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 smartphones and tablets have more powerful processors than the what NASA had to work with for getting man to the moon in the late 60's.
Your mobile devices also contain your very private thoughts
& a loads of sensitive information that you want to keep from the prying eyes of others.
For some reason, so many of you still don't think of your mobile devices the same way you do your laptop or desktop computer, but you must know that they are the same thing, especially when it comes to storing personal information.
This lack of connection is why so many of you still haven't added a basic step to protecting that valuable personal info by simply activating the lock screen option.
Many of you don’t activate it because you don’t want to be bothered every time to input the code, but the alternative is pretty dangerous.
Their is an exponential increase in likelihood of losing or worse, having a mobile device stolen, so just take a minute to protect your devices while you're thinking of it.
The rest of the security features in your phone are completely useless if you don’t lock the front door!
Lots of Internet users are more frequently thinking about online privacy for all their digital interactions.
When it comes to search engines, there's is a way to stay anonymous if you use alternative sites such as https://DuckDuckGo.com
It's a pretty obscure secure engine but it gets a lot of attention from privacy advocates because it doesn’t do what the popular search engines do: it doesn't track anything.
It won't save your search history, the dates or times of your queries, info about your operating system and computer or any of the other tracking points commonly used by virtually any website that you visit.
While DuckDuckGo excels in the privacy arena, don't expect it to be as powerful as Google. This might change the search results that you may be used to seeing.
If you want to see the difference, do your own search tests using the same queries so that you can see what you're giving up in exchange for the privacy.
Whether you are technical or not, in business, it's likely to find yourself in a situation where you are facing a tech-based decision when your working on a website.
Having technical decisions placed in front of non-technical decision makers results in tough decisions on the plethora of web technologies available for the project.
Both Fortune 500 CEO's and small business owners know that what other companies are using on their websites can help make the decision a bit more informed.
An excellent tool at https:\\BuiltWith.com can be very helpful in understanding web technology trends in general.
Just by typing in any website address at the site will generate a report on the various technologies used by that site; also good for knowing what your competitors are using.
They also generate reports on web technology trends allowing you to compare the technology that you are in the process of evaluating to see if it's out of favor or being used more.
The Builtwith.com web tool is a great and free intelligence gathering opportunity that I would highly recommend to anyone considering a web tech decision.
If you’re household is like most in the U.S., you have lots of devices that need to be charged via USB cable which requires a lot of adapters to plug into outlets in order to get them charged.
This forces you to gather many of the devices to one location instead of just charging wherever an outlet exists.
If you’d like a solution to make charging your USB devices just about anywhere in the house or office you’d like, checkout the ‘Snap Power’ solution.
Snap Power has created replacement power outlets which include USB ports on both sides for charging your mobile devices.
You can get them for as little as $20 with varying discounts when you purchase packs of 2 to or more.
The install can be done in a minute or two because there are no wires or batteries needed for these unique plates that use their built in power prongs to connect.
So just by replacing any wall plate in your house, you can add a new dual charging station.
Check them out at https://www.snappower.com
If you are among the millions that has acquired one of Apple’s larger screen phones but you only use it in the portrait mode, you are missing out on many hidden features.
Virtually every productivity app on your phone from the calendar to email to messaging have special features that only become available when you flip your phone sideways.
For example, you can see your emails in split screen mode, which lists your messages on one side and a preview of messages on the other side.
Viewing stock quotes sideways also makes use of the extra real estate using the split screen to provide more detailed info on the stock you’re viewing.
Try typing with your iPhone sideways to give you more room per key and in some cases, provides some additional keys.
You will discover lots of useful hidden features when you simply turn your phone to the landscape mode. Just start viewing all your apps in landscape mode to see what you’ve been missing.
Anyone that has a website or a blog for a small business knows that it's one of the best ways for customers to get to know your business.
But do you actually know if your website is always available? Are your customers able to connect to it whenever they want or is there downtime that you can't see?
If you are not 100% certain that your site is always up, you should take a look at https://uptimerobot.com
UpTimeRobot can monitor your website every 5 minutes and it is completely free.
Sign up for a free account, you can start monitoring in about 30 seconds on up to 50 sites.
You will get alerts by e-mail when any of your websites take a dive, so you won’t have to worry about some else alerting you hours after it went down.
If you don’t think this is a real problem, guess again! It commonly happens to websites of all sizes. If you have an e-commerce site, you know how much downtime can cost you.
Their monitoring dashboard is simple to understand, so you can quickly view the history of your site and see repeat problems that you wouldn't otherwise know about.
Again, this free tool at https://www.uptimerobot.com can monitor up to 50 websites for you.
Has your pup gotten porky?
It fido starting to fill out?
When your dog has become more of rug and less of a running partner, pay attention to today's tech tip.
If you are wondering if your dog sits around too much, a device for dogs called the 'FitBark' can let you know.
The small device can track just how active your dog is during the day with something they call a daily BarkScore.
Before the FitBark, there were lots of fitness traking options for us humans but nothing for our 4-legged friends.
With this tiny device on your dog's collar, the FitBark will let you know how active your dog is being at any given moment.
Even when you are out of town, you can see when the dog sitter took your fur baby for a walk and how long those walks are.
When your dog is feeling a little sick, giving your vet the details of your dog’s activity in the past few days, including how they have been sleeping can be very useful.
The FitBark will let you see how much activity your dog has gotten while you were at work and if they need some more. It should keep their tail wagging!
Ever forgotten any of your passwords? Don't feel bad, we all have.
Did you know that if you get locked out of your Facebook account that one of your friends can help you get back in?
Facebook launched a security feature some time back called "Trusted Contacts" to serve as an optional way for users to recover their accounts with the help of their online friends.
To use this option, you just pick 3 to 5 of your Facebook friends that you trust that can get you back in control of your account if you ever get locked out.
If it happens, Facebook can send a special security code to those friends you previously chose, who can forward these codes to you so you can get back in.
You will need at least three security codes to recover your account, which keeps any one friend from using their recovery key to access your Facebook account.
If you set this up, you won’t have to answer security questions or fill out long online forms to try to prove you are who you say you are; your trusted friends make it possible.
To select your Trusted Contacts, go to the security settings section of your Facebook profile, which will generate a notification to those friends that they have been enlisted as your trusted contact.
Think of it as picking your friends that you would trust with a spare car or house key.
Anyone that owns a home can relate to the classic Tom Hanks movie 'The Money Pit'.
Even when your home isn’t the money pit that is portrayed in the movie, it still seem like it's an endless list of tasks that's waiting for you to get done.
One of the best ways to avoid surprises is by being proactive with maintenance for items that you know are in need of regular attention.
Anyone that wants a little assistance remembering or even learning which maintenance tasks need to be done should look into a web resource and app called BrightNest.
BrightNest will allow you to create a customized list of tips and also lets you schedule thoses tasks based on your home’s needs. It does so, by you building a profile of what appliances you have, the type of flooring and countertops and if you have a pool or not, for example.
Beyond the scheduled maintenance tasks, there offer lots of tips for cleaning, organizing and maintaining those common areas of you home.
Using the mobile app provides you with reminders and alerts, while serving as a reference guide when you’re shoppting at your hardware store.
For a digital assistant to keep you on top of the important tasks of being a homeowner, go to https://BrightNest.com for lots of free help!
In the past, I’ve warned of the dangers of using images that you find online if you decide to use them on your website or blog without explicit permission from the rights holder.
It’s pretty obvious that many users on the Internet just don’t realize that they’re actually violating copyright laws when they post what they think are ’public' images on their site.
You can avoid getting caught up in costly legal situation by making it a point to review all your images that you’ve posted on any website or blog that you own.
When you aren’t sure where any image came from, the best course is to delete them and replace them with items that you know are not violating a copyright.
Getty Images and other services like them offer large libraries of images that you can legally embed on your online sites for free, as long as you stick to their guidelines.
Another option is using images that fall under a 'Creative Commons' license which means that the owners of the images are allowing you to make use of their image for free following certain terms and conditions.
Another option is to purchase your legal images from resources like https://BigStockPhoto.com for just a few dollars each.
Ignoring image copyrights can end up costing you thousands of dollars per image when you are caught, so don't ignore this issue.
My advice on this issue is posted at https://www.datadoctors.com/help/columns/21988
E-mail is one of those things we just can’t live without these days, but how often does it become a huge distraction that can put a dent in your productivity?
When your devices are setup to constantly alert as a new message arrives, manually turning the notifications on or off is also a bit cumbersome
Wouldn’t it be great if you could simply pause those incoming messages for a while when you need to focus?
Gmail users can do just that with a free add-on called ‘Inbox Pause’.
Inbox Pause is a simple tool that adds a button which allows you to pause or un-pause your inbox with the click of a mouse.
It also allows you to notify people that you’re currently in ‘pause mode’ in the event their message is urgent.
The banner at the top will remind you when you are ‘pausing’ so you won’t forget.
Download the add-on at:
I’m constantly searching for interesting tech related items to talk about and once in a while, I discover something truly amazing that can connect people.
Once example is an app called ‘Be My Eyes’ it’s a simple but incredible idea.
An inventor in Denmark created the app which allows blind users to connect with sighted users of the app for help using a video connection.
Sighted users use the app to ‘be the eyes’ for those needing visual assistance with small tasks, like explaining what a street sign might say, describing what is in a can of food or confirming the expiration date on a milk carton.
Anyone with a smartphone and the desire to help others can get involved simply by installing the app.
As part of the community, you will earn points each time you help anyone, which then elevates your level in the community, providing you with more opportunities to help others.
If you want a cool way to do something that makes you feel good, checkout https://bemyeyes.com to get the app.
Google has for many years offered an incredible number of free productivity tools that are especially usefel for businesses.
A tool that most people have never used and is one of my favorites is 'Google Trends'.
The Google Trends tool will allow you to take advantage of their huge database of search terms used by the entire Internet so you can see how often any term is typed in for Google searches.
It’s a powerful tool for finding relevant keywords that will help your business attract users looking for your products and services; it’s a powerful market research tool.
When you search for terms, you can reduce the focus to a country, a state or even just a language which will produce a line-chart displaying the interest over time.
It'll allow you to adjust the time span from between the past hour back to 2004 and show you the differences between various terms over time.
It’s an excellent way to find search terms that are seasonal, which is helpful in creating time sensitive marketing plans.
If you're one of the many that have not used Google Trends, take a second to see just how this incredibly powerful tool can help your business.
Get started at https://Google.com/trends
If you’re like me, your smartphone is now your primary mode of communication, but then there are those times when you would rather not hand over your personal number to allow someone to contact you.
Whether you’re trying to sell an item or do business with folks in another state or even country, you would likely prefer that your personal number stays private.
In those instances when having a second number would be nice, there’s an app for that and it’s called TextMe Up.
TextMe Up will allow you to generate special local or even international numbers, for those specific one-off situations that will allow you to keep our cell number private.
TextMe Up also allows you to text anyone in the world using a different number, as long as you’re ok with ads in the messaging app.
Anyone that could use separate phone numbers for various activities in your private or public life, should checkout the TextMe Up app.
Your first number is free and the app works on iOS and Android devices: http://TextMeUp.com
Cyber-thieves are constantly creating new ways to take advantage of us because we use the Internet on a daily basis.
The web browser is how you navigate most of what’s available online, which is why so many exploits focus on exploiting your browser.
It's also common to experience various issues with your browser, so today’s tip is a troubleshooting step when issues do pop up.
Make sure you have two different browsers installed on all your devices so you track down Internet issues more easily.
The next time you run into an Internet access situation, if you switch to the alternate browser, check to see if the issue goes away. If it does, you’ll know to look into your main browser and try things like clearing your cache or running a deep malware scan.
If when you change browsers, it doesn't change your problem, then it’s more likely to be an issue with your device, the modem or your router, which should be reset all together.
Chasing the wrong side of a problem can be quickly avoided if you try this easy troubleshooting process first.
A Rutgers student recently posted a plea to the thief that stole their laptop letting them know that they don’t care about the lost computer, but they’re willing to pony up $1,000 for what was on the computer.
5 years of work including their thesis was on the laptop and that laptop only. Imagine losing something that valuable, that easily?
So how could this unfortunate situation have been avoided? Quite simply with a backup.
We help users all the time that bought an external hard drive, called it a backup but didn’t realize that it’s not.
An actual backup means you are able to point at your files in more than one place. When you use an external hard drive and the your files are only there, that is not an actual backup.
They should live in your Documents folder on the computer and a second copy should be saved on the external hard drive.
Anytime you are working on critical documents, like a thesis, don’t forget that you can also use ‘save as’ or copy those files to any flash drive.
You should also consider on of the many online backup services for your important documents because they will take care of backing up automatically.
Whatever you do, do something because the worst kind of backup, is no backup at all!
Most of us are storing half a forest of paper in our filing cabinets at home or in storage and have been contemplating taking on those piles of papers.
If you are attempting to eliminate as much paper from your life, it’s a daunting task made obvious as soon as you open your filing cabinets. So, how and where do you get started?
First step is to sort and sift with a purpose! The mountain of paper will likely include old owners manuals, tax records from 20 years ago, really old credit card receipts and paycheck stubs from a job you don’t even have anymore. Toss the useless stuff first.
Second step is to shred and recycle old stuff! Many important documents may already be online, so your don’t need to keep all these old paper copies. Start building your recycling pile.
Third step is if it isn’t already online... scan it! Pile those important papers in one stack and scan them.
Forth step is to stop killing trees! Just about every business you deal with offers a paperless option for your accounts. Convert those accounts to stop the flow of useless papers.
The final step, especially if you are a business owner is to look at a service such as https://www.earthclassmail.com, because they can virtualize all your mail, by scanning things that generally pile up on your desk.
Remember, with no more paper, comes no more paper cuts!
Every so often, we tend to get behind and sometimes we get so far behind that we really need to start over.
It's really hard to stay on top of the deluge of emails we get on a daily basis and when you get a couple days behind, it can seem like it’s impossible to get caught up. You can easily end up with hundreds of messages in the Inbox that you haven't been able to read.
When you find yourself submerged with a pile of emails, your only way out may be to declare “email bankruptcy”. This means you will be deleting every message in your inbox. It’s like a financial bankruptcy; you’re writing off the losses and starting over.
The best way to declare email bankruptcy is to send a message to all the people you care about letting them know that you’ve filed email bankruptcy and if they’re waiting on a response from you, they need to resend those messages.
When you do this as a group message, be sure that you type all the addresses in the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) section so you keep all those email addresses private.
How many times has this happened in your family?: “Hey, I can’t connect to the wifi” or “sweety, my email isn’t working again” or “I can’t get on Facebook”!
When experience any kind of nagging issue with your tech, whether it’s your desktop or laptop computer, tablet or smartphone, remember what your shampoo bottle says.
Lather, Rinse & REBOOT! Rather than lather, rinse & repeat, we’re saying Lather, Rinse, Reboot to make it easier to remember.
If your smarphone’s email program is stuck, or you can’t get the WiFi connection to work even though it says you’re connected... Lather, Rinse, Reboot!
If your computer starts running like molasses or that spreadsheet just isn’t adding up... Lather, Rinse, Reboot!
When your laptop can’t connect to your favorite online resources or the screen goes blank randomly... Lather, Rinse, Reboot!
All computing devices will deplete resources as they’re used. The longer it’s been in continuous use, the more likely that the resources have been sucked up.
Whenever you terminate an app or resource, it returns most of its memory to the operating system, but a portion of that memory has been lost, so after a while, you can run low on those essential resources.
The next time your computer acts catty, your desktop is dismal, or your tablet is getting tardy, before you call the IT hotline, remember to Lather, Rinse, Reboot!
If you need a little boost to make your morning runs a lot more fun, checkout the
Zombies Run app.
Zombies Run is one part Runkeeper and one part Walking Dead and it’ll turn your morning run into a run-for-your-life virtual adventure.
Out of energy on your run and pushing to bring yourself to finish that last mile? Well, maybe a bunch of virtual zombies breathing down your neck will help you with the adrenaline you need.
That's the concept behind the Zombies, Run app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices. It gives you a totally immersive running game and audio adventure right on your phone.
Here’s how it works: Before you begin your run, you just start the app, pick a ‘mission’, slap on your headphones, and hit your run.
Each mission has various goals such as get supplies, rescue others, delivering news to a base and of all things, keep ahead of the Zombies.
With 200 missions, Zombie Chase interval training and using your own music, it provides you with the best of both worlds - a solid morning workout while saving the rest of the world from being eaten.
So if you’re looking for more excitement during your morning run, then try running away from Zombies.