The beginning of a new year is probably a good time to reflect on an experience that demanded I leave the past behind and take advantage of new developments.
When I started working freelance in web design, development and content from a home office back in 2001, I quickly realised I would have to build my own set of the kind of tools an employer might normally provide.
That included hardware like PCs, laptops, modems, cables and office furniture plus software to not just help me do my work but also keep all that hardware running properly and efficiently.
Having previously worked in IT support, I was well aware of not just all the things that can go catastrophically wrong but also the incremental degeneration that affects any combination of hardware and software.
In 2003, I stumbled on a German application called TuneUp Utilities, which did exactly what the name implies. It would check that installed software was up-to-date, whether or not the registry needed cleaning or defragmentation, whether the hard disk was getting clogged by accumulated temporary files, which programs were being loaded when the computer booted up, and at least another dozen specific problem-solving functions.
I would run TuneUp Utilities a couple of times a week, and it would always result in the computer running more smoothly. This excellent product was also dirt cheap – it didn’t get... read more