Do Your Backups!

What do you have on your computer? Finances? Emails, addresses, and other contact information? Precious photos? I’d include recipes, articles I’ve written, all the records from my small photography business, and the books I’m editing for my paying job.

Can you afford to lose any or all of those file? I didn’t think so. I know I’d be in big trouble if I lost all our financial records, and I’d be heartbroken to lose all the photos I’ve taken, especially of our granddaughters.

There’s a simple solution, but for some reason, it’s one that’s often ignored, or put off until later.

Do your backups!

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Creating Great Passwords

My sister-in-law’s online email account was hacked recently, and now everyone on her mailing list is getting vast quantities of incredibly annoying spam. She’s not the only one—apparently some [choose your own derogatory adjective] [choose your own insulting noun] decided that we all needed more useless email. (Does anyone actually buy from spam emails?)

In any case, it turned out that her password was too easy to figure out, at least for a computer with a lot of time on its “hands.” This led to a discussion about how to pick a good password. Here is what my very knowledgeable husband had to say:

  • A GOOD password is easy to remember, hard to guess
  • Change it regularly, but not so often that you can’t remember all the passwords you need to know (which usually means both current and recent ones)
  • Never write it down. If you have to write it, it’s either too complicated to remember or you have too many passwords to remember.

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Saving Energy: Computers

I was recently criticized by a conservation-minded friend for leaving my computer on all the time. As I consider myself a fairly passionate environmentalist (at least in some areas), I took her concern seriously, and did some research. That is, I asked Pete, who is very knowledgeable in these things. Here’s a summary of what I learned.

I leave my computer on for a number of reasons. For one, other people need access to it even when I’m gone. That may or may not be true for you, too. Plus, my back-up software runs every night.  Gotta have that! (When do you do your backups?)

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Help! I’m a digital addict!

I may not be a digital native, but I must be a naturalized citizen.

As I write this, I have just spent ten days away from home, visiting friends and family on the west coast. It was a great time, and I loved seeing everyone, but I’m ready to come home.

Flying standby can give you lots of time to think… especially if flights that had plenty of open seats a few days ago are, on the day of departure, suddenly overbooked. After arriving at the airport this morning, I am hoping to finally make it onto a 5:45 flight this evening. In the meantime, here I sit.

Trying to make good use of my time, I hopped on my laptop and tried to log on to the airport wi-fi. Hah, not so fast. Apparently, this airport has no free internet access, and I am not about to pay.

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Computer House Cleaning

Today’s terrific advice comes from Pete (click on any photo for a bigger version):

When mom said “clean your room,” I often thought “why bother — it’s just going to get messy again anyway!”

But what about computers? Do home computer boxes need tidying up?

pc-dustThey sure do! That horrible mess of thick dust in the picture isn’t just a hidden eyesore: it can be the cause of some very expensive repairs. Built-up dust will cause your computer to use more power, to overheat, and ultimately the dusty grime will slow overload the fan motor(s) and burn them out. A burnt-out fan, if you are lucky, “only” needs replacing. But if the computer overheated due to the lack of fresh air, you might end up replacing far more expensive and valuable parts: your hard disk, the main board, or the power supply. That’s no fun at all. Note: this applies to both PC’s and Mac’s. No gloating, folks.

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