The end of the year is a great time to start throwing around lists of stuff. As I started reflecting on 2009, I thought about all the technology that I used and how I wish others had know about it as well! So here it is – the nine things I wish you had tried in 2009! (Not in any order)
Full Disclosure: I was not paid to write these nice things and it is solely my own opinion. If you have one, leave a comment below.
- Skype – http://www.skype.com – I use this Voice over IP (VOIP) application all the time to talk with friends and family all over the world. It free for PC to PC use and a small fee for PC to Phone. We even use it to record all our podcasts. The video chat is still the best part! It’s been around for awhile (like 2003?), but seems to be gaining in popularity again.
- Facebook – http://www.facebook.com – I predicted last year that Facebook would be on it’s way out by now and that we would have moved on to something else. While that might be right among the tech crowd, that couldn’t be more wrong among the masses, with over 350 million users now and wild growth every day. If you are one of the last holdouts not on FB, give in and give it a try. Heck, my mom is even on it!
- Windows 7 – http://www.microsoft.com/windows – With it’s release on October 22, it was everything Microsoft had promised with Windows Vista, just 3 years late. As an OS, it new, fresh, fast and fixed (mostly). If you have a PC running Vista, it’s worth the upgrade. If you have a PC running XP (see note about how to reuse it on #4), buy a new PC running Window 7. You will be glad you did.
- Windows Home Server (WHS) – http://www.microsoft.com/windowshomeserver – It’s one of the cheapest and best keep secrets at Microsoft! If you are looking for a neat, clean and easy way to back up your the PCs you own, there is nothing better. It also makes network files sharing (like you do at work) a breeze! You can even use and old PC that has out lived it’s usefulness (like that XP PC that I told you to ditch) and a $100 OEM version with a couple of larger hard drives. Easier yet, purchase an HP MediaSmart Server. (More info at http://www.homeservershow.com)
- Microsoft Security Essentials – http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials – For years now we have been over paying for antivirus solutions! In 2009, Microsoft changed the rules. Security Essentials is a full service solution to protect your PC from all that is bad on the internet. It’s light, takes very few resources and best of all, IT IS FREE! Uninstall that bloated package you are currently running and give this a try.
- Malwarebytes – http://www.malwarebytes.org/ – So why another security tool if Security Essentials is enough? It’s always good to have a back up! Malware bytes is a tools that can identify and remove malicious software from your computer that others have missed. It has some of the best scanning I have ever seen. The free version does not have any scheduling abilities, so I run it manually about once a month. Just a good practice!
- Google Chrome – http://www.google.com/chrome – Most people are stuck in a rut using the IE web browser because it came with their computer and they are afraid of trying anything else. In case you didn’t know, there are other options. To be fair, I use IE and Firefox too, but Chrome just works best for me. Try all three and decide yourself. It doesn’t hurt to have them all installed on your PC. Just know that you have choices.
- A Podcast – The typical response I get to that is, “What’s a podcast?” A podcast is a series of media files (either audio or video) that are released regularly (like a TV show) for download through some type of web syndication. Podcasts can be found simply in iTunes (found by searching in the iTunes store) or via a site like http://podcast.com/. Think of it like a recorded radio broadcast or TV show that you can download and consume on your time schedule. The best thing about them is that they come in all flavors and on just about any topic. Most of the time they are also done by enthusiasts who really care about the subject they are covering. A good example (of course) would be the podcast that I help with. http://homeservershow.com/category/podcast. Try it once!
- Twitter – http://twitter.com/ – Similar to Facebook, Twitter is a free social networking service that connects people with short, text based posts. Tweets, as they are called, are 140 character messages or “micro-blogging” bits that are send or received by users. Great for ideas like “crowd sourcing” or gathering friends for a “tweet up.”