In the ever-evolving, ever-changing world of digital technologies, sometimes it pays to take stock of things. On a rainy day in Delhi, I plan to do this by reflecting on a few things that might help us reorient ourselves. Strange as it might seem, some basics need to be reiterated for us to be smart users of gadgets, computers and the Web. Here are a few tips that might help.
Your computers need constant security: With the PC no longer a desktop machine but a device that is often, if not permanently, connected to the Web, the threat of viruses, phishing attacks that could steal your identity or data crashes could be real. Don’t hesitate to spend on anti-virus software and make sure you learn the basic rules to keep it up-to-date, because security threats are routine. Make sure you keep your files backed up. You can keep them in a USB drive, or use Websites that offer free storage. Just dragging and dropping files from your desktop to the “cloud” sites can save you a lot of bother. Crude forms of storage include mailing documents to your own email ID on the Web.
Log off, shut off properly: Make sure you log off properly from Websites. Sometimes, when the site hangs or crashes, I log in again and log off, just to make sure that there is no confusion. Particularly in shared computers — like in homes or large families — it makes sense to log off.
Watch those downloads: For days, my office PC was slow, and I called my in-house IT doctor, who told me — like a heart surgeon — that I was consuming too much. Toolbars in browsers are cool but they hog up processing capacity. Make sure the downloads are not overdone. Many applications, run simultaneously, can clog up your computer, like a traffic jam on the roads. And make sure you download only from safe sites.
Online booking and shopping are cool: A decade ago, e-commerce was just starting up. Now, lots of sellers have perfected the art. Online shopping sites are good to buy some things cheap and zero in on the right choice. Many companies now sell their products directly. Most important, online shopping sites are good to gauge the price, quality and features. Make sure you use Websites at least to research your shopping. However, make sure you understand descriptions. Sometimes quality (or rather, the lack of it) is poorly conveyed on the Web. And booking movies and theatrical events online is now easy.
Try websites at random: Everytime I log to the Web, I end up using up my time on a few sites. This stopped me from discovering new offerings on the Net, including cool websites and developments. While doing this often can only confuse you, set apart some time so that you can search for what you want and discover new stuff.
Last but not the least, realise that there is a life outside the digital world, if you are spending too much time on your PC or smartphone.