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’ve been using word processor and spreadsheets for a long time, you know all about the power of using macros to record a series of command that can be executed with a simple key combination.
Well a similar tool exists for iPhone users in the form of an app called Workflow.
Workflow allows you to automate manual processes and interactions between multiple apps by dragging and dropping a combination of actions.
With over 200 actions that work with contacts, Calendars, Maps, Music, Photos, Cameras, Reminders, Browsers, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud Documents and more.
For instance, if you travel a lot and often find yourself searching for a nearby coffee shop, you can do it with a single tap in the Workflow app.
What’s even better is that others that have created workflows have shared them in the gallery, so you can make use of other people’s great ideas.
If you’re looking to kick up the power of your iPhone, checkout Workflow in the Apple App store.
Whether you’re a fan of Edward Snowden or not, he certainly knows a thing or two about cybersecurity.
So when he tweets about a secure messaging app that he says he personally uses, you can bet that it’s about as private as messaging gets.
The app Snowden tweeted about is Signal from Open Whisper Systems, a messaging app available for both iPhone and Android users.
The Signal app allows for secure messaging by text or voice and doesn’t require you to sign up for an account to use it.
It uses your existing phone number and address book, and requires no separate logins, usernames, passwords, or PINs.
Although it uses very sophisticated encryption technology, it’s very easy to setup and use as your primary messaging app
It can automatically determine if a recipient has the Signal app, so it knows not to encrypt messages sent to people that don’t have the app.
If your line of work would benefit from secure messaging, learn more at WhisperSystems.org
If you live on email, you probably spend a good chunk of time every day getting interrupted by unimportant messages because you’re on various mailing lists.
You probably don’t even know how you got on half of the lists, but with today’s auto-opt in mailings, it’s going to keep happening.
If you’re drowning in daily junk mail and newsletters, a free service called Unroll.Me is worth checking out.
Once it scans your inbox, it’ll alphabetically list every subscription it recognizes so you can choose to keep, unsubscribe or add messages to your roll-up.
The Roll Up is a daily digest of all the subscriptions that you do want to see combined in one message, so you don’t get them all day long.
For important items, you click on Keep in Inbox so that you see them as they’re sent.
Unroll.Me currently works with Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, AOL, iCloud, and Outlook.com accounts. Learn more about the service and their new iPhone app at https://unroll.me
Having long complex passwords that are unique for each of your online accounts is an essential component to protecting your personal information.
Trying to remember lots of complex passwords is impossible, so finding a password management program that you can use is essential.
If you haven’t found a management system that works well for you yet, checkout the offerings at http://RoboForm.com.
Not only can RoboForm become your password manager, it also helps you fill out forms with your frequently used information; a huge time saver for avid online shoppers.
Another cool feature is their batch login capability...it can simultaneously log you into those 3 or 4 four sites you use everyday with a single click.
As with any other password manager, once you set it up, you only need to remember the main password for Roboform to securely sign into all your important online accounts.
The basic service, which covers 10 online accounts, is free and there are mobile apps as well at RoboForm.com
One of my all time favorite web resources is getting a bit of a facelift to make searching the web’s history a little easier.
The Wayback Machine which is part of the Internet Archive has been documenting the web since 1996, so you can actually go back in time to see what the web looked like.
They periodically take snapshots of the web and currently have over 439 billion web pages saved.
Want to see what your company’s website looked like 10 years ago?
Just go to the Wayback Machine and type in the web address and you’ll get a timeline of all of the available snapshots.
Past snapshots just grabbed homepages, so that’s all you’ll be able to see, but the overhaul of their technology could allow more items to be archived in the future.
It’s a lot of fun to see what big name tech firms like Microsoft and Apple looked like in the early days, check it out at http://Archive.org/web
As the parent of an infant, you may be asking yourself “to iPad, or not to iPad, that is the question”.
A lot of people have anecdotal advice for new parents when it comes to when and where to introduce technology, usually based on personal biases.
Well, the American Academy of Pediatricians has chimed in and they say that iPads are OK for infants.
They’ve determined that TV, smartphones and tablets are all okay for young children but with lots of caveats.
They’re still recommending against screen time for children under two and limiting it to two hours for children over two, but their recommendations have been updated to reflect the digital age that can’t be ignored.
Understanding the difference between passive media like television shows and interactive media like iPad apps as well as when to introduce them is an important parenting skill these days.
The full overview is a good read for anyone raising digital natives, so I posted the link at DataDoctors.com/radio
We’re all paying more attention to what we eat these days and if you have food allergies or other special dietary needs, you really need to pay attention.
Whether you need to eat gluten free or avoid dairy or shellfish, finding recipes that work for your diet can be frustrating.
If you or someone you know has to manage this constant ordeal, have them check out an app called kitchology.
Kitchology is designed to help families dealing with special dietary needs find, modify, and cook recipes that are adapted to their lifestyles.
The app allows you to filter recipes that won’t work for you by selecting food items that you want to avoid, so you don’t waste time with great looking dishes you can’t eat.
Nutrition and allergy information is integrated right into each recipe and you can even use the app for shopping lists.
The Kitchology app is currently only available for iPhone and iPad users or you can use the website to create your food profile at https://www.kitchology.com
I’ve covered a large number of travel apps over the years, but when my wife tells me she’s found the ultimate app, I pay attention.
My wife is the most detailed trip planner I’ve ever known and my past app suggestions just haven’t worked out.
An app called Trip Rider seems to have cut through the pack and actually got my live-in travel agent to gush about a travel app.
Trip Rider allows you to store and track every detail of your trip in one place and it’s extremely flexible, so you can make changes to your itinerary without disrupting everything.
You can add quick notes before, during and after your trip, so it’s easy to journal your adventures too.
It also has a virtual wallet for all your important travel documents, ID cards and credit cards.
If you’re a hardcore travel buff, checkout http://triprider.com, which is only available for iphone users at the moment.
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.