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Make Any Tech Resolutions?

If New Year's Day is a time to mash down the "reset" button on all our bad habits, why not use this time to get a grip on your technological life.

You might tell yourself that you'll finally figure out how to edit your camcorder's footage on your computer, update the personal Web page that's been collecting digital dust since 2002, or learn a new operating system.

In my case, I want to do less. Less on the Web, that is: I've been losing too many hours to Web reading that ultimately fails to be terribly productive, educational or entertaining. It's so, so easy to waste away 15 minutes reading through page after page of some new blog or online forum. But after the initial "ah, this is interesting!" rush, the experience often leaves me with the same empty feeling I get after binging on the bag of M&Ms a colleague left at the counter we call "the trough."

And all this comes at the cost of things I could be doing offline to give my brain something else to process for a change. I was reminded of this over Christmas week, when I spent most of an afternoon reading a book on a couch -- a wonderful spell of mono-tasking.

So I'm going to try to clean out some of the clutter -- prune my RSS feeds, delete some Web bookmarks and make more use of one of the underrated commands of an e-mail or RSS program, the "Mark as Read" command that removes new material from your reading list.

(Some of these ideas came from reading a few insightful postings on Lifehacker and 43 Folders, which are sites that I, have to admit, sometimes contribute to distracting me from worthier offline pursuits.)

At the risk of becoming that kind of distraction, let me ask: What kind of resolutions have you made about your technological life? Share in the comments...

By Rob Pegoraro  |  January 2, 2008; 11:40 AM ET
Categories:  The business we have chosen  
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Comments

Great thoughts, Rob. I also liked those reminders on 43 Folders, which you linked. Some of my resolutions: keep my computer documents and files organized, put tags on my photos as soon as I put them in iPhoto, make scheduled use of my new external hard drive for backups and storage, check email less during the day, and strive to use the computer as a tool rather than a time-sapper. Another resolution is to keep posting photos on my favorite online site, which is great for our family and friends.

I agree with you about reading and the whole idea of mono-tasking -- sometimes it really is better to do one thing, and do it well!

Thanks again for your column -- I'm glad you didn't say you were going to give it up. We need you!

Posted by: rjrjj | January 2, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I know this is off-topic, Rob, but have you heard from any Xbox Live users recently? The Xbox 360 matchmaking service is lousy even in normal times, but over the holiday season it was absoutely atrocious - I felt like I had been transported back into the eighties. There have been periods lasting for 4 or 5 days where users could not create new accounts or recover their existing profiles. During matchmaking, searches restart three or four times, meaning that users have to endure 15-20 minutes of waiting between each match. The tech support person I spoke with told me that Microsoft didn't have enough servers, and that they were just holding everything together with bubble gum and duct tape while they tried to update their capacity.

I just cannot fathom how a company like Microsoft can't figure out how to run an online community. They are making billions of dollars just off of Halo 3 sales, and they can't afford to purchase enough servers to handle the demand? Not to mention that XBox live membership costs $50/year, so there is a paid revenue stream for their systems in addition to the revenue from games and systems. Microsoft isn't offering any credits or extensions to compensate for their inexcusable failure to deliver their advertised services.

It's too late for me -- I already have close to $1000 invested in an XBox 360, games, controllers, headsets, rechargeable batteries, etc. etc. etc., but I would warn anyone who is thinking of purchasing an Xbox 360 -- caveat emptor...

Posted by: Steve | January 2, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Steve;

Send Microsoft a letter threatening to take them to
small claims court to get a rebate for the the time lost and if they don't respond with some reasonable
compensation, file the claim.

Posted by: Jack | January 2, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

To eradicate linux everywhere!
http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com

Posted by: stevenBallmer | January 3, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I have managed to reduce my internet time effectively and now I absolutely MUST back up this computer. It is the one task I have avoided and will surely be punished by the computer goddess if I don't do it soon. Thanks for your column. It provides me with good info I would never know about if I had to find it on my own.

Posted by: Linda | January 3, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Reduce my email volume at home and at work of emails that are or are no longer of little or no usefulness.

On the personal side,, if I cannot get off a particular company's email I have done business with in the past or someone extremely annoying emailwise and tried all other reasonable personal contact measures, I have used for five years a great email service http://www.fastmail.fm (an Australian company) with great filtering (silent or hard/autoreply rejects) on multiple combinations of email header fields (to, CC, from, subject, spam score, spam tag, email software used (x-mailer), number of recipients, type of attachment, country source, etc.) at the same time (uses Sieve, more than I have seen of most of the other commonly used email services). As a side note, the service also works great to filter spam using SpamAssassin (only 31 spam emails came through out of 1954 total emails I received at home in 2007, a 1.6% rate), and vacation autoreplies can be set up to go to only friends, family, and contacts in your address book (an effective anti-spam measure). I will continue in 2008 to tweak the settings in my personal Fastmail email to even further reduce spam. See the review at http://www.emailaddresses.com/email_web1.htm

On the business side, to reduce my email; get off of distro lists no longer of value; some limited server-side email filtering, though limited to what the company provides (from/subject); and looking at the daily tasks I do and see if any no longer have business value and reduce my emails there.

Posted by: Fairfax | January 5, 2008 6:34 AM | Report abuse

(I am the same poster of the reduce email volume comments above).

Tech resolution: To further improve my PC security defenses.

I am already using Mozilla Firefox (repeatedly recommended by you Rob) and using with the no-script plug-in, have a router, and a Zone Alarm firewall, anti-virus; and anti-spyware software by Zone Alarm, PC Tools Spyware Doctor (real-time protection with over 625K definitions/signatures), and MS Windows Defender for what it worth.

For 2008:
1) There is new zero-day software, been out for a few months, called Threatfire (formerly called Cyberhawk) out there. Though I am awaiting for PC Tools to work out the bugs (when tried it for free, personally it caused PC lockups on a 1 year old PC), it will protect against malware before traditionally signature/definition based anti-malware software will as it takes the anti-malware vendors today hours if not days or weeks to get their updates developed. Its product website is http://www.threatfire.com/ and its user forum is http://www.pctools.com/forum/.

2) I am considering nearly absolute protection against keyloggers, as I do online personal transactions, using PrivacyKeyboard; however the price $89.95 (small compared to identity theft losses) and its limits on normal copying and pasting keeps me thinking how far I want to go with PC security protection. Its scary reading at this website http://www.anti-keylogger.com/index.html and others what keylogging software can do these days.

Posted by: Fairfax | January 5, 2008 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Already resolved, use McAfee's free Site Advisor, http://www.siteadvisor.com/download/ works with Mozilla Firefox and IE. 'When you search with Google, Yahoo! or MSN, SiteAdvisor's safety ratings appear next to search results. As you browse, a small button on your browser toolbar changes color based on SiteAdvisor's safety results.' This provides you general guidance, however, as additional PC protection, read the user reviews for the website you are going to visit, even if rated green/safe, about spyware, spam, downloads, a good example http://www.siteadvisor.com/sites/youtube.com You can make your own judgments or take your chances from there whether then to visit a particular website.

Posted by: Fairfax | January 5, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I am going to use my budget to buy up all of the innovation there is out there!

http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com

Posted by: steve ballmer | January 6, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

What is your opinion about Flock.com as a replacement for Netscape. I use Firefox and IE and sometimes Netscape. Which is be best choice in addition to IE?

Posted by: Jim B | March 28, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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