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!
Summer’s here and it is hot enough to make us uncomfortable & cranky from the heat during the day.
Do you know what else gets really uncomfortable & cranky from the higher heat?
The batteries in all your devices!
Without question, excessive heat is the most damaging thing to your batteries in all those devices you love, so being aware of this problem will help improve your battery life.
Forgetting your laptop, smartphone or tablet in a super hot car, especially when they are exposed to direct sunlight, will most certainly kill the life of your batteries.
When your devices have been exposed to a hot setting and are still warm to the touch, avoid using them until they return to room temperature if at all possible.
Another thing to remember is to not block the exhaust vents on your laptop; using it while it's on a pillow or thick bedspread is a great way to overheat the entire system.
When you are outside with your gadgets, do your best to avoid any kind of direct sunlight on them for extended periods of time.
Here’s how to remember this: if you’re uncomfortable, your gadgets will be too when it comes to heat!
Passwords are still likely to be the weakest link in your security and you have heard me constantly warn against using the same password everwhere online.
While there's no shortage of options for password management, it can just be too much to manage for some of you.
If you can’t find a password management tool that works for you, I have a really easy low tech system for keeping track of your passwords; write them down!
Now, I do not mean attach sticky notes on the front of your display with passwords jotted down on them, I mean document them and store them somewhere safe, like deep within your smartphone.
Make sure you avoid using the word 'password' anywhere in the document or the filename and develop your own form of encryption just in case someone gets to the file.
For instance, use four random characters at the beginning of the real password, so you will be the only one that knows to ignore those for four characters.
Honestly, if your choosing between using the same password everywhere or writing down unique passwords for each site, then write them down to avoid becoming a victim on all your accounts because of a single data breach.
If you own a home, you can most likely relate to the Tom Hanks movie called 'The Money Pit'.
Even if your home hasn’t become as big of a 'money pit' as the one in his movie, it can still seem like an endless list of maintenance issues are always waiting.
One of the best to avoid those big surprises is by being proactive with your maintenance for items you know are going to need to be addressed over time.
If you are in need of a little help in the learning and remembering areas of home maintenance, checkout an app called BrightNest.
BrightNest will provide you with a customized list of tips and it helps you schedule tasks based on what your home really needs because you provide it the kind of appliances you own, your flooring and countertops and whether you have a pool or not.
Beyond simple maintenance, they provide a huge collection of tips on cleaning, organizing and maintaining lots of common spaces in your home.
The mobile app even provides you with alerts and reminders. It also serves as a reference guide when you are at the hardware store.
We all could use a hand staying on top of those endless tasks of owning a home and BrightNest.com is free and waiting to help.
Your smartphone has been relatively safe when it comes to malicious apps as long as you only download apps from your official app store & avoid jailbreaking your device.
Jailbreaking iPhones or rooting Android smartphones essentially sidesteps the controls that the manufacturer puts in place and should only be done by tech savvy users.
A new scam is now bypassing all of the built-in protection by sneaking malicious apps onto your phone, even if you haven’t rooted or jailbroken the factory controls.
It usually starts with a well crafted e-mail or text message accompanied by a link to download a special app.
If you click or tap on the link which can allow the download to be completed, it can compromise your smartphone in a new way.
Once again, this underscores the importance of our long standing advice: If you didm not go searching for it, don’t install it.
These crafty cyber-crime rings are creating very persuasive looking messages that will most often look like they are from trusted resources through a friend’s hacked account, so stay alert.
If you want a little extra help identifying those malicious apps, checkout the free smartphone security apps at http://lookout.com.
When you’re packing for any trip, remembering to take the right things is critical.
Isn’t it frustrating to get to your destination and learn that you have forgotten something important, like a bathing suit or an umbrella?
An app called PackPoint offers a better way to eliminate the forgotten items travel drama, because it helps you pack based on where you’re going and what you are doing.
You begin by answering a few questions including your gender, destination, number of travel days and what you’re planning to do.
It also checks weather info at your destination and pulls together a suggested packing list based on all those parameters.
Once you generate the list, you simply scroll down and check the items that you want to create your own list, including reminders to take things like mobile chargers, business cards and if it's a business trip, you VPN key-fob.
When you finalize the list, you can share it via e-mail or copy and paste the items to any other program if you want.
PackPoint is available for both iPhone & Android smartphones and it’s free!
Internet based email options are awesome because you are no longer tied to a specific computer or device to get your email.
Google’s Gmail is still my favorite system and if you are like me and use it virtually every day, you should get up to speed on the keyboard shortcuts which can make it even better.
Shortcuts eliminate the need to move your hands off your keyboard which allows you to be more efficient.
Most of the truly helpful shortcuts start with the letter G as in Gmail followed by a another character.
For example, typing G then A will let you see all mail,.
Typing G then D allows you to jump to your Draft messages.
Typing G then C will get you straight to your contacts.
If you use the option for Starred messages, typing G then S will show them and if you type G then T as in senT, you’ll jump to your sent messages.
There are more than 60 shortcuts that can dramatically reduce your dependence on your mouse to get the job done.
To learn more about Gmail shortcuts, checkout the link that I’ve posted at DataDoctors.com/radio.
That wireless router in your home is your primary defense against many common threats, because it prevents the outside world from gaining access to your computer.
If you haven’t changed the default password on your router, you're exposed to a major security issue that could compromise everything in your home.
I'm not talking about your WiFi password when you want to connect, I’m talking about your administrative credentials that allows anyone to take control of your router.
Every hacker knows the default passwords for every piece of equipment on the internet through sites like http://RouterPasswords.com which can allow them to attack you.
A group of security experts discovered yet another type of attack that uses rigged e-mails that can allow thieves to sneak into your router if the default login credentials are still being used.
Once they're in, there is very little they can’t do because they can change the configuration to allow them to monitor all your activity and grab various passwords for all of your online accounts without you ever knowing it.
This is one of those threats that no security program can protect you from if you happen to click on the malicious link.
The very best way to protect yourself against this threat is to change your default password; if you don’t know how to do it, get some help!
It's the beginning of the summer movie season and escaping to a dark cool theater with a refreshing drink is the perfect way to escape the heat.
For all you movie buffs, today’s tip is reminder of one of our classic apps that helps out when that cold drink causes discomfort in the middle of the movie.
This app is called RunPee and it is a great resource that tells you when the best times is to run to the loo during your movie.
Instead of having to guess when you should go, the app actually vibrates your phone during the slow moments so you can know when to take a restroom break.
RunPee looks for 3 to 5 minutes that aren’t that important to the storyline so you don’t have to miss funny moments, exciting action or crucial plot twists.
For parents of younger kids, RunPee lets you be pre-emptive with your restroom breaks so you won’t miss anything important.
The app will even provide you with a synopsis of what you missed while you were in the loo, so you don’t have to have someone whispering an update.
The RunPee app is available for iPhone, Android or Windows phone users all available at RunPee.com.
Every one of the major cellular phone companies is engaged in a battle to try to attract your business with some really agressive offers.
But when it comes to your cellphone service, a great deal doesn’t mean anything if the quality of your service where you live is weak.
So before you decide to hop from one cellular company to another, you should do some homework.
A helpful resource that allows you to see how Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint perform where you live and work is posted at http://rootmetrics.com.
You begin with your city to get a rating of the performance including reliability and speed for data, voice calls and text messages so you can properly evaluate the strengths of each network.
One of the most helpful features of the site is in the CoverageMap section. You can bring up detailed maps of locations where call quality is solid or spotty, where data speeds are slow or fast and whether you can get LTE service where you need it most.
They also have mobile apps that allow you to generate personalized reports as you travel around and add updates to their database.
The links to the helpful Rootmetrics resources are:
Find your city reports: http://www.rootmetrics.com/us/rsr/usa-metros?z=united-states
Explore the Coverage Map: http://webcoveragemap.rootmetrics.com/us
Mobile apps: http://www.rootmetrics.com/us/products/coveragemap-mobile-app
Discuss ideas with a large group of people will often result in lots of ideas on a whiteboard or chalkboard which in turn, requires someone to take down separate notes afterwards.
If it’s you that ever ends up having to spend the time copying the notes from the whiteboard after a meeting, there’s an app for that!
Microsoft Office Lens is its name and it will save you lots of time.
The app makes it really easy to take a picture of just about any document, whiteboard or chalkboard and convert it into a PDF, Word document or Powerpoint slide or deck.
Not only can it digitize your notes, but it can also fix any distortion when you have to shoot it from an angle.
Every time you have to capture notes off angle, you’ll love how well this app makes it happen.
Once you have captured an image, you can save it and share it to many of the Microsoft platforms including OneNote and OneDrive or just save it as a doc or picture file.
Another awesome use of this app is for capturing and organizing business cards.
The Office Lens app is completely free & available for iPhone, Android and Windows based phones.
Google is the most powerful search engine by far when it comes to the Internet, but it also means that you’re usually going to get millions of search results that usually aren’t relevant.
To help improve the quality of search results, Google offers a large number of what they call 'query operators' and punctuation that can dramatically improve the quality of the information that gets returned.
One of the lesser used 'power tools' is the “range” variable because it can filter results to quickly provide information in a given numerical range.
By just typing two periods (with no spaces) between any two sets of numbers, you are asking Google to do to limit the results to those parameters, which it can do pretty well.
For example, if you are doing a research project for a specific time period, you can enter Russian Revolution 1800..1900 or if you are shopping for a new phone in specific price range, type smartphones $350..$450.
Remember, including the specific format of your numbers (dollars for example) will help to refine your search results even further.
If the world of stock trading and investing tend to be a mysterious and intimidating place for you, listen up to this tip!
As with many other things, knowledge is power but in this case, you do not have to get a degree from a business school to understand how the markets work.
An excellent online resource called WallStreetSurvivor.com, which started out as a 'fantasy stock market simulator' has now became a great tool that demystifies Wall Street.
They discovered that gamification is a pretty good way to learn the ins and outs of trading stocks and investing.
Rather than being told the old way on how to do things, you get to roll your sleeves up and get involved in virtual market trades without the risk of losing your money.
Think of it as a game of a virtual stock exchange combined with tutorials, courses, articles and videos.
Not only can they teach you the basics, you can setup a practice portfolio and participate in a league to compete with fellow virtual traders.
If you don't know the difference between a ‘put’ and a ‘call’ or the overall value of stocks vs a mutual fund, WallStreetSurvivor.com could be a solid return on investment.
It’s also a great way to get kids involved and learning about investing while they're young.
We’re starting today’s tip with a little geek speak: 'word cloud’.
The phrase 'word cloud' refers to the visual representation of a large chunk of text with the most commonly used words in a larger font and special highlighted colors.
Using word clouds makes it easy to quickly pull useful themes within a large body of text.
If you’re in business, for example, you most likely are asking for feedback from your customers.
So instead of tasking someone to manually review each bit of feedback, you can use one of the many free online word cloud tools to see what your customers are generally saying.
One of my favorite tools is located at: http://tagcrowd.com because it allows you to use multiple options for displaying the data.
Just compile all the text into a single file without having to worry about the formatting.
The site also allows you to paste any text into the site’s generator box, upload any text based file or document or even use the text on any website by pasting in the URL.
Try it for yourself at TagCrowd, that’s spelled T A G C R O W D.
If you know of friends that happen to live in an earthquake zone, you’ve probably seen how social media explodes whenever even the slightest of tremors is felt.
Well scientists at UC Berkley are trying to harness this crowdsourced information when it comes to detecting earthquakes as they occur.
They have created an Android app smartphones MyShake which leverages the powerful accelerometer in smartphones to help detect earthquakes as soon as they start.
This ‘crowd noise' data from what they are hoping will be a global seismic network of sensors could become a life saving warning system for people that live farther away from the epicenter of the quake in the future.
Anyone you know that lives in an earthquake zone should consider becoming part of this massive people-driven science experiment just by installing the MyShake app on their Android smartphone.
Checkout this ambitious attempt to leverage the power of mobile or join the MyShake community yourself at: http://myshake.berkeley.edu
Just how many images and videos are stored on your phone and what are you planning to do with them?
If your intention is to post them one at a time to one of the many social networks, they'll likely never see the light of day.
If you’d like an easy way to take a large number of images and or videos on your phone and create a great little movie, check out the latest version of FlipaGram.
The app allows you to select a large number of images, put them in any order, add effects & captions all in a matter of minutes.
To give it an added appeal, you can add music from your own library or use one of the many thirty second music files from popular artists that are part of the network.
You can select how long you want each image to be displayed or let the app automatically set the timing based on where you’ll be posting it.
The FlipaGram app is available for iOS, Android and Windows based phones.
The older we get, the more likely it is that we find ourselves trying to remember a word that conveys what we're trying to say.
When you conceptually know what you're trying to say, but just can’t remember the word that properly expresses your thoughts, there’s a web resource called OneLook Reverse Dictionary that can come to your aid.
It let’s you describe the concept you’re thinking of and returns a list of possible words that are related to your concept.
For example, if you type ‘constant need to travel’, you'll get the word: wanderlust!
You can be very general with terms such as ‘red berries’ or ‘large fish’ which will give you a wide variety of possibilities.
The next time that word is on the tip of your tongue, use the OneLook Reverse Dictionary to help you spit it out!
The link to this awesome resource is:
If you have ever watched a pro athlete studying themselves, you’ll often see that they are using sophisticated technology including slow motion to analyze their moves.
Well that smartphone in your pocket is also a powerful computer and it can become a similar tool using an app called 'Hudl Technique'.
Whether you are an aspiring athlete, parent or coach of a rising superstar, the app will let you breakdown and analyze the motion of everything from a golf swing to a pitching sequence to just about any motion in any sport.
It allows you to add notes and annotations so you can highlight changes you suggest and even share the video with others.
The app also allows you to match up and sync up 2 videos side-by-side for a comparison which allows you to see progress over time or compare to the form of a professional.
The amazing features of this free app are incredible and could help any athlete determined to improve in their sport through an out of body experience.
The link to this awesome app is: http://get.hudl.com/products/technique
I’m constantly reminding all of you to make use of 2-factor authentication on all of your online accounts because it provides an extra layer of solid protection.
You have been using 2-factor authentication for years with your bank debit card because you need to have both the actual card and the associated PIN.
Think about how dangerous a debit card that didn’t require a PIN would be...well that is exactly what you're doing if you don’t turn on 2-factor authentication when it’s being made available.
Once you activate it, a cyber thief that steals your username & password will also need to steal your smartphone in order to gain access to your account.
It also serves as a great way to know when someone has actually stolen your login credentials.
Virtually every major online service or bank you work with will offer this protection.
If you want a list of which services offer it and how to turn it on for each one, I’ve posted a link to a site with a complete list at DataDoctors.com/radio
The web has made it simple to buy and sell just about anything you want through an endless list of websites.
Figuring out the market price for things like cars is pretty easy with sites like KBB.com & Cars.com, but if you’re trying to buy or sell toys, clothing, electronics or lots of other personal item, where do you go?
You can obviously search on popular sites like eBay or Craigslist manually, but there is a much better way.
The next time you need to figure out the best price for something that you want to buy or sell, checkout a resource called Bidvoy.
Bidvoy scours data from millions of transactions on eBay to help determine much more than just the best price to buy or sell.
It can also give you trending data, what the current price is for the item new and will even suggest the best time to buy or sell.
Even if you don't plan to use eBay, the data from one of the most popular online marketplaces is always helpful.
No more second guessing whether you paid too much or listed your item too low or too high for just about anything you want to buy or sell.
The link to Bidvoy is http://us.bidvoy.net
Raise your hand if you have ever started cursing at your printer because it just ran out of ink right in the middle of an important print job!
We have all been in this situation and we also know that printer ink has become one of the most expensive liquids in the planet.
Well, the engineers at Epson have created a line of inkjet printers that may be worth consideration; the EcoTank series.
Instead of incorporating those tiny ink cartridges that are so common in today’s printers, Epson is using large ink reservoirs that can hold the equivalent of twenty to fifty ink cartridges in various models.
It should be enough ink to last most of us at least a year or two and the best part; you get to buy ink in squeeze bottles to refill the tanks when they get low.
You may pay more up-front, but the on-going expense of ink refills is a lot lower because you are buying ink in bulk.
It’s a technology that’s long overdue; check it out at http://epson.com/ecotank
I was in search of an app that would help with one of our household's biggest hassles: grocery shopping.
We, of course, have used text messaging forever, but when the list is long, keeping track of what I've picked up already while I’m shopping is a bit of a chore.
If my wife and I were on the same smartphone platform, we could use lots of apps created for this purpose, but since she’s got an iPhone and I’ve got an Android phone, I had to find something for both.
After trying a large group of options, my absolute favorite is an app called Wunderlist, that’s Wonder with a U.
With it, anyone in the family can add or delete entries and now when I’m shopping, I simply tap on each item as I put them in the basket to make them disappear from the list.
Wunderlist is absolutely free and works on iOS, Android, Mac OS, Windows and even Amazon's Kindle Fire, so it is completely versatile.
The app is super simple to use and can be used for more than just simple grocery lists: we use it to track our favorite songs, personal and work projects, 'honey-do' lists and a lot more.
Give it a try at Wunderlist.com