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Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Tech "Housecleaning" (imported from my "tech" blog)

So, its 2011. You've made your resolutions. You're going to lose weight. Spend more time with the family. Make more money. GREAT. What are your "Tech" resolutions?

You could start with cleaning out your computer. I'm guilty. Too many old e-mails causing the program to take too long to load. Don't delete 'em yet, though...BACK THEM UP. My favorite backup application is called "Express Assist" because its simple, works well, and can backup your internet favorites and bookmarks, documents, mail, address book, mail rules and more. Do a backup. Save it to a folder on your PC....then burn a couple backups of that and store them safely somewhere. Then, you can delete all your old mail, speed up your system, and start "new" in 2011. If you're not ready to delete all your old mail, keep six months, a year, or so....and AFTER the backup, delete the rest.

Speaking of backups, there's a HUGE chance you can lose files this year. Your PC is on more. Your hard drive is a physically running device prone to eventual failure. Why not do an "offiste" backup of everything you don't want to lose? I got convinced to use Carbonite. There's many other backup programs, too..but this one works for me personally, and for my business. Let it work in the background, store your backups of mail on your PC, and they'll automatically be backed up offsite, too! It's a good investment.

How about a "communications audit" of your entertainment and communications budget? I'm a huge fan of the ROKU box, delivering lots of FREE entertainment to my television. I bought it to enjoy the basic NETFLIX subscription with one DVD at a time, but I find I don't watch the DVD's. Lucky for me, Netflix this year has introduced a "streaming only" option for a buck LESS than the basic unlimited plan-was. Sure, you're only going to save $12 a year, but that's 4 gallons of gas at today's rate! If you've got reasonably-priced internet service, the ROKU box is great entertainment, and there's more content each day, even local radio! (check out our sister station WGLM's feed.) Make sure your DSL speed is at least 3mb, higher is better...but that works with ROKU. I've tried it!

Speaking of "free" entertainment, have you ever heard of "free to air?" There's lots of free programming in the skies, some can be enjoyed on a small 18 to 30 inch dish, and basic systems are not that expensive! Public TV in great quality, Networks that some cable companies carry, new "up and coming networks" and other programming, no fees, and LEGALLY in your home with the proper free to air equipement. Learn more about FTA on my favorite satellite TV site, "satelliteguys.us" They're the 'net leader in information on programming and equipment on small dish subscription services, cable, internet, home theatre, free to air equipment, and much more. they're polite, paid membership to the site is only $20/year and, even as a "free" member, you'll learn how to best use your internet and entertainment options and how to better budget for them, too!

There's some classic TV now available on local station's subcarriers if you have a good antenna for your "over the air" (free TV) enjoyment. Don't skimp on your antenna, however. All the digital channels are in what's called the Upper VHF and UHF bands, regardless of what "virtual" channel shows on your TV. Research antennas available for your home, whether inside or outside, and you may find that an antenna investment combined with internet programming via a ROKU box (or similar) may just reduce your monthly subscription bills by leaps and bounds.

And, for those of you who still have the large dish satellite systems in your yard (like me)....check out how you can pick and choose programming on many of the most popular channels and networks with what's called a "DSR-410" receiver. No moving of the dish is required once its aimed at satellite W-5, and, the programming is cheaper than the small dish systems or cable. Its' STILL an option, and easy to install or add-on to your existing big dish. New systems with non-moving six foot dishes are under $300, and a very good option. The best part? NO CONTRACTS! There's no penalties if you want to shut down for a month or two. Good, friendly people. Check out more at the site above, satelliteguys.us and the programming that is available from "satellite receivers limited" known as SRL. Just recently a longer writeup on this showed up on wikipedia, too!

I'm toying with doing a short "tech" feature on WION in 2011, because I've been helping people lately with their PC's, satellite TV decisions, and other fun "tech" things. Let me know if you'd enjoy it. There's much good knowledge "out there" but, its always nice to sort through the garbage and get to the "real" information, too. We all have some "tech housecleaning" to do...make it one of your resolutions, and I'll see you along the way!

-Carlyle