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!
Part of what makes viewing things on the Internet more efficient is through a background process that happens automatically called ‘caching’.
This process keeps a copy of elements of any website that you’ve visited in the past in a special place on your hard drive, so it doesn’t have to download every item, every time you revisit the site.
While the process, 9 times out of 10, benefits you, there are times when something that’s cached can cause issues.
Websites that just don’t seem to be loading properly or updated info that you know exists but isn’t appearing can be caused by a caching problem.
Whenever you have a challenging issue with a website, you can quickly bypass the cache in Windows by holding down the Ctrl key and tapping the F5 key.
MacOS users can do the same by pressing Command-Shift-R (think reload) at the same time.
This quick troubleshooting tip can help you avoid those irritating situations - if this works, it’s probably time to clear you cache:
iPhone users, especially those with one of the larger displays, may be missing out on a lot of cool options if you only use them in the up and down position, better known as portrait mode.
Apple has allowed for lots of hidden features and options in lots of different apps and utilities if you simply flip it from portrait to landscape mode.
Some apps, like mail, can show you split screens like you’re used to on your computer, just by flipping your iPhone sideways.
The extra screen space when turned on its side allows apps to reallocate where things go in a way that just isn’t possible in portrait mode.
One of the most obvious benefits is the ability to have a wider keyboard when you are typing.
Not sure which apps offer which features? Don’t worry about looking things up online to learn; just start turning your iPhone sideways on a regular basis to see what’s possible!
If you’ve ever flown across this country, especially on a clear day, you’ve looked down and seen things on the ground that made you curious.
Google image search may work, but only if you have an Internet connection or remember to do the search once you’ve landed and back online.
If you find yourself in this situation on a regular basis, there’s an app for that called Flyover Country.
As long as you pre-load the app with your upcoming flight path, which is easily done simply by choosing your take-off and landing cities, the app will download interesting points all along the way.
Then, when you are airborne and look down, the GPS that will work whether you have an Internet connection or not, will help the app identify what you’re looking at.
Check it out at: https://flyovercountry.io
Auto-correct has no-doubt caused you to post things online that made you look like you mistyped something.
We love it when it does properly auto-correct our typing and curse it when it makes us look silly.
Did you know that there’s a way to vastly improve the usefulness of this great tool, by creating your own custom entries!
How often do you have to type out your entire address? Why not create a shortcut using ADRS to tell auto-correct to spit out your entire address just by tapping out those 4 characters followed by the space bar.
All of your devices, apps or programs that fix your typing mistakes can be customized in this way.
The only thing you have to remember is to never use actual words in your customized entries as that will cause some interesting problems down the road.
Stick to made up words or abbreviations and don’t forget that you can use a combination of numbers and special characters as well!
You’ve probably used Apple’s Quicktime video app for years, but if you’re a Windows user, you should stop using it ASAP!
The critical security updates that allow you to safely use it have not been available to Windows user for years now.
If you’re using Quicktime on a Mac computer, there’s nothing to worry about as security updates have continued to be delivered to you.
Windows users should not only stop using the program, they should uninstall it completely to avoid accidentally using it.
For most Windows users, Quicktime really isn’t necessary any more, but if you find that you have older files that need it, use a free open source alternative called VLC instead.
The program works with just about any type of old or new video file and it’s available for just about every device you own.
Get it at:
It’s easy to get impatient when you are waiting for your computer to shutdown so it can restart, but not letting it do it’s thing can be bad.
No matter how many times you think about forcing it to shutdown by popping the power button, don’t do it.
The operating system in your computer constantly creates temp files as it performs the tasks you ask it to perform and these unneeded files are marked to be sent to the trash when you computer goes through its shutdown sequence.
A lot goes on during a shutdown, especially if you haven’t shut your computer down for a long while.
When you cut the process short, those unnecessary files build up and waste space.
Done repeatedly, this can fill your hard drive up, which will cause your computer to become unstable.
For those that have been guilty of this common action, it would be a good idea to run the Disk Cleanup utility in Windows.
For the most part, those running a MacOS would also be wise to allow the computer to properly shutdown as a similar impact will result.
Do you remember how often we used to hear about hover boards catching fire and causing lots of damage?
The popularity of the devices led to a rush of off-shore companies to get anything they could to market without much regard for testing or safety.
Improper charging systems with the wrong amperage connected to Lithium-Ion batteries is the most likely reason that we saw so many catching fire.
While most of us don’t have a need for a hover board, the issue that caused their problems can happen to anything you own that has a lithium ion battery.
We’ve seen lots of customers that ended up damaging their laptops, for instance, because they chose to use a cheap non-factory charger.
The damage can range from overheating to catching fire and it’s almost a guarantee to shorten the life of the battery.
Keep in mind, heat is an indicator of a battery problem, so if you notice that yours is getting very hot during the charging process, make sure you have everything checked out to avoid damaging your laptop.
Anyone that’s serious about improving any form of athletic skill they are working on should be using some form of slow-motion capture technology.
It turns out that we all have a very sophisticated slow-motion capture device in hour hands that just needs an app like the one available from Hudl to get the job done.
It’s the go-to for parents, students and coaches that want to be able to help an athlete improve through frame by frame analysis only available with slow motion.
The app does much more than just capture slow motion as it was specifically designed to help train through annotations and sharing of the videos.
There’s also an option to create a before - after comparison of two videos of the same person or for a comparison with a professional athlete in the same motions.
There’s so much in the app waiting to help coaches and parents point out slight areas that could benefit from corrections at: http://bit.ly/316xxgk
Are you one of the millions that is constantly getting a message on your smartphone that your storage space is almost full?
Both Android and iPhone users that have devices with no expandable memory need to be more diligent in keeping unneeded items from taking up valuable space.
You can certainly start with old apps that you haven’t used since you downloaded them, but a more likely hog of the space is your images and videos.
The biggest space hogs are those high-resolution videos as a single file can be as big as a large number of images.
Did you know that there’s another, less obvious place that could be the culprit? It’s your old text messages.
Many text messages have associated pictures and video attached to them, so if you don’t get rid of those old messages, those attachments will continue to take up space.
For more tips on clearing out the junk on you phone, checkout our advice at: http://bit.ly/2N8hwDt
If you have a young child, you’ve likely thought about what you can do to help them become proficient in our increasingly digital world.
One skill that, in my opinion, has become a fundamental must-have for any young person is learning how to code as it translates to value in virtually everything these days.
This isn’t to say that they need to pursue coding as their life’s work, simply that having a solid grasp on how things are created on the Internet and how software is developed will be extremely valuable.
A solid starting point for exposing your child to this skill is at an awesome and free website developed by MIT - https://scratch.mit.edu
It’s known as the ‘Scratch’ project, because it will help anyone that wants to learn coding to start from scratch.
All of the skills that need to be understood and developed in any child for their future can begin with this great web tool.
For the record, anyone at any age that want’s to better understand the world of coding should checkout https://scratch.mit.edu
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that mobile devices like tablets and smartphones have become digital babysitters for lots of parents these days.
Anytime you see an unruly child in a public setting, often times the only way to get them under control is to hand over a screen to distract them.
The problem with doing this without locking down various parts of the device is that unintended outcomes can be plentiful and in some cases, expensive.
All of these mobile pacifiers have options that allow parents to lock down various apps, functions or even access to the Internet that are built in and waiting to be activated.
If you’re not aware or familiar with these settings, there are lots of places to get up to speed, including these sites:
Android users: http://bit.ly/2ZPYfrX
iOS users: http://bit.ly/2ZMk3EX
There’s a popular visual method of presenting data known as an ‘infographic’ that may seem like a difficult thing to create.
It’s been transforming nearly undigestible data from spreadsheets and long white papers into easily digestible bits of data for years.
If you spend any time of social media or news sites, you have not doubt seen an infographic and assumed that a graphic designer was at work.
It turns out that anyone can make an infographic from any information they want to share at a website called Easelly.
Start with a template or if you’re up to it, create your own design and drag the visual elements that will make your complex data very pleasing to view.
This free tool is for anyone that wants to step up their game in the info presentation process - no design skills required!
Check it out for yourself at https://easel.ly
The internet has made connecting with lots of people that aren’t nearby very easy, unless you are trying to connect with a large group of people at the same time.
If you do this on a regular basis, hopefully you aren’t still using the old email - manual coordination process that’s a huge consumer of your time, not to mention frustratingly tedious.
Automating this common need is being done at a website called Schedule Once.
It’s designed to help both individuals and teams wrangle the scheduling issue, while offering automatic syncing options to make it even more efficient.
No matter where in the world the various members of your group may be, the tool manages and understands the differences in time zones.
Before you commit to using the service, you can sign up for a free 2 week trail to give it a test drive first at http://www.scheduleonce.com
It’s not going to be long now for the nasty flu bug to start rearing its ugly head.
Since we all want to avoid anyone that’s already contracted the virus, wouldn’t it be awesome to have an app that could warn you about the potential outbreaks that may be happening near you?
Well, there is an app for that and it’s called SickWeather for either iPhone or Android users.
The primary function of the app is to scan social media for obvious terms that indicate that someone is sick along with the data the other user provide though the app.
They can then forecast potential problems based on the data that they collect using sophisticated machine learning algorithms.
This approach has been able to predict outbreaks ahead of the CDC in previous years and it gets better at it as more people start to use it.
Learn all about it or download the app at http://www.sickweather.com
Anyone tasked with presenting information that is based on Internet resources has likely had the need to capture a basic thumbnail of the resource as part of the presentation.
If you have to generate presentations on a regular basis, you might have all of the tools that will allow you to do it manually, but we have a better way.
An amazing and free tool located at https://www.thumbalizr.com makes it quick and easy to grab a thumbnail representation of any website.
Simply type the website into their tool to start the process of collecting the elements of the page and bring them together for your choice of thumbnails.
When you’re trying to get the attention of anyone viewing your report, adding a thumbnail to a web link can make a big impact and potentially provide the focus to your report that you want.
Although the Internet is still relatively young, the changes that have occurred are pretty dramatic, especially when you look back to the early years.
An awesome way to see the old web is at a web tool called the Wayback Machine that has been archiving the web since 1996.
It allows you to literally go back in time in their archives to see what lots of websites looked like as they changed.
You start by typing in the website that you want to reflect on, which generates a timeline of snapshots that the system has taken.
Each circle on a date represents a snapshot that the system took.
When they started the project, they were just grabbing home pages, so don’t expect the full website experience.
They’ve updated their technology to grab more, so the later years are likely to have more content for your enjoyment.
It’s great to know that even the big tech giants had embarrassing websites in the early days, which you can checkout for yourself at https://archive.org/web
How many of your friends seem to already have everything or worse, are so hard to shop for because they have a different view of life?
There’s also that annual problem of finding something unusual for the white elephant exchange that so many companies tend to throw.
Today’s tip is for a couple of very helpful resources for finding that perfect weird gift at either Perpetual Kid - https://perpetualkid.com or Vat19 - https://www.vat19.com
The assortment of beyond the norm options that are very affordable is pretty amazing.
Vat19 takes it a step further by creating helpful videos that show off how various items work or why they would be so compelling.
These sites are really good for those friends of yours that like off the wall flavored foods and snacks that can’t be found in any local stores.
Crazy, possibly cool gift ideas await you at both of these funky sites!
How many times has this happened to you?: you popping around the Web and suddenly a security pop-up appears on your screen claiming that you computer is in dire straits.
Since it looks very much like an official Windows screen, if you click on any of the buttons, you can expect nothing good will happen.
In some cases, if you do click on virtually any part of the pop-up, the result can be a locked computer with only an offer of salvation when you agree to pay them.
These sophisticated scams continue to evolve and catch lots of people off guard.
What’s really important to understand is that even if you click on a button that says cancel or even what appears to be the red X the corner, you can still be victimized.
That’s why we wanted to review the steps to take whenever anything like this appears - kill off the session instead of clicking on anything.
Windows user can use Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up the Task Manager and Mac users can use Ctrl-Option-Esc to Force Quit the pop-ups.
If you want to see this in action, we have a video tutorial we created located at: http://bit.ly/2KViY9N
If you have to schedule meetings for yourself on a regular basis, you know how inefficient it can be with the standard back and forth to find a mutually available time slot.
This common problem is being addressed by a whole host of companies, including the folks at Acuity Scheduling - https://www.acuityscheduling.com
instead of manually interacting with potential clients to setup a meeting, their tool allows them to book a time with you themselves, eliminating the back and forth.
You can start with their free service and upgrade if you see value in things like automatic calendar syncing, embedding the scheduler on your on website or the ability to accept payments through their platform.
It’s a very simple service to setup and once you’ve done it, just send anyone that’s trying to book time with you the link.
The advanced features start at $15 a month, so it’s cost effective for those that spend way too much time trying to book appointments with potential clients.
Ready for us to put a little ‘space’ in your mind today?
Most techie types whip around on your devices, much to the amazement of those that may be a little less technical and forget that not everyone knows everything.
Most of us have found various shortcuts that make things more efficient, so today’s tip is one of our favorites: the hidden features of the space bar.
When you’re using your computer and popping around the web, most pages require some scrolling in order to see all of the available content.
Instead of taking your hands of the keyboard to scroll with your touchpad or mouse, just tab the space bar to scroll down exactly one page.
To go back up exactly one page, do the same thing but hold the Shift key down while you tap the space bar.
For smartphone users, you can use the space bar for finishing a sentence and starting a new one by tapping the space bar twice in a row.
This will put a period at the end of your current sentence and set you up to continue on the next one!
As popular as the iPhone is, there are more people using an Android based smartphone around the world, which means it’s also a bigger target for malware apps.
If you stick to only getting your apps from Google’s Play Store and make sure that lots of other have downloaded it before you, you’ll remain relatively safe, but Google can’t catch everything malicious right away.
If you want an additional set of eyes watching over your smartphone, checkout the free option from Malwarebytes.
It’s designed to scan every app as you download it, so it can warn you of potentially malicious ones before you let it complete the install.
It’s also a whole system scanner for other forms of malware that can make their way in to Android devices through email and social media scams.
If you’re a Windows user, you’re probably familiar with Malwarebytes, although it’s also available for MacOS computers and iPhones as well.
Get the Android app here: http://bit.ly/2L7Cvm6 and the iPhone app here: https://apple.co/2Mzw7HK