Looking after your gadgets

Gamers, office workers and tech fans who lead a busy lifestyle might not rate tidying up their technology as their highest priority. However, there comes a point where all the wires and cables become so intertwined that they become almost impossible to prise apart. This is where keeping all your tech in check could prove useful.

It doesn’t have to involve hour after hour of moving your devices around or untangling cables. With a combination of hi-tech and low-tech solutions, you can make your tech at home or in the office look a lot cleaner and easy to find, use and transport when you need to access it.

Cable management

Messy cablesFor gamers in particular, this is essential. The problem of cables becoming tangled is common for many console owners. The best thing to do to avoid this problem is to use a series of cable ties. They’re cheap, easy to use and help to keep numerous cables bound together behind the back of your TV screen.

At the same time, you’ll want to make sure that all your gadgets are well-ventilated. Keeping the holes in your computer, consoles, TV and other devices clear from obstructions like wires or cables will ensure that they’re less likely to overheat. This should extend their life and help keep them running fast.

All-in-one charging

Many of us own quite a few gadgets, many of which have mains chargers. In some cases, e-readers, smartphones and tablets can be powered up using the same charger, but to save space and energy when two or more of them need recharging, a multiple docking station could be helpful.

They’re relatively good, but they’re not too expensive, plus they can work well in the office as well as at home. If you own a range of Apple products, you’ll surely want one in order to reduce the stress of trying to find the right charger for each device. It could also become an important addition to any office desk, especially if you need access to all your gadgets at all times.

Smart labelling

Labelling your technology is a simple but effective idea, especially in the workplace. If, for example, you work in a large office, you’ll want to be able to find your computer/laptop straight away. Putting a label on it could save you time in trying to find it, especially if you feel like you’ve mislaid it somewhere after a meeting.

Asset labelling is useful too. It can be used to track your tech if it goes missing or gets stolen. As seareach.plc.uk point out, it’s useful for devices other than computers as well. It could be used to keep track of printers, scanners, tablet PCs, photocopiers, monitors or even items of furniture such as tables, chairs and sofas.

How maintenance can lengthen the life of your tech

Kitchen appliances are very expensive and in the current struggling economic climate making do and looking after these expensive items is more important than ever. Below, are some tips to help you go the extra mile for your machines and make their lives longer.

Air purifiers and humidifiers need regular filter changes and routine deep cleaning to ensure they continue to work efficiently. Bosch appliances often give alerts on their items when they need filters changing or maintaining in any way.

Their storage is also intrinsic to it’s good order, so when you’re stashing these away at the change of the season make sure it will not be knocked or leaked upon.

A mug of coffeeCoffee makers are known for their short life span, which makes sense as it is used so often as well as left switched on for long periods of time. To keep the insides of your pride and joy working a great tip is to process a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar, followed by a couple of clear water run. This will ensure the mineral build up will be removed and the coffee will come out tasting like you’ve bought a new machine.

The dishwasher is one appliance that does often get cleaned but not to the extent it needs. This is essential to ensure the cleanliness of your cutlery and crockery, so just bunging in a dishwasher cleaner tab isn’t enough on its own. Mould often accrues around the rubber seal, due to being damp so much of the time, this needs to be cleaned with mould and mildew spray or if severe enough, completely replaced.

The clothes dryer is another appliance that is fairly easily damaged. It is common for people to overload their dryers, as they don’t know how much weight it can comfortably cope with. By doing this, the belt is stretched and damaged which is costly to repair. You can also save energy as well money and operating time by using the correct settings, so make sure you read that manual as it could hold many benefits!

Freezers should ideally be located away from direct light sources or heat as this affects the items efficiency. Removing ice from the interior improves airflow and helps to maintain the optimum freezer temperature.

To keep your fridge ticking over there are several things you can do to help it. The compressor coils located at the back can be vacuumed to keep them dust free and help to maintain the correct temperature. A seal in perfect condition will also help this as well as avoiding leaving the door stood open for prolonged amounts of time.

The hoover has fairly simple needs in that changing the dust bag and the filter are about all it needs and should be done regularly as well as checking the hose and attachments for debris blocking the suction, making the appliance less efficient.

Dealing with emails

Emails.

We all get them – well, I am assuming…

If you are in business or academia, then you probably get a lot; sometimes an overwhelming amount.

It is also not uncommon to have more than one email address, nowadays, many sites actually try to get you to sign up for one – take Google and Facebook for example.

An @ symbol in an envelopeIn order to deal with the vast quantity of electronic mail we receive many of us choose to collate all our emails in one place. Some choose Outlook, some Thunderbird, and others Gmail.

One common theme between [almost] all mailboxes, be it online or a dedicated program, is folders. You can create folders to file your messages. Do you use these folders effectively though?

Is your mailbox a manic mess, or a well organised, tidy space? If you think you would be interested in some simple email tips, read on.

A while back, a well respected blogger (who I follow) named Ari Herzog wrote a post containing his tips to improve your email efficiency. The main points he made were:

  1. Create folders and set filters to move emails into folders – this makes things more manageable and means emails are sorted into orderly folders, so you know where to find things
  2. Keep your inbox empty – this tip I was a little confused by at first, but now I understand Ari’s reasoning, it makes a lot of sense. At the end of each day, make sure all your emails are either filed into their relevant folder, or in a ‘to do’ folder, so you know which messages require your attention
  3. Don’t check your emails every 5 minutes – a valid point, as you can waste a lot of time checking your messages. The way I handle new emails is I have Outlook running in the background all the time, and every 10-15 minutes or so it auto-checks for new mail, it gives me a quick preview, and if it’s urgent, I see to it, if not, I leave it and visit Outlook later
  4. Unsubscribe from junk – this is one of the tips on the top of my list too, if you are signed up to receive updates from companies/websites that you rarely if ever find useful, unsubscribe! Famously, the biggest lie on the internet is the word ‘unsubscribe’ as in many cases it doesn’t work, but companies like Wal-Mart and Shell are obliged to honour the request when you request to no longer receive their mail
  5. Check your spam folder every so often, as things get caught by mistake – I have found this a real issue in the past, so have turned off the spam folder function in my email client, I just delete it as soon as it comes in, and if it persists, I set a filter (rule) to set it to be deleted upon being received

I likes Ari’s tips, which is why I thought I would share them (and my view of them) with you.

The one I was most curious about was point number 2 – keep your inbox empty. I like the idea, but is that really practical? My personal way of dealing with messages there is to keep them unread until I have dealt with them. This does sometimes lead to a massive backlog, which can be left not dealt with for months on end! Higher property emails are always dealt with.

Short But Sweet

Too many emails are a problem, there is no doubt in that. Wouldn’t you love it if all the emails you got were short, concise and to the point?

Too much time is wasted writing unnecessarily long emails, and reading them.

In 2013 I have made a pledge to myself to evaluate long emails before I send them, to see if I can reduce the size. I feel that doing this enables you to express yourself better, and your email is more likely to be read, and sooner – many of us put off reading those long emails until later.

If you want to go a step further, why not make sure that all of your messages are five lines or less? If all your emails were just five sentences, how easy would they be to deal with.

If you are interested in this, there is a handy link you can put in your email footer to let people know about the way you write your emails. Visit 5 sentences or less, which suggests:

“Treat all email responses like SMS text messages, using a set number of letters per response. Since it’s too hard to count letters, we count sentences instead.”

Why not give it a go?

Signature

On a final note, think about your signature. Keep it simple. Email signatures take up unnecessary space. If you have just emailed someone, they probably know your email address, so don’t bother including that. Logos make emails much bigger and some email systems block them anyway, so they are a waste of time.

A signature being signedSay who you are and give the person a link to where they can find out more.

My Technology Bloggers signature:

Christopher – Technology Bloggers Admin Team

www.technologybloggers.org

or you can link to a profile like about.me – see below:

Christopher

about.me/ChristopherRoberts

Over to You

So what is your view on emails? Do you use multiple email clients, or try to gather all your messages together into one? How do you deal with your messages, and is it an effective method? If so why, and if not why not?