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!
If you understand the working life of the average musician, you know how appreciative they are when they get tips from the audience.
Cramming bills into a tip jar in front of them is what most of us end up doing, but there are many times you may not have the cash to show your appreciation.
We are all typically using a lot less cash these days, so many people in the service or hospitality industry end up suffering as a result.
That is where an app called Bravo can make it much easier for those that depend on tips to get the appreciation they deserve can help out.
The app makes it easy to electronically tip guides, musicians, parking valets or anyone in the service industry when you don’t have cash on you.
I always tell my musician friends that they should hang a sign promoting the Bravo app next to the tip jar, that way the audience can download the app and start e-tipping throughout the performance.
Whether you are the ‘tippee’ or the ‘tipper’, I say bravo! to the Bravo app!
If you feel like you are spending most of your life dealing with e-mail these days, you are not alone.
A really big time waster for most of us is having to replying to multiple people with the same response, especially as you get the messages throughout the day.
If you're a Gmail user, I’ve got a great tip for you! Go checkout a free add-on that you can turn on called Canned Responses that will save you lots of time.
Just turn it on in the Gmail settings and you will be able to copy any selection of text and turn it into a canned response that can then be used with the tap of your mouse.
This awesome tool eliminates the need to manually type out any text, phrases or signatures that you use on a regular basis, whether you are responding to or generating a new message.
The Canned Response option is part of the experimental offerings that Google makes available via the Labs section of Gmail’s Settings menu.
The link for the step-by-step instructions for turning on this really useful tool is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio.
All parents dream of raising the next tech superstar like a Gates or a Zuckerberg when they see their child using technology with the greatest of ease.
If you'd like to see if they have any interest in computer programming, introduce them to hopscotch.
I don’t mean the sidewalk chalk game; I’m referring to the free iPad app that makes creating games and programs easy for anyone.
Your child can learn the basics of programming without even knowing how to type because Hopscotch uses a visual programming platform.
They can easily develop their own programs by simply dragging and dropping blocks of prewritten code.
Let’s be honest; any computer skill is very valuable these days and if you have a child that happens to enjoy creating things, then the Hopscotch app could be the start of something valuable.
Anyone of any age that has a passing interest in programming can start learning from this simple to use app.
You do not have to become a nerd to work with programming code with https://www.gethopscotch.com and remember to invite me to the party when your child’s company goes public!
You’ve probably noticed that various online advertisers seem to follow you around the Internet no matter where you go.
The technology is called retargeting and it is one of the many ways that the digital advertising world uses to make decisions about what you see.
This type of 'personalized' content also extends to the prices you may see when you’re shopping online, according to researchers at NE University.
They analyzed how sites change pricing based on a wide variety of variables that range from your location to what type of device you are using.
Though some of these findings have been disputed by the advertising industry, what is clear is that your pricing can change depending upon how you happen to interact with a site.
I know I have seen different pricing results on occasion when I’m searching for something from my computer versus my smartphone.
As a result, I’ve always double checked most any major online purchase by doing a quick search with both my computer and my smartphone for pricing, especially if it’s a travel related purchase.
It is rare to see any real difference, but for me, it’s just worth the extra time to make sure.
If you are the parent of a student that will be in a higher level math course, you have probably already run into the scenario where they have asked your for help on an advanced math problem.
If you could use a little help in explaining just how to solve these complex math problems, look into an app called PhotoMath.
The PhotoMath app can use your phone’s camera to scan any math problem, then try to solve it and shows you step-by-step how it solved the equation.
Many of you will think that kids will just use the app to cheat on homework, but the very same thing was declared about the calculator when it was first introduced.
While this app can clearly be used to cheat, it was designed as a learning tool to teach how things are actually solved.
Remember, any student can use tools like Wolfram Alpha to solve any math equation, but without the all important explanation on how it was solved.
Cheaters will cheat, but don’t let that keep you from making use of this helpful parental teaching tool!: http://PhotoMath.net
If you are like most beer or wine fans, you likely stick to the brands you know, especially if you aren’t much for trying new things.
Even for those that are adventurous, trying to select a new brand of wine or beer from a plethora of options in a display can be intimidating.
Well, there’s an app for that and it's called NextGlass.
The NextGlass app combines science and technology to help anticipate what you might enjoy next based on what you’ve told it you already like.
After you build out your taste profile, you can scan any barcode on any bottle to get a personal score whenever you are shopping for something new.
The app also has the 'Glass Match' feature to discover beer and wine that is similar in taste to your current favorites.
The app will even tell you what is inside the bottle, such as the calories, total sugar content and alcohol levels.
If you have been trying to figure out what to try next, the Next Glass app is like having a personal libation expert that knows you well right in your phone.
The app is free and available for both iPhone and Android users; Cheers!
If you’ve ever injured yourself trying to open those irritating plastic packages that seem to be on everything these days, today’s tip is for you.
Smaller more expensive items seem to use those sealed clamshell containers made of hard plastic that are nearly impossible to open. More and more everyday items such as light bulbs are being entombed in the nightmare packaging.
They are popular in retail because they can help fight theft and makes it easier to hang on displays.
It is such a universal irritation that there is even a wikipedia page focusing on 'wrap rage'.
Most people use scissors or a sharp knife to get into the package, which can get pretty dangerous as your frustration grows.
Even when you do get it open, it will usually result in little nicks and scrapes from the resulting sharp edges after it’s cut.
Well, there is a much better and much safer way to open them: just use a can opener.
It will take a lot less strength to get through that thick plastic with a can opener along the edges of the package and it is a lot safer.
One of the ways that the Internet can be a very dangerous place these days is through the use of what is known as ‘scripts’.
Scripts are like little macros in word processors; they are essentially a list of commands that will automatically run when you visit malicious websites.
While the use of these ‘scripts’ can range from generating simple animations to serving up advertising, they can also be used to trick your computer into executing malicious commands in the background.
One of ways to prevent being exploited by these rogue scripts is to use a free add-on for the Firefox web browser called NoScript.
NoScript prevents scripts from executing unless it is from a trusted site that you have approved, so it allows you to slowly customize your own filter.
While many web scripts are required in order to allow a website to function properly, giving you total control over when and if scripts run will provide you with an extra layer of protection.
Please understand that since NoScript is a free and open-source tool, it will require you to spend time learning just how it works, but it is time really well spent.
Learn more at https://noscript.net
Doesn’t it drive you crazy when your computer takes forever to shut down ?
While you may be tempted to pop the power button to force a shutdown, it’s a really bad idea.
Your computer generates a lot of temporary files as a normal operational process, which are marked for deletion when you notify it that you are all done.
The Windows operating system uses an extensive housekeeping procedure that's performed when you shut it down, reflected by that fast flashing of the hard drive light on the front of your computer.
Preventing it from performing the normal shutdown process can fill your hard drive with junk files.
Any time your computer gets low on empty disk space, it will dramatically impact your overall performance.
So, if you’re guilty of doing this a few times in the past, you can easily track down those excess files and clean them out using the Disk Cleanup utility.
This is one of those tips that proves patience is a virtue and a benefit.
By the way, Mac users should also follow this rule to keep things running smooth as well.
If you enjoy hiking as much as we do, discovering new hiking trails to explore wherever you go can become an obsession.
There are endless resources on the Internet for finding new trails, but we always start with one resource: the AllTrails.com website.
With over 50 thousand trails and 700 thousand members, the sharing of great hikes from this website is pretty incredible.
They allow you to search for trails that are dog or child friendly, hikes with waterfalls or hikes that accommodate mountain biking.
You can review the approximate length and time of the hikes along with the difficulty and user ratings.
AllTrails makes it easy to find the best hikes near you based on your location; you’ll probably find hidden gems that are right in your own backyard.
The quality of info you can gather on any hike is amazing and don’t forget the http://AllTrails.com mobile app which makes it easy to discover wonderful adventures everywhere you go.
When smartphone’s battery dies and your significant other is attempting to reach you, it can be taken you’re ignoring them.
This common situation is what inspired an app developer to create a useful process for providing status updates to those important folks in your life.
The app, which is called Status, is unlike other methods because it does a lot of the work for you automatically.
Using the motion sensors in your phone along with calendar information, it can automatically update others that you're driving, are still at work, sitting at home, in a meeting, currently unreachable and most importantly lets them know when your battery is low.
Parents of teenagers may find this app very useful so they'll know not to try contacting a child if they’re driving, for example.
Knowing someone’s status before trying to reach out to them can save both of you lots of anxiety.
Download the free app at http://TryStatus.com
If you’re on the road a lot, you’re used to Internet access that’s a bit limited in speed.
When you’re in an airplane, staying in hotels & meeting in a coffee shop, you are sharing a tiny data pipe with lots of others.
In-flight wifi can be particularly challenging with all of the flashy content that is common on most of today’s sites.
You can take the time to optimize your browser for slower speed connections, but it’ll require you to remember to switch when you’re back on high-speed connections.
To minimize this hassle, I tend to use the less known browser Opera whenever I’m on the road.
Opera has a special mode called Turbo that will optimize content on their servers before your computer gets it which reduces download times.
It will also automatically block Flash content unless you click the container which can further reduce the load.
If you are stuck on a really slow speed connection, you can tell Opera not to load any images at all to increase the speed.
I have posted the link to Opera and many other suggestions at DataDoctors.com/radio
Have you seen this??? Can you believe you got caught doing that on this video?
This is yet another example of a clever social engineering scam that continues to be used to trick people via email & social media.
The plan is to get you so concerned about what might be on the video that you abandon your normal cautionary approach.
When you actually get to the alleged site that has the video of you, you will get a pop-up telling you that you need to update a video player or add a CODEC in order to watch the video.
In your rush to see the salacious video, you authorize the malware to be downloaded and installed on your computer and wham!, you have just become the next victim.
Convincing you to willingly install malicious programs allows remote hackers to do just about anything they want and it won’t be obvious that you’re computer has been compromised.
This type of approach is constantly being revised, so always be alert and don't install anything claiming to be a 'video player update' unless you specifically went searching for it.
A friend recently asked if I knew of an app that would allow them to record phone calls on their Android phone.
The primary reason for their desire to record calls was for training purposes only.
My first piece of advice to them is to be sure they don’t violate the law as they can vary from state to state.
The very best way to avoid the legal issues is to notify everyone on the call that it is being recorded.
After testing out a few apps, I did find a free app from Boldbeast called Call Recorder that seems to do the job very nicely.
Once I installed it, a small record dot appeared in red in the upper left corner whenever I made or received a call.
If I wanted to record any calls, I simply tapped on the red dot and again at the end to stop the recording.
It then logged the caller ID, date, time & length of the call automatically and also allowed me to share the files in a number of ways.
The 'Call Recorder' app can be downloaded from the Google Play store and it's free!
If you setup a webcam for security in your home or business, you will want to pay close attention to this tip.
Several websites have launched displaying live feeds from thousand of webcams from around the world that which was made possible because of one simple error made by the owners: they never changed the default password for the camera.
Not only do these sites show the brand, default login name and password and any live streams from the webcams, it also includes approximate location information on a map.
The owners of these websites claim that they are doing it to educate the public on this common mistake.
You need to know that every hacker can get the default password for any device you have in setup in your home, so not changing the factory default dramatically increases your exposure to the outside world.
Keep in mind that any device you can access from outside your home can also be accessed by others if you make it easy.
If you do not know what devices are at risk or how to change out the default login credentials, get some help. This one is way too important to ignore!
Keeping your mobile devices charged will always be one of the biggest challenges in the current digital age.
Making sure you have the right cable and charger for each and every device usually means carrying a small warehouse of cables and wall warts, which is why I can’t wait for wireless charging to get here!
The future of truly wireless charging is something that we all are looking forward to AND one of the more interesting technologies for the technology is called WiTricity.
It started as a research project at MIT and it is slowly developing into a technology that we could see around us in the very near future.
Just think about wireless charging transmitters hidden under your desk, kitchen counters or even the console in your car.
Wireless charging for everything from your smartphone to your vehicle just by being near a charger when all of the WiTricity based products begin to hit the market.
WiTricity achieves its wireless energy through resonant energy transfer based on Synchronized Magnetic-flux Phase Coupling phenomenon; yeah I have no idea either, but I want do it.
You can learn about existing products currently under testing and the future applications for this exciting technology at http://WiTricity.com
A wonderful byproduct of the Internet is that it has become an amazing library of trivial knowledge at our own little fingertips.
Don’t we all tend to reach for our phones during any argument over the most trivial bit of information these days?
It’s truly awesome when we stumble onto something truly useful or educational, especially when we aren’t even looking for it!
Well, if learning something useful on purpose is something you'd love to do, take a few minutes to check out a website called Useful Science.
It’s a well designed collection created by a group of graduate students for anyone that loves all that useful trivia that lives online.
For example, did you know that a staring at the color green before you start a creative task can help improve your creativity?
Or, that music with heavy bass notes can make you feel much more powerful?
These quotes aren’t simple random thoughts that someone came up with, they are sourced in research or reports with real context.
If you are truly into this kind of trivia, you can submit your own entries or get useful science e-mail messages right to your Inbox when you subscribe to their newsletter.
Check it at http://Usefulscience.org
Summer’s here and it is hot enough to make us uncomfortable & cranky from the heat during the day.
Do you know what else gets really uncomfortable & cranky from the higher heat?
The batteries in all your devices!
Without question, excessive heat is the most damaging thing to your batteries in all those devices you love, so being aware of this problem will help improve your battery life.
Forgetting your laptop, smartphone or tablet in a super hot car, especially when they are exposed to direct sunlight, will most certainly kill the life of your batteries.
When your devices have been exposed to a hot setting and are still warm to the touch, avoid using them until they return to room temperature if at all possible.
Another thing to remember is to not block the exhaust vents on your laptop; using it while it's on a pillow or thick bedspread is a great way to overheat the entire system.
When you are outside with your gadgets, do your best to avoid any kind of direct sunlight on them for extended periods of time.
Here’s how to remember this: if you’re uncomfortable, your gadgets will be too when it comes to heat!
Passwords are still likely to be the weakest link in your security and you have heard me constantly warn against using the same password everwhere online.
While there's no shortage of options for password management, it can just be too much to manage for some of you.
If you can’t find a password management tool that works for you, I have a really easy low tech system for keeping track of your passwords; write them down!
Now, I do not mean attach sticky notes on the front of your display with passwords jotted down on them, I mean document them and store them somewhere safe, like deep within your smartphone.
Make sure you avoid using the word 'password' anywhere in the document or the filename and develop your own form of encryption just in case someone gets to the file.
For instance, use four random characters at the beginning of the real password, so you will be the only one that knows to ignore those for four characters.
Honestly, if your choosing between using the same password everywhere or writing down unique passwords for each site, then write them down to avoid becoming a victim on all your accounts because of a single data breach.
If you own a home, you can most likely relate to the Tom Hanks movie called 'The Money Pit'.
Even if your home hasn’t become as big of a 'money pit' as the one in his movie, it can still seem like an endless list of maintenance issues are always waiting.
One of the best to avoid those big surprises is by being proactive with your maintenance for items you know are going to need to be addressed over time.
If you are in need of a little help in the learning and remembering areas of home maintenance, checkout an app called BrightNest.
BrightNest will provide you with a customized list of tips and it helps you schedule tasks based on what your home really needs because you provide it the kind of appliances you own, your flooring and countertops and whether you have a pool or not.
Beyond simple maintenance, they provide a huge collection of tips on cleaning, organizing and maintaining lots of common spaces in your home.
The mobile app even provides you with alerts and reminders. It also serves as a reference guide when you are at the hardware store.
We all could use a hand staying on top of those endless tasks of owning a home and BrightNest.com is free and waiting to help.
Your smartphone has been relatively safe when it comes to malicious apps as long as you only download apps from your official app store & avoid jailbreaking your device.
Jailbreaking iPhones or rooting Android smartphones essentially sidesteps the controls that the manufacturer puts in place and should only be done by tech savvy users.
A new scam is now bypassing all of the built-in protection by sneaking malicious apps onto your phone, even if you haven’t rooted or jailbroken the factory controls.
It usually starts with a well crafted e-mail or text message accompanied by a link to download a special app.
If you click or tap on the link which can allow the download to be completed, it can compromise your smartphone in a new way.
Once again, this underscores the importance of our long standing advice: If you didm not go searching for it, don’t install it.
These crafty cyber-crime rings are creating very persuasive looking messages that will most often look like they are from trusted resources through a friend’s hacked account, so stay alert.
If you want a little extra help identifying those malicious apps, checkout the free smartphone security apps at http://lookout.com.