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Tech Savvy: Out with the old?

Hey there, Tech Savvy fans! In the spirit of the new year I thought it would be worthwhile to chat about something that we have no issue with in other aspects of our lives, but when it comes to tech we tend to drag our feet. When the new year rol...

Time to Change in Flat Design with Long Shadows on Blue Background.
Time to Change in Flat Design with Long Shadows on Blue Background.

Hey there, Tech Savvy fans! In the spirit of the new year I thought it would be worthwhile to chat about something that we have no issue with in other aspects of our lives, but when it comes to tech we tend to drag our feet. When the new year rolls around we often hear the term "turning over a new leaf" or we make resolutions to get healthy, lose some weight, or start a new hobby- something that changes how we live our lives. Unfortunately, in many areas of our everyday tech lives we often take the approach of "that's what I've always used" or it's just easier to let things ride.

How significant is that decision, or lack thereof? It's so easy to just renew a license or make do with your existing equipment, it's easy to overlook either some simple fixes or signs you need to trade up. This week we're going to take a look at some common things that we tend to leave by tech wayside as we throttle down the road of life.

Numero uno on the list-your computer itself. I get it, you spent good money on a top-tier machine a few years ago and you want to get the absolute most out of it. You haven't had viruses on it, you follow a strict maintenance schedule to keep it running at its best, and hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

Take a moment and reflect though-do you find yourself frustrated with the speed it runs, are you having difficulty finding versions of software that you can run on your machine, maybe it's as simple as you just don't use your computer as often because it "just takes too long."

These are all signs that while there may be nothing wrong with your machine itself, it may be time to consider some upgrades or reinvesting in a new computer. Generally speaking most computers these days seem to have about a five-year lifespan before the advancements overtake what they are capable of but there are a couple things you can try before jumping ship to buy a brand new machine. Most computers allow you install additional RAM (Random Access Memory), it's basically what helps your computer's brain think faster. By adding more, it's like giving your computer a shot of adrenalin to help it work faster. This simple fix can be a low cost alternative for machines that are maybe two or three years old and feel a little sluggish.

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For computers nearing that five-year mark, that's when the real comparisons begin-in many cases it is simply more cost effective to buy a new computer than spend the money on additional RAM, processors and other components.

If you're having a tough time letting go of something there's nothing technically wrong with, consider donating it to any number of nonprofit organizations, like PCs for People. There are also many local nonprofits in the area here that are on the lookout for functional electronics that can be a great benefit in our own community. The Shop in Brainerd, for example, is a local group that is an affiliate of the PCs for People program.

Another common area that people tend to just go with the flow on their tech is subscriptions to some of the services that they have purchased. I help out with some of the tech stuff at our church and we recently received a notice that our antivirus software is expiring, and we need to renew.

It's so easy to just click that button, especially if you haven't had any virus related issues, because, hey, it must be working, right? This time around we paused and questioned if it was the most effective option for us-we have multiple computers, using different platforms, and not all of them are included in our license with our current anti-virus. We don't get many virus issues; if you recall I shared some statistics a long while back and the majority of viruses are user initiated due to careless browsing or link clicking, and the antivirus program was just accepted as a necessary part of our tech lives. All this talk of antivirus makes me feel like a zombie apocalypse is coming.

At any rate, we decided that this would be a good time to re-evaluate what our actual needs are in an antivirus, and whether it would be appropriate to switch. If you haven't looked at antivirus programs lately, you should. You will be amazed at how much more than just an antivirus program they are-from cloud backups to photo and file storage, these companies are working more and more to create more services they can offer in their programs.

We're still looking at a couple different options, but for years we have simply just renewed because it was easy. Looking at some of the options available, even if we stick with the same company, they now have different programs that are much more comprehensive and would fit our needs better. Pricing is also something that comes into play, and it's interesting to see how different packages with similar components can still vary in price.

It's worth noting here that I highly recommend that price alone not be your determining factor. It's true that there is legitimate concern about overpaying for tech or components, at the same time the market often demands higher prices than other retail industries because of the demand. At the end of the day though, if you do your homework you do get what you pay for, or at least you should, and you can help ensure this happens by doing some research on your purchases and services.

Youtube is a great place to learn about products you are thinking of buying, or if you are looking for some simple solutions to common problems, and can often provide a step by step instruction on what you need to do.

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The real lesson to take away from these two examples is that it can be a fine line to walk between sticking with a tried and true and giving something else a go. There are often multiple factors that will determine your decision, but that emphasizes the importance of reviewing your selections on a regular basis.

Finally, I need to share that thanks to your efforts and the awesome team over at x.ai. I got beta access to the x.ai personal scheduling AI, Amy. I've only had access for a couple days now, but I've been testing it out and working with their support team with a couple questions and so far, it's nothing short of absolutely mind blowing. It was a breeze to set up, and the intelligence of the interface that creates and understands the email correspondence is astonishing. I've got a lot more testing to do with it, but at first blush, this is just incredible. If you spend more than a few minutes a day scheduling appointments for yourself, internally or externally for business, or even personally, you need to get on the wait list. www.x.ai . One sneak peek-you can integrate multiple calendars, work and personal for example, and multiple email addresses. It's crazy awesome.

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