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Full-time food and travel vlogger hopes others can learn from her journey

In the few years since TJ Lee left everything behind to travel the world – and share her adventures with an ever-growing number of online fans – with only a carry-on suitcase and a backpack, she’s learned a lot. The first year she worked entirely remotely and took on all sorts of freelance gigs to…

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In the few years since TJ Lee left everything behind to travel the world – and share her adventures with an ever-growing number of online fans – with only a carry-on suitcase and a backpack, she’s learned a lot.

The first year she worked entirely remotely and took on all sorts of freelance gigs to make money: social media management, photo headshots and building websites. But she spent days working on videos – only to be disappointed in the number of views they got. She’d get free products and experiences in exchange for making videos about them – but they’d end up taking much more time than the value of the things she got.

Then, by more trial and error, she realized she could do a better job of getting paid to pursue her passions of traveling and food vlogging.

Four years later, she’s built a following of almost half a million on various platforms – including YouTube and TikTok – generating a consistent array of videos and brand-sponsored social media posts. Among the many companies she works with is Razer, which recently provided her with a new Windows 11 laptop as one of its brand ambassadors.


On her site, she created a “vlogger academy” to help others with lessons she learned as a full-time influencer (though for now, she’s taking a break from coaching).

“When I became an actual content creator, it was a totally different world,” says Lee, who grew up in southern California, graduated from University of California, Davis and worked 15-hour days for a time doing community management for a San Francisco-based tech company. But she wanted to work remotely, see more of the world and more of her family in Taiwan. She knew it wasn’t going to be easy. “Being a freelancer, you have to run your own schedule, you have to do everything and you don’t have health insurance.”

Her academy included: a three-month set of custom courses that has personalized YouTube strategies, one on one coaching, accountability sessions, pitch scripts for paid collaborations and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. She knows it’s a tempting but tough road for most people and there are plenty of hurdles.

TJ Lee working on her Razer Book Quartz outside on a bench. (Photo by Lucas Huang.)

“You’ve got to be able to manage your own schedule and be able to figure out all the different moving pieces,” she says. “You’re the marketer. You’re the editor. You’re the producer, the director, you’re everything. And being able to take on all of those roles requires a learning curve. And it requires time. I tell people, try to take it slow and try to figure this out. To do this full time – and do it right – takes longer than you think and it takes much more work than you think. It’s a lot harder than you think. But you’re planting all the seeds. You can’t give up because you’re not going to see all the efforts bloom right away, so just keep going on.”

Now based in New York City, she had to switch up her own strategy of focusing on travel and eating out when the 2020 lockdowns made that impossible. She had moved there to pursue another dream: acting. She’s taking classes and has landed several roles, including one on a long-running crime procedural.

TJ Lee working on her phone. (Photo by TJ Lee)

“I was really shy and so I did theater to get over it,” says Lee, who has clearly overcome any discomfort in front of the camera. “I actually double majored in political science and dramatic arts, but I had to drop dramatic arts because my parents didn’t want me to be an actor. It wasn’t a career that they could see me in. And back then we didn’t have so many Asian Americans in films.”

But she was by herself in the city during a pandemic and homesick for her family in Taiwan, where she was born.

“Cooking food and making dishes that I grew up with was kind of a comfort thing for me,” Lee says. “And that’s actually how I started learning how to cook, during quarantine.”

So that led to several short videos about those cooking techniques and reviewing grocery staples, and some longer videos checking out dining options. Some of those videos can run close to a half hour – but that kind of content also comes with a plan.

“I love to do listicles, so if I tell my viewers I’m going to five different spots, they’re following along to hit five out of five spots,” she says. Or, she’ll work with a three-meal format that also retains viewers. “Not only do you have to create the content, but you also have to create different types of content for different platforms.”

So, for her, the work is constant.

This means filming and editing her creations as well as prep work and scripting. Then there are the administrative tasks, pairing with the right brands to be able to fund it all. And on top of all that, she’s a stickler for engaging with fans.

“Without them, you’re not here,” she says.

She finds that a big help – especially while she’s out and about, which is happening more again – is her Razer Book Quartz.

TJ Lee working on her Razer Book Quartz. (Photo by Lucas Huang)

“It’s so portable and it’s so beautiful, probably the prettiest laptop I’ve ever had,” she says. “The keyboard lights up. The battery never seems to die.” And she’s not just using it for work – she loves the quality of the screen so much she watches all her shows on the laptop.

For her, having a touchscreen is something new, and something she’s using a lot with Windows 11, particularly with one of its new features: widgets.

“I can see my calendar for the week and my to-do’s all right there. So that’s been a really cool feature to have and I can just swipe it with my fingers,” says Lee, who’s also been using snap layouts to organize her tabs and OneDrive to upload all her photos, which also pops up immediately on her phone – something that happens quickly.

That pace is nothing new for Lee.

“Every single day is like the wild wild west. I don’t know what’s going to happen today or tomorrow. You are working for yourself and for your dreams and there’s nothing more empowering,” she says. “I will say this, though: it’s harder and more exhausting than any job I’ve ever had before, but also more fulfilling to be able to do what you love and share it with the world.”

Lead photo by Daniel Nguyen.

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Microsoft

Soar the skies of Italy and Malta in latest free World Update for Microsoft Flight Simulator

Italy and Malta come alive with rich detail of the region’s grandeur in the latest free World Update of Microsoft Flight Simulator. “Fly throughout the historic cities of Rome and Venice, soar above Mediterranean coastlines and navigate sheer-faced peaks, all rendered in lifelike realism with World Update IX: Italy & Malta,” writes Jorg Neumann, Head…

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Italy and Malta come alive with rich detail of the region’s grandeur in the latest free World Update of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

“Fly throughout the historic cities of Rome and Venice, soar above Mediterranean coastlines and navigate sheer-faced peaks, all rendered in lifelike realism with World Update IX: Italy & Malta,” writes Jorg Neumann, Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator, in a post on Xbox Wire. “The Microsoft Flight Simulator team has refined this area with the latest geospatial data available, including digital elevation modeling, aerial and satellite imagery, and triangulated irregular network (TIN) modeling of 20 cities, including Rome, Naples, Venice and Milan.”

Head over to Xbox Wire for details and images from the update that is available now for free.

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Angry Birds comes to Minecraft

Hey Minecraft players: You can now download Angry Birds DLC on Minecraft Marketplace. “In this flappingly fantastic new world from the Oreville Studios and Rovio Entertainment, the pigs are up to their old tricks again, and it’s up to you to stop them,” writes Sophie Austin on Minecraft.net. “Playing as Red, your mission is to…

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Hey Minecraft players: You can now download Angry Birds DLC on Minecraft Marketplace.

“In this flappingly fantastic new world from the Oreville Studios and Rovio Entertainment, the pigs are up to their old tricks again, and it’s up to you to stop them,” writes Sophie Austin on Minecraft.net. “Playing as Red, your mission is to rescue your birdnapped pals, save your precious eggs and thwart the pesky pigs’ grand plans. Battle your way through a uniquely blocky Cobalt Plateau, over the dangerous Piggy Junkyard, through Summer Madness and across Pig City to try and find your friends.”

With each rescued buddy, you’ll unlock them as playable characters so you can use the unique skills of Red, Chuck, Bomb, Stella and more to your advantage.

Visit Minecraft.net to find out more and check out lots of images.

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ASUS launches new and refreshed ZenBook OLED and ROG Windows 11 PCs

ASUS has launched new Zenbook Pro and Zenbook S Windows 11 PCs, as well as a Strix SCAR special edition and Flow X16 through the Republic of Gamers (ROG). The Zenbook standard, convertible and dual-display laptops range in size from 13 inches to 17.3 inches, all with refreshed designs and the latest 12th Gen Intel…

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ASUS has launched new Zenbook Pro and Zenbook S Windows 11 PCs, as well as a Strix SCAR special edition and Flow X16 through the Republic of Gamers (ROG).


The Zenbook standard, convertible and dual-display laptops range in size from 13 inches to 17.3 inches, all with refreshed designs and the latest 12th Gen Intel Core H-Series processors or AMD Ryzen 6000 H-Series processors, along with an array of performance- and productivity-enhancing innovations. The Zenbook lineup comes with Windows Hello login through the PCs’ cameras and is Windows Ink capable through digital pens and touchscreens.

The flagship model in the new line-up is Zenbook Pro 16X OLED, a laptop made to foster on-the-go creativity. A 12th Gen Intel Core i9 12900H processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 GPU powers this PC within a 5.5-pound unibody that has been CNC-machined from super-tough aerospace-grade 6000-series aluminum alloy. And it’s just 0.65 inches slim.

Zenbook Pro 16X OLED

These high-performance components need to be cooled effectively in order to reach their full potential. This starts with the new ASUS IceCool Pro cooling system, which uses two quiet IceBlades fans. These cool the vapor chamber, while hot air is vented efficiently to the exterior via the new AAS Ultra mechanism that also tilts the keyboard by an ergonomic seven degrees. The result is that the CPU and GPU can run at up to a 140 W combined TDP in Performance mode without throttling and can run quieter than 40 dB in Standard mode. The high-capacity 96 Wh battery helps keep you going up to 10 hours to get through the most demanding workdays.

A 16:10 16-inch 4K OLED HDR 60 Hz 550-nit Dolby Vision touchscreen that’s PANTONE Validated for industry-standard color rendering completes the experience. It has a cinema-grade 100% DCI-P3 gamut and is VESA DisplayHDR True Black 500-certified.

The new Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is a compact dual-screen creator laptop with a 14.5-inch 2.8K 120 Hz OLED display. It features a bigger and brighter next-gen 12.7-inch ScreenPad Plus secondary touchscreen, combined with the AAS Ultra auto-tilting design that improves cooling and ergonomics.

Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED

Users can configure this Intel Evo-certified PC with up to a 12th Gen Intel Core i9 12900H processor and creator-grade NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU. They’ll also find in it a 360-degree ErgoLift hinge and a HD IR camera for fast face login via Windows Hello. Automatic brightness and color adjustment comes through a combined ambient light and RGB color sensor. The Harman Kardon-certified quad-speaker Dolby Atmos audio system delivers ultra-realistic multi-dimensional sound for an immersive cinematic experience.


On the play front, the Republic of Gamers (ROG) introduced the new 2022 ROG Strix SCAR 17 Special Edition. This upgraded Strix SCAR houses a custom vapor chamber, paired with Conductonaut Extreme liquid metal applied to both the CPU and GPU, to push its hardware further than ever before.

ROG SCAR 17 SE

At CES 2022 in January, ROG introduced the 2022 Strix SCAR. For Computex 2022, the Strix SCAR 17 SE special edition variant comes with even more power under the hood. ROG engineered it for those who want a no-compromise, tournament-ready gaming machine.

The improvements start at the beating heart of the machine, powered by the brand-new Intel Core i9-12950HX, a 65W laptop CPU. It also has up to 64GB of blazing fast 4800MHz DDR5 RAM, PCIe Gen 4 storage in a RAID 0 array that leave loading times in the dust and a dedicated MUX Switch for peak gaming performance. Intel Wi-Fi 6E and a 2.5G ethernet port means gamers can confidently launch an online match from anywhere.

These high-end parts require powerful cooling to operate at peak performance – and that it has, thanks to ROG’s Intelligent Cooling innovations. ROG has used Thermal Grizzly’s liquid metal compound for the last three years, which reduces CPU temperatures by 10 degrees C compared to traditional thermal pastes. This year, ROG’s engineering team collaborated with Thermal Grizzly again to develop an even higher performance liquid metal formula called Conductonaut Extreme, which the SCAR 17 SE uses on both the CPU and GPU. Offering 5 degrees C lower temperatures than standard liquid metal thermal compound, this was the first step to unlocking the device’s true performance potential.

ROG Flow X16

Republic of Gamers also revealed the new ROG Flow X16. This 16-inch thin and light laptop is powered by an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Laptop GPU, with support for the XG Mobile family of external GPUs, all while weighing 4.4 pounds. It features the flagship Nebula HDR Display, a QHD/165Hz Mini LED panel with 1100 nits of peak brightness and 100% DCI-P3 coverage. The new Frost Force Technology and Pulsar Heatsink powers three fans and a high density heatsink to keep performance high and temperatures low.

ROG has not sacrificed usability and upgradeability for this thin and light form factor. Both the DDR5 4800MHz memory and PCIe 4.0 SSD are accessible and upgradeable. The X16 supports up the 64GB of memory and comes with up to 2 TB of SSD storage. A second open M.2 slot makes it painless to drop in more storage for a scratch disk or larger game library.

As a member of the Flow family, portability and versatility were instrumental in the design of the X16. Featuring a full 360-degree hinge, gamers can transform their machine from a traditional clamshell laptop to utilize tent mode, maximizing airflow when using an external keyboard or gamepad. Or they can flip the display back into full tablet mode for more touch functionality.

This versatility also includes full support for the XG Mobile family of external GPUs. These compact enclosures house laptop variants of AMD and NVIDIA’s highest-performing discrete graphics chips, while being portable enough to carry in a backpack. These external GPUs also act as an I/O expansion hub, housing dedicated ethernet, USB-A, DisplayPort, HMDI 2.1 ports and an SD card reader. With a single connection, the X16 can be transformed into a full power battle station.

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