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Spring Cleaning: It's Good for Technology too

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July 07, 2017
Technology
Jeffrey Parker

©2017 Hospitality Upgrade
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Cleaning out every year involves a lot of putting stuff away, getting rid of junk and parting with treasures that have been collecting dust. The same goes for our technology as well.

Smartphones have been around for more than 10 years now. And if you believe the carrier statistics, most of us have a device that is less than two years old. But, given we often copy our configuration from device to device, you likely have a newer device with all of the clutter of my garage in the spring. 
 
Step One: Back Up
 
The first step of any smart device cleanup is running the back-up programs. Most devices have several options for this, from the carrier’s solution, to the manufacturer’s to the operating system solution. I lean toward doing the one from the operating system, whether an Android, iOS or Windows Phone. The reason is, you might change carriers and you don’t want to get stuck with a Verizon backup on AT&T; the same is true for the hardware maker if you are not on iOS. The ultimate flexibility is with the operating system solution. 
Once backed up make sure your images are auto-backing up. This is just like putting all of those dusty photo albums in the trunk in the attic. Protect them for later. All major systems and carriers and even services like Amazon have a back-up solution for photos. Use one that is free and/or lets you backup full size images. Many unlimited plans back up a significantly lower resolution image than your camera takes, so don’t skimp to save a few pennies. 
 
Step Two: Clean out
 
Once you are sure your photos are safe, it’s time to clear three-quarters of them. You no longer need that collection of 300 pictures of you with a drink in your hand. It takes too long to scroll through them, they take up memory on your phone, and they can slow down your unit. Plus, you still have them, they are on your cloud backup now. 
Like my 1971 Spitfire that I haven’t driven for four years, you have many old apps on your phone, and some might not even really work on your new hardware. My rule of thumb: If you have not touched it for a month, or only touched it once ever, get rid of it. I know that you will use Dwolla once to do P2P money transfers, and Google Sky Map is really cool that one time a year you use it because you need to know if that is Venus waning or if Jupiter is aligned with Mars (you’ll get it in a minute, trust me). Uninstall them, you can always download them later. 
 
On Android there is a downloads folder, and most of us forget to even look at it. (Have you checked the one on your desktop lately?) Use the stock file manager and clear your downloads folder. I am sure there is that meme you needed to post on some social media account, an old spreadsheet from your boss and the PowerPoint from the HITEC conference two Junes ago, that you never actually read, but were so excited and had to download it. 
Tip: If you use a non-native email app, (e.g., Outlook) you might have a separate download folder to check. 
 
While you are in your third-party email app, set your email to a month or less to sync (makes those darn searches soooo much faster) and turn off any auto-download of attachments. If you need them, with today’s networks, you’ll be fine. 
 
Step Three: Change your Password
 
We have used the same PIN code to our garage door for, well like, since the ‘90s. It’s not 1234, but I finally changed the code with our new door opener. (My wife Karen still types the old one first and then glares at me when she puts in the new one). On your device I bet in many of your local apps or mobile sites you are doing the same thing. Plus, you likely have them cashed locally for ease of use (for the hackers too!). If you are still using Password1 to get into NetFlix, or any other apps where you are using your dog's name with your garage PIN; it’s time to change them. I am not going to go into the password rant you are expecting, but change them and if you can, make them all different. 
 
I hear you in the back row, I’ve got my phone set to use my finger print, so I don’t need a hard password. First, your apps are also on the interwebs, where you don’t have your finger print to protect you, and second, unfortunately it is much easier to trick the fingerprint reader than it was in that ‘80s heist movie. Lastly, since we are on the topic, let your spouse (best friend, sister, father) put a fingerprint on your device. If you don’t trust them, they should not be two of these, and you have some fences to mend. One day, you will be really happy when you leave your phone over at their house and you need them to check your email because your boss is going postal, or your wife’s phone dies and she needs to call your son. 
 
Step Four: Deep Clean
 
Any good cleaning should address the physical phone (I know you are texting from the potty, don’t deny it). Get some wipes for your screen and then use them for your glasses (getting old is hard). While you are at it, wash out your case, run it in the dishwasher if you can, let’s just say if you think about where it has been, eewww. Maybe, you need a new one. This also goes for those card holders everyone sticks to the back, go get a new one if you have had yours for a bit. 
 
Breaking up is hard to do, but it is time to break up with your old Bluetooth pairings; how many rental cars, hotel alarm clocks, lost pairs of headphones and convention swag speakers have you paired to? Until you delete them, your device is looking to “hook-up” again, and you don’t need your phone trying to share your contact list with every Kia in the Target parking lot. 
 
Step Five: Run Those Updates
 
Now that you have cleaned out the clutter, run your updates on all your apps. If your phone is like my wife’s, there are a list of pending updates, so run them. Updates often fix security holes, improve battery life and your device’s overall performance. While you are at it, check for OS and hardware updates. 
 
It seems regardless of how many storage bins we have, every year we are trotting out to Home Depot to get more bins or bags to store stuff in. Your device has folders, so set up some new ones. Build folders on your main screen with no more than nine apps so you can see them all at once when you open the folder, and only what you need in those folders. (I have work, travel, social, fit, media and Amazon on my screen.) On your secondary screen (you should really only have one now), regroup the non-essential apps, but as you are doing this, ask yourself, “if this is not an app I use enough to put it on my main screen, do I really need it?” There will be some that you keep, but this is likely another opportunity to reduce clutter. 
 
Alabama lost the National Championship to Clemson last season; it is still a painful subject in the Parker house. Bama’s starting quarterback, Jalen Hurts, updated his lock screen and background to the Clemson Trophy Ceremony. He uses it to remind him to work harder so that he does not have to feel that way again. We all set goals for ourselves; use your lock screen image to help reinforce your goal. I know that picture of your puppy is really cute, but you look at your phone a bajillion times a day, reinforce your goal each time. I have an image of a sunrise over my favorite ski resort to keep me focused on getting in better shape to do 20 days on the slopes next season.  
 
When the garage is clean, I know the summer project list will come out. My plan is to make sure at least half of those projects need new tools! Your phone needs new tools too, here are some of my favorites. 
 
I have to head back to the garage. It's time to get rid of the clothes hanger, I mean treadmill. I hope your spring cleaning goes well and that you have a great summer. 
 
Step Six: Add new tools
 
Travel
 
Those of us who travel by air need some great tools. I use the Flight Aware app, especially the Misery Map that highlights airports and routes having delays or cancellations. 
 
Google Trips is awesome if you live in the Google Ecosystem, as it reads your emails and builds itineraries, and makes suggestions based on what you search for, and even remembers your favorite places. Plus, it curates other user comments and can suggest things to do and places to eat.
  
A friend introduced me to App in the Air which has some great features in the free version, including alerting and tracking flight information, but the best part (worst part) is it knows your flights so it tracks your air miles and time spent on airplanes. It even has a social aspect and you can earn badges. 
 
My favorite hotel app is Hello Rewards, I know it's a shameless plug, but some of the stuff we are starting to do in the next few months will make an app the place you check in, pay for your bar tab, open your room, enjoy our entertainment and find fun things to do in our markets. 
 
Social/Media
 
Using Flipboard you can build a personal magazine with your likes and even your social feeds. I read it like my newspaper as I commute to and from work daily. It has the ability to share articles to social media.
 
UnTapped is social media for beer drinkers, and you can use it to track all the malt beverages you drink. You rate, snap beer selfies and even toast others in the platform. Some new functionality lets you track beers on your wish list and even has verified locations and tap lists. If you enjoy craft beer, you will like this app.
 
Utility
 
I know your device has it’s own native QR code scanner, but I prefer Norton Snap because it checks the link against its database and lets you know if it is dangerous. This might save your phone from being hacked. 
 
If you are carrying one of those fitness devices or packing a smart watch, you might lose it in your couch or forget it at the bottom of your bag. I use BitFinder to find my lost Fitbit. 

Jeffrey Parker is the vice president of hotel technology for Red Lion Hotel Corp.


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