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!
The summer heat is here and it’s hot enough to make us both uncomfortable and cranky during the day.
Know what else gets really uncomfortable and cranky from the heat?
The batteries in all your gadgets!
Heat is, without question, the most detrimental thing to the batteries in all your gadgets and being aware of this can help promote longer battery life.
Leaving your laptop, smartphone or tablet in a steaming hot car, especially when exposed to direct sunlight will definitely kill your batteries.
Whenever you notice that your electronics have been in a hot setting and are warm to the touch, avoid turning them on if you can and wait for them to return to room temperature.
Another thing to be mindful of is blocking the exhaust vents on your laptop; having it on a pillow or thick bedspread while using it is a good way to overheat the entire system.
Whenever you’re outside with your smartphone, tablet or laptop, do your best to avoid direct sunlight for extended periods of time.
Here’s what you should remember: if you are uncomfortable from the heat, your gadgets will be too!
I written in the past on the riskiness of using images you find online on your website or blog and it continues to generate quite a bit of feedback.
It’s clear to me that many of you didn’t realize that they were infringing on a copyright when they simply posted an image on their website.
If you don’t want avoid getting tangled up in an expensive legal situation, take some time soon to review all the images you’ve used on your website or blog.
If you have no idea where they came from, I’d strongly recommend you delete them and look for images to replace them that won’t put you in harm’s way.
Getty Images, for instance, opened up a large library in the recent past with images that you can embed on your site free of charge as long as you follow their instructions and posted guidelines.
You can also look for images that fall under a 'Creative Commons' license which means that the owners of the images will allow you to use them for free under certain conditions and uses.
If you want to play it really safe, your best bet is to purchase images at sites like BigStockPhoto.com for a couple of dollars each.
Taking this for granted can cost you several thousand dollars per image, so it should not be taken lightly...the link to all my advice on legal image usage is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Is there anything as frustrating as searching high and low for a special remote control for your streaming box; it’s especially common if you have lots of younger users in the house.
I told you yesterday how you can setup an alternative remote control for an Apple TV box and today, it’s time to help Roku users.
With Roku devices, you have a couple of alternative remote options for controlling them that include your smartphone, tablet or any computer on the same Wi-Fi network
With any of those options, you simply go to http://remoku.tv, that’s R E M O K U.TV and a virtual remote will pop up on your screen.
You just click on the ‘Settings’ button to start a scan of your Wi-Fi network so it can find your Roku device automatically.
Once it’s located, you just tap the controls displayed on the screen of your smartphone or tablet or you click them with your mouse if you’re using a computer.
If you’re a big time multitasked, you can install the add-on for Google Chrome on your computer, which allows you to pop up an on-screen remote anytime you’re using your browser.
I’ve got links to both of these options posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Apple TV is an awesome media streaming device for cord cutters, but I have a bone to pick with you Apple. The remote is too small and sleek so it's constantly disappearing.
Whether it disappears under a pile of magazines on an end table or it ends up between the couch cushions of the couch, the question is always the same: has anyone seen the Apple TV remote.
Well, there's a cure for anyone else that has a house full of suffering users; just re-program your TV remote to control the Apple TV box as well.
Most users may not know about an option in the Settings of the device that allows you to make use of an unused input on your TV or cable universal remote to control it.
Since most of us don’t use a VCR anymore, that input is usually a good choice.
It only takes a few minutes to get setup and it can change the world in your house.
The link to the instructions is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio.
Tomorrow, I’ll help owners of the Roku Box with a similar tip
When you are packing for a trip, remembering to grab the right items is critical.
It’s frustrating to get to your destination and discover that you've forgotten essential things, like your bathing suit or an umbrella.
Well an app called PackPoint offers a solid way to reduce the forgotten items travel trauma, because it helps you pack based on what you are doing and where you are going.
You start by answering questions about your gender, destination, number of travel days and what you are planning to do.
It also gathers weather information for your destination and puts together a suggested packing list based on all the parameters.
Once the list is generated, you just scroll down and check the items that are important to you to create your own list, including reminders to take your mobile chargers, business cards and things like a VPN key-fob if it’s a business trip.
When the list is completed, you can share it via e-mail or copy and paste the items to any other program if needed.
PackPoint is available for both iPhone and Android smartphone users and it’s free!
Fitness monitors have become all the rage in fitness, but with prices that can range from $100-$300, they can get a bit pricey.
But obviously, paying for a wrist mounted device you wear all day has to be more accurate than just loading a free app on your smartphone, right?
An enlightening study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association claims that a free app on your phone can be just as accurate as those fancy fitness wearables when it came to step and activity tracking.
These tests were performed on treadmills so they may not necessarily reflect your real life situation where you forget to take your smartphone with you, but if you’re looking for fitness motivation through the tracking of your daily activities, you don’t have to pony up a bunch of cash.
There are lots of great free apps for your smartphone like the Moves app or Argus app for your iPhone or the Runtastic Pedometer app which is available for both Android or iPhone users.
Let’s face it; any app that keeps you motivated to exercise every day is a good thing, so don’t think you have to wait to get an expensive gadget to get started!
Our smartphones have been relatively when it comes to malicious apps so long as we stick to downloading apps from the official app store and avoid jailbreaking your device.
Jailbreaking an iPhone or rooting an Android phone bypasses the downloading controls that the manufacturer puts in place and should only be done by tech savvy users.
But a new scam is changing all of the built-in protection by sneaking malicious apps onto your phone, even if you haven’t broken the factory protection.
It generally starts with a cleverly crafted e-mail or text message with a link to download an app.
If you click or tap on the link and allow the download to complete, it will compromise your smartphone in a whole new way.
This once again highlights the importance of my long standing advice: If you didn’t go looking for it, don’t install it.
These clever cyber-criminals are creating many very persuasive messages that often look like they're from trusted sources through hacked accounts, so be on the watch.
If you want help identifying malicious apps, checkout the free smartphone security apps at http://lookout.com
If you can relate to the old Tom Hanks movie called 'The Money Pit', you're most likely a homeowner.
Even if your house isn’t as big of a money pit as the one in the movie, it can seem an endless list of maintenance tasks is always waiting.
One of the best methods of minimizing surprises is through a proactive process of maintenance for things that you know are going to need addressing.
If you'd like a little help in learning and remembering to get your maintenance tasks done, checkout a web resource called BrightNest.
BrightNest can provide you with customized tips and help you schedule tasks based on your home’s actual needs because you tell it what kinds of appliances you have, what king of flooring and countertops are installed and whether you have a pool or not.
Beyond just maintenance, there are a huge number of tips on cleaning, organizing and maintaining lots of common areas of you home.
Their mobile app can even provide you with alerts and reminders and serves as a reference guide when you’re at the hardware store.
We can all a little help staying on top of those endless tasks of being a homeowner and BrightNest.com is free and waiting for you to use.
If you love science fiction and you love taking pictures with your iPhone, I have an out of this world tip for you today.
If reality is just too mundane for your pictures and you're tired of all those mindless photo editing filters, let your imagination be sparked by the Alien Sky app.
Why put up with boring colorization filters to make your images pop when you can take it to a whole other level with amazing space effects.
The Alien Sky app lets you create futuristic pictures by adding high-res space objects and brilliant lens flares to any of your shots.
How about adding space objects such as comets, moons, planets, bright suns, far away stars and entire galaxies to really catch your friends attention on social media posts.
The app has over 150 effects, giving you complete control over these super effects in the sky, which can create futuristic visions and otherworldly images that will stop people in their tracks.
Turn any ho hum picture into a conversation piece with this two dollar app.
Checkout examples of what the Alien Sky app can do with the link that I've posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
It's the summer blockbuster movie season and popping into a cool theater with an icy drink is a great way to escape the summer heat.
If you're a movie buff, I remind you of one of our favorite apps that will help you when that cold drink causes nature to call in the middle of the movie.
The app is called RunPee and it’s an awesome tool that tells yo the best times to run to the loo during those summer blockbusters.
Instead of guessing when you should go, the RunPee app will vibrate your smartphone during any of the slow points so you can be strategic about restroom breaks.
RunPee generally looks for three to five minute scenes that are unimportant to the story so you don’t miss funny moments , exciting action or crucial plot twists.
If you take younger kids to the show, RunPee allows you to be preemptive with your potty breaks so you don’t miss anything important.
The app even provides a synopsis of what happened while you were in the loo, so you don’t have to have someone next to you whispering an update.
The RunPee app is available on iPhone, Android or Windows Phones and the download links are at RunPee.com
One of great advantages of using expensive DSLR cameras is in the depth-of-field images that the lenses can produce.
You’ve seen those amazing images where the item in the foreground is clearly in focus while everything that appears in the background is blurred, which creates visually stunning photographs.
Well, if you’re not ready to spend a pile of cash to get these professional looking pictures, you should consider using one of the background defocus apps on your smartphone.
Some smartphones come with the blur option in the camera program, so you may already have this ability and not know it.
If you don’t, an app called AfterFocus which is available for
both Android and iPhone smartphones provides just what it implies; the ability to change the focus after you take the shot.
You just drag your finger over the foreground areas that you want to stay in focus then flip to the background layer to do the same on what you want to be blurred.
This process doesn’t take very long to master and you can even select multiple things to keep in focus for some really interesting pictures.
If you love using Google’s online tools like Docs, Sheets and Forms, I’ve got a useful add-on you might want to try.
It’s called Save As Doc and it lets you easily take a spreadsheet and turn it into a document.
It’s especially handy when you are incorporating a portion of a spreadsheet into a report especially when the contents from your spreadsheet is too big to display.
You can either save an entire worksheet or select specific cells that you’ll be able to edit as a document file.
The add-on is really helpful when working with the spreadsheet results of a Google Forms questionnaire.
You no longer have to deal with formatting problems when you copy/paste numbers from a spreadsheet into a document.
You can also force page breaks after each row of numbers, making the results of your report much easier to keep organized.
Save As Doc is a free add-on and only works with Google Chrome.
I’ve got the download link posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Your passwords are most likely to be the weakest link in your security arsenal and you’ve heard me repeatedly warn against using the same password on all your online accounts.
There are lots of options for password management tools, but for some, it’s still just too much to manage.
If you can’t find a tool that works for you, I have an easy low tech method of keeping track of your passwords; just write them all down!
I don’t mean attaching a sticky note on the from of your monitor with your passwords written on them, I mean jot them down electronically and store them somewhere safe, like in an inconspicuous place on your smartphone.
Don’t use the word “password” anywhere in the document of file name and create your own form of encryption in the event someone gains access to the file.
For example, use 4 random numbers or characters at the beginning of the actual password, so you’ll be the only one that will know to ignore those characters.
Frankly, if your choices are to use the same password everywhere or write down unique passwords, then write them down to avoid becoming a victimized on all your accounts from a single data breach.
Those free apps on your smartphone can be really great, especially when they’re used every day because they’re so useful.
But if you are on a limited data plan or you're running out of battery power on a daily basis, those free-ad driven apps could be a bad idea.
They can cost you dearly by eating up your battery power and limited data plan.
A report by researchers at USC and several other schools revealed that those ads in many free apps use up to 79% more of your precious data plan than apps that don’t have regular ads in them.
The report went on to state that they can drain 16% more of your power and use up to 22% more of your phone's memory in order to routinely deliver new ads .
If your smartphone is sluggish and always seems to be running out of batter power, those free games could be a big reason why.
There’s also a privacy component as well, because free apps often request more permissions generally for advertising purposes.
So the next time you’re choosing an app to download, ask the question: To pay or not to pay…
Back in the day, shopping for a TV was really pretty easy, because you only had a few sizes to choose from and the difference in price was pretty substantial as the screen size got bigger.
With all of today's opt, you can buy displays that range from 26 to 90 inches with very small price differences even as you go bigger.
These ultra-high Def screens eliminate the worry about being too close and seeing the actual pixels, so bigger is usually always better.
As a general rule, I recommend that you measure the distance in inches between where you'll sit and the front of the TV screen, then divide by 2 to determine your minimum screen size.
For example, if your viewing distance will be 7 feet, that's converts to 84 inches. Divide 84 by 2 and you’re recommended minimum screen size will be 42 inches.
If you can afford a bigger display, getting a larger screen will provide a more immersive viewing experience.
If you decide to go with a 4K display, the resolution will be so crisp that you'll be able to double the screen size and still not be too close.!
I’m a huge music fan and as such, I’m constantly searching for that next great song, old or new.
I like revisiting older bands by searching for their greatest hits for both discovery and rediscovery.
While searching around last week, I found a website that I had never hear of called TheTopTens.com.
Unlike traditional top ten lists that are put together by a single person, TheTopTens uses the wisdom of the crowds to compile the top ten lists.
Not only will you find music, you’ll find a wide variety of lists like the best nail polish or the best holiday gifts.
And if you want to be part of the crowned and put your two cents in, you can vote on any list and you don’t have to sign up for anything, you just click to vote!
Even better, you can start your own top ten list to see what the crowd thinks about anything you’re passionate about.
So the next time you're looking for a new band, new songs or just doing research for just about anything, http://TheTopTens.com is website worth checking out!
If you’re like me, you're using your smartphone to accomplish more productivity tasks that normally would have required you to wait until you sat down in front of your computer.
Whenever I need to copy several things like a web address, pictures or chunks of text, the constant back and forth is laborious and terribly inefficient.
If you’re an Android user and want a better way to copy things on your phone, checkout an app called Copy Bubble.
Once installed, Copy Bubble allows you to copy just about anything from just about anywhere. When you start to use it, you’ll see an orange bubble with an item count as you go.
Each copied item is compiled in chronological order and is available via your clipboard until you remove it.
The orange bubble floats over any app, allowing you to paste any or all of the information that you’ve copied by tapping the bubble and selecting what you want.
A cool feature when you copy a web address allows you to preview it in app before you paste it.
Copy Bubble for Android devices is available in the Google Play Store and it’s free!
If the stock market and the world of investing tend to be an intimidating and mysterious place, today’s tip is for you!
As with all things in life, knowledge is power but in this case, you don’t need a degree from a prestigious university to understand how the markets work.
A web resource called WallStreetSurvivor.com, which actually started out as a fantasy stock market simulator has became a great tool to demystify Wall Street.
It turns out that gamification is a pretty good way to learn the ins and outs of investing and trading stock.
Rather than just being told how to do things, you get to actually get involved in market trades without the risk of losing your money.
Think of it as a virtual stock exchange combined with lots of tutorials, articles, courses, and videos.
Not only can you learn the basics, you can setup a practice portfolio and engage in a league to compete with other virtual traders.
If you’re still confused about ‘puts’ and ‘calls’ or the value of stocks versus mutual funds, WallStreetSurvivor.com can help you get a solid understanding.
It’s a really great way to get your kids involved and learning about investing early as well.
Ever cut yourself trying to open one the many insanely difficult plastic packages that seem to be used on everything these days?
Initially, it was expensive electronic items that are small that typically used those obnoxious clamshell containers that are nearly impossible to get open, but now just about any household item like light bulbs can be encased in this nightmarish packaging.
Retailers like them because they help fight theft and make it a snap to hang them on display hooks.
It’s become such a plague to consumers that there’s now a Wikipedia page dedicated to "wrap rage”!
If you’re weapon of choice is a knife or scissors to get the darn thing open, you know how dangerous it gets, especially as irritation grows.
Even when you do get it open, it’s rare to escape without getting nicked or scraped from the sharp edges of the packaging.
Until we can get them to ban this type of packaging, there’s a better and safer way to get them open: start using a can opener!
Not only does it take a lot less strength to get through the plastic by running the can opener along the packages edges, it’s also a lot safer.
Has this ever happened to you? You're on the road and get an email message asking you to fill out a form, sign it and return it via email ASAP.
Getting the form printed out is pretty easy no matter where you are, but scanning the signed document and sending it back is a bit more of a challenge.
When this happened to me years ago, I searched for a solution that would allow me to use my smartphone to take a picture of the forms and convert them to a PDF document that I could email.
While many apps are available that offer this type of functionality, I've continue to use the CamScanner app for this need.
CamScanner is free and really simple to use. Just snap a picture of the form, crop it if necessary and save it as a PDF file.
You can also use the 'batch mode' icon if you need to scan a multiple page document.
Once you scan the pages with your smartphone, you can change the order, rotate pages and add watermarks and annotations before emailing them back.
CamScanner is available in the app stores for Android, iPhone, iPad and Windows phone users.
A great byproduct of the Information Superhighway is that it’s become the world’s greatest library of trivial knowledge at our fingertips.
Don’t we all reach for our smartphones during an argument over the most trivial of information these days?
It’s really great when we stumble on to some truly useful bits of information, especially when we weren’t even looking for it, right?
Well, if learning useful things on purpose is something you love, you should visit a website called Useful Science.
It’s an wonderful collection created by a group of Canadian grad students for all that love the useful trivia that exists online.
For instance, did you know that a quick look at the color green before you start a creative task can increase your creativity?
Or, did you know that tunes with heavy bass can make you feel more powerful?
The passages aren’t just random thoughts that someone came up with, they're directly related to research or reports with real context.
If you’re really into this kind of knowledge, you can submit your own articles and get useful science emails right to your Inbox if you subscribe to their newsletter.
Check it out at http://Usefulscience.org