Putting my New Year’s energy to good use

tasks I’m not really a fan of New Year’s resolutions, though like many people I often feel re-energized at the start of a new year. Instead of putting that energy into a list of year-long tasks or goals that would inevitably be abandoned, I decided this year that I’d try to capitalize on that energy to accomplish a few things I often put off. I settled on three things: passwords, backups, and bills.

I feel pretty good about my strategy for passwords, with one exception – I don’t change my passwords often enough. Sometimes I get lazy and use an existing password when I sign up for a new site, but the important sites all have unique, randomly generated, strong passwords (well as strong as they can be…I still can’t believe that banks don’t allow special characters and long lengths). It’s good security practice to change passwords regularly, but that never seems to happen. Over the last week, I’ve changed all my passwords. I started with the list of sites and services that I use regularly, and changed everything else as it came up. I’m sure there are a few that I’ve missed, and I’ll change them the next time I need to login. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be actually!

The second thing I tackled was backups. Despite having pretty good systems in place to backup Paramagnus stuff, I don’t have a good process for my personal stuff. I still don’t, but I did manage to accomplish a few things. First, I bought a new hard drive and copied everything from my existing data drive onto it. I’ll store the old one somewhere safe now. Second, I backed up a bunch of stuff to Amazon S3. It’s inexpensive, fast, and easy. Lately I’ve been using CloudBerry Explorer, it’s a great app! I’m going to try to back up important data more regularly, but that’ll be an ongoing thing.

The final thing I did? I turned off paper bills. I logged into every site that I currently receive something in the mail for and found that almost all of them have a “go paperless” button buried somewhere in the interface (some call it “change notification options” or something similar). I typically shred bills as soon as they arrive anyway, so why receive them at all? I do everything online, and I have no need for the physical copies. Now it’ll really be a unique experience to receive something in the mail!

I’ve got a number of things on the go that require time and energy of course, but these were my “New Year’s tasks” if you want to call them that. Anyone else shun resolutions in favor of accomplishing something right away?

10 thoughts on “Putting my New Year’s energy to good use

  1. Bank’s don’t allow special characters?
    I dunno where you bank but TD Canada allows special characters like @#*% and so on and numbers too.. Atleast that’s how I use mine..

  2. I do bank with TD Canada Trust. Go try to change your password, this is what it says:

    “When changing your password, please remember that it must be between 5 and 8 characters in length and should contain both letters and numbers. Special characters (e.g. #, &, @) must not be used as they will not be accepted by the system. Passwords consisting of all letters or all numbers are not recommended.”

  3. I too eschewed News Years resolutions, although I did make a couple of resolutions concurrent with the new year (I need to start flossing again…).

    You have new energy at the start of a new year?! Good for you then. 😛 I’m still trying to figure out what happened to November. I think I sold it online….

    I envy your paperlessness! It appears that I am doomed to receive paper no matter what I do. I bank with BMO, and I contacted them asking if I could stop receiving monthly account statements by mail. I never open these; they’re already out of date by the time they arrive, and I can always check my balance online. Their response was that I couldn’t do this.

    Similarly, I once received a phone call from a UNICEF representative. I’ve donated to them a couple of times, so I was on their newsletter mailing list. The representative asked me if I would like to switch to their email newsletter instead, as it saves paper and costs for them. Of course, I agreed. I still get the paper newsletter and have yet to see an email from UNICEF.

    These both happened a while ago, so maybe it’s worth trying again … maybe I can get a more sympathetic CSR at BMO….

  4. I tend to sleep a lot over the Xmas holiday, so that’s probably why I have a bit more energy 🙂

    I would definitely try again. It seems to me that services have made it easier to go paperless in the last while. There are a few that say something like “it’ll take effect after your next one or two statements” but I think that’s just to cover themselves in case of timing or an error.

    There are a few things I suppose I am still receiving, now that you mention newsletters, such as the UofA Alumni newsletter. I’ll have to look into how to stop those.

  5. RBC allows special characters in passwords. And, I don’t think they have a limit to the number of characters you’re allowed to use, either. I make sure to use a strong password, that includes special characters, numbers, etc. for my banking password. I’ve never heard of a bank that doesn’t allow it.

    One site that gets me is Digg. The site started off as a site that focused strongly on tech news, meaning that most of the users were/are tech-savvy. Yet, for some reason, their passwords only allows alphanumeric characters—no special characters allowed. That said, I’m not sure how much I’d actually care if someone hacked my Digg account. My bank account on the other hand…

  6. Not big on the resolutions myself, but I found your comments about passwords and bills interesting (since Jan. is Get Organized Month ;-). The reason why I stayed away from getting online bills for so long is that each company would require the setup of a user name and password to get your bill, which is just so much of a problem for me because they always have different rules and I forget what I set it up as. I started using epost.ca last year thinking that would be a great solution. It wasn’t at first because I think only one of my bills was available there, but now I’m up to four and an in email I received from Shaw the other day, sounds like they are looking at it too. In the end, Canada Post wins for making my life simpler.

  7. How about giving back as a new years resolution. Electronic Recycling Association in Edmonton could sure use some volunteers.

    Volunteers wanted . Fixing computers for charities. The Era is looking for
    volunteers to help fix computers and electronic for donation to charity. ERA
    collects computers, laptops, monitors, lcds, servers and electronics for
    donation and recycling. Volunteers can earn a free computer for spending
    time at ERA and helping out. Volunteers can earn a free laptop for spending
    time at ERA and helping.

  8. Adam – that is bizarre re: Digg!

    Diane – I looked at epost way back when and just didn’t find a need for it. Cool it works for you though!

    Neil – cool, I’m always looking for tech-related volunteer opportunities, thanks!

  9. Thank you for mentioning CloudBerry Explorer in your blog! I am glad you find it useful! I hope your readers will find it useful too!

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