I’m a bit of a geek. I know that. I accept that. I have become resigned to that. I’m nowhere near being the geekiest person I know, but then there are many people who are way less geeky that I know. Here are some things that, as a middleweight geek, I think you should think about to bring out your inner geek (and make the world a bit of a better place too).
1. Make your telephone numbers machine readable
Very few people in the UK really understand how telephone numbers work. Many think that you can only send a text message to a number beginning “07” (not true). Many others think that it’s appropriate to write a telephone number in the format +44 (0) 1234 567 890. It’s not, and the reason why is because if I tap on a number written in that format on my smart phone, the smart phone tries to dial it and then gets an unobtainable message.
If you are writing you phone number somewhere where it might be useful to someone else, either write it in the format +44 1234 567 890 (no “(0)”), or 01234 567 890 (no “+44”). Both of those will work (assuming the person trying to dial is in the UK – only the first one will work outside of these shores). That simple change will make you that little bit more contactable.
2. Enable two-factor authentication on everything that you can
We all have a duty as good citizens of the Internet to do our bit for Internet security. Using two factor authentication on every internet system you can is a very good start. Here’s a handy guide for most of the popular ones.
There is so much, just, stuff being made available at such a pace these days that the only way you are going to get an idea about what’s out there is by devoting a bit of time to muck about with it. In the past couple of weeks, for example, I’ve built my first 3D model using nothing but a camera and a web app and “modded” my phone with Cyanogenmod.
Why? On the face of it, I have absolutely no idea. But, underlying it, it’s because by mucking around with new things it helps me to make sense of what’s new, and also what’s old. And that’s something I’ve been doing since I started playing with Lego at the age of about five.
4. Move to the Cloud
Everything I do these days has it’s most up to date copy not sitting on a hard disk or a memory card, but out there, somewhere, in the thing that is now rather unfashionably referred to as The Cloud. I use Google Docs, SkyDrive, Evernote, Dropbox, WordPress, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and probably a bunch of things I’ve forgotten, and as a result my digital life is a) reliant on the Internet absolutely and b) therefore not reliant at all on any of the cheap, losable, breakable devices that I use to access all of those services.
It terrifies me how many, particularly freelance, professional people would find their lives torn apart if their laptop got stolen. But there is a lot to unlearn about how we have traditionally regarded our content and its security that many people are struggling to unlearn (Mrs B, despite my best efforts, still starts at C:\ when saving her files…)
Make your DropBox or SkyDrive or Box or whatever folder as your main place to store files would be a credible first step in all of this.
And, of course, there might be reasons why you can’t move everything into the Cloud. So make sure that whatever that is is being backed up. I use a Cloud service Carbonite. It sits in the background, backing up all of the photos which are really the only thing left on the PC in the home office these days. This is doubly important if you rely on a device with solid state storage (yes you, MacBook Air users). SSDs are fast, expensive, and much less reliable than their bulkier, spinny mechanical cousins.