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’re into photography, you probably own a full-bodied camera that has fantastic optics including depth of field capabilities.
This ability to blur the background so that your subject pops in the foreground is fantastic.
The good news is that you no longer have to buy an expensive DSLR in order to capture these incredible shots.
A lot of the newest smartphones have an option that will blur the background, so if you haven’t taken a deep dive into your smartphone camera’s settings, take a look.
If you can’t find anything in your phone, checkout the free AfterFocus app to add this feature to your device.
The app is easy to use because you just drag your finger over the part of the image you want to blur and what you want to stay sharp.
Because it’s doing this after you take the picture, you can use it on any of your previous pictures as well!
Download it at: http://appm1.com/afterfocus
The Internet has become the world’s largest marketplace offering just about anything you’ll ever want to buy or sell.
When you’re in the market for something like a new or used car, there are lots of websites that offer pricing info, but not so much when it comes to tech gadgets.
Manually searching sites such as Craigslist or eBay is one laborious method of getting accurate pricing information, but there’s a far more efficient tool available.
The price search engine called Bidvoy located at https://us.bidvoy.net was created to help anyone that’s looking to sell or buy various items.
By tracking the activity on eBay, it can pull together a clear picture on the item that you have an interest in getting rid of or acquiring.
Beyond solid pricing info, you can see pricing trends and suggestions on the best time to purchase or sell.
The data is being generated from eBay transactions, but it doesn’t mean you have to use eBay to accomplish your goals.
It takes all the guessing out of how you should price something or what you should expect to pay for an item you’d like to purchase.
If you end up doing business from the road, you will invariably end up with a situation that requires you to respond to an email request to have a document signed and emailed back as soon as possible.
Finding a way to print out the document and sign it is much easier than getting it scanned and returned.
I dealt with this issue a lot some time ago, so I went on the hunt for a solution that used the camera on my phone as a scanner.
Of all the apps that I tested, I found the Cam Scanner app to be exactly what I was looking for.
It’s a free app that’s very simple to use, including any cropping required to make the form look good before you save it for sending.
If you have a large number of pages to scan, the app provides a ‘batch’ option.
There are a number of edits that you can make after you’ve scanned in the pages, including the page order and adding a watermark for security purposes.
The free and premium CamScanner app can be used on virtually any mobile device with a camera, so its power can be leveraged by anyone!
The job of the router in your home or business network is to provide a layer of separation from the rest of the Internet, so others can’t get into your various attached devices.
Very few people have take the time to change the password that is set at the factory, better known as a default password.
The password I’m referring to is no the one used to connect to the wireless access point; it’s the one necessary in order to make changes to how the router is setup.
Because of the various online resources such as http://RouterPasswords.com, anyone with ill intent on the Internet knows the default password on your router.
This common hole in security has been known to be exploited in a number of ways including through rigged email messages that can give hackers access to the controls of your entire network.
If you become a victim of this type of silent compromise, not only will you not know that it’s happening, the bad guys can essentially monitor anything that any device connected to the router is doing.
You’re anti-virus protection is powerless to detect these types of exploits if you as the user clicks on the link in one of these messages, so be on the alert.
The good news is that it’s quite simple to avoid becoming a victim of this type of attack…just change the default administrator password or get help if you don’t know how to do it yourself.
Just about every week, we’re hearing about yet another breach and most of them become possible via the same trick - a phishing scam.
The bad guys know that they only need to trick one person in any organization to start doing their dirty work, so they’ve amped up their phishing game.
One trick we teach folks to sniff out fake messages is to hover their mouse over links in messages to see where they are actually trying to take you.
In some cases, you’ll see what’s called a smart icon, which will show you the actual destination of the link or you may have to look at the bottom of the email window for the details.
Phishing scams will often include display links that don’t match where you’ll be taken if you click, so that’s always a red flag.
It’s important to keep your guard up and taking phishing quizzes every once in a while is good way to stay sharp - here are a couple of sites to test yourself:
Despite the fact that most of you continue to use the same password on many of your online accounts, I’m going to remind you that you’re playing right into the hacker’s hands.
We’ve repeatedly suggested that you consider using a password management tool, such as LastPass, but for some, it’s still too complicated.
For those that can’t make a software password manager work, there’s a simple low-tech option you can use…
Write your passwords down.
You can simply create a secure indiscreet document on your computer or smartphone that contains all your passwords.
Don’t actually use the word password anywhere, especially in the file name and use a secret code for your actual passwords.
By creating your own form of ‘encryption’, such as randomly adding four characters to your actual passwords, you’ll keep them safe in the event someone figures out that it’s your password list.
Breaches are occurring at an alarming rate, so if you have to choose between using the same password everywhere or writing them down, you know what we’d recommend you do!
A series of cleverly crafted credible looking warning pop ups are doing a good job of tricking a lot of users these days.
Not only can it trick users because they look so real, they can often lock your computer with a helpful message that someone is available via a toll-free number to help you with your infection.
Those of you that have always taken comfort in thinking that because you use a Mac OS based compute and that you don't have to worry about these kinds of scams should think again.
The bad guys don't care what kind of computer you're using and will target everyone with links to rigged websites that they'll post all over the Internet and across social networks including the comments sections of highly controversial topics.
The reality of the security software industry is that the last thing they want you to do, is try calling them directly when you have an issue. They'll never encourage you to call a toll-free number.
The look and feel of your primary security program is what you should get familiar with, so you can recognize a real warning when it appears.
The quickest way to sniff out a scam is when they post a toll-free number, so now you'll know!
Whether it’s your first time or a regular task, getting absolutely everything you need packed before a trip can be a challenge.
The last thing you want to have happen is to forget a key item that can make the difference between a good trip and a great trip.
If you need help remembering to review everything before your next trip. there’s an app for that!
It’s called PackPoint and it’s available for both Android and iOS smartphones.
The PackPoint app take into consideration your gender, where you’re traveling to, the potential weather at our destination, how long you’ll be there and what you plan to do.
Based on how you answer these questions, it will assemble a packing list that is custom tailored to your trip.
The suggested items for packing on the list are yours to check as you refine the list for your specific needs.
Once you’re done creating the guide, you can copy it into another program or share it with your travel companions via email.
Those of you that work in a large office, particularly one that has an open floorpan full of desks or cubicles know that your PC is completely accessible whenever you step away to attend to something away from your desk.
It can be a lot worse if you are surrounded by co-workers that like to play games with their follow workers when they forget to lock down their computers.
Keeping wandering eyes from sneaking a peak at your spreadsheet or documents while your away is really easy if you can remember to lock down your system every time.
Windows users can quickly secure their systems by holding down the Windows icon key and tapping the letter ‘L’.
Apple computer users can protect themselves by pressing Control-Shift-Eject together or if you don’t see an Eject key, try Control-Shift-Power instead.
Of course, none of these tactics will do much good if you don’t have a login password setup, so make sure you do.
This tip isn’t just for business users as parents can adapt the same habit to keep their kids from using the computer when mom and dad aren’t watching or haven’t been given permission.
No matter how hard we try, the backlog in our Inbox requires our constant attention in order to stay on top of things, so figuring out better ways to manage the load is an ongoing pursuit.
An attempt to harness all of the noise in your inbox is through the view of a CRM prism.
CRM or” Customer Relationship Management" is an essential process for just about every business these days, but it’s a unique idea for email.
A tool known as Streak is attempting to leverage the power of CRM processes in email.
The driving force was born out of the frustration from having to jump between programs in order to stay on top of things, especially since we all spend so much time in our email program.
By installing the add-on to your Chrome browser, you can use the templates for many of the common business tasks you deal with every day.
Another cool feature are the ‘snippets’ that are pre-staged bodies of text that you can quickly use to respond to common inquiries.
You can learn all about this awesome tool at https://www.streak.com as well as download their mobile apps to have the same options on the go.
For those of you that are in business, you probably have a sense of how powerful Twitter can be, but may not understand how to leverage it for your organization.
It should all start with a strategy so you aren’t just wasting time on any social platform.
As Twitter goes, understanding who is following you and how engaged they are is a good first step in developing that strategy.
One of the best ways to review all of this on your profile is by using free tools such as SocialRank.
Since we know that Twitter is often nothing more than a popularity contest, finding those that are popular and focusing on their conversations is a sold way to engage.
Your follower’s location can be important in some cases, so this tool will allow you to identify the best followers by setting the location filter with the area you want to focus on.
Filtering users by information in their bio can also be a great way to find those that have strategic value.
Start taking a good look at the people that are already following you to make better use of Twitter from now on: https://www.socialrank.com
Holy cow! Have you seen this video yet? It’s pretty embarrassing…these are the kinds of messages that may start reappearing in your Inbox or most likely through social media messages.
They know that if they can get you so concerned about what’s being shown on the video, you’ll forget all those lessons you’ve been taught to protect yourself.
Once you land on the scam sight that has the incriminating video of you posted, you’ll see a play button that won’t work. You’ll be told you need to update something in order to see the video, which is the trap.
If you focus on seeing the video instead of what they are actually trying to get you to do, you can quickly become their next victim.
This simple but effective method of tricking users is popping up again, because when it works, they can silently access anything on your computer.
The lesson hers is to never, ever install anything that pops up on your screen…always manually visit the update site for any program that you have installed.
Brainstorming with your peers to come up with new ideas will most often require someone to take lots of manual notes of what ends up on the shared brainstorming board.
Being the one tasked with taking all the notes for on-going meetings can get to be a bit much, so if that’s you, today’s tip is just for you.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had an app that could simply take a picture of any whiteboard and convert it to a PDF? Well, there is an app for that and it’s called Office Lens from Microsoft.
The app is designed to capture all the notes, clean them up and even straighten the image if you are forced to take the pictures from a side angle.
This last feature is especially cool, since you can rarely position yourself exactly in the center of any large gathering.
Your images can be saved as a document, PDF or left as an image or shared via OneDrive or to your OneNote profile.
Another cool use for the app is snapping pics of business cards, so you’ll never have to try to sort them out later.
The app works with the following devices:
Android - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microsoft.office.officelens&hl=en_US
iOS - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-office-lens-pdf-scan/id975925059?mt=8
Windows - https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/office-lens/9wzdncrfj3t8
Anyone that’s been sailing on the Facebook social media ship for any length of time will most certainly have Facebook barnacles on their profile.
That’s what we call apps that have attached themselves to profiles as a regular course of how most people use Facebook and apps that use Facebook Connect.
Don’t be fooled just because you never really used the app; once you connected, they are in the background with access to your profile info.
You’ll probably be shocked to see how many companies that you have given permission to access your profile information.
We highly recommend taking a look at this setting on a regular basis to ensure that in the future, these barnacles don’t accumulate without your knowledge.
You can see what’s attached by clicking on the down arrow icon in the upper right corner, then Settings and then on the Apps and Websites section.
Review the list of items that are currently able to access your profile info and get rid of the ones that you know you don’t need.
Here are the instructions: https://www.facebook.com/help/170585223002660
The first time that I saw a super high resolution picture printed directly on glass, it was so breathtaking, I had to know where I could get this done for my images.
You’re likely aware of my constant search for all things related to digital photography and this discovery was no exception.
As it turns out, you can order your own prints on glass right from your PC in just a matter of minutes.
A company called ‘Fracture’ has created on online ordering system for uploading your pictures to be printed in one of eight sizes that range from 5x5 up to 22x29 inches.
The prices now range from $17 for small prints and up to $135 for their largest prints.
In just a couple of days, your precious image will be printed onto glass and protected with a backing before it get’s sent to your home or business.
It’s one of the most impressive ways to present your images, especially if you can light it up from above.
Get printing on glass at https://www.fractureme.com
One of the apps that I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching is one that would help with a constant issue in our lives.
When it comes to picking up groceries, we’ve experimented with text messaging for quite a while. The problem with this approach is that when the list is long, it makes it hard to remember which items on the list I’ve already gotten and which ones are still to be found.
If we were using the same platform on our various smartphones, the app choices would be much greater, but I needed one that supported all of our technology.
What I found was the app called Wunderlist was exactly what I was looking for.
It makes it really easy for anyone in the household to add items to the grocery list and more importantly, as I’m picking items up, I just have to tap the box in front of it to remove it from the list.
Wunderlist is useful for a lot more than just groceries, so we’ve adopted it for everything that requires a list and it’s become our go to.
Download and start listing at: https://www.wunderlist.com
Discovering the wonders of Mother Nature via hiking and mountain biking is one of my primary focuses when I travel.
If you’re like most avid hikers and bikers, you use various online resources for choosing where you’ll go next, but I always start and end with https://alltrails.com
The amount of granular information you can gather is possible because of the more than 60K trails available with feedback from 10 million registered users
You can really drill down to specific features that a trail offers, so you can take your dog along or ride your mountain bike instead of hoofing it.
Your fellow hikers and bikers will also help you understand how long it might take to complete as well as how difficult it might be if you’re not up for a strenuous day.
Using the mobile app makes it really easy to find interesting options all around you, whether you’re at home or in an unfamiliar place.
The platform is an absolute treasure chest of information that I never leave home without. If you’re an outdoors person, this is a no-brainer app to have on your smartphone!
Wine is one of those things that can overwhelming and intimidating for the uninitiated, so if that’s how you feel, there’s a discovery option you should know about.
A wine club that focuses on customizing your shipments based on your actual taste buds, called Tasting Room may be just what you need to help you start exploring great wines.
You begin by going through their rating kit, which begins the process of evaluating your specific tastes.
After you’ve tasted the samples, you go to their website and answer questions about what you liked so they can determine your key flavor profiles.
This initial interaction will give them a better sense of what to send you, which you will continue to rate once you taste them, leading to a more precise focus on your preferred types of wines.
If you get a bottle that isn’t right or you don’t like, they will either replace it with the same or different bottle so you can eliminate the chance that you’ll buy wine you don’t like.
The more feedback you provide, the more likely you’ll zero in on the types of wines that you will always enjoy.
Check it out at https://www.tastingroom.com
When you see a string of odd characters in an Internet post or on social media, don't you wonder how they did it?
If you scan your various keyboards, there are no obvious places that these characters live, but if you use the Alt key along with the numbers on your numeric pad, you'll discover the universe of Alt codes.
Try holding down the ‘Alt’ key and then tapping out 0153 on your numeric pad to see what you get.
With 255 characters that are available but hidden, you can forget about having them all in your head whenever you want to use any of them.
A quick Internet search for Alt codes or Alt keyboard will provide you with a plethora of resources giving you each code.
A better way on those occasions you want to work with these weird characters is by bookmarking the https://www.copypastecharacter.com website.
By changing the default display from 'Our favorite set' to 'All characters', you'll have them all ready for you to copy and paste into whatever you're doing online.
iPhone users can also checkout their 99 cent app, which has mixed reviews. Don't forget, mobile users can also copy and paste from their website.
If someone near you was suddenly in a medical situation that required you to know cardiopulmonary resuscitation, would you know exactly what you should do? Don't feel bad, most of us don't know either.
With that in mind, the more of us that take the time to arm ourselves with knowledge, the better off we'll be collectively.
Not everything that can happen will be a matter of life or death, but even less serioius situations can be a challenge when we want to jump in and help, but don't know what to do.
That's why today's tip is to consider downloading and looking through the free "Red Cross First Aid" App.
Having this app on your phone the next time you're confronted with a serious health related situation can be a real difference maker.
It's content is focused on the most common emergencies and because it's downloaded to your phone, an Internet connection isn't needed to gain access to the information.
Fortunately, this isn't one of those apps you'll use every day, but it is one that likely deserves a little space on your phone.
Download the app at:
or text "GETFIRST" to 90999
With just about anything that experiences wear and tear, keeping it running at its best is achieved by performing regular maintenance.
In my experience, this common knowledge seems to be completely forgotten when it comes to our precious computers.
If we took this ‘wait until it breaks down’ approach with our vehicles, we’d always be facing huge repair bills, not to mention the untimely surprises.
If you’re a Windows user, there’s a new routine that I’d like to encourage you to adopt: run the built-in Disk Cleanup tool that’s waiting patiently to be used.
It’s really good at tracking down those unnecessary files that build-up in every computer, especially if it’s actively used on a daily basis. This will result in more free space and better performance.
If your computer has been neglected in this area, the first time you run the program, it’s likely to take a good bit of time to search out all the errant files, so be patient.
You can simply search for ‘Disk Cleanup’ from the Windows search bar to locate the tool.
Create a reminder in your calendar to run the utility once a month so you can stay ahead of the clutter that is just naturally building up in your computer.