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The Which? Tech team’s New Year resolutions

Robot next to 2011 sign

Wow, it’s 2011. While you’re recovering from your New Year partying excess, have you thought about any resolutions for the coming months? Which? Tech has and they’re here to help make 2011 your best ever.

Happy New Year everyone! Hopefully you enjoyed 2010 without any regrets, but if you feel the need to improve upon last year’s efforts we’re here to share our New Year resolutions.

What should we change about our technological lifestyles in 2011?

Matt Bath: Time for an online privacy audit

What does Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft and countless other online services and websites know about me? I’m not sure, which is rather sobering, but now that the New Year fog has lifted, I’m going to find out.

Bowing to privacy calls, technology companies are inching – painfully – towards telling us what information they hold about us. They’re finally starting to grasp that we might not actually want our internet usage tracked, shared, collated, rolled up and sold off to advertisers. Not that I’ve got anything to hide – apart from an unhealthy need for a technology news fix – but I’m going to make full use of this.

A few starting points: visit your dashboard at www.google.com/dashboard to see what Google knows about you (lots!), opt out of behavioural advertising at Your Online Choices and Google, and try installing Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 (if you have Windows 7) as it’ll let you choose who and what will track you when you’re online. Then, it’ll be back to the hangover…

Andrew Vandervell: Buy myself a decent camera

Cameraphones may be all the rage these days, but a footballing truism still applies – form is temporary, class is permanent. Convenient they might be, but to capture the splendour of the Lake District on a sun-kissed winter morning, nothing does the job like a high-quality dedicated camera. That’s why I’m set on buying a proper camera this year.

There’s a staggering selection of Which? Best Buy cameras available these days. Entry-level Digital SLRs start at just £350 for some older models, and compact ‘mirrorless’ cameras mean a good camera needn’t be bulky. And with many new models doubling as high-quality HD camcorders as well, there’s never been a better time to invest in a camera.

Ben Stevens: Back-up my digital photos

My PC began playing up as I was working from home a few weeks ago. It then crashed and wouldn’t reboot. At first I was peeved – the day’s work had been a waste – but then the realisation that I’d lost loads of photos kicked in. This relegated the lost work to a minor annoyance.

On my friend’s laptop I checked my external hard drive to see exactly what had been lost – I had backed up about 50% of my photos (and all my holidays were safe), but I’d lost the rest. Each day since then I’ve remembered another photo album I’ve lost – I wish I’d backed them all up. Sure, the task can be a nuisance, but from here on in I’ll always keep at least two digital copies of everything.

Ceri Stanaway: Kill technological multitasking

Today’s gadgets are portable, easy-to-use and ‘on-demand’, but these very advantages also result in bad habits – for me at least. A ‘relaxing’ evening at home often consists of me sitting on the sofa with up to four pieces of tech sharing my attention. My TV will be playing one of my favourite shows (scheduled perfectly courtesy of my PVR) but rather than focusing on the programme I’ve made the effort to record, it’s not uncommon for me to be simultaneously tapping away on my laptop while also taking a call on my smartphone.

The result? I lose the plot of the TV show, forget what I was searching for on my laptop, and the person at the end of the line unfairly gets short shrift. It’s time to cut down on the technology multitasking and give each (expensive) device the attention it deserves.

Abi Smith: Switch broadband provider

I say this every year, but this time I mean it – I absolutely must switch my internet service provider (ISP). I’m fed up with paying through the nose for a ridiculously slow connection at peak times. All I want is a service where I can almost go off and make a cup of tea in the time it takes for a YouTube video to load up.

So this year is the year of the switch for me. I’ve already opened up a webmail account and told all my contacts to use that instead of my ISP’s email address. Friends and colleagues have assured me that changing ISP is a painless process these days, so what am I waiting for? Right, I’ve convinced myself. I’m going to switch.

Will you be taking up any of these technology resolutions? Or maybe you’ve got others to add?

robert smith says:
7 February 2012

First I wish you would publish this. That way more people would get to know that they are not the only ones who are constantly cheesed of with the incompetence of your system.
I want info on “portable external hard drives” to allow me to back up some of my mac.
I enter portable and pick up on your heading “portable external hard drives” and press go and what do I get. Let me tell you.
On page one there is just one item for a LaCie little big disk,{ a portable external hard drive”.
The other ELEVEN items tell me about keeping my data safe, 5 ways to back up, cheap laptops, gpflex satellite, tech christmas presents, digital camera accessories, windows 7 housekeeping ,best net book etc,etc.
God only knows what is on the other 3 pages.
I didn’t find out because I have almost lost the will to live.
PLEASE, when are you morons going to realise that if I and millions and millions and millions of others want a specific question answered we would much prefer a specific answer and not be led up the garden path.
I know you are only doing what you are told but that does not say a lot about your bosses does it.
Please don’t say you only do it that way because others do it that way just compounds the fact that you really do not know what your customers want, and, indeed, do you really care.
If you did you would open up a survey on what your clients thought about you and the way you act .
Please publish this.
And please tell me, Where ca I get, from you, information on portable external hard drives.

Hello Robert, sorry you’re having trouble. You can find the Which? external hard drive reviews here: http://www.which.co.uk/technology/computing/reviews/hard-drives/

Also if you’re having any particular trouble with computing issues, you can contact our Computing Helpdesk here: http://www.which.co.uk/magazine/computing/

If you’d like to contact us, or make a complaint, you can do so on this page: http://www.which.co.uk/about-which/contact-us/send-us-a-message/

Thanks, Patrick