5 Technology Resolutions for 2013

Follow Clinton Kanieski, Information Technology Program Chair with Globe University-La Crosse, as he discusses and gives computer tips and tricks!

Resolutions, technologyThe celebrations are over.  The presents and packaging have been recycled and a new year has dawned.  Undoubtedly, nearly everyone received some type of technology gadget over the holidays.  Although technology has been almost completely engrained in our beings, every year many partake in the new year’s resolution tradition.  Many of us vow to work out more while others promise to pay more attention to special things or focus more on being with loved ones.  What is almost universally missed is technology resolutions.  Here are 5 new year’s resolutions to help stay fresh, vibrant and enjoyable.

  1. Backup, Backup, Backup!  More often than not, the thought of, “It won’t happen to me,” prevents us from taking the necessary steps to ensure all of our digital data is secure.  Backing up is the act of making a copy of vital documents and storing the media in a safe and secure location.  USB memory sticks are very affordable and provide plenty of room for digital storage.  Additionally, these memory sticks are small and are easily stored in a lock box or fireproof security box.  Digital copies that should always be on hand are the last 6 years of income returns, birth certificates, mortgage/rental agreement, Social Security cards, driver’s license, wills, power of attorney papers, and other vital documents.  Keep the paper copies of these items in a safe place, but having a USB stick with such documents in an offsite secure location is a huge relief if disaster strikes.  
  2. Make Digital Copies of Photos!  Nearly everyone has that box in the back of the closet with old photos and Polaroid images from years past.  These are irreplaceable parts of your history and personal identity.  Today, for under $75, a digital scanner, copier and printer can be purchased.  Take the time to make copies of these pictures and memories.  It may take time, but the ability to have these items for the future is worth it.  Additionally, it is easier to move 1000 digital photos than it is paper ones.
  3. Remember Security!  This subject is tricky as the debate is often about the need for computer security inside the home.  This is quickly answered by saying thieves rarely stick around the home.  Put password protection on all computer access including your children’s logins.  If a thief makes off with your computer or phone, the contained data will take longer to obtain or will be completely written over.  This will deter, but not eliminate, the potential loss of data.  Remember that secure passwords include all of the following: one uppercase letter, one lower case letter, one number and one symbol.  Example: P@ssW0rd.technology, security
  4. Apps, Apps, Apps!  It seems like nearly everything has an app today.  From apps for logging in to personal bank accounts, to KIK online messaging to Avocado, the couples secret messenger.  There is no app replacement for face to face communication.  Several times people spend hours texting or emailing back and forth working out what could be done with a simple phone call or in person conversation.  Remember that technology and apps are an enhancement for life and communication, not the complete replacement of.  There will be times when emails or messaging are necessary.  However, try to do as much as possible in person through face to face meetings or phone calls.  That personal touch cannot be replaced by an app.
  5. Step Away From the Technology!  In a recent article in my local paper, surveys suggest children from 5-12 years of age spend, on average, 30 hours a week in front of a computer screen or television.  To put that in perspective, that is almost four eight hour work shifts per week in front of the screen.  As important as it is for the children to shut the technology off, it is also vital for the working professional.  Schedule times for the family to shut off the technology, mobile devices, smart phones, television, and computer.  Play a game of scrabble or monopoly once a week.  Have a family dinner together and make the rule that there is no technology at the table.  Make sure that family time is as important as the family is.

Traditionally, resolutions begun in the beginning of the year have a horrible track record of failure.  Several sources say that it takes upwards of 15 times of repeating something to make it a habit.  Take these five things and make them a habit and the new year will be as bright as it is enjoyable.

Clinton Kanieski is the IT program Chair at Globe University-La Crosse. He teaches IT classes, helps with job placement for students and represents Globe University at various community events. If you have a question, tip, trick or fact for Clinton or about the IT program, please let him know! He’d be happy to hear from you: Ckanieski@globeuniversity.edu