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 can not believe that you were caught doing this on video! Have you seen this yet?
This is one of many 'social engineering' scams that are growing in popularity with the intent to dupe unsuspecting people all over the Internet.
They can get you so concerned about what the video contains, that you will likely let your guard down.
If you do fall for this scam message, the site you end up on that has the ‘video' will most likely tell you that you need to update something called a ‘CODEC’ or some random video player in order to watch the video about you.
If you are worried about what is on this incriminating video, you'll probably let your guard down and permit a malicious program to be downloaded and installed.
That will be all it takes to trap you in a silent scam that can allow any number of other attacks to occur.
If you allow this malicious software to be installed on your computer, it can allow remote hackers to do just about anything they desire!
Don’t expect to see a notice of their arrival as they won't announce themselves.
We have been seeing an uptick in this scam, so be on your toes and don’t ever install any video player or update that just pops up on your screen.
If you are like most people, you likely have a ton of info stored on many of Google's popular services, whether it’s your e-mail, contacts, pictures, or music.
If you are a regular Google user, have you ever worried about what would happen to all your personal files and information if suddenly you were to pass away?
It isn't the most pleasent thing to think about, but we should really all be thinking about our critical digital assets in this way.
Google has created an option that allows you to assign a 'trustee' to your accounts which can only access your information if you don’t log-in for an extended period of time.
You get to choose the inactivity interval which can be between 3 to 18 months which will automatically send trustees an access notification.
You can setup up to ten trustees and choose what information that they can access and by which trustee, so certain things can go to certain people.
It only takes a minute or to get it setup and it could really come in handy should anything unforseen ever happen.
I’ve posted the link to the instruction for the Google Inactive Account Manager at DataDoctors.com/radio
Popular search engines like Bing and Google are wonderful for finding what we want on the Internet, but the exchange for this service are that they are able to gather lots of valuable marketing information about us in the process.
Generally, the customized results for our searches are actually very helpful, but because of all the privacy concerns these days, lots of users want a more private way to search the Internet.
A web resource called Startpage is responding to this growing desire for privacy and offers what they are claiming to be the world’s most private search site.
Most search engines will log your IP address, what you're searching for, what sites you are coming from and which link you chose to click on in the search results.
With Startpage, none of these things are recorded, but they still allow you to take advantage of the power of Google but in private.
The site serves as sort of a security blanket between you and Google, much like Harry Potter's invisibility cloak when you're searching on the Internet.
Learn more and try it for yourself at https://Startpage.com
One of the best things about Google Maps is that it allows you to pop into a "Street View" of just about any street that their mapping vehicles have been on.
Google’s "Street View" Cars have been roaming and recording our streets since 2007, but in 2014 a new feature was added that many of you still may not know about.
After you grab the peg-man & drop him on your street, the initial images you will have are the most recent.
But did you know that you could travel back in time for the same street view by simply clicking on the small clock icon just under the address in the upper left-corner of the window?
In general, you will see dots on the timeline for each time that the view was captured going back to 2008.
You can not only see the current view from a previous year, you can also move around and see the rest of the street images from that year.
It is the closest thing to time travel we have available!
Go traveling for yourself at https://maps.google.com
One of the most common pleas for help I get almost daily is from folks that keep running out of space on their smartphones.
It’s an even bigger problem for iPhone users because there is no option to expand the memory like you can on many Android smartphones.
Dumping unnecessary apps will certainly free up a little room, but deleting old pictures and video will free up a lot more.
Getting rid of videos in particular will free up a larger amount of space since a two-minute video can take as much space as 80-100 images.
But an area of the phone that most users don’t think about are all those old text messages, especially if they came with photos and videos as attachments.
My wife’s smartphone had over five GBs of valuable space taken by old her text messages because so many of them photos and videos attached.
If you are one of the many struggling with an ongoing space problem, I’ve published a column with tips for freeing up storage on your smartphone at DataDoctors.com/radio
An e-mail address is often required as verification whenever you want to sign up for an online service or need to download some forms of information, but when you use your regular e-mail address, you’ll often end up with more than you may have bargained for.
When you don’t necessarily need to hear from a site after your initial interaction, using a temporary e-mail address allows you to get through the verification process without exposing your personal e-mail account to future unwanted messages.
While there are dozens of free temporary online mail services available, one of the easiest to use is called 10MinuteMail.com.
You simply go to the site to get a disposable e-mail address that is usable for 10 minutes. Everything you need is on a single page, including any of the messages that get sent to your temporary address.
If you do need more than 10 minutes, you can just tap the link for 10 minutes more which will extend the time before your address expires.
But keep in mind that 10 Minute Mail accounts aren’t usable to reset passwords down the road, so make sure you use them wisely!
If you are an avid outdoor enthusiast, you know that keeping your iPhone protected while you’re in the wild is best accomplished with a solid phone case.
A well designed case will protect your phone from the 2 common threats: getting it wet and dropping it.
If you are a really hard core adventurist, you'll probably benefit from a submersible/waterproof case that will still allow you to take excellent shots below and above water.
This wacky combination has been created by Optrix, which are called adventure cases from the Body Glove company.
They are waterproof all the way down to 1 atmosphere for you scuba diving fans, which is 33 feet for you snorkeling fans AND they have been drop tested up to twenty feet.
What makes these cases different from all the others that I’ve seen are the unique lenses that are interchangeable and add features like telephoto, wide angle and macro image capture to your iPhone all while it is still in its case.
Now you can capture that awesome photo or video without having to stress out about ruining your expensive phone.
Before you go on your adventure, checkout the interesting options at http://Optrix.com that’s O P T R I X.com.
We're all aware that phishing scams and spam are often used by hackers to set booby-traps that can allow them to exploit us.
Most savvy users have their guard up when using their e-mail service, but that isn't the only way that you will run into these clever traps.
Something that's been around for a while that's referred to as ‘comment spam’ and it is on the increase.
Before, you could spot these "out of context" posting with things like work from home offers mixed in the comment thread, but they are getting more devious.
When breaking news hits any of the social media networks or popular news sites, user comments are always going to follow.
You may now see another user making a solid point with a link to learn more about it, but you need to be extremely careful just like you are in email.
From now on, even when you think the user and their post may be legit, avoid clicking the link...instead, do your own search using their title for the info just to play it safe.
If you are a devoted iPhone photographer, there's little more frustrating than lining up for that perfect shot just to have the image come out blurry.
You can tak several pictures in a row as one way to help improve your odds, but a lot of times the movement is caused every time when you tap on the screen to take the shot.
Holding still while gently tapping will go a long way to reducing these useless images, but there are other ways to take the picture that many of you may have forgetten.
The first is by using the volume button on the side of your phone, which will make it seem more like a traditional camera when you're holding the phone sideways.
If you use those famous 'white headphones' plugged into your iPhone, you can also use the volume buttons to takevpictures as well.
Using your headphones to snap pictures can come in very handy, especially if you are trying to take a candid shot or you're using a tripod.
Whatever you do, just remember to hold still longer!
Hey sweetheart, I need to print something from my smartphone!
This tech request was from my wife and it reminded me of a tech tip I provided years ago that is more relevant today.
Since most of you use some type of Google service daily, why not include the ability to print just about anything from anywhere with the Google Cloud Print option.
Anyone with any type of Google account, can simply configure their printer connected to their computer so that it’s available through the Internet.
This will allow you to print from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets but it also allows you to send print jobs from your work PC to your home printer or vice versa.
In fact, you could even invite others to print to your printer, if they needed to, like a friend that’s having a printing emergency.
Google’s Cloud Print will work with both cloud-ready and traditional printers and also allows you to send print jobs from a variety of apps and devices.
To get started with this super useful tool, go to http://Google.com/cloudprint
That smartphone in your hand has substantially more processing power than the entire group at NASA had for the 1969 lunar landing.
Your phone also holds virtually every private thought
& a large amount of sensitive information that you wouldn't want just anyone to see.
For whatever reason, many don’t think of their smartphones the same way they do their computers, but it's essentially the same thing when it comes to your sensitive personal information.
That may be why so many of people still have not taken the simple step in protecting all your valuable info by turning on the lock screen.
A common reason that many don’t turn it one is that don’t want to be bothered with tapping in a lock code every time you want to use the phone, but you should know that the alternative is scary.
The likelihood of you losing a phone or having it stolen is very real, so take a second to protect your phone right now.
All the other powerful security features built into your phone are useless if you don’t take the time to lock the front door!
Trying to remember all your passwords continues to be one of today's biggest tech issues that we all face. Password management tools to help with this problem are being developed by a large number of companies.
You can add Google to the list with their 'Smart Lock' feature that works on Android devices, Chromebooks and with Chrome browsers on your various devices.
You have been able to save a password in your computer's browser for years, but when you pick up your smartphone to access the same site, you'll have to remember your password again.
The 'Google Smart Lock' option is designed to give you a way to sync up your passwords, so when you save passwords on your smartphone, they will be saved on your computer as well and vice versa.
Their Android app is also designed to keep your phone unlocked when it is in a safe place by recognizing variables like location, your other trusted devices or even from your voice and then lock things down when it appears that it may not be safe.
It can help reduce the frustrating forgotten password scenario on your regularly used devices.
Learn what it's all about at http://google.com/smartlock
Most of us have been in a public setting working on our laptops, tablets or smartphones with the creepy feeling that someone may be snooping to see what you have displayed on your screen.
Lot's of sensitive information can be seen by nosey people nearby if we aren’t careful; it even has a name: Visual Hacking.
Whether you are dealing with a nosey passenger sitting right next to you on an airplane or the questionable guy sitting behind you at a coffee shop, there's something you can do to protect yourself.
They're called 'privacy screens' and they've been around for a long time to protect your laptop, tablet or smartphone from snooping eyes.
The way they work is by darkening your display unless you are directly in front of it, keeping those off to your sides in the dark.
When it comes to your portable devices, they also provide an extra layer of screen protection for your glass in case you drop it.
They are simple to put on and remove, so if you're one of the millions that spends tons of time working with your tech in public spaces, take a look at 3M’s protectors which I've linked to at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you're like me and find that you're using a smartphone for productivity tasks these days, you have probably already realized the biggest bottleneck: the keyboard.
While today's on-screen keyboards are great, they can be a bit of a challenge even for those with small hands when trying to type a large amount of text.
An alternative that's effective is using the voice recognition option as an input, but so many of us are still too keyboard concentric.
If you have to type a lot of text or work within a spreadsheet, a full-size keyboard is just more useful, so you can make it so!
Most tablet users are already familiar with connecting a wireless Bluetooth keyboard to their large devices, but haven’t thought about connecting it to their phones.
The setup process is much the same as with all Bluetooth devices, so it is easy to get connected.
Virtually any Bluetooth keyboard has the ability to attach to any mobile device, so if you've already bought one for another device, now you know you can use it on your smartphone as well!
The Web is an incredible tool for researching comparisons between products and services, but what can you do when you aren’t sure what to compare?
Here is what I learned to do when I know of at least one product but don’t necessarily know about the competitive items.
I just type the letters ‘ S' (as in versus) after whatever it is that I am searching for.
For example, if I’m shopping for cars and want to see the comparisons to Honda's Civic, I would put 'Honda Civic vs’ as the search condition, then hit the enter key.
I find this approach really helpful when I’m for mobile apps in just about any category. Once you know of one app, you can quickly discover lots of others you didn’t know existed using this tip.
It’s especially effective with anything in tech, since there are so many resources online comparing gadgets, software and websites from around the world.
Now, this isn’t a fool-proof method for every item, but I’ve found that it’s pretty useful lots of times because Google’s algorithm uses the keywords you’re typing with their powerful popularity ranking.
Try it for yourself!
"If you come to fork in the road, take it!"
When you hear or read a 'famous quote' and wonder who said that, this tip is for you.
A handy web resource called Quotery.com has compiled a comprehensive database of famous quotes in an easy to use interface.
You can now search over 125,000 quotes & proverbs directly, by author or topic.
Whether you are researching something, working on your presentation or updating a blog, Quotery.com is a useful resource for accurate quotes.
It’s billed as an encyclopedia of wit and wisdom, so it can be fun just to randomly snoop around in the database for interesting quotes.
What I like about this resource over so many others is that they provide sources and context around the quote & author.
They also allow users to suggest edits to keep the resource as accurate as possible.
Here’s fun suggestion: read all of the rest of the amazing quotes from the great American philosopher 'Yogi Berra'.
You aren’t going to need Quotery.com that often, but when you do, it’s an invaluable tool!
In my many years of helping people with their tech, one recurring issue seems to persist; every user knows that they should back up their critical data, but they just never seem to get around to doing it.
If you are one of the masses that have this important task on their "to-do" list, but haven't been motivated to getting around to it, see if this helps:
The very real threat of ransomware, which is when malicious hackers gain access to your system and lock down all your critical data, including any attached backup drive is getting worse.
The latest versions are even spreading themselves in ways we have never seen before.
If you do become a victim of this attack and you don’t have a verified off-site copy of your data, your choices are to lose everything or pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get your sensitive personal files back.
Online services like Carbonite's unlimited backup are one of the best ways to avoid ever having to pay any ransom, because your actual backup isn't connected to your computer when it's attacked.
You should consider this a wake up call, especially if you don’t have any kind of secure off-site backup in place!
There is a recurring thread that has surfaced from practically every major breach or breakin you have heard about these days.
Most of them started with a simple, but targeted phishing message sent to someone in the breached company.
Cleverly crafted e-mails that appear to be an inter-company message, also known as spear-phishing, are also snaring many victims of ransomware.
An effective way to trick someone is by creating fake messages that appear to be from a fellow employee in the same company.
This means you need to start paying very close attention to all messages that appears to be from others in your company.
If your organization wants to test it's employees by running a spear-phishing test, checkout the tools at http://KnowBe4.com.
The offer a free phishing security test that can be used to test up to 100 employees to see how if they'll fall for a message that appears to be from the IT department at your company.
You will quickly learn how vulnerable your company may be to this growing threat.
I’ve posted the link at DataDoctors.com/radio.
These days, when we want to get info on anything we generally do a search using Google but when you’re searching for info when a problem pops up on your computer, you need to be extremely careful.
A growing issue with Google search results is with misleading tech support ads posing as legitimate companies in an attempt to victimize unsuspecting users.
For instance, if you search ’Norton Antivirus Tech Support’ you’ll get lots of companies posing as the official tech support site but they actually have nothing to do with the real company.
Another trick they employ is posting toll free phone numbers in the ads knowing that a lot of people will just call the number when it comes up in a search without ever clicking through to the ad’s landing page first.
For all intents and purposes, you can’t trust companies just because they show up in Google search result because scammers have figured out a way to game the system.
Here’s how to make absolutely sure you are getting the legitimate support resource from any company you do business with: just type their address in with a /support at the end.
For example, for Norton you would type Norton.com/support which will take you directly to their support page.
I’ve posted more tips for avoiding this growing scam at DataDoctors.com/radio
You probably know how important maintenance is for keeping things working smoothly, when it comes to your car, pool or your own physical fitness.
But when it comes to computers, for some reason, the concept of maintaince has never hit the general public.
Imagine how expensive (& painful) owning a car would be if you never did anything to keep it maintained!
With that in mind, I’m hoping to encourage you Windows users to take a simple first step in maintaining your PC by using the free built-in utility known as the 'Disk Cleanup' tool.
The tool pretty much does what the name implies, which will help to free up valuable disk space and make your computer run a little faster.
The utility resides in the 'Programs' menu under Accessories and then System Tools.
If you've never run the tool before or it’s been a long while, it'll likely take a bit of time for the program to do its job, so be patient.
I highly recommend that you start doing this at least once a month!
Anyone that has to work in an office of cubicles, a.k.a a cube farm, you know how easy it is for the wandering eyes of co-workers to see what you’re working on when you step away from the desk.
It can really be annoying if you happen to work with a bunch of pranksters when you don’t take the time to lock your computer down before stepping away.
You should get into the routine of locking your system down using a simple keyboard-shortcut before walking away, which will keep those snooping eyes off your screen and prevent the grief from your prankster co-workers.
Windows simply need to press the Windows Icon key and the letter “L" (as in lock) to make it happen.
If you’re a Mac user, just press Control+Shift+Eject at the same time to lock down your desktops.
If you're Mac doesn’t have an ‘Eject' key, just use Control+Shift+Power instead get it done.
This tip only makes sense if you’ve setup a login password, so make sure you remember this important step.
Parents can also use this process to keep young children from using the computer when they aren't supposed to be on it.