Great ways you can prepare your technology and home for 2021 - The UpStream

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Great ways you can prepare your technology and home for 2021

posted Thursday Dec 17, 2020 by Scott Ertz

Great ways you can prepare your technology and home for 2021

It's almost the end of 2020, and while the year has been chaotic for most of us, the PLUGHITZ Live team is looking for every way we can start 2021 off without some of the burdens of 2020. Our staff members and partners each have some rituals they perform going into a new year, and together we hope that these suggestions can help all of us feel a little less chaotic.

Check your batteries

Scott Ertz, Editor-in-Chief of PLUGHITZ Live

So many aspects of our lives are controlled by devices with batteries. However, we tend to have some devices around that have batteries in them that we completely ignore. While it might seem like a non-issue, that is not always the case. This is because as batteries fail, they can cause damage ranging from ruining the device itself to causing fires. Because of these risks, it is important to check your battery-powered devices, especially those you don't often use.

One of the most common causes of issues is decorations. For decorations, we put some AA batteries in those tiny LED holiday lights and then put them into the attic or basement at the end of the season. The heat and cold can damage the batteries and cause them to leak, rendering the product useless for the next season. This can also happen with remote controls for items we don't use often, like the DVD player you still have hooked up but stopped using because of your Netflix or Amazon Prime Video subscription.

Another source of trouble is old phones and tablets. The rechargeable batteries in these devices are usually Lithium-Ion and can bulge up from disuse or overcharging. These bulging batteries can pop, and when they do spill corrosive battery acid over everything. In some instances, the chemicals can even explode, causing greater damage, and can even catch fire.

Put away your tech

Michele Mendez, Executive Producer of PLUGHITZ Live Presents

You know when you're done with your devices, you don't always put them away. You've got something on your kitchen counter that belongs in the living room, or a charger for your phone on the coffee table. Everyone does it, and it means we lose stuff. When you've also got studio equipment that doesn't make it back into place after a trip, it makes things even worse.

Going into the new year, I plan to find those items around the house and studio that are not where they belong and put them back. Hopefully, this will mean not looking for things that I regularly need (like an SD card we couldn't find for 9 months), or repurchasing items that I know I already own because I need it right now.

Organize your workspace

Daniele Mendez, Host of The New Product Launchpad

If you're like me and working from home for the first time, you might be finding it difficult to keep your workspace clear. You spend time there during the day, but it's also part of your house. My goal before the end of the year is to do a deep clean of my desk. The way to start is by clearing everything off the desk to determine what is necessary and what is clutter. Once the desk is clear, wipe all your surfaces down. Remember that screens, like your laptop, monitor, phone, and tablet cannot be cleaned with regular solutions - always use a screen cleaner.

Now that everything is clean, put things back in a way that you can find them and that are not cluttered. Things like under monitor pen holders can help. Also, make sure that the cords you've got are not in your way with wire clips or wire trays. Once everything is in its new place, keep things organized going forward with a side monitor memo board. Remember, a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind, but an empty desk means... nevermind.

Unsubscribe from unwanted email lists

Kirk Corless, Host of GNC Week in Review

If you're like me, you get auto subscribed to every junk email list on the planet. Thanks to GDPR, we have a guaranteed way to unsubscribe from these lists, but it's never the same. Every provider uses a different method, and it makes getting off the lists too time consuming. So, what do we do? Ignore them forever and they just keep piling up and flooding our inbox with garbage.

I want to go into 2021 without all these lists making it so I miss emails from people I care about, so I will be unsubscribing from every list I possibly can. I won't be doing it manually, though, because there are tools to make it easy. If you have an Android device, like I do, there is a tool called Cleanfox which will go through your inbox, identify the bulk lists, remove your subscription, and then delete the emails. Similarly, for my friends with iPhones, there is Unroll.Me.

Unsubscribe from unused subscription services

Dave Mendez, Floor Producer for PLUGHITZ Live Presents

Email lists aren't the only unwanted subscriptions that might be on your plate. As we approach subscription fatigue with so many options for subscriptions for music, video, collectables, comic books, and more, we can lose track of what we've got. Even worse is when you sign up for a trial and completely forget to unsubscribe before the end of the trial and you end up paying for a service you're not using.

Before next year, I plan on finding all the subscriptions I pay for and make decisions on whether I need to keep them. There are a couple of ways to do this. First, check your bank and credit card statements. You might miss that single $5 monthly subscription regularly, but upon investigation, you might find it. Also, check your app stores. This could be for Apple, Google, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, and more. You can see everything you're paying for and cancel from there.

Clean up your computer

Terri Willingham, Executive Director of Foundation for Community Driven Innovation

One of my tech issues is keeping my devices clean, both digitally and physically. During events, I take a lot of photos with my phone and camera, some of which stay on the phone while others move to the laptop so I can post them on our social media pages. But, because they're on different devices, they get mixed up and lost. Plus, most of the photos I take I know I'll never need or want again.

So, before I start the new year, I plan to go through my photos and other files and find the ones I want to keep and eliminate the others. Some might get backed up onto cloud storage, while others will be deleted entirely. Once I have my storage cleaned up, I tend to want to carry on to the devices themselves, cleaning my screens, using canned air to blow out dust, and cleaning keyboards.

Clear out phone storage

Sara Elizabeth Grossman, Founder of CODE-mktg

One of my favorite things to do (actually quarterly) is to go through and delete something that takes up so much space in my phone - screenshots and photos of who-the-heck-knows-what-that-I-clearly-no-longer-need. I try to keep the number of photos down below 3000 on my phone for my own neurotic purposes, but I do find it helps everything move more smoothly.

I also try to keep other unnecessary files off my phone - namely apps I no longer use. We all download apps and try them out or use them for a while and stop caring. But they can take up even more space than the random photos of prices at the grocery store or whatever weird photos I've got. Deleting the apps can clear space and prevent possible data theft through those apps.

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