Data Doctors Tech Tips
Tech Tips for Non-Tech People
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Unless you’re a professional musician or someone that’s a student of song lyrics, you’ve probably made up words for many of your favorite songs.
Well, you don’t have to become a student of lyrics if you use an app called Musixmatch on your smartphone or computer.
It’s designed to monitor most of the popular music playing apps and streaming services and provide real-time lyrics as the songs play.
It uses many of the large music lyric databases to perform its magic, so some form of connection to the Internet is necessary in order for it to work.
Musixmatch can also help you identify songs when you hear music playing in the background from virtually any source.
This wonderful app is available for both Android and iPhone users at: http://bit.ly/2UWHe1R
The ‘Cloud’ is simply a non-technical reference to the Internet and storing your important files in the cloud is possible from a large number of companies.
For the most part, the basic version of their storage accounts are free but have a storage limit so they can pitch their pay services to you for more space.
As long as you aren’t a voracious smartphone photographer or videographer, the storage limits may be more than you need.
For those that are constantly taking pictures and videos and want to back up to the Internet automatically, today’s tip is for you.
Although Google is the company that created the Android smartphone platform, they offer their Photo app and service to either iPhone or Android users.
All you have to do is install the app and tell it to start backing up your photos and videos automatically, generally when you are connected to Wi-Fi.
The best part is that the storage is unlimited as long as you are OK with a small amount of compression. Learn more at: https://www.androidauthority.com/google-photos-937968
Amazon has become the go-to resource for so many of us and for just about anything we want to buy.
Since that’s the case, don’t forget that you can trade with Amazon instead of just buying from them.
They don’t allow trades of just anything, it’s more in the area of electronics and media, like books and video games.
To see what your trade is worth, start by searching for it on their trade-in site: https://amzn.to/2DLzAwR
When you determine that the item you have is available for trading in, you’ll need to answer a few questions about the condition of the trade to determine an estimated value.
The final determination of value is made when they physically inspect the item, which can be shipped to them on their dime.
You’re already doing business with the 800 lb. gorilla, so why not try and save some money as well!
With every new feature that gets added to our phones, a potential burden gets added to our batteries.
If you’re constantly on the go, you have to make sure you think ahead so you don’t run out of battery power when you need your device the most.
One emergency tactic when you are in a pinch and can only charge for a short period is to turn the device completely off while charging.
If that’s not an option, shutting off as many of the energy-sucking radios as possible, like wifi and Bluetooth, or switch to airplane mode.
While traveling, you may find yourself in a situation where you have more devices that need a charge then you have outlets. That’s when you should remember that most of today’s TVs have a low power USB port you can use in an emergency.
It will take a lot longer to charge anything, but it’s at least an additional option to keep in mind.
It’s hot these days, so remember that heat is one of your battery's worst enemies, so avoid putting your smartphone in direct sunlight or leaving it inside of a hot car.
It’s also a good idea to avoid charging a phone that is hot to the touch - wait until it cools down to room temperature before plugging in the charging cable.
We all have tons of apps on our smartphones and I think some of the best apps are specifically designed to help us with photography.
Just about all of them have tools that can tweak the color, contrast, lighting and sharpness, but there’s only one that focuses on distortion correction and that’s an app called SKRWT
This app can be really helpful for those that have a wide-angle lens in their phones, which can often distort lines in photos.
The slight curvature can take the focus off of the primary object in your photos as it can be distracting to the eye.
This app can fix those unwanted curves that go across or up and down in an image that has been distorted by the camera lens.
This company also has a cool mirroring app and they’re available for both iPhone and Android smartphones at: http://skrwt.com
By now, you’ve heard repeatedly about something called two-factor authentication, which is one of the best things that anyone can use to protect their online accounts.
This security approach requires two different ways to authenticate you, just like your debit card AND PIN are required in order to get money from an ATM.
If your debit card didn’t require a PIN, it would be so much easier for thieves to steal your money and the same is true for your online accounts.
This simple step once activated makes it much more difficult for cyber thieves because they would have to get their hands on your username and password as well as swipe your smartphone and unlock it.
An additional benefit is that it serves as an early warning system because you’ll get a random text message when someone else tries to use your account.
This security step is available on thousands of online accounts, but you’ll need to set it up one time for each of your accounts.
A handy resource for finding the specifics for each of your accounts is located at: https://twofactorauth.org
Computer problems happen…a lot, no matter how technical or technically challenged you are, they just happen.
For all tech gadgets, we started telling people years ago to think about something they’re used to seeing on the backs shampoo bottles and that’s lather, rinse, reboot!
It’s just an easy to remember saying that can eliminate many nagging little tech problems.
A simple shutdown and restart of just about any device can generate amazing results when those irritating little issues pop up.
It’s because of the way that most devices use memory and resources necessary for trouble-free functioning that this simple process solves so many problems.
Swiping an app on a smartphone or closing a program on a computer can free up resources, but nothing sets the stage for the best possible performance like a reboot of your devices.
More importantly, it’s the most likely question that your tech support person is going to ask you, so why not save time by doing it yourself before you ask for help: lather, rinse, reboot!
There is no denying that Google Maps has become the industry standard for mapping on both our desktop computers and mobile devices, but there are times when it doesn’t provide the best info.
Whenever you have any situation where you need to share a map with others, the ability to annotate the map or add specific text or directions is very helpful.
For those occasions, we like to use a web resource called Scribble Maps https://www.scribblemaps.com
It provides a ton of tools that will allow you to modify any Google map with icons, markers, text, freehand drawing and even images from your computer or smartphone.
It’s great for gatherings as well as documenting trips that you have taken such as an epic hike or kayaking trip complete with pictures of your adventures.
The best part is that there is no software to download and configure because it works completely in your browser and it’s free!
They even provide you with a video tutorial to help you get started at: https://www.scribblemaps.com
Most of us are spending a lot more time on our computers working from home and if you’re like me, you do better with music playing in the background.
While that may be good in some situations, music can also be a distraction depending on what is playing and what you are trying to do.
Another option for sound that could be much more soothing than music is the ambient sounds of nature. The sound of rain is pretty calming for me and available whenever I want it at https://rainymood.com
This simple to use tool loops a combination of sounds that include rain, thunder and dripping of water that only ends when you turn it off.
For those that want more options for soothing sounds of nature like chirping birds or crashing waves, check out a website called https://www.calmsound.com
Finding ways to make your screen time more productive and enjoyable make a lot of sense in this crazy time we are in and both of these websites are worth exploring!
If you feel like the Internet has reduced the general vocabulary of the masses, you’re probably not imaging things.
It seems that any word can be made up, abbreviated or misused despite the availability of auto-correct technology.
If you’d like to make sure you can step up your vocabulary game, then today’s tip is for you!
It’s a really fun site called, you guessed it -https://www.vocabulary.com and it’s both entertaining and educational.
No matter where your vocabulary skills are today, they’ll be even better as soon as tomorrow when you spend time on this awesome site.
The teaching tool works with you on the words that you don’t get right during their skills challenges, so it’s like playing a game that teaches you new words.
Even if you are a very strong word-nerd, there are lots of other features of the site anyone can enjoy.
A word of warning: this site can suck up a bunch of time because it’s so engaging, so make sure you are ready to be sucked down the vocabulary rabbit hole!
The task of making sure your children are continuing to learn is never-ending and made a little easier by an awesome free online teaching resource known as the Khan Academy.
This incredible web tool was originally launched in 2008 and continues to grow in both available content and effectiveness.
The lessons cover subjects for students K-14 that are personalized for each student.
Your child can learn at their own pace using the video interface that they love so much.
Their huge library covers math, science, engineering, computing, arts and the humanities, economics/finance and various forms of test prep.
Now more than ever, an online tool to help your child continue to learn both what is required and more importantly what they are interested in, can be a perfect choice.
Check it out for yourself at: https://www.khanacademy.org
We’re all making a lot more purchases online these days, which can make keeping track of everything more difficult.
For those with amazing organizational skills, it may not be that big of a deal, but for everyone else, there’s an app called Slice that can help.
It’s a free app designed to manage all of your purchases, track packages and even alert you when the price has dropped on something you just purchased.
The best part of the app is that it does most of its work for you automatically by monitoring your purchases via your Inbox since that’s where everything goes already.
Instead of manually searching your email for various receipts or tracking numbers, Slice gathers everything for you in one place.
It’s a really handy tool for those that have to generate expense reports on a regular basis as well.
Think about how much easier that expense report will be next month!
Slice works with just about all of the major web-based email platforms, so it’s simple to get started: https://www.slice.com
With the overwhelming number of places that you are likely visiting to gather information on the Internet, it’s helpful to have a good tool to manage it all in one place.
There are many tools that are attempting to do this, but one of our favorites is called Flipboard.
The platform allows you to combine the feeds that you like to read from your social media accounts along with sections that are focused on your areas of interest from around the Internet.
It started out as an app specifically designed for iPads, but it’s grown to all your mobile devices and your computer screens.
It arranges all your feeds to look more like a magazine or customized news site making it much easier to view everything in one place.
I always suggest that you download the mobile app first, to connect all your accounts and get things set up the way you want it, then when you go the website
https://flipboard.com and login, everything will pretty much look the same for both!
If you haven’t tried a content aggregator just yet, we highly recommend giving Flipboard a try.
It seems that there are two different kinds of people in the world when it comes to waking up in the morning: those that pop out of bed and those that struggle to get out of bed.
For those that struggle, finding the right kind of alarm clock can make all the difference in the world.
To that end, there are a number of apps for your smartphone that have incorporated puzzles that need to be solved instead of a snooze button.
The theory behind this approach is to wake up your cognitive skills over the simple motor skill of slapping the snooze button that leads to failure in waking up.
You can set these apps up as a regular alarm that uses various sounds, music or opt for the necessity to solve a puzzle in order to turn it off.
A simple search for puzzle alarms in your associated app store should provide you with a number of options or here are a couple of free apps to try out:
It’s no secret that giving up your privacy when you use most every online service is just how things work these days.
There are ways to reduce how much of your online behavior is being tracked with websites such as https://DuckDuckGo.com
Their approach is to put user privacy first, so unlike the major league search engines, they don’t track anything when you ask it for search results.
None of the commonly tracked data from what you are searching for to what kind of computer and browser you are using to the date and times you searched is collected by DuckDuckGo.
Because of its focus on privacy, it’s using a different process for generating search results which means that will differ from what you would commonly see in a Google search.
With this in mind, the best way to see if they provide adequate results is to do a side-by-side comparison with your current search engine.
One thing that we know for sure is that any ads that seem to follow you around the Internet won’t be from what you searched for in DuckDuckGo.
Today’s tip is for anyone that is collecting virtually anything and wants to make it easier to track and trade their items.
Serious collectors usually have some form of tracking system that’s hand written and laborious to keep updated.
Well, there’s a website for that! It’s called Colnect.com and it’s the ultimate network for collectors all around the world.
They’ve setup the website so you can keep track of your collection electronically and make it easy to interact with others with similar interests, including the buying or trading of items in your collection.
If you take the time to notate the items you are willing to discuss for a trade or a purchase as well as items that you’d like to add to your collection, the network becomes really useful.
It’s now nearly at 250,000 collectors in 245 countries which means you’ll find someone with the same interests as you somewhere in the world.
Get started at: https://colnect.com
Technology has permeated every aspect of our lives and finding ways to learn new things is highly recommended in order to stay current in the workplace.
Trying to use books to learn things that change so quickly is not nearly as effective as it used to be.
Finding online training resources that can be easily updated or changed all together provides better up-to-date training and is much more visual than a traditional textbook.
One of the best resources for learning all kinds of software programs as well as programming languages is at LinkedIn’s Lynda.com.
This well-designed system takes you from beginner through advanced courses at your own pace.
It’s a subscription service, but it offers a free month so you can try it out before committing to using it. The monthly cost starts a $20 when paid annually or $30 if you go month-to-month.
Not only can you jump into the lessons on your computer, but they have a full array of mobile apps that makes it easy to continue your lessons on the go: https://www.lynda.com/apps
Any business or individual looking to ramp up their software knowledge should look into https://www.lynda.com
Our smartphone apps and being connected to the whole world all the time is dramatically changing the way we get things done.
If you’re handy and can do most of the tasks that need to be done around the house, that’s great, but for those that lack the time or the skills, there’s TaskRabbit.
It’s a simple marketplace that connects people that have tasks that need to be completed with those that have the time and skills to get them done.
Posting a task starts with a description along with the where and when it needs to be done.
For those tasks that don’t require someone to physically come to your location, your pool of potential people to perform the task can be global.
Tasks can be posted as either a bidding process or by a rate that you choose.
Their vetting along with user reviews of those offering to complete the task makes it a little more comforting when choosing someone.
This could be helpful for some businesses that need temporary or seasonal works as well, so if you’ve never visited the site, check it out at https://www.taskrabbit.com
We love how amazing digital photography has become, but we’re always on the search for tools that can expand on the technology further.
Despite how incredible the technology in our smartphone cameras is, any number of variables can produce pictures that need a little help, which is why image-enhancing after the shot has been taken really helps.
A powerful combination of both a web tool and an app from a company called FOTOR is still one of our go-to options.
It’s loaded with lots of features that can really make your images pop, especially their HDR processing tool.
High Dynamic Range or HDR is the process of taking elements from multiple images and creating a single image that takes the best from each image.
If you take two shots and one is too dark while the other is overexposed, HDR can often create a new image that’s much better than either image.
There are also some interesting retouching tools that can take away any blemishes on any portrait shots to make everyone look like a runway model.
If you haven’t found the ultimate tool for your photos, give https://www.fotor.com a try!
In the age of technology, it’s a given that all new parents will commit to some form of a baby monitor of some type.
A rather unknown option for monitoring your child, especially if you are going to be on the road is the app for Android devices known as Dormi.
The app is a way to allow two Android devices to become a way to monitor your child no matter how far away you may be.
Traditional baby monitors require you to be nearby, but because the Dormi app can leverage cellar devices, it allows you to be just about anywhere and still keep tabs on your child.
Beyond providing a way to see and hear your child, you can also use the platform to speak to them as well.
You can use the basic service for free or pay a one time fee to use it forever.
Now those old Android devices that are collecting dust in a closet somewhere can become useful again with the Dormi app!
All email systems limit the size of your attachments, which is why you need a good strategy for sharing large files with others.
It’s best not to use a process that requires the recipient to jump through a bunch of hoops or sign up for a service they don’t already have.
Dropbox users that also depend on Gmail should look into a great little add-on that integrates the two services.
Once installed, it makes it really simple to share items you already have in your Dropbox account with anyone, even if they don’t use Dropbox.
This can save you lots of time because you don’t need to upload the file to another online file-sharing website.
This can come in really handy when you have a large number of files to share, which eliminates the need to send separate email messages or use a Zip utility that the user has to unzip.
The utility does a lot of cool things, so if you use both services and haven’t gotten the extension yet, check it out at: https://bit.ly/38aInGD