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!
Virtually every business will at some point end up needing a type of project management system to accomplish a goal.
Sophisticated project management software is complicated and expensive and isn’t appropriate for one-off project needs.
When you need a powerful, but easy to use platform for this type of task, look into the free tools at https://trello.com
It doesn’t require everyone involved to go through an intense training program to use and it works on virtually every type of device employees use.
The simple drag and drop interface is similar to the old-school corkboard method of managing tasks.
The organization tools along with the ability to attach important images and documents add to the power of the platform.
If organizing a group of people around a project is something you’re responsible for, this could be just what you have been looking for!
So much of what is important in our lives is tied up in online accounts, so making sure you have thought about a succession plan should you pass unexpectedly is vital.
This means making sure your next of kin can access your accounts to avoid the frustration of trying to get in whilst grieving.
If you’ve used the options that allow you to protect your accounts from potential hackers, those same protections will keep your family from accessing them as well.
Storing them in a safe place is one approach, but keep in mind that as your usernames and passwords change, you’ll need to update your manual records as well.
Of all the online accounts that you want to make sure are accessible by your survivors, it’s your email account that is most important.
If they can access your email account and can unlock your phone, they can likely use the reset options in most accounts to regain access.
If you haven’t thought about the unthinkable, let this be your reminder to spend some time doing so.
The default mapping app on your smartphone is excellent as long as you have some form of connectivity.
It’s certainly possible to download specific areas in Google Maps as long as you know where you’re going ahead of time, but that doesn’t help once you’re in an unfamiliar area.
For those that find themselves wishing they had downloaded a map ahead of time on a regular basis, there’s an app that’s the equivalent of having an old-school paper map in your back pocket.
It’s called Maps.me and it is free to use on Android and iOS devices.
If International exploration is your cup of tea, this app is a big ‘must have’ before you jump on the plane to your next destination.
It’s not going to work exactly like your default mapping app that’s on your smartphone, so make sure you spend a little time with it well before you have to rely on it.
Learn more and download it at: https://maps.me
The quality and size of the display on the iPhone has improved with every new generation and if you only use it in the traditional portrait mode, you’re not getting the full experience.
There are lots of options and features that just can’t be displayed into the narrow width of a phone screen until you turn it sideways.
Virtually every app that you use on a daily basis likely has some hidden features that will magically appear when you flop the display on its side.
In addition to the hidden information or options, the keyboard is a bit larger and for some, much easier to type on when the display is sideways.
You can certainly take the time to research which of your apps will provide what specific features or simply make it a habit to turn the screen in all your apps to start uncovering hidden gems that can potentially make this magic device even more useful.
How much have you come to rely on text messaging as an efficient way to communicate with lots of people every day?
What would you do if something happened to your smartphone? That’s the focus of today’s tip.
Before you’re in an emergency situation, check to see what options are offered by your cellular carrier for web-based text messaging.
That means going to their web interface and doing some test texting so you’ll know what to do if your smartphone goes out or goes missing.
Another option is to use an online resource called Text Em http://textem.net
This free service does require that you know which carrier the recipient is on, so it’s not the best option in every situation.
It’s just a matter of time before you go without your primary texting device, so planning ahead is what we recommend.
No matter what you may be in the market to purchase, it’s a pretty good bet that you’ll be doing various Google searches to help you make your decision.
Critics and reviews of the products you’re considering can be extremely helpful and the more comparative information, the better.
It’s also a good way to discover competitive products that may not have known about.
There’s a simple alteration to your search requests that can provide direct product comparisons and that’s by using get the VS parameter.
Let’s say you’re looking at a new phone that’s comparable to a Samsung Galaxy model. Type Samsung XXX vs in the Google search bar and hit Enter.
The results will be those sites that have specifically compared the Samsung device you’re interested in to other smartphones.
This simple addition to your research will make you aware of other products so you can actually make the best decision for any purchase in the future.
Keeping your computer’s software updated is a critical part of staying safe from all of the threats online, but there are some items that you don’t want to always update.
Someone asked us about a special program that was boasting that it can keep all your drivers updated automatically.
While this may sound like a good idea, drivers which are small bits of code designed to control hardware components should never be updated just for the sake of updating.
Updating them en masse would be even worse as the chances of creating a huge problem that never existed can be the results.
Driver updates are best done only when there is a specific problem with a piece of hardware that you are trying to address.
Make sure you keep your operating system and security software updated but when it comes to driver updates, if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!
A common obstacle to learning a new language is often the lack of confidence that you are saying something the right way.
It’s important to get as close to the proper pronunciation as you can so the person you’re talking to doesn’t get confused by what you are trying to say.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could ask a bi-lingual friend how to say something every time you needed some help?
Well, there’s a virtual pronunciation assistant standing by whenever you want help at a website called Forvo.
Beyond getting to hear the proper way to say things, you can download the files to keep on your device in the event you need to use the audio when you aren’t getting it right in person.
A bonus tip is to use Google Translate to get any word translated from English first, then have Forvo show you the proper way to say it.
https://forvo.com is an excellent language tool to keep in your arsenal, so bookmark it for your future needs!
For those times that you are working with chronological data and want to present it in a linear fashion, a graphical timeline is hard to beat.
Making it from scratch would be a bit of a chore unless you use a special tool designed specifically for timelines like the one at Timetoast.com
Not only is it free to use, but you also don’t have to download and install special code to get started.
Once completed, the timeline can be presented to others as a list or a graphical timeline.
No need to download the timeline as a file to share it with others as all you need to send is the URL for your specific timeline.
Students, business people or those interested in genealogy have all found this tools to be pretty useful.
While watching videos via the Internet has become very commonplace, there’s a genre that also has become more popular online: documentaries.
In many cases, you’ll have to pay to watch documentaries, there are sites where these important films are more readily more accessible.
You can spend hours discovering lots of documentaries at Documentary Heaven.
This treasure chest of independent films is set up in categories to make it easier to find the kind of content you like.
This alternative to expensive streaming services allows you to watch on your computer, smartphone or tablet whenever you want it.
No matter what your interest is when it comes to movies, there’s bound to be a category of films on this site that will capture your attention.
Start your discovery at: https://documentaryheaven.com
Did you know that the space bar does a lot more than just create a single space when you tap it?
There are actually other shortcuts hiding in your space bar that you may not have known about.
Whether you using the keyboard on the screen of your phone or on your laptop or desktop, there are awesome ways to use the space bar.
When you’re typing something on your smartphone and want to start a new sentence, just tap the space bar twice and a period will magically appear!
For those that spend all day on the internet via a desktop or laptop computer, you can keep your hands on the keyboard to scroll down a page by tapping the space bar.
You can also scroll back up one page by holding the Shift key and tapping the space bar too.
These tips are pretty basic but they can really make things more efficient for much of our daily interactions with our devices.
The social network for professionals known as LinkedIn has become a major networking and recruiting tool for virtually every industry.
But of course, when something becomes popular online, the bad guys take notice and create scams.
One of the most dangerous LinkedIn scams has them posing as a job recruiter with what appear to be amazing employment positions.
The aim is get you to fall for the ‘opportunity’ and give up personal info they can use to compromise you.
Watch for grammatical errors, strange wording and profiles with little activity and few connections.
Another way to sniff out scammers is through the profile image since so many of them use someone else's picture on these fake accounts.
One quick way to check the profile pic is to do an image search via Google images or the Tin Eye website https://tineye.com to see if it’s actually someone different.
Unless you’re an old-timer like us, you probably don’t remember what it was like when not everyone had a website.
Even those companies that did have one, looking back at what we thought was cool back then is kind of cringe-worthy.
There’s actually an easy way to see just how comical things looked back in the day thanks to an awesome archiving project at https://archive.org
It’s been grabbing snapshots of millions of websites for over 20 years as a massive archive of the web.
This isn’t a database of fully functional websites, in fact, many of the elements of the archived sites may not even load, but you can get the gist of what it was like back then.
A cool way to use this tool is to look up the website for the company that you currently work for or for those that you worked for going back a coup of decades via this direct link: https://archive.org/web
The Internet has become an integral component in the business world and it all begins with a website.
If you know what you’re doing, choosing which tools and technology to use on your website isn’t much of a task, but for non-technical decision-makers, it can become overwhelming.
A process that can help you make a more informed decision is simply examining what similar organizations are using for their websites which is easy to do with the Built With web tool.
You simply input the web address of any website you want to get some intel on and you’ll be presented with a comprehensive written review of the tech being used.
This is a great way to see what technology is on the uptick with lots of other websites or to verify what you think is a good way to go.
Making great decisions before you get started can save you a lot of time, frustration and money, so do your homework with https://builtwith.com
Virtually any new project or product that you want to take to market starts with a search to see if the name you came up with is already being used.
Once you have the name, you’ll generally want to see if the website domain is available, which is where Picky Domains can be a huge time saver.
This web resource uses crowdsourcing to generate ideas for those looking for a name and web address for their new project.
It’s not based on random suggestions as you provide the details of how long you want it to be, what words to use or not use, etc.
You get to leverage the brainpower of a huge crowd of creative people at a very reasonable price because only one person will win your challenge.
It’s such an important step in improving your chances of being successful, so if you’re ever in need of this unique service, make sure you bookmark it: https://www.pickydomains.com
A current phenomenon made possible via social media is the real-time reporting of seismic activity.
Researchers realized that this activity could be helpful to track the activity in addition to all of the standard technology in use.
It turns out that the sophistication of a smartphone can be even more helpful in tracking earthquakes as they occurred.
The point of this approach was to create a more accurate and speedy warning system for those in the vicinity to help prevent surprises.
What makes this project work the best is from wider participation, so if you know anyone that lives in an earthquake-prone area, let them know about this awesome project: https://myshake.berkeley.edu
If you use various chargers for your smartphone and it seems that the ones that didn’t come with your device take a longer time to charge, it’s probably true.
In some cases, this can be caused by a defective cable that’s wearing out from the inside, but it’s more likely the wrong amperage from the charger.
Despite all of the charger amps being at a very low level, which is why you don’t feel any type of shock when you touch them, it’s critical to have the right amount.
Knowing what the proper amperage requirements are for your device allows you to buy a third-party charger that will do the job effectively.
If you happen to have the tools necessary to measure these low power levels coming from your charger, that’s great, but for Android users, there’s a free app.
Ampere (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gombosdev.ampere) is a free app that not only tells you what your charging levels are for each charger, but also looks at heat generation and battery health.
It’s a great way to determine the best chargers you have so you can charge your battery in the best way possible!
If you’re the type that enjoys creating unique images that will easily catch the attention of just about anyone, have we got an app for you to try.
It’s an app called Alien Sky and it will allow iPhone users to do what the title suggests - place alien images in the sky of your pictures.
There are some awesome celestial bodies that you can add to your images that are so realistic that it will likely create questions from those that see it.
You can claim to have caught a comet just in time or say nothing about there being more than one moon in dusk background.
With over 150 effects available, you’ll have endless opportunities for great fun and intrigue.
Check out all of the high-res objects that you can start using to bump up your space photo game at: http://www.brainfevermedia.com/alienSky.html
Protecting yourself from the multitude of threats that can destroy your data starts with having a solid backup process in place.
A traditional backup that is copied to an external hard drive connected to your computer will only provide one type of protection - having a secured off-site backup in addition is today’s best protection.
The ongoing threat of ransomware which will lock you out of your own files and demand a ransom will also compromise your external hard drive.
These sneaky attacks can easily bypass traditional anti-virus programs because they focus on tricking humans into allowing the exploit to start working behind the scenes.
If you’re hit by this attack and don’t have a backup available, your two choice will be to pay the ransom or lose those pictures, videos and document forever.
One of the easiest ways to keep yourself protected is with online backup services such as Carbonite, so if you haven’t accessed your backup situation lately, take a minute to think it through.
Most of us are mindful of our physical fitness in one way or another but not so much when it comes to mental fitness.
As with our physical capabilities that diminish with age, so does our mental sharpness if it isn’t kept active.
If you don’t already have a way to train your brain to stay alert, an app called Elevate is awaiting your call.
It’s much more than a silly gaming app that will distract you from life as it’s backed by science and research in the cognitive world.
This app will personalize the brain training based in a number of inputs from you and your responses to the various interactions.
They use the freemium model which provides the basics for free and premium features for a fee.
It turns out that playing games will help keep your brain stay in shape and beyond exercise, it can make you feel much sharper too https://www.elevateapp.com
Nature lovers tend to seek out the path less traveled so they can commune with their surroundings in solitude, which means they’ll need a solid way to navigate the wilderness.
Google Maps and other navigation apps can be helpful, but most of them require you to think about things well before you hit the trail, such as downloading the information that won’t be available when there’s no signal.
If you’re an iPhone toting nature lover, check out an app called Anchor Pointer that’s a big help.
This app allows you to drop ‘anchors’ along the way, so it can easily bring you back later.
You can set the anchors well in advance or use it to mark where you parked your car.
You’ll get details info on the distance to each of the anchor points so you won’t have to guess how much longer it will take to get there.
It can also work with other iPhone users, so it’s awesome for groups as well.
Get the details at: