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!
It’s no secret that giving up your privacy when you use most every online service is just how things work these days.
There are ways to reduce how much of your online behavior is being tracked with websites such as https://DuckDuckGo.com
Their approach is to put user privacy first, so unlike the major league search engines, they don’t track anything when you ask it for search results.
None of the commonly tracked data from what you are searching for to what kind of computer and browser you are using to the date and times you searched is collected by DuckDuckGo.
Because of its focus on privacy, it’s using a different process for generating search results which means that will differ from what you would commonly see in a Google search.
With this in mind, the best way to see if they provide adequate results is to do a side-by-side comparison with your current search engine.
One thing that we know for sure is that any ads that seem to follow you around the Internet won’t be from what you searched for in DuckDuckGo.
Today’s tip is for anyone that is collecting virtually anything and wants to make it easier to track and trade their items.
Serious collectors usually have some form of tracking system that’s hand written and laborious to keep updated.
Well, there’s a website for that! It’s called Colnect.com and it’s the ultimate network for collectors all around the world.
They’ve setup the website so you can keep track of your collection electronically and make it easy to interact with others with similar interests, including the buying or trading of items in your collection.
If you take the time to notate the items you are willing to discuss for a trade or a purchase as well as items that you’d like to add to your collection, the network becomes really useful.
It’s now nearly at 250,000 collectors in 245 countries which means you’ll find someone with the same interests as you somewhere in the world.
Get started at: https://colnect.com
Technology has permeated every aspect of our lives and finding ways to learn new things is highly recommended in order to stay current in the workplace.
Trying to use books to learn things that change so quickly is not nearly as effective as it used to be.
Finding online training resources that can be easily updated or changed all together provides better up-to-date training and is much more visual than a traditional textbook.
One of the best resources for learning all kinds of software programs as well as programming languages is at LinkedIn’s Lynda.com.
This well-designed system takes you from beginner through advanced courses at your own pace.
It’s a subscription service, but it offers a free month so you can try it out before committing to using it. The monthly cost starts a $20 when paid annually or $30 if you go month-to-month.
Not only can you jump into the lessons on your computer, but they have a full array of mobile apps that makes it easy to continue your lessons on the go: https://www.lynda.com/apps
Any business or individual looking to ramp up their software knowledge should look into https://www.lynda.com
Our smartphone apps and being connected to the whole world all the time is dramatically changing the way we get things done.
If you’re handy and can do most of the tasks that need to be done around the house, that’s great, but for those that lack the time or the skills, there’s TaskRabbit.
It’s a simple marketplace that connects people that have tasks that need to be completed with those that have the time and skills to get them done.
Posting a task starts with a description along with the where and when it needs to be done.
For those tasks that don’t require someone to physically come to your location, your pool of potential people to perform the task can be global.
Tasks can be posted as either a bidding process or by a rate that you choose.
Their vetting along with user reviews of those offering to complete the task makes it a little more comforting when choosing someone.
This could be helpful for some businesses that need temporary or seasonal works as well, so if you’ve never visited the site, check it out at https://www.taskrabbit.com
We love how amazing digital photography has become, but we’re always on the search for tools that can expand on the technology further.
Despite how incredible the technology in our smartphone cameras is, any number of variables can produce pictures that need a little help, which is why image-enhancing after the shot has been taken really helps.
A powerful combination of both a web tool and an app from a company called FOTOR is still one of our go-to options.
It’s loaded with lots of features that can really make your images pop, especially their HDR processing tool.
High Dynamic Range or HDR is the process of taking elements from multiple images and creating a single image that takes the best from each image.
If you take two shots and one is too dark while the other is overexposed, HDR can often create a new image that’s much better than either image.
There are also some interesting retouching tools that can take away any blemishes on any portrait shots to make everyone look like a runway model.
If you haven’t found the ultimate tool for your photos, give https://www.fotor.com a try!
In the age of technology, it’s a given that all new parents will commit to some form of a baby monitor of some type.
A rather unknown option for monitoring your child, especially if you are going to be on the road is the app for Android devices known as Dormi.
The app is a way to allow two Android devices to become a way to monitor your child no matter how far away you may be.
Traditional baby monitors require you to be nearby, but because the Dormi app can leverage cellar devices, it allows you to be just about anywhere and still keep tabs on your child.
Beyond providing a way to see and hear your child, you can also use the platform to speak to them as well.
You can use the basic service for free or pay a one time fee to use it forever.
Now those old Android devices that are collecting dust in a closet somewhere can become useful again with the Dormi app!
All email systems limit the size of your attachments, which is why you need a good strategy for sharing large files with others.
It’s best not to use a process that requires the recipient to jump through a bunch of hoops or sign up for a service they don’t already have.
Dropbox users that also depend on Gmail should look into a great little add-on that integrates the two services.
Once installed, it makes it really simple to share items you already have in your Dropbox account with anyone, even if they don’t use Dropbox.
This can save you lots of time because you don’t need to upload the file to another online file-sharing website.
This can come in really handy when you have a large number of files to share, which eliminates the need to send separate email messages or use a Zip utility that the user has to unzip.
The utility does a lot of cool things, so if you use both services and haven’t gotten the extension yet, check it out at: https://bit.ly/38aInGD
It’s an uncomfortable subject, but it’s something we all face and that’s death.
Most people have thought about their physical assets should something happen, but not enough have planned for their digital assets.
By design, all of our online accounts are set up to keep those that don’t have the proper credentials out, which is what can happen to our family if we were to pass suddenly with no access info left behind.
It’s a potential added layer of grief when a family member has to spend all their time trying to convince dozens of companies to allow them to get into your accounts.
Storing your passwords in a management program or even in a bank vault is great as long as you remember to keep the lists updated.
One way to make sure your family can regain access more easily is to make sure that they have the password to your email account or accounts.
Since most password reset options send the link to the registered email address, making sure your family has it will make things much easier for them.
Having been asked to help grieving families regain access to their departed relative's account on many occasions, a little planning up front can be a huge relief down the road.
As much as we like to treat our fluffy family members as humans, they’re not, which means that they can’t verbalize how they feel when they’re sick.
Consulting a qualified veterinarian is a no-brainer, but sometimes that isn’t a possibility, so for those situations, a website called PetMD is worth remembering.
As far as I’ve seen online, there’s not much that compares to the depth and breadth of information specifically about pets of all kinds.
From understanding terminology to browsing their health database to their symptom checkup option, it’s about as good as it gets.
Understanding what might be causing your pet’s unusual behavior can be very comforting, which is where their emergency room resources can be invaluable.
Beyond critical health issues, the website has great info on various breeds, basic health, feeding and nutrition.
The next time you find a strange mass on your pet or if you ever wondered why dogs chow down on grass from time to time, https://www.petmd.com is the place to go and it’s not just for dogs and cats!
The ongoing efforts by cyber-thieves to take over your online accounts are getting more sophisticated, so reviewing security information regularly is critical.
Google offers a host of features that allow you to quickly see your account activity, including when, where and with what device it’s been accessed.
Their security dashboard allows you to see this important log-in information for the past 4 weeks, which helps you to know if you have been compromised.
Most of the time, the general location information is included which should make it a little easier to figure out what device that you own is being used.
The real value is when you see something logged in from either a strange device or a strange location and indicate that you don’t recognize the device.
Google will immediately suggest that you change your password and include the link to get it changed.
This same page offers a link to do a security checkup: https://bit.ly/2Z6FTVm which I’d recommend you do at least once a month.
Here’s where it’s all available:
Chances are, you have several devices that you use regularly that can take amazing high-resolution photos, but that can also come with a downside.
All the advances in image capture technology mean that all those images are going to much larger in storage size than older low-resolution camera technology, which can eat up space on your hard drive.
For those that have been copying everything from computer to computer over the years, it’s highly likely that you may have a lot of space taken by duplicate images.
Unless you have been extremely disciplined in how you organize your images, filtering out the duplicates manually just isn’t going to be very efficient, which is where some free utilities can help.
The programs are designed to scan a folder or your entire hard disk to find all of the duplicates for you to review. Depending on how many files you have stored, the initial scan can take a long time, so plan accordingly.
If you are interested in trying these utilities, here’s the link for Mac users (ignore the apps attempts to get you to buy the pro version): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photos-duplicate-cleaner/id592704001
And here’s the link for Windows users: https://manyprog.com/duplicate-image-remover.php
Most of us are using our smartphones and computers at an equal pace these days, so wouldn’t it be helpful to push info between to two easily?
Discovering something online while on your computer that you’d love to have available on your smartphone is made easy with a utility called Push Bullet.
It’s a universal sharing platform that works as a web app for Chrome that integrates with Android mobile devices.
It’s a really simple way to share items that range from notes, pictures and data files to website links and lots of other useful items.
It’s a little quicker to use than some of the other sharing platforms that require a special download or program to be set up.
One of the coolest features is the messaging that can be mirrored between your phone and computer.
It’s really very useful for those that spend a lot of time bouncing from their Android smartphone and their computer - Mac or WIndows.
Web App: https://www.pushbullet.com
Who knew that carrots were originally purple or that sadly, the secret service was created by Honest Abe on the day he was shot!
The Internet is full of generally useless but interesting tidbits of information as long as you’re willing to go search for it.
Social media has also become a daily source of useless but interesting items depending on who you follow or are friends with, but we have another resource you can check out.
For the opportunity to learn some new bit of info every day, sign up for the Now I Know daily newsletter: http://nowiknow.com
When you sign up, you’ll start getting a daily message with some very interesting info that could make you much better in your next trivia game.
There are 10 years worth of posts in the archives, so if you’d rather manually search through the info yourself, it can be hours of fun!
The general interest in wine has exploded over the past few decades, but so many are intimidated by the sheer breadth of choices that are presented at grocery stores, wine shops and restaurants.
Learning so much takes time, but you can accelerate your learning and discovery with an app called Hello Vino.
Since you’ll never really get a grip of every one of the over 10 thousand varietals of wine grapes, why not make things easier by focusing on food pairings.
Discovering those magical food and wine pairings will expand your appreciation for the nectar of the gods quickly.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for the right wine for a backyard BBQ or the best to match multiple dishes at a fancy restaurant, Hello Vino is your wine assistant.
If you get asked to select a wine for a group at a restaurant, it’s so much easier if you start with what your friends are going to order for dinner or appetizers.
The app makes it really easy to find the best types of wines that will work, so you can find the right options even when the wine list is huge.
Try it out for yourself at: http://www.hellovino.com
You probably take the ability to open various websites in their own tabs for granted, but if you were around for the early days, you know how the ‘back’ button was the way we used to switch pages.
Tabbed browsing is very convenient but when you open too many tabs, it can chew up gobs of valuable working memory.
The result can be very sluggish performance or even temporary freezing of your computer, so here’s a suggestion: download the Great Suspender utility!
It’s a free add-on for the Chrome browser which will keep track of what you are and aren’t using at any given moment so it can pause the tabs that you haven’t clicked on for a while.
Disabling the background activities saves memory and it could even extend battery life on your laptop if you typically have a lot of tabs open.
The cool thing with this utility is that as soon as you click on a tab you haven’t used in a while, it automatically restarts the activity.
For those pages that you do want to have actively working in the background, such as a stock ticker, you can simply add them to a list in the utility so it’s always left alone.
Here’s the link to download The Great Suspender: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/the-great-suspender/klbibkeccnjlkjkiokjodocebajanakg
For the most part, we’ve come to rely on critics to a certain extend when it comes to choosing a movie or binging a tv series.
This isn’t to say that what a critic likes is what you’ll like and vice versa as we’ve all disagreed with them many times.
Rather than guessing whether a specific critic has the same tastes in creative work as you, wouldn’t it be nice to get more reviews from a group of critics?
That’s exactly what you will find at a website called MetaCritic! It combines the ratings from a number of well-known critics and creates a single score based on them all called a metascore.
It’s much more sophisticated than a simple thumbs up or down or even your basic star rating system.
This score is prominently displayed on movies, tv show and music throughout the site, so it’s a really quick way to find highly reviewed content.
Make good decision quicker from now on using the scores at https://www.metacritic.com
Plastic containers dominate the retail landscape and those really thick, hard to open ones can also be a hazard to your fingers!
The more expensive the item being packaged, the more likely it’s using a large, very hard to open plastic container to prevent theft and to make it easier to hang on some retail display.
How bad has this problem become? Bad enough to deserve it’s own rage wiki page railing against the use of it!
It’s impossible to get into the package without using scissors or a sharp knife, both of which can cause various injuries of their own.
When you finally get a portion of the package opened, you can’t help but try to pry the rest of the package apart with your hands, which can get easily cut or nicked as a result.
This type of packaging isn’t likely to go away any time soon, so here’s a suggestion that can make it less of a risk….try a can opener!
Not only is it safer, but it’s also so much easier to open packages because of the leverage that the can opener provides.
Give it a try the next time you’re facing down a big ugly plastic clam shell package!
There’s a potential connection between the extended use of a computer screen at night and struggling to go to sleep afterward.
It’s been shown that the bright light with the blueish tint can actually cause people to have trouble going to sleep after staring at the screen.
If you want to reduce the chances of this happening to you or just want to reduce the eye strain common when using a computer in a dark room, check out a free app called Flux.
It’s a simple utility that can automatically adjust your display at sunset to a warmer tint that’s easier on the eyes. It does this based on the clock in your computer and where you live.
You can adjust the level of warmth or turn it off if you need to see colors properly.
At first use, you’ll likely not be all that interested in continuing with this strange hue, but over time, you’ll see how it can help cut down on the effects of a bright display.
You can download the Flux utility for Windows or Mac computers at: https://justgetflux.com
Streaming music service like Spotify and Pandora are an excellent way to learn about new music groups or solo artists, but it’s either put up with commercials or pay a monthly subscription.
For anyone that loves to discover lesser-known bands and wants to do so for free without having to listen to commercials, there’s an alternative to the majors called EarBits.
Their approach is to spotlight independent artists from around the world that you aren’t going to hear on the radio every 30 minutes.
The apps and the website has tons of playlists or genres to choose from, so it’s easy to find a bunch of new artists that fit your preferred type of music.
I really love the Festival Guides they have because most of my best discoveries have been on smaller stages at big music festivals.
Earbits makes it much easier to learn about all the great musicians that are working their way up the popularity ladder.
Just search your app store for ‘Earbits Music Discovery’ or visit their web option at: https://earbits.com
If the ‘middle of the week doldrums’ has got you in its clutches, break out of it with this fun app!
The ‘Chatterpix’ app will allow you to turn anything in your pictures into a talking animation.
The way it works is you simply choose an image from your phone or iPad, drag your finger where you want the mouth to be, then record what you want your image to say.
From there you can accentuate the image with filters, stickers and frames before you post it to social media or text it to someone.
There is also a young child version called Chatterpix Kids that removes the sharing capabilities for kids from 5-12 years old.
The apps are all free but only available for iOS devices.
The company that makes the app, DuckDuckMoose has a number of kid-friendly apps that can also be educational, so check them all out at: http://www.duckduckmoose.com
No matter what age you are, it’s likely that you have fond memories of comics and comic books.
Most of us are not so immersed in the comic culture that we’ll get dressed up and go to Comic-Con, but you can re-ignite the nostalgia with the Comic Studio app from Seedlings.
This iPhone app makes it really simple to make yourself, your children or your friends and family the hero in their very own comic book..
It can use any picture you already have on your phone to get things started by removing the background and adding costumes and props to the story.
Just like in the comics, you use thought or speech bubbles along with words like POW and KABAAAM to create action effects.
To complete the story, you add a cool background and the legend is born!
You don’t have to be a comic book fanatic to enjoy this app, as it’s great for communicating lots of things in a really amusing fashion.
Check it out at https://www.seedling.com/comic