10 Tech Resolutions for an App-y New Year
Ways to avoid your own personal Fail Whale in 2014.
Every year beginning January 2, people start with resolutions they can't or won't possibly stick with, as if the arbitrary start to a new calendar year is going to be the impetus we all need to be better, skinnier, healthier, smarter and less drunk. By February, it's all over and we try to figure out what the hell we were thinking making stupid resolutions anyway.
The good news is that technology resolutions are much easier to keep. You don't have to exercise or stop drinking or give up cheese puffs and orange soda. You can be the biggest geek the world has ever seen and keep every promise to yourself.
But not all of these resolutions are about being more technically adept or learning code. Actually, most of the resolutions you should make for 2014 are about using your tech better and making your life and the life of your virtual friends easier and more pleasant.
10. Don't stare at your phone when you are with someone.
Wireless technology has provided us with many amazing conveniences. We use smartphones for everything from communication to finding driving directions to listening to music and a million things in between. But, the fascination with this technology often leads us to stare blankly into our tiny pixellated screens even if we happen to be sitting with others. Not only is it isolating, but it's rude. If you are having dinner or spending time with friends, put the phone down. Whatever it is, it can wait.
9. Get into the cloud.
The "cloud" for quite sometime seemed like this daunting thing that was reserved for hardcore nerds and companies with big server networks. But, now it is accessible to everyone and we don't even need to use the word "cloud" to benefit from it. Apps like Dropbox and SugarSync as well as services like Google Drive and iCloud help us store files so we can access them anywhere. Google, Amazon and Apple have music storage and streaming services to get massive music libraries off our hard drives. Even passwords (LastPass), notes and recipes (Evernote) e-mail (Gmail) and entire computers (Carbonite) can be protected and downloaded anywhere. Don't be intimidated. It will make your life easier.
8. Share good content.
Most of us routinely share information with our friends online, but is it all quality information? One of the big problems with the Internet is that anyone can share information and there are very few filters for it. So, this year, learn to be judicious with what you share on Facebook, Twitter and the like. We'll all be better for it.
7. No more Twitter fights.
Seriously, is there anything dumber than people fighting on Twitter? Not only does it rarely accomplish anything, it clogs up the feeds of people soon forced to block you for acting like an ass in front of a group of near strangers. I know that off-hand remark by some guy you barely know set you off, but maybe just un-follow him and avoid the embarrassment of spitting out 140-word one liners at him for everyone to see.
6. Clean unused apps and files off your tech.
Think of this as the equivalent of spring cleaning for your tech. Free up tons of free space on your phone and your computer. They will run better and you'll have room for the stuff that you really want and need.
5. Read more. Comment less.
Very few places are as depressing as the comment sections of news websites and blogs. They are filled with anonymous posters spewing vitriol and twisting any story into something socio-political. Honestly, I swear that far-flung online politicos could turn a story about fuzzy kittens into a reason for fighting about Obamacare. Why not practice some active reading and see if you can broaden your horizons? If you want to write, get a blog or do some freelance writing. Being a comment celebrity is not an accomplishment...unless it's on Gawker. Those people are damn funny.
4. Stop posting app invites and political rants on Facebook.
Speaking of politics, how about we all resolve to avoid posting stuff on Facebook that is going to annoy the ever-living crap out of our "friends." If I had wanted to use an app on Facebook, I'd have signed up for it already. If I wanted to know how the government was controlling the weather...well, I don't want to know, so it doesn't matter. The point is, Facebook is not the place for pushing your friends into following your trends. Try a screenshot of Eddie Murphy from Trading Places with the caption, "MERRY NEW YEAR!" instead. That's always a crowd pleaser.
3. Confirm whatever you share is actually true BEFORE sharing it.
Snopes is your friend. So is Google. When you see something outrageous online, it might be a good idea to make absolutely certain it's true before sharing it with the caption, "I can't believe this is true!" That's probably because it isn't.
2. Put the phone down while driving.
My truck was totaled in early December because an 18-year-old girl ran a red light that had been red for a good 30 seconds because she was on her phone. Everyone involved was lucky to walk away from the wreck. I've personally been guilty of checking e-mail at a stop light or tweeting something I thought was funny (it probably wasn't) while hauling ass down the highway. It's idiotic. Don't do it.
1. Change your passwords.
It takes a few minutes and can save you massive headaches. Use a password storage service like LastPass (yes, you should change your master password for that too) to help you find all the different places where you use passwords and use a password generator to create a complicated password. No, 1234 is not a good pin number and password1 is not a good password. Be more secure in 2014.
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