Data Doctors Tech Tips
Tech Tips for Non-Tech People
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“PDF" which means 'Portable Document Format' is the industry standard for electronically publishing forms and documents.
But when you download a form from the Internet or email, you generally have to print it out first, fill it out, then you have to scan it in order to email or, fax it back or worse, send snail mail.
There are lots of programs that you can install that give you the ability to fill out the form using your computer, but unless you do it all the time, it's a bit more than you need.
If you find yourself in this situation in the future, give a website called PDFescape.com a try.
This web-based resource eliminates the need to download and install anything, so it allows you to modify and fill out PDF forms with any Internet connected computer.
You simply upload the PDF to their website to fill out the available text boxes or use the tool that allows you to add any text you want, anywhere in the form. From there, you just save the filled out form back to your computer so you can transmit it electronically.
Trying to learn a foreign language is often intimidating, since were generally so self-conscious about the exact pronunciation of the words we speak.
Listening how others familiar with the language pronounce these words will greatly improve your confidence, but it isn’t likely that we all have a bilingual friend available whenever we want help pronouncing a certain phrases or words.
That’s where the website http://Forvo.com comes to the rescue because it can help you pronounce words or phrases in over 300 languages.
This crowdsourcing site allows folks from around the world to record words the way they would say them in their native tongues. If a word or phrase isn’t yet in the playback database, you can submit the world to have someone record it for you.
Anyone taking a trip abroad in the near future can also download the audio for words and phrases they plan on using on their trip.
If you need to translate words from English before using Forvo, simply ask Google to translate it first so you can get the proper pronunciation from them.
Check it out for yourself at https://forvo.com
Your smartphone has been relatively safe as it pertains to malicious apps as long as you make sure to download apps from your associated app store and don't jailbreak or root your device.
Jailbreaking iPhones or rooting Android smartphones essentially sidesteps the security built into the device by the manufacturer and should be done only by tech savvy owners.
A fairly new type of scam is actually changing these protection processes by loading malicious apps on your smartphone, even when you have not bypassed the factory protection.
In most cases, it begins with well-crafted e-mail and sometimes even text messages with an accompanying link to an app that can be downloaded.
When the link is clicked or tapped on, it can allow the download to occur automatically, which will exploit your phone in a whole new way.
This underscores the importance of my constant advice: If you didn’t seek it out, don’t install it!
The bad guys are constantly creating persuasive dispatches that can look like they are from your trusted friends because of hacked accounts, so be on the alert.
A defense against potentially dangerous apps is available through a free security app called Lookout at http://lookout.com
It’s most likely that your smartphone these days is your default music & navigation system when you're in your car.
Having your phone in secure reachable place is also much safer than having to fumble around while you’re driving.
One possible tip for positioning your smartphone in a safer area can be found at https://Kenu.com
Look for the AirFrame, which is a simple holder that can clip to most vehicle air-vents on the dash, which provides a much safer line-of-sight to your screen.
No need for any adhesives or magnet or suction cups or any other special case because the Kenu AirFrame works with just about any size phone even one’s that are in a case.
They cost between $25 to $39 depending on your smartphone’s form factor.
Don’t forget that blowing hot air through your vents can help to overheat smartphones, so keep that in mind if you use this device holder.
Learn more at http://Kenu.com and REMEMBER, no texting when you're driving!
Anyone that has taken my advice and setup two-factor protection for their online accounts, needs to do one more thing especially if you travel a lot.
Two-factor keeps hackers out by sending a small text code to your registered phone number when the site does not recognize a device or location.
The problem is, if you happen to be on an airplane when you attempt to sign-in to your protected accounts, your smartphone can’t connect to your cellular carrier which is the only way of you to get the text code.
That’s why you need to take the additional steep of getting backup codes for those accounts.
Can you imagine paying for expensive in-flight wi-fi and being locked out of your accounts?
These backup codes are accessible in the same location that you used in the setup process, so start by going back to where you set things up.
You should make a copy of the backup codes, which can only be used one-time in most cases and store them in your travel gear.
Here are the direct links to many of the major services:
Or you can simply search for 'two-factor backup codes' for XXXX (your online service).
I’ve been continually reminding everyone I can to setup two-factor authentication on all of your critical accounts because it continues to be an excellent additional layer of protection.
You’re actually used to using two-factor protection every time you’ve ever used your debit card because it requires you to have the physical card and the PIN you setup for it.
Can you imagine a debit card with direct access to all your money that didn’t require a PIN???
It’s essentially what you’re doing with any of you accounts that don’t have two-factor protection setup on them.
Remember, when you turn this protection on, a hacker would not only have to steal your username and password, they would also have to steal your smartphone at the same time in order to gain access to your accounts.
This tool also acts like an early warning system when someone steals your login information.
It’s rare these days for important online services not to offer this added layer of protection.
For a complete list of sites that offer it as well as instructions for activating it for each of them, go here: https://twofactorauth.org
Search engines such as Google and Bing are helpful for getting to what we may be searching for, but in exchange, they gather lots of valuable marketing info as we use them.
With all of today's privacy concerns, many of you may be looking for a more private way to search for things online.
Startpage.com is a search tool that knows that people have a need for privacy at times and promotes what they call "the world’s most private search engine".
Most search engines will capture your IP address along with what you were searching for, any sites you may have come from and the links you clicked in the results.
Startpage.com does not capture any of these items, but still gives you the results from the powerful Google search system.
It’s kind of like the Harry Potter 'invisibility cloak', because it provides a barrier to your details when you use it to generate search results.
Check it out for yourself at https://Startpage.com
If cyber-criminals can gain access to the e-mail app on your smartphone, it allows them to get password reset links sent from any of your online accounts back to your phone.
Your smartphone is chock full of sensitive personal info that can make acquiring your sign-in credentials a snap, so anyone that hasn’t setup the access passcode on their smartphones should do it immediately.
Equally, if you plan on trading-in, selling or simply discarding any smartphone, it’s critically important that you ensure that a factory reset is performed to wipe your personal info.
Resetting your smartphone to its factory settings is simple to do through the ‘Settings' menu.
Android users that have an expansion micro SD card should be sure to remove or reformat it before the device leaves your possession.
You should also remove the SIM card as well because it won’t be of any value to the next user.
If you need instructions on how to reset any smartphone, just search Google with the word ‘reset' and the name of your device.
For more instructions, go to: http://www.datadoctors.com/help/columns/21892-Wipe-Before-You-Get-Rid-Of-Your-Old-Smartphone
Making sure that you use long, complex password that is different on every online account is a crucial step to protecting yourself online.
Trying to remember dozens of these complex passwords is going to be impossible, so it’s important to use a password management program to help you stay safe these days.
If you still haven’t found management software program that works for you, here’s another one to look at: http://RoboForm.com
The RoboForm system not only provides a solid password manager option but it also helps you fill forms online with your personal information, which is a big time saver for hardcore online shoppers.
Another useful feature is the ability to use batch logins which will automatically open tabs and log you in to your commonly used sites, all with one click.
Just like other password managers, after you get everything setup, you simply need to remember just the one main password for the Roboform account to safely access all your online accounts.
The basic version is free and they also offer mobile apps at http://RoboForm.com
Tax preparation season is often referred to as 'Xmas for Crooks' because of all of the tax refund fraud scams that pop up during tax season.
A common scam that’s been increasing is filing fraudulent refunds because more than 70% of US tax returns are eligible for an average of almost $3,000 according the IRS.
The growing scam is a form of tax related identity theft because criminals are making use of stolen social security numbers to file a tax return before the actual tax payer does.
When it happens, not only will it result in spending a ton of time clearing up the fraud, it will also delay any refund checks due until after the mess has been cleaned up.
The 2 actions everyone should take to minimize the chances of it happening to them is protect your SSN as best you can and when you know you are due a refund, be sure to file your taxes as quickly as you can every single year.
In on a never ending quest for technology that enhances our lives and one of my favorites is a website called If This Then That or IFTTT for short.
This amazing resource can help you put the Internet to work by creating something referred to as ‘recipes' that will leverage various parts of your online accounts in a powerful way.
For instance, you can leverage the recipe that automatically creates reminders on your phone when you star a message on Gmail or text your significant other when you are leaving your workplace.
IFTTT can integrate with over 160 online services with an amazing library of recipes that were created by others members of the community.
IFTTT also has apps for your mobile devices that allow you to use or create their recipes on the road.
Anyone that’s never heard about http://IFTTT.com should add it to their to-do list of useful sites to help them be more productive!
If you’re like most people, you’re watching a lot more video on the Internet these days.
YouTube has over 6 billion hours of video being watched every month and is far and away to leader in the space.
These days both businesses and individuals have found that having their own YouTube channel is a good thing to do.
Businesses use video content to attract new customers every day and families can can use their channel both publicly and privately to share videos of those special moments captured in daily life.
Unless you’re tech savvy, getting started is often a bit intimidating, but in reality, it's pretty easy to get started.
Google has put compiled a great resource that they're calling the YouTube Creator Academy
to educate novices and viral video stars alike.
You can be taught everything from getting started to '10 fundamentals’ for creating a strategy for your business just by spending a few minutes a day when you can.
The direct link is: https”//www.youtube.com/creatoracademy
Many people have a built in alarm clock that can wake them up every morning with no trouble while many others struggle waking up no matter what they do.
Anyone struggling should consider an alternative to the old-school snooze button to get you up in the morning.
Several apps for your smartphone are available that allow you to turn off the alarm only after you have solved a puzzle or answered a mathematics question.
The concept is to wake your cognitive skills to get involved in the process instead of simple motor skills that allow you to tap the snooze button.
These puzzle alarm apps include the standard options of any alarm app which allows you to wake up to music or set multiple alarms or turn on the option of having to solve a puzzle in order to get the alarm to stop.
iPhone users can try a free app called 'Morning Worm’ which make that claim that 'you’ll wake up the first time, every time'.
Android users can try an app called Puzzle Alarm Clock, also free in the Google Play Store.
If you’re struggling to start your day on time, the links are:
If you regularly travel for business or pleasure, you know about the hundreds of websites and apps that are attempting to guide you to your decisions.
Virtually all of them are price driven sites with reviews from the general public, so they often may no reflect your preferred way to travel.
One of my favorite goofy travel reviews was from a lady that complained about all the stairs to climb in a seaside European hill town! Clearly this lady wasn't very detail oriented with her travel planning.
If you’d prefer travel tips and recommendations from people that think like you, visit https://GoGoBot.com.
Of course it contains all of the standard info on hotels, BnB rentals, restaurants along with things to do, but what makes it different is their use of Tribes.
Tribes are groups of people with similar travel styles, so business travelers, thrill seekers, foodies or those on a budget will get feedback, suggestions and reviews from like-minded travelers.
It’s like hanging out with thousands of other avid travelers for their best tips and recommendations.
GoGoBot.com also has mobile apps to provide location-based tips when you’re on the road.
If you’re a fan of the Android operating system on smartphones or tablets, you’re probably the type of user that's interested in the tweaks and utilities that Android offers.
If you’re a tech savvy hands-on type of technical user that's familiar with the Windows file manager, there’s a great app for you.
The ES File Explorer app is one of the most popular Android utilities with millions of users that have downloaded it.
ES File Explorer provides much of the functionality you’re probably used to in Windows, including folders that can be cut, copied, pasted, moved, deleted, renamed and even 'multiple select’ for much faster management.
As with any tool on any operating system, when you don’t know what something is, you should never delete it!
ES File Explorer also integrates with Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive Sugarsync and some other well known online storage services, so transferring your files to the cloud is much simpler.
The app also lets you manage applications, kill background tasks and delete junk files and also manages files on SD expansion cards.
If you love tinkering with your Android smartphone, this app’s for you.
In my last tip, I explained why it’s critical not to use the same password all over the Internet, but this invariably leads to a common question: How do I remember so many complicated passwords?
The answer is simply 'you can’t', which is why you should use some form of password manager so you can create long, secure passwords for each of your accounts.
Password managers are all designed to create and manage your passwords for all your websites and devices in a very secure manner so all you have to remember is one password.
They include password generators, auto form filling, encrypted storage, two-factor authentication and they easily integrate with your browsers & mobile devices.
Password managers can be a bit complicated to get setup for non-techies, but once it is configured, they are easy to use.
One of my favorites called LastPass which has a powerful free version.
This security step is way too important to ignore, so if this is more than you can handle, get some help!
Data breaches are far from a new crime and actually pre-date computers; news articles from the late 1800’s show thieves were stealing important records even back then.
Where data exists, there are going to be thieves!
It’s critical that you understand that when any of your online accounts is breached, you can’t ever use that password anywhere online ever again.
This is because hackers started compiling huge databases of stolen passwords long ago, because they know how online users tend to use the same password all over the Internet.
When going after a target, they don’t bother starting with guesses, they just check to see if your password already exists in their stolen password database.
If you aren’t certain if any of your online accounts has ever been breached, there are couple of websites that I’ve posted at DataDoctors.com/radio that give you a quick way to check to see if your e-mail address or username is in the known breached database.
Since it is the beginning of yet another new year, you’re probably working on your new year’s resolutions, which invariably includes eating better.
Well, if "eating better” turns out to mean eating a better quality of food, like more delicious gourmet type meals, then this website can help with that type of resolution.
The site is called ‘Goldbely' and they have a team of food explorers that are on a mission to uncover all the delicious things they can find and share them with you.
Their aim is to create a marketplace that will connect avid foodies with America's best gourmet food providers.
We have all discovered those specialty food shops or local restaurants when we travel, that have ‘that to die for’ morsel we wish we could get when we return home.
Well, you no longer have to buy a plane ticket to discover or buy those amazing delicacies.
The site lets you search by region, food type or by you tastes and even when you don’t buy anything, it’s still fun to browse.
They also have lots of gift ideas for those foodies in your life that are so hard to buy for at http://www.goldbely.com
It’s no surprise that maintenance is a critical part of keeping things running smoothly, whether it’s your car, swimming pool or your health.
But for some reason, maintenance on a computer has never seemed to a thought with most users.
Just imagine how incredibly expensive keeping your car running would be if you didn’t bother to maintain anything on it.
Hopefully, this tip will encourage all Windows users to take this simple step in regularly care for their computers by using the 'Disk Cleanup’ program.
The Windows Disk Cleanup tool does exactly what it implies. It will not only free up your valuable disk space, it can also help keep your computer running a little faster.
You can locate the built-in tool by going to Programs then to Accessories and then System Tools or by using the Windows 10 search bar.
If you have either never done this or it's been a while, have some patience as it can take a little time for the program to gather up all the unnecessary files.
I would recommend that you get in the habit of doing this at least once a month!
Your home's wireless router is the primary defense against common hacker threats, because it keeps the bad guys from gaining access to your computer.
If the default password on your router hasn’t been changed, you are at risk for major security issue that can allow hackers to compromise everything in your home.
Not your ‘Wi-Fi’ connection password; I’m referring to your admin account which allows anyone to take over your router.
Every default passwords for every device made is posted on the web through sites like http://RouterPasswords.com which can the bad guys to attack you.
Various security experts have discovered a type of attack that uses malicious e-mail messages that can allow thieves to sneak into the router when the default login credentials are still being used.
Once they silently get in, there’s not much they can't do because they can change the configuration which allows them to monitor all activity and grab passwords for your online accounts without you ever knowing it.
This is a threat that no security software can ever protect you from when you click a malicious link.
The simple, but effective way to protect yourself against this particular threat is just change the default password.
if you don’t know how to do it, get help!
For those that find the stock market or the world of investing in general a bit intimidating and mysterious, today’s tip may be just the thing to start gaining knowledge.
As with anything, knowledge is power but when it comes to investing, you don’t need to earn a degree from a major university to learn how the markets work.
WallStreetSurvivor.com is an online resource that actually started out as a virtual stock market simulator has evolved into an excellent tool for demystifying Wall Street.
‘Gamification’ as it turns out, is an excellent way to learn about the world of investing and trading stocks.
Rather than simple guidance on how to do things, you actually get to get involved in market trades without ever risking your own money.
It’s essentially a virtual stock exchange combined with tutorials, educational articles, courses & videos.
You can start learning the basics, then setup a practice portfolio and actually become part of a league to compete with others.
If you haven’t a clue what a ‘put’ or a ‘call’ is or the stocks vs. mutual funds, https://WallStreetSurvivor.com can really help to get a solid understanding.
It’s also a great tool for getting your kids learning about investing at an early age.