It’s 2011 – wow – and the new year rolls in. With all the resolutions being promised, the lifestyle and personal changes being committed to and excitement of planning the big Eve party, it is easy to lose track of some of the little yet very important techie things that should get done. And in today’s world, where almost everyone has an email address, at least one if not more phone numbers, address books and the like, this is a good time to “clean your tech closet” to make sure that it is ready for the New Year as well. This list provides a few basic must do items to get yourself and your personal technology ready for 2011.
10. Edit your privacy settings and friendships.
Privacy changes made on Facebook as a result of information that was readily available to anyone with an internet connection have led most people to try to figure out just how much of our private lives are made public, and how much control we have over that. Social network sites are the main source for this information with a lot of it actually posted by us. This is ok but the trick is to make sure that only the people we want to see it can, and all other access is denied. Before the new year begins, take a look at your settings on sites such as Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, LiveJournal, etc and any other places you might be sharing personal content to make sure what you display is consistent with the public image you want to project. From a professional standpoint, as more recruiters and employers hit the web in search of info on individuals, it’s becoming ever more important to monitor and control our own identities. Also, while considering what’s private and public, take time to evaluate what a “friend,” “contact” or “follower” means to you and what types of information you share with different groups. And for goodness sakes, make sure that any sites where you post or add information has the ability to control access, or be happy with an open window.
9. Clean Up Residual Messes
It will surprise many people to learn that information available on the internet is not restricted to what may have been available only after the internet was “launched”. Try to do some basic searching and information digging about yourself, and you may come up with references from sites that you never imagined, or things that are posted that you are not too happy about. If this is the case, it may be possible to clean-up some of this history so that your personal web presence does not work against you. You might even find out things about you that you didn’t know yourself!
8. Change your passwords
How long have you been using your current passwords? Forever? Are they all the same? There are more and more things that we rely on passwords for, making these secret codes more important all the time. Many people even have the same on and offline passwords, such as ATM machines and web services. Aside from the threat of identity theft or other less likely esoteric crime, a password in the wrong hands can lead to theft of physical goods. Social web security threats in 2010 were sweeping and surprised more than a few users with spam email, hacked accounts and malware of all kinds. Check out the many password management tools available for free, they’ll help you generate strong, random passwords, or even if you like to choose your own it might be a good time to mix them up a bit.
7. Trim Your News Feeds: RSS Review
The year in Review – every news station and network has one when a new year is on the way in. You also should have a review of your news if you subscribe to RSS or any of the other information feed services. When going through your RSS feeds, do you find yourself impatiently scrolling more than you’re intently skimming? Is your list of unread items becoming unmanageable? What we liked and thought we wanted, or would give a try, at the beginning of the year might not be necessary any longer. The end of the year is a perfect time to get rid of the content you’re not reading and keep the stuff you are. Take some time to organize, delete and add feeds, thereby optimizing your feed-reading experience. There are tools that can make this easier, such as NetNewsWire’s “dinosaurs” and “least attenion” features that weed out unread or dormant feeds, and consider implementing tools such as Lazyfeed or Guzzle.it that can bring relevant results from fresh sources. And make sure the feeds you own are easy for others to find, too.
6. Upgrade Your Cell Phone
First – if you don’t have one, either you have decided that you don’t need or want a cell phone, then this point is not for you. Or maybe you have been putting it off or have put up with the older phone that doesn’t “do data”, in which case read on…If you don’t have a Smartphone already, chances are you will want and maybe even need one next year. And if you already have one, is it the latest model with the features and speed that you need? Even though most service comes with a multi-year contract, most service providers will allow hardware upgrades for customers once a year, which allows you to keep your phone current. If you are jsut entering the market of course visit a few retailers, read some reviews, talk to friends and have your eye on a good mobile to purchase next year. Mobile tech keeps on booming – it is predicted to be the main platform for Internet connectivity in less than 3 years.
5. Update Website Copyright Notices
Here’s a simple, obvious and necessary reminder. Does your website currently claim a copyright year of 2009 (or current year)? While it doesn’t put you on the foul side of the law, it does look a bit silly as we head into a new decade, and might even mitigate any applicability after the current year ends. All you have to do is change the information at your page footer, which is where this post is typically located.
4. Become Friends With Your Blog Again
Started a while ago with the best of intentions? That poor, neglected old beast might be long overdue for a design facelift, a blogroll refresh or even just a few new posts. While you’re at it, why not set automatic reminders to periodically bug you about posting in the new year? On a more mission-critical note, you’ll also want to make sure you’re using the most updated version of your CMS; not doing so can can lead to problems from broken plugins to getting hacked. And while you’re at it, the year’s end might also be a good time to consider switching up your CMS service altogether. If you use one of the big names like Joomla, WordPress or Blogger, there are lots of new theme templates, designs, widgets and tools that you will be amazed at. Sure it takes some time, but worth it in the end if this is something that you enjoy.
3. Clean Up and Sort Important Files
Most of us have a lot of personal information in files all over the place. And the traditional paper heap in the “basement office”, “kitchen file drawer”, or where ever you happen to keep it in the house is just the same inside of your computer. Do you have folders on your computer for bank accounts, tax information, bank statements, financial trades and broker statements, utility bills, medical information, photos, music, etc? Are these files all sorted so that you know where to get anything when needed? Sure, the computer makes it easier to store and retrieve all the things that used to be on paper, but it also has to be kept organized. This is a good time to take a day to sort out all this stuff before it gets completely out of control. Just like paper – keep and file what you need, delete what you don’t.
2. Back Up Your Data
Back up your data – can’t stress the importance of this. Hopefully you don’t wait until the end of the year to do so, but this is the perfect time to make sure that it gets done as part of this year end checklist. Hacks, bugs, viruses and hardware failures happen, and usually at the worst possible time. Before thee year changes, make sure as much of your data as possible is protected. From calendars and contacts to blog posts and work projects, more and more of us are relying on our computers to store more and more of our valuable information. So, now might be a good time to download and back up files of LinkedIn contacts and WordPress posts – anything that’s valuable to you and portable. Think of it this way: You – or at least parts of you – live in the Internet. If the Internet caught on fire, what would you grab to carry with you out of the blaze?
1. Own Your Name
Number one on this list – own your name! If you haven’t done so yet, go out there and for a few dollars you can register your name with any ICANN approved registrar. Get “[insert your name].com” while you still can! This basically means any company that offers domain name registration can take care of this on line in a simple Internet transaction. This will keep anyone else from using your name on a website without your permission, and save you the hassle of correcting that if it does happen. Besides, it won’t be long before personal communication is all based on single addresses, meaning that your phone number, web page, email and the like will all be linked at some point in the future, so better get your name now while it is still available, because there are at least nine other people in the world that share your first and last names!