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 really love tech that specifically fills the nooks & crannies of daily life and one of my favorites is a website known as IFTTT or If This Then That.
This awesome and free service helps you put the Internet to work by creating 'conditional statements’ also known as ‘recipes’ which will integrate your online accounts in many amazing ways.
For example, you can create a recipe that will automatically generate reminders on your phone whenever you tap the star on a Gmail message or have your phone automatically text your wife when you leave work.
The IFTTT recipes work with over 160 different online services and already has a huge assortment of recipes that have been created by fellow users.
You can also create your own recipes and share them with the rest of the IFTTT community.
IFTTT also has apps for iPhones, iPads and Android devices which allows you to leverage your mobile technology in awesome ways.
If you have yet to discover the wonderful world of IFTTT, take a minute and check it all out at http://IFTTT.com.
I've provided tips in the past on how to extend the battery life on your phone, but did ya know that most of these same tips will extend the life of your laptop battery as well?
For instance, turning down the brightness on your screen is the most important tip because powering that screen is almost fifty percent of the drain on your laptop and just like on your smartphone, turning off Wifi and Bluetooth when you aren't using them saves power.
If you plug devices into your USB ports that you are no longer using, unplugging them keeps your computer from constantly querying them for updates.
Extreme temperature is a big killer of batteries, so don't turn your hot laptop on or even try to charge it when it’s really hot or cold to the touch.
Waiting until the laptop has reached room temperature will help to lengthen the life of the battery as well.
Be sure to avoid using your laptop on a blanket, pillow or any other soft surface because you can block the cooling vents causing your laptop to overheat.
Those cute screen savers that display your favorite photos seem like fun, but they cam eat up your battery as well, so switch to a blank screen saver for the best results.
Anytime you purchase a new computer, one of the first things you'll end up spending a boatload of time on, is getting all those programs and utilities reinstalled.
Everything from various browsers, tools, utilities, media players, productivity tools and countless other little programs are just the beginning of what you need to be up and running.
Most people do not realize how many things need to be added to your 'new' computer to make it fully functional until they go through the countless downloads and installations.
The next time you are setting up a new computer, I have a much better option for both Mac & Windows users.
We have mentioned to Windows users in the past to use a website called NiNite.com (that’s N I N I T E) to get everything they need installed in one neat little automatic package.
Well, if you are a Mac user, you can do the same by going to GetMacApps.com
If you are the one in charge of the computers at any business, these resources are a huge time saver because you they create a single install file to setup all your computers exactly the same!
http://getmacapps.com and http://ninite.com
Remember when some people proclaimed text messaging to be an 'anti-social activity? I think even those most techno-phobic have figured out how efficient text messages really are.
If you are an iPhone user, you likely spend lots of time using the built-in iMessage app, especially if you're friends with lots of other iPhone users.
Unlike other texting apps, iMessage sends your messages securely with encryption and you don’t need a cellular network connection in order to send & receive messages.
This comes in handy for anyone traveling abroad that can only connect through wifi.
But did you know that there is a lot more to the iMessage app then just tapping out a message, like sending a quick voice or video message or tons of various filtering & blocking options.
If you haven't explored the numerous options available fin the iMessage app, check-out the fifteen power tips put together by the folks at Business Insider.
The Google Earth website has always been a wonderful way to explore any part of our world using your home or office computer.
A project that combines the Google Earth Engine with annual satellite images to create time lapse videos stretch back from 1984 make it even more interesting.
It allows you to select any location in the world and watch how it has changed over three decades.
You can watch the insane growth of Las Vegas, the unfortunate deforestation of the Amazon or the development of the amazing coastline of Dubai using the preset sites.
Because you can examine any location you want, you can checkout where you live, where you were born and view the time-lapse for that area over a long stretch of time.
The site allows you to zoom in and out and manually go year by year for a presentation of just how much the earth has changed in a very short period of time.
I've got a direct link posted at DataDoctors.com/radio.
An app called ‘Companion’, which was developed by students at the University of Michigan is growing in popularity.
Originally designed as an app for students walking home across campus at night, the usefulness of this app has caught on off-campus as well.
In a nutshell, the app will notify friends or family when you're walking somewhere on your own so they can virtually walk with you.
Just put in your destination and method of transport in the app then send out requests to friends or family to tag along.
Those you want to tag along don’t have to have the app installed; anyone in your contact list can become your companion.
When they get your text, they just need to click on the attached link to become a virtual companion on the way to your destination.
The app can monitor unusual movements such as falling or straying from your route which helps keep your companions updated.
Never walk anywhere alone again with the ‘Companion’ app! It’s free for both iPhone and Android users.
The now famous 'Ice Bucket Challenge' that brought attention to those suffering from ALS became one of the biggest on-line viral phenomenons in the history of the Internet.
Another Internet-based resource that was created as a result of the struggles with ALS is a site called 'PatientsLikeMe.com'
Created in 2006 by Ben & Jamie Heywood as a result of their brother's diagnosis of ALS, it has become a premier resources for sharing treatment, symptom and outcomes on-line.
Whenever anyone is diagnosed with a serious illness, it is really easy to feel that you are all alone in the battle, but you are not.
Connecting with others that are experiencing your same medical issues and being able to compare treatments, symptoms & your overall experiences can become a needed support system.
Whether you are looking to give or get support from other that are experiencing the same issues as you, the PatientsLikeMe website is an excellent way to make those connections.
The site can also be used to track your own health over time and allows you to contribute your data to research if you would like to participate.
https://PatientsLikeMe.com has over 500,000 members that are dealing with over 2500 various ailments, so you are very likely going to find many others that can relate to your medical situation.
Pets are capable of making a huge difference in our daily lives adopting responsibly allows us to do the same for them.
Making sure you adopt a pet that's compatible for your specific situation is critical to success and the AllPaws.com website take this part of pet adoption to another level.
The website creator had previous experience with online-dating tools and used that understanding of a proven compatibility process for matching humans to the proper pet with the AllPaws resource.
You can search for your new pet by the type such as dogs, cats, pigs, birds, horses or even reptiles including the ability to choose a certain breed if you've a preference.
The search results are presented in a list of profiles of each pet that matched your criteria accompanied by a picture and the story of this pet.
The results includes the age range, the coat length, the size, their compatibility with other pets and a number of other useful details to help improve your chances of a solid connection.
You can send questions to the current adoption site, add pets to your 'favorites' list or even begin the adoption process when you see what looks like your next pet.
For those that don’t have room to add another pet to their home, you can still help pets get adopted by sharing them through all your social networks.
Adopt your next pet at https://AllPaws.com
Anyone that travels for business knows about the constant hassle of creating expense reports, especially if you are doing it all manually.
We all have a smartphone with a camera these days, so using an app can help you go paperless very easily.
An app called Expensify claims it creates ‘expense reports that don’t suck'.
The app uses the camera in your smartphone so you can take pictures of every receipt as you get them, which can then be scanned to eliminate the typical manual entry.
It also allows you to automatically import expense data from bank or credit card accounts which cuts down on even more manual entries.
When you trip is finished, all your expenses are ready for you to categorize them or edit them without having to dig around to make sure you all your receipts.
The Expensify app's basic features are free and available for iPhone, Android and Windows phone users.
Test the free version for yourself at https://www.expensify.com!
If running is your exercise of choice, you know how enjoyable the right music can be during your workouts.
Not only can it keep you motivated, it can encourage you to run a little longer especially if the music matches your running pace.
Many of you have attempted to create playlists that will match your pace, but it's a bit of a time consuming process.
A helpful app called RockMyRun can make it a lot easier to find the best music to match your running style.
The app has created playlists that match specific BPMs (Beats Per Minute) providing you with a continuous list of songs that work with your running pace.
You'll find playlists based on specific genres, your desired BPM, the length of the list and whether it has clean or explicit lyrics.
The playlists that are free can be up to forty-five minutes in length, but if you want longer playlists, you can opt for their premium membership which includes other options like the 'MyBeat' feature.
MyBeat allows runners to dial in the exact match for their pace with finite control over the BPM for the entire list of songs.
If you're a runner, jogger or just a power-walker, the RockMyRun app is a unique offering that's available for both iPhone or Android users.
If you are a regular user of Google’s online office programs such as Docs, Forms and Sheets, here's a really great add-on you’ll want to look into.
It is called 'Save As Doc' and it makes it easy to turn any spreadsheet into a document.
This is very handy when you are incorporating spreadsheet info into a report, when the text in a cell is too much to display as a spreadsheet.
The add-on allows you to convert the entire spreadsheet or just a specific adjacent set of cells that gets converted into an editable document.
This tool is really useful when a spreadsheet is generated through a survey or questionnaire created in Google Forms.
No longer to you need to deal with formatting issues whenever you copy and paste info from a spreadsheet into a document.
You can even insert page breaks after each row, making the results in your report a lot easier to digest.
The 'Save As Doc’ add-on is free but only works with Google's Chrome.
I’ve posted the download link at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you are as big of a travel junkie as I am or you just plain love exploration, Google’s Cultural Institute has a handy tool that you’ll want to check out.
World Wonders is a resource that Google has created that will allow you to virtually explore exotic locations, art & museum collections along with historical info all from the comfort of your PC, phone or tablet.
It not only provides lots of great information and historical facts, it allows you to explore the sites like you were actually there because it includes Google’s Street View technology
A great use for anyone planning an adventure to world heritage sites is to get familiar with the area first using this World Wonders tool.
It will allow you to get familiar with the entire area you plan to visit along with extensive detail and historical perspective so you can get the most out of your adventure.
You can search their collection by a specific person, place, time or event so it can become s a great homework assignments tool as well.
I think it is a travel junkie's dream!
The Internet has always been a great way to connect people with similar interests or needs.
A web resource called 'Roomer’ was created to connect people looking for a hotel room with those that have nonrefundable rooms they can’t use.
Think of it as the ‘StubHub' of hotel rooms.
Roomer makes it easy to list your unusable reservations and offer them to others that can use it. The site takes care of all the work to transfer the reservation from you to the buyer.
The best deals that I found tended to be in large cities, especially when you are flexible on the days.
For example, I found an option in the trendy Chelsea neighborhood of NYC for just $76 a night that normally goes for $170 a night but you’d have to be able to stay the six nights of the original reservation.
With Roomer, if you just can’t be flexible with the days, you probably won’t find as many good deals.
The next time you get stuck with a non-refundable hotel room that you can no longer use, see if Roomer can help you sell it at https://www.roomertravel.com.
If you understand the working life of the average musician, you know how appreciative they are when they get tips from the audience.
Cramming bills into a tip jar in front of them is what most of us end up doing, but there are many times you may not have the cash to show your appreciation.
We are all typically using a lot less cash these days, so many people in the service or hospitality industry end up suffering as a result.
That is where an app called Bravo can make it much easier for those that depend on tips to get the appreciation they deserve can help out.
The app makes it easy to electronically tip guides, musicians, parking valets or anyone in the service industry when you don’t have cash on you.
I always tell my musician friends that they should hang a sign promoting the Bravo app next to the tip jar, that way the audience can download the app and start e-tipping throughout the performance.
Whether you are the ‘tippee’ or the ‘tipper’, I say bravo! to the Bravo app!
If you feel like you are spending most of your life dealing with e-mail these days, you are not alone.
A really big time waster for most of us is having to replying to multiple people with the same response, especially as you get the messages throughout the day.
If you're a Gmail user, I’ve got a great tip for you! Go checkout a free add-on that you can turn on called Canned Responses that will save you lots of time.
Just turn it on in the Gmail settings and you will be able to copy any selection of text and turn it into a canned response that can then be used with the tap of your mouse.
This awesome tool eliminates the need to manually type out any text, phrases or signatures that you use on a regular basis, whether you are responding to or generating a new message.
The Canned Response option is part of the experimental offerings that Google makes available via the Labs section of Gmail’s Settings menu.
The link for the step-by-step instructions for turning on this really useful tool is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio.
All parents dream of raising the next tech superstar like a Gates or a Zuckerberg when they see their child using technology with the greatest of ease.
If you'd like to see if they have any interest in computer programming, introduce them to hopscotch.
I don’t mean the sidewalk chalk game; I’m referring to the free iPad app that makes creating games and programs easy for anyone.
Your child can learn the basics of programming without even knowing how to type because Hopscotch uses a visual programming platform.
They can easily develop their own programs by simply dragging and dropping blocks of prewritten code.
Let’s be honest; any computer skill is very valuable these days and if you have a child that happens to enjoy creating things, then the Hopscotch app could be the start of something valuable.
Anyone of any age that has a passing interest in programming can start learning from this simple to use app.
You do not have to become a nerd to work with programming code with https://www.gethopscotch.com and remember to invite me to the party when your child’s company goes public!
You’ve probably noticed that various online advertisers seem to follow you around the Internet no matter where you go.
The technology is called retargeting and it is one of the many ways that the digital advertising world uses to make decisions about what you see.
This type of 'personalized' content also extends to the prices you may see when you’re shopping online, according to researchers at NE University.
They analyzed how sites change pricing based on a wide variety of variables that range from your location to what type of device you are using.
Though some of these findings have been disputed by the advertising industry, what is clear is that your pricing can change depending upon how you happen to interact with a site.
I know I have seen different pricing results on occasion when I’m searching for something from my computer versus my smartphone.
As a result, I’ve always double checked most any major online purchase by doing a quick search with both my computer and my smartphone for pricing, especially if it’s a travel related purchase.
It is rare to see any real difference, but for me, it’s just worth the extra time to make sure.
If you are the parent of a student that will be in a higher level math course, you have probably already run into the scenario where they have asked your for help on an advanced math problem.
If you could use a little help in explaining just how to solve these complex math problems, look into an app called PhotoMath.
The PhotoMath app can use your phone’s camera to scan any math problem, then try to solve it and shows you step-by-step how it solved the equation.
Many of you will think that kids will just use the app to cheat on homework, but the very same thing was declared about the calculator when it was first introduced.
While this app can clearly be used to cheat, it was designed as a learning tool to teach how things are actually solved.
Remember, any student can use tools like Wolfram Alpha to solve any math equation, but without the all important explanation on how it was solved.
Cheaters will cheat, but don’t let that keep you from making use of this helpful parental teaching tool!: http://PhotoMath.net
If you are like most beer or wine fans, you likely stick to the brands you know, especially if you aren’t much for trying new things.
Even for those that are adventurous, trying to select a new brand of wine or beer from a plethora of options in a display can be intimidating.
Well, there’s an app for that and it's called NextGlass.
The NextGlass app combines science and technology to help anticipate what you might enjoy next based on what you’ve told it you already like.
After you build out your taste profile, you can scan any barcode on any bottle to get a personal score whenever you are shopping for something new.
The app also has the 'Glass Match' feature to discover beer and wine that is similar in taste to your current favorites.
The app will even tell you what is inside the bottle, such as the calories, total sugar content and alcohol levels.
If you have been trying to figure out what to try next, the Next Glass app is like having a personal libation expert that knows you well right in your phone.
The app is free and available for both iPhone and Android users; Cheers!
If you’ve ever injured yourself trying to open those irritating plastic packages that seem to be on everything these days, today’s tip is for you.
Smaller more expensive items seem to use those sealed clamshell containers made of hard plastic that are nearly impossible to open. More and more everyday items such as light bulbs are being entombed in the nightmare packaging.
They are popular in retail because they can help fight theft and makes it easier to hang on displays.
It is such a universal irritation that there is even a wikipedia page focusing on 'wrap rage'.
Most people use scissors or a sharp knife to get into the package, which can get pretty dangerous as your frustration grows.
Even when you do get it open, it will usually result in little nicks and scrapes from the resulting sharp edges after it’s cut.
Well, there is a much better and much safer way to open them: just use a can opener.
It will take a lot less strength to get through that thick plastic with a can opener along the edges of the package and it is a lot safer.
One of the ways that the Internet can be a very dangerous place these days is through the use of what is known as ‘scripts’.
Scripts are like little macros in word processors; they are essentially a list of commands that will automatically run when you visit malicious websites.
While the use of these ‘scripts’ can range from generating simple animations to serving up advertising, they can also be used to trick your computer into executing malicious commands in the background.
One of ways to prevent being exploited by these rogue scripts is to use a free add-on for the Firefox web browser called NoScript.
NoScript prevents scripts from executing unless it is from a trusted site that you have approved, so it allows you to slowly customize your own filter.
While many web scripts are required in order to allow a website to function properly, giving you total control over when and if scripts run will provide you with an extra layer of protection.
Please understand that since NoScript is a free and open-source tool, it will require you to spend time learning just how it works, but it is time really well spent.
Learn more at https://noscript.net