This post written by Jim Derk, Senior Director of Information Technology at United Companies.
When I was a child in school the old joke was “the dog ate my homework.” In today’s digital world, it’s “my thumb drive went through the washing machine.”
We live in a fast-changing world and there is no area changing faster than computers and technology. Parents and teachers expect more and more “digital competence” from students these days and teens rarely fail to deliver. If you ever can’t work something that plugs in, ask a 13-year-old for help.
The best part of the new world is the ease of use.
The first computers, as wonderful as they were, came with clunky operating systems and 1,000 page manuals.
My iPad came with an Apple sticker for my car window.
But as Voltaire (and Spiderman’s uncle Ben) said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” So we have to learn to be good digital citizens. Some key things I have learned over the years in my IT wanderings I hope will leave you with some thoughts:
- When you create a file, name it in a way you can find it later. A hard drive full of files that are named “aaaaaa.docx” don’t help you much when you need to find something you need. Instead, name your paper about Voltaire “Research paper about Voltaire 2013.docx” Having the topic and the year in the title will greatly speed up your searches.
- Thumb drives are junk. There’s a reason they cost $5 at the bookstore. Don’t save your two weeks of work to a thumb drive as your only version. Instead, you work on your hard drive and save a COPY on your thumb drive to take to school and amaze your teacher. Keep a copy in both places. If you’re hard core, save another version to your Google Cloud. It’s free and won’t get lost in the laundry.
- Create folders on your hard drive (right-click and pick NEW) for various topics and create some order in your chaos. All of your documents don’t have to be dumped in MY DOCUMENTS. You can have a 2013 Folder and under that have ENGLISH or even SCHOOL STUFF.
- When you hit START on Windows 7, that white box at the bottom left will search your whole hard drive for anything you have on it. So if you think you wrote a paper about the French Revolution but can’t find it, you can type anything in that box and it will find it. (Assuming it’s not only on a thumb drive you left in your locker.)
- If you drag something to the trash, it’s not deleted until you empty the trash can. (Even then it’s not really deleted to a computer geek, but that’s for another day). So if you need something back, check the trash can.
- The most important thing you can do is make a back-up version of your most important files and data. I have been a digital hero more than once after I was able to recover priceless photos of weddings and children, tax records and even a doctoral thesis from crashed hard drives. But that process is expensive and hard. Protect yourself and make sure you use an external hard drive or an Internet service to back up your computer files to another location.
Those are just a few of the tips I have picked up in my digital life. What do you do in yours to keep your digital life organized and safe?