Say You Want a Resolution
In your New Years frenzy to lose weight, ditch bad
habits and generally become a better person, dont forget
to tidy up your e-life
The New Year is upon us, and with it comes the annual tradition
of making resolutions. Think of it as a personal upgrade of
sorts, if not for that other tradition of breaking most resolutions
about as quickly as you make them.
In that spirit, hereís a list of resolutions to address some
of the more technologically oriented aspects of life. Iíll
ignore obvious computer maintenance like backing up files,
updating your virus definitions, downloading patches and keeping
a firewall. Those should already be part of your regular routine.
1. Organize your e-mails.
Assuming that your ISP has spam filters in place to stem the
flow of unsolicited offers, youíre probably still stuck with
a mountain of electronic correspondence in need of deletion,
filing in folders and/or responding to. At last count, I had
4,153 e-mails sitting in my three primary e-mail accounts.
This might take a while.
2. Organize your Bookmarks or Favorites file.
Web browsing can be so much fun. So many interesting, useful
and entertaining Web sites to remember. If you could only
remember where you put them and why. At last count, I had
692 Web sites in my Favorites file. I promise to get to this
one just as soon as Iím finished responding to those two-year-old
3. Put together that personal Web site.
Youíve learned how to write basic HTML, or at least how to
steal code from Web pages you like. Youíve got pictures, a
resume, contact info and all sorts of interesting content
you could add. If only you could find the time. Or motivation.
Or the money to pay someone else to do it.
4. Donít let shiny new gadgets blind you to privacy issues.
All one needs these days is a microchip and a satellite to
track a personís whereabouts via the Web. As a result, tracking
devices are becoming increasingly popular. From cell phones
to rental cars, they can find you if they want to. Sure, you
have to give someone permission to track you, but if your
job is at stake, or you just donít bother to read the fine
print on that rental contract, you might not have as much
of an out as some folks would like you to believe.
Wherifyís wireless tracking service (www.wherifywireless.com)
gives you a taste of coming attractions. And while the service
has useful and important applicationsósuch as locating missing
children or stolen carsóit has significant potential for abuse.
And this problem will recur with greater frequency as our
gadgets become increasingly sophisticated. Before you buy,
plug in, or download, maybe it would be a good idea to ask
who will have access to this and who ultimately decides how
it gets used?
5. Invent more robots to do the stuff that needs to be done.
OK, maybe you personally canít do anything about this, but
itís high time for an improvement over Roomba the vacuum cleaner
and the Robomower. How about something that mixes the best
of the robot world with nanotechnology? Something that can
run on its own while removing dust, mold and lead paint and
turning them into something harmless and easy to dispose of?
Now that would be an invention. More sophisticated models
could be used to clean up oil spills, toxic waste and environmentally
damaged sites. Researchers are already working on bacteria
that eat pollution, and harnessing the little critters in
nanotubes operated by workhorse robots shouldnít be too far
6. Donít get under other peopleís skinóor let them get under
According to Wired magazine, the medical technology
company SpectRx is developing a skin patch that monitors a
personís alcohol level. The patch, placed over four microscopic
holes in a personís skin, uses a miniature vacuum pump to
continuously suck out cellular fluid.
The patch sets off an electrical signal when it comes in contact
with alcohol. The signal, which varies in strength depending
on the amount of alcohol consumed, is transmitted to a small
receiver nearby, which then relays the information to a remote
The process is reportedly painless, and each patch lasts for
about three days. Human clinical trials of the patch are set
to begin in the first half of this year, and the device could
hit the market in three years. For airline pilots and other
professionals for whom sobriety is a major concern, the patch
would replace point-in-time methods of monitoring, such as
random blood and urine tests.
In the words of a spokesman for the Coalition of Airline Pilots
Associations, ďNobody wants to be monitored quite that closely.Ē
7. Spend less time in front of the computer and TV.
With so many technological reasons these days to sit down
and do nothing (at least physically), from gaming to TiVo,
tearing yourself away from the screen and staying in shape
is a challenge.
Fortunately, there is a solution for keeping your resolution
without locking yourself into a contract with a gym that you
may not like in six months. As an added bonus, itís super
low-tech. Not only will it help keep you in shape but it will
relieve muscle stress and the eye strain brought on by long
hours at the computer. And that is . . .
8. Get a real, live, three-dimensional dog.
Technology offers a veritable menagerie of virtual petsómicropets,
aquarium screensavers, robotic dogs that bark and wag their
tails. But they canít beat the interactivity and companionship
of a living, breathing pet.
A few weeks back, I adopted a dog from Peppertree Rescue (www.peppertree.org).
She likes to run and play at 6:30 in the morning. Now, instead
of reading e-mails at the crack of dawn, Iím watching crows
fly overhead as the sun breaks through the morning clouds.
Instead of clicking a mouse, Iím flinging a doggie Frisbee.
Sure, the weather can be a bear sometimes, but itís never
as bad as you think itís going to be. And itís an amazingly
efficient low-tech solution to a lot of high-tech pains and
woes. The time spent walking and playing with a dog can make
you more relaxed and focused at the computer, boosting productivity
and bringing some extra joy to your day.
Happy New Year.