Please stand by…optimizing

You know these things, right?  The hourglass in Windows, the spinning color wheel on the Mac – all signs that your computer is doing important stuff, right?  Well, it happened to me last night in the middle of, well….nothing really, I was just surfing the web, reading some of my daily hits.

Whenever I get these kinds of messages, it’s a sign to me that things need to be cleaned up.  I’ve installed too many trial programs for testing – my working drive is getting cluttered.  I’ve not re-booted in a few days.  We all know the drill, and we all have our own work flow on how we do this kind of maintenance and optimization.  That’s a funny word “optimize”.  It’s kind of like the CSI word “enhance” that they use for zooming in and adding detail on grainy satellite images.  It just sounds kind of corny.  I think Windows even used it when it was doing an update after I cleaned out a few things.

So, today, I thought I’d share a weekly suggested work flow for doing these kinds of optimizations on your computer.  This is not set in stone, and if you miss something, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a starting point:


Operating System and Application Updates – Are all your applications up to date?  Most have a “Check for updates” feature built into the menu system, and many can be set to automatically check periodically, but it never hurts to check on your own – you may find bug fix updates that aren’t part of the regular ones.  The same holds true for your cameras – check vendor websites for possible firmware updates, because cameras can’t check on their own (at least not yet)!


Virus/spyware scans – Your computer does have some kind of security measures in place, right?  Well, it can help to use them periodically just to make sure nothing slipped past you unwittingly.  Trial software can often include spammy things and who knows what gets added in those!  Run the deepest scan (you can run quick scans from really intensive scans with some software like McAfee and Symantec) on Tuesday, and start it just before you go to bed – it will run over the course of the night and when you get up in the morning, it should be done.


Here we go, it’s time to “optimize” things.  Pick a day (mine is Wednesday) to run the optimization tasks.  Things like defragmenting your hard drive and removing trial versions of software are part of this.  I also use this day to go through my bookmarks and favorites and re-organize everything (I add stuff all the time).  I’ll remove stuff I’ve not visited in a while, or drag shortcuts into folders within the bookmarks.  I also take the few minutes after this is done to export a copy of the bookmarks and shortcuts to a backup copy in case disaster strikes.


Don’t forget your online presence.  Most people have an online presence these days.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even your own website are just a few examples of our online “footprint”.  Pick a day and go through each of these accounts, taking the time to update things.  Reply to followers comments and questions on Twitter (although you really should do this one more often).  Post an update or two on Facebook of what you’ve been doing for the last week.  Update your LinkedIn connections.  You are adding new contacts to your network more often than you think, and it just makes sense to tap all these resources together.  Plus, people like to stay in touch, and giving updates lets people know about what is new with you, and ways they can connect with you.  Don’t neglect your website either.  Out taking pictures?  Upload a new gallery of photos.  Even if there’s nothing of “show quality”, it can help to keep people engaged with you.


I saved the most important one for last, and that is the weekly BACKUP!  I’ve talked about this a lot, and cannot reiterate enough the importance of regular backups.  You may not have much change over the course of a week, which is why things like incremental and differential backups (if you are really into the geek factor) can be useful.  But still, even without the geek factor – are you prepared to lose the entire week of projects and work?  Make a backup somehow, somewhere.  The peace of mind alone is worth the 10-20 minutes it takes to do this.

So, there you have it, a weekly optimization schedule for you to try.  It can seem insurmountable to tackle all these things at once, because for most of us, it is!  If you break it down though into smaller tasks, each can be done with minimal impact on your other activities, and can save you many headaches down the road.

Since we’re on the subject of optimizing things – the blog also has gone through some updates as well.  I’ve cleaned things up a little here (part of my Thursday routine), and the pages should load a lot faster now.  You will also notice in the far right sidebar a list of “related posts”.  This will bring up a selection of related content that may be of interest to you.  Check it out and feel free to peruse the Archives as well.

There’s also the Online Photography Test, which remains a popular page – have you taken the test recently?  Stop over and give it a whirl!  There’s lots of content on the blog now (3 years worth anyway) and many people have found it useful!  I’ve also introduced some sponsors from Google and Amazon that show up as related material on various pages and most archives, so if you see something useful, follow the white rabbit – the cost is the same to you, but it helps support the blog! 🙂

To wrap things up for this week – don’t forget the February contest closes tonight at midnight, so be sure you get your pictures in.  Only about 18 hours left (as of the writing of this post), so don’t delay, enter today!  Happy shooting everyone, have a great weekend, and we’ll see you back here again on Monday!

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