Digital Housekeeping

by Matt Ball on December 28, 2007

housecleaning.jpgFor the past fifteen years or so, I’ve taken this quiet holiday time to get my digital house in order. I pull all the various computers in my house together and give them a thorough digital and cosmetic cleaning. I also update all the operating systems and make sure that I have a thorough backup on DVD as well as on external hard drive.

Before backup, quite a bit of time is spent scrolling through the files to see what really needs to be kept. Thankfully, Web browsers are moving toward viewing all content in place, leaving far less download clutter than in years past.

I go through all the photos that I’ve taken and pull together a “best of the year” set. It’s so much easier than going through the shoe boxes of old, and from the set it’s easy to create a printed keepsake for the shelf.

I also work on software annoyances that have bugged me for some time, but that I haven’t taken the time to fix. I’m thankful to be on a completely Mac environment for this task. Gone are the days of Spyware Removal and complete re-installation of software. I’m also strongly considering a move to Google Docs free online word processing and spreadsheets — decidedly less clutter, it’s free and there are no issues with software updates.

Since going all-digital this year, I’m surprised by the much smaller document and image load. Rather than a ton of photos and document versions, folders of print-outs and a final paper product, I now have fewer files on my machine and almost no print outs, with files residing in central databases and all final content online.

I’m upgrading all machines to the latest OSX Leopard operating system. The “Shared Computers” function in this latest version has already saved me a great deal of hassle on the backup process. “Screen Sharing” will give me a much better handle on system administration, and will also let me monitor the kid’s after-school Internet surfing in a benevolent Big Brother kind of way. The new automatic “Time Machine” backup program will be a huge help for next year’s de-cluttering process.

I’ve just upgraded my personal machine to a MacBook Pro with an Intel Dual-Core chip that runs both Mac and Windows OS. This now gives me the capacity for software and Web compatibility testing rather than having to run two machines at once. I run a dual-monitor setup to give me some added screen real-estate and to keep writing and coding on one side with viewing on the other.

As I seem to spend more time online and in front of a keyboard every year, I’m happy to see that manufacturers are making progress on streamlining our systems. If I think back fifteen years, this year’s digital housekeeping exercise is far less frustrating and time consuming for the update and backup of four computers than the one PC that I owned back then.

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