Beginners Start Here: New Year’s (Mac) Resolutions

Sean McNamara
1 January, 2009
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New Year’s is the time for new beginnings – when we cast off the shackles of a year of not achieving everything we set out to do and give ourselves a whole new list of admirable things to attempt in the coming year. This applies to our computing life as much as it does our everyday life.

As I sit on the Sydney Harbour foreshore, in preparation for the (hopefully) spectacular fireworks, I’ve been thinking about what computer users (including myself) should try to do either more often or for the first time, and I’ve come up with my own list of Computing New Year’s Resolutions which I hope I can come close to getting through.

Resolution the First: I will backup more extensively. My backup regime has improved tremendously since the introduction of Time Machine, but one area I’m still not entirely happy with is my offsite backup set up. This year, I’m going to try and finalise some sort of online backup solution, most probably through Amazon’s S3 service – but those with less space needs than mine might consider a MobileMe account for backups of important data, or any of the myriad of other online storage solutions (or even a hard disk at a relative’s). As per my earlier posting – the more copies of your data in more locations, the safer you are from catastrophe.

Resolution the Second: I will learn more about how my Mac works. This is a no-brainer for me – it’s what I need to do for my day job, anyway (at least I get to tick something off my list). But I think that it’s good for all computer users to strive to learn more about the machine they spend time in front of. It’s amazing how learning about some arcane aspect of a computer’s operation can make you think of a better way for you to use it. One area I specifically aim to learn more about is iPhone development – each user will have a different area we’re interested in.

Resolution the Third: I will support shareware authors more. Shareware is a great way to try out software before you buy it, and I always make sure I pay for shareware I continue to use. But this year I’ve decided to buy more shareware – it can represent great value for money and there are shareware packages which rival commercially available software. In a similar vein, I’m going to continue to support (and recommend) iPhone applications that do a great job.

Resolution the Fourth: I will donate a (legally) well-kitted-out Mac to charity. Most of us take our access to technology for granted, but there are a large number of people in our society who have little or no access to what we hardly notice any more. Setting up a Mac with something like OpenOffice.org and a useful amount of memory so that others less fortunate than me can enjoy the benefits of technology seems a pretty good idea to me. I’ve donated time and equipment before, but this year I’m going to be a little more thorough and directed about it.

Resolution the Fifth: I will try and spend less time on my computer. I know my family will find this one hard to believe, but I will actually try to spend less time on my computer and more with my family and friends. I know from talking to friends and customers that it’s very easy to get caught up when using the computer, with “a few minutes on the computer” easily becoming a few hours. With a home office off the loungeroom, a wireless network and a laptop, it’s inevitable that my computer/work life spills over into my personal life. Reducing that spill over won’t happen by itself, so I’ll just be more conscious of it and work against the trend.

What are your Computing New Year’s Resolutions? Let us know in the forums.

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