Originally Published: January 6, 2012 http://blogs.republicanherald.com/tech/?p=215
Happy New Year local readers and fellow technophiles! While we all make those resolutions every year that we never keep, such as drinking less, losing weight and quitting smoking, I have a couple technology-related resolutions I’d like to offer for this year that could make your gadget life a lot easier.
RESOLUTION I: First things first, I’m tired of seeing people making Facebook pages or events asking for phone numbers since they either lost their cell phones or broke them, so back-up your phones and phone data! We’re living in the age where smartphones are getting cheaper and cheaper. I bought my first smartphone, the original iPhone, in 2007 and paid $550 on contract. Now you can find some smartphones on contract for as little as a penny (if you know when and were to look) and I know that on AT&T, you only need the minimal $15 data plan. T-Mobile has unlimited calls, text messaging and data for $50 a month. If you have an Android phone, it will back-up all your contacts automatically to your Google account, if you have an iPhone, just make sure you either have your phone backing up with iCloud or just connect it to your computer every once and a while. I only takes a minute or two usually. Follow this and you’ll never lose your phone contacts ever again. Stop living in the stone age people!
RESOLUTION II: Keeping with the theme of backing-up, please (please, please, please x3) back-up your laptops and desktop computers. It’s so simple now, so I don’t know why more people don’t do it. I’m not completely familiar with it on a PC since I’m a Mac user, and have been for years, but Windows 7, which I’m hoping all of you PC users are using by now, has a built-in Backup and Restore Center. Just take a few minutes to read up on it.
For Mac users, it’s extremely simple with Time Machine. If anything, make this your number one resolution and go out to buy a brand new external hard drive. I did a quick search on Amazon and a 3 TB Western Digital drive is about $189, while a 2 TB is about $130-140. You can get others at far less that $100, I have a 1 TB drive that I bought a few years ago for about $60. That’s not a lot of money considering how much space you get and the troubles it will save you in the future. If you’re a Mac user like me, get the 3 TB and just keep it connected to your computer. Time Machine will do regular automatic back ups for whatever schedule you set and will automatically delete older backups whenever it gets full.
I remember seeing a kid I went to college with who had his MacBook hard drive crash and he paid Geek Squad at Best Buy an excessive amount (too much) of money to extract the data from the failed hard drive. Had he backed up, he could have popped in a new internal drive (even cheaper than an external drive), and just restored his Mac. No problem.
RESOLUTION III: Sort out all those wires from your computer or behind your TV and clear the clutter… enough said.
RESOLUTION IV: Make sure you don’t put that surge protector from your computer under your desk right by your feet. I’ve already seen it happen at work in the newsroom where a fellow employee’s computer just randomly shut off and he couldn’t figure out why. It ended up he flipped the switch on the surge protector or power strip with his foot. This isn’t too hard, just watch where you have it placed.
RESOLUTION V: Know the tech that you’re buying. I say this because I know people that have gotten computers that where not what they expected or cell phones that have not gotten updates and they expected it would. To keep this simple I’ll say just to please, do your research first. A $300 computer from Walmart is not the same as a $1,200 computer. Apple computers are not all that expensive if you look at the amazing build quality, software with few bugs, and Mac Minis start at $599. Apple also has a great selection of refurbished computer, which you can’t even tell they’re refurbs. I got my MacBook Pro as a refurb, which was the latest model at the time with a second gen Core i7 processor and saved about $300 from a new one. For PCs, I say, in this day and age, Dells are not the same computers they used to be unless you go with an XPS. If I were buying a new PC, I’d go with an Asus or Acer, they offer great specs and at affordable prices. For cell phones, with Apple products (iPhones) it’s always best to go with the latest model because then you know you’ll get updates the longest, for a least a year or two, if not longer. Mobile development moves at skyrocket speeds so it’s always a gamble as the latest and greatest is just around the corner. For Android phones, while I realize the average consumer might not care about updates, get a Google Nexus device (latest is the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, exclusive to Verizon in the US, and there’s an unlocked that works on any 3G GSM network). They get updates straight from Google and will ensure you get updates first for at least a year or two. Most phones with custom interfaces like the Galaxy S phones or the Droids from HTC and Motorola are subject to the manufacturer for updates, and most likely will never come. Who knows when you will get the latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update, if ever. Samsung said the original Galaxy S wouldn’t get it, although they would revisit the issue. Looks like those will only get a software pack to give it similar features to ICS, but trust me, you want the fill experience. ICS is the best and least buggy version of Android that I’ve ever used. It’s a worthy upgrade and I think one-ups Apple and iOS.
RESOLUTION VI: I know that six is a weird number to end on, but I figured five resolutions, and one for good measure (actually, it’s all the major ones I could come up with). Anyway, this year try to make an effort to help those in your family that aren’t as technologically savy as you are, especially around the holidays. Unless the browsers update themselves to the latest version, or the iPhones and Androids automatically ask you to update, etc., chances are your family members won’t be updated to all the latest firmares and softwares. Give them a hand without complaint. I from time to time update my mom’s iPhone to the latest iOS and update her apps for her since she doesn’t really know how to do it or forgets. One last thing in this resolution, be sure to help family avoid tech disasters such as buying a crap device or tablet (ahem… like the Velocity Cruz tablets.. you know who I’m refereing to). We don’t need to put bad tech in the hands of our loved ones that we wouldn’t truly buy for ourselves in any lifetime.
So, that all being said… HAPPY NEW YEAR! Make it a good one!