4 Tech-Savvy Downtime Options | Information Technology | University of Pittsburgh

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4 Tech-Savvy Downtime Options

As with nearly everything else this year, Pitt’s academic calendar is different for 2020-21. Students are facing an extended staycation, with lots of free time on their hands. Many faculty and staff will also have a slower pace of work between semesters. So what’s a Panther to do with so much downtime until the new term begins? Pitt IT has some great ideas:

1. Complete a LinkedIn Learning Path

It’s easy to take a course in LinkedIn Learning. You just need to set aside an hour or so. Completing a whole learning path is different. They are comprised of multiple courses that take quite a few hours to complete – ranging from 5-course/8-hour paths to 10-course/26-hour programs.

While you’ve got nothing but time, take the plunge! A certification of having completed an entire learning path looks great on a resume or performance review. It shows a true commitment to in-depth exploration of a subject.

To get started, log in and click on Browse from the top-left of the screen. You can choose between business, creative, or technology topics, as well as collections curated by Pitt IT. Once you’ve selected the learning area you want to explore, click on Type > Learning Paths from the left-hand column.

2. Clean Up Your Cloud

Saving my essays like ... folder showing 6 version of the same essay draft.

Could your cloud account be described as a hot mess? Thought so. Your OneDrive account gives you 5 TB of storage. That sounds like a lot, but you’ll use it up in a heartbeat if you save every draft you ever wrote and every picture you ever took. Cut your account some slack and delete what you don’t need. You’ll be glad you made the effort when it comes time to clean out your files when you leave Pitt.

Then, organize what’s left so you can actually find it again. Create folders, subfolders, sub-subfolders … whatever it takes. For example, the beauty you’re reading right now goes in “Karen > Blogs > Nov 2020 > Winter Break Tasks”. Consider renaming files so you tell what they are. A picture of that United Way fundraiser is way easier to find if it’s called “UnitedWay-Oct20” than if it’s listed as “img-75624663-10082020”.

3. Updates, Updates, and More Updates

App updates are important. Not only do they fix glitches and add new functionality, they also address identified security vulnerabilities. If you’ve been ignoring those update notifications, here’s how to get up to date.

First, start with all your mobile apps. Fortunately, both Android and Apple devices enable you to update all your apps at once or individually.

For an Android device, go to the Google Play store, tap the Menu icon in the upper left corner, and select My Apps & Games.  For an Apple device, go to the App Store, tap Today at the bottom of the screen and then tap your profile pic at the top of the screen.

Next, move on to your computer. Updating each software app is daunting. So focus on the three things you especially need to keep updated: your operating system, your web browser, and your antivirus program.

  • To update Windows, go to Settings > Update & Security (or type “Check for Updates” into the taskbar search). Then, click the Check for Updates button.
  • Update your browser from its settings menu. In Chrome, click on the Menu icon (three dots in the upper right corner), then select Help > About Google Chrome. It will tell you if it’s up to date, or prompt you to install necessary updates.
  • Generally, your security software runs silently in the background. But if you actually open the program, it will let you know if it is out of date. Update its database, and then run a quick scan.

4. Break Out the Password Manager

Not gonna lie. I have a tendency to use the same password for nearly every online account. Plus, I let Google Chrome store my passwords and credit card info. I know most of you do this too. This is a great time to get a clear slate with Pitt Password Manager (LastPass).

If you don’t have one, create a LastPass premium account, and then download the app on your mobile devices and install the browser plug-in on your computer. Then you can add all the passwords you have saved in Chrome into LastPass instead.

To see the passwords that Google is saving for you, open Chrome and click on Menu > Settings. Under Autofill, expand the Passwords section. If you already have a strong, unique password for a site, awesome. Just add it to LastPass (LastPass plugin > Add Item). If not, change your password on the site using LastPass (LastPass plugin > Generate secure password > Autofill). Be sure to save it in LastPass when prompted. Then remove the saved password from Chrome.  Repeat this process until your Google Autofill is empty! Then, add your payment methods into LastPass and delete them from Chrome, too.

OK, peeps. You’re all set to fill a little downtime during this pandemic winter break. Relax, eat well, and stay safe. See you in January!

-- By Karen Beaudway, Pitt IT Blogger