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!
If you haven’t had a reason to get or use a library card for years, today’s tip may encourage you to do so soon!
One of the best-kept secrets of the public library world is that thousands of ebooks and audiobooks can be borrowed for free as long as you know how it’s done.
An app called Libby brings this awesome capability to your smartphone as long as you have a valid library card.
It allows you to search for available titles, sample the ones you’re interested in and borrow them from the libraries associated with your card.
You can download them for offline use or stream them to save the space on your phone.
The app synchronizes your bookmarks, notes and what you have on loan across all of your mobile devices, so you can start a book on your phone and switch to your tablet.
You can even send the ebooks to your Kindle, if that’s your preferred reading device.
Learn more at: https://www.overdrive.com/apps/libby
One of the challenges that smartphone cameras haven’t been very good at dealing with is low-lighting situations.
The latest iPhone 11 models do have specific technology designed to take much better pictures at night or in low-light settings.
Gaining night mode capabilities is great if you happen to be in the market for a new smartphone, but you don’t have to spend the big bucks to get better pictures at night.
The Night Mode Camera app was created for iPhone users that want a better chance of taking good pictures in bad lighting.
It uses artificial intelligence and computational photography technology to allow older iPhones to take better pictures at night.
Even if you own an iPhone 11, this app may be worth buying because it extends night mode to your front-facing and wide-angle cameras as well.
If you’ve been contemplating the purchase of the new iPhone because of it’s low lighting capabilities, this app may save you a bundle!
Search for the NeuroCam Night Mode Camera app in the Apple App Store to learn more: https://neural.cam
I, along with millions of other users, have loved the Wunderlist app for creating lists for many years. If you love this app as much as I do, I have some bad news!
Microsoft acquired it a while back and announced it’s going to replace it with their own to-do app, which I’m not a big fan of.
I’ve been looking for an adequate replacement for Wunderlist and I’ve settled on the AnyList app.
Not only is it a great list-making app, but it also offers integration with both Alexa and the Google Assistant, so you can use voice commands to add items to your lists.
Another awesome feature for those of us that love to cook is that it can import recipes from popular websites, making it easy to add the required ingredients to your shopping list.
You can easily share your list with anyone, send a list as an email or a text message and tap any item to cross it off the list.
The app is free for both iPhone and Android users with premium features that you can pay for if you find them useful: https://www.anylist.com
Taking better care of yourself by regularly exercising is a goal that we all have, but getting off the couch requires real motivation.
If you haven’t found the right way to go from your couch to running a 5K, you guessed it...there’s an app for that!
The app is specifically designed for beginner runners that want to work up to running a 5K that’s fun and easy to follow.
Their claim is that they can get you to the 5K finish line in just thirty minutes a day, three days a week, over a nine weeks stretch.
The training plan was developed by real trainers and includes a virtual coach that you choose to help you stay on track.
Not only will it provide the typical pace, distance and time information, it also has an in-app music player so you can stay motivated with your favorite playlists.
The couch to 5K app is free and available for iPhone and Android users: https://www.active.com/mobile/couch-to-5k-app
That smartphone you love so much is only as smart as the person using it, right?
I’m going out on a limb and guessing that you have yet to figure out every hidden option or feature that’s available in your device.
With that in mind, today’s tip is designed to make you smarter about your smartphone via the Drippler app for both iPhone and Android users.
You’ll get everything from tips and feature updates to instructions on how to do things you never knew was available to you.
It’s like a dynamic manual for your device that keeps getting updated.
Since the app is operating system based, you won’t get those frustrating tips that only work on the opposite platform.
The Drippler app is free with download links located at: http://drippler.com
If you think about it, the ability to schedule an email has lots of great applications, but very few people consider taking this approach.
Since Gmail is the most popular platform in the world, finding a tool that allows its users to add some time-based functionality made sense to us.
A productivity tool for Gmail called Boomerang offers a lot more than the ability to schedule the delivery of your messages, but that feature alone may be enough to add it to your setup.
The core service the add-on provides is for those that have a ton of messages that hit them every day. You can schedule messages to reappear based on a more appropriate time, so you don’t have to create a separate reminder to deal with the message.
It also offers some CRM capabilities by tracking messages for replies and suggesting a follow up for messages that have not been answered.
Manage your Inbox more effectively with the free tools from https://Boomeranggmail.com
That smartphone you can’t live without is an incredibly powerful computer that would have been considered a supercomputer in that not so distant past.
These tiny little devices are capable of capturing our world in high resolution without you having to go to school to learn how to take photos.
There’s so much automagical technology built into our phones that will analyze the setting and quickly make decisions on your part in an attempt to create the best possible image given the circumstances.
BUT, none of that amazing technology will be of any value if you don’t get one of the basics down when you take your pictures and that’s composition.
A great way to learn how to take better pictures is by using an app called Camera 51, because it will alert you when your current shot isn’t the optimum shot.
It uses on-screen suggestions whenever you are taking a picture with the app, which will help you understand what you are doing wrong.
If composition isn’t something you understand very well, start learning today with the Camera 51 app:
When was the last time you were at a website or tried to buy something and you were asked for an email address? Even physical retail operations often ask for an email address for a variety of reasons.
Most people just use one email address for everything, which makes it impossible to easily cut off or track down the original source of the junk you don’t want in your Inbox.
You can easily sign up for a second email service just for incidental needs, but that would require you to remember to sign into or check the other account.
If you’re a user of Gmail, there’s a much simpler way to manage this problem by using disposable aliases.
Gmail allows you to add a plus sign and any random text just before the @ sign as an alias. Example: [email protected]
Once you start using this method when asked for an email address, you can easily divert any messages that come with that address to a separate label, to the trash or even forward it to another account automagically!
The best part of this option is that there are no limits to how many variations you can come up with and there’s nothing to setup or configure to make it work!
Anyone that has ever had to physically drive around the streets of any city to research location information should always start with the awesome Street View option in Google Maps.
Google's vehicles equipped with 360 cameras have been driving the streets all over the globe for over 10 years, but they made it even better a few years back.
Whenever you start your street view from any desktop computer, it will initially show you the most recent set of images that have been captured.
The hidden feature that is less known is the timeline option, which can be activated by clicking on the icon that looks like a clock in the corner to the upper right.
The number of times the street view capture vehicles have recorded that street since they began in 2008 will be represented by a dot on the timeline.
The best part of this time based shift is that it's not limited to just the street you started on as all the same images that were captured that year can also be navigated.
It's great way to explore your old home town or the neighborhood you grew up in from the comfort of your own home!
The world has changed its entertainment viewing habits from traditional broadcast services to online videos.
When it comes to online video, nobody has more people watching then Google with YouTube.
If you’ve always thought about creating your own YouTube channel, today’s tip is for you.
Whether it’s for a small business or just capturing and sharing family related moments in life, you can control who gets to see anything you upload to your channel.
Getting started may seem a bit overwhelming, but once you get some of the basics down, it’s a really easy platform to make use of.
The best way to get your sea legs on YouTube is to visit Google’s Creator Academy that is chocked full of instructional videos and how-to’s.
All you need to do is spend a few minutes everyday at https://creatoracademy.youtube.com and you’ll be building your own channel in no time at all.
The cyber-security world views the tax season as Christmas for Crooks because they put a full court press on filing fraudulent tax returns.
Since the vast majority of taxpayers will receive a tax refund, the bad guys feel empowered to pull off this scam.
If they get their hands on your Social Security Number, they can essentially take over your ID for the purposes of filing a tax return before you do.
Anyone unfortunate enough to be a victim of this crime will get caught up in a quagmire of red tape to unwind the fake return and won’t see their actual refund for a long time.
Since we know that so many major breaches have included SSNs, the opportunity to do this has grown exponentially, but do your best to protect your SSN and file your return as early as is possible each and every year, as this type of fraud isn’t going to go away any time soon.
Who doesn’t love new technology as a gift during the holiday season? Well, with all the new tech comes to need to do something with the old tech.
For those that haven’t thought about it, your old technology contains lots of toxic chemicals, so if it powers up, it can’t be disposed of through the normal garbage channels.
Before you assume that your old tech is useless, check with your local schools, charities or even your friends and family to see if someone else can make use of it.
If no one wants it, you next step is to make sure you dispose of it responsibly.
When it ends up in our landfills, it introduces those toxic chemicals to the earth and potentially our ground water.
To date, despite attempts to get people to be responsible, a very small percentage of electronic waste is disposed of properly and is still ending up in our landfills.
Help us spread the word and remember that all Phoenix area Data Doctors locations serve as a year-round drop off point for all your e-waste products.
Anyone that’s uses a computer all day at work knows how it can lead to less than desirable posture, which can lead to other problems.
An ongoing problem from bad posture when sitting at the computer is CTS or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Depending upon how long it goes untreated, the only relief could be through a surgical procedure and downtime to recover.
The good news is that it can be easy to avoid by changing how you sit at your desk.
The chair height is the starting point, so make sure it set to allow for a ninety degree bend of your knees with your feel flat on the floor.
The position of your wrists should be as close to parallel to the floor as possible, which may require you to reposition your keyboard.
If you want a physical aid to keep your wrists in the right position, checkout the offerings from IMAK at https://www.imakproducts.com
People are talking about your business online, every day and it’s important to know what they are saying. If you haven’t started finding ways to monitor your online reputation, today’s tip is a good first step.
Google setup a simple keyword based monitoring tool called Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts) some years ago and it super simple to start using.
The website lets you enter your business name as the keyword, along with an email address to send to the alerts to.
Keep in mind, if you business name has more than one word, you should put quotation marks around the business name to avoid getting irrelevant alerts on each individual word.
When it comes to negative feedback from your customers, if you don’t know what they are saying, you can’t fix the problem or even appear to care to the rest of the Internet.
Ignoring negative feedback as if didn’t exist can be very harmful to your reputation. Responding in a caring way shows the rest of the world that you care and want to do what you can to make your customers happy.
There are lots of other monitoring tools for social media networks, but starting with Google Alerts should help you get started.
The tactics to take over your online accounts continue to grow in sophistication, which is why setting up 2 factor authentication on your online accounts is imperative.
This approach to security is best understood with your debit card, which requires 2 different ways to authenticate access: Your physical card and the associated PIN.
I equate not having 2 factor turned on as having a debit card that didn’t require a PIN in order withdraw cash from an ATM…super dangerous.
The second factor of authentication is something you typically always have with you - your smartphone!
Even if a thief steals your username and password, unless they also steal your smartphone and figure out how to unlock it, they won’t be able to get into your personal accounts.
It’s become available for just about every online account you may have, so learn how to set each one of them up at https://twofactorauth.org
The cyber security world uses a simple process for evaluating threats - think like hackers.
One of the most common items traded by the Internet underworld is your personal information and identity, which they generally acquire through fooling users.
Finding the most likely victims of their trickery makes their job easier, so focusing on kids is very common.
They know kids will eagerly download music, games and videos that appear to be free, which can have hidden trojan’s hiding in them.
They know that in most households, the parents share the same profile with their kids, which allows them full access if they can trick the kids.
Anyone with kids in their household should strongly consider reconfiguring their computers so the kids have a different profile.
The primary account for the parents can be the admin account, while the kids have a limited use profile to minimize the exposure.
This approach is how large organizations protect their sensitive data and it’s equally as effective for the average home user.
Today’s tip is a regular reminder that when you use the same passwords on multiple online accounts, you’re making it easy for the bad guys to win.
The only way to be secure with your passwords is to make sure you’re using some form of password management that allows you to follow our advice.
If using a program to manage your passwords is still too complicated, there’s another option that is more likely to be successful: just write down your passwords.
There are a number of ways to create a discrete password document that works best when you don’t use the word ‘password’ anywhere in or around the file.
In addition, creating a secret code system around your passwords, like a bunch of random character before your actual password will help secure the file even further.
No matter how cautious you are when it comes to your usernames and passwords, all it takes is a breach at one of the sites you use regularly to expose that password you are using everywhere.
Don’t make it easy for hackers; use a different password for each of your accounts even if you have to write all of them down to make it happen.
Today’s tip is our annual reminder to always pay attention to what you add to your computer or smartphone.
Those little changes on your screen that seem to creep in from nowhere is most likely happening when you add something new to the mix.
Most popular computer programs that are free will setup a relationship with another company that wants access to more people and include their product in the installation program.
When you know this is common, you’ll start to pay closer attention to those installation screens that pop up that most people never read and simply agree to get the program installed.
The trick is to get users to agree to use the standard installation option that allows the 3rd party garbage to make it into your computer.
They’ll try to make the ‘advanced or custom’ installation menu seem like it’s only for the hardcore nerds and geeks, but it’s not.
It’s actually the transparent version of the installation process they don’t want you to see.
Keeping the junk out to begin with is easily achieved if you always use the custom install option.
Being diligent will stop those useless toolbars, odd search engine changes or weird start pages from sneaking into your devices.
Paying attention to your long-term financial situation is something that everyone at any age should be focused on and quite frankly, the younger you start, the better.
If you one of the many that just hasn’t found the right tool to help you get started, I’d recommend checking out a website called Personal Capital.
In business, using a dashboard to track what’s happening is essential and doing the same with your personal finances is easy to do at https://www.personalcapital.com
The dashboard will provide graphs and data that starts with your net worth and extends to any investment portfolios you own as well as all of your banking accounts.
All this data is what makes it easy to start playing with ‘what if scenarios’ to help you find a path to retirement that is realistic.
This isn’t about trading stocks, this is about granular financial planning and monitoring via their website or mobile app that makes it easy to stay on top of your current situation and progress.
Get your financial dashboard up and running today at https://www.personalcapital.com
If you love music as much as I do, finding new songs and artists to enjoy is an ongoing pursuit.
One of the most common things that I’ll do is search through the greatest hits of any artist for both new songs and remembering old ones that I’ve forgotten about.
To that end, my search for hits landed me at TheTopTens.com a while back and it’s a great resource for discovery.
This isn’t some self-proclaimed music expert choosing their personal favorites, it’s a crowd-sourcing site that leverages the ‘wisdom of the crowds’.
This crowdsourcing rating site isn’t limited to music either, so it’s handy for just about any pursuit for the best of the best.
You can consume the content or get involved and vote on things yourself to help grow the collective intelligence.
If you can’t find a top ten list for something you seek, why not start the list yourself?
No matter what you are searching for online, leveraging the input from lots of others is made so easy at https://www.thetoptens.com
If you’re a camera buff with an expensive DSLR, it’s highly likely you have Adobe’s Lightroom installed on your computer for extensive image editing capabilities.
Whether you’re a photo nerd or a basic novice when it comes to taking pictures, having a powerful editing program like Lightroom on our smartphone is a good idea.
There’s really no limit to the number of image editing apps you can have on your phone, so this is one that I’d highly recommend you add to your tool chest.
Unlike the desktop version of Lightroom, the mobile app makes it very easy to make complex changes to all your smartphone pictures.
You can start with the pre-set options, but if you’re willing to take the time, learning how to use the manual settings will take your images to a whole new level.
You can download the free app for your Android, iPhone or iPad so you no longer have to settle for the basic adjustments that your phone limits you to!