Techie resolutions for the New Year

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Techie resolutions for the New Year
Technology-wise, 2013 was a pretty good year. This was the year of smartwatches and Google Glass and 3D printing. It was also the year that the ridiculous phablets became popular — but perhaps that’s one thing we’ll look back on in a few years and shudder about.

Jokes aside, as we stare at back of yet another year and marvel at the gadgets and gizmos that have become inextricably linked to our lives, it’s time to make some resolutions. Here are five techie resolutions — in no particular order—to start off your new year.

Join the ereading

revolution: If you are a reader and haven’t yet hitched yourself to the ereading wagon, it’s about time you got on. To a book lover, the advantages are obvious. For one, you can carry virtually an entire library in the space and weight of a fraction of a regular book. And not just read — you can browse ebookstores and buy books on your device too. Budget is no longer an excuse — with Kindles and Kobos available for as little as Rs 5,999. Or, if you already own a tablet or a smartphone, you’re all set for hardware; all you need are the apps. (A word of caution: the ebooks market is a very fragmented one and a monster called digital rights management often makes it impossible for your Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Flipkart and other ebooks to play nicely together. Just so you know.)

Heck, publish yourself: This one is for those who fancy themselves as writers, but despair at the thought of navigating the publishing process. Well, the ereading revolution has made it that much easier to become a published author. Did you know that Kindle has a self-publishing platform, with all the tools and instructions that you need to get your book up on the Kindle market? This is true for almost every ebook market — or you could head to Smashwords.com, an independent aggregator, and be published on virtually any ebook marketplace you pick. Sounds easy? Well, after the sweat and toil of actually writing a book, it will be easy.

Discover gaming on your smartphone or tablet: Age-old wisdom has proved that letting our hair down — in the metaphorical sense — is good for health. And not to mention the fact that touchscreen devices are incredibly fun to play on. Try Candy Crush Saga if you’re looking for some quick-fix fun, but beware of getting addicted; install Scrabble or 7 Little Words to give those grey cells a workout; or try the lovely Tiny Thief for some fun with a bit of a puzzle thrown in. Want to start basic? There’s always Fruit Ninja...

Back up your back up: Remember up there when we said this is in no particular order? Well, we lied—this one, in fact, should be your number-one-most-important new year resolution for 2014. If you’re already backing up regularly like a good girl or boy, that’s wonderful. But exactly how important are your files and photos and videos? What would happen if your back-up disk was lost, stolen or dropped into a bucket of water? Computing pundits in fact recommend having at least three different back ups, all in different formats. So get yourself a Dropbox account and back up that back up right away.

Really understand privacy settings: This is less a resolution and more of a wish — that more of us would take the time to go through and properly understand the implications of the security and privacy settings in the apps and programs we run, the social networks we take part in, and the devices that we own. The argument that ‘I have nothing to hide’ doesn’t hold water any more, given that identity theft is serious business. And considering that we moving towards an increasingly surveilled society, it is even more important to understand what happens when we put a little bit of ourselves out there in public.

Here’s to a safe and happy 2014

(The author is a freelance technology writer)

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