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!
A friend recently asked me if I knew of any apps that would allow him to record phone conversations taken on an Android smartphone.
He told me that he was looking for a solution that would help him create training material.
Anyone wanting to do this needs to understand the various wiretapping statutes that tend to vary from state to state.
Unless you know for sure, it’s best to play it safe by notifying anyone on the call that it’s being recorded.
Of all the apps that I tested, a free app called Call Recorder seemed to the job quite effectively.
Once you download and install the app, a tiny red ‘record' dot appears in the upper left corner whenever you place or answer a call.
Anytime you want to record a call, you just tap on the red dot and then again, when you want to end the recording.
It captures lots of great info including the date, time and duration of the call as well as the caller ID, automatically!
Once the recording is complete, you can save it to your phone or share in any number of ways.
The free Call Recorder app an be downloaded from the Google Play store.
Have you seen this video? Can you believe you were caught doing this on camera?
This is an example of a tricky social engineering scam that continues to be used to fool people with e-mail, social or private messages.
The thieves want to get you so worked up over what might be in the video that you let your guard down.
If you click on the link to see the incriminating video, you’ll usually be warned that you need to install something called a CODEC or update your video player in order to see the video.
In your haste to see this embarrassing video, you go ahead and bam, you’ve just been infected with a silent program.
Any time you fall for these tricks and allow malicious software in, the crooks can do just about anything they want and generally without you having a clue they’re doing it.
We’re seeing this approach on the rise, so stay alert and never install anything from a pop up message!
If you’re a road warrior, you probably run into Internet access that’s a bit limited in speed when you’re traveling.
Whether it’s in hotels & coffee shops or on an airplane, your speed is very limited because you’re sharing it with everyone else.
Today’s media rich ad-driven websites can be particularly slow on airplane wifi.
There are ways to manually optimize your browser for slower connections, but it would require that you switch it back and forth or create a second optimzed profile.
My preferred tool for when I’m on the road is the Opera browser.
This lesser known browser has some interesting tricks up its sleeve with options like Opera Turbo which optimizes content on cloud servers first, which can reduce download times.
Blocking unnecessary elements such as Flash ad boxes unless you click on them will also, which reduces the load.
If things get really slow, you can block all images which can get you to your desired text much faster.
I’ve posted the link to Opera along with other suggestions from my advice column which is posted at
Spring has sprung and you know what that means...spring cleaning!
A spring cleaning task you may want to add if you’re an avid Facebook user is to review and cleanup the apps that have access to your profile.
If you haven’t done this in a while or ever for that matter, you may be amazed by how many apps you’ve given access to your profile, knowingly or unknowingly.
Start by opening your Facebook Settings and clicking on the Apps option.
An alphabetical list of the apps that have access to your profile will appear and by floating your mouse over each app, you’ll have the option to either edit the settings or remove it.
If you click on the Edit option, you can modify what the app can and can’t do, including sending you notifications but it you don’t really need it, remove it.
Unfortunately, removing the app won’t revoke the information the app has already gathered, but it will prevent future access.
The love hate relationship with Windows 10 rages on with a large number of you that have made it clear, you don’t want to upgrade from your existing version of Windows.
Microsoft recently made a change to their automatic update system that snuck the upgrade in without the owner realizing what was happening.
Many websites have published various tricks for preventing Windows from auto-updating, but many of them require that you modify or delete files, which can be scary for non-techy users.
Well, there’s an easier way that’s also a lot safer than making manual modifications to your system called Never 10.
Never 10 is a simple utility created by one of my favorite software developers, Steve Gibson and it’s super easy to use.
Just download the tiny program and run it to so it can figure out what you have and how to prevent Windows 10 from sneaking in.
If you’re one of the millions that’s saying Never 10, I’ve posted the link at DataDoctors/radio
Tabbed browsing has changed the way we use the Internet, by allowing us to open multiple sites in the same browsing session.
It’s easy to get carried away by opening lots of tabs, but each tab takes memory, so it’s important to close unneeded tabs to keep your computer from becoming a slug.
But how often have you accidentally closed the wrong tab forcing you to wade through your browser History trying to find something you still want to read?
Well today’s tip is the cure for errant clicks that close the wrong tab.
The next time this happens to you in any browser, just hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys then tap on the letter T as in Tom.
Which ever tab you last closed will suddenly appear in all its glory without the usual hassle.
If you want to restore more than one tab, just repeatedly press Ctrl, Shift T and each one will appear in the order you closed them!
Taking pictures of a group gathering is standard operating procedure these days, but that usually means whoever takes the picture is left out.
Asking a stranger to take the group shot can have mixed results because they didn’t hold still or didn’t compose the shot very well.
Some newer smartphones actually have an option to use both the front and back camera so the person taking the shot can be part of the fun.
If you don’t have this feature on your camera, checkout a free app called Frontback that’s available for both Android and iPhone users.
The Frontback app makes it simple to take pictures from the back and front cameras and combine them into a single image, which can lead to some pretty creative shots.
Selfie addicts will find this app indispensable for making sure they include themselves in every shot.
There’s even an entire online community sharing Frontback shots with each other; check it all out at http://frontback.me
The vast majority of e-mails circulating the Internet these days are junk messages and the technology that tries to filter through it all isn’t perfect.
The specific words you use and what you include in your messages can actually make your legitmate emails look like a junk message to automated spam filters.
Simple things, like unnecessary images or certain words can boost your spam score and the parameters keep changing.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to test your messages to see if something you’re doing is making you look like a spammer?
Well, there’s a tool for just this purpose at http://mail-tester.com that will quickly evaluate your message and give you a spam score.
It’s really simple to use; just send your message to the address that they provide and then click the link below it.
You’ll get a spam score and a detailed report on your message including whether you’ve been blacklisted.
Start testing your messages at http://mail-tester.com
I've provided tips in the past on ways to extend the battery life of a smartphone, but most of those same suggestions will also extend the life of your laptop battery!
Almost 50% of the drain can come from powering your screen brightness, so turning it down as low as you can go is the #1 tip I can suggest.
And just like with your smartphone, turning off the Wifi and Bluetooth radios when you aren’t using them will save precious power.
If you have USB devices plugged into the ports that you aren’t using, unplugging them will keep your computer from either trying to charge or access them.
The most damaging thing to any battery is extreme temperatures, so you should never turn your computer on or charge it when it’s really hot or really cold to the touch.
Instead, you should wait until your laptop has acclimated to room temperature before using it, which will help extend the life of the battery.
Also, you should avoid using your laptop on any soft surfaces such as a pillow or blanket as it can block the cooling vents and cause your laptop to overheat.
Screen savers that display your favorite photos might be fun, but they also eat up your battery, so switching to a blank screen when your computer goes to sleep is much more energy efficient!
If you’ve always wanted to create awesome videos, but never had to time to learn, today’s tip is for you!
Video editing can be really complicated and expensive if you want to do it like the pros, but now there’s a really easy to use tool that will make it look like you spent hours creating movie magic.
It’s called Magisto and it’s one part magic and one part really clever technology for those that have no idea how to edit video.
Open the Magisto app, pick a few videos and pictures you want to include, then select the music you want and an editing style to have your movie ‘automagically' created for you!
Presto! That’s all you to do to create really cool video without all the hassle!
Once the automagical process is finished, your video gets posted to their website so you can share it on Facebook, Twitter or by e-mail.
You can also download your masterpiece so you’ll have a copy on your own computer.
If you’re a movie making wannabe, you can use the website or the iPhone or Android apps; check it all out at https://MAGISTO.com
One of the first mobile movie apps that I fell in love with years ago, was a silent movie maker.
It allowed me to easily create movies that looked like they were made in the silent movie era of 20’s, complete with text slides and piano music.
Well the app’s now called Vintagio and they’ve added video filters that include other vinatage years like the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s
These additional filters really boost the options for creating unique videos on either your iPhone or iPad.
The express mode makes it easy to quickly create simple videos, but if you really want to get creative, jump to the Pro Mode.
You can change the speed of the video, add one of their music beds or choose from your own music library.
While there are free alternatives that appear to do the same thing, none of them come close to Vintagio, which costs 4 bucks.
How many times have you put something in your calendar you really didn’t want to do?
Isn’t it time you start adding things you do want to do?
Well, that’s Google’s perspective as well and in that spirit, they recently rolled out a new feature called Goals for Google Calendar users.
Since finding time for exercise is often a big goal, you can choose a physical activity, set the frequency you’re shooting for and Google’s calendar will find time in your calendar for those yoga sessions or power walks.
If you end up with a conflict during that time or you’re running late, Google Calendar will reschedule your goals automatically.
The Goal option only appears on the mobile app for iOS and Android users, but once you set them up, you’ll see your goals on your computer as well.
Since a primary problem with achieving goals is simply remembering them, this new option might be just the motivation you need to finally start down the path to success.
If you’re a Windows user and have Apple’s Quicktime video player installed, it appears that it’s time to get rid of it.
Apple has officially stopped providing security updates for the player and security firm Trend Micro is already warning of two serious flaws that won’t be fixed because of this.
Mac users will continue to get security updates, but Windows users should uninstall the Quicktime player altogether.
You may even find that you didn’t need the program anyway, but if it turns out you have files that did require Quicktime, checkout a popular free alternative called VLC.
VLC is an open source media player that’s capable of playing everything from DVDs, to CDs or just about any type of computer media file you use.
It’s also capable of taking over for the Windows Media Player, so you’ll end up with a single program that can play all your digital media.
I’ve posted the download link for VLC at DataDoctors.com/radio
Wireless sensors that can attach to your keychain or other items so you can track them down when they’re lost have been around for a while.
Two companies have captured most of the attention: Tile and TrackR.
On the surface, they both appear to be very similar, but if you’re looking for that little extra, I’d checkout TrackR over Tile.
TrackR’s sensors are thinner, do more and don’t use special batteries, so you can replace them yourself.
One of the coolest features of the TrackR sensors is that you can use the sensor on your keys to figure out where your phone is when you can’t find it too.
They all use higher powered Bluetooth, which has a range of 100-150 feet of bidirectional communication.
If you buy them in volume, they can be as cheap as $15 each, so you can use them in your wallet, travel bags or anything you’ll ever want to track.
I’ve posted the link to TrackR at DataDoctors.com/radio
5G is coming, 5G is coming...the hype has already started in the wireless world.
Commonly referred to as 5th generation wireless, 5G the latest buzzword but it actually doesn’t even exist at the moment.
There is no currently recognized standard for what will eventually be called 5G, just a bunch of companies testing various technologies that they hope will one day be called 5G.
If you hear anything about 5G for the time being, assume it’s just another overzealous marketing department trying to get a jump on something we may not see for years.
There’s no doubt that all the major players are working on exponentially faster data for our mobile devices, but for now, it’s all speculation.
If you’ve heard the hype and thought about switching to another carrier because they appear to be close to offering the next big thing, think again.
Even when it does actually hit the market, you don’t want to be in early adopter group unless you like expensive pain.
How many times have you said ‘darn auto-correct’?
We all seem to have a love/hate relationship with this ubiquitous technology, but I have a suggestion that may help push you over to the love side of the equation.
Hack your auto-correct to be used as shorthand for commonly typed chunks of text.
For instance, your address can be added to the auto-correct library using an abbreviation such as A D R S assigned to it.
Once you’ve added it, you simply type ‘adrs’ and hit the space bar to have your address appear without all the extra typing.
Anything that you use that offers the auto-correct feature, whether it’s your smartphone or your word processor can be hacked in this way to become much more useful.
There’s no limit to how many entries you can add, you’re simply limited by your imagination, but remember not to use real words as your shortcuts.
Combining numbers and letters as your shortcuts helps; give it a try, you’ll love it!
Your e-mail account is often used as a verification process whenever you sign up for an online service or want to download information, but if you use your real address you can end up with more than you bargained for.
If you don’t need to hear from them in the future, using a temporary e-mail address will allow you to go through the verification process without exposing your real address to future junk messages.
There are dozens of temporary online mail services, but one of the easiest to use is called 10 Minute Mail.
You simply visit the site to get a disposable address that’s good for 10 minutes. Everything you need is right on one page, including any messages that get sent to the temporary address.
If you need more than 10 minutes, you just click the link for 10 more minutes to extend the time before it expires.
Remember, 10 Minute Mail accounts can’t be used to reset passwords down the road, so you use them wisely!
Augmented reality is the ability to overlay virtual items onto real world layers and one of the more interesting uses of it is in an iPad app called Adornably.
Adornably allows you to take a picture of any room and place virtual furniture in it with highly photorealistic images.
It cleverly uses a standard sheet of paper that you lay flat on the floor to create a point of reference for placing the furniture.
You just use your fingers to place, move, resize and even rotate the furniture so that it’s as close to the real thing as you can get.
You can choose from their library of sofas, chairs, sectionals, throw pillows, ottomans and dining chairs to lay out your new room.
While it’s currently limited to the items that the company is trying to sell, it’s a great peak into how virtual reality could become a much more useful technology in the near future.
Learn more and download the free app at http://www.adornably.com
Whether you’re shopping for new furniture, building something new for the house or asking for help from your local hardware store, having accurate measurements is critical.
What’s even more important is properly articulating those measurements to others.
It’s easy to take a picture using your smartphone, but any details including the measurements end up getting stored separate from the picture.
An app called My Measures makes it easy to add dimensions to anything that you take a picture of, so you can reduce the chances of misunderstandings when trying to explain something to a third party.
It eliminates the need for you to sketch something out on paper or hope that someone doesn’t confuse your measurements for depth, height and width.
You can add arrows and dimensions to any photo in seconds, then save or share the image, so it’s great for real estate agents, construction professionals or DIY fanatics.
My Measures is available for iPhone, Android and Amazon mobile devices and run 6 to 8 dollars.
If you’ve ever had to draw a floorplan for a room or an entire building, you know how time consuming it can be.
If you’re in the real estate or construction industry and work with floorplans on a regular basis, checkout an iPhone app called RoomScan Pro.
RoomScan uses the sensors in an iPhone to quickly generate a floorplan just by placing the phone on each wall in a give room.
You simply place your phone on a wall and wait for a beep and then move to the next wall to continue the process.
When you make it back to the original wall, you’ll get a double beep to complete the measurements and build your floorplan on the fly.
You can build an entire homes floorplan using that app and it even has features for situations where you may not be able to reach a wall.
If you want to see this 5 dollar app in action, check it out at http://locometric.com
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to home improvement projects, you know that the more tools you have, the better off you are.
Every project generally starts with calculations and measurements and a tool that can help in that area is Dewalt’s Mobile Pro App.
Originally designed for construction professionals, it’s loaded with contruction calculators, conversion tools and area calculators for linear or square foot calculations.
It’s also a resource on many construction related questions with various e-books and resource materials accessible right from the app.
It’s also an easy way to store your calculations for future reference or share them with others involved in your project via e-mail.
Whether you’re trying to figure out how much concrete you’ll need for a slab, how many studs and drywall sheets you need for a room addition or how much crown molding you’ll need for your dining room remodel, the Dewalt Mobile Pro App can help.
The app is free and available for both iPhone and Android users.