Here is a list of 2014 resolutions I wish to recommend to friends. You are welcome to take zero, one or more.
- Validate information you find on the internet.
A surprising number of friends on Facebook and on twitter, hasten to post links to parody articles on the internet in the hope to be the first to share the news. In 2013 I saw even some of the trustworthy friends share parody and satirical articles as though they are true. Such included Samsung paying Apple in coins, a US or Russian university offering a course in blow job, a quote attributed to Kanye West on Mandela’s death and many others.
It has become harder to tell fact from fiction on the internet, particularly since there are websites dedicated to generating satirical news. Most of these sites declare themselves as such if you read their Disclaimer, but I doubt many people care to read that. Another way to validate is to google the article to validate it. Some of the result links may show the denouncement of the story or some verification websites would list the story as a hoax.
I do this often before sharing links and if I am lazy to do it, I decide not to share the link at all.
- If you use internet banking (it’s 2014 already), you might want to register on 22seven.com
Founded over a year ago, the website provides a service that reads your bank statement and tells you in simplified graphical form where all your money goes. The service costs R25 a month.
I am sure there are many alternatives to it on the internet but this is the only South African one I know that is registered with many South African banks.
I didn’t subscribe to it for about a year after registering it as a trial. Old Mutual bought or took over the company that provides the service in 2013. I have since registered and pay the R25 a month subscription to it.
I used to have an excel spreadsheet to try and understand my spending patterns better. I find that 22seven is more convenient than managing a very long spreadsheet.
- Register on Dropbox.com
Registration is free and gives you 2GB free space that you can use to store your important files that you never want to lose. If you have a folder on your computer where you store important files, you can install dropbox and let it upload all those files to the internet. In case your computer crashes or your laptop is stolen, you can have all the files that were in that folder by simply logging in to dropbox.com
You can also access files from anywhere and anytime including on your phone.
It is tragic to read about how a friend lost some important files because the computer was stolen, the USB flash drive or external hard drive are broken or lost Dropbox.com keeps your files safe. Even those you accidentally delete are kept for a few weeks just in case you want to restore them.
This is called cloud computing, it might be time you joined in, it’s 2014.
I am registered on Dropbox.com and currently have about 52GB of space because owning a Samsung S4 gives you 50GB free which ordinarily would cost you.
- Register on mytransunion.co.za
This is a service that gives you access to your credit record. There are many providers of this service in South Africa but I am sharing mytransunion.co.za because that is the one I use.
It gives you a free credit record report once a year. But you can buy one anytime you want for R40.
There is also a 12 month anytime access that costs R280. That is the one I have. I am able to see how exactly my credit record looks anytime I want.
It is hard to explain the benefit of this. Perhaps if I had never been blacklisted in my life, I would not have registered. But since I have been blacklisted and would like to avoid it in future, I prefer to monitor the credit record to ensure it stays clean.
- Install WordWeb from wordweb.com
This is just a dictionary. Having learned English in black schools as a 2nd Language, I find that my command and the comprehension of the language is extremely poor. As such, every time I read, I need to have a dictionary to check the words I don’t understand. Also when I write, I need a dictionary to be sure I am using the right word at a right place, correctly. For the past few years I have been using WordWeb. It is installed on my laptop where I am typing this. If I come across a difficult word such as “stoicism” which I just read from Fidel Castro’s article on Mandela’s death, I simply highlight the word and press Ctrl+Alt+W and WordWeb shows up with a definition and synonyms of the word.
The added beauty of WordWeb is that it is free and available offline (without internet connection). Since using I started using Samsung S4 Mini, I discovered that it is also available on Play Store for free and on Apple Store on my iPad for free as well. I am able to check words anytime and anywhere using my phone. WordWeb also have the variant of South African English, which makes things easier for spelling.
Obviously there are alternatives such as typing define:word on google search but I still prefer WordWeb. I use the google alternative if I cannot find a word on WordWeb.
- Vote ANC
As you may be aware, there are elections coming up in 2014, probably sometime in the first half of the year. The date is not officially out yet. The less said about other political parties, the better.
There are very many things that I, personally, am unhappy about about the ANC. There are a lot of things that some in the ANC, in various levels, are not doing right. However, on the bigger scheme of things, the ANC remains the only organisation is committed to the betterment of the lives of the people both in word and deed. The other weaknesses will certainly be resolved within the next few years, through the actions of its membership.
Maybe I will elaborate at another time, the importance of voting ANC. For now it is important to leave it here for friends to take up as a 2014 resolution. I will definitely vote ANC in 2014.
Do not miss an opportunity to register to vote on 08 and 09 February 2014.
- Install Ladytimer on Android
I am not sure whether this is available on Apple products but you can install the app if you use Samsung and probably other Android smartphones or tablets.
This free app lets you monitor your or your partner’s menstrual cycle. You need to enter the start and the end of the period for one month, it will then give you date estimates for fertility, ovulation and periods for the successive months.
Unfortunately, I have never used this app. I am sure there is some usefulness to it.
- If you have an Apple product, install and activate Find My iPhone
This app will help you find your iPhone or iPad in case it is lost. You can simply login to icloud.com to see the exact location of your iPhone or iPad. The services is free.
I use this service on my iPad.
- If you have an Android smartphone you can install AirDroid
This app will help you find your Samsung or other Android product if it is lost. You can simply login to airdroid.com to fine your device and even to control it. Read smses, see missed calls, send smses and do many more remotely without having the device with you.
Do not install this on your partner’s phone and use it to spy on them. I have written about the wrongness of that in this blog before.
I use this service on Samsung S4 Mini.
- Google stuff before asking for help
Unless you are doing it just to be seen to be in contact with the person, google stuff first before asking other people for help. Obviously this applies to certain stuff not everything.
For example, earlier today, a friend asked me for Jimmy Manyi’s number. I do not know Jimmy Many personally but his number, if it has not changed, is all over the internet on all the Cabinet Statements he used to issue while he was the Government Spokesperson or GCIS CEO.
There is a lot of other information that is available on the internet. You just need to learn to separate useful information from all the other junk. The only way to learn this is to start searching for and using the information.
It should not be the case that in 2014, there are Facebook friends who only use the internet for Facebook as though some of the information they need is not on the internet.
I have read a lot on the internet from complex things such as programming to easy things such as baking the classic cheesecake.
- If you are on twitter (it’s 2014), follow the journalists
I follow all types of characters on twitter. But I find that following certain resourceful journalists is enriching. Most resourceful journalists tend to tweet news as they break in press conferences or certain major events such as court proceedings and so on. Their tweets give you instant breaking news in short manageable bites of information. By the time their editors have filtered the articles that appear on the newspaper the following day, you would already have a clue of what happened. The non-exhaustive list of journos or news accounts to follow are @bdlivesa @ewnreporter @carienduplessis @ngalwas @bhinstintsi @stephengrootes @jamesstyan @verashni @barrybateman @sowetanlive @iol @mybroadband @timeslive @mailandguardian and many others. However, some of the journos let they prejudice cloud their tweets, be careful when consuming the information on tweets.
You can also follow some corporate accounts such as @vodacom @Samsung and others to get product/service information.
I follow all of the accounts I have recommended here and more.
In each of these I have mentioned whether I do what I have recommended or not. That should bring enough comfort for those who want to take up any of the resolutions. I recommend you read more on each before asking me further questions on it. Besides, I am not an expert in any of the information I have shared here so I am not the best person to ask.
I have forgot other recommendations that have crossed my mind but will I will return to update this article in case I remember anything.