Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tech Column: A Tech Tip About Tech Tips

by Bill Adler

I recently read a tip about using the built-in mail app on the iPhone. You can disable the feature that automatically includes images when you get mail.

Not having images automatically downloaded with your iPhone or iPad mail can save bandwidth and money. It can also prevent spammers from telling if they've gotten a live person because images can contain beacons that send a confirming message back to the spammer.

So I did that. It makes sense to me to turn off auto-image download.

Fast forward three months. Although I usually use Gmail's iPhone mail app, occasionally I check my email with the native iPhone app. Months from now when I do that I'm going to start swearing at my phone because the image that was supposed to be in the message "Here's my new cute kitten!" isn't visible. I will have forgotten that I turned off this setting.

I'll restart the mail app. I'll restart it again. I'll turn off cellular data and then turn it back on. I'll powercycle my iPhone. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Eventually I might remember that three months ago I turned off the setting that allows Mail to download embedded images. Oh.

So today, after changing that setting on my iPhone, I created a calendar entry called "Today I turned off auto-image download on iPhone mail." In that calendar entry I included a link to the article that I read about this, in case I needed more information.  Now all I need to do is search my calendar for "iphone mail image" and I'll find out exactly what it was that I did that caused the problem, and not endlessly try to troubleshoot my iPhone.

I've started doing this for all application tweaks I make: I note in my calendar the day I made the change and what I did.

I could have put this information in Evernote, my everything note program (and I did, in fact, clip the article and add it to Evernote), but having the information in Evernote doesn't automatically tell me what I did and when. By using my calendar as a tech diary I have an accurate accounting of changes I've made to my programs, devices, and operating systems. If I decide to reverse the process and restore my iPhone's mail app's ability to automatically download images, I'll note that in a new calendar entry.

Give this a try: I guarantee that once you start to use a tech-diary calendar, you'll be a happier and wiser technology consumer.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.com. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft. He tweets at @billadler.

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