Happy new year!
We’re sure you have a few resolutions of your own in this month of good intentions (my favorite one I’ve heard so far is “stop reading the comments“), but David Toccafondi and I thought we’d share a few suggestions for tech-related resolutions to help start off 2013 right. See our list below, and let us know about yours in the comments!
Back up your files – Last spring, in an incident that shall be known as the Glass of Water-Gate scandal, a friend of mine spilled something on her laptop and lost all the files on her hard drive. When she told me she had never backed anything up, it broke my librarian heart. Data recovery from a failed hard drive, when it’s even possible, can be a very tricky process, and services to recover your data are incredibly expensive. Sadly, no matter how careful you are with your computer, hard drives don’t last forever. A mantra of tech support goes something like, “it’s not a matter of if your hard drive will fail, it’s when.” Luckily, you’ve got a lot of options for backing up your data. Services like the new Penn+Box, Dropbox, Flickr, iCloud, SkyDrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, etc. will help you save copies of important documents and media, while services like Apple’s Time Machine, Carbonite, Mozy, and others will help preserve backups of your whole computer. Want to learn more about your backup options? Stop by my Backup Plan workshop on 1/30 to hear more details.
Change your passwords
Refreshing the passwords on your important accounts is one relatively simple step toward keeping your information secure. If you’re having trouble remembering which crazy password you used for which service, try a password manager.
Revisit your Facebook privacy settings – Facebook seems to change their privacy settings every month. At the end of the year, they added a shortcut on the toolbar to make it simpler to manage who can see what on your profile. Take a few minutes to make sure you’ve got your info the way you want it, and see Dave’s resolution below on controlling your identity elsewhere on the web.
Install an antivirus program – You still haven’t installed an anti-virus program?? Are you insane?? This is really the first thing you should do. And, since Penn gives one to you for FREE, you really have no excuse not to knock this resolution out of the park. Visit http://www.upenn.edu/computing/product/ and click on the link for Symantec Endpoint Protection–either for Mac or Windows–to get to the download page. You’ll need to login with your PennKey.
Learn a new skill – 2013 is a great year to learn a new tech skill or piece of software. Think of that one thing you always have to ask your nerdy friend for help with, and try tackling it all on your own. Lynda.com offers training in just about everything you can imagine (Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Excel, Powerpoint, 3d animation, Photography, video production, Facebook, switching from PC to Mac, and more), and it’s available to you for free. Just ask in the Vitale Digital Media Lab or at the WIC service desk and we’ll log you in to one of our machines where you can sit for the next several hours and watch some of the best training videos available. If you’re more of an in-person learner, we also offer introductory workshops (http://wic.library.upenn.edu/wicshops/) on lots of popular topics, free of charge to Penn students, faculty, and staff.
Un-Google yourself – Just stop and think how many times you’ve Googled someone’s name or searched for them on Facebook to find out more about them. Well, it turns out you’re not alone. Potential romantic partners, job recruiters, potential employers, your boss, friends, your parents, classmates, professors, fellow church-goers, team mates, mortal enemies, and identity thieves will all cyber-stalk you to some degree or another. It’s good to get out ahead of them and know what you look like on the internet so that you can control your online presence. You may be surprised at the sensitive information about you that may have made its way onto the web. Then fix everything you don’t want others to see: Delete that nasty tweet you made about your ex, make your Facebook profile private, ask your friend hide those embarrassing photos of you at the SAE party they posted to Instagram. See more suggestions in this great infographic: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/infographic-google-challenge/