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!
What makes you happy? Do you know? Would you like to know?
Well, there’s an app for that and it’s called Track Your Happiness.
Track Your Happiness is actually a Harvard scientific research project that’s trying to investigate what makes people happy.
By using the app, you’ll be able to track your happiness and find out what factors — for you personally — are associated with greater happiness.
A few times a day, you’ll get a notification and be asked some questions about your experience at that moment. The idea is that by measuring your experience at many individual moments, you’ll get an accurate picture of your life and the drivers of your happiness.
You’ll also contribute to the research project to help with the scientific understanding of happiness.
Users of the app seem to get a heightened sense of focus on happiness, so if you’re looking for happiness, you might want to give the app a try at https://www.trackyourhappiness.org
Twitter is continuing to introduce new features in hopes that they can attract more users.
One of their latest attempts to get user engagement is through their polling feature that is now available to any user.
In the past, if you wanted to use Twitter to take a poll, you had to use hashtags or third party polling sites, which could get a bit complicated.
The new polling feature isn’t going to replace your market research tools, it’s just a simple and quick way to get some feedback.
You’re limited to two answers and the polls will only be available for twenty four hours, so it can be useful for really simple polling questions; nothing more.
If you vote in a poll, your response is private, so there is no tracking of who voted for what.
Twitter is slowly rolling it out to their apps and on their website, so watch for a pie chart icon with the word Poll next to it when you compose your tweets.
In-flight wifi is becoming more common with just about every airline these days and it can be especially useful on long haul flights.
It’s not the fastest connection you’ll ever use because everyone on the flight is sharing the same connection, but it’s better than nothing.
If you’re like me, you often have multiple devices you’d like to connect, but aren’t willing to pay the extra.
In those cases, don’t forget your laptop can become a wifi hotspot allowing you to share your connection with other devices.
Both Mac and Windows users can setup Internet sharing options which will allow your smartphone or tablet connect via the same connection.
It’s also helpful when a hotel charges by the device for Internet access.
I’ve posted links with instructions for both Mac and Windows users at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you’re a Windows user and find the steps for setting up a hotspot to be a bit overwhelming, checkout an app called Connectify Hotspot which makes it much easier.
Mac - http://imore.com/how-turn-your-macs-internet-connection-wifi-hotspot-internet-sharing
Windows 7 - http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/set-internet-connection-sharing#1TC=windows-7
Windows 8/10 - http://howtogeek.com/112050/how-to-turn-your-windows-8-laptop-into-a-wireless-access-point
Connectify Hotspot - http://www.connectify.me/hotspot
If you’re like most of us, your mobile phone has become your primary communication device, but there are times when you would rather not give out your cell number.
If you’re selling something online or doing business in another state or country for instance, it would be nice to shield your personal number.
For any situation that might require a special phone number check out an app called TextMe Up.
TextMe Up will allow you create special phone numbers for those special occasions so you can keep your personal number private, even if you need an international number.
It also allows you to text anyone in the world through the special number, but you’ll have to put up with ads in the messaging app.
If you want separate numbers for different parts of your public and private life, TextMe Up makes it easy.
The app and your first number are free and available for both iPhone and Android users at http://TextMeUp.com
The power of search engines, especially Google, have dramatically changed how we get our information.
Those of us that grew up using encyclopedias and phone books can really appreciate having them around.
Well the search game just got another major player...Facebook.
Up to now, Facebook’s search has been a bit limited, because it only showed you results from your friend’s posts or from sponsored posts from advertisers.
The newly updated Search feature in Facebook now allows you to mine information from any public post, so it’s exponentially more useful for current events.
When you use the search function, it defaults to Top Posts, which is a bit of a popularity contest, so if you want to see what’s happening right now, click on Latest
This also means, anything you’ve ever posted as Public is now easily accessible by the entire Facebook universe.
If you want to see what the world can see on your Facebook profile, I’ve posted the link at DataDoctors.com/radio
By now you’re probably aware that the credit card industry is transitioning to the new chipped or EMV standard cards to help fight fraud.
While it has shown to reduce common fraud in other countries, scammers are taking advantage of the change over in another way...phishing scams.
Because so many of you are still waiting for your replacement cards, the scammers are sending cleverly worded emails that claim to be your bank trying to send you an updated card.
They generally ask you for personal information under the premise of account verification, but it’s not how banks operate...ever.
By the way, there have been some instances of this scam being attempted by phone as well, which your card issuer won’t do either.
If you haven’t received your chipped card yet and want more information, call the number on your card.
The complete transition to chipped cards, especially debit cards could take another two years, so expect to see this scam continue for a while.
Zombies are such a thing these days, especially with the Halloween season coming up.
If you’re a big fan of The Walking Dead television series, I’ve got an app for you to download this weekend.
It’s called ‘The Walking Dead: No Man's Land and it recently launched in the Apple App store.
Based on the wildly popular zombie apocalypse series, this is a turn-based role playing game that ties into the series.
If you’re binge watching the series and haven’t gotten through season five yet, I’d suggest holding off playing the game until you get there.
The tie-in to season five and six will make playing the game a little more integrated into what you are watching along with behind the scenes and teaser videos.
Android users will have to wait for this official AMC version of the game, but can try another version called Road to Survival.
If zombies are your thing, I’ve posted links to both of these free downloads at DataDoctors.com/radio
The battle of the media streaming boxes heated up recently when Apple announced their latest version, the Apple TV 2.
The Apple TV may seem like the obvious choice for Apple users, but the competition is pretty stiff from the likes of the Roku 4 or the $35 Google Chromecast.
AND If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you should take a good look at the new Amazon Fire TV as well.
It’s not just well suited to Amazon’s streaming service, it also has Netflix, HBO Now, and ESPN streams available.
Add in 4K video support and Alexa, which is their version of Siri and you have a pretty solid combination of features not available from any of the other devices for $99.
The Roku 4 includes Amazon’s streaming service, but it doesn’t have HBO Now or the more sophisticated voice search technology and it’ll cost you $30 more.
This holiday season will be a great time to buy, if you’re in the market for a new streaming box.
If you’re into photography, you probably know about Adobe’s Lightroom, which is one of the best programs available for image editing.
Well, this super powerful suite of tools is also available as a free app for all you smartphone photographers that are trying to take it to the next level.
The more refined controls will surpass the basic filters and options you have in the built-in camera apps or just about any other third-party app you’ve downloaded.
With more than 40 fine-tuned presets that let you enhance with just a tap of the screen, you can harness the power of the tool even if you’re a novice.
As you learn how to use all the manual adjustments, you’ll find you can achieve edits that were never possible with your old editing apps.
You can even copy your favorite edits across multiple photos to save time.
Lightroom is available for iPhone, iPad and Android users and will open up a whole new world of editing if you’re looking to step up your game.
We’ve all heard about the future of the connected car and the promises of digital integration to automatically monitor everything while you're driving.
But if you own a car that’s from 1996 or newer, you already have the capability to achieve this digital monitoring through the diagnostic port in your car.
A company called Automatic makes it easy to unlock all the digital data that’s being generated by your car every day.
Just plug their dongle in the diagnostic port and it will start transmitting data to your phone via Bluetooth whenever you drive.
Track mileage, review maps of your trips, locate your parked car and monitoring your engine’s health are just a few of the features available.
It even provides automatic crash detection to alert emergency services in the event of an accident.
You can even integrate Automatic with other apps, so your Nest thermostat can automatically change the temperature as you approach your house for example.
Learn more about everything it does at https://automatic.com
We all know the importance of CPR when someone is in distress, but many of us still don’t really know what to do.
The difference between life and death can literally be a few minutes, so the more of us that know what to do, the better.
There are dozens of other first aid situations that may come up, that many of us aren’t particularly prepared to deal with either.
If you’d like to be a little more prepared to deal with life’s unexpected situations, download the Red Cross First Aid App.
They’ve compiled expert advice for everyday emergencies so that it’s in the palm of your hand when you need it.
The information is pre-loaded in the app, so even if you don’t have signal, you can still view the step-by-step guides to many common situations.
This isn’t an app you’re going to use on a regular basis, but it’s obvious why you should consider getting it.
The download links are posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Anyone that’s ever called tech support has been told that the first step in troubleshooting is to restart your computer.
It’s surprising how many issues that it can solve and when it comes to Internet problems, there’s an equally simple step most people overlook...clearing your browser cache.
The cache, spelled C A C H E is a collection of items that you’ve already downloaded from previous sessions.
By reusing items that’re in the cache, your computer, smartphone or tablet can load a page much faster because it doesn’t have to download everything from the Internet.
But sometimes items pulled from the cache can actually cause a page not to load properly, especially if it’s a site that requires you to log in.
The next time you’re having a problem with a specific site, try clearing the cache as your first fix.
Not sure how to do it? I’ve posted a link to instructions for the most common browsers at DataDoctors.com/radio
What do math and bedtime have in common?
It turns out that adding math to stories at bedtime is a good way to improve your child’s math skills, according to research from the University of Chicago.
The study shows a measurable increase in math achievement among children whose families used an app called Bedtime Math.
By combining images, stories and math that kids and parents solve together in a fun way, the study showed improvement even if the app was only used once a week.
Of course, whenever I hear of a research study that supports a specific product, I get a little suspicious, but these apps are free!
It can be especially helpful for parents that have math anxiety, which the study showed also had an impact on a child’s achievement.
AND it’s not just for really young kids; there are varying degrees of difficulty that can challenge everyone in the family.
If you’re looking for a fun way to improve math skills, checkout http://bedtimemath.org.
iPads are a great tool for education and entertainment, but they can also keep kids from interacting in the real-world.
If you’ve got younger kids that are iPad addicts, checkout an interactive system called Osmo that bridges the digital world with the physical world through the iPad.
It’s part educational, part game play that uses physical objects that interact with the app to extend the activities beyond the iPad.
The basic elements of the system are a stand and a mirror that fits over the iPad's front-facing camera, which allows the app to see what’s on a surface directly in front of the screen.
The starter kit comes with different activities that range from puzzles to word games, but my favorite is called Masterpiece.
It’s a virtual lightbox that allows your child to trace anything displayed on the screen to a piece of paper in front of the them.
Osmo is designed for kids 6 and older and you can learn more at https://PlayOsmo.com
Raise your hand if you’re one of the millions that have been waiting for Facebook to add a ‘Dislike’ button!
Well, you can put your arm down because Facebook isn’t going to do that, but they did unveil what they do intend to offer...more emoticons.
They’re currently testing six new ways to react to a post other than ‘Like’ in Spain and Ireland.
The options for the test include: "love," "yay," "wow," "haha," "sad," and "angry," and look like emojis used in text messaging.
They’re describing the new "Reactions" as alternatives to ‘Like’, so users will have more appropriate ways to express how they feel.
I’m happy to see that it might finally cut down on all the LOL and Haha posts that are currently being used ad nauseam.
They haven’t indicated how long the trial will last or if it will be expanded beyond Spain and Ireland, so don’t expect it to pop up on your screen just yet...but, stay tuned!
The flu season is right around the corner and taking steps to avoid those that are infected is always a good idea.
Just as Doppler radar scans the skies for indicators of bad weather, an app called Sickweather scans social networks and collects reports from users near you for signs of an outbreak.
It allows you to check for the chance of sickness in an area as easily as you can check for the chance of rain.
Sickweather searches for Facebook and Twitter posts like "I'm sick," "the doc says I have bronchitis" and "My son has chicken pox."
Public posts that include location information get added to the report database in real-time along with reports of other users of the app.
They detected the early start of the flu season six weeks ahead of the CDC in 2012, so this app could be just what the doctor ordered!
The Sickweather app is available for iPhone and Android users or you view live map online at http://sickweather.com
In the technology age, smartphones have become digital pacifiers for so many parents because, frankly, they get the job done.
It can be a lifesaver in a crowded restaurant or in social settings where you want to keep a restless child from causing disruption.
But giving a child full access to everything on your phone is a pretty dangerous thing to do, so understanding what you can do to childproof your phone is essential.
Both iPhone and Android users have lots of built-in controls that simply need to be turned on, but so many parents don’t seem to be aware of them.
Limiting what apps they can open, whether they can get on the Internet, make purchases or the really dangerous in-app purchase option are just a few things that need to restricted.
Each platform has its own options and procedures, so if you’re not sure how to get started, I’ve posted links that cover the most popular types of phones at DataDoctors.com/radio
iPhone and Android: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2921718/2-easy-ways-to-child-proof-your-android-or-ios-device.html
Windows Phone: http://lumiaconversationsuk.microsoft.com/2015/01/27/how-to-set-up-my-family-parental-controls-on-lumia-530
Pandora is a great way to discover new music based on the music you know you like, but you either have to listen to commercials or sign up for a subscription.
If you love new music discovery, but would prefer to avoid subscriptions and commercials, there’s a lesser known option out there called Earbits.
Earbits puts the emphasis on discovering new music, so you aren’t going to hear anything from the heavyweights of music.
The playlists are curated by music experts and presented as genres that let you quickly get into music that fits your taste.
My favorite genre is the Festival Guides because I love going to music festivals and discovering new artists in person.
You can listen to playlists that will let you hear what you can expect when you go to some of the most popular festivals in the world.
Or skip the festival and discover them from the comfort of your easy chair
Listen for yourself and download their streaming apps at http://EarBits.com
It’s hump day, so if you need something amusing to help you get through the week, an app called Chatterpix may get the job done.
Chatterpix lets you make anything in your pictures talk - pets, people, buildings, landscapes or anything your imagination can come up with.
You simply open a picture in the app, draw a line where you want the mouth to be and record what you want to say...the possibilities are endless.
You can also add stickers, frames and photo filters to really bump up the fun, then share it via email, Facebook or Youtube or save it to your photo roll.
If you want a child friendly version that doesn’t include the sharing option, there’s a ChatterPix Kids app that should provide hours of fun for any digital native.
Both apps are free but currently only available for iPhone and iPad users.
The company that makes these apps has a really nice collection of twenty one kid friendly apps at http://www.duckduckmoose.com
If you’re in a line of work that requires you to log your time and location in order to bill clients or generate reports, your smartphone can make the tracking process much easier with an app called Instant.
Instant bills itself as a lifelogging app that gives you a detailed overview of your daily activities, including daily device usage, where you’ve been and how long you stayed there as well as fitness tracking and daily travel times.
If you want to reduce the urge to constantly check your phone, you can set usage limits with reminders to help you change your subconscious urge to constantly look at your screen.
It’s also an app that helps in the quantified self movement which allows you to view your life through unemotional data so you can make measurable changes.
Whether you’re interested in fitness, wellness, time tracking or mindfulness, the Instant app can be a big help.
It’s available for iPhone and Android users at http://instantapp.today
Text messaging has become the go to communication tool for so many of us because it’s an extremely efficient way to have multiple conversations throughout the day.
And as always, the flies go where the honey is...that is to say that spammers and scammers are increasing their attempts to trick us via text messaging.
Another issue with text messaging is sometimes you don’t know who someone is because they aren’t in your contacts list.
If you’re looking for a better way to manage both of these situations, checkout a free app called Truemessenger.
Truemessenger is part of the Truecaller community of over 100 million members that join together to report spam and automatically block known junk messages.
It can also use the community to help identify who is texting you when they aren’t already in your contacts, so you can avoid the awkward ‘who is this’? response.
It’s not perfect, but if your looking for some help, I’ve posted the link at DataDoctors.com/radio.