At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: software updates

5 Easy Ways to Help your Tech Run Better 

It’s probably time to give some of your tech and digital systems a tune up. And that may mean you need to look under the hood.

The promise of home tech often contains the glow of a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality. The truth is you really shouldn’t leave anything on auto pilot for too long. (Turning on ‘auto updates’ isn’t enough.) You need to check in every so often.

No machine runs flawlessly forever, even the ones without any moving parts. Over time, they need ongoing maintenance. That can also include the digital processes you create for yourself to help organize parts of your life.

Here are five ways that your tech and digital systems can use a little tuning up right now.

Clean the Lint out of your Smartphone’s Charging Port
Have you noticed that your Lightning or USB-C cable isn’t always making a solid connection with your smartphone, and sometimes you wake up to a partially charged device?

That’s because if you usually place your smartphone in your trouser pocket, the lint has slowly been building up into that tiny port. A clue that this micro invasion has occurred is when your cable no longer clicks into the port, and the connection instead feels ‘squishy.’

It’s time to take the end of a paper clip and gently pull out that mini fuzzball that’s hiding at the back end of the port. (I always turn off my iPhone first before beginning the operation.)

Hurry Up and Finish Reviewing your Photos from Last Year
If you’ve got a system set up (like me) where you review and edit your photos before you share them, you’d better set aside some time to finish all that up. Last year’s photos will only retain their value for so long. Beyond archiving and photo book creation, nobody is interested in your old photos. It’s all about what happened today or yesterday (maybe last week).

Sure, having a ‘process’ to select and polish your best photos before sharing them will ensure your audience gets to see your best work, but the downside is you may not have enough time to consistently maintain your perfectionism.

If you marvel at how fast and effortlessly some of your friends share photos, that’s because their process is stripped down to three steps across fifteen seconds.

  • Snap
  • Look
  • Share
  • (Done)

It’s worth considering.

Buy a New Memory Card for your Camera
Do you let all of your photos pile up in your camera’s SD card without taking the time to erase them after transferring the files elsewhere? And then do you decide that’s it’s a good idea to hold onto them as yet another file back-up strategy to protect against some future disaster recovery need?

To be clear, we should simply follow our existing back-up process and then wipe the memory card to free it up for more photo fun.

But, if you have a problem (like me) doing that, the other choice is to simply buy another SD card and start fresh in the New Year. (They’re not that expensive.)

Then, you can pop the old memory card in the drawer, quickly forget about it and then eventually lose it.

When aliens uncover the tiny card in a million years, they’ll transcode its corrupted data, pixel-approximate the missing elements and reconstitute your images. Who knew that humans had three eyes and two noses? What a beautiful family you had! Your legacy is now intact.

Reorganize the Apps on your Smartphone
If you’ve been having difficulty finding certain apps on your smartphone or they’re not where you thought you left them, it’s time to take a few minutes and do a little reorganizing. That can include placing some of your apps into topic folders and perhaps pruning others you haven’t used for a while. (You can always reload them!)

Losing a few long-forgotten apps will also free up memory on your device.

Do those Software Updates
Keeping all of your digital gear current with software updates is an endless process that requires a fair amount of effort and organization. And following an auto-update strategy can sometimes lead to updates that aren’t ready for prime time. I think it’s best to have your tech remind you about the updates, and then you can manually install them. You’ve just got to find the time to do it.

The Doctor is In
Admittedly, all these easy best practices are also chores that are often delayed, sometimes indefinitely.

One way to ensure that you keep up is to set aside an hour a week to handle it all. It may not be enough, but it’ll help you know what needs more attention.

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to keeping your tech and digital systems healthy.

Otherwise you may find they’ll stop working for you when you least expe


Ten Tech Tips You’ve Missed

Want to jump start your personal tech engine? Here are ten ways to tune up your life with all that pesky technology you’ve got to deal with…

Want to jump start your personal tech engine? Here are ten ways to tune up your life with all that pesky technology you’ve got to deal with…

At Home with Tech is designed to provide a regular stream of tech tips to help you navigate your busy day to day. Unfortunately, I know that life can sometimes get in the way of this blog’s information exchange.

But don’t worry…

I’ve reviewed ten of my best ‘how-to’ tech tips that might have fallen off of your radar and repackaged the links here for easy consumption.
(Your smartphone, computer, digital camera, email, and home printer will all thank you!)


How to Never Pay for Your Printer Ink Cartridges

How to Help Your Computer Survive Software Updates

How to Reanimate a Dead Eye in Your Photo

How to Handle a Lost Email

How to Find Parking Salvation with PayByPhone

How to Take More Vacation with Less Tech

How to Bypass a Frozen Ticket Touchscreen

How to Boost Your Smartphone’s Signal Strength

How to Give Your HDTV More HDMI Inputs

How Your Email Can Help Group-Think Succeed

“Bonus Tip!”
(If you liked the photo above…)
How to Make a Photomosaic

Five Tech Tips to Keep Your Life in Order

Is this mound of forgotten flash memory a sign of clutter or organization? Well, it depends on what you’ve previously done with the digital files. That’s where the battle to maintain some digital harmony in your life must be fought…

Is this mound of forgotten flash memory a sign of clutter or organization? Well, it depends on what you’ve previously done with the digital files. That’s where the battle to maintain some digital harmony in your life must be fought…

Don’t let cold spring breezes freeze your good intentions to get organized.
For many, the annual cleaning ritual is about to begin. So I propose it’s also a perfect time to tidy up some of your zeroes and ones. Just because your digital files don’t take up a lot of physical space doesn’t mean they’re not cluttering up your life!

Delete Half of Your Email
Have you lost an important email recently? If so, I bet you’ve got too much hanging around.

Let’s face it… you don’t need to hold onto most of your personal email. Much of it is probably unwanted marketing messages anyway.
(Usually from companies you naively gave your email address to in the first place)

And if you’ve got thousands of unread emails stacked up, that’s also a sign it’s time to thin out your in-box.

My favorite way to keep the job manageable is to simply sort by sender, select huge email chunks, and then delete away.
Don’t be shy…
(And it feels so good!)

Organize Your New Family Photo Files at Least Once a Week
There’s really only one way manage the hundreds of photos you’re likely snapping a month:

  • You’ve got to regularly go through them on your computer and organize them into content buckets.
  • And to be really effective, you’ve got to delete the mediocre pics.
    (They’re never going to get any better!)

I think rolling up your sleeves once a week should do it.
Here are a few tips on getting the task done.

Buy a New SD Memory Card for Your Camera
Have you realized that SD cards have become so inexpensive?

Case in point:
On Amazon, I found this
16GB Class 10 SDHC SanDisk flash memory card for $8.10.

Originally, the magic of digital photography was the mind-blowing concept that it didn’t cost you anything to snap a photo. You’d just delete the older photos on the card and your camera could keep on going… forever.

But no matter how much memory your card’s got, it does eventually run out of space.
(Especially if you like recording videos)
Because who’s really got the time to pay attention to how many megs are left?

It takes some ongoing effort to delete the hundreds and sometimes thousands of photo and video files… unless you want to simply clear the whole card and start over.

I don’t know about you, but time is always something I need more of…

Have you ever found yourself struggling to quickly delete the old photos off your camera’s SD card right before you want to capture a priceless moment?
(It’s maddening.)

So here’s a radical concept…

  • Don’t try to keep up with your nearly filled memory card. When it’s time, just replace it.

It’s okay to buy new SD cards every so often to make sure your camera is ready for action. Sure, that’s a bit wasteful, but it’s not like having a tiny stack of old SD cards lying around is going to mess up the house.

Plus, SD cards don’t last forever. So it’s probably a good idea to recycle out the older ones every couple of years.
(You really don’t want to wait until a card with priceless photos turns into an unreadable plastic square.)

Update the Software on Your Computer
Pop Quiz:
How often have you dropped what you’re doing to comply with this message on your screen: “Updates Ready to Install.”


Nobody wants to take the time to update your software.
But you’ve got to do it!

I’m not saying you should be the first to install an update.
(That can also lead to problems…)

But if you wish to keep your computer healthy, updated software should be part of your plan…

Get Rid of Your Old VHS Tapes
If you haven’t yet converted all that old content off your dusty tapes into digital files, it can’t be that important.
VHS is dead tech. Let it all go…

Enough said.

Bonus Tip!
Remember that new piece of tech you recently bought?
Register it online now, while you still know where the receipt is!
You don’t want to lose out on the manufacturer’s warrantee…

The Endless List
If you’ve got all of these digital projects already handled, congratulations.
(You must not be the parent of young children.)

So let me throw one more task onto your ‘to do’ list.
Are you caught up on making all those photo albums you’ve been meaning to create online?

Uh huh.

Get to work…!

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