5 New Year Resolutions Every Geek Should Aspire To [Opinion]

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This is an opinion article. The viewpoints expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints or official policies of MakeUseOf.

It’s a new year, so it’s time for resolutions. You know the common ones already. Lose weight. Watch less TV. Stop yelling expletives at strangers. That sort of thing.

But what about resolutions that geeks in particular should consider? Tech enthusiasts tend to have different priorities than other people – watching less TV, for example, may not be applicable if you’ve already replaced it with YouTube and video games. Here are five resolution ideas that even the most hardcore geek should consider.

Back Up Your Stuff!

Almost everyone agrees with backing up their data, much like everyone agrees it’s a good idea to lose weight or eat better. Yet many people fail to follow through. Hard drives crash, SD cards break, and data is lost. MakeUseOf Answers receives questions about how to recover data from a broken/dropped/fried drive almost every day.

Now is as good a time as any to start backing up your data. External hard drives usually run between $70 to $100 and you can use free software like CrashPlan or Windows Backup & Restore to automatically schedule regular backups.

So what are you waiting for? Back up your data. Do it now.

Start using two-factor authentication

Passwords have some serious issues. They are vulnerable to keylogging. They can be guessed (if simple) or brute-forced (if complex). And they can be gathered through social engineering. Everyone thinks they’d never be tricked by a phishing attack, yet it happens to hundreds of thousands of people every year.

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Two-factor authentication can help. It requires that a user have two methods of authenticating themselves instead of just a password. The second method is usually a text message or phone call that delivers a randomly generated code to a user-specified number. That code must be entered to proceed. Even someone with your password won’t be able to log in to your account.

Don’t think a hack can’t happen to you. Earlier this year journalist Mat Honan was hacked and as a result had his MacBook wiped, his Google account deleted and his Twitter spammed with racist comments. Apple did not offer two-factor and so it could not be used to protect his MacBook, but it could have kept his Gmail and Twitter secure.

Mat Honan didn’t back up his data, either – so he lost a year of family photos, email and documents.  Seriously. Back up your data.

Support A Project You Believe In

I’ve been watching Kickstarter carefully this year and have given money to a few projects. While I remain skeptical that crowd-funding is the world changing phenomena some make it out to be I do think it has a lot of potential.

Maybe you’ve been sitting on the sidelines to see how things pan out. I won’t lie to you. Supporting a crowd-funded project is a risk. There’s no guarantee you’ll see anything for your money and, even if you do, it may not live up to expectations.

But that’s not the point. Crowd-funding is not a pre-order. It’s a vote of confidence. A virtual pat on someone’s back that says “Here – I like your idea, and I’m putting my money down on it.” So I urge you to step off the sidelines, find a project you think is important, and pledge. Don’t count on others to do it for you.

Waste less time online

Procrastination is always just a click away when you have an Internet connection. It’s easy to become distracted by a funny YouTube video, or a link on a friend’s Facebook page, or a Tumblr that’s gone viral. While there’s nothing wrong with online entertainment over-indulging in information of questionable value can cause its fair share of problems and ultimately lead to a sense that you’ve nothing to show for your time.

So what can you do? There are many solutions. Google Calendar (or any similar online calendar) can be useful if you set regular reminders about tasks you should be working on. The Pomodoro Technique can be used to work on tasks in short bursts. Or you can use a time management tool on your smartphone to keep honest about what you’re really doing all day.

There’s no getting around the need for willpower. Still, software can help keep you on track and alert you when procrastination begins to take over your day.

Play more games with friends

Games are a great way to spend time with friends. They’re among the most social forms of entertainment that you can enjoy, yet it’s easy to forget about their potential and turn inward. Why waste time waiting for someone else to join if a single-player campaign is available now?

The answer is simple – playing with friends is almost always more fun. The genre doesn’t matter. You can comp-stomp in Starcraft 2, shoot zombies in Left 4 Dead or build a monument to the Teletubbies in Minecraft. Whatever your choice, friends almost always enhance the experience.

And don’t forget about tabletop games! Contrary to its reputation, stepping into the tabletop world can be both easy and inexpensive. There are plenty of free or low-cost systems including FATE, Savage Worlds, Dungeon World, and Microlite d20. Games like this focus on being easy to understand and don’t require additional rulebooks to play (though you’ll have to imagine your own setting).

What’s Your Resolution?

I picked these resolutions because they’re clear and obtainable for nearly anyone. There’s not much effort involved in setting up two-factor authentication or pledging to a crowd-funded project. You just need to take a moment and do it.

What’s your geeky new-year’s resolution? Are you looking to get back into a game you loved but abandoned? Do you want to learn to build your own PC? Perhaps you’re seeking ways to automate your life? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credits: Lulu, Mark Turnauckas

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17 Comments - Write a Comment


Harshit Jain

Don’t pirate anything

Dexter Allen

good for you. i mean it


Kevin NĂ©meth

“Start using two-factor authentication” i love this one.


Henree Arriola de Garcia

I’ll try backing up more often.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

How if you setup a scheduled backup and let it run automatically? Save your time and far safer than manual backup (you might forget to do it, putting it for later, etc).



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Dane Morgan

I’m already checking off everything on this list except … two-factor authentication.

I jumped on right off when Google brought it out. I was stoked. This was cool. It was going to make things more secure!

I never successfully logged into ANYTHING with it. I tried it four different ways and could not get logged in to anything. I don’t have time for that. I do have a distinct 10-14 digit pseudo random password for each and every log-in though, and I recon that is probably good enough given that I’m simply not that interesting a target.

John Kim

Once you get the hang of it, it’s fine. But it falls short with Apple Mail. After putting the application-specific password, it suddenly asks for the password a few days later.


Jennifer Price

I have backups and passwords/authentications on my list too! I really like your non-technical resolutions, although ‘get outside’ would also be good.

Here are my 4 technology resolutions:


Deimarr Callender

Definitely need to do more backups


Axandre L.

Two-factor authentication is a really interesting concept that I had never thought of before. I’ll give it a closer look. I’ve also already started on the fifth resolution – Magic: The Gathering on a regular basis.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Your fifth resolution is cool. Problem is: it’s difficut to find someone to play with.


Prabha Rani

To increase my blog’s traffic and buy an Android tablet.


Lisa Santika Onggrid

Backup and applying stricter time management are on top of my list. I’ve lost too much time online in winter break, sadly. Then get to ACTUALLY write software reviews and try softwares I was interested in, downloaded, and piled as I spent time procrastinating. Exploring Linux is somewhere in the middle of the list. Two factor authentication is really a hassle, since I’m never a fan of carrying my phone all time, but once I get my mailbox sorted, I’ll look into it again.


Kathleen Libbey

to stop fixing other people’s computers – no good deed goes unpunished – It seems like after I work on someone’s computer they think they can always call me, anytime, and fix anything. I’m just not that interested anymore.


Georgia Caldwell

Just started backing up my files, and not a moment too soon. I lost a folder, but it was a cinch to get it back from Crashplan. But NOW, after seeing this page, my New Year’s resolution is to try to put little hats on hamsters as often as I can!


Dexter Allen

probably #2 in the list. my whole world spins around my google account. so…

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