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New Year's wish list

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Guy Clapperton Guy Clapperton | 10:54 UK time, Friday, 30 December 2011

This time last year I posted a note on computing resolutions for the New Year. I also said I was going to lose weight. The lovely WebWise team has asked me to comment on how that went.

OK. This year I am going to lose weight.

A load of the stuff I said you could do with your computer is still salient, though. Here’s a link to last year’s resolutions and here are some further ideas, which are easier to do now than they were last year. Some useful technology resolutions might include:

1.    Stop wittering on Twitter

Social networking is really useful. You can contact people, find stuff out, help other people find stuff out, pick up business, all sorts. It’s a great, great idea but as it’s become even more popular over the last 12 months people have been filling it with even more waffle than before. Honestly, we don’t need to know:

  • What you had for breakfast – we hope you’re not hungry and wish you well, but that’s where everyone else’s interest stops
  • That you’re annoyed with your phone, unless there’s seriously something someone can do to help
  • That you’ve just walked into somewhere which is miles away from any place in which we might be interested

Constructive conversation is still more than welcome!

2.    Find someone who needs help on social media and offer it

Kind of the flipside of that – people are always looking for a hand, asking for information on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Look for somewhere you can help and do it – the whole community improves when people do this.

3.    Get the hang of a smartphone

In November 2011 it was confirmed that over half the phones being bought in the UK were smartphones. These can be really useful for keeping diaries, documents, music, pictures, video, playing games – and of course you’ll pay for it. Nevertheless if you need that stuff on the move, do give a smartphone some thought.

4.    Secure your home WiFi network properly

If you haven’t already done so, this can be a very wise measure to take. Otherwise you’ve done the IT equivalent of setting up a network and leaving the gates wide open so anyone can walk in. Any modern router will allow you to set up a secure network in only a few mouse clicks. Start by naming your network as something other than the default name it has when the router is taken out of the box – criminals find routers with default settings unchanged very easy to get into.

5.    Don’t download any apps you’re not going to use

Yes, phones can download lots of software whether it’s games, business apps, a full-blown Global Positioning System (GPS) – and yes they’re often brilliant. Laptops and desktops can do the same, depending on the operating system. But you can get rid of an awful lot of packages of two or three quid on a whim – and they do add up. Now, do you really need that latest upgrade to that second word processor you were going to use, or that mouse cursor that looks like an actual mouse..?

6.    Get your accounts in order

Yes I know I said that last year, but once again the tax deadline of 31 January is closer than it seems for anyone who has to fill in a tax return and hasn’t glanced at their books just yet.

There’s free software like online spreadsheets and also online accounting systems that cost only a few quid a month – there’s really no reason to miss the deadline this year (that said, if you’re not already registered to submit your accounts online you’d better get a move on because they take a couple of weeks to process your application).

If you're new to social media why not watch our short videos on everything from profiles to privacy?

Guy Clapperton is a journalist specialising in writing about technology as well as small business for several major broadsheets. He broadcasts occasionally on BBC Radio stations and reviews the newspapers on the BBC News Channel.

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