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!
I’ve got an out of this world tip for anyone with a creative mind and an iPhone.
Why put up with the limitations of this planet, when you can expand your horizons with the Alien Sky app.
instead of being limited to filters and color correction, this app will make everyone that sees your images do a double-take.
You can add effects like realistic-looking planets and m moon and combine them with lens flares to any picture on your iPhone.
Imagine your friends seeing two moons or a comet streaking over your shoulder when you post to Instagram or Facebook.
This app has an incredible collection of effects that will change the sky in any of your images with these amazing options.
There’s no shortage of creative options in this unique app, which you can learn more about at: http://www.brainfevermedia.com/alienSky.html
One of life’s chores that will never go away is doing laundry, which is why it’s something that every child should have a firm understanding of.
Since the most likely excuse for doing their own laundry is that they don’t know what to do, parents now have the perfect response: there’s an app for that!
This easy to use app provided the instructions they need not just for washing and drying clothes, but also folding and ironing as well.
It also explains the symbols on clothing tags so they can’t use that excuse either.
Your kids will get step-by-step instructions for every aspect of laundry and it includes a timer so they’ll know when it’s time for the next step.
This could save parents lots of money with a first-year college student that has to figure out what to do.
So many people of all ages could use this type of help, so spread the word about the Complete Laundry Care iPhone app!
Laundry Pro - Care Symbols https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.kloobi.laundry
Google offers a wide assortment of incredibly powerful tools and most of them are free for either personal or business use.
One of my favorites that seems to be lesser known by a lot of people is their Trends tool.
Imagine being able to leverage Google’s incredible database of what people search for every day; that’s what this tool offers!
Knowing what people are searching for as well as the related terms that are used are incredibly useful for everything from Search Engine Optimization to every facet of digital marketing.
The tool allows you to narrow the data by country, state, or even a specific language for the results.
You can see how certain search terms have trended over time going all the way back to 2004.
This is really useful when looking at the seasonality of certain types of searches, which is essential for building a solid marketing strategy.
If you’ve never used this tool, it really is something you should explore for a variety of reasons, especially those that are in business: https://trends.google.com
The tricky thing about aging is that the brain slows down a bit, which I can clearly attest to!
I’m often times searching for the right words for something that I am thinking, which never happened in my youth.
For this all too common situation, I turned to the Internet for help and found it via the Reverse Dictionary tool located at Onelook.com
You can type a general idea of what you are trying to say with a couple of words or even a sentence to get started.
An example would be using “the constant desire to travel”, which returned the word wanderlust amongst many others.
It’s also great for generating a lot of words related to a specific category, like large birds.
This is one of those resources that is awesome when you are driving yourself crazy trying to remember a word, so it’s a solid bookmark candidate.
Striving for happiness is something we all would like to aspire to, but we could all use a little help with staying focused.
Would you believe that there’s an iPhone app for that?
An app developed for doctoral research at Harvard University called ‘Track Your Happiness’ set out to discover what it was that made people happy.
The app helps you track your happiness, which in turn helps them understand the various factors that actually make you happy.
The way it works is through alerts you’ll get a couple of times a day that asks you how you are feeling at that precise moment.
Your responses combined with various other elements helps the app figure out what it is that allows you to be happy.
It’s also helping the researchers collect real-world data that can help them better understand the happiness that we all seek.
A byproduct of the app is that it seems to help users to focus on happiness, which could be just as powerful as the data.
Learn more at https://www.trackyourhappiness.org or Android users can use their web app at: https://go.trackyourhappiness.org
There is one regular task that just about every household deals with almost weekly that could use an app: grocery shopping.
If you’re like most families, you have a variety of ways that you add items to your shopping lists, which can lead to things falling through the proverbial crack.
It’s even more challenging when you have a large number of people chiming in on what needs to be picked up from a variety of communication methods.
A well thought through attempt to reduce both the missed items an inefficient communications is in the form of an app called Capitan.
Lists are great, but how about a grocery list that understands where items tend to be located in the store that also learns what you regularly purchase.
The real advantage is the location-based option in the app that can notify the rest of your clan that you just walked into the grocery store in case they have any last-minute requests.
It’s a really interesting approach that’s free at: https://www.getcapitan.com
We’re all doing so much more with our smartphones these days, including tasks that in the past would only be done while sitting at a computer.
The challenge to getting real work done on a smartphone is the keyboard as an interface.
Even if you have tiny fingers, tapping out a lot of text isn’t the most efficient way to get things done.
A wonderful alternative is the ever-advancing voice recognition technology, but in many cases, it’s still not the best way to go.
Having a regular keyboard for large quantities of text input is still the best option, which you can actually use even with a smartphone.
If you have a tablet, many of you have a Bluetooth keyboard to make things work better but hadn’t thought about it being of use on your smartphone as well.
Since it’s Bluetooth, it’s really no different than any other device that connects that way, so pairing the keyboard is quick and easy.
It’s not ideal for everything, but if you already have a Bluetooth keyboard, keep in mind that it can connect to any of your mobile devices in a pinch!
Mobile apps are clearly the biggest reason that smartphones and tablets so popular and downright indispensable these days.
Lots of businesses and small organizations have thought about creating an app, but finding the money to pay for such an expensive venture is tough.
That’s where an online resource called the App Machine can play a role.
They focused on creating a tool that didn’t require an extensive programming or coding background that just about anyone can use to create an app in a short period of time.
This is far from a substitute for a professional app builder as it’s just a basic do-it-yourself tool, but if you have a simple need, this simple tool could be all you need.
There’s really no limit to the kind of organization that might want an app, which they highlight on their website to get your creative juices flowing.
The tool itself is free to use, so you can try building an app with no risk; you’ll only pay a monthly fee if you decide to publish the app in the major app stores.
If you’re one of the millions toying with the idea of having their own app, learn how the App Machine can help at: https://appmachine.com
A request from my spouse to help her print something that she had on her iPhone brought back this tip that I’ve been sharing for years.
It’s highly unlikely that you don’t have a Google account these days, which is why this tip is nearly universal regardless of the device you are trying to print from.
It’s made possible by making the printer that is connected to your computer available via the ‘cloud’ which is just a metaphor for the Internet.
Once you’ve set it up, you can print from your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer no matter where in the world you are, because it uses the Internet to send the print job.
It’s a great way to print something to your office printer from home or vice versa and can be a lifesaver when a friend runs out of ink in the middle of a critical print job.
There are some printers that are ‘cloud-ready’ but they aren’t necessary for this awesome trick to work.
Everything you need to know to get started is posted at: https://www.google.com/cloudprint
If it seems like it’s taking forever for your smartphone to charge with certain chargers, you aren’t imagining things.
A number of variables can have a dramatic impact on how long it takes for devices to charge, especially the amperage and the quality and condition of the charging cables themselves.
The power output, which is measured in amperes needs to be high enough to charge your battery in a timely manner.
It’s best to use the specific charger and cable that came with your phone as it’s properly matched, but when you are forced to use an alternative, try to find something that has the same amperage rating.
There are fancy electronic measuring tools that can accurately tell you what the output of a charge is or if you have an Android-based smartphone, there’s an app called Ampere that’s fantastic.
Not only can it tell you the charging and draining data, but it also monitors the temperature and gives you some insight into the health of your battery.
If you have a hodgepodge of chargers, using the app when plugging into each one will tell you the fastest chargers in the bunch.
Get it from the Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gombosdev.ampere&hl=en
One of my favorite online resources that I have featured on many occasions is If This Then That tool which can automatically perform lots of tasks across many of your online services all at once.
For those that have started to see the incredibly powerful automated tasks that are available through the IFTTT website, I’d recommend extending the power to your phone’s camera with their companion app called ‘Do Camera’.
The pictures you take with the Do Camera app can now be integrated into these automated tasks.
You can automatically have pictures sent to specific Facebook albums, transfer images of important receipts and paperwork saved to your Evernote account, or lots of other possibilities.
The best part of the entire IFTTT universe is that smart people that have tested out various recipes make them available for anyone to use, so you don’t even have to create your own.
The app can work with most of the major picture related websites, so it’s useful no matter which platforms you’ve been using.
Check out the free apps available for both Android and iPhone users at: https://ifttt.com/products/do/camera
Who said “When you come to a fork in the road, take it?
Well-known quotes can come up in a variety of ways, but when you want to know who’s responsible for the quote, there’s a website for that.
Quotery.com is a web resource that has spent the time to document who said what when it comes to famous quotes.
They’ve created a huge database of proverbs, quotes, and quips that can be accessed by searching for the quote itself or exploring an author or any topic.
It’s a really helpful tool for anyone doing research on quotes that want to make sure the references are correct.
For those that don’t have anything to research, just randomly searching the database can be a lot of fun.
What’s great about this resource is that it goes beyond just who said what by providing additional context and sources.
With all that being said, if you run across an entry that you don’t totally agree with, you can throw in your two cents to help improve the database.
Add this one to your bookmarks so you’ll be able to quickly answer the ‘who said that’ question the next time it pops up!
The Wunderlist list-making app has been a favorite of ours for many years, which is why when we heard the news that it was being shut down on May 6th, we were a bit dismayed.
As happens in the software world, they were acquired by Microsoft and they want to migrate everyone to their own listing app which is in a word…meh!
In our search for an app that did as much as Wunderlist, we actually found one that does even more called AnyList.
It’s got all the basics that would expect from a list app, but it also extends the usefulness by integrating with voice commands through Alexa and Google Assistant to add items to your lists.
For those that like to cook as much as we do, it also has the ability to import items from recipes you find online, which builds your shopping list in a snap.
It’s easy to share any list with anybody via email or text messaging and swiping items removes them from the list.
If you have large Wunderlist lists, you can export them and then copy/paste then into Anylist as well. Learn more at: https://www.anylist.com
Email is both a blessing and a curse, especially if you’re trying to get work done and the messages keep flying in.
By default, most email programs are set up to alert the user when new messages come in, and turning it off when you want to get some work done isn’t really that efficient.
What email needs is a pause button and for those using Gmail, there is something available the does exactly that!
The Inbox Pause option is part of the offerings in the add-on from Boomarang.
Not only can you quickly pause and unpause incoming messages, but you can also alert senders that you are in the pause mode in the event that the message they sent is urgent.
When you hit the pause button, a big yellow banner will appear at the top and you can choose to automatically unpause the inbox at a specific length of time you choose when you pause.
It’s a really easy way to control the flow of interruptions that plague all of us on a daily basis.
Learn more at: http://inboxpause.com
Let’s face it, we’re all spending a lot more time online these days and the bad guys know this, so they’re stepping up all of their scams.
Since everyone on the Internet is using a web browser, it’s one of their most obvious targets.
Not only can a malicious trick cause your browser to experience problems, but a host of other causes can also as well.
With this in mind, one of the basic troubleshooting tips we’ve stressed for years is the need to have at least 2 different browsers installed on all your Internet-connected devices.
The reason for this is to quickly test to see if the problem you are experiencing has to do with the browser or your connectivity.
If you switch to another browser and the problem goes away, you’ll know to try things like clearing the cache or removing toolbars and add-ons.
If the problem persists when you switch browsers, then the problem either exists in your operating system or in one of the devices that connects you to the Internet, which should all be restarted.
Checking simple things when you’re having issues with the Internet can save you a lot of time, which is why this is a fundamental tip for troubleshooting.
No matter what you are doing to stay active, any type of physical activity is good for you, but if you like to jog or run to stay in shape, today’s tip is for you.
No doubt that just about everyone you see when you are out running has some earphones or earbuds in while they're exercising.
That’s just a testament to how powerful music can be as a motivator, especially if it’s in sync with your running pace.
The best songs are those that match your stride rhythmically, but creating a manual list of songs that work is a lot of work.
An app that I’ve featured many times before called Rock My Run makes it so much easier to have music playing that matches your pace.
It’s all based on BPMs or beats per minute which is what makes it possible to match your running strides.
Rather than creating your own, you can search the existing playlists to see which ones work for your workout.
You can try out the free commercial-sponsored version to see if it works for you and upgrade to the non-commercial, 'total control of the beats' version if you feel it’s worth the money.
Rock My Run is available for both iPhone and Android users at: https://www.rockmyrun.com
I had one of those questions that when it was initially asked sounded kind of wacky, but once I let it sink in, it was actually a very good one.
They asked me if I knew of any way to make regular speakers usable with Bluetooth.
My initial thought was that wireless Bluetooth speakers are super cheap and readily available, but the sound quality can be a bit off.
They had a really nice set of speakers that just needed to be adapted to allow a Bluetooth signal, which is exactly what Logitech offers with their Wireless Speaker Adapter.
This small device has standard audio outputs, so it can be connected to a traditional stereo system or powered computer speakers.
As long as you have a way to amplify the signal coming out of the adapter, you can make virtually any traditional speaker a Bluetooth compatible sound system.
It’s a $40 device that can dramatically improve the quality of sound coming from any Bluetooth streaming device: https://bit.ly/357A0dj
The value of your personal information has always been high for criminals, not just since we all started using computers and the Internet.
The bad guys love when lots of people do the same thing because it makes it so much easier for them to exploit lots of people.
One of the behaviors that they know most people will follow is in the area of passwords; they know you use your passwords on more than one online account.
We’ve heard about massive data breaches so much that we’ve almost become numb to the reality, but when a company that you have an account with gets breached, you need to pay attention.
The Internet underworld long ago started sharing stolen credentials with each other and today, there are huge datasets on the dark web that are called known password databases.
Your email address or addresses are generally associated with the stolen passwords, so they know that all they have to do is try them on all the major sites online or even on your smart devices around the house.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know when a company that you had an account with gets breached?
Well, here are a couple of ways to do just that!:
Anyone that uses a laptop on a regular basis faces the same challenge that everyone experiences…deteriorating battery life.
The longer you’ve owned it, the more likely you are experiencing relatively short times before you have to recharge the battery.
This is because there are a finite number of charge cycles that the battery has before it starts to degrade.
If your laptop has a removable battery, taking it out when you know you’re going to be connected to AC power for an extended period eliminates the chances of creating unnecessary charge cycles.
Another upside to removing it when it’s not needed is that you keep it from heating up, which is another cause of battery degradation.
Most of the major components inside your laptop generate heat, so why subject your battery to it when it’s not needed?
It should be obvious, but make sure you completely shut down your computer before removing the battery and plugging it into a battery backup will give you an extra layer of protection should your power ever goes out.
Just about any document of importance, especially if it has legal significance, will need to be notarized in order to make it official.
In the past, this meant tracking a notary down and setting up a time to meet face-to-face to get the document processed.
There are a variety of reasons that this can be problematic, which is where an online service called Notarize can be more convenient.
This virtual witnessing platform uses remote video to process your document and it’s completely legal in every state.
You start by uploading the document to them through the platform then follow the steps required to make it official.
The virtual part comes in when the remote notary watches you sign the document via the video conference.
Another awesome benefit of using the service is that once you’ve completed the document, getting it sent off to the receiving party is a breeze.
As you would expect, this convenience comes at a slightly higher cost of $25.
We’re living in an age when minimizing the need for an in-person meeting can be a good thing, so add https://www.notarize.com to your productivity links for that next time you need a notary.
The industry standard for word processing is by far Microsoft Word, which anyone that’s ever worked in an office environment will know.
One of the great and powerful features in Word is the ability to create macros, which are essentially a recording of a combination of keystrokes that can be launched via a keyboard shortcut.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have that same capability for all the web-based productivity tools we use every day?
Well, there is a Chrome browser extension called Auto Text Expander that will allow you to just that.
The only limit to how many ways you can use this free tool is your own imagination, as you can take any large chunk of text and assign it to a made-up word.
For instance, you could create a shortcut called bizadd which would quickly insert your full business address or create any number of signatures for your various email accounts.
What makes this approach so useful is that it isn’t just for Google’s online word processor called Docs; it works in any text field that you use on any platform.
It’s really a simple but powerful tool that you should add to your toolbox!: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/auto-text-expander-for-go/iibninhmiggehlcdolcilmhacighjamp