January 2, 2011
By Sam Grobart December 30, 2010
Your gadgets and computers,
your software and sites — they are not working as well as they should. You need
to make some tweaks.
But the tech industry has
given you the impression that making adjustments is difficult and
time-consuming. It is not.
And so below are 10 things to
do to improve your technological life. They are easy and (mostly) free.
Altogether, they should take about two hours; one involves calling your cable
or phone company, so that figure is elastic. If you do them, those two hours
will pay off handsomely in both increased free time and diminished anxiety and
frustration. You can do it.
GET A SMARTPHONE Why: Because
having immediate access to your e-mail, photos, calendars and address books,
not to mention vast swaths of the Internet, makes life a little easier.
How: This does not have to be
complicated. Upgrade your phone with your existing carrier; later,when you are
an advanced beginner,you can start weighing the pluses and minuses of your
Image by Josh Bancroft via Flickr
versus another. Using AT&T? Get a refurbished iPhone 3GS for $29.
Verizon? Depending on what’s announced next week at the Consumer Electronics
Show in Las Vegas, get its version of the iPhone, or a refurbished Droid
Incredible for $100. Sprint? Either the LG Optimus S or the Samsung Transform
are decent Android phones that cost $50. T-Mobile users can get the free LG
STOP USING INTERNET EXPLORER
Why: Because, while the latest version has some real improvements, Internet
Explorer is large, bloated with features and an example of old-style Microsoft
How: Switch to either Mozilla
Firefox or Google Chrome. Both are first-rate, speedy browsers, and both are
free. It remains a tight race between the two, but Chrome has had the lead
lately in features and performance. Both browsers include useful things like
bookmark syncing. That means that your bookmarks folder will be the same on
every computer using Chrome or Firefox, and will update if you change anything.
UPLOAD YOUR PHOTOS TO THE
CLOUD Why: Because
you’ll be really sorry if an
errant cup of coffee makes its way onto your PC, wiping away years of photographic
memories. Creating copies of your digital photos on an online service is a
painless way to ensure they’ll be around no matter what happens to your PC. It
is also an easy way to share the photos with friends and family.
How: There are many good, free
choices. To keep things simple, use Picasa, Google’s service. After your
initial upload — which may take a while, so set it up before you go to sleep —
you will have a full backup of your photo library. And by inviting people to
view it, privately, with passwords, you will not have to e-mail photos anymore.
Anytime you have new pictures, upload them to Picasa, send a message to your
subscribers, and they can view your gallery at their leisure.
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