The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

January 9, 2009

Tech, G.P.: Be a better computer owner in 2009


I don't want to seem like a hypocrite, so I'll say outright that I don't make New Year's resolutions.

I used to, but I don't think I ever followed through on a single one, so it really makes more sense for me to sidestep the whole issue, and just make my behavioral changes as the occasions and motivations arise.

I'm not saying that everyone should do as I do, or as I don't do. I'm sure many have been successful at using the New Year holiday as a impetus of change.

Enthusiasm and determination to do something that seems difficult to accomplish is built up.

If resolutions works for you, go for it. If you don't work that way, that's okay, too. The key thing is to improve your condition one way or another.

Keeping that thought in mind, I'd like to make some suggestions for those of you who depend on your computers, and may want to improve your computing habits. It's a bit late to officially declare a New Year's resolution, but what the heck. It's better late than never. If resolutions aren't your thing, think of these as goals _ a less-intimidating word.

First, be upfront about how much you depend on the technology your computer provides. This is especially important in the workplace.

The nature of my profession puts me in a position where I hear the same refrain after someone brings in a bum computer: ``Boy, you don't realize how much you depend on computers until you don't have them." As Joni Mitchell sang, ``You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

Let's make the first "goal" to be proactive. Don't wait until something is gone, or non-functional, to think about how important it is. Take the time to look around you and wonder what would happen if your computer, or other important technology, stopped working.

Would it just be bothersome, or would it stop your work cold in its tracks? How would it affect you? What would you do? Who would you call?

After you take the initiative to do some proactive thinking, you're on your way to improving your chances against bad things happening.

As you begin to ask yourself these kinds of questions, you may find that you don't know the answers.

Many people employ technology without ever knowing much about it, and as long as things work the way they're supposed to, lack of technical knowledge doesn't seem like a big deal.

It's easy to slide into ignorant bliss as long as everything is going your way. It's easy, and comfortable, but not necessarily good. You'll realize that when things go bad.

Let's make the second "goal" for 2009 to have enough knowledge about whatever technology you employ, to the point that you have the answers to the important questions you asked yourself when thinking proactively.

After you've gotten this far, there is one more step in the path to technological well-being: planning.

You should plan for both the unexpected unfortunate events, such as an important computer dying or other kind of disaster. Almost as importantly, plan to monitor and maintain your technology's health.

Many times technological problems don't just happen instantly, they give some kind of advance warning. But if nobody is watching, the warnings go unnoticed, and then unfortunate events occur.

I think you could apply these tips to any of your "goals" for 2009, even if they're not tech-related.

Let's simplify the steps for making a positive change in any aspect of your life. In a nutshell:

1. Be proactive.

2. Gain the knowledge you need to make the informed decisions you have to.

3. Make the necessary plans and arrangements.

Do these fairly simple things, and I'm sure you will ride out of 2009 with a more confident and accomplished feeling than when you rode in.

And remember, when you ride into 2010, start all over again, because chances are, your technology will have changed by then.

Bruce Endries is former systems manager at The Daily Star. He can be reached by e-mail at techgp@dailystarmail.com.