By Luke Muise
Keeping up with advances in technology is a job all on its own. Every other day something new comes along, promising to revolutionize the way we work, socialize, or otherwise handle tasks that are suddenly crucial. Not every aspect of technology will help you in your career or your life, but there are definitely a few that you should know to keep up with the changing digital landscape.
Manage Your Online Reputation
The easiest way to manage your online reputation is to not post anything online that you wouldn’t want anyone else to know about. No matter what your privacy settings think of social networks as open systems.
Mistakes do happen though; it’s not out of the question for someone to post something without you knowing until its too late. Or maybe someone has an axe to grind, and you or your business happen to be the target. There are websites out there that can help make push unwanted things downwards in search engine results. If you want to have some control over your own online reputation you need to get proactive. Here is a helpful post on how to manage your online fame (or infamy).
Be Search Engine Literate
Search engines are usually pretty good at finding what you’re looking for, but finding specific pages can prove tricky; especially if those pages don’t get much traffic. There are simple commands you can give search engines to make sure you find exactly what you want to. These symbols will allow you to find specific phrases, exclude certain words or differentiate search terms, all of which make research a whole lot easier.
Make Sure You Back Up Your Data
Backing up data is not a difficult thing to do, but it is an invaluable one. If your hard drive crashes and you didn’t have your data backed up somewhere, it’s gone. The easiest way to back up your files is to buy an external hard drive. A one terabyte (1000 gigabyte) external hard drive costs $100-$200 and has enough memory to back up all of your pictures from your summer vacation several times over.
Innovations like cloud computing can store your data remotely, allowing you to access it on any device whenever you’re online. The biggest challenge with backing up data is remembering to do it, so set a date every month or every two weeks to back up your files – it could save you a massive headache later on. Here is a helpful video highlighting the best ways to back up your data, and another one that teaches you exactly how to use an external hard drive.
Make Sure Your Data Is Secure
There are plenty of programs and protocols out there that can help protect your data from being stolen or otherwise compromised. These are a good start, but as Lewis Kelly wrote in his article last month, given enough time, a hacker can get into anything if they’re good enough. So on top of having good security programs, you should also take matters into your own hands, starting with not using the same password for everything. This post will help you with some more advanced data securing techniques.
Learn Some Search Engine Optimization Techniques
When you Google your name or business, what is on the first page? Where do you appear? How about when you Google your name and the city you live in? Is your name so common that you don’t show up until the fourth page? Search engine optimization will help you get noticed by pushing your page up in search engine results. Do it well enough and you might end up on top. If you do it right the other John Smiths won’t know what hit them. Google has a whole PDF devoted to teaching you how to optimize your results; it doesn’t guarantee you’ll make the top page, but it’s an excellent starting point. It also has a robot that has green hair and likes flowers, for some reason.
Learn Some HTML
HTML is a language all on its own, but it’s one worth knowing. It wouldn’t be wise to travel to a foreign country without first learning some basic phrases in its native language. The same goes for the web. No one is saying you need to know how to create a rival for Facebook in a day, but knowing how to fix minor problems with text or color on a web page can be helpful. With a little practice, you can improve the overall presentation and effectiveness of your websites and online documents and perhaps your reputation too.
Learn to Edit Sound and Video
In grade school, every so often classes get assigned video projects. Despite the amount of fun groups have, teachers must want nothing less than to suddenly be struck blind and deaf. When nine or 10 years olds are armed with video cameras, editing boils down to hitting record, stopping when their partner inevitably messes up, rewinding it back to the part where they started recording, and recording over it. Somewhat like this, only with nine year olds trying to sell rocket-powered rollerblades. Videos or podcasts without a reasonable amount of competence won’t get taken seriously. Neither will you or your business. While you might not be producing it helps to know how the medium works.
If you want to be more technically competent than an elementary school kid, learning to edit video and sound is a good start. There are many programs you can download for free online that are relatively easy to use and will serve most of your editing needs. If you’re more serious, there are ones you can pay for that have more features. Not only is proper editing more professional, it can be a lot of fun to present things exactly the way you want to.