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 use your printer much at all, you’ll likely end up in that aggravating situation where you’re out of ink right when you need it the most.
Ounce for ounce, printer ink is some of the most expensive liquid on the planet based on how it’s sold these days.
That left an opening for a printer company called Epson to think differently and use innovation to solve this common problem with their EcoTank technology.
They got rid of the expensive and tiny ink cartridges and developed larger ink tanks that hold exponentially more ink.
Unless you print a large volume every day, most home users can get a year or more before having to refill the ink.
The best part is that you simply buy ink in bottles that you replenish the tanks with, so it’s a lot less expensive.
You can expect to pay a little more for the printer compared to the direct competitors, but if you print a lot, you’ll save money and irritation over the long haul.
It’s a breath of fresh air in printer technology; check it out at https://epson.com/ecotank
One of the common irritations we all deal with is watching a computer take forever to shut down or restart.
Being impatient and using the power button to force the shutdown prematurely will create some hidden issues for your computer.
The longer you’ve gone between restarts or shutdowns, the longer it can take for the computer to get rid of all of the items the temporary files that it was using.
This automatic cleanup occurs during a shutdown, so when you cut the power, you don’t allow it to get rid of the junk files.
This buildup of unnecessary files can eat up valuable empty disk space, which your computer needs to operate properly.
For any Windows users that know they are guilty of this no-no, the Disk Cleanup program will get rid of the junk.
And this advice is not Windows-specific as all operating systems have a similar cleanup process, so always be patient!
For those that have enabled two-factor authentication (2FA) and also tend to use public wifi or travel on a regular basis, today’s tip is for you.
The whole point of 2FA is to use your smartphone to authorize a connection via text messaging, but that might not be possible in certain situations.
A great example is when you board a flight and connect to the in-flight wifi; when you try to log in, the text message with the special code isn’t going to make it to your phone.
Just about every service that allows 2FA also has special codes that you can use to get in when your phone doesn’t have a cellular connection.
The best place to learn where these special codes exist is the same place that you set up the 2FA for each account.
Google, for instance, generates 10 one-time use codes that you can use for these situations.
Keeping a copy of these codes on your phone, in your laptop bag on a sticky note or however you can safely store these codes is a great tip for road warriors.
Here are some example instructions:
Or you can try searching for “2-factor backup codes for XXXX” in a Google search with the XXXX representing the service that you are using.
Project management can get pretty complicated, which is what expensive PM software is designed to help with.
While we all tend to have projects that involve others in our day-to-day lives, those expensive software solutions aren’t a good fit.
This is why a simple project management solution called Trello was developed; for the rest of us.
Think of their system as a replacement for the cork-board organization system on your smartphone or computer.
Their free drag and drop interaction makes it a much easier platform to master and keep track of just about anything you are trying to accomplish.
Despite its ease of us, there are many powerful options that can be used to enhance your tracking.
Trello is perfect for anyone looking for a way to get better organized personally or professionally: https://trello.com
When you have a large quantity of data to present that stretches over a period of time, there’s no better way to do it than a timeline.
Creating a timeline can get to be a lot of work, which is why we suggest the Timetoast website for anyone that’s interesting in creating one.
It’s a free web-based tool that eliminates the need to download and install special software to create a timeline.
While you are working on it or when you’re done and want others to view it, your masterpiece can be viewed as a timeline or a list.
Simply copy and paste the link to your timeline on social media, email or private messages to show off your work.
Some folks like using timelines to show off their family history, but students and those in business may also find lots of uses for it.
If you’re looking to give life to a large time-based data set, head on over to Timetoast to get started! https://timetoast.com
That space bar that you take for granted actually has some hidden tricks up its sleeve.
Us tech guys sometimes forget that many of the shortcuts and tricks we use aren't very well known by the general public.
One of those hidden keystroke options comes courtesy of the humble space bar.
On both computers and smartphones, the space bar can make some common tasks much quicker.
On your computer, you can simply tap the space bar whenever you want to page down on a website, which allows you to keep your hands on the keyboard instead of having to use your mouse.
One tap auto scrolls the page down and holding the shift key and tapping the bar will roll it back up.
On your smartphone, tapping the space bar twice at the end of a sentence automatically adds a period and gets you ready for your next sentence.
Now you can fully utilize the space bar with these tips!
Unless you’re new to email, you’re probably much more careful to avoid being tricked by a phishing scam or clever spam messages.
That same level of caution should be used when you’re reading through comments in social media or on a discussion website.
The use of placing malicious links on popular forums has been around for a while and it’s likely going to get more intense as time goes on.
It’s easy to see the junk comments that claim to have made a fortune by working from home, but not all the tricks are out of context type comments.
Fast-moving stories on news sites can generate a lot of commenting activity all over the Internet and social media.
Whenever you see a link for any sort in the comments section of a website or social media post, don’t click on it, no matter how legitimate it may seem.
A better way to see the information is to search for the information yourself using various keywords in the posted link.
If it’s a legitimate website, it will have been indexed by Google. Malicious sites purposefully avoid having their pages indexed by Google.
If you’re in business, you’re most likely using a number of the tools offered by Google, but there’s one tool unknown to many that’s one of my favorites called Trends.
The Trends tool is essentially a web interface into Google’s massively informative database of search terms and how popular they are.
No matter what form of digital marketing that you might be trying to use, understanding the keywords that your customer’s most likely use to find your product or service is step one, which is why this tool is so valuable.
Trends allows you to drill down to a specific region or timeframe and see if the popularity is increasing or decreasing as time goes on.
In many cases, keywords can be very seasonal, meaning more people search for it at specific times of year - a perfect way to know when to launch a campaign.
I always start just about any project by diving into the data that Google offers, so if this is news to you, jump in at https://Google.com/trends learn more.
One of the recurring tasks that we all face every week, shopping for our groceries, can turn into a bit of a logistics game.
Most of us start with what’s been depleted and work from there, but the methods for tracking what needs to be added to the next run to the store come from all angles.
If your household has lots of people, the complications in keeping track of who needed what and when further complicates the process.
Anyone with a large family should check out the Capitan grocery app.
The app learns what’s on the regular rotation for your crew, organizes the items similar to the way grocery stores are laid out and has some great notification options.
The best notifications are to all of the rest of the family that someone just arrived at the store, so last minute requests are made easy.
If you haven’t figured out a smooth way to manage the weekly grocery list process, try the Capitan app: https://www.getcapitan.com
For those that have started their exploration of the complex world of wine, there’s a wine club that was created just for you.
The Tastingroom.com wine club is what I refer to as the Netflix of wine because you can sample so many different wines.
They start with a tasting kit that helps you and them learn more about the types of wines that your palette enjoys.
By starting with this tasting exercise which allows you to provide feedback via their website, their system can determine which wines are most likely to be pleasing to you.
If you have an idea of what you like already, you can always make adjustments to what is going to be shipped to you as well.
The best part is that every bottle is backed by their program so if it’s not to your tastes, you can get it replaced.
The more feedback you provide to them with each bottle, the more likely it is that they can start to nail down the best wines for you.
Get all the details to this wine club for newbies at: https://www.tastingroom.com
One of the fundamental components of any business in the tech era is a website, and figuring out what technology to use for your web presence is critical.
But how often are those with little technology experience tasked with making technology-based decisions?
One of the best ways to gather intelligence on website technology is by seeing what others are using, especially your competition.
This type of information is very easily gathered through a tool located at Builtwith.com This web tool allows you to type any website address into their form and you’ll get a detailed report on all the technology used by that site. The composite information on popular web tech is also available along with trending info to help you see what’s becoming popular or losing favor. If you know anyone struggling with tough tech decisions for their website, give them this tip to make it a little more data-based!
DNS servers are computers that are behind the scenes but critical to our ability to navigate the Internet.
The Domain Name System is essentially a routing mechanism that converts our www requests into the numeric address that’s associated with it.
By and large, you’re getting directions from the DNS servers set up by your ISP, but there are specific advantages to modifying this hidden setting.
One of the biggest reasons to make this change is that you can have better control over your entire network from one interface.
It can also make getting to websites faster and provide better up-times in some cases.
Our go-to DNS service, which is free, is located at OpenDNS.com.
By changing the DNS setting in your router to point to the OpenDNS servers, you can lock down anything that anyone connecting to your wifi attempts to access.
It’s a parental control setting that can’t be bypassed through a computer that’s connected to it.
If you’re interested, you can get the instruction by going to:
The world wide web long ago replaced the encyclopedia as the go-to resource for knowledge of all types.
It’s likely that you can find information on even the most trivial of things, no matter how obscure or unusual.
I love learning trivial things that come as a result of a conversation that encourages a web search, but if you want to learn useful trivial facts on a regular basis, there’s a website for that!
A research project turned website called Useful Science is a treasure chest of information that’s not going to change your life, but you may find it very useful.
You don’t have to be studying to become a contestant on Jeopardy to make use of this awesome site.
The topics range from nutrition and fitness to the environment and parenting. Having trouble sleeping? Chances are, they’ve found a study that could enlighten you as to why and maybe even provide some suggestions on how to deal with it.
It’s not a bunch of hearsay, as each entry has the link to the information that allows you to dig a little deeper into it.
There is no better way to learn useful trivial information then at http://www.usefulscience.org/about or if you prefer podcasts, subscribe to their here: http://www.usefulscience.org/podcast
I love music and tend to have it playing almost all the time during the day.
One of the great things that I love about music is how it can be a trigger for a poignant memory.
I’m also always looking for new music through a variety of resources, but when it comes to finding the best of the best, there’s an awesome website called The Top Tens.
I was searching around for some old classics when I discovered this gem and it’s sparked a rediscovery and introduction to lots of great tunes.
This useful resource goes way beyond just music as it also has top listings for TV shows, movies, sports, books and so much more.
What makes this site so valuable is that the lists are based on the wisdom of the crowds, as it’s a compilation of millions of user’s input.
You can contribute to any of the lists by voting on them or start your own list if you want to create a new category.
Any time you’re searching for some new entertainment content, I’d highly recommend you check out https://www.thetoptens.com
We’re all creating so many amazing images with our smartphones these days, but the vast majority of them will fade away unless we decide to print them and mount them on a wall.
Standard picture frames are an obvious option, but if you really want to make the images stand out, consider printing them on glass!
Those highly explosive looking images that used to only be seen in art galleries are a great and easy option for all of us.
The company that I’ve used for creating special memories for myself or friends and family is called Fracture and they’ve made it easy and affordable to create pictures on glass.
In just a few minutes, you can upload and crop your favorite images that can be as small as 5x7 up to really large options that start at under $20.
Their process will print your image on the back of the glass, then apply a protective coating on the back and ship it to your in specially designed packaging.
Any form of lighting, natural or from a fixture will make your pictures jump from your walls, so if you're looking for a unique printed picture option, learn more at: https://fractureme.com
Your smartphone is a treasure chest of personal information, which is why ID thieves love to steal them.
If they can get to your email account, they can quickly and easily reset all your passwords and lock you out of your own accounts.
That’s why it’s so important to set up some form of locking code or facial recognition to keep prying eyes out should your phone get lost or stolen.
If you decide to sell, trade, donate or give away your smartphone, it’s critically important that you perform a factory reset to remove all your personal info from the device before it leaves your control.
If you phone has an optional memory card, be sure to remove it before getting rid of your phone or format it if you intend to give the extra memory to the next user as well.
Your wireless carrier’s SIM card is also something you want to remove and throw away before parting with your phone.
The factory reset is generally in the ‘System’ section of the Settings menu, but if you need specific instructions, simply do a Google search for your phone model and the words ‘factory reset’.
If you're looking for something fun and creative for this weekend, this tip is for you!
With all of the sophistication of our smartphones and creative apps, you'll have everything you need to create short, epic special effect videos in just a few minutes.
This old-school effects app is one of our favorites for creating eye catching videos that you can record anywhere you go.
The app provides some basic effects that are out of this world with the option to purchase additional effects if you really get into the movie making.
They make it easy to know where the effects will appear by placing a wireframe of the effect on the screen so you'll know exactly where it will be on your movie.
Your creative juices will start flowing as soon as your make your first UFO video with this easy to use app.
Learn all about this clever movie making app at: https://www.fxguruapp.com
Games are one of the most popular apps downloaded to our smartphones, but most of them are pretty limited when it comes to stimulating your brain.
So many of these games end up chewing up a lot of your time because they’re pretty much endless in the way the game is played.
For a change of pace that required a little more brainpower and isn’t of the endless variety, check out a game called Quizup.
They call their game the largest trivia game on the planet with hundreds of categories and a huge database of questions.
The quiz categories are pretty standard, but also include things like logo identification and can be played with friends or random users of the platform.
It’s a shorter version of popular trivia game shows that won’t become a huge time suck unless you want it to be.
https://www.quizup.com has apps for both Android and iPhone users, so if you’re looking for something a little different, give it a try!
The idea of going paperless has been around for about as long as we’ve all had computers, but the reality is that less paper is about the only feasible goal.
If you just take a minute to think about the amount of paper that exists in your home or business, you’ll probably realize that much of can be tossed or shredded.
For those items that you do need to keep on hand, instead of stuffing them back into a filing cabinet, why not digitize those important documents?
Not only will it free up space, it makes tracking down a specific document much quicker through a search on your computer or online storage site.
Keeping the paper from ever getting to you is another great way to reduce the waste.
Just about everyone you do business with offer a paperless billing option, which also makes the record-keeping much simpler.
Finally, if you really want to get efficient with your incoming snail mail, have a professional service like https://www.earthclassmail.com scan everything for you so you’ll only get sent the physical mail you really want.
Despite all of the advances in technology, there are times when you are simply trying to get to a website and nothing is coming up.
It’s not uncommon to assume that there is something wrong with your computer, your Internet connection or your wifi, but that’s not always where the problem exists.
Websites big and small are at the mercy of a lot of other connections, so it’s entirely possible that even the biggest names on the web can have an outage.
The next time this happens to you, don’t start by assuming it’s something on your end until you do a quick check to see if the website is actually up and running right now.
A simple to use tool at https://www.isitdownrightnow.com makes it quick and easy to check the status of any website on the Internet.
You need only to type the website you want to have them test and in seconds, you’ll get back lots of information of the current status of the site.
It’s one of those websites that you won’t need on a regular basis, but having this site in your favorites will potentially keep you from chasing the wrong end of the problem!
There’s one thing that the modern age has taught us to never leave home without…our smartphones.
With that as the default, this electronic appendage is the perfect way to keep things organized in our lives.
Google recognized this when they developed a note-taking app they call Keep, which works with both Android and iPhone smartphones and syncs with your computer.
The idea was to create an easy way to capture ideas, thoughts and reminders on your smartphone that could be easily brought up on all the devices you use every day.
You can use text, voice and images to create notes that mean something to you and can help you accomplish your tasks in a more natural way.
One of the really cool features is the ability to take any note and turn it into a checklist through the addition of checkboxes.
This can be very useful when you get a text message from your significant other asking you to swing by the grocery store to pick up a bunch of items.
Try it for yourself at: https://keep.google.com