10 New Year's resolutions for geeks

It's the beginning of the year and that means it's time to write down a set of promises and plans by which we geeks will govern ourselves over the next 12 months. Can you keep all these through the year?

Congratulations! If you're reading this, you survived the nasty beast that was 2014. We're now in 2015 and it's time to look forward.

According to Wikipedia, New Year's resolutions go back to the ancient Babylonians who promised their gods they would pay their debts and return stuff they borrowed. Apparently, their gods were concerned with more practical matters than those of modern-day religions, who seem more concerned with who we elect to national office.

In any case, my point here is that it's the beginning of the year and that means it's time to write down a set of promises and plans (think of it as either an action list or an algorithm) by which we will govern ourselves over the next 12 months. But since we're geeks, the following list (stated in the first person) is focused on the challenges and issues we're more likely to run into.

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Do your best with these. I'll play along with you. I don't promise anything, but I'll do my best if you do yours. Here then is the list.

1) I will only buy gadgets I intend to use at least a little: We all do it. It's shiny, new, and does something that seems neat. Gotta have it. Well, no more. In 2015, we'll be responsible buyers.

If we see a gadget that's incredibly cool, we'll only consider buying it if there's some chance we'll actually use it (Apple Watch, I'm looking at you!). For those of us who are tech press, we get a special dispensation in that "using it" and "writing about it" can be considered equivalent.

2) I will drink coffee/caffeine no more than 8 times a day: Each year, it becomes more and more apparent that we drink too much caffeine. So, in the interests of good health, I tried to come up with a number of cups we should limit ourselves to. When I thought about just two cups of coffee, my soul screamed, so that wasn't going to fly.

When I thought about limiting caffeine intake to four cups, the responsible project manager in me reminded me about those hump days when we just have to get the work done.

So, in the spirit of compromise and responsibility, as well as our long-term health, I arrived at a practical limit: 8 cups. I know it's going to be a tough challenge, but I think we're up to it.

3) I will not be mean to people who use platforms/OSs I disapprove of: I know this one is a tough one for our readers, and it's partially the fault of us writers.

We do bait y'all once in a while because it's just too easy or fun. I mean, c'mon. My recent Microsoft article is up to almost 500 comments. But I digress.

The point is, each platform, whether Mac or Windows or Linux or iOS or Android has a great deal of value to those who choose to use it. We all know each has its strengths and weaknesses, and we need to respect those who have made those choices. It's the right thing to do. You know it and so do I.

4) I will not unfairly mock the Windows Phone people: Well except maybe for a quiet chuckle at the Windows Phone itself. After a long series of evaluations, it became clear that Windows phone wasn't up to besting its competition. But even so, no knee-slapping and finger pointing. It's just rude.

5) I will eat some foods that started out being green: We all know there are two categories of green food: food that came out of the ground green and food that came out of the fridge green. The food that came out of the ground green is called vegetables. Some of them are even good (if my wife makes them). Those are foods you're supposed to eat.

Food that comes out of the refrigerator and is green is often food that has fur and, if you think back a year or two, was food that did not go into the fridge in the same condition. You know, that leftover Wendy's hamburger from 2012 that you just found at the back of the drawer. Nasty.

Follow this rule: if it has fur, pet it. Don't eat it. And that drawer is called a "crisper." No, I don't know why, either. It's just what the manual says.

6) I will try getting up and going to bed on the same calendar day: This one is particularly difficult to me because I burst into flame when exposed to sunlight. But the point is, if you go to bed on the same calendar day as when you woke up, you might fit in with the Muggles. Hey, it's worth a try. I'm gonna pick a day in April and give it a shot. You should, too.

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7) I will give Microsoft a chance: Look, I was pretty harsh on the old Redmond powerhouse a few weeks ago. I said that Microsoft had lost my loyalty. And, based on my usage pattern, it had. On the other hand, I still have a great deal of affection for Microsoft and despite dumping Office 365, I will still keep a spot in my heart for Microsoft and the chance that they'll do amazing things.

Already, their offer of unlimited OneDrive storage is a game changer. Well, except for the problem that the offer only lives in a blog post and if you ask their sales people about it, they put you on hold to find a supervisor. It's not actually offered on their sales pages or feature lists. But, you know, someday. Hold a space. They're too important to us all, even if it's just to keep the Linux kids in line.

8) I will not yell at the TV: For me, this is a double-edged challenge. You see, when I first thought about becoming a blogger, I told my wife I didn't think I could do it. I didn't know where I'd get enough material. "But honey," she said. "You yell at the TV all the time. Of course you can be a blogger."

Now, after years of blogging, I've found that when I yell at the TV, I've found a particularly juicy topic and often go off writing about it. So, this resolution is not meant for bloggers. On the other hand, she also tells me I need to tone things down because, and I quote: "You don't always come off like Andy Rooney. Sometimes you come off like the Unabomber." Yep, that was a direct quote. From my wife.

So, yeah, there's that. We all have to be more kind.

In any case, for the techies in us all, let's keep our blood pressure down when watching TV programs (Scorpion, I'm looking at you in particular). When we see something tech on TV and it's completely ridiculous (like no one who worked on the show ever used a computer -- and how is that even possible?), we'll just suspend disbelief and go along with the plot (or lack of plot) and just enjoy the ride. No need to set veins-a-throbbing just because someone describes a standard USB thumb drive as "strictly black-ops."

9) I will throw out/donate old hardware that hasn't been powered on since before there was a Facebook: Admit it. You have way too much old crap sitting around. I have half a garage filled with old gear.

I found a VCR in there last week and a cable box that hasn't been in service since the first Bush administration. Plus, I have a bin filled with Pentium motherboards extracted from old PCs. I have another bin filled with DB-9 connectors, and I swear I saw a Centronics-port cable the other week.

This stuff is taking up space we could better use for storing the more modern gadgets we buy but don't actually use. So, as a New Year's resolution (and to make room for the quadcopters we want so bad even though The Outside burns), we'll throw away or donate some of the old gear. And no, we won't donate old Windows 98 machines to the Salvation Army just because it gives us the giggles thinking about someone using them in 2015. That's just cruel.

10) I will fix someone's tech without complaining (much): Why is it that people assume I like fixing technology? I don't. I'm large, overweight, have very big hands, and I don't enjoy crawling on the ground tracing wires. I also don't enjoy digging inside someone's dust-filled PC to remove the creepy-crawlies, and I certainly don't enjoy reinstalling Windows XP or explaining why they can't have Windows XP anymore and installing Windows 8.1.

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But I won't complain. I'll do it at least once without using so much profanity that the paint peels off the wall. I'll act like I care enough about family and friends that I want them to be happy and have the use of their hardware. I'll even explain how to use iOS for the fifteenth time without raising my voice.

Oh, what? This is about us all, isn't it. Okay. Yeah. You, too. Be nice if someone asks you to fix their machine. They might bake you something yummy in return.

Bonus) I will be polite to everyone on the ZDNet comment boards: This is for You-Know-Who-You-Are. If you want to go to heaven, you'll be polite on the ZDNet boards. Make that resolution now, and keep it. You know who you are. Yep, I'm talkin' to you. Don't do it for us. Don't even do it for you and that barely alive sense of self-worth you're so desperately trying to find within yourself. Do it for the children.

Happy New Year, folks!

By the way, I'm doing more updates on Twitter and Facebook than ever before. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz and on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz.

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