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!
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.
Trying to shoot a video using your smartphone is useful as long as you aren’t moving around while you're shooting it. We have all seen videos online that are nearly unwatchable because of the movement.
Movie producers can solve this problem by using very expensive stabilization gear, like a Steadicam while others have attempted similar contraptions for smartphones.
But did you know that you don’t need to buy any special hardware if you are using an iPhone? The engineers at Instagram created a free app that makes taking smooth video even if you are moving around a lot very easy.
The app is called ‘HyperLapse' and it doesn’t require you to be an Instagram user in order to download and use it.
HyperLapse uses the gyro in your smartphone in a very clever way to totally stabilize your video without having to involve some expensive video editing process afterwards.
The app also has the ability to create various speed time lapse videos, so it’s a great app for anyone that shoots video with an iPhone.
It’s a really simple app to use because the only setting you have to mess with is the speed of the playback.
Just search for ‘Hyperlapse’ in the Apple App Store to get started!
Anyone that works in an office full of cubicles, aka a "cube farm", knows that their computer is potentially accessed by any passer-by while they are away from their desk.
Worse yet is when you are surrounded by pranksters, it can become a constant annoyance when you forget to lock down your computer before you leave the desk.
If you can get into the habit of locking down your desktop with a few simple keystrokes, you can save yourself a lot of grief while keep snooping eyes off your private items.
Windows users can simply hold down the 'Windows Icon' key while tap[ing the letter ‘L’ as in lock.
Mac users can do the same by holding down 'Control+Shift+ Eject’ or for those that don’t have an ‘Eject' key, try 'Control+Shift+Power' to do the trick.
None of this is of value if you don’t have a login password setup, which you should have regardless of your environment.
Parents can also use this habit at home if they want to prevent a child from using their administrative profile without permission.
I love all things tech, but still nothing compares to curling up to a great book on a lazy fall afternoon.
No matter the topic - business, self help, science, history or fiction, discovering lots of new exciting books from fellow bookworms is a pretty good way to go.
Amazon's long ago, created a system for recommending books based on what you have already read, but a web resource called "GoodReads.com" offers yet another way for book discovery.
You not only get book suggestions based on what you have already read, they'll connect you with your bookworm friends to see what they do and don’t like that they’ve read.
It’s a kind of virtual book club that makes discovering new books to read much easier to find than hours in the aisles of a physical bookstore.
Goodreads.com also allows you create queues of the books you have read, the books you are currently reading and any books that you want to read in the future.
The site works best when you get a group of your reader friends to join-in as a private book club.
Anyone can also join or start new discussion groups that can be public or private.
Check it all out at https://GoodReads.com
All of our digital cameras, smartphones and tablets are capable of taking extremely high-resolution images, but with all those extra pixels comes a major side effect.
Super crisp pohotos means very large files, which can easily fill up your computer if you aren’t paying attention and can lead to big problems.
Depending on how long you’ve been storing hi-res images on your computer's hard drive, it is entirely possible that you’re wasting a lot of space with lots of duplicate images.
Trying to track down duplicate pictures manually would be incredibly time consuming, so you will want to look into one of the many duplicate photo finding programs.
Since most duplicates aren't stored in the same file folder, these programs will scan your entire drive to determine how many and where your dublicates are stored.
It’s a much easier way to clean up large amounts of space on your drive from your duplicate photos.
I have links posted to a couple of free programs for both Mac and Windows users at DataDoctors.com/radio.
Windows (this will start the download of the program immediately): http://www.freepicturesolutions.com/files/duplicatephotofinder_setup.exe
Passwords are still the weakest link in online security and you've heard me repeatedly warn about the dangers of using a single password everwhere online.
There are numerous password management programs available to help, but for some users, it's still too much to figure out.
If you don't find a program that works for you, I've got another simple low tech system for tracking all your passwords; just write them down!
I don't mean for you to use sticky notes on the front of your monitor, I mean jot them down and store them in a relatively safe place, like somewhere on your smartphone.
You obviously shouldn't use the word 'password' anywhere in then name of the document and you should include your own encryption system in case it's ever discovered.
Use four random characters, for example, in font of your real passwords, so only you will know that you should ignore them.
Truly, if you're going to choose between using the same password on every account or writing them down so you have unique passwords for each site, then write them down!
It's the best way to avoid becoming a victim on many accounts from the breach of a single account.
You've probably noticed that some phone and tablet chargers seem to take noticeably longer to charge then others?
Well, in this case, you are not just imagining this primarily because the "output current" of your chargers also known as "amperage" or even a bad cable can make a huge difference.
The lower the amperage output, the longer it will take to charge any of your batteries.
For the best results, use the charger included with your device, but if it's not possible, use a charger with the proper matching amperage rating.
Generally, you'd have to have special equipment to measure your output current, but owners of Android devices can use an app called "Ampere" that makes it simple to see the differences in your various chargers and cables.
Ampere can monitor battery charging rates and drainage rates along with temperature and the overall health of the battery.
Using the app while using various chargers and seperate cables can quickly show you the combination that'll work the best.
The free Ampere app is available via the Google Play store
With all the time we typically spend on the Internet these days, hackers and cybertheives are always creating new ways to exploit us.
Because your web browser is how you see most of everything on the Internet, most of the hacker exploits focus on exploting all browsers.
It's also not so unusual to have various issues with your browser either, so this tip is a specific troubleshooting process when they do pop up.
Making sure you have at least two different browsers on all your devices will allow you to track down Internet related issues more successfully.
Whenever you are experiencing an Internet access problem, immediately switch to your other browser to see if the problem stays or goes away. If it goes away, you will know to focus on your primary browser, like clearing the cache or running a complete malware and virus scan.
If changing browsers doesn't help then your problem is much more likely to be with either your computer, modem or router, which you should reset together.
Trying to fix the wrong side of the equation can be bypassed when you use this simple troubleshooting procedure first.
Google has provided any user with a boost in the battle to protect your information online.
It's very likely you have a Google account of some sort so seeing when & how your accounts have been accessed is a great way to check for suspicious activity.
"Google’s Dashboard for Devices and Activity" now makes it easy to see a complete list of any and all devices that have gained access to your accounts in the past 28 days, including those devices that are still logged in.
When possible, they will also include generalized location info to help you determine authorized devices from suspicious ones.
If you see any unusual devices or access, there is a link to take steps to secure your account with a password change.
Even when you don't see anything unusual, taking the extra step of following the ‘Secure your account’ link at the top is wise.
This option reviews 5 ways to better secure your accounts including a display of all those apps, websites & any devices that currently have access to your accounts.
I've posted the direct link to the Security Dashboard at DataDoctors.com/radio
Anyone in any line of work that requires the logging of their location and time for billing or reporting purposes can use a smartphone to make the tracking a lot easier with an app called Instant.
Instant presents itself as a "life-logging" app that gathers a detailed overview of all your daily activities, including device usage, locations and the duration you stayed as well as basic fitness tracking and your daily travel times.
If you need help reducing your urge to constantly look at your phone, you can use the app to set limits of usage along with reminders that cab help change your constant urge to look at your phone.
It can also help anyone in the "quantified self" movement because it allows you to see your daily life through data allowing you to make measurable changes.
The Instant app can help in tracking fitness, wellness, time and mindfulness as well as location reporting.
It’s free and available for both Android or iPhone users at http://instantapp.today
It’s midweek once again, so anyone needing an amusing distraction to help them through the rest of the week should checkout the Chatterpix app.
The Chatterpix app can make anything in your pictures appear to talk! - people, pets, buildings, landscapes or just about anything in your images.
Just bring up your picture in the app, draw a simple line where you want the mouth and then make a quick voice recording to finish it off...their are endless possibilities!
The app also allows you to add stickers, photo filters and frames to step up the fun, which can then be shared via Facebook, Youtube and email or you can just save it to your phone.
A child friendly version is available that won't include the sharing option called ChatterPix Kids that is safe fun for any digital native.
Both of these apps are free but are only available for iPhone & iPad devices.
The parent company also offers numerous other kid friendly apps available at http://www.duckduckmoose.com
Any child of the 70' and 80's likely grew up on a steady diet of the Pacman game in arcades & bars.
I actually had a friend that purchased a machine for his house so he could master every level.
If Pacman brings back those memories, check out a new "endless" version of the game called "Pac-Man 256".
The 256 is a reference to a well known glitch in level 256 of the original game, which they've taken to another level in this updated game.
In the original game, you could win by completing all the levels, but this game has no end.
The controls use swipe motions on your screen, so you will have to get used to no joystick, but it doesn't take that long.
There are a number of new "power capabilities" you can acquire as you chomp up those famous pellets, so if you're ready for a little bit of nostalgia, I've posted the download links at DataDoctors.com/radio
Anyone that's just beginning the exploration of the wonderful but often confusing world of wine, now has a new wine club that may be just the answer.
It is aptly named the "Tasting Room" and it is almost what can be referred to as the "Netflix of wine".
Their process starts by helping you set up a 'wine profile' through a six bottle tasting kit they send you after you sign up for their service.
When you get the kit, you simply go online for their guided tasting challenge which helps them learn the various flavors you prefer.
Based on your initial profile, you will start to get shipments of wine or for those with a sense of what they like, order whatever you'd like to try.
Each bottle is guaranteed, so if anything you don't care for can be replaced or credited towards another bottle.
As you continue to update your ratings as you taste the wines, the system can refine its recommendations to find more favorable wines.
Learn more at https://www.tastingroom.com
The wonderful world of comics has grown in popularity because it lets anyone re-live their childhood by pretending to be a superhero.
If you arn't quite the 'get dressed up and go to Comic-Con' type, you can still fulfill your dreams of becoming a comic book hero with a simple app.
Comic Studio from Seedling is a powerful iPhone app that lets anyone create their very own comic story starring themselves, thier co-workers or their kids.
You can use any picture you have, quickly cut out the background and add various props and costumes to become a superhero.
You then add speech bubbles, thought bubbles or captions and can even top it off with the classic "KAPOW, BAM and ZAAP" word bubbles.
Add in a background theme and suddenly your story comes to life.
Even if you aren’t a big comic fan, this clever app is an excellent way to communicate just about anything you might want to say in a very entertaining way.
Download the app at https://www.seedling.com/comic
Amazon has always been a great place to find just about any item you need, but many avid customers still don’t know that they can trade-in their old stuff to pay for their new stuff!
The Trade-in program at Amazon can buy old smartphones, tablet, cameras, laptops and lots of other electronics as well as movies, books and even video games.
You start the process by clicking on the category of the item you want to trade-in & then use the filters to find it or simply search by name for the item.
Once you locate the item, you will see a yellow Trade In button with an "up to" price that will get the process started.
Signing-in to your Amazon account will get you a price based on the general condition it is in -acceptable, good or like new.
If you do decide to trade it in, you will have to send it in for inspection, but Amazon will cover the shipping.
Any Amazon regular can start making use of the trade-in offers which will declutter your life & save some money, so it’s worth taking a look.
I’ve posted the direct link at DataDoctors.com/radio
Who amongst us doesn't have many devices that need to get charged via a USB cable, requiring adapters for standard power outlets in order to get it charged up?
The result is having to gather all the devices in one place instead of simply plugging them in wherever an outlet exists.
Anyone looking for a solution to make charging USB devices anywhere around the house or office convenient should look into the Snap Power Chargers.
Snap Power offers replacement power outlets that include a USB port on the side for charging most mobile devices.
The prices start at $20 with various discounts if you buy packs of 2 to 10 wallplates.
The install takes jut a few minutes as there are no wires or batteries requried for these specially designed plates that have built in power prongs.
So by simply replacing a wallplate anywhere in your house, you can add a charging station.
Learn more at https://www.snappower.com
We've all been taught the importance of performing CPR when someone near you is in trouble, but frankly, most people still have no idea what they should do.
A few critical minutes can be the difference between life and death, so having knowledge on what can be done can have a life changing impact.
There are also many other first-aid scenarios that you could encounter, but again many of us just aren’t prepared to deal with those either.
Anyone looking to be a bit more prepared when on of life’s many unexpected situations arises should look into installing the "Red Cross First Aid" app on their smartphone.
The Red Cross has created a resource with lots of critical advice for many common medical situations so that you can have it in the palm of your hand whenever you are in a critical situation.
The content is sotred within the app itself, so you won’t need a cellular signal to look things up for many common medical situations.
This, hopefully, isn’t going to be an apps you will use every day, but when the time comes, it’s a pretty good app to have on your phone.
I posted the link to download the free apps at DataDoctors.com/radio
Anyone that works with spreadsheets all day long knows that working with large data sheets can make it very difficult to analyze the data.
Graphs and charts are an excellent method of taking large data sets and turning them into more digestible or understandable reports.
While the built-in tools for generating charts and graphs can be adequate, there are more elaborate resources available if you want to step up your game.
An open source and free option that’s available is called RAW.
As the missing link between spreadsheets & vector graphics, this tool is really cool.
You start by using copy/paste or drag a file into the interface.
Next, you select a layout type and then drag datasets to map the dimensions you want to display to the categories you want to use.
Once the basic data is setup, you can customize what will become the visualization of your data to fit your needs.
When it's finalized, you can download the graphics and use them any way you want.
It’s really powerful stuff!
The link to RAW is http://raw.densitydesign.org
The influence of social media has become very apparent in virtually every aspect of our lives.
Everything from basic buying decisions and politics to the financial markets and global conflicts are being influenced by social media every single day.
This popularity has created a technology known as the 'social bot' which is simply software programs attempting to appear as humans.
They are often used by companies for creating automated posts while spammers use them to hit our profiles with junk advertising and in some cases, governments use them for propaganda campaigns.
On the dark side, social bots can be used to infect other accounts by circulating malicious links, so it is always best to avoid them if you can.
Twitter in particular seems to have a large percentage of profiles that seem to be leveraging social bots, which was the impetus for a research project at Indiana University.
The "Truthy Project” Botometer tool was created to try to analyze Twitter profiles for signs that they are using social bots.
While it’s far from a definite analysis, it can be a helpful tool to avoid getting tricked by a profile that may seem to be a real human user.
I’ve posted a link to the project at DataDoctors.com/radio