New Year’s resolutions for geeks and how to keep them

By Arnab Mukherjee | Published on 02 Jan 2017
New Year’s resolutions for geeks and how to keep them

It’s that time of the year again, where promises to oneself are made to be broken. But not anymore!

New year resolutions have become an annual joke for most of us – we make them with total dedication on day one of a new year and sometimes fail to keep them the very next day. Rather than looking at them as a cultural phenomenon that you need to follow, seeing them as an effective way to change things in your life is a much better thing to do. And if you allow technology to help you keep them, there is actually no way that you’re going to fail. Here are some resolutions that geeks should find easy to keep with the help of technology.

I will keep track of my money
One of the most popular resolutions – one that even fails as popularly – is the one we all make, to save money. Somehow, even though we try to keep track of every single rupee, at the end of each month we have to get really lucky to have some money left with us. Well, why does this happen? Mostly because at any given point of time, we have to rely on our mental estimates to track how much money we have. In fact, relying on mental estimates not only botches up the overall number but even leads to misconceptions regarding which area of spending needs more focus.

There are too many money management apps out there for anyone to even try to complain about not having what they want. Whether you want location-based tracking (Wally+), or something that supports family input (HomeBudget), or bill splitting features and more extra features (Walnut) there is literally something for everyone. So the next time you think about saying that you can’t save - have a look at your smartphone

I will not pre-order!
This cannot be stressed enough - do not pre-order games. Or devices, for that matter. Companies that make these things are repeatedly using pre-order as a mechanism to push their product even before actual launch. What does this do? It leads to a situation where a lot of people get a product without knowing if it’s good or bad, or if it’s even compatible with your existing set of gadgets.

Also, if a game gives you pre-order bonuses that actually help you win better, you know that the game isn’t being fair. There are players who have waited for the actual launch and they deserve an equal chance too. An easy way to avoid the urge to pre-order is to think about all the other games that you can buy with the money you don’t spend on pre-orders, especially during a Steam sale.

I will not be biased towards or against any particular brand
Essentially, don’t be a fanboy and don’t be a hater. Neither does you any good. For starters – being a fanboy makes you blind to the flaws of the company and its product. Apple fanboy? Accept that the dongle-hungry Macbook was a bad design decision. Windows fanboy? Silently think about Windows 8 whenever you feel the urge to hate.

On the other hand, being a hater makes you blind to products or features from a certain company which are actually good. What could you do? Why it’s simple! Just don’t be biased – see every product as a fresh launch and give every company an equal opportunity to win your favour. Grudges and biases never did any good.

I will get into shape
You must know how important this is – especially for us geeks who mostly spend our days sitting on a chair in a stagnant position in front of a computer screen we’ve been staring at for waaaayyyy too long. You will be horrified to find out that a number of spinal problems, heart diseases and other old age issues are now very common in the below-30 demography. So, this time, don’t ignore the health resolution.

How can you keep it? Get apps like Nike+ Training Club on your phone. This one, in particular, suggests workout plans depending on your requirements. And once you get started on a plan, each workout comes with detailed demonstrations of each particular exercise and follow-up queries to dynamically adjust the plan depending on how it’s working out for you. Along with this, get a fitness tracker. Before you smirk - they work. They might not be entirely accurate, at least the lower-end ones, but having one gives you a rough idea of how much you walk, your non-moving durations, etc. And knowledge is power, my friend.

I will not procrastinate
This year – get everything done. Gone are the days when you had to rely solely on your memory and willpower to actually be responsible and active. There are a number of note-taking apps out there and our favourite is Google Keep. It is the perfect combination of simplicity and versatility. To begin with, Keep allows you to colour code your notes so that you can identify which note is about which topic easily. Within notes, Keep allows to create checklists and tick them off.

Keep also allows you to set reminders for certain notes, even repeated ones. So each day, at a particular time, a note could pop-up showing your monthly goals. And if you’ve had trouble getting up for all this to happen - get Rock Clock! Now! In this app, you set goals, to begin with, and each day your alarm reminds you of that goal with a motivational message from none other than Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. And yeah, this doesn’t have a snooze button, Rock’s not a big fan of that one!

I will go cashless
While the debate around the recent demonetization move still rages on, there is no doubt that a digital economy and digital payments are actually beneficial to the country – and you, for that matter. For starters, on every digital payment, you’re assured that the money is accounted for and the service you’re paying for will be given to you. No flying blind with cash. Also, with digital payments, your entire finance is mapped out appropriately so you pay the tax that is due, not more, not less.

Along with that, of course, digital payments are way too easy these days and almost everyone is doing them. It leaves no requirement for you to carry pocket change and each time you transfer the money, by design you get a receipt - so no more trouble with those reimbursements! And on top of that, most digital wallets offer tonnes of cashback offers and discounts so you’ll be saving a hell lot of money for that next config upgrade you’ve been planning.

Also, do try out UPI, it’s a pretty neat way to transfer money without revealing any of your bank or personal details. It works on top of the existing IMPS infrastructure and payments are as easy as sending an email. There are tonnes of UPI applications to choose from because UPI is bank agnostic in terms of which app you use.

I will learn one new language this year
One of the most interesting skills that one can pick up over a year’s time is a new language. You might think that there’s no point in learning another language like French, Japanese, Spanish, etc., but then you’d be very, very wrong. Learning a new language opens up doors to a lot of things – meeting and interacting with new people, the ability to watch movies and read books in that language, and once, someday when you travel to that country you won’t be a tourist, you’ll be a traveller. To learn a new language, there are apps like Duolingo which have gamified the process. Duolingo takes you through an entire course where you earn points for your achievements in the learning process. It’s a lot of fun.

And when we talk about language, we also mean computer languages. If that’s your thing, definitely learn a new programming language because gone are the days when knowing just one language really well would be enough to be a good programmer. There are tonnes of resources available online, like free courses from platforms like Udacity, free web tutorials from the likes of W3Schools and more.

I will definitely try one new piece of tech
We often end up looking at the latest piece of tech and sighing, “I wish I could get my hands on these”. That’s the thing - you can! In today’s world, no piece of technology is truly inaccessible - be it AR, VR, drones or anything else. All you need to do is go out and get your hands dirty. There are tonnes of exhibitions and makerspaces that have sprung up all over the country, which let you play around with these things. On top of that, experiences like VR and AR are becoming more accessible every day – both in terms of price and usability.

And if nothing else works then take the DIY route - use Digit’s workshops and FastTracks and tonnes of other online sources that can get you going. You can order your materials from an online store – there are dedicated stores for almost every niche tech enthusiast market. Who knows, you might actually end up building something that completely revolutionises the field!

I will not pirate
This one is non-negotiable. You don’t deserve to call yourself a gamer or a fan if you actually pirate someone’s work off the internet. There are literally teams of people who’ve worked hard over months, sometimes years to make the thing that is now sitting on your computer for free. The least we could do is pay them what they deserve.

For games, if you cannot afford them at the moment they are launched you won’t lose out on a lot. In fact, you will get to know if it’s good or bad by the time you can buy it. And if you really want it all - save up. Our best bet is the Steam summer sale every year.

For movies, services like Amazon Prime Video have made things really accessible, and now there’s literally no excuse for you to pirate your favourite movies or TV shows for that matter. C’mon, show your support and get an actual online streaming account on the website of your choice.

Everything from books to music now has dedicated online platforms that not only make things easier to get, but also cheaper. If you are a true geek you will understand how another geek would feel to see something they’ve worked on for months being shamelessly stolen right in front of their eyes.

I will educate
Yes, there are noobs in this world. There are people around all of us who are not tech savvy, or even tech friendly to begin with. That doesn’t give you the right to make fun of them and ridicule their inability. Always remember that there was a time when you didn’t know half of the tech things that you do now. As a geek, it is your responsibility to teach and educate others around you about the merits, and even the demerits, of technology. 

Teach someone how to experience VR through their smartphone, share some learning resources with someone, show someone how to use a mobile wallet - trust us, these things will feel great when you see that person effortlessly doing the things you’ve just taught them. Not to sound cheesy, but you WILL be making the world a better place for technology.

This article was first published in the January 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit's articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit e-magazine app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit's previous issues here.

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