Technique Slant Element

Tech Sensibility: The Newsletter (Mar 2014)

Welcome to Tech Sensibility, a free newsletter discussing various approaches to making the most value of our daily usage of technology - everything from getting the most usability from our mobile devices to improving our personal lives through a better understanding of technical information. Subscription and cancellation information is explained at the conclusion of the newsletter. Thanks for subscribing. - Bruno Scap

Technique

  • Do your Google searches leave you frustrated when they constantly lead to endless ads for whatever it is you searched for on every website thereafter? Or perhaps you do not want any third-party (or even Google) companies to build profiles on you. There are search web sites that do not record your information and do not store data on your computer which can later be used to identify you. One such search web site is DuckDuckGo. Happy anonymous searching!

  • Set up a password on your cell phone, and configure the phone so that it always requires a password, not only after it is inactive for however many minutes. Your phone is a treasure of personal information, and although phone passwords can be defeated, if your phone is lost or stolen, it will at least buy you time to locate it, or remotely delete it. This strategy is known as “defense in depth”: the more obstacles that you create, the longer it will take a thief to exhaust them. They may even give up and move on to something easier to defeat.

  • If you have ever shopped for a new laptop, ultra book, ultraportable or a similar device, you may have come across something called a solid-state drive (SSD). Just like a regular hard drive, this is a tech term for storage inside your device, where system files, including all other files - documents, movies, music, downloads, and so on - are stored. Is a regular or solid-state drive right for you? If you need a lot of disk space (you’re a multimedia expert or heavy downloader), are on a budget, work with graphics or are a regular user that does not demand extra speed from the computer, it may be wise to get a computer device with a regular disk (HDD). If you need the extra speed, are a road warrior, and do not mind paying more for newer and faster technology, you may want to consider a computer device with SSD.

  • Are you constantly running out of recording space on your digital TV recorder (DVR)? Do you have scheduled shows that record every week; or do you have a library of manually recorded movies that you intended to finish watching but never got a chance to? Technology exists to make your life easier, not to raise your level of stress. Once a week, go through your recordings and delete anything older than two weeks. When you delete something you recorded that you probably would not have watched anyway, the feeling of stress release can actually be quite rewarding.

  • It is a good idea to check your credit report from time to time, to ensure that your private information has not been used by someone else and that all your credit-related records are accurate. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the three nationwide reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. You can order all three reports at the same time once per year, or, better, order your report from each of the companies one at a time – for example, order one report from a different agency every three to four months. The link to the official web site is: AnnualCreditReport.com.

Slant

How to Disaster-Proof Your Data

Test your backup recovery strategies
It is important to test your backup recovery strategies and be sure that you can easily and quickly retrieve and restore your customers’ data in the event of a disaster. You should periodically perform restores of customers’ files, applications and databases to verify that information is recoverable and confirm the integrity of data backups.

Implement service-oriented data protection
Instead of treating customers’ data as information stored on servers and storage arrays, manage your IT infrastructure as a collection of services, including business applications, databases and systems. Work closely with your customers to determine their most essential services, decide what software and hardware are critical for the operation of those services, and then implement effective insurance policies against downtime and data loss.

Understand causes of data loss
Most organizations base their backup recovery strategies around typically perceived causes of data loss including hardware failures, software corruption and computer viruses. One often overlooked cause of data loss is human error. In order to minimize the human error factor, make sure all backup and recovery procedures are thoroughly documented. Documentation should include a step by step process of backing up, retrieving and restoring customers’ data in the event of a disaster. Additionally, excellent documentation ensures that backups can be restored with minimal downtime.

Element

  • More and more studies are confirming what we already know but are resistant to actually practice - our smartphones should be banished from the bedroom to be able to achieve a good night’s sleep. The use of smartphones in the bedroom has led to a rise in insomnia over the last decade. In turn, all of these sleep interruptions lead to work problems and loss of productivity. If you rely on your smartphone to wake you in the morning, your best investment is a simple alarm clock to do the job. Keep the phone in the living room while you sleep, and allow your alarm clock to wake you when you want it to, and not in the middle of the night.

  • While some have attempted to tune out completely from all social media, experts say that baby steps work best. Instead of cutting off entirely all your connections, try doing so in daily moderation. Make an honest effort to not check Facebook, for example, for a better part of your day, even on your days off. It has been proven over and over again that multitasking does not work. So, while you think you are able to “stay connected” by checking friends’ status updates, you are really being distracted from bigger tasks at hand. And remember it is when you disconnect that you discover who is really important.

  • Psychologists have uncovered that envy may reduce life satisfaction and overall well-being. Envy is also directly associated with depression, and furthermore, the self-criticism it causes may end up making us sick. Research also suggests that envy can explain our complex relationship with social media as it often leads to negative social comparisons which may decrease one’s own unhappiness. That is why it is important to remember that most people choose to share, or even over-emphasize, mainly the positive events in their lives, like a new job or house, as opposed to negative ones, like unemployment or the end of a relationship.

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Business ethics

Being ethical in all business transactions is not only the appropriate thing to do, it is also an effective business concept: Managing a Company: Business Ethics.

Sustainable tech

Practical suggestions for IT leaders on how to create sustainable technologies and manage them proactively: Creating Sustainable Technologies.

Online resources

To learn more about how to leverage technology to improve core business performance, visit the online resources which include supporting articles and reports.

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