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!
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
5G is coming! The 5G hype is in full swing in the wireless world.
Also referred to as 5th generation wireless, 5G is just the latest buzzword but it doesn’t really exist at the moment.
Currently, there is no actual recognized standard for what will eventually be called 5G, just a whole lot of companies testing various technologies that they are hoping will be called 5G one day.
So, when you hear anything about 5G, for the moment assume that it is just another overhyped marketing message trying to get a jump on something you may not be able to use for years.
There is no doubt that the industry as a whole is working on much faster data for all your mobile devices, but for now, consider it speculation.
If you have heard the pitch for 5G and thought about switching to another carrier just because they claim to be close to offering the next big thing, think again.
Even when it does eventually become available, you really don’t want to be an early adopter unless you enjoy expensive pain.
Every once in a while When I'm searching for interesting tech to talk about, I’ll stumble across something truly amazing that can really make a difference.
An app called 'Be My Eyes' is just that thing in my recent searches and it is a really cool idea.
A socially focused inventor in Denmark created this amazing app that will allow blind users to connect with those that are sighted when they need help through the video connection.
Sighted volunteers use the app on their end to 'be the eyes' for those with a visual impairment to assist them with small tasks, like explaining what a street sign might say, reading the contents in a can of food or checking the expiration date on a carton of milk.
It is currently only available for iPhone users that would like to help others. The app allows you to volunteer by simply installing it on your smartphone.
As part of the community, you earn points for helping others, which will elevate your level in their system, improving your opportunity to help others.
If you'd like a great way to help others, checkout http://BeMyEyes.org and get the app.
Popular tech companies such as Uber and AirBnB have created what is being called the "sharing economy” which leverages the power of your smartphone.
Now another startup called ‘Roadie' is attempting to compete with UPS, USPS and Fedex with a platform they are calling a neighbor-to-neighbor shipping network.
The service is setup to match people that need something delivered to another city with drivers that are already traveling between those same two points.
They refer to them as ‘gigs’ which are insured up to $500 for the senders protection, so think of it as a package carpooling service.
You simply post a ‘gig’ via the app by describing what you need to have delivered and where it needs to go which them allows 'roadies’ (the drivers) to complete the delivery.
The Roadie app allows you to track progress of the delivery and it even allows you to connect with your driver along the way.
For convenience and safety, Waffle House locations are one of the first official Roadie meeting points where you can meet to exchange packages with some freebies offered for the drivers.
If you dig the sharing economy and have something unusual that needs to get to another city, checkout http:\\Roadie.com for the details.
If you’re a regular user of Microsoft Word, you are probably already familiar with something known as 'macros' which can allow you to work with large chunks of text that you use on a regular by assigning time saving keyboard shortcuts.
We are all spending a lot more time on the web creating content, so using shortcuts in your browser can save you a lot of time.
If you are using Google Docs instead of Microsoft Word on a regular basis, checkout the Auto Text Expander add-on for Google Chrome.
It allows you to create shortcuts for long e-mail addresses, long sentences or other chunks of text you often use regularly. You can also create various signatures for various e-mail accounts that let you easily assign with your own custom keystrokes.
For example, use the ‘bizadd' shortcut for your business email address or 'persig’ for when you use a personal signature in a message or just about anything you use on a regular basis.
A great part of this utility is that once you have created a shortcut, it’s available in any text field for virtually everything you use on the Internet.
Check it out here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/auto-text-expander-for-go/iibninhmiggehlcdolcilmhacighjamp
A great way to understand methods for protecting yourself online is to try to think like a hacker.
A very valuable thing sold on the Internet underground is your personal info, which is why tricking users into allowing remote hackers into your computer is one of the most common approaches.
But rather than targeting adults, hackers long ago figured out that it’s much easier to trick kids which allows them to get to you.
They often sneak malware programs in by pretending to offer free music, videos, games & programs that are usually expensive, which teens and kids are more likely to download.
Guess why this approach is so effective? Because so many parents allow their kids to use the same profiles as mom and dad with complete administrative access which allows them complete control over your entire computer.
If this is how you have things setup in your house, you should really make a change as soon as possible.
You need to setup a completely separate account and limit the access for younger users which will minimize the exposure to your sensitive information.
This is a really important security measure, so if you don’t have a clue on getting this setup, have someone help you as each operating system is different.
From time to time, most of us find ourselves in need of basic graphic design work, but it’s rarely important enough to spend the money on a professional, whether it’s for personal or business reasons.
If you don’t own the software or find that you don't have the talent to do it yourself, check out a website called Canva … like canvas without the s.
Canva is really simple to use, because it’s a template based tool that’s also web based, so you don’t have to install any software on your computer to get started.
With Canva, you can create flyers, posters, business cards, blog graphics and even perfectly formatted Facebook Cover images or any other social media related needs, Canva is a great DIY tool.
You begin by picking a design style, then you choose a template and make the changes to the text to fit your needs.
You can use your own pictures or choose from their large library of professional images; some are free while others may cost a buck to use.
It’s a beautiful tool because it’s easy to use, very cost effective and produces really great results in no time at all.
If you lack the skill, money, vision and time to create professional looking graphics, Canva.com is worth taking a look at...that’s C A N V A.com
Whenever a computer starts to slow down, often times too many people assume that it is time to get a whole new system.
Now, if your cpu is really old, it probably makes sense to replace it, but for most of you there is a much more cost effective option to get the system running fast again.
It’s called a ‘hybrid hard drive' and it is still one of the best kept secrets in the industry.
There are three primary components in your PC that will determine just how fast it will run: the processor, the RAM and the hard drive.
In every case, the hard drive will be the biggest bottleneck so opening it up will make an old system run like it’s brand new again.
AND it is much cheaper then buying a new computer.
What really makes the hybrid hard drive system unique is that it matches super fast Solid State circuitry with a standard magnetic drive and stores the files and programs you use the most on the faster partition.
If you do take this route, keep in mind that your old hard drive can become a backup drive by putting it in an external enclosure.
If you are one of the many that is looking for more speed from your system, look into upgrading to a hybrid drive. It can save you lots of money and make your computer speedy again!
We collectively deal with the recurring challenge of what to make for tonight's dinner but often times we'll end up choosing from one of a group of regular meals in our rotation.
If you're looking for a new 'spin' on this daily tasks, there's an app for that and it's called Dinner Spinner!
The app is made by the famous recipe website AllRecipes.com and it starts with you selecting the type of dish you’re interested in, like a salad or side dish or a main course and your main ingredient, such as pasta or fish.
Then you include the amount of time you have to make the meal and then give the app a spin.
I gave it a try by asking about main courses that includes chicken with under 20 minutes to prepare it and I got twenty five ideas, and they all looked pretty appetizing.
While you are viewing the potential recipes, you will also get a list of suggested recipes from other users that also includes their ratings.
If you're a little more adventurous, just try shaking your smartphone which will generate random recipes that you probably weren't even thinking about cooking.
If you have any dietary restrictions, you can use the built-in filters to improve the results, life if you are only interested in low sodium, vegetarian, high fiber or non-dairy options.
The app is great so Bon appétit!
If you are the do-it-yourself type of homeowner when it comes to all those home improvement tasks, you already know the more tools you have on hand, the better off you are likely to be.
Since most projects start with measurements and calculations, a smartphone app that may be a big help is Dewalt’s Mobile Pro App.
It was initially designed for construction pros so it is loaded with pro calculators, conversion tools and area calculators for both linear and sq ft calculations.
It's also a useful resource on those construction related questions that come with an assortment of e-books and other information accessible right in the app.
It will store your calculations for future projects or so you can share them via e-mail with others that helping you with your project.
Whether you are trying to calculate the amount of concrete you will need for pouring a slab, how many sheets of drywall and studs you'll need for a room addition or how many linear feet of crown molding you will have to buy, the Pro App from Dewalt Mobile can help.
This handy app is available for both iPhone and Android users and it's totally free!
We all love free apps on our smartphones, especially when they are so useful that we use them just about every day.
You probably know that these free apps are often ad based to pay for the development, but there's something you should be aware of, especially for those on a limited mobile data play or have a constantly dying battery problem.
It turns out that free apps that are ad driven can silently cost you by eating up your limited data & your battery in order to deliver those ads.
Researchers at various universities reported that these ads in a lot of free apps can eat up nearly 80% more data on your data plan than similar apps that don't contain ads.
They also reported that they used 22 percent more phone memory and 16 percent more battery life in order to constantly update new ads in the app.
If you have a phone that runs out of power in the middle of the day or you are constantly going over your data plan, these free apps may beon reason why!
Toss in the required permissions that many of them use which then adds privacy concerns to the situation.
The next time you are trying to choose between a free apps and one that charges 99 cents, it may be worth it to avoid the hidden costs of those free apps.