Data Doctors Tech Tips
Tech Tips for Non-Tech People
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For most projects around the house, taking accurate measurements is a critical step in ensuring a successful outcome.
Once you have those measurements, documenting them for yourself and especially if you are going to involve others becomes just as important.
It’s not uncommon to take a picture and send along some notes when communicating with others, but there’s a better way.
Why not include annotations, measurements and notes right on the picture to reduce the chances of creating confusion?
An app called My Measures will allow you to do just that!
Now instead of sketching out what you’re working on or using multiple ways of conveying your needs, you can snap a photo with your smartphone and quickly add the details that will make it very clear for others.
It’s an easy app to use and the visual guides will be much more efficient and accurate, so if you’re interested, check it out at: http://www.mymeasuresapp.com
As time goes on, we hear of more and more Mac-specific security issues because so many new users have migrated to Apple’s operating system.
There was a time when there was no reason to install a third-party Internet security program on a Mac, both those days are long gone.
Despite the excellent tools built into the macOS, there are still points of exposure that should be addressed, especially with all of the browser-specific exploits.
The more careless the users, like with those youngsters in your household, the more important it is to have that extra layer of protection.
Users that spend a lot of time downloading and installing new programs, games and apps are at a much higher risk of exposure to new risks.
Cyber-thieves have also learned that those using the more expensive Apple computers are more likely to have more money, making them a more appealing target.
Remember, the Internet provides direct access to your computer from anywhere on the planet, so adding layers of security is always a good idea.
An essential component of doing business these days is having a website, but it’s only effective if it’s available.
Ensuring that your window to the world is up and running is the focus of this tip.
If you own or are in charge of any website, there’s a free tool available that will automatically monitor your site called “Up Time Robot” you should know about.
It checks your site every five minutes and only sends you an email when it can’t access it, which generally means that it’s down for the entire world.
If you operate more than one website, there’s still no charge as you can monitor up to 50 sites with a free account.
Since there are so many possibilities that would suddenly make your website inaccessible, it’s best to know as soon as there is a problem so you can address it.
This resource only takes a minute or two to get setup, so if you don’t already have something that monitors your website, get that extra layer of comfort at https://uptimerobot.com
Many companies try to lure you into a paid service by offering what appears to be a free credit reporting service.
Ongoing credit reporting service generally charge a fee, but you can get a free report once a year using https://www.annualcreditreport.com
If you’d like more of an ongoing resource for monitoring your credit files, a website now owned by Google called CreditKarma is an option.
The basis for this free service is that it will offer you deals on various financial services based on your actual credit scores, so you’ll have to be OK with providing even more info to Google.
CreditKarma can be accessed via your computer or mobile devices via the web or by downloading their app.
Keeping track of your credit files to avoid becoming an ID theft victim is important and CreditKarma https://creditkarma.com provides lots of great tools for doing just that.
One of the most important things in achieving goals is actually putting those goals in front of you so you can keep them front of mind.
Most people that use the Google Calendar may not have noticed an option for creating an event called Goals.
Google’s developers felt that if you treated goals like calendar events, you’d have a higher chance of achieving them.
Unlike standard events that get added to the calendar, goals are managed to avoid time conflicts and can be kept on the schedule so you eventually can mark it as done.
The Goals feature will only appear when you are using the Calendar mobile app, but once it’s on your calendar, it will bug you on your computer and your smartphone.
You can now have your calendar nag you to accomplish tasks that you aren’t all that motivated to complete on your own via the calendar you use every day already.
If you’re interested in experimenting with this feature, here are the instructions: http://bit.ly/2QgxFFp
Covid has restricted travel in so many ways, but taking a road trip in the U.S. is still a viable option.
There are plenty of resources for the obvious places to visit, but if you’re looking to experience locations that aren’t where all the crowds go, check out a web resource called Road Trippers.
You start by typing in where you will start and end you trip to find lots of options in between.
What’s great about this tool is that you can see how long it will take to get to each destination, so you can be more strategic about your trip as well as calculate the fuel expense.
Even after you’ve decided on the major points of interest, you can discover a plethora of additional sites to see using Road Trippers zoom tool.
If creating your own itinerary is too much for you, you can start with lots of existing trips on the site and modify them to appeal to your senses for a quick way to create a plan.
Check it out at: https://roadtrippers.com
A critical component in Internet security requires that you have a unique password that is long and complex for each of your online accounts to protect you in the event of a breach with any of the companies that you do business with.
Trying to remember all those passwords is a fool’s errand, so you’re going to have to come up with some way to securely store the passwords for all your accounts.
You can certainly write them down somewhere and do your best to keep the password list hidden or take advantage of secure tools such as Roboform https://www.roboform.com to do the work for you.
Not only can it help you with complex password storage, but it also has secure form storage for all those addresses and account numbers you routinely use online.
Once you’ve set it up, you can use some automated tools to open a web browser tab and input your username/password with one click of the mouse and all you have to do is remember one primary password from then on.
You can also secure the primary password with two-factor authentication to further reduce the ability of hackers to take over your accounts.
The promise of the Internet was to create one-to-one connections for anyone that participates.
One of the travel connection services online is in the realm of hotel reservations that are no longer needed by the original booker via a group that calls themselves Roomer.
It’s essentially an exchange for buyers and sellers of hotel reservations similar to those that help those looking to sell concert tickets by making it much easier than selling on their own.
Our tests of the site seemed to imply that the best deals are available when you are searching for a room in a large urban area.
Keep in mind that flexibility is the key to getting the best deals, which means if you are limited to a specific number of days, this may not yield the best results.
Taking advantage of the entire unneeded reservation is the best way to save money because you’re helping the original booker out.
This is also a bookmarkable website in the event you ever find yourself in a situation of hotel reservations that you can’t use: https://www.roomertravel.com
Streaming media subscription services that provide access to huge libraries of music, tv shows and movies are a very common part of most households, but it’s not limited to just streaming media.
There’s a popular subscription service for those that love magazines at https://www.magzter.com
The main subscription option will provide you with access to over 5000 publications from lots or different countries.
The subscriptions start at $10 a month but can be much cheaper if you choose an annual plan https://www.magzter.com/magztergold/checkout
They also have a less expensive Goldlite option that limits you to 5 magazines a month if you don’t need the all-you-can-eat plan.
While their library is pretty comprehensive, some specialty magazines that are only available directly from the publisher won’t be an option.
There’s a 7-day free trial for anyone interested in taking the service for a test drive too.
Not a single programmer that makes a living creating new programs and websites was born with the knowledge.
They came into this world knowing nothing about coding and learned it through by doing it.
Whether you plan on coding for a living or just want to understand the digital world a little better, today’s tip is for you.
A website known as the Code Academy https://www.codecademy.com can be the springboard for anyone interested in the lucrative world of coding.
The step-by-step instructions for learning the basics of writing code is easy to follow on this website, no matter what your tech skills.
The intent of this site is to help you go from zero knowledge to a basic grasp of coding so that you can decide how far you want to go with it.
This is another great resource for parents and kids to use together to enhance everyone’s appreciation of all things digital.
For those that engage in stock trading on a daily basis, the ins and outs of the world of investing seems pretty straightforward.
But the vast majority of the general public is intimidated by all of the jargon and the possibility of losing money.
Most assume that it would take way too long to really get a grasp on stock trading, so they leave it to others, which can also be a good way to lose money.
For a more approachable way to learn about the market, check out the fun tools at https://www.wallstreetsurvivor.com
They’ve adopted the approach of gamifying a complex environment to help people demystify what seems unlearnable.
If you’ve tried reading a technical book or watching a confusing investing video with no real impact, this could be the way for you to learn while having fun.
You don’t just read about investing, you actually do it with their virtual market platform without ever having to risk a single penny.
Making mistakes is how we learn so much in our lives and now you can do it risk-free at Wall Street Survivor.
It’s a great tool for learning about the market with your kids as well because you can create a family competition to see who can outperform the market!
For most drivers, the smartphone has become the go-to device for music, podcasts and navigation while in your vehicle.
Positioning your phone within your line of sight in your vehicle is incredibly important as distracted driving has become a serious problem.
I’ve tried just about every form of holder for my smartphone including suction cups, cup-holders, adhesives and magnets, but the most useful form of holder that I’ve found leverages the thin blades of your air vents.
The Airframe from a company called Kenu provides you with multiple options for mounting your phone on any of the air vents in your dash.
They have various models that are designed to work with just about any type or size of smartphone even if you’re using a large case.
The only time that this approach becomes a problem is in cold weather when your vents are blowing out hot air.
If you haven’t found the right solution for your car just yet, take a look at the options at Kenu’s website: https://www.kenu.com/collections/vent-mounts
It’s virtually impossible to function without email in this day and age and it’s also very difficult to keep junk messages from appearing in your Inbox.
The filtering technology has definitely gotten better, but it’s far from 100% effective, so the aggravation is something that we just have to live with.
The spam screening uses various tactics to try to identify unwanted messages that can range from specific words to images that may be embedded in the message.
An overly aggressive approach can result in something more impactful as legitimate messages can get caught in your spam filters.
With this in mind, we wanted to remind you once again to check your spam or junk folder on a regular basis so you don’t miss important messages.
This task also gives you an opportunity to update your filter so messages you find from legit senders are added to the ‘not spam’ list.
Reviewing your junk folder regularly makes it a lot less work as the number of messages you have to scan through is smaller.
We started testing out smartphone apps that offer language translation many, many years ago when one app stood out called ‘Word Lens’.
What was a pay app became free when it was acquired by Google and integrated into their own Translate app.
This quickly became our favorite translation app because it can foreign words on signs or menus along with the ability to translate handwriting or even having someone talk directly into the app.
Whether you’re going to another country or just trying to decipher words from another language, this is one of those apps everyone should have on their smartphones.
A common mistake made with translation apps is trying to translate long, complex sentences, but if you keep it to a couple of words, we’ve found Translate to be extremely effective.
Another tip is to pre-load the app with basic words like ‘hotel’ or ‘grocery store’ in the language of the country you plan to visit in the event you don’t have access to the Internet.
Not many people think about the ability to send an email at a specific time, but scheduling messages is actually possible.
If you’re one of the millions that use Gmail every day, there’s an add-on called Boomerang that you may want to look into.
The useful features that are included in this tool go way beyond just the ability to schedule when an email message goes out.
Anyone that deals with a large number of messages every day would benefit from using it.
Not only can you schedule outgoing messages, but you can schedule messages to reappear on a specific date, so you can be timely with your own responses.
If you’re in business, customer relation management (CRM) features in Boomerang are also worth checking out.
Learn more at: https://Boomeranggmail.com
Few things are as frustrating as a slow Internet experience, but it could be your behavior that is to blame.
Ever since the browser world adopted tabbed browsing, lots of people have slowed their surfing way down.
It’s no doubt an incredibly convenient feature, but when you get carried away, your computer’s performance will suffer.
The reason for this is that each tab you create uses up a chunk of the working memory which is limited no matter how expensive your computer may be.
So the first thing you can do is minimize the number of new tabs you open unless you really need them.
As soon as you are finished with any tab, get in the habit of closing it right away.
Because it takes RAM to fuel all your browser tabs, everything you try to run on your computer will suffer, not just your web browsing.
Another option for those that do need to have quick access to lots of tabs is a free add-on called OneTab: https://www.one-tab.com
It’s a quick install and easy to use, so freeing up working memory no longer requires you to restart your computer.
The great part of this utility is that it appears that the info you want to quickly access is loaded and using memory, but it’s not.
Getting locked out of one of your own accounts is aggravating, especially if the process of regaining access is overly complicated.
Some companies like Facebook know that this could happen down the road and have created a way for you to quickly prove that you are the actual owner of the profile.
The Trusted Contacts option in your Facebook security settings is one that is worth checking out.
It allows you to select at least 3 or up to 5 of your friends that can be of assistance when you get locked out of your profile.
Facebook can then send a special code to all of the friends in your trusted contacts group.
Each of the codes will be different and you’ll need any 3 of them to recover your account, which also makes it impossible for any of your friends to get in by themselves.
You may never need this, but it could come in very handy down the road.
It’s like giving your friends a small portion of a secret code that only you can use if you’re ever locked out.
Today’s tip is for both avid travelers and those that rarely travel because it can save you money in either situation.
An app called ‘Hotel Tonight’ was created to help fill as many hotel rooms as possible by providing special last-minute deals to guests that need a room on the same day.
It’s a win-win proposition as both the hotel and the last-minute booker get what they want.
It’s an excellent tool for anyone that finds themselves in a position of having to book a room unexpectedly but wants to save money.
We’ve tested the app in various situations and it seems to be a better deal in most cases.
You can use the website, but we think this is an app that deserves room on your smartphone even if you don’t travel that often.
They have deals in lots of popular cities both domestically and around the world.
Learn more at: https://www.hoteltonight.com
It’s no secret that tracking everyone online is a big business and it’s done by virtually everyone you interact with on the Internet.
It may seem like we don’t have any choice in the matter, but there’s actually a lot that you can do to manage just how much of what you do gets tracked.
One of the easiest to use options is called ‘Disconnect’ because it’s a free browser add-on that works in real-time while you surf and search.
They offer their plugin for all the major browsers, so it will work right in the tool you’re already using.
The moment you activate it, your location is no longer trackable as all your requests start to come from the Disconnect servers.
It’s an eye-opening experience to see all the hidden tracking systems that accompany virtually every web page you visit when you start using this tool.
You can now control who gets what information about your Internet usage every time you get online by using Disconnect!: