancy in spite of an IUD is very rare but it happens.

What are non-hormonal IUDs?

They do not contain levonorgestrel and are made out of copper. It restricts sperm movement and prevents implantation. Paragard is one such copper IUD that has no levonorgestrel or any other hormone. Paragard may last as long as 12 years. Effectiveness is very high at 99.9%. Without hormones, paragard does not interfere with or stop periods. Breast tenderness or headaches and nausea do not occur without hormones in the IUD. Expect some side effects from the copper IUD −

Periods bleed more initially

Cramps arise while inserting IUD and for some days

Spotting and irregular periods happen

Some people have an allergy to copper and they should not use the copper IUD. In cases of Wilson’s disease too, the body contains excessive copper, and patients cannot use the copper IUD. Kidney and liver problems can arise from excessive copper in the body.

The Right Choice of IUD

Consider a variety of personal factors to help make the decision. Remember that it is meant for a longer duration though it can be removed whenever required to resume fertility and possible pregnancy. Health histories like diseases and medications in the past need to be recorded. How long is the expected birth control after which a pregnancy may be planned? A hormonal IUD helps to curtail heavy periods and results in reducing the severity or stopping periods entirely. Others may wish to avoid progestin, being sensitive to hormones, and prefer the copper IUD.

Differences and Advantages

Both hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs are almost equally effective in preventing pregnancies and cater to the long-term. Other similarities are small sizes and the T-shape that gets inserted in the uterus. Neither protects against STDs.

Regarding durations, the copper IUD works for 10 years and maybe 12 years. In comparison, hormonal IUDs last for a shorter duration, maybe 3 to 7 years. They work differently. Levonorgestrel in hormonal IUDs thickens the cervical mucus and that prevents the sperm from joining the egg. Further, progestin thins the uterus lining and implantation has little chance of success.

The copper IUD works differently by arousing an inciting action in the uterus. The effect proves toxic to the sperm and does not allow free movement with the conception chances zero.

Non-contraceptive Benefits

Each of the 2 kinds of IUDs brings certain additional benefits too. Hormonal IUDs have more plus points. They control anemia and excess bleeding. Painful periods are gone and endometriosis-related pain is reduced. The risks of cervical cancer and uterine cancer are decreased. Pelvic inflammatory disease risk is also reduced.

Give deep thought, do some research, and consult with specialists in the process of choosing an IUD. Consider the pros and cons of each type of contraception. IUDs are targeted in the longer term. If there is no planned pregnancy later, sterilization would be best. IUDs are used for additional reasons too besides the birth control question. Avoid hurry in decision-making.

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