spring cleaning

Sara’s Tech Tips: Spring Clean Your Computer

March 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm , by

sara-phoneSpring is here, so you know what that means – spring-cleaning!  As much as any room in the house, your computer needs a little cleaning love too.  Here are 4 steps to help you get started:

  1. Straighten your desktop – If you have programs on the desktop or start up menu that you haven’t used in the last year, you probably aren’t going to use them.  These programs take up memory and slow your computer down, especially when booting it up.  In order to get rid of them, you need to “uninstall” them (dragging them to the trash/recycling bin only removes the icon/shortcut, but NOT the actual software.)  Also, make some folders for the documents, pictures, and everything else that’s cluttering your desktop. Even if it is titled “random” or “Sara’s stuff,” at least it’s a start!
  2. Eliminate duplicates – One of my computer pet peeves is duplicate pictures.  I like to have them saved at work and at home.  So, every time I sync my mobile phone, I end up with two or three copies of every picture, argh!  Duplicate File Finder (also duplicate image and song finder) is free software that will do the job for you.  You can even narrow down what files/folders you want searched.  After they are identified, you choose to delete, move, or even copy to somewhere else.  Let the type A personalities rejoice!
  3. Clean up & Defrag – Both the disk clean up and defragment can be done right from your own computer.  I like to compare it to the self-cleaning oven (not that I ever use my oven…).  On a Windows computer click the start button and then go to Programs>Accessories>System tools. The clean up will get rid of all of your temporary files and caches, whereas defrag will help your hard drive to work more efficiently by grouping pieces of related data back together.
  4. Back it up – The first question any IT person will ask you when you’re frantic because you erased or lost a recently perfected resume, or the pictures from your family vacation: Did you back it up? We’ve all been told to back up, back up, back up—but now it’s time to do something about it. It will cost you a little money, but can you really put a price on your family photos?  Starting at about $100, you can buy an external hard drive to store files, or utilize an online back up service like Mozy or Carbonite for a mere $5 a month or so.

Sara’s Tech Tips: Spring Cleaning Your Gadgets

February 20, 2011 at 10:16 am , by

sara _0079Editor’s Note: We’re excited to introduce LHJ’s new tech contributor, Sara Haines of NBC’s Today show! This month she’s got some great tips for spring cleaning your tech clutter.

Chances are, you’ve got an old cell phone or two stuffed in a drawer. Maybe you have an outdated TV gathering dust in the basement or a printer that doesn’t really work any more. Most of these gadgets can’t even be fixed (or in many cases it’s cheaper to buy a new one). Or maybe your kids had to have that new game system and quickly forgot the old one. But what should we do with all this tech clutter? Unlike your usual spring cleaning, it’s not as simple as dropping these outdated tech toys into the trash. Some of the materials, like the cathode ray tubes in televisions, can be hazardous in landfills, and other items that still work can be donated instead of ditched. Here are my three favorite tips to help you “spring clean” responsibly when it comes to your has-been electronics.

Company “take back” programs. Many big chain stores (such as Staples and Best Buy) and manufacturers (like Apple and Sony) have beefed up their “green” game by offering incentives or resources to recycle old consumer gadgets. Check out Engadget to find the most comprehensive list (including stores, manufacturers, and government agencies) for these “take back” programs.

Recycling. The resources are available for electronic recycling vary depending on where you live, but many gadgets can be recycled. Here are a few sites that can help you find the best options for your area. Earth911.com and MyGreenElectronics.org both allow you to search for a recycling center by ZIP code. ElectronicsRecycling.org is also a great resource to find collection events taking place locally.

Tech patience. Practice self control when it comes to new gadgets. It may be hard for you (or your husband or kids) to pass up that shiny new gizmo, but holding out for the second round of a product gives manufacturers time to work out early developmental glitches. Buying later also practically guarantees a lower price. Patience is a virtue that will reduce electronic waste while saving you money!


Spring Renewal: Healthier Body and Fresher Skin

April 2, 2010 at 11:09 am , by

walker ladyI’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. Sure, I’ve tried them, but can’t seem to stick with them for too long. What really gets me going is the idea of spring cleaning. The whole refresh and renew bit really gets me revved up, and not just when spiffing up the house, but in all areas of my life. I’m especially excited by anything that promises easy reinvention.

This spring, I’m betting on the Tone Up Challenge developed by Dickinson’s Witch Hazel and the Women’s Sports Foundation. What’s so cool about it? It’s a quick program (14 days), a small time commitment every day, and not only on a workout routine, but skin care routine, too. It’s the whole package.

So, I’m starting today. Here’s the agenda
Tone Up!: Beginner pushups, 8-15 reps, 2-3 sets.
Get Active!: Remind myself to walk an extra 15 minutes 5 days per week.
Look Great!: After working out, clean off sweat with witch hazel toner.

Whew, I feel better already.

Photo via bhg.com


Spring Cleaning Do’s and Don’ts

April 2, 2010 at 9:43 am , by

After initiating a half-hearted attempt to clean my entire apartment at 6p.m. on Sunday night, I decided that there must be an easier way to tackle spring cleaning. This list should help make your clutter a little less daunting than mine.

  • Do buy some fabric or plastic storage bins. Having a place to put things really helps to keep everything organized.
  • Do throw out junk mail ASAD (as soon as delivered). Stopping the junk build-up before it becomes a pile is always a good preventative measure.
  • Do invest in a shredder. Shredding is a lot less painful than tearing up a pile of mail into itty-bitty pieces by hand.
  • Do donate clothes you haven’t worn in over a year to charity. If you didn’t remember to wear it last year, you’re probably not going to miss it.
  • Don’t wait until spring to start cleaning next year! It’s a lot easier to get motivated if you just have to complete small tasks in a short period of time instead of a day- (or night-) long cleaning spree.

Do you have any spring cleaning tips?


A Touch of Summer for All Your Drawers

March 16, 2010 at 4:06 pm , by

The sun shining through my bedroom window put a smile on my face and a song in my heart this sachetmorning. Do you know what it is like to defend yourself against a suddenly violent and evil umbrella? Do you? If you were in New York City this past weekend, my guess is you do.

The point—bring on the warm weather. I am ready for Spring, and anything that makes me think of the ocean and a warm tropical breeze. That’s why I need these drawer liners and sachets from Hammocks & High Tea. What could make reorganizing your drawers (I’m talking both kinds here people) for the upcoming warm season more fun? Put a spring in your step, or at least your socks, with these island inspired scented goodies. All of their products are eco-friendly, and printed with soy-based inks onto recycled paper or recycled organic cotton. Prices range between $20 and $28.

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