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!
We’re obsessed with all things digital when it comes to photography, so finding the tools that enhance the images is an ongoing pursuit.
The optics in our phones have become so amazing that the point-and-shoot camera has been relegated to a storage drawer, but it’s still not perfect.
Making subtle changes to the image to really make it pop can be done with simple tools such as FOTOR.
You can use the web interface to edit your images or download their software to your Mac or Windows computer.
There are a plethora of tools in the program that can really improve the way others see the images that you shoot.
Everything from retouching tools for portrait photos to HDR capabilities are just a mouse click away with FOTOR.
Give it a try for yourself by uploading an image to their toolset at https://www.fotor.com
The pandemic has exponentially increased the value of our smartphones as more of what we need in life can be managed from them.
This includes the important tasks that we may not be to do ourselves with the now popular TaskRabbit website.
This online resource has become a single place where those that have tasks can connect with those that are willing and capable of completing those tasks.
If you have a task, you simply post the description of the work to be done along with the date of completion.
What’s really awesome about this network is that tasks that don’t require anyone to physically be in the same area as you can be completed by anyone in the world.
As the one posting the tasks, you can choose to make it a bid-based or flat rate based.
As with most online services, the task rabbits are vetted and those that use them have reviews of how they did.
This isn’t focused on residential users only as business users can hire for temporary tasks: https://www.taskrabbit.com
For those that enjoy collecting things, there’s an awesome online resource that you may want to look into.
If your collection is valuable, it’s pretty likely that you have some method of tracking your items to make it easy to buy and sell.
The folks at Colnect have assembled an online marketplace that will allow you to interact with hundreds of thousands of other collectors.
One of the best features makes it easy for you to document your collection and share it with others that may be interested in trading with you.
You can make it clear which items you own that you’re willing to discuss for a trade or sale and make items you’re interested in acquiring known to the rest of the community.
With collectors in over 200 countries using the site, no matter how obscure of a collection you may have, you’re bound to find others with the same interest.
Get your collection on line today at https://colnect.com
If you haven’t already figured it out, our behavior online is tracked by virtually everybody because it’s become a huge business online.
One of the biggest trackers of your activities is Google because their search engine is so popular.
If you want to avoid having your searches tracked, there’s an alternative called Duck Duck Go that you may want to check out.
They are purpose-built to provide search services with none of the traditional tracking and storing of your history that the big boys use.
Keep in mind that some of the behavioral tracking that Google automatically performs customizes your results, so things will likely look different.
The good news is that it’s easy to see what the difference will be if you use DDG by searching for the same thing side by side.
If those ads that follow you around are something you want to reduce, try using DDG for anything that you are researching to buy!
As good as Google Maps has become, there are still situations where you need more information added to your maps than they can provide.
For both business and personal needs, there are often times when you need to annotate maps for a variety of reasons.
Whenever you can think of the need to add something to a map of any kind check out the tools at Scribble Maps.
You can add icons, directional arrows, your own images and pictures along with dozens of other little annotations to totally customize your maps.
One common use is when you have to provide specific directions for a large gathering or creating an archive for a trip that you’ve taken.
This resource is both free to use and requires no special software to be set up because it works in your browser.
Check out the video that explains how it works along with a quick way to start creating your own maps at: https://www.scribblemaps.com
Compromising online accounts is a lucrative business for the underworld, which is why I’m constantly preaching the value of activating two-factor security wherever it’s available.
It’s a basic security step that will incorporate a special code that gets sent to your smartphone whenever the site sees your credentials being used on a new device or location.
It’s akin to requiring a PIN when using your debit card, which is something you have - the card - and something you know - the PIN.
While this is far from perfect protection, it does make it much more difficult to gain access to your accounts even when they have swiped your username and password because they’ll also have to swipe your smartphone in order to get in.
As an added bonus, it turns into a warning system should you ever get a code out of the blue, which means someone is trying to get into your account.
The steps for setting this up differs by account type, but you can get specific instructions for lots of popular sites at: https://2fa.directory
The world of wine is both fascinating and intimidating for the uninitiated, but an adventure well worth exploring.
While it may seem overwhelming when you’re just getting into it, an app called ‘HelloVino’ can help you start to gain confidence in your selections.
One of my favorite things about wine is when it is properly paired with food, which can also reduce the intimidation factor with the thousands of grape varietals that make wine.
When paired properly, the experience can be almost magical and a sublime discovery of tastes that is addicting.
Keep in mind that virtually every dish you love has a solid wine pairing, so it’s not just for high prices cuisine in fancy restaurants.
One of the great uses for the app is when you have a group looking to share a bottle at a restaurant.
Reviewing the potential meals to be ordered and entering them into the pairing section of the app will make that confusing wine list more helpful.
Whether you’re going to order wine by the glass or bottle, using the app to find the best possible pairings makes the dining experience a lot more enjoyable: https://www.hellovino.com
If you’re a true foodie, you may know that carrots were originally purple or for those history buffs, that Lincoln created the secret service on the day he was shot.
If you love factoids, there’s no better place than the world wide web to learn things that aren’t important but very interesting.
With the popularity of inane posts on social media, you’re bound to run across these factoids in your weekly reviews, but if you want a more direct path to great tidbits, today’s tip is for you.
A website called Now I Know https://nowiknow.com is a treasure trove of useless factoids that also provides a daily newsletter for those that want to be spoon-fed info.
If you’re a trivia buff or like to play trivia games, consider this resource a training ground. T
The database has been building up for more than a decade, so there’s plenty of things to randomly discover by clicking on the Archives link.
It’s hard not the take the sophisticated technology packed into our smartphones for granted, but it’s an incredible feat of engineering.
What should never be taken for granted is protecting all of the sensitive items that are stored throughout the device.
It’s important to remember that your smartphone needs the same protection your computer is set up with.
Just as you wouldn’t want a stranger to be able to pick up your laptop and have total access to everything on it, your smartphone is even more at risk.
Your first line of defense from this type of compromise is setting up some form of access lock that can be a code, your face or your fingerprint.
Remember, mobile devices are exponentially more at risk because they can be lost or stolen virtually anywhere.
It’s silly to worry about back doors if you haven’t even locked the front door first!
If you spend all day on your computer, having dual screens to spread your work out is a must.
While this may be obvious for when you are at your desk, wouldn’t it be great for the road as well?
Well if you own an iPad you can easily extend your screen with either a Windows or Mac laptop with the help of an app called Duet Display.
By downloading the app to your iPad and installing the companion program on your laptop, this can all be possible.
Once you have it all set up, it’s similar to having dual displays when you are sitting at your desk, complete with drag & drop functionality.
The wonders of a mobile dual-screen setup is waiting for you at https://www.duetdisplay.com
Our smartphones continue to improve with new features all of the time, which can often translate to higher power consumption leading to the need to recharge.
While on the road with minimal time for charging, maximizing what you do get is important.
If you can, shut the phone off while it’s charging so 100% of the current is going to the battery.
If shutting the device off isn’t possible, you can opt to place the phone in airplane mode to shut off the various wireless radios and any background app usage.
If you get separated from your charger, don’t forget that the TV in your hotel room likely has USB ports that can provide at least a trickle charge.
If you do opt for this method, make sure you turn the TV on for the power to flow out of the USB port to your smartphone.
While you’re traveling, remember that heat will impact your battery life, so avoid direct sunlight and charging while the phone is overheated.
Business communications often come in the graphic design form, which isn’t something that just anyone can do - or is it?
You may think that it takes an expensive and hard to learn graphics program, but it’s as easy as going to a website called Canva.
Instead of having to start from scratch every time, you simply choose a category to find an existing template that speeds up the whole process.
Everything from business cards, to flyers to presentations can be quickly put together at https://canva.com
Even professional images can be purchased to make your design really pop or you can use your own images.
No longer will you need to rely on others for simple graphic design projects and all you need is a web browser to get it done.
One of the downsides of our addiction to our tech is that our general level of vocabulary has diminished.
There are so many made-up words and phrases along with our dependence on auto-correct, but you can do something about it.
The next time you have time to kill and want to improve your vocabulary, check out this site https://www.vocabulary.com
Whether you’re learning English as a second language or it was your major in college, there’s always more you can learn.
It’s fun because your interactions have been ‘gamified’ to help the site understand your current level of understanding.
One of the many features of the sites will explain commonly confused words and you can even get involved in group competitions.
It’s a really entertaining way to use your spare time and add to your own vocabulary.
Our smartphones have changed our lives in so many ways and because we always have them with us, we try to use them for just about everything.
One of the things that’s a bit difficult to pull off is traditional productivity tasks such as word processing or spreadsheet input.
Voice recognition has come a long way, but it still requires that you spend the time to review what was captured to be safe.
There’s nothing like having a full-size keyboard for those tasks and if you have a Bluetooth keyboard for your computer, today’s tip is for you.
Virtually any Bluetooth keyboard can connect and be functional on virtually any mobile device, including your smartphone.
You go through the same steps to pair it with a smartphone that you would for any computer, so it’s not complicated.
It may seem a bit strange, but for those that need to type a lot of info, it is exponentially more efficient.
We’ve become pretty dependent on our mobile devices when it comes to getting directions to a specific location.
They’re pretty awesome until you’re in a situation where there is no address, such as out in the wilderness or at a large outdoor gathering.
The accuracy when you drop a pinpoint on a map isn’t very reliable and can lead to great disparity when you’re trying to get everyone to the same point.
An interesting solution to this problem has been developed by an outfit that calls itself "What Three Words".
Instead of using confusing numbers associated with longitude and latitude, they’ve created a global grid system that’s based on three unique words which each represent a specific 3x3 meter square space on the planet.
If both parties are using the What3Words app, you simply provide the three words associated with the location that you want to meet at.
It’s an interesting option for those that need this type of accuracy: https://what3words.com
A side effect of the aging process it that what was once easy to remember becomes harder to articulate.
Us older folks can contend with the issue of knowing what we want to say but just can’t seem to figure out how to say it.
Because of this problem, I went on a search for some help and found the OneLook Reverse Dictionary website.
Now I can try typing in what I’m trying to say to find the concise word or words that I’ve been trying to remember.
This awesome resource can help you when you type in a very focused term or when the words you can come up with are rather general in nature.
This is the ultimate resource for those of us that constantly find ourselves saying ‘I know what I want to say, but it’s at the tip of my tongue'.
This is one of those links you’ll want to save for those senior moments that we all experience:
Hackers spend so much of their time focusing on ways to trick individuals via phishing scams because it allows them to parley stolen access into a major data breach.
Since it only takes one person in an organization to fall for a fake message, they have refined their development tools to improve their chances of success.
We have for years stressed the value of using the hover method for uncovering mischievous links in email messages.
When you hover the mouse pointer over the link either a smart icon will pop up or the destination will be displayed on the bottom left corner.
This allows you to examine the actual destination that the link will take you so you can see if it looks suspicious.
Another great way to learn common tricks is by taking the various phishing quizzes that are posted online at places like:
Those ads that appear to be following you around the Internet aren’t your imagination as the industry uses something known as ‘retargeting’ to remind folks of an item that they previously showed interest in.
There was a time when we all saw the same thing when we surfed the same things on the Internet, but those days are long gone.
Virtually everyone one of us has a customized view of the Internet based on what we’ve previously viewed and purchased, our location and a myriad of other variables used by marketing algorithms.
This can also impact the final price you may see for an item as some researchers have discovered.
I have personally seen slightly different offers and pricing in the past based on whether I was on my computer or my smartphone.
Because of that, I started checking with both devices on any large purchases, especially when it’s travel-based just to make sure there isn’t a better offer.
You may not see this very often, but to me, it’s worth the few extra minutes to ensure I’m getting the best price.
The most accurate way to transcribe a spoken word recording is manually, but that can get complicated.
For starters, you’ll generally need to use two programs - one to listen to the recording and another to type what you are hearing.
Starting and stopping while switching back and forth adds to the fun.
If you’re ever in need of doing this with any type of sound file, there’s a free web tool at https://otranscribe.com that can reduce some of the complexity.
It’s not going to do the transcription for you automatically, but it will put all of the tools you need to do the job on one screen.
Once you upload the sound file, the ability to type as well as start and stop the playback are all on one screen.
The ability to change the speed can make it a much more fluid transcription that meets your typing speed.
It’s not something most of us need regularly, but when you do, it can be a huge time saver!
The typewriter was replaced by word processors years ago and today’s equivalent is Microsoft Word.
An advanced tool in Word is a feature known as Macros, which allows you to record a series of strokes and save them to a keyboard shortcut.
If you’ve switched to Google’s online alternative known as Docs, you can add this awesome productivity feature to it as well.
An add-in for Chrome called ‘Magical Text Expander’ gives you the same ability to save a combination of keystones to a shortcut.
I love using it as a way to pop in large chunks of text like an email signature or the mailing address for my office.
The best part of this utility is that it’s not limited to Docs as it’s actually an add-on to the web browser, which means it can be used anywhere you use Chrome.
Start using it today by downloading it form here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/auto-text-expander-for-go/iibninhmiggehlcdolcilmhacighjamp