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28 pieces of computing advice that stand the test of time

Mark Sullivan | Oct. 4, 2012
Technology never stops moving foward. Hardware gets faster, and operating systems gain new features and (we hope) finesse. This is natural computing law.

Keep your software up-to-date

The message windows reminding you to update your software can get annoying, but its a good idea to stop what youre doing and click the 'Update now' button. You'll get the all the functionality the software has to offer, and you'll also obtain vital security patches that can protect your system from software crashes and data loss.

Use an ergonomic keyboard and mouse tray

You might not realize how much time you spend at your desk. Hours can fly by when youre in the zone, and those hours of typing and mousing add up. Carpal-tunnel syndrome and other repetitive-stress injuries are a real risk for the information workers of today, and they can cost you dearly in pain and missed work. A small investment in adjustable, ergonomic keyboard and mouse trays, coupled with some research on correct positioning, can save you a lot of trouble.

Encrypt sensitive stuff

Encrypt any file you wouldn't want to share with a thief, including email. My program of choice: TrueCrypt. But don't bother to encrypt the entire drive. Just create a TrueCrypt volume and keep your sensitive files there.

Label your power bricks

Every time you buy a new device, you wind up with a new power adapter. They collect under desks, behind PCs, and in boxes in the closet. It's almost as if they're breeding. Its easy to lose track of which one goes to which device, and its possible to harm your gear by using the wrong power cable. So the first thing you should do after buying new gear is to label the power brick, permanently pairing it with the right device.

Hide those cables

The tangled mess of cables and wires under your desk will only get worse and worseand you wont realize how much it bugs you until you finally clean it all up. You can bundle groups of wires by running them through toilet paper tubes, or binding them with pipe cleaners or small bands of velcro, and then use binder clips to tie the bundled wires to the underside of your desk, or any place where theyre out of sight.

Stay wired when you want to connect

Wired ethernet will always be faster and more reliable than wireless networking. If you regularly do something (for work or play) on your home computer that relies on a constant Web connection, you may be better off using a wired internet connection. Wired connections are capable of far faster data speeds and are simply not subject to the many factors that can disrupt a wireless connection.

Put your router in the middle

Position your wireless router as close as you can to the center of your home. This action can help ensure that all the wireless devices in your home are within range of the access point. Youll also find that the signals coming from your router are more likely to reach their destination if the antenna is elevated off the floor a few feet.


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