New Year Resolutions of a Digital Nature

It's a new year and many are resolving to lose weight, exercise more, or drink less. These are worthy goals. But let's also resolve to get our digital lives in order too.

This can take many forms. But here are a few great places to start.

Secure your online identity. I wrote about this topic about a year ago: First Steps: Secure Your Online Identity is still a great starting point. But you should also step through the Microsoft and Google account sites---and those for any other online identities you maintain---and make sure everything is configured the way you want it.

Develop or revisit your backup strategy. I've written a lot about backup strategies over the years, and of course, the thinking here is evolving with the technology. This post is still pretty accurate for my own strategy except that I only use OneDrive for document sync (I no longer use Dropbox as well).

Scan your old photos and then throw them out. This is another old chestnut, and something I work on in spurts over time. My goal is to scan everything, get rid of all the paper originals, and make sure my photos are in multiple services that are accessible to family members.

Digitize your old home videos and then throw them out. I've written about digitizing DVD movies and Blu-Ray movies, but digitize your own unprotected home movies is even easier. I recommend using Handbrake and the highest quality settings you think your memories warrant. As with photos, backup is key, and given the size of these files, you may want to think about a NAS and/or multiple offsite HDD-based backups too.

Rip your CDs and upload them to a service. Both Google Play Music (which is free) and Apple (iTunes Match, which is $25 per year) will let you upload a basically infinite number of ripped songs. Remember that you are legally expected to keep those CDs, however. Or you could just sign-up for Spotify or a similar service and leave the physical media behind for good.

Clean up your browser bookmarks. I switched to Firefox last year and moved my Chrome-based "master" bookmarks list over to the new browser. This week, I started culling the bookmarks I never actually use and organizing things in a better way too. You should too, even if you're not changing browsers.

Learn a new skill. Anyone reading this site---IT pros, tech enthusiasts, whatever---should understand that everything changes regularly in our industry. And that the key to personal and job growth is learning new skills. (Indeed, I will argue that you're not living at all unless you are always learning.) This could be a new programming language/environment, a new technology or some kind, new applications, whatever. This is obviously a big topic, but I try to keep up on good developer e-learning resources, in particular. And I spend time every week training on some developer topic, most recently JavaScript and Progressive Web Apps. Also, it doesn't have to be tech-related: Learn how to cook, how to fly, or something...

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