1/07/2013

Tech Habits to Start in 2013


With the start of the new year, many people choose to take on the challenge of adopting new healthier habits. But while you are revamping your diet and dusting off your running shoes, how about updating your technology routine with one of the following resolutions for 2013.

1. I promise to back up my hard drive
In the last 7 years, I have switched computers as many times. This includes going from an Apple, to a PC, and back to an Apple. Each time this meant hoping that my data wasn't lost and beginning the painstaking process of figuring out how to transfer my full music library. But in the last switch, the process of transferring that information was as easy as downloading my last computer save off of the cloud service I use. With more of our media being digital and because accidents can happen at any time, it is important to save your data or, speaking from personal experience, you may end up having to re-purchase several full albums in a hard drive crash.
Our Suggestion: The type of coverage you need depends on what type of data you maintain on your computer and how much effort you want to put into it.  Personally, I love the ease of automated services like Mozy (which I use and love) and Carbonite. For a small monthly fee, my computer hard drive is automatically backed up to their servers and is fully downloadable in case of crash or computer swap. However, with a fully digital music collection and (striving for) paperless household, I depend on my hard drive for a lot.If you are interested in a free alternative and have less data to back up, you can also always use Dropbox (up to 2GB - 5oo extra MB per referral up to 18GB) or Google Drive (up to 5GB) to store your data. Alternatively, if you are nervous about saving your information on a server, you can always start backing up your data on an external hard drive. But in this case, I would suggest creating a calendar reminder for yourself to do this on a regular basis.

2. I promise to not app hoard
Take a look at your cell phone/tablet/dashboard and ask yourself, how many times have I used that program or app? When browsing the app store or if I see a great app suggestion from a site, I will often give it a test run. But slowly, you can find your memory and home screen can get cluttered with apps that you dutifully update but never open.

Our Suggestion: Your first step will be to take stock of your current app situation. Ask yourself with each app: when is the last time I used this? Remember, just because you delete something at this stage doesn't mean you can't re-download if you realize it is useful. Your next step will be to organize your home screen to ensure the apps that you want to be using are prominently featured. For example, I use a great task manager Clear on my iPhone and keep that front and center on my home screen to ensure I have easy access. In contrast, I love my Twitter app, but that can be filed with my other social networking apps. The final step is to begin being more critical with apps in the future. This might mean having a test drive folder to keep new apps or to research the best options before downloading. But by taking these steps, you'll continue to spotlight the apps you want to be using and increase your gadget's usability.

3. I promise to take my security seriously
In the last two years, I have had my e-mail address hacked twice, my twitter hacked once, and my debit card used to purchase web hosting in Sweden and a trip to China by complete strangers. What surprised me with every situation is how common these stories have become and how many people shared common experiences. These experiences have left me more conscious of my security online and I have begun to take steps to protect my information.

Our Suggestion: The easiest fix to taking your security seriously online is being careful and particular with your e-mail passwords. Ensure that you are changing your passwords on a regular basis and make sure your current passwords are secure enough. For myself, I use a password manager (LastPass because I love their app, but 1Password is also a great option) to create these passwords and remember them for me.

4.I promise to clean my equipment
How often do you clear your computer's recycling bin? How often do you run a computer cleaner program? How often do you clear your browser's cache? Now that you have answered those questions, ask yourself: when is the last time I cleaned my phone's screen, my video game controller, or my remote control? While cleaning our technology can seem like a tedious chore, consider how often you wash your hands during cold season and how often you touch your phone each day?
Our Suggestion: Add cleaning your equipment to your cleaning to-do list. Things like your cell phone like your iPhone need to be cleaned on a more regular basis due to the amount of use. You may start to find after doing this on a regular basis that your skin may improve due to less contact with oils from your hands. For technology like your computer or game controllers, I suggest planning on doing some cleaning on a monthly basis while doing a deep clean on a quarterly basis. In our household, these steps have allowed us to make our gadgets last longer and have helped us in avoiding the dreaded red circle of death.

5. I promise to expand my technical ability
In today's world, technical knowledge is a great commodity and can make you more attractive to potential employers. But also, we are a world that is spending more and more time interacting with gadgets and technology, and by having a greater understand of what we are using, we can become more educated consumers. For a goal this year, it may be a great time to begin working to expand your personal wheelhouse of technical skills.

Our Suggestion: Choose an endeavor that interests you and sounds fun, then attack it at full force. This resolution should allow you to increase your knowledge while enjoying yourself. Often times, this may be best as a tool to help you achieve a goal. For example, if you have been interested in starting a blog, it may be a great opportunity to teach yourself photo editing to increase your skills. Or maybe you have been really interested in creating a library catalog for your home and it may be a great change to learn some programming while building your database. Taking these steps will help ensure that you keep up with the task and learn something you will continue to use.

6. I promise to unplug
Technology is amazing, fun, and I still wonder how the pioneers had fun without their gadgets. But it can be easy to turn a fun brunch into a chance to populate our Instagram feed instead of have conversations with our friends. It is vital in today's world to take time detached from our e-mail account. It is also vital for your health with studies showing that too much screen-time around bedtime can be detrimental to your sleep.

Our Suggestion: Schedule some time each week to unplug for your technology. Whether it is going for a walk and leaving your phone at home or baking in the kitchen, take the time to not wonder what is being posted on Twitter but to enjoy your time. If you are in a relationship, have a technology free date with your loved one and spend your dinner chatting instead of checking e-mail.
If you can't imagine that time without your gadget, you may want to try a more drastic detox and put yourself on a technology fast for a weekend. Let your friends and family know your plan and pack your day with day trips and projects that will keep you busy.

4 comments:

  1. A lot of great tips... and a lot of reminders for things I really need to stop procrastinating!

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  2. Awesome list. I, too, need to stop procrastinating on a lot of these things (particularly the changing of my passwords!).

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  3. I used to be so bad about passwords which is why I adore lastpass. Plus, I'm often too lazy to actually go find some passwords so it has also massively decreased my time on reddit :).

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  4. Luckily, I had a year head start for my resolutions. :) But totally worth the calendar reminder.

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