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!
Getting a new computer is always awesome, but the first thing that you have to do is get your programs and utilities installed which always takes quite a bit of time.
Installing the necessary browsers, web tools, file managers, office tools, streaming media players along with an endless list of other required utilities is just the beginning of the fun.
Most people don't realize just how many steps it will take to get a new computer functioning until they go through this tedious process.
The next time you get a new computer, there’s a much more efficient solution for both Mac & Windows systems.
I’ve discussed a website in the past called NiNite (that’s N I N I T E) for Windows users which allows for a quick creation of a single automatic install with everything you need.
Anyone setting up a new Mac should checkout a website called GetMacApps.com to accomplish the same thing.
Those responsible for IT at a business will find both of these sites to be a major time saver for getting all your computers setup the same way.
http://getmacapps.com and http://ninite.com
Email is a critical part of our daily lives but most of us spend too much time on meaningless marketing mail because of all the mailing lists we’ve managed to get on.
It’s most likely that you have no idea how you got on many of those lists, but you can count on it to continue happening.
If you've had just about enough of dealing with useless junk mail and unwanted newsletters, an awesome tool called ‘Unroll.Me’ will be a welcome addition.
You simply have the tool scan your Inbox to start the process so it can alphabetically list all your subscriptions so you can keep, unsubscribe or add messages to what they call a 'roll-up'.
This roll-up becomes a single digest message with all the subscriptions that you want to see at a later time, which will cut down the constant interruptions.
Whenever you want a message, just click the ‘keep in inbox’ button and you will see those messages as they are sent.
This useful free tool works with Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, iCloud, and Outlook.com webmail accounts.
Cleanup your Inbox at https://unroll.me
Anyone that’s into digital photography likely knows about 'Adobe Lightroom’ for the desktop as it’s one of the best for image editing programs available.
But not as many people know that this awesome suite of tools is available for your smartphone via a free app that can take mobile image editing to the next level.
The more sophisticated controls will out-perform those basic filters built-in to your smartphone’s camera as well as other third-party app you may have downloaded.
With over 40 presets that let you enhance your images with a tap of your screen, the app makes it easy to harness these powerful tools even if you are a novice.
Learning how to use the numerous manual adjustments will allow you to achieve edits that just couldn’t be done with your old editing apps.
The free Lightroom app is available for iPhone, iPad & Android devices and will allow for a whole new world of editing for anyone looking to step up their smartphone photography game.
The technology in smartphone cameras continue to get better every year.
Apple has always excelled in this area, but low lighting settings are generally the most difficult for any smartphone, which is why learning how to use the manual settings can dramatically improve the outcome.
If you're one of the millions that just leaves their camera in the auto capture mode, it usually results in grainy images when you don't use the flash and completely blown out if you do use the flash.
A young professional photographer put together a useful website that explains how he uses his iPhone with an app called 'VSCO Cam' to shoot great pictures in common low-lighting situations.
Each posted picture includes info on the preset he used and a description of what the focus of the shot was for him.
Anyone looking to improve their smartphone photography should checkout the link that I posted to this great website at DataDoctors.com/radio.
In the past, I've discussed the first truly wire-free security webcams called Arlo from.
The platform is a battery operated Wi-fi camera which eliminates the need to plug into a power outlet, so they can be setup virtually anywhere.
As expected, other companies jumped into this product category including the more affordable devices from a company called Blink.
Blink offers the exact same type of fully wireless motion-detecting, night vision, HiDef cameras but at a much lower price than Arlo, so monitoring your home or rental property just got a lot less expensive.
Not only are the starter kits cheaper, so are the add-on cameras, so you can now monitor a lot more area for the same money.
In both cases, your smartphone is your monitoring system, which eliminates the need to pay for external monitoring.
Anyone looking for an inexpensive way to monitor their home or business should look into http://blinkforhome.com
Using your smartphone for detailed maps is great when you are traveling with access to a cellular connection, but when you're off the beaten path, they are pretty much useless.
For those times, an app called Anchor Pointer for iPhone can be a real help.
Because the GPS in your smartphone works without a cellular connection, the app can turn your iPhone into a pretty decent compass.
The app allows you to create ‘anchors’, which are essentially waypoints for navigating using the GPS.
For example, if you are taking a hike, create an anchor point wherever you park your car or if you are exploring a remote area, you can create anchors where you are staying overnight.
Making use of GPS coordinates allows the app to provide both direction & distance to all of your anchors without the need to reference a map.
If you are traveling in a group, the ‘meet a friend’ option allows you to coordinate gatherings or meetups.
The Anchor Pointer app will run you $1.99 and is available in the AppStore
Supporting charitable organizations with a small donation should not happen only when we hear about horrible tragedies around the globe.
That’s the idea behind an app called 'One Today’ that was created by Google.
One Today profiles a different non-profit every day, explains their work and makes it easy to donate between one and ten dollars if you’d like to help.
You can also set up match donations to encourage your friends and family join in or use their Pay-it-Forward feature to build up the donation amount from a group.
Should you decide to donate to various causes, you can wait to pay it in a lump sum and when it reaches 250 dollars, Google will email you a tax deduction receipt.
Helping others always makes you feel better and the One Today app makes it so easy to make a small difference.
Imagine if a couple million people donated a dollar a day; nice work Google!
Learn all about it at https://onetoday.google.com
If you're like me and are fed up with all of the inconveniences of participating in a conference call, especially from your smartphone or tablet, raise your hand!
Because of this ongoing frustration, I’ve been touting that everyone make a change if you're responsible for hosting any conference call.
I highly recommend a service called "UberConference" for any kind of conference call because it is simply much better than old-school services.
To be clear, they aren't related to the Uber car-sharing service.
You no longer have to type in long PIN numbers on your phone, or put up with constant beeping as people join or exit the call and you no longer have to wonder who all is on the call and best of all, who’s currently speaking because it is all on display right on your screen.
The host controls make it simple to mute a participant, like when on-hold music starts blaring because someone put the conference on hold.
It allows you to record sessions, screen share and plenty of other useful features that will improve conference calls for everyone, whether they're on a computer or mobile device.
The basic free service allows for 10 users, but anyone needing more can opt for the $10 a month plan for up to 100 participants.
Take it for spin yourself at http://www.uberconference.com
Tech gadgets are amongst the most sought after every holiday season, but the good stuff can be really expensive.
Anyone seeking that unusual but amazing tech gift that won't cost an arm and a leg, should checkout Cardboard from Google!
I have talked about this simple virtual reality tool before and anyone that still hasn’t experienced it will be blown away whether they are technies or not.
Google Cardboard is a small cardboard holder that turns just about any size smartphone into an incredible virtual reality headset.
There's large number 'Cardboard' apps available to amaze anyone ranging from Paul McCartney concert videos to virtual field trips using the 'Expeditions' app.
You can also truly experience the latest 360 YouTube videos in a way that will totally immerses you, making you feel like you are right in video you are watching.
For as little as $15 to $30 It would be hard to find a better all around gift or if you are more of the creative type you can even make them yourself at https://google.com/cardboard
Whenever a technology problem pops up and you want to find the tech support number, Google is always a good place to start, right?
A growing number of users are being scammed when they call what they believe to be the legitimate phone number for tech support because they found in through a Google search.
For example, searching for ‘Norton Tech Support’ displays mostly companies as the official tech support but in fact have nothing to do with the software company.
Many are also posting toll free numbers in the ads, knowing full well that a percentage of people will just call the first number that appears from a search.
One AZ woman was victimized for $7,000 over the stretch of a year because she thought she was working directly with the tech support for Norton.
The simple way to make sure you are getting the legitimate tech support resources for any organization is to manually type their web address and add the word 'support' to the end.
For example, for Norton you would type http://norton.com/support
I have posted more tips for avoiding these growing scams at DataDoctors.com/radio
Getting a handle on your financial situation while planning for your retirement is something that we should all be thinking about, but getting around to it is often overwhelming when you try to track everything manually.
One of my recent discoveries called https://www.personalcapital.com is something that can greatly simplify tracking all your various financial accounts.
I was rather quickly able to create a dashboard that was able to show me everything in my portfolio in one place.
Personal Capital gives you easy to use tools to see everything ranging from your net worth to a complete analysis of your portfolio and also provides some ‘what if’ retirement planning to help you understand what it's going to take for retirement.
This tool isn’t intended for active stock traders, it’s really for anyone that wants one place to see a dashboard of their financial information.
They also have smartphone apps that will allow you to quickly check your financial life daily, no matter where you are!
Start truly managing your personal financial situation at https://www.personalcapital.com
This time of year, we see people on the Internet claiming that Christmas lights are causing problems on their wifi network.
While this is certainly technically possible, the real chances of this type of interference causing a wifi problem is actually quite low.
Be sure not to plug those strings of light in the same outlet as your wifi router just to play it safe and should you think there is interference, it’s really easy to test it out.
Just check your connection speed with & without the lights plugged in at a speed test site like http://speedtest.net.
Your Wi-Fi signal is much more likely to be interfered with by your microwave oven, old cordless phones, a baby monitor or most likely from your neighbor’s wifi router competing with yours.
If your Wi-Fi router doesn’t automatically find the least congested radio channel, for 2.4 Ghz signals, the best channels to use are 1, 6 & 11 because they tend to have the least amount of signal overlap from other channels.
Android smartphone users can also us a free app called WiFi Analyzer (http://wifianalyzer.mobi) that can also help.
Anyone that knows me knows that I am a huge music nerd that's constantly searching for great music, old and new.
I often revisit older bands by searching through their greatest hits which helps with discovery and rediscovery.
While searching around last week, I learned of a website that I had never heard of: TheTopTens.com.
Unlike other top 10 lists that are generally created by a single person, this resource leverages crowdsourcing to compile what "the Internet crowd" thinks should be in the top ten.
It isn't just for music; say you want to get a new nail polish or how about gatherin holiday gift ideas?
Anyone that wants to help out can vote on any of the lists and you do not have the hassle of signing up for an account; just click to Vote!
Even better, you can start a top ten list of your own to get feedback, so there really is no limit to the lists you’ll find.
Whether you are searching for new artists, new songs or just doing a little research for something a little more serious, checkout http://TheTopTens.com.
Yesterday I gave you a tip on using GetHuman.com to find the contact information whenever you need help from large brands.
Today I want to tell you about a website that works with GetHuman and lets you avoid being stuck on hold when you try to reach out to customer service departments.
A service called 'Lucyphone' will wait in your spot when you are calling recognized help phone numbers and you get put on hold.
When you use Lucyphone to call support numbers, it allows you to press the * button twice when you get put on hold. This lets the Lucyphone system to hold for you and call you when an agent finally picks up.
Simply type the customer service number along with your phone number and click the connect button to get started.
The system generates a call to your phone with options to either connect directly or get their instructions for things like how to record your message for the person answering when they pickup.
You can even have Lucyphone connect to completely different phone number when the support person does finally pick up.
Get more on this awesome free service at http://Lucyphone.com
We all need to get in touch with the various customer service department at large companies from time to time, whether to clear up billing issues or just to get help on something we purchased.
In some cases, the phone numbers are easy to get, but more often these days, many companies are doing their best to hide their toll free phone numbers.
Turning to Google for phone numbers can present you with a myriad of common scams, so there’s a better way called http://GetHuman.com
GetHuman has put together a list of the many ways to contact major organizations which can include numbers, email addresses, social media accounts and even live chat options when they exist.
We're not talking about a single number, but every number for every department they can find that provides some way to contact customer service.
Sometimes they can even provide the average wait times to get to a real live human being.
Bookmark GetHuman.com for the next time you need a customer service shortcut.
Tomorrow, I’ve got a tip for avoiding waiting on hold!
If you have been noticing odd items that seem to pop-up on your computer randomly, it’s very likely that they came from apps or programs that you installed.
A common trick these days is to hide 3rd party software inside utility programs like Java or within printer programs during the installation process.
The best way to keep junk programs out and prevent other unnecessary changes to your computer is by paying close attention to what is happening while you are installing any program.
Most companies count on you to not pay attention and rely on users to tap on next, next, I agree.
Another trick to sneak junk software into your computer is by convincing you that the "standard installation" is best and of course the recommended one.
They may make it sound like you have to be a rocket scientist to go with the "custom installation", but when you do choose it, you’ll see what they are trying to sneak past you.
Start making it a point to click the custom or advanced option when installing anything new on your system so you can avoid the junk before it sneaks in.
This tip is the key to avoiding attempts by software companies to take over your browser with additional toolbars, switching the default search engine or changing your start page.
The likelihood that you will end up with some electronic devices this holiday season is pretty high, which usually means you will end up with older tech that you no longer want.
Keep in mind that anything with a power button or that plugs into the wall or uses rechargeable batteries will contain a lot of toxic waste, so please don’t ever throw your old electronics in the trash.
To be responsible, start by checking with your local charities for programs that reuse old electronics. Just because you don't want it anymore doesn’t mean that someone else can't make use of it.
If it is too old, then responsible recycling through a proper e-waste recycler is what you need to do.
All those gadgets contain toxins that range from arsenic to lead to mercury along with a list of other toxic chemicals that wreak havoc on our landfills & groundwater when you just toss them in the trash.
In the US alone, 75% of the more than three million tons of toxic electronic-waste we generate is simply thrown in the trash, which ends up contaminating our landfills because of the lack of awareness of the problem.
Please ensure that you do your part this year by properly disposing of all your electronics and help the world by educating your friends to follow suit!
Not long ago, purchasing a new TV was pretty straight forward because there were only a few sizes to choose from and the increase in price as you got larger was pretty substantial.
With today’s hi-res flat screen displays, your options range from 26 to over 90 inches with small price increases as you get bigger.
Plus, today's UHD 4K screens eliminates the concern about being so close that you end up seeing the actual pixels, so getting a bigger screen is generally always better.
As a shopping rule of thumb, if you measure the distance between your seating area and where the TV will be in inches and divide it by 2, you will come up with the minimum size screen for your room.
For instance, let’s say your seating area is 7 feet from the screen. That calculates to 84 inches, so when you divide by two, you get 42 inches which would be your minimum screen size.
If your budget has room for a larger display, doing so will create a more immersive viewing experience.
And if you opt for a 4K display, the huge increase in resolution will be so high that you could double the size and still not be too close!
This is the time of year that many expect to find the best deals on all kinds of electronic gear as they're always high on holiday shopping lists.
But a word of warning: the cheapest price is rarely the best deal.
When you go shopping for electronics solely on the basis of the lowest price, you're often times playing right into the hands of organizations trying so sell less desirable products.
The most common trick for creating the cheapest product in any tech category is through cutting corners since profit margins on electronics are so tiny.
The resulting outcomes can range from batteries that don’t stay charged as long, software compatibility issues and in some cases, risky security issues with the device itself.
It's better to stick to name brand products from retailers that allow you to return it if it isn't satisfactory.
The general rule with low priced electronics is the lower the price, the more you should research them before making any decisions.
It's pretty easy anymore to find user reviews and feedback on any electronics; just do a Google search for the item followed by the word ‘review’.
If you can not find any type of feedback or online review on an item, take a pass or risk getting a less than desirable gadget.
The holiday shopping season is here and many of you are going to buy as many items online as you can to avoid the crowds.
When you make online purchases, however, they have to be delivered, most oftento your front door while no one is home. This has led to a new type of criminal: Porch Pirates.
"Porch Pirates" will tail delivery trucks so they can check out packages to nab when they figure out that no one is home.
To help avoid this growing crime, try to have your items sent to a friend or neighbor's house that will be more likely to be home or when possible, send the packages were you work.
You can often include special delivery instructions when you are finalizing your purchases or even leave a note on the front door if there is a better location to deliver the packages.
If you're getting packages delivered to your house regularly all year long, consider the installation of a motion-sensing camera at your door that will automatically record any motion and send you a notice whenever anyone is at your door.
Most avid fans of Apple devices likely have both an iPhone and a Macbook that they use virtually every day.
The folks at Apple have done quite a bit to make their devices work together quite seamlessly.
But many users may not know that they can tether them together, so that your iPhone will lock your laptop when you step away and unlock it when you return.
This useful and easy security feature is available from an app called ‘Tether'.
Simply load Tether on your smartphone and Macbook, to automatically make this happen.
There’s no need to worry about the Tether app draining the battery on your iPhone to make this magic possible because it makes use of 'Bluetooth Smart' which is a very low energy technology.
Anyone working in an open environment that wants to control those snooping eyes will find this to be one of the best tips I’ve ever provided.
Get more info on this free app for your Macbook and iPhone at http://hellotether.com