Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last New Year's Column

In the Family Tech running on January 1, 2015, I allude to the first column of 2014 from January 2, 2014.  With the permission of Prince William Today, here is that column :

Note: This is the column as submitted; without the editors probably needed edits.

At this point, we are far enough into the New Year to know, yet again, most of our resolutions are not going to happen.

And being January, we are likely to find ourselves snowed in for a day or more at some point.  I thought I’d suggest a few things we can all do on that snowy day that will help with some of the computer and organizational resolutions that we made or perhaps should have made.

One thing I do every January is put a folder on the table by the front door for the many tax documents that will be arriving from employers, banks, investment houses, schools ,and the like.  So as I walk in the door with mail each day, I have a specific place to put these important documents.

That’s more of an organizational thing.  On our PCs, the start of a new year is a good time to stop and think about our computing environment at home.  In this instance, I’m talking mostly about the devices, mostly a PC, which we use for serious work like creating documents, paying bills, keeping track of information , etc.

Check your anti-virus software.  Is it working?   Is the subscription current, or set to expire soon?

Check log files to see when the last full scan was done, if you have it set to scan automatically.  If it has been a while, do a scan now.

If you've been using Microsoft Essentials, their free antivirus, move to another.  Microsoft has not kept on Essentials and it is not catching all the evil things it should.  Avast and AVG make free anti-virus software with good reputations. (Note 12/31/2014 : They have improved it since)

Is your backup system working?  If you have scheduled backups, are they being made?

If you don’t have a backup system, look over your hard drive for files you don’t dare lose, like photos and important documents.  Create a free Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box account if you don’t already have one, and copy those files there so they exist both on your PC and in the cloud in case something bad happens to your PC.

Is your Windows or Apple computer automatically updating with appropriate fixes?  Check to make sure auto-update is engaged and working, or manually do the updates now.  Updates help protect you from prying eyes.

Bored with your computer?  Before investing in a new one, take some time to personalize it a bit.  Change the background photo, rearrange the icons, or consider buying just a bigger monitor.  Kind of shake up the place a bit to give you a new outlook.  

I add new launchers to my Android phone frequently to give myself that “new phone” feeling.

Is your cell phone’s contract up for renewal this year?  Take some time long before it happens to think about your carrier.  Are they still the best choice for you?  Are there better values out there now?  Our contract  is up in August, and I’m looking forward to announcements T-Mobile is likely to make at the International CES show later this month that may change the calculus in how I choose a mobile carrier.

Is your phone battery lasting long enough? If not many Android phones have longer lasting batteries you can purchase.  I like the ones from ZeroLemon.

If you have an iPhone or a phone where longer batteries are not available, consider an external battery for your phone.  My family likes ones from Anker.

Have you visited the new Apple Store in Prince William County at Potomac Town Center?  Their staff will patiently and competently explain Apple’s choices.  Even if you are frightened of technology, they will make it friendly.  

Apple Stores also have wonderful classes, and even summer camps for kids that will be filling now.

Manufacturers have discovered the benefit of having their own people talking to end users like us.  Samsung and others now rent space from Best Buy for their own booths.  If you haven’t been by recently, check in with them to hear their options in an informative and less pressured situation than traditional settings.  You can tell who is who.  Manufacturer’s employees do not wear the same clothing as Best Buy folks.

Take a look at the Prince William County Library for free classes on computing, or NOVA for more in depth classes on technology topics.

Speaking of the library, check out their web site for a rich set of online resources you can enjoy from your home. There is enough there I’ll have to do an entire column on them.

And finally, is your Inbox cluttered with unread email?  A snow day is a good time to wade through unread emails.  Consider unsubscribing from unwanted ones, or setting up filters in your email program to funnel off unimportant ones to their own folders for later reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.