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!
Tech gadgets are amongst the most sought after every holiday season, but the good stuff can be really expensive.
Anyone seeking that unusual but amazing tech gift that won't cost an arm and a leg, should checkout Cardboard from Google!
I have talked about this simple virtual reality tool before and anyone that still hasn’t experienced it will be blown away whether they are technies or not.
Google Cardboard is a small cardboard holder that turns just about any size smartphone into an incredible virtual reality headset.
There's large number 'Cardboard' apps available to amaze anyone ranging from Paul McCartney concert videos to virtual field trips using the 'Expeditions' app.
You can also truly experience the latest 360 YouTube videos in a way that will totally immerses you, making you feel like you are right in video you are watching.
For as little as $15 to $30 It would be hard to find a better all around gift or if you are more of the creative type you can even make them yourself at https://google.com/cardboard
Whenever a technology problem pops up and you want to find the tech support number, Google is always a good place to start, right?
A growing number of users are being scammed when they call what they believe to be the legitimate phone number for tech support because they found in through a Google search.
For example, searching for ‘Norton Tech Support’ displays mostly companies as the official tech support but in fact have nothing to do with the software company.
Many are also posting toll free numbers in the ads, knowing full well that a percentage of people will just call the first number that appears from a search.
One AZ woman was victimized for $7,000 over the stretch of a year because she thought she was working directly with the tech support for Norton.
The simple way to make sure you are getting the legitimate tech support resources for any organization is to manually type their web address and add the word 'support' to the end.
For example, for Norton you would type http://norton.com/support
I have posted more tips for avoiding these growing scams at DataDoctors.com/radio
Getting a handle on your financial situation while planning for your retirement is something that we should all be thinking about, but getting around to it is often overwhelming when you try to track everything manually.
One of my recent discoveries called https://www.personalcapital.com is something that can greatly simplify tracking all your various financial accounts.
I was rather quickly able to create a dashboard that was able to show me everything in my portfolio in one place.
Personal Capital gives you easy to use tools to see everything ranging from your net worth to a complete analysis of your portfolio and also provides some ‘what if’ retirement planning to help you understand what it's going to take for retirement.
This tool isn’t intended for active stock traders, it’s really for anyone that wants one place to see a dashboard of their financial information.
They also have smartphone apps that will allow you to quickly check your financial life daily, no matter where you are!
Start truly managing your personal financial situation at https://www.personalcapital.com
This time of year, we see people on the Internet claiming that Christmas lights are causing problems on their wifi network.
While this is certainly technically possible, the real chances of this type of interference causing a wifi problem is actually quite low.
Be sure not to plug those strings of light in the same outlet as your wifi router just to play it safe and should you think there is interference, it’s really easy to test it out.
Just check your connection speed with & without the lights plugged in at a speed test site like http://speedtest.net.
Your Wi-Fi signal is much more likely to be interfered with by your microwave oven, old cordless phones, a baby monitor or most likely from your neighbor’s wifi router competing with yours.
If your Wi-Fi router doesn’t automatically find the least congested radio channel, for 2.4 Ghz signals, the best channels to use are 1, 6 & 11 because they tend to have the least amount of signal overlap from other channels.
Android smartphone users can also us a free app called WiFi Analyzer (http://wifianalyzer.mobi) that can also help.
Anyone that knows me knows that I am a huge music nerd that's constantly searching for great music, old and new.
I often revisit older bands by searching through their greatest hits which helps with discovery and rediscovery.
While searching around last week, I learned of a website that I had never heard of: TheTopTens.com.
Unlike other top 10 lists that are generally created by a single person, this resource leverages crowdsourcing to compile what "the Internet crowd" thinks should be in the top ten.
It isn't just for music; say you want to get a new nail polish or how about gatherin holiday gift ideas?
Anyone that wants to help out can vote on any of the lists and you do not have the hassle of signing up for an account; just click to Vote!
Even better, you can start a top ten list of your own to get feedback, so there really is no limit to the lists you’ll find.
Whether you are searching for new artists, new songs or just doing a little research for something a little more serious, checkout http://TheTopTens.com.
Yesterday I gave you a tip on using GetHuman.com to find the contact information whenever you need help from large brands.
Today I want to tell you about a website that works with GetHuman and lets you avoid being stuck on hold when you try to reach out to customer service departments.
A service called 'Lucyphone' will wait in your spot when you are calling recognized help phone numbers and you get put on hold.
When you use Lucyphone to call support numbers, it allows you to press the * button twice when you get put on hold. This lets the Lucyphone system to hold for you and call you when an agent finally picks up.
Simply type the customer service number along with your phone number and click the connect button to get started.
The system generates a call to your phone with options to either connect directly or get their instructions for things like how to record your message for the person answering when they pickup.
You can even have Lucyphone connect to completely different phone number when the support person does finally pick up.
Get more on this awesome free service at http://Lucyphone.com
We all need to get in touch with the various customer service department at large companies from time to time, whether to clear up billing issues or just to get help on something we purchased.
In some cases, the phone numbers are easy to get, but more often these days, many companies are doing their best to hide their toll free phone numbers.
Turning to Google for phone numbers can present you with a myriad of common scams, so there’s a better way called http://GetHuman.com
GetHuman has put together a list of the many ways to contact major organizations which can include numbers, email addresses, social media accounts and even live chat options when they exist.
We're not talking about a single number, but every number for every department they can find that provides some way to contact customer service.
Sometimes they can even provide the average wait times to get to a real live human being.
Bookmark GetHuman.com for the next time you need a customer service shortcut.
Tomorrow, I’ve got a tip for avoiding waiting on hold!
If you have been noticing odd items that seem to pop-up on your computer randomly, it’s very likely that they came from apps or programs that you installed.
A common trick these days is to hide 3rd party software inside utility programs like Java or within printer programs during the installation process.
The best way to keep junk programs out and prevent other unnecessary changes to your computer is by paying close attention to what is happening while you are installing any program.
Most companies count on you to not pay attention and rely on users to tap on next, next, I agree.
Another trick to sneak junk software into your computer is by convincing you that the "standard installation" is best and of course the recommended one.
They may make it sound like you have to be a rocket scientist to go with the "custom installation", but when you do choose it, you’ll see what they are trying to sneak past you.
Start making it a point to click the custom or advanced option when installing anything new on your system so you can avoid the junk before it sneaks in.
This tip is the key to avoiding attempts by software companies to take over your browser with additional toolbars, switching the default search engine or changing your start page.
The likelihood that you will end up with some electronic devices this holiday season is pretty high, which usually means you will end up with older tech that you no longer want.
Keep in mind that anything with a power button or that plugs into the wall or uses rechargeable batteries will contain a lot of toxic waste, so please don’t ever throw your old electronics in the trash.
To be responsible, start by checking with your local charities for programs that reuse old electronics. Just because you don't want it anymore doesn’t mean that someone else can't make use of it.
If it is too old, then responsible recycling through a proper e-waste recycler is what you need to do.
All those gadgets contain toxins that range from arsenic to lead to mercury along with a list of other toxic chemicals that wreak havoc on our landfills & groundwater when you just toss them in the trash.
In the US alone, 75% of the more than three million tons of toxic electronic-waste we generate is simply thrown in the trash, which ends up contaminating our landfills because of the lack of awareness of the problem.
Please ensure that you do your part this year by properly disposing of all your electronics and help the world by educating your friends to follow suit!
Not long ago, purchasing a new TV was pretty straight forward because there were only a few sizes to choose from and the increase in price as you got larger was pretty substantial.
With today’s hi-res flat screen displays, your options range from 26 to over 90 inches with small price increases as you get bigger.
Plus, today's UHD 4K screens eliminates the concern about being so close that you end up seeing the actual pixels, so getting a bigger screen is generally always better.
As a shopping rule of thumb, if you measure the distance between your seating area and where the TV will be in inches and divide it by 2, you will come up with the minimum size screen for your room.
For instance, let’s say your seating area is 7 feet from the screen. That calculates to 84 inches, so when you divide by two, you get 42 inches which would be your minimum screen size.
If your budget has room for a larger display, doing so will create a more immersive viewing experience.
And if you opt for a 4K display, the huge increase in resolution will be so high that you could double the size and still not be too close!
This is the time of year that many expect to find the best deals on all kinds of electronic gear as they're always high on holiday shopping lists.
But a word of warning: the cheapest price is rarely the best deal.
When you go shopping for electronics solely on the basis of the lowest price, you're often times playing right into the hands of organizations trying so sell less desirable products.
The most common trick for creating the cheapest product in any tech category is through cutting corners since profit margins on electronics are so tiny.
The resulting outcomes can range from batteries that don’t stay charged as long, software compatibility issues and in some cases, risky security issues with the device itself.
It's better to stick to name brand products from retailers that allow you to return it if it isn't satisfactory.
The general rule with low priced electronics is the lower the price, the more you should research them before making any decisions.
It's pretty easy anymore to find user reviews and feedback on any electronics; just do a Google search for the item followed by the word ‘review’.
If you can not find any type of feedback or online review on an item, take a pass or risk getting a less than desirable gadget.
The holiday shopping season is here and many of you are going to buy as many items online as you can to avoid the crowds.
When you make online purchases, however, they have to be delivered, most oftento your front door while no one is home. This has led to a new type of criminal: Porch Pirates.
"Porch Pirates" will tail delivery trucks so they can check out packages to nab when they figure out that no one is home.
To help avoid this growing crime, try to have your items sent to a friend or neighbor's house that will be more likely to be home or when possible, send the packages were you work.
You can often include special delivery instructions when you are finalizing your purchases or even leave a note on the front door if there is a better location to deliver the packages.
If you're getting packages delivered to your house regularly all year long, consider the installation of a motion-sensing camera at your door that will automatically record any motion and send you a notice whenever anyone is at your door.
Most avid fans of Apple devices likely have both an iPhone and a Macbook that they use virtually every day.
The folks at Apple have done quite a bit to make their devices work together quite seamlessly.
But many users may not know that they can tether them together, so that your iPhone will lock your laptop when you step away and unlock it when you return.
This useful and easy security feature is available from an app called ‘Tether'.
Simply load Tether on your smartphone and Macbook, to automatically make this happen.
There’s no need to worry about the Tether app draining the battery on your iPhone to make this magic possible because it makes use of 'Bluetooth Smart' which is a very low energy technology.
Anyone working in an open environment that wants to control those snooping eyes will find this to be one of the best tips I’ve ever provided.
Get more info on this free app for your Macbook and iPhone at http://hellotether.com
Most of us treat our family pets like they are human, but the reality is that they're not human, so they can’t tell us what’s wrong when they aren’t feeling well.
Taking your dog or cat to your vet is an obvious first choice, but when that isn’t an option, PetMD.com stands ready to provide some help.
PetMD.com is one of the most comprehensive websites available for pet health, nutrition care & feeding that I have ever seen.
They offer everything from 'symptom checkers' to a comprehensive health library to an excellent explanation of vet terminology.
If your pet is exhibiting strange behaviors, you can scan the emergency section to try to evaluate what might be at the root of your pet’s problem.
PetMD is more than just urgent issues; they offer a wealth of great info on most breeds, proper care and feeding and they can even help you come up with a name for that new member of the family.
Have you ever wondered why dogs like to eat grass or what you should do when you discover a lump on your pet? PetMD offers those types of answers.
By the way, this site isn’t just for cat or dog owners so pet owners of all kinds will find great information at PetMD.com.
A very common question that I have been asked over the years, is "where can I send my employees to get software training”?
Well, the web allows for very interactive and visual ways to learn and a website that offers a comprehensive library of easy-to-follow online tutorials is called “Lynda.com".
They have more than 2500 video courses that go from the common business programs like Word & Excel to 3-D animation and just about every web language or program in use today.
The thousands of training videos are setup as beginner, intermediate & advanced levels and some include close captioning.
Lynda.com is a subscription service that also offers mobile apps, so you can watch courses on any desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone and then pop back and forth without losing your place in the lesson.
Any business that's looking for an inexpensive video training system should take the time to look into http://lynda.com.
Our powerful smartphones are basically the same as computers because over time, they'll build up a pile of junk files that can fill your device up.
Anyone using an Android smartphone or tablet that seems to be running slower than it used to or is running out of storage space should checkout a free app called "Clean Master” because it finds all the unnecessary junk and free up valuable space in a snap.
I was able to free up almost 2 Gbs of useless files from the Samsung handset that I have been using for testing lots of app over the past year.
The Clean Master app shows you how much storage & RAM you are currently consuming and allows you to discover the memory hogs so you can close them down when your Android phone starts to slow down.
It provides malware detection & real time protection against various web threats in addition to an app manager that makes it really easy to uninstall apps in groups.
Another useful feature is the ability to see how many of the useless apps that came installed on the phone can be disabled.
The Clean Master optimizer is one of my favorites that’s free and available in the Google Play Store.
***This app is ad-driven, so expect lots of ads being thrown your way888
Having remote access to your computer is really nothing new, but all of the great options that used to be free, have become pay services.
Anyone looking for a solid free option that is truly flexible should check out the Chrome Remote Desktop option from Google.
You simply download the add-on to any Chrome Browser on the computer that you want to remotely access.
Then, you can use anything: Windows, Mac or Linux-based to remotely access that computer as if you’re sitting right in front of it!
You can also use Chromebooks, tablets and smartphones to remote in.
This means, if you had to, you could remote into your computer from your smartphone from anywhere in the world, say if you needed to grab a file.
This is the most flexible, easy to use option that I know of and it’s 100% free.
It will only take you a few minutes to setup, so if a solid and free remote access solution is something you’ve been looking for, I highly recommend this one!
I’ve posted all the links at DataDoctors.com/radio
Chrome Remote Desktop Add-on: https://chrome.google.com/remotedesktop
Android remote app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.chromeremotedesktop
iOS remote app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chrome-remote-desktop/id944025852?mt=8
SMS or "text messaging” is now the go to communication method for just about all of us because of its ease and efficiency in having multiple conversations throughout the day.
But as with all technology, the “flies" gather where the “honey" is…aka, spammers & scammers are stepping up their attempts to trick users using text messages.
Another problem with text messaging is often times, you just don’t know who senders are because they aren’t in your address book.
Anyone looking for a solid way to manage both situations should try a free app called Truecaller.
The Truecaller community is made up of over 100 million users that collectively report scams and spam to help automatically block junk messages.
The app also uses the community to help identify who might be texting you when they aren’t already in your address book, so you can avoid the ‘who is this’? reply.
It’s far from perfect, but if your want some help with this growing problem, I’ve posted the link at DataDoctors.com/radio.
The Pandora music service great for discovering new artists based on the tunes you like, but you'll either have to put up with commercials or pay for a subscription.
If discovering new music is something you like to do, but you’d like to avoid subscriptions or commercials, there is another less known service available called ‘Earbits'.
Earbits focuses on discovering new lesser known artists, so you expect to hear tunes from the heavyweights of the music industry.
Their playlists are compiled by music experts and posted as ‘genres' that lets you quickly listen to music that fits your taste.
One of my favorites is the 'Festival Guides' because I’m a regular at music festivals where I always discover new artists in person.
This genre lets you listen to playlists that represent what you will hear when you go to many of the popular music festivals in the world.
You can skip the actual festival and discover these new artists from the comfort of your office or home.
Checkout the service and their downloadable apps at http://EarBits.com
The flu season is upon us so doing what you can to avoid others that are infected is on everyone’s mind.
Doppler radar scans the skies for bad weather indicators and the Sickweather app likewise scans social networks to collect posts from users near you to help determine signs of an outbreak.
The app makes it as easy to check for the chance of sickness in your area as easily as we all check for rain.
The Sickweather tools searches Facebook and Twitter for posts that include phrases such as "I'm sick," "I have bronchitis" and "My son’s got chickenpox."
Public posts which include location info automatically get added to their database in real time combined with reports from users of the app.
Sickweather was actually able to detected the early start of the flu season 6 weeks before the CDC in 2012, so this app may be what the doctor ordered!
The free app is available for both iPhone and Android users or you can view live maps online at http://sickweather.com
Most of us have become slaves to our e-mail programs to one degree or another, so, discovering more efficient ways to manage the incoming message storms can vastly improve productivity.
One of the ways that several companies are offering to improve efficiency is by turning the Inbox into a "CRM tool".
CRM which stands for "Customer Relationship Management" is the basis of the primary offering from SalesForce and other expensive services.
If you have yet to find something that helps you manage email loads, checkout this interesting tool from a company called 'Streak' to turn your Inbox into a CRM tool.
It was created out of the constant frustration of having to pop back and forth between email and variety of other programs in order to keep track of things.
'Streak' is a Gmail add-on that's free and it has CRM templates for tasks that range from sales to customer support, bug tracking to the hiring processes.
It also includes 'snippets' which are pre-formatted bits of text that can be used to quickly reply to your common interactions.
There is also an app for iPhone users which allows you to use the tool while you are on the go.
Anyone using Gmail and struggling with the overload should checkout 'Streak' at Streak.com.