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!
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.
We’ve all been there; you’re on a long cross-country flight, you look out the window and see something interesting but have no way to know what it is.
If you take a picture and remember to research it after you land, you may be able to figure out what you were looking at, but who has time for that?
Well, now there’s an app for that and it’s designed to offer help even while your phone is in airplane mode.
It’s called Flyover Country and it works by pre-loading information that pertains to your upcoming flight, so you can pull it up during the flight.
You start by selecting two points that represent your upcoming flight so the app can research geomaps and points of interest along your flight path.
Once you’re airborne, it uses your GPS in airplane mode to roughly determine where you are and provides tappable points of interest all along the way.
Flyover Country is free and available for both iPhone and Android users
If you’re one of the millions that upgraded to one of Apple’s larger iPhones and only use it in the typical up and down portait mode, you’re missing out on a lot of cool features.
Just about every productivity app you use, like the calendar, mail, messaging and even notes provide special layouts when you flip your phone to the landscape mode.
For instance, you can view your mail in split screen mode, which will list your messages on one side, with a preview of the current message on the other.
Viewing your stock in landscape mode also makes use of the split screen for more detailed info on the selected symbol in your list.
Typing in landscape mode also gives you a little more room per key and in some apps, presents you with some very useful additional keys.
You’ll discover all kinds of useful items when you simply turn your phone sideways, so remember to start exploring all your apps in landscape mode.
You've heard me talk about a web resource called If This Then That or IFTTT, because it allows you to create processes called recipes that execute a list of various tasks automatically.
If you've discovered the beauty of IFTTT, then extend the power to your smartphone camera with the Do Camera app.
As with the web apps, you can create recipes for your camera to also perform a series of automated tasks with the pictures that you take.
For instance, you can create a recipe to automatically send your parents pics over Gmail or send pictures of receipts and important documents to Evernote or upload photos to a specific Facebook album with a tap of your screen.
As with the web version of IFTTT, you can take advantage of the crowd by using recipes created by fellow advocates or create your own; the sky's the limit when it comes to the possibilities.
The Do Camera app supports lots of very popular services like Tumblr, Wordpress, Twitter, Dropbox and hundreds more!
The free app is and available for both iPhone and Android users in their respective app stores.
If you're an avid online shopper, today's tip will save you time and money!
You already know how much money coupon codes can save you, that is if you can find the right code for the right item.
Popular resources like http://RetailMeNot.com make it easy to search for coupon codes when you are shopping, but how many times are the codes no good and how much time do you spend manually searching?
Well, I have a much easier way and it's free and easy...add an browser add on called Honey.
Once installed, Honey automatically searches for and even applies coupon codes when they're available and you never have to the leave the site you're shopping at.
The Honey icon is the letter H which will appear in the upper right corner of your browser.
Whenever you're shopping at a site where Honey knows it can save you some dough, the big H will turn orange to let you know.
Start shopping smarter and faster with the Honey add-on which is available for all major browsers at https://www.joinhoney.com!
Aren't free smartphone apps really great, especially if they're so useful that you use them just about every day.
Most of those 'free' apps are ad-driven to help pay for them, which is something you should be concerned about if you're on a limited data play or have contant battery life issues.
Those free apps could be costing you big by chweing up your data plan and battery serving all those ads.
Researchers at USC and a couple of other schools reported that the ads in many free apps can use up almost 80% more data on your plan than apps that aren’t ad driven.
The report also suggests that they also used 22% more memory and 16% more battery power in order to constantly deliver new ads .
So if your phone seems to die in the middle of the afternoon and you're constantly going over your data plan, those free apps may be why!
Throw in the additional permissions that many of them ask for and you can add privacy concerns on top of the pile.
The next time you're choosing between apps, it may be worth the 99 cents to avoid the hidden charges in many free apps.
There are many considerations these days when booking a hotel room for business and one of the biggest items to consider is Internet speeds.
Unfortunately, until we check-in to our rooms, we generally have no idea how fast the connection will actually be.
If this scenario plagues you when you travel, checkout a website called https://www.HotelWifiTest.com
The site is an actual database of speeds from actual hotel Internet connections that have been tested by previous guests.
If you rely on fast Internet connections on the road, adding https://www.HotelWifiTest.com to your travel planning kit is a must.
It’s as easy as typing in the name of the city you’re planning on traveling to to get a list of speeds by location.
The list is sorted by hotels with the highest expected speeds along with confidence levels and whether you’ll have to pay for access or not.
The community depends on the crowds to gather the information, so you can do your part by testing the connection in any hotel you stay out to share with others as well.
If you travel for business or pleasure, adding https://www.HotelWifiTest.com to your bookmarks makes fast sense!
The cord cutting revolution is leading to more households installing one of the many popular media streaming boxes to view and listen to content on demand.
Some of the major players in this growing segment of the tech industry include Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and even Microsoft’s gaming Xbox gaming console.
If you own an Android phone and a Chromecast, you can push whatever’s on your phone onto your TV.
The same holds true if you have an Apple TV and an iPhone, but what happens if you or your friends have a mix of both?
That’s where an app called AllCast comes in handy.
Allcast connects your iPhone or Android smartphone to just about any of the popular streaming boxes or smart TVs so you are no longer limited to devices from the same company.
There’s a free version of the app that allows you to get a sense of how it works, but you’re limited to 5 minutes of viewing time. If you feel like it’s worth using, pay $5 for the pro version which removes the limitation.
Sound interesting? Check out AllCast in either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
Uber has become so popular that sometimes when you call for a ride, you can be hit with expensive surge pricing.
Surge rates have been known to increase by as much as 10 times the normal rate during peak times of the day or night.
It’s especially common when you’re at a major event, so be sure to pay close attention before deciding whether to book a ride.
iPhone users have an excellent option that can sometimes tell you how to avoid surge pricing with an app called SurgeProtector.
SurgeProtector , which is free, scans the area around you to see if by walking a block or two, you can avoid the expensive up charges.
The app lets you quickly determine if a cheaper pickup location is within a reasonable distance so
If you like using Uber as much as I do, checkout the SurgeProtector app for the iPhone to help you save money!
If, from time to time, you notice that strange programs just seem to appear on your system, you’re probably being victimized while installing programs you do want with programs you don’t want.
Software companies often strike financial deals with third-party companies to ‘offer’ a piggybacked program during the installation of utilities like Java and printer drivers.
These companies are relying on you being in a hurry and not paying attention. You know, the next, next, next, I agree syndrome.
The defense against the installation of unwanted, useless programs or changes to your computer is to pay particular attention during the install process.
An additional trick they employ during the installation process is to convince you that the standard installation is the recommended one.
Choosing the custom installation option is made to be only for very tech savvy users, but that’s where they’re hiding what they plan to sneak in.
So from now on, always select the advanced or custom installation option no matter what they may say, so you can stop the junk before it makes it into your computer.
No more space hogging toolbars that are useless or changing your default search engine if you adhere to this tip every time!
If you love to take pictures and had your iPhone for a while, it’s probably loaded with images.
Chances are that a huge number of the images aren’t anything worth keeping, but you just haven’t gotten around to getting rid of them.
Clearing out old unwanted photos from your iPhone is no small task, especially since Apple forces you to make decisions based on thumbnail images.
If you want a better and faster way to sort through and clean out all your iPhone photos, checkout an app called Cleen, that’s spelled C L E E N.
Think of it as the Tinder app for managing your photos, because it uses gestures which is much more efficient.
You just swipe down if you want to delete it,
up if you want to keep it, and if you can’t decide,
swipe to the left so you can deal with it later.
After you whip through your image library and swipe to let you intentions be known, just tap the trash icon and presto, they’re gone!
Here we go again…I just got another desperate plea from a Gmail user that got locked out of their own account by hackers.
You can certainly go through the options Google has for regaining control of your account, but a better approach is preventing this from ever happening in the first place.
Google offers 2-step verification for it’s accounts and it’s a real life saver when it comes compromised accounts.
With this option activated, even if someone else captures your username and password, they won’t be able to get in unless they steal your smartphone as well.
Google monitors for when an unknown computer uses your account login information and will text a special code to your smartphone whenever it’s not sure of who the user is.
That’s why a cyberthief that steals your login information still can’t get in, because they would need to the temporary code that got sent to your smartphone.
It’s also what I call an early warning system for when your credentials are compromised; if you get a code out of the blue, you’ll know they’ve been acquired and need to be changed.
Lots of online accounts offer this very easy to setup protection and it’s the biggest no-braining in cybersecurity.
I’ve posted a link to instructions on how to setup this up on just about every major online service you’re using at DataDoctors.com/radio.
If you own a laptop and use it on a regular basis, the chances are pretty good that one of your biggest complaints is battery life.
It seems like the longer you’ve had it, the worse the battery life seems to be, which is because of the finite number of charging cycles that all rechargeable batteries are subject to.
One way to help extend the life of the battery is to remove it, when you know you’re going to be plugged into an AC outlet for an extended period of time.
Heat can have as much impact on your battery as charging cycles, so removing it when it isn’t needed will save it from excessive heat.
The battery, hard drive and CPU all generate heat and prolonged exposure to constant heat will take its toll.
If you decide to try this out, make sure the laptop is fully shutdown before removing the battery.
Remember, sleep and hibernate modes may make it look like the laptop is turned off, but it’s not the same as completely shut off.
Another thing to consider if you run in no-battery mode is plugging in to a battery backup unit just in case the power goes out!
The popularity of documentaries have grown over the years with services like Netflix making it really easy to find great options.
With the explosion of amazing films in this genre have come some excellent online resources for discovery documentaries.
One in particular called Documentary Heaven is pretty much what its namesake suggests...a great place for discovering new films.
The huge collection of documentaries are seperated into thirty nine categories, so you can easily explore films based on specific subject matter.
I particularly like the technology and music categories including some of those old Behind the Music shows that I love so much.
The best part of the site is that all the films are absolutely free to watch from your computer or mobile device.
New documentaries are added on a regular basis so there’s always something new to watch, but it would take you years just to see what’s already in the library.
Check it out for yourself at http://documentaryheaven.com
The proper levels of ambient noise can help creative cognition according to one research paper and I can tell you that I personally have to have some form of background sound when I’m writing.
Soft instrumental music works pretty well for me sometimes but when I really need to hunker down, I open up a website called A Soft Murmur to get into the zone.
A Soft Murmur has a host of ambient sounds that range from rain to ocean waves to crickets and traditional white noise.
You can choose which sounds you want and how loud you want each to be, to come up with the combination that best suits your mood and your productivity or creativity.
My current favorite is the sound of the ocean paired with a crackling fire with a side of chirping birds off in the distance.
It may also help you fall asleep!
You can experience the sounds via their website or on an Android app at http://asoftmurmur.com
Most of us have multiple devices that get charged via a USB cable, which requires that we have an adapter for standard power outlets in order to juice up.
This can result in having to group all your devices in one place instead of just charging them at whatever outlet is convenient.
If you’re looking for a way to make it more convenient to charge your USB devices around the house or office, checkout the Snap Power Chargers.
Snap Power has created replacement power outlet plates that include a side mounted USB port for charging your mobile devices.
They start at $20 with discounts when you buy packs of two to ten charging wallplates.
The installation only takes a few minutes and there are no wires or batteries necessary as the specially designed plates have built in power prongs.
So you just snap the replacement plate on and screw in the center screw to get the job done.
Check it all out at https://www.snappower.com
If you love music, you probably have the Shazam app on your smartphone to figure out what a song is just by having the app listen to it.
If you’re a nature lover, there an app called PlantNet that is trying to become the Shazam for plants.
By taking a picture of any plant or flower you see, you can ask the app to try to figure out what it is.
Plantnet has to try to evaluate nuances in leaves and flowers of sixty four hundred species, so it’s not as accurate as Shazam.
Whether you’re an avid hiker or a dedicated gardner, having an app that can help you identify plants is actually pretty handy.
I know in my case, I’ve been hiking with people that are freaked out by a plant that they think is poison ivy, which is one of the many reasons I have this app on my smartphone.
Search for PlantNet in your app store if you’re interested in trying it yourself.
Uber has become a go to option for getting from one point to another, but it’s not necessarily the best choice in all cases.
If you travel much, you know that one of the decisions you have to make is whether it makes sense to rent a car or pay for transportation as you need it.
The Uber app lets you estimate what the rate may be, but if you’re sitting at your computer booking your travel, you may find a website called UberEstimate.com a little more efficient like I have.
When you put the pickup point and drop off point into their form, they quickly calculate all of the Uber options and include what the surge price increase would be if you request during a busy time.
They even give you an option to send a link with the information to a co-hort if you are conferring with others to make a decision.
If you do a lot of travel planning, add UberEstimate.com to your travel bookmarks!