Data Doctors Tech Tips
Tech Tips for Non-Tech People
We give quick, one minute tech tips each weekday! Join us on a radio station near you as we talk tech. It's Tech Tips for Non-Tech People! You can post questions on Facebook anytime!
Our phones become much more than a calling device with the introduction of apps, which made our phones ‘smart’.
The vast majority of users when searching for an app to fill a need, will default to finding something that’s free.
With millions of apps in the app stores, unless you’re constantly checking to see what’s new, you’re going to miss lots of apps that you may have found very useful.
That’s where an app that keeps track of newly free apps called Apps Gone Free can help.
Many app developers will choose to make an app that normally costs money free for a very short period of time in an effort to get more users quickly.
Without something like the ‘Apps Gone Free’ app, you’ll have no idea of the latest offerings.
It operates using editors that will research and review apps that are temporarily free and provide a synopsis so you can decide whether to give it a shot or not.
The app provides daily suggestions based on the latest offerings, so you can go to one place to see the latest and greatest in free apps.
Apps Gone Free (iPhone):
Comparable Android App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.appsfree.android
A variety of translation apps have been available for your smartphone for quite some time, but our old go-to app was our favorite because it allowed you to translate physical signs using the camera on your phone.
Since it was acquired by Google some time back, it became a free app and more importantly, the technology was incorporated into the Google Translate app.
Not only can you translate words using your camera, you can convert handwriting as well as spoken word using the app on your smartphone.
It’s an amazing combination of translation tools that every traveler should learn how to use.
As with any translation app, it’s far from perfect, but if you stick to a small number of words, instead of long complex sentences, you’ll find it to be very effective.
The real-time translations is available in many languages and if you know you aren’t going to have a connection, you can download language libraries to your phone so that it still works offline.
This is one of those apps that we recommend that if you’re going to a foreign country, don’t leave home without it!
We’ve all heard the complaints from parents that lament how much their kids substitute screen time for physical play time. iPads are awesome entertainment and education devices, but only if what is being used on it has value.
If you have younger children that love using an iPad, take it to the next level with the system offered by the folks at Osmo.
What makes Osmo different is that it uses the iPad to encourage interaction with items in the physical world, so it’s a way to use what the kids love to expand their learning.
It’s a really interesting approach that uses a special stand and small mirror that goes over the front facing camera, which makes it possible for the app to see what’s going on in front of the display.
There are lots of different activities that it will encourage, such as Masterpiece, which allows your child to trace anything that is projected onto paper in front of the iPad.
Osmo could be helpful for parents that want to have their iPads do more than basic game play. Learn more at: https://PlayOsmo.com
Getting your day off to a good start requires some form of exercise for a large number of you.
Staying motivated to exercise can be increased by an app that will benefit others, based on you exercising every day.
An app called ‘Charity Miles’ will convert your daily exercise routine into a charitable contribution for lots of charities that could use the help.
Whether you jog, run or ride a bike every morning, your healthy activities can generate 10 to 25 cents per mile for charities using the app.
If you've ever seen those regular social media posts about Charity Miles from your social networking connections, you now know what they are referring to.
It's a great way to support well known charitable organizations on a daily basis, especially if you need to the motivation or are already motivated to get out there every morning.
Once you start using the app, you can think of yourself as one of those famous sponsored athletes doing something good for others!
Remember when we had to use the back button in our browsers to see a website we previously visited? The invention of tabbed browsing changed all that, allowing us to have lots of different websites open at the same time.
The downside to this awesome feature is that each additional tab takes up valuable working memory (RAM), which taken to the extreme, can cause lots of performance issues.
Closing tabs you no longer need is a good practice, but what happens if you click on the wrong tab by accident? Searching your recent History for that wanted page is one option, but there’s a much easier way to bring that tab back.
In any brand of browser, in Windows you can use the Ctrl-Shift keys and in the MacOS, you can use Command-Shift then tap on the letter 'T' to bring back your most recently closed tab.
It’s so much faster than searching through your browser History, especially for those pages you actually opened days ago.
The cool part of this tip is that it works for each subsequently closed tab as well, so simply repeat the keystrokes to keep opening previously closed browser sessions.
If you’ve been an iPhone user for some years, you’ve probably taken tons of pictures of just about everything under the sun.
Because it’s so easy to take pictures everywhere, most of us end up with a bunch of unwanted images that stack up and eat up our storages space.
The iPhone does a lot of things right, but managing old photos isn’t one of it’s strong suits.
If you’d like some help going through your old pictures efficiently, check out one of our favorite apps called Cleen - https://cleenapp.com
Instead of having to use thumbnails to figure out what’s in a photo, Cleen shows you the images in full screen mode so you can actually see the whole image.
What makes it so fast is that you simply swipe in one of three directions to tell the app what you want to do - up to keep it, down to get rid of it and for those images you aren’t sure about, to the left for the deal with it later queue.
At any point that you want to wrap things up, just tap the trash icon to get rid of the ones you’ve tagged for deletion so far.
Even though Facebook is something a lot of people complain about, they still tend to use it all over the place.
Have you ever borrowed someone’s computer to access your Facebook account and then forgot to log out afterwards? If you did, you know that whoever has access to the computer has full access to use your account.
Should you ever find yourself in the position of realizing that you forgot to log out of Facebook on another computer, all is not lost.
There’s actually a feature built into the Security menu that will allow to remotely shut down any session you may have opened, anywhere in the world.
The menu will show you every active log in, including the rough location, the date and time as well as the device used to access your account. You can simply look down the list to terminate any of the sessions you created anywhere.
This option is also a quick way to see if someone has nefariously gained access to your username and password, so it’s worth checking out from time to time.
If you’ve never done this, here are the step by step instructions for doing it: https://www.facebook.com/help/211990645501187
We’ve all heard the saying that we should make every day count, so are you going to remember something special that you made happen today?
It’s the driving question behind an interesting app called 1 Second Every Day.
The developer initially created the app as a way to document a year long trip he was taking.
By creating small reminders of your day, you can instantly be transported to any specific day or event using the app.
It’s a much more condensed way to relive those memories from every day of your life, if you’re willing to take the time to document something every day.
If you’re going on any kind of a trip soon, it might be worth using the app to help you easily capture those special moments in a way that’s a lot less complicated than generating a video.
Think of it as a personal documentary of your life that you will appreciate the most.
Learn all about this awesome concept at: https://1secondeveryday.com
How irritating is it when you expect a solid internet connection, but you can’t seem to get anywhere quickly either at home or on the road.
Figuring out why your connection is less than useful can get a bit complicated as you don’t know if it’s your device or something along the connections of the network you are on.
When it’s your computer and your own network, you have a little more control over tracking down the problem, but not so much when you are using someone else’s connection.
To help narrow down where the problem may be, checkout this cool add-on called ‘Connectivity Diagnostics’ for the Chrome browser that will diagnose your connection in real-time.
Adding this tool to your browser allows you to thoroughly test your connection and shows you any potential issues that could impact performance.
If you’re not tech savvy, you may be looking at a bunch of info that looks like Greek to you, but it’s useful info when you reach out for help from someone technical.
Check it our for yourself at:
What has made our smartphones so much more than just a calling device is the power of the apps we download and use.
If you or someone you know has been considering creating an app of their own for their business, today’s tip is for you.
An interesting web resource at https://appmachine.com could be an inexpensive way to accomplish what is usually an expensive proposition.
As long as your apps features are fairly simple, you should be able to generate something useful without having to know how to write code.
You can use the content on your website to help generate the basis for your app or build it from scratch using their building blocks.
Creating your app costs nothing as they make their money when you decide to publish the app via one of the two app stores.
Since there’s nothing to risk other than your time, giving it a go is as simple as visiting https://appmachine.com
Malicious websites have been setup all around the Internet just waiting for you to click on so they can attempt to exploit any unsuspecting visitors.
Lots of people preach that you shouldn't go to strange websites unless you know something about it, but that's a completely useless bit of advice in reality.
The next time you have to try to make a decision about whether you should take the risk of visiting a website that you aren't familiar with, checkout the free Site Safety Center from Trend Micro at: https://global.sitesafety.trendmicro.com
The site is a huge database of websites and their associated reputation as well as real-time evaluation tools that will check for signs of a questionable or downright dangerous website.
Each website address you paste into their 'Check Now' section will came back with one of four ratings that range from safe, dangerous to suspicious or if it comes back as untested, it will be added for future testing.
The tool will also present you with information on the generaly category of information posted at the website for a better understanding of the posted content.
Making an informed decision about whether a website is safe or not is made a lot easier at: https://global.sitesafety.trendmicro.com
The currency of the Internet is data and more specifically your behavioral data as you wander around the web. Everything you do is being tracked in one way or another, mostly to determine how best to advertise to you.
If you're interested in better understanding which websites and advertising networks are attempting to track you and provide you with some controls, checkout a web browser add-on called Disconnect: https://disconnect.me/disconnect
Disconnect provides you with total transparency of what types of requests are being made in the background as well as the ability to decide which ones are granted permission and which are blocked.
The free basic tool can be installed in most of the major browsers as well as a Pro app for iOS devices.
The tool changes the way that your computer is evaluated because it's being masked by the Disconnect platform.
By blocking a lot of the extra background requests, web pages can load a lot faster as well.
For a complete overview on how the tool works, go to: https://disconnect.me/disconnect/help
If you've been looking for a way to regain control of your internet activities, checkout the Disconnect add-on!
It seems that no matter how many ways we try to filter out junk email messages, some of it find a way into our Inbox.
Spam filters use a myriad of processes to screen out spam, but they aren’t perfect which means that some good messages can get caught up in the junk filters.
The various rules used to try to determine whether a message is ‘ham’ or ‘spam’ can be thrown off by the use of certain words or images in the message.
With this in mind, we wanted to remind you all to periodically check your junk folders for messages that were improperly marked as spam. If you don’t check it regularly, you won’t be able to catch these mistakes made by the automated filters, which can be trained.
If you’re folder is loaded with old messages, rather than scrolling through the whole list, try searching through the messages using keywords or names of people you’ve been waiting to hear from.
If and when you run across a message that was improperly filtered, you can tell your email program that it’s not junk so it will know not to filter them in the future.
This routine housekeeping is easiest when you do it on a regular basis, so consider creating a reminder to check your junk folder regularly.
Whether you invest directly in the stock market or through your 401K, unless you do it on a regular basis, it can be a bit intimidating.
You may feel like you’d have to spend a substantial amount of time to really learn how things work, but that may not be the case any more.
A website called https://www.wallstreetsurvivor.com is a virtual stock market simulation tool that also uses entertainment and games to teach people and help demystify the confusing world of stock trading.
Just reading a book or watching a video about trading stocks isn’t nearly as informative as actually doing it, which the site lets you do without risking any real money.
They use all of the media channels to provide you with instructions, lessons and a virtual platform to practice on.
If you really get into it, you can join a league and compete for actual prizes with your virtual portfolio.
If all those terms you hear financial reporters throwing around are confusing, you can get up to speed while having fun at: https://www.wallstreetsurvivor.com
Since it’s entertaining, it will be more interesting for youngsters too, so get them started early!
As much as virtual reality has been hyped up, it’s augmented reality that has a much better chance of providing usable tools for the average user.
Augmented reality combined with location data from your smartphone is proving to be a solid use for the technology. Back when I first tested Google Glass, one of the apps that made use of the platform was called Field Trip and it works just as well on any smartphone.
It’s much more than how Google Maps makes you aware of what’s around you because much of the information can be for things that aren’t even there anymore.
Lots of historic information for things around you can be learned just by opening the app while you are walking around.
You can let the app know what your interested so it can alert you as you wander around familiar or unfamiliar places. The things I’ve learned from the app around where I live an work have been pretty cool.
It can also be a great help when you travel, acting as kind of a virtual insider wherever you are.
Discover things all around you by downloading the app from https://www.fieldtripper.com
Your smartphone is actually a pretty safe way to access important information as long as you stick to apps from two main app stores for iPhones and Android devices and you haven’t disabled the built-in security controls for both platforms.
If you’re a tech savvy user, you may have decided to jailbreak your iPhone or root your Android phone, allowing you to download and install anything from anywhere, which also puts you at the highest risk of loading a malicious app.
That used to be the only way that the malicious apps could bypass the security in place by the two app stores, but those days are over.
Cleverly written text messages, emails or social media posts may entice people to ‘checkout a new app’ with fantastic looking features, which can lead you to a dangerous place.
In some cases, clicking through to the rigged website with the app can start the process of exploiting you with what looks like a totally legit website.
Just remember, only download and install apps that you specifically went in search of, because even what appears to be a legit link posted by a friend could be the result of a compromised social media or email account.
If you don’t have a security app watching over your installs, take a look at Lookout: https://www.lookout.com/products/personal
A relatively unknown feature that’s a gateway to an assortment of additional tools for Google’s free online productivity programs like Docs and Sheets is the add-ons.
The variety of features and options that can be added is amazing and worth the time to explore.
Sending faxes within the platform, creating a quick table of contents, working with labels and inserting your signature is just a sample of what can be added to the programs.
If you switched from Microsoft Office, but miss some of the features, you may be just a few mouse clicks away from beefing up Google’s online programs.
It’s been sitting in the menu bar the whole time, so take a minute and look for the Add-ons option at the end of the menu bar. When you click it, you’ll see the option to ‘Get Add-ons’, which will take you to the marketplace.
What’s helpful about the add-ons is that once you add them, they can be used with any past or future documents.
Once you start to realize how many great tools have been hiding in plain sight, you might want to put an annual reminder in your calendar to explore add-ons because new ones are added all the time.
If you’ve been using spreadsheets or word processors for a long time, you most likely know about the incredibly useful option of creating macros that are a combination of steps all rolled into one shortcut.
Well if you love macros and love your iPhone, then I’ve got a great app for you to checkout called Workflow.
This powerful app gives anyone the option of creating automatic connections with various tasks and apps on your device, which is done by a simple dragging of items within the app.
Virtually every popular app or task that you use on a regular basis can be setup to work together so that repetitive tasks can be boiled down to a single tap.
An example of a use case for this app is for those that try to find the same type of place in Google maps, such as a type of restaurant or juice bar as they are traveling around the country or world.
What’s great about the platform is that you don’t have to know how to create a workflow to use the app, as others have shared their workflows that you can try.
This app can take your productivity to a new high, so if it sounds interesting, check it out at: https://my.workflow.is
It’s common knowledge these days that a high percentage of exploits start with a phishing message that’s cleverly crafted.
Phishing is such a big problem that even the most tech challenged users know to be very careful and suspicious with all email messages, which is why the bad guys are focusing on other less obvious places to start cultivating victims.
Something that’s been around for a while is getting more sophisticated and that’s setting traps in the comment section of popular websites.
You’ll see lots of work at home or big money making schemes posted, which are pretty easy to know are spam posts, but that’s not what I want to warn you about.
Cleverly crafted comments from people that seem to be engaged in the conversation may include links to ‘verify’ their positions, but that’s where you need to be paying very close attention.
Avoid clicking the link and do your own search for what they claim is supporting evidence by putting whatever the headline is from the link they posted.
If the info is legit, it will have been indexed by Google, so don’t ever take any link at face value in the comments section of any website.
When you notice a strange vibration or noise while driving your car, you’ll take the time to try to figure out why, right?
For whatever reason, when it comes to your computer, you probably don’t have the same mindset.
Any unusual noise coming from any part of your computer is an indication that something mechanical inside is experiencing a problem.
Any type of grinding sound can be the bearings on one of your cooling fans, so if you notice a noise and then it goes away on its own, that could mean that it’s no longer spinning and cooling.
When a cooling fan stops spinning, not only is it no longer extracting heat, it’s acting as an insulator.
One of the most damaging sounds is clicking, especially when it’s associated with the inability to get your computer to start up. It’s generally a sign that you’ve get a mechanical issue with your hard drive.
It’s natural to want to try to get the computer to start, but repeated attempts to start a failing hard drive can cause further irreparable damage, which can mean that the data will become unrecoverable.
We’ve provided more tips and details at: https://www.datadoctors.com/help/columns/21814