KIM KOMANDO

5 smart, simple tech changes Arizonans should use to make 2024 better

Dec 31, 2023, 7:15 AM

These simple tech changes save you from junk mail...

Volunteers work in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — New year, same you. And that’s OK! You don’t need to makeover your entire life to have a good 2024. All you need are these five simple tech changes.

I can tell you firsthand it’s totally worth it to spend a few minutes cleaning up your tech life. Keep reading for steps to banish junk mail, make your phone less annoying and improve your cybersecurity. You got this!

1. Automate a no-brainer security step

You forget to lock your computer when you get up. Welcome to the club. Be smart and tell your Windows or Mac to do it for you! You can set your computer to auto-lock if you’ve been inactive for a certain amount of time.

On Windows:

  • Open Settings and go to Personalization, then Lock Screen.
  • Click Screen saver settings and select any option (except “None”) from the Screen saver dropdown menu.
  • Set a time for Windows to wait before locking. Check the box for On resume, display logon screen. Hit OK.

On a Mac:

  • Click the Apple menu > System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Save > Screen Saver. Use the slider to choose a time
  • Click Show All to go back to the main System Preferences window.
  • Click Security, then Require password to wake this computer from sleep or screen saver.

You can also set up your PC to lock based on where your phone is. Think about it: If your phone’s nearby, so are you — and so your computer stays open. You walk away, it locks.

2. Say goodbye to group chats that drive you up the wall

Group chats are fun when you’re happy to be there and awful when you don’t care about the convo. The adult move is to ask whoever added you to remove you …

  • … Or do the ol’ Irish exit if you have an iPhone. Tap the thread, then select the group icon at the top. Scroll and tap Leave this Conversation. Save this for when you’re desperate.
  • You can also go the subtle route and mute the convo. (This is what I usually do.) Tap the group text message, select the group icon at the top of the thread, then scroll and toggle on Hide Alerts.

On Android, muting is your best option — unless you’re up to telling Aunt Kathy you’re out.

  • If you use Google Messages, open the group text, then tap the three-dot menu > Group Details > Notifications. Select Silent. Ahh, better.
  • For other Android apps, look through your messaging menu options for an option to mute the conversation.

3. These simple tech changes will boost home security

Back in the day, I turned off all my home security alerts because they were annoying — bad move. What you want to do is adjust your camera’s sensitivity (or upgrade to better cams) if yours are always going off accidentally.

You can usually find controls to adjust motion sensitivity in your security system app. Systems go by different names, so I’ll cover the steps for two.

Adjust your camera sensitivity with SimpliSafe

  • Open the SimpliSafe app and tap Cameras at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap the gear icon at the top right of the screen.
  • Choose the camera you would like to change.
  • Choose Motion Detection and make your adjustments to the sensitivity.

Adjust your camera sensitivity with Ring

  • Open the Ring app and tap the gear icon for a camera.
  • Tap Motion Settings > Motion Sensitivity. Adjust the slider.

4. Organize your cords and cables the way pros do

When everything’s jumbled up, it’s impossible to tell what goes where. Try this super-smart trick.

  • Get some stickers. These can be labels you write on or color-coded dots. One of my readers, Tony, suggests using colored foil stars.
  • Create a system that works for you. Write on the labels or use colors to represent the cord type (e.g., red for USB-C, blue for HDMI).
  • Affix the same label or colored sticker to the cable and the port on the device. When you plug in the cord, simply match the cable’s sticker to the port.
  • Place the sticker in the same position on each cable. Try putting it on the top of the cord to quickly find the correct orientation into the port.

5. These simple tech changes save you from junk mail

Is your mailbox overflowing with unsolicited credit card and insurance offers? You can thank the big four credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax, TransUnion and Innovis.

Each bureau provides lists of consumers, based on specific criteria, to credit and insurance companies for prescreened offers. Yes, it’s completely legal. But don’t worry, there’s a solution: Opt Out Prescreen, a tool developed by these very credit bureaus.

  • Visit optoutprescreen.com. You can choose to opt out for five years or forever, then fill in the form.
  • Opting out permanently? You’ll have to use snail mail, but it’s worth it. Print, sign and mail a confirmation form.

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5 smart, simple tech changes Arizonans should use to make 2024 better