4 Tech Best Practices to Embrace This Summer | Information Technology | University of Pittsburgh

You are here

4 Tech Best Practices to Embrace This Summer

With the warm weather approaching, you will only get busier over the summer. That’s why there’s no time like the present to start your tech projects to better serve you when you need them most. No one likes a crowded, disorganized desktop; an outdated profile or CV; or worrying about getting hacked, so strike while the iron’s hot (aka, while you’re less busy) and get to it! Here are four things you should put on your tech to-do list this summer:

1. Organize Your Files

Sometimes, all you need to effectively focus and get to work is a clean workspace. I know I have tons of files that I could probably get rid of, but I just never get around to doing it. This summer, as I wait for the next semester of classes, I pledge to get my laptop organized and ready to go for the 2023 school year.

Delete what you don’t need.

There are probably more unneeded files on your computer than you think. You will want or need to save many of your documents, especially if there’s something you could publish or include in your personal portfolio. But you don’t need the eight drafts you saved before finally settling on the final version. Those drafts are clogging up your hard drive or OneDrive account, making it hard to find the files you need and running the risk of accidentally passing on a draft rather than the polished final product. Take some time to go through your files and see what you should save. Send the rest to the trash bin.

Arrange your files into folders.

It’s never too late to organize all of your files into intuitive folders. Student and faculty may want to have a folder for each semester, then subfolders for each class. You may have folders for each project or audience. No matter how you choose to organize your files, you’re sure to benefit in the long run when you have to find something.

Don’t forget the Downloads and Trash folders.

I tend to download files, save them under a new name in one of my folders, and then completely forget about the original download that is still in my downloads folder taking up space. Same thing with the Trash Bin. It’s nice to leave things in there for a short period of time in case you realize you deleted something you should keep. But have you ever really recovered a file you deleted more than a month ago? Go through all of those miscellaneous files so your computer will have more resources to operate smoothly.

Put it in the cloud.

Microsoft OneDrive is Pitt’s cloud storage solution where you can store, share, and sync your files from anywhere. These files are backed up regularly, device independent, and conveniently configured as the default save destination for Microsoft 365 applications. All Pitt faculty, students, and staff get 5 TB of storage for free. Unless you need a file to be available for offline work, put your files into the cloud to free your devices computing resources.

2. Change Repeated Passwords ... and Use Pitt Password Manager

Passwords…one of the most powerful safeguards separating you from a breach of your information. Passwords are only effective when they can’t be guessed by an attacker. Using your pet’s name, your own name, or significant dates might be easy to remember, but they put your personal information at risk. But a situation can go from bad to catastrophic when one hacked password lets a bad actor access many of your accounts! That’s why every account needs its own unique, strong password. Especially if that account contains any financial/credit card, health, or personally identifiable information.

Create strong passwords.

Strong passwords include a mix of at least 14 characters that include both upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. They should not contain words and/or names that a reasonable person could guess. The best password is one of those randomly generated ones that make absolutely no sense. Pitt Password Manager (LastPass) and Google can both recommend unguessable passwords when you are creating new accounts or passwords.

What if I forget that password, though?

Forgetting is a fair concern — passwords that are impossible to guess can also be impossible to remember! Most websites allow you to click “forgot password”, but it’s better to make sure you don’t lose or forget passwords in the first place. That’s where a password manager becomes your best friend. LastPass will store all of your passwords, as well as bank information, driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, and other important information. You can look it up online at any time, and install the mobile app and/or browser extension so it will automatically fill in passwords for you!

Change repeat passwords.

So you’ve been using the same password (or almost the same) for multiple accounts. Time to change some so they are unique. Start with your most important accounts that give direct access to your financial, government, education, or health information. LastPass’s Security Dashboard will flag repeated password and lets you link right to the account to change them. Dedicate a day to getting your security score up to 100! If you are changing the link to an account you share with others, be sure to let them know. Better yet – use the Sharing Center to make keep everyone in the loop.

3. Complete Some LinkedIn Learning Courses

LinkedIn Learning is a great way to learn new skills and competencies. (If you just graduated, be sure to get on those courses before your Pitt account expires at the end of the summer!) LinkedIn Learning offers personalized content recommendations or you can search for any topic. Summer is a great time to take a few no-pressure courses to brush up on critical skills. Even better, complete an entire Learning Path to earn a certificate in a skill area by taking a curated group of interrelated courses.

You can log into LinkedIn Learning via myPitt or go directly to linkedinlearning.pitt.edu. You can also download the mobile app from the Pitt App Center to watch videos on your smart phone or tablet. Then, search for topics that interest you or view topics from your personalized recommendations. You can save a course or learning path to pursue later, or just click a video to start learning!

If you have a LinkedIn profile, connect your LinkedIn accounts so completed courses appear in your profile. Adding classes and certifications to your resume will help you set yourself apart from others.

4. Update Your Online Professional Profiles

Does your LinkedIn still say you’re a student even though you graduated or list an old job title? Update your account so employers and networking contacts have up-to-date information when they check out your profile. Be sure to add new skills, certificates, publications, and internships/jobs. Also, make sure your profile photo is current and professional. These are the things that set you apart from others.

Faculty: Update your Faculty Information System (Elements) account.

The University's Faculty Information System (Elements) provides a single point of organization, presentation, and reporting of scholarly and research activities. Be sure Elements stays updated with all recent research, positions, publications, projects, certifications, etc. to best showcase your expertise in your field.

From publications and research data, to grants and teaching/professional activities, Elements can be used to collect, understand, and showcase scholarly activities while making the data available. Elements reduces the time and effort spent managing information about your research publications by automatically harvesting information from an extensive range of academic and scientific data sources. Learn more about how and when to use Elements here.

Check Off Your Tech To-Dos

While we yinzers endure rainy, late-spring days in Pittsburgh, it’s the perfect time to make sure your information is safe, your profiles are up to date, your laptops are clean and organized, and your skills are sharpened. Get started today, before summer vacations take your mind off these important tasks.

-- By Claudia Huggins, Pitt IT Student Blogger