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!
Camera’s with thermal imaging can detect infrared light in the dark, allowing you to see things around you thermally.
There have been a lot of devices that have been released that can turn any smartphone into a thermal imaging camera but most of them are really expensive.
But now, you can inexpensively turn most iPhone or Android handsets into a thermal camera that can clearly make out images in the dark using one of the ‘Seek Thermal’ camera attachment.
The small devices plug into the power connection on many smartphones and it lets you take both still images or videos in the dark.
The low resolution images are somewhat grainy, but if you need to see what’s lurking in the dark in your yard or down a really dark alley or parking lot, the Seek Thermal camera gets the job done.
The Seek attachment will also allow you to see where pipes might be clogged, where the hot air is seeping out of your house or check the temps of just about surface you point it at.
If you’re intrigued by thermal imaging, checkout Seek’s affordable devices at https://www.thermal.com/compact-series.html
Whether you like or despise Edward Snowden, one thing is perfectly clear - he certainly knows about cybersecurity.
So when Snowden endorses a messaging app that he says is secure that he personally uses, you can count on it being as private as any messaging system gets.
Snowden’s recommended app is called Signal and it made by Open Whisper Systems for iPhone or Android users.
Signal allows you to send secure messages using both text and voice and it won’t require you to go through a sign up process to use it.
The app uses your current phone number and contacts and doesn’t require a separate login or PIN.
Despite its very sophisticated encryption, the app is super simple to setup and use as your every day messaging app
The app also determines automatically if your recipient also uses the Signal app, so it will know not to secure messages that are sent to those that don’t have the app.
If you would like to have a more secure way of messaging, checkout the Signal app at https://WhisperSystems.org
I'm using today's tip to remind everyone to activate two-factor authentication for your online accounts because it's still an excellent extra layer of protection that's effective.
If you think about it, it's kind of like using your debit card where you have to have two-factors of authentication: your debit card as well as the associated PIN.
Just think how dangerous it would be if your debit card didn't require a PIN in order to get money out of an ATM. IMHO, it's what anyone that is not using 2FA is doing with their online accounts.
Once activated, a thief would be required to steal both your login credentials and your smartphone at the same time in order to sneak into your account.
This security layer also provides you with alerts to know when someone has stolen your credentials, because you'll get a security code out of the blue on your smartphone.
Virtually every major online account is now offering this extra layer of protection.
To see which of your online accounts offers the protection along with how to activate it, visit" https://twofactorauth.org
Our smartphones are marvels of technology and they are even more powerful than the computers used by NASA to get mankind to the moon, which is pretty amazing.
One of the best features of our smartphones is the high resolution cameras that pack a lot of technology into our pockets allowing anyone to take amazing pictures without having to be a pro photographer, or so we’d like to think.
Features such as auto white balance, focus, and exposure along with color correction are all great to have available but mean absolutely nothing when the person taking the picture doesn’t understand how to compose the picture.
The rule of thirds is a basic concept that appears to still be a mystery for most photographers but now there is an app for those people. Camera 51 focuses on the thing that most smartphone photographers seem to be clueless about, which is the all-important composition.
The app uses the sophistication of your phone to dissect the scene you are shooting, with an on-screen guide which allows you to know where you should point the camera.
Anyone that has no idea how to compose a photograph should definitely download this free app to start taking better pictures!
It’s a safe bet that your primary mobile device has a camera included that has some sort of flash.
It’s also common to assume that the flash is only needed in low-lighting settings, but in actuality, using it outside can make a huge difference in your pictures.
Whenever you’re take pictures of someone outside, they often times end up with lots of shadows and wide contrasts due to the bright light in the frame.
Manually forcing flash can in many cases fix both issues and turn a picture that might have been almost useless into a masterpiece.
Whenever you use the flash on your smartphone, be sure that you get close enough so the weaker light has the intended effect in daylight.
On bright sunny days, try putting people in a shaded area to eliminate the squints and use your flash to fill in their faces.
Knowing when not to use your flash, especially indoors along with when to use it outdoors can make a huge difference in the quality of your images.
Playing around with the flash on your phone before you have a special event is the best way to learn and know what to do when the time comes!
Clearly defining your financial plans along with retirement planning is something that everyone needs to do, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you attempt to manually track it all.
An awesome tool that I have been using available at https://www.personalcapital.com simplifies the tracking of virtually everything financial in your life.
Very quickly you can generate a visual dashboard that shows you your entire financial picture in one place.
Personal Capital gives you easy to use tools to generate net worth along with the ‘what if’ planning for retirement which allows you to see a much a clearer vision of what it might look like.
This is far from a resource for active traders, but it is for anyone looking for a replacement to having to go to multiple tools to generate a financial picture in a more concise way.
They also offer a concise mobile app that allows you to quickly review everything, every day on your smartphone.
Setting up remote access to your own computer is pretty common, but most of the options that used to be free, have converted to pay services.
Those looking for a great free tool that’s easy to use should look into the options available from Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop.
Just download the plugin to the Chrome Browser on any of your computers that you’d like to remote into.
Once it’s setup, whether it’s a Windows, Mac or Linux-based computer, you can remotely access it as if you are at the keyboard!
You can even use Chromebooks, tablets or smartphones to remote access your computers.
This allows you to remote into any of your computers right from a smartphone anywhere in the world in a pinch.
It only takes minutes to setup, so if your looking for a free remote access tool, we highly recommend this one!
Here are the links
Chrome Remote Desktop Add-on: https://chrome.google.com/remotedesktop
iOS remote app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chrome-remote-desktop/id944025852?mt=8
Android remote app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.chromeremotedesktop
An important way to understand ways of protecting yourself when online is to start thinking like hackers do.
A very valuable item sold on the dark web is your personal info, so tricking people online into allowing the bad guys into your computer is a very common method of attack.
But instead of trying to trick adults, hackers have figured out it’s much easier to trick the kids in the household to get to the parents.
They often sneak silent tracking programs into your computer by hiding them in free music, videos, games or other expensive programs that younger users are more likely to want to download.
The reason that this approach is effective is because parents generally let their kids use mom and dad’s profile which has full administrative control over the computer.
If your household is setup in this way, you should be making a change asap!
Parents should always setup a completely separate profile without full admin control for their children as a way to reduce the exposure to mom and dad’s profile.
It’s really a fundamental security step for every household, so if you need help setting it up, find someone you trust as every operating system is different.
There’s no question about the impact of social media in many aspects of our lives.
It can influence buying decisions, our politics and it’s been used many times in global conflicts to communicate to the masses.
This popularity has also encouraged the usage of technology known as 'social bots' which are simply software programs that do their best to act like are real humans.
It’s not uncommon for companies to use automated posts but spam artists also employ them to send junk ads disguised as posts.
It some cases, governments will use them as propaganda channels. The worst part is that bots are also used to infect accounts and resend malicious links, so it’s always best to avoid these undesirable accounts.
Twitter in particular is prone to lots of accounts that are using social bots, which is what led to a research project run by Indiana University.
They developed the ‘Truthy Project Bot or Not’ tool which attempts to analyze Twitter accounts for signs that they're a social bot.
It’s far from a definite tool, it’s a handy tool to avoid getting scammed by a profile that is trying to represent a real human. https://truthy.indiana.edu/botornot
I’m sure you’ve heard lots of experts talking about the dangers of using public wifi, but there may be something else you’re exposed to but didn’t realize.
Your beloved laptop might be sharing files with others connected to the same public Wi-Fi without you knowing what’s going on.
The default or public shares on your laptop may be allowing others to access or even save items onto your laptop.
This alone won’t impact your other critical files in other areas, but technically your laptop is accessible by any random user of the same public wifi.
To play it safe, especially if you never need to use the public share folder, turn off this feature.
I have actually seen situations where files that could be considered sensitive have been stored in the accessible folders because the laptop owner didn’t realize anyone could access those folders.
Both Mac & Windows users have this potential issue, so here are the instructions on how to turn them off
Disable public shares in OS X: http://osxdaily.com/2014/02/11/disable-public-folder-sharing-mac-os-x
Disable public folders in Windows:
For Windows 10 users: https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/50179-turn-off-public-folder-sharing-windows-10-a.html
There’s something that has become obvious from most of the major breaches that you’ve heard over the past couple of years.
Just about every one of the breaches began through a phishing message targeting someone in the organization.
Well-crafted fake e-mail messages, A.K.A ‘spear phishing’, are often used on many victims of ransomware.
A clever way to trick anyone is by creating what appears to be an important message from someone else in the same organization.
That means you need to start paying very close attention to every message that pops up from your co-workers, your boss or any of the administrators in your company.
If your organization would like to run a targeted phishing test on up to 100 employees, look into the tools at https://KnowBe4.com
Their phishing security test, which is free, can help you see how likely people in your organization are likely to fall for spear phishing messages that claim to be from your IT department.
The phishing test tool is located at:
Perusing information via the Internet is a lot like drinking from a firehose; you need to find tools to help you filter out the stuff you don’t really want and organize the stuff you do want.
One of my favorite tool for this task is called Flipboard, because it specifically works with your social accounts and your general interests.
Flipboard will grab your feeds from your Facebook and Twitter accounts along with your specific interests like sports, business or tech and then displays them in magazine form.
But did you know that you can also use Flipboard from your computer?
That’s right, you can make use of your big, beautiful computer display to see your custom magazine that you’ve already setup on your smartphone or tablet.
For those that have never used Flipboard, you should start by installing the mobile app on your mobile device first, which makes it easy to add your social accounts onto your Flipboard account.
Once you’ve done that, visit https://flipboard.com and login to see your feeds in all their glory!
It’s that time of year when you can count on the very best deals for just about any type of electronic gadget you have on your wish list.
But heed this warning: the lowest priced device is rarely the best idea.
Shopping for technology based on the price will play right into the plans of retailers that are simply interested in moving slow moving products.
In order to be the cheapest technology, the company generally cuts corners because the margins in the gadget market are razor thin.
The result can be batteries that don’t stay charged as long, software compatibility issues or apps and in some cases, dangerous security holes.
It’s best to look for name brand products from resellers that you’ve heard of and offer a liberal return policy.
The cheaper the gadget is, the more time you should spend researching before making the purchase.
Look for user feedback on the device by searching Google for the exact device followed by the word ‘review’.
If you can’t find any reviews, that’s your sign to take a pass!
Our social media accounts are an excellent way to document our daily lives, which is more apparent when you take a few minutes to look up previous posts.
But this requirement is kind of like having a bunch of photo albums on your shelf that you haven’t looked at in years.
Well the TimeHop app that I’ve featured in the past makes revisiting your past posts automatic.
It used to only work with Facebook, but now you can use it with Twitter, Instagram and even the camera roll off your phone.
Once you set up the app, you’ll get a daily reminder in the morning of the things you posted in the past on that day.
It’s like looking at a page of those old photo albums every day; it’s a great way to see those meaningful memories from the past.
It’s like your very own private #TBT every day!
Lots of us love the being in the ocean so much that we’re willing to go through the process of getting scuba certified so we can go underwater and explore Mother Nature underwater up close and personal.
For others, the thought of being underwater near large sea animals is too freaky, so they never get to have the amazing underwater experience themselves, until now!
Google Street Views has gone underwater so anyone can go exploring underwater at some of the world’s greatest destinations without ever getting wet.
Google is using its HD Street View camera technology to map the sea floor.
Imagine going underwater in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef or lots of the best dive sites around the world with nothing more needed than clicking and dragging your mouse.
Zoom in on coral reefs with your mouse wheel and tap onto areas in the distance to really get a slight sense of what it’s like to be an underwater explorer.
When you’re done, go stroll the beaches surrounding these amazing underwater sites!
Anyone that’s about to tackle any kind of renovation knows that you should start with a sense of what you want it to look like.
Most of us are far from accomplished architects that have tons of expensive 3-D rendering programs on our computers for this, so we bring you an awesome and free online tool located at https://HomeSTyler.com
The tool was built by programmers that are known for their professional design programs, so despite being free, it’s still very powerful.
You start by drawing out your floor plan, place furniture and fixtures where you want them and before you know it, you will have the beginnings of a 3-D version of what you had in mind.
Need to start over and knock some walls down to make a bigger space? No problem. HomeStyler is a virtual playground for you to get a feel for your ideas before you start spending money.
They also have mobile apps that take pictures of your room and allow you to start playing around with your ideas on your smartphone.
You know the old saying: ‘Hope for the best; prepare for the worst’.
Anyone that owns or operates a business, should know this mantra very well.
With this in mind, we suggest that every business reviews their ‘Disaster Recovery Plan’ at least one time a year.
For some businesses, this may be a “create” your disaster recovery plan excercise.
So how’s it work? Simply begin with asking yourself what would you do if one of the the following disasters hit your business:
Flood, Fire, Virus infection, Theft, human error, sabotage, hardware failure or the all-too-common data breach.
What you’d do to recover from each of these disasters is different and will require completely different recovery processes in some cases.
Most of you do an excellent job of building a backup process, but you don’t seem to put any effort into the steps that will be required to recover from a disaster. Imagine having fire drills in a school then hoping all the students knows what to do when alarm is sounded.
The worst possible time to create your disaster recovery plan is during an actual crisis, so this is a wake up call to git er done today!
We’ve collectively taken an evolutionary step backwards, thanks to our computers. Our posture when we’re using our computers at home or at the office sucks!
We use our computers so much, that ‘Carpal Tunnel Syndrome’ has become one of the most common physical problems many are suffering.
The treatment from the medical community is generally surgery, even when you have a moderate case of CTS and it’s generally caused when you forget to sit up straight.
How can you avoid this common problem? Start by positioning your desk, your chair and yourself up for success.
Keep the chair at a height to make your knees bend at a 90 degree angle; keep your feet flat and make sure your wrists stay as close to parallel to the floor as possible.
Laptop keyboards are decent but if possible, get a wireless keyboard and raise your laptop screen up. Looking down at laptop screens is another painful problem.
Checkout the IMAK computer gloves if you want help with your wrist posture: https://www.imakproducts.com
Whenever you purchase a new computer, software program or just about anything electronic, you will find the manual is missing from the box; so where did it go?
We’ve become so smart that manuals are unnecessary now, right? Nope!
Electronic manuals are often buried somewhere on the company’s website in the form of a PDF, making it hard to determine if you have the correct one, for your model.
Anyone that has a Windows computer can get help just by pushing a button. Simply tap the F1 and viola!
This F1 key is a universal way to get help in Windows. Most programs will pop up a help screen when you press the F1 key.
Mac users can’t do the same thing, but it’s still possible. Just press & hold ‘Command-Shift’ and then on the question mark key to pop up the help search bar.
Using the built-in Help does more than just save trees, they stay updated as new options are released. The info you pull up in the help screens is matched to what version you are using.
No need to scour the Internet for a missing manual because it’s always been just a keystroke away: it’s F1 and you’re done.
’Tis the party gathering season and if music is as important to you as it is to me for my get togethers, checkout today’s tip for creating crowdsourced DJ.
An app called ‘Festify is a free add on service for Spotify accounts that doesn’t force everyone at your party to install an app in order to participate.
You’ll need a Spotify ‘Premium’ account, so if you don’t have one but want to check this app out, simple start a 3 month premium account trial for 99 cents.
You just go to Festify.com to setup the console on your laptop, then connect the laptop to a sound system. Once your guests arrive, just give them a web link along with your party code to connect to the playlist.
Anyone at the party can add any song that’s in the Spotify library and also vote for songs as they are added to the playlist from any smartphone.
You can also send the info out well in advance of the party so everyone can start adding their favorite songs before they even get to the party.
It’s far and away our favorite party DJ tool!
Check it out at https://getfestify.com
It’s highly likely that someone in your household received some form of electronics this holiday season, which then means that you will end up with old tech devices you no longer have a use for.
It’s critically important to keep in mind that anything that plugs in or uses any type of battery typically contains lots of toxic waste, so please don’t throw your old devices in the trash.
Instead, check with your local schools and charities to see if any have a way to reuse your old electronics. Just because it’s not good enough for you anymore does not mean that it’s useless for everyone.
If it is too old for someone else to use, make sure to recycle it properly through a responsible recycler.
All that tech has toxins that range from lead, arsenic, mercury to a list of other toxic agents that will contaminate our landfills and groundwater if thrown in the trash.
We’re doing a poor job of properly disposing of the majority of the 3million+ tons of electronic waste since we are still throwing it in trash cans, because of the lack of awareness of the problem.
Please be sure you dispose of electronics properly and make sure your friends and family do the same!