10 Super Geeky Tips for the New Year

I'm usually not one for new year's resolutions. If I decide to do something the calendar doesn't matter & I've blown too many good resolutions to believe an arbitrary day will make a diff. BUT...there are a few things that are easily done & feels great for a SUPER GEEKY SAFE....errm Aware! New Year. (There is no *safe* on the Interwebs, only Aware!)

(click above for a larger size or download PDF it here)
1. Change your passwords. Yes, ALL of them.
According to CNN Tech an 8 digit password can be hacked in 2 hours but a 12 character password would take 17 years. Use this handy NEW! Comic Tutorial to create a really super new password for every website....don't worry, there's a trick! Oh and in the small print I said 3 important things - Change your passwords twice a year, have a different password for Facebook that you don't use for ANYwhere else because FB's security is notoriously craptastic (and the bank, too), and as a disclaimer - I'm not a security expert and nothing is foolproof.

2. Dump your cache, cookies, & clear history
At least once a year (I try quarterly) go around to every computer you use public & private -and dump the cache, clear your cookies, & browsing history.

3. Consolidate your Flashdrives
We all have a gajillion flashdrives floating around from 128mg's to 16gb's. Lazy Way: Gather them all up and create a folder on your external HD called flashdrive backups (or one folder per flashdrive) and drag all the stuff in there. Smart Way: Go through all those flashdrives & trash anything you really don't need & save only the archive worthy stuff. While you're at it - are those drives named? Do you have an .RTF doc on it that says "If found, Please Read" with your contact information? This might be a good time to get those on there. I give every new teacher to my school a new 4G flashdrive and yeah, sometimes they lose them (I'm looking at you Justin! LOL) So, even though it's super easy to carry around & save stuff in a pinch, you wanna give yourself a chance to get it back if lost. Now... throw some of those old flashdrives away & go on to the next tip.
dropbox.JPG4. Forget the flashdrive try the cloud!
Now that you've backed up your flashdrives consider using Dropbox, Amazon Prime storage, iCloud, or Google docs to save your stuff! Don't have Dropbox? I blogged about this amazing resource a couple months ago - get it by using THIS SPECIAL SECRET SQUIRREL LINK to register for dropbox & use your school email account and you'll get EXTRA FREE SPACE! (it's a geeky pyramid scheme but so worth it!) Dropbox allows you store your files online, easily share files with others, and sync your documents with multiple computers and mobile devices. I have it on my iPad and all my Macs both home and at school! This is a must have tool for educators! It's Free, Convenient, and Saves Time!
5. Edit your privacy settings & friendships
Facebook is notoriously changing their privacy settings (that's why I've had an on again and off again relationship with FB)- Google "latest facebook privacy settings" to read blogs with advice to double check that you're sharing what you want to share. Consider what you share and who you share it with. Also, look at your friends - are you really friends with them? Do they add to the conversation? Have they contributed lately? " While considering what's private and public, take time to evaluate what a "friend," "contact" or "follower" means to you and what types of information you share with different groups." (Quoted from the super AWEsome )

6. Be Transparent
If you haven't done it already, go for it! Though some still consider it a big leap for an educator on the intarwebs, I think that horse has already left the barn. I went transparent in 2009 after being inspired at NECC-DC. Sure, it's a little scary but worth it if you're building a PLN and wanting to make a "name" for yourself out there. And really? Our names are already "out there" best to craft how it shows up yourself & be a good role model for creating your own positive digital footprint. (Search this blog "digital footprint" to read more) So yeah, now I'm gwyneth jones here and on the Twitter in addition to my and my electronic portfolio and on my wikis.

7. Buy your name.
For $10 bucks a year you can own your own domain through Google Apps. You don't want to be the last person who has their own domain or let someone else get it. I was lazy in this, considered it back in the late 90's - went with Angelfire instead. That was stooopid. Wish I had grabbed Gwyneth Jones before the Welsh Opera singer & the Sci Fi YA Author! Ahh well! Now I have 2 domains! thedaringlibrarian.com for this blog and daringlibrarian.com for my electronic portfolio.
8. Get Wikified
Sure there are LibGuides & LiveBinders out there but nothing is so easy to use, flexible, FREE, & just a joy as a Wikispaces! So, if you're not ready to buy a domain but don't just want a school based web page? Create a FREE K-12 Wikispaces. Learn from my mistakes, when you sign up for the first time, use your own name or a variation thereof! I made the mistake back in 06 when I joined wikispaces of making it under my school name because my intention was for it to be a prof dev wiki... so I named it mhmsmedia for my wiki account -I've since changed it to http://thedaringlibrarian.wikispaces.com (Thanks Wikispaces!) Also, while we're talking about wikis...lemmie vent a little: you DON'T NEED TO JOIN THEM! (Oops! sorry for shouting! Eep!) Seriously though, unless you expect to contribute, edit, or add pages to the wiki site you don't need to join a public wiki to use them. So please, don't be offended if I say to nope your application to join my Daring Tech Wiki because that's just for my teachers to edit, k? Still love you, mean it! LOL
9.Build your PLN
Build your PLN! Today, having a Personal Learning Network is essential to stay in tune with the trends and what's going on. So whether you join a Ning or Twitter (even just for conferences!) Here's a getting started Flickr gallery so you can start talking to other excited educators about new ideas...crowdsource! Got a question? Pose it to the PLN and you'll be amazed at the answers you get! See a question someone else is asking that you can help with? Contribute! (I try to give 95% and only ask for help 5%) GIVE, give, and give some more! Share shamelesly! Whatever you create think of your other educators out there who might benefit from it. Add it to your blog, wiki or slideshare! No one likes to re-create the wheel. Give your greatest works to our profession - it's good ed tech karma! PS. Always give attribution! I know professional teacher thieving is par for the course, heck I do it all the time, but I ask permission whenever possible and link back and ALWAYS give attribution!

10. Back up your data.
"Hacks and hardware failures happen. Before this year gets going, make sure as much of your data as possible is protected. From calendars and contacts to blog posts and work projects, more and more of us are relying on networks of servers and startups to keep us running. So, now might be a good time to download and back up files of your contacts and blog posts - anything that's valuable to you and portable." Get a big external HD but also burn to CD or DVD the really important stuff because I've had externals die on me. And yeah, the cloud is awesome, but I'm not ready to give over yet completely! LOL "Think of it this way: You - or at least parts of you - live in the Internet. If the Internet caught on fire, what would you grab to carry with you out of the blaze?" (Quoted, inspired & adapted from the super AWEsome )

Suggested alternative expert comic from the comments - Thanks, Colin!

(click above for full size on XKCD!)

So, Ok...some of these things are stuff I preach about ALL the time... like a flippin broken record when it comes to shameless sharing I'm that passionate about it....but what did I forget?
What are the geeky things that you do that we can learn from?
Please comment your suggestions, corrections, & additions! Thank you dear readers! Muuuwa! And......Happy New Year!
BEST Christmas Presents EVER!
Oh and though Santa got me an iPad2 for Christmas, don't tell him but here are the best presents I got this year from 2 students featuring a Ninja Squirrel & Ninja Bacon, & one fabulous kid blogger - my friend Hagan! (click for larger images)

(check out Ninja Bacon! My kids know I love Ninjas!)

Lastly, thank you to everyone who voted for this blog as Edublogs Best Librarian Blog - we were only 16 votes away from winning! Maybe someday! But seriously, having this conversation with you is the real prize! For reals! Thank you!
(not that I'm not gonna pimp my blog with those fab badges! Love me some badges!)

--Credits & Resources
Creating and Remembering Complex Passwords by Alex Jones (not my nephew!)
The Ultimate Guide for Creating Strong Passwords - Some of these suggestions seem impossible but I got great ideas here.
The top 50 passwords you should never use | Naked Security
8 Things Every Geek Needs to Do Before 2010
Five New Years Resolution Suggestions.

Baby Cthulhu Squishable a gift from my dear friend Dr. Gelving Obolensky of New Babbage. Thanks darlin! He, I will NEVER Prune from my PLN tree!

Flashdrive pic from: bamalibrarylady Tamara Evans


  1. Great tutorial, think I may print this out and post it in the teachers' lounge as well as our computer labs at school!

  2. OMG Gwyneth this is all so fabulous! Thank you! I have been working on a password lesson for my students, and your number 1 is definitely going to help support me! I really like this post that talks about length being a great variable in creating a password: http://blog.agilebits.com/2011/08/10/better-master-passwords-the-geek-edition/

    HOWEVER, I hate it when Netflix won't allow more than a certain amount of characters and when some sites demand that it begin with a Capital letter. Also - I'm toying around with the concept of the same password but using fpasswordthatisverylong for Facebook and ypasswordthatisverylong for Yahoo. So you have the same password but the first word is different based on the site you are visiting (easier to remember).

    I am trying to make a lesson for my frosh about this (about 3,000 of them) and I want to make a worksheet! May I incorporate some of your tips!!????

  3. Celtic! YAY! So glad you found it helpful, I'm honored!
    Marie dear! You know, grrl you can use ANYthing I make to help you out, again...honored! I also like your suggestions for ypassphrasethatisverylong! Cool beans!

  4. Thanks for a great collection of ways to start the year. I think they will be great ways to start a class that begins next week on leadership.

  5. Thank you Floyd for your comment & kind words! Psyched they can help!

  6. These tips are geektastic.... great tips for the new year! Thank you!

  7. Hi Gwyneth,

    My stupidity is about to show, but I don't understand your note about buying your domain name through Google Apps for $10. Is there a specific app, and if so, what is the name? I've been searching the apps marketplace and I'm finding apps that ask for $99 for much more than just purchasing the rights to the name.

  8. I've looked into the whole password issue (Tip #1) for some time now, and I have to say that the typical recommended guidelines (such as you have provided here), while worthy, are generally unrealistic.

    Torrents of anecdotal evidence underscore what many cognitive experts suggest: that human brains are not great at remembering random strings of text.

    The proliferation of password-protected websites, user accounts, social media sites, etc., makes it increasingly unrealistic to expect every password to be random, long, unique and memorized. I just checked my own (incomplete) listing of such passwords in my password safe, and the number is 162. I don't consider myself an intensive user of technology; it's just that every website that wants comments asks for a username/password, and they all apply different rules.

    It would be essentially a full-time job to maintain all of these passwords over time.

    Even applying the "simple" rules you suggest will result in confusion: Have I applied all the rules the same on every pass phrase? Can I remember all the phrases? Which phrase did I use on website ZZZZ? What about for YYY?

    Unfortunately, though, your comment about Facebook REALLY underscores the problems of the exercise: your passwords are only as safe as the weakest link in the chain, and realistically, NONE of us really knows what or where that weakest link might occur. Today, it might be Facebook; tomorrow it might be your bank.

    1. Completely agree!
      Here is a comic on passwords by someone who IS an expert in this area.


  9. Dear "Healey Acquisitions" (really?) Did you Google it? I know it sounds obvi but I did & found it right away. Google doesn't register the domain themselves but makes it easy for the purchaser! I added the link to the blog! Thanks so much for your comment!
    ----Dear Anon,
    You make great points in your 6 paragraphs but I did mention I wasn't a security expert & I was giving tips...whether you take them or not is your call! :-) I would also take your arguments more seriously had you owned them & signed your name. Just sayin.

  10. Gwyneth--

    My name's David.

    I don't feel like getting another username/password combination to maintain, and I'm not clear how giving you a name would somehow render the points more valid. Just sayin.

    I'm glad you chose to post the comments nonetheless.

    1. Thanks David! YAY you! I guess in the age of respecting digital transparency when you have a passionate response, it's validated by singing your name to it. Otherwise could be spammish.
      Colin...LOVE the XKCD comic! Thank you! I'm gonna add that to the post because they also are Creative Commons!

    2. Here is an actual article on passwords just posted on Gizmodo.


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