Hello. I’m here because your mother asked me to talk to you. After years of urging you to eat your vegetables, brush after every meal and clean your room, she figured you’d know by now how to care for yourself and your stuff. Then she got a gander at your tech habits. Horrors! So appalled was she, that she asked me to intervene.
I’m not saying you’re guilty of ignoring all 10 of these tech-related tidbits, but chances are, you can recognize a few fails. To see which ones, hit up the list:
1. Your chair’s cheap, your monitor’s at the wrong height, and your desk is waaaaay too short. Despite spending an awful lot of time in front of your computer, you still probably don’t pay attention to ergonomics. Then you wonder why you have those mystery aches and pains. Don’t delay, hit up your office’s HR rep for info on what your company can do to help (or, for home setups, take a peep at the OSHA ergonomic checklist).
2. Guess which is the least gross — that keyboard, phone or toilet. Sad, but true: Sixteen percent of cell phones actually have poop on them. (Ewwww.) And that keyboard? It houses 60 times more germs than a toilet seat in a public bathroom. (Double ewwww.) Don’t just vacuum — swab those suckers down with cleaners or wipes that actually vanquish those microscopic nasties.
3. Is your world 3.5 or 4 inches big? Do you IM at dinner? Play a loud game on the bus? Gab on the phone while in a restroom? Text as you walk across the street (or, worse, while driving)? Do yourself and the people around you a favor — give the phone a rest. Your friend/Angry Birds will still be there later. I promise.
4. Take a break, WoW/Max Payne/Mass Effect/Call of Duty will understand.
It’s like the airline industry’s “economy-class syndrome,” except that an exotic locale isn’t on the other end. What could be waiting for you after hours of sitting are leg/arm cramps, a stiff back and decreased circulation leading to things like blood clots. Now, your chances of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), the medical name for this condition, is worse if you have bad circulation and weak veins to begin with. But no matter how you slice it, long periods of inactivity just ain’t good. So even if it’s just for the sake of weight management, get up and stretch at 15 minute intervals (and putting down those cheesy poofs wouldn’t hurt either).
5. Back that thing up. Some things are priceless — like that work presentation/term paper you worked on for four months. The photographic evidence of that totally hot date no one believes you had. The “Thank You” IM from Joss Whedon for solving his Avengers 2 plot hole. You know you’d cry if you lost these things. And with external hard drive prices falling, as well as more cloud back-up options than ever, there’s no excuse not to safeguard your data.
6. They’re called “laptops,” not “slaptops.” We all do it: Instead of quitting or sleeping the computer, we slap the lid closed and run off. All is well… that is, until the computer glitches, keeping it from actually hibernating/sleeping. And unless you have an SSD, you’re now running around town with a spinning disk. Not good. Then there’s the power management, which — if not set properly — could lead to overheating. Why take the chance? Just manually put it in sleep mode to be sure it’s safe to carry. And while you’re at it, go ahead and shut it down completely once in a while.
7. Those gadgets may be sexy, but you should still kick them out of bed. Tablets, smartphones, laptops and anything else with a display can be a big problem when it’s time to go beddy-bye, as the light emitted can make it tough to fall asleep. So don’t let those devices entice you when it’s time to hit the hay. In fact, don’t even have them by the bedside — too tempting! If you can’t put them in another room, at least banish them from your nightstand.
8. “Updates, shmupdates, I’m busy.” Always seems that a software update notification pops up when we’re in the middle of a project. And so we ignore it because we can’t restart the computer at that moment. But an afternoon goes by. Then a day, a week, and next thing you know, pals are gushing about an incredible new feature, and you have no idea what they’re talking about. Meanwhile, the system keeps crashing and becoming increasingly unstable. Could it be that forgotten update? D’oh! Let this be a lesson: Stay on top of those updates, especially for security tweaks or fixes.
9. Is your password too obvious? If your password is “password,” then… uh… duh. Major corporations aren’t the only ones who get hacked. Sure, it can be hard to remember ” iol93103s8w1j5,” but it’s pretty certain that no one’s going to guess it and gain access to your accounts.
10. Get battery savvy. Until advances in battery technology become more widespread, you’re probably dealing with lithium-ion batteries. And li-ions that get fully charged from the beginning keep a higher voltage than fast-charged or partially charged ones. If that ship has sailed, try this: Let the battery run completely dry, then charge to full. As a maintenance measure, it’s a good idea to do this periodically, say, every few months.
It can be challenging to remember all the ways our behavior around technology could be improved. But as much as tech is becoming ingrained in our day-to-day lives, the need to stay savvy around them increases too. Just like brushing your teeth or picking up after yourself, it just takes a little time to get in the habit. And just think — Mom would be so proud.
As a bonus, here are a few stats in an infographic called “Tech Germs,” compiled last fall by Keeping it Kleen. Warning: This could gross you out.