Four resolutions for a healthier technological life in 2022
The coronavirus pandemic has been full of unpleasant technological surprises.
We ran into the problem of a perpetual shortage of hardware, such as game consoles and graphics cards. Apple this year announced a major change in its data practices, including a tool to scan iPhones for child pornography, which critics have called a privacy breach. And many of us who have tried ordering high-quality face masks to protect ourselves from the coronavirus have had to swim through an ocean of fakes.
Still, there was a silver lining to it all: valuable lessons to improve our relationship with technology for years to come, like becoming smarter online shoppers and taking control of our personal data.
Think of them as New Year’s resolutions, but for the sake of technology. Here are my top recommendations.
Resolution # 1: Invest in infrastructure first.
The pandemic, which has caused many white-collar workers to work from home, has shown how many of us have slow internet connections. This has underlined how little we tend to invest in our technology infrastructure, like the network equipment and broadband services that power the Internet connection for our devices.
When people spend on technology, they usually buy gadgets first. Electronic devices such as video streaming sticks were among the top selling items on Black Friday, according to a research report released last month by Adobe.
But we should be spending on infrastructure before devices. One-fifth of consumers keep their routers for more than four years, according to a survey this year by Consumer Reports. That’s the reduction, since we should be upgrading our Wi-Fi routers every three to five years, according to wireless experts. New routers introduce new Wi-Fi standards that improve speeds and techniques to alleviate network congestion, allowing multiple devices in a home, such as laptops and game consoles, to get an Internet connection robust.
If your router is newer and your connection is still poor, check with your Internet service provider. The broadband plan you bought many years ago may not be enough anymore, so consider investing in a faster plan. If your household streams a lot of videos and plays games online, shoot at around 40 megabits per second.
Resolution # 2: Check before clicking the buy button.
If you tried to buy a high quality face mask online during the pandemic, you’ve probably come across a fair number of fakes. Counterfeiters have flooded the market with poorly constructed masks, a problem that still persists today.
While counterfeit products online have long been a problem, the pandemic has made the problem with masks potentially deadly. Amazon and other retailers have policies to ban sellers of fake masks, but new sellers with fake masks are constantly emerging. It has become a mole game.
Lesson? Always check before clicking the buy button. Read reviews from buyers. Check the seller and if it is an unknown brand, research their reputation. Some online tools like Fakespot can scan a product page for signs of fake products and fake reviews.
Be especially careful when purchasing anything that can affect someone’s health, including vitamins and dog foods. When in doubt, buy these products from a reputable physical store.
Resolution # 3: Practice autonomy with your digital data.
Apple, which has long touted itself as an advocate for digital privacy, delivered one of the biggest tech surprises of the year.
In August, the company announced a software update with a twist. The software included a tool to search iPhones for code related to a known child pornography database. Once a certain number of matches were detected, an Apple employee could review the photos before notifying the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Apple’s positive intention to prevent the spread of child abuse images was quickly overshadowed by the invasive implications of its content reporting system, which ran counter to the pro-privacy image. of the company. In response to the backlash, Apple postponed the release of the software feature and clarified that the technology could be turned off if people refused to save their images to iCloud.
The episode was a reminder that when we use cloud services, our data is at the whim of a tech company. Lesson? We should consider changing the way we manage our data so that we are more independent from large companies and their cloud services.
Taking a hybrid approach to our data is the best way forward, security experts have advised. This involves backing up our data in the cloud, but also storing it on devices such as physical disks and miniature USB drives. Having such a local backup ensures that you have access to important files even in the event of an internet failure. And if you are not happy with a cloud service or are tired of paying subscription fees, you have an easy way out because you already have a copy of your information.
According to Acronis, a data protection company, only 17% of people take the hybrid approach. Don’t delay: The longer you wait to create local backups of your data, the harder it is to remove it from a cloud service if you decide to go.
Resolution # 4: ignore online sales events.
Over the past month, many shoppers who tried to grab deals during Black Friday and Cyber Monday quickly learned that something was wrong.
Many items that we usually buy at a discount, like newer Wi-Fi routers and inexpensive laptops, were not on sale or out of stock. Much of this was the result of a global chip shortage and disrupted supply chains, which hampered the manufacturing and shipping of items around the world.
Waiting for Black Friday to splurge has rarely been wise, but the pandemic-induced scarcity has made it clearer than ever. Throughout the year, deals often appear that are just as good – and sometimes better – than Black Friday promotions.
The tricky part is knowing when the cool stuff is cheaper. There are many ways to look for discounts, for example by following sites that alert you about sales. Our sister post Wirecutter follows the offers on her Twitter Account and website, for example.
Automated tools like Camel Camel Camel, a website that allows you to plug in products sold on Amazon and set up email alerts for price drops, can also help track promotions for specific items. Going forward, you can get ahead of the holiday shopping frenzy and potentially skip Black Friday.