Welcome to 2019. It’s time for some New Year’s tech resolutions – and no, we’re not talking about 1080p or 4K. The last 52 weeks have been learning experiences for us in every field of tech, and we should be putting those experiences to good use and making worthy changes in our gadget-driven lives.
To help you get started, we’ve rounded up five of the best tech resolutions that are definitely going to make a difference, in 2019 and beyond.
1. Stop Pre-Ordering Games
This one’s been a battle cry for many in the gaming community for several years now. Ever since the majority of games have moved to digital distribution, removing the problem of limited physical stock, the only real incentives for pre-ordering have typically become in-game cosmetic items and other freebies you could do without.
Meanwhile, Fallout 76 is the latest horror story of a game launching – at full price! – with massive technical issues, bordering on unplayability.
Large pre-order figures tell developers that they can ship a game that’s broken on launch, and take their sweet time in getting it to working order. They already have your money anyway, after all.
For 2019, with so many amazing games on the horizon, resist the temptation to pre-order and just ride out the hype wave. Hey, you could even wait until a couple of days after launch, so all the bugs can be ironed out with early patches.
2. Use Password Managers And Two-Factor Authentication
Whether or not you were affected by it, the 2017 Equifax data breach was a harrowing reminder that we need to keep our information secure. But if you didn’t get the hint, 2018 provided us with the Quora breach, the Facebook breach, and the Google+ breach, among way too many others to count.
To prevent malicious entities from gaining access to your accounts, it’s best to have strong cyber security practices in your tech lifestyle. Two of the easiest and most effective ways to go about this are password managers and two-factor authentication.
With a password manager like LastPass or 1Password, you can use high-strength passwords for your accounts that are not repeated across any of them, while not having to worry about memorizing them. This’ll prevent a hacker from gaining access to several of your accounts just by having one of your easily-remembered passwords.
Meanwhile, enabling two-factor authentication wherever possible makes it very difficult for hackers to gain entry into your accounts even if they do have your login information. Almost all social networking services have 2FA support, tied to your phone number or to their respective smartphone apps. The Google Authenticator is also a great app to have, as many services can tie their 2FA to it.
3. Switch To An SSD
The first mainstream solid-state drives came out over a decade ago. “Mainstream” is of course a relative term; in 2008, the much-coveted Intel X25-M cost a hefty $595 for just 80GB.
Today, however, SSDs are crashing in price for a variety of reasons, including technological advances and an excess supply of the NAND flash memory chips that SSDs use to store data.
In the last few weeks, for example, several retailers sold the 500GB Samsung 860 EVO SATA SSD for a mere Php4,000; earlier in the year it was in the Php8,000-9,000 range. While they claim that these are “Christmas sale” prices, they show no indication of springing back, and reflect the global trend of cheaper SSD prices.
Storage speed is one of the great bottlenecks of modern computing. Many budget-to-midrange laptops now come equipped with fast quad-core processors and large amounts of RAM, yet still remain as sluggish as ever due to their insistence on sticking to spinning hard drives, the technology behind which having been around since the 1950s.
A good SSD—hey even a “slow” budget SSD—will accelerate OS boot times, application loading times, and general responsiveness to hitherto unseen heights. It’ll also be more reliable and last longer, without any moving parts to worry about.
4. Consider Open-Source Software
In October 2018, Microsoft released a mandatory Windows 10 update that had a chance of irrecoverably deleting your documents from your hard drive.
It’s just one of the many examples of closed-source software that force updates on you and try their darnedest to gather your data: They’re not just inconvenient, they’re highly problematic, too.
Fortunately, there are a lot of open-source alternatives that are safe, get the job done, and are easy to use.
And since we’re on the topic of Windows, an operating system, how about start your open-source journey by trying out some Linux? No, you don’t have to live behind a terminal windows and memorize all the intimidating-looking commands – many flavors of Linux today are incredibly easy to use, and installing applications is a breeze.
It’s even more worthy of consideration now than ever for gamers, especially since Valve released Proton for Steam in August. With Proton, Steam on Linux can now install and play games even if they don’t have explicit Linux support.
5. Dispose of Electronics Properly
Anthropogenic climate change, destructive mining practices, balloon drops…the list of environmental issues goes on and on. Every industry has to do its part if we’re to save the world from runaway destruction.
For us tech geeks, that means being more aware about the environmental records of the companies we choose to support, and of course, disposing of our own old electronics properly to avoid a buildup of e-waste.
No more throwing used batteries in the garbage bin, where their electrolytes and other chemicals can poison groundwater or kill animals. No more tossing phones and computers either, which contain mercury, lead, cadmium and other materials that are similarly toxic.
Instead, look for places that recycle electronics responsibly, taking away the harmful materials and returning the components to the manufacturing cycle.
As technology gains ever more ground in our lives, it’s important to take a little time to be introspective, to recognize and rid ourselves of bad habits and practices. We’ll end up being healthier, happier tech geeks this way, so why not lump it in with the rest of your New Year’s resolutions?