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!
We all face the constant challenge of deciding what to make for dinner but usually end up picking from one of a handful of regulars from our rotation of meals.
If you want a new spin on this regular challenge, There’s an app called Dinner Spinner you may want to check out.
The app is from the folks at AllRecipes.com and allows you select a type of dish you’re interested in, such as a salad, main course or side dish, and a main ingredient, like pasta or fish.
You also include how much time you have to prepare the meal and then give it a spin.
I tried it by asking for a main course that included chicken with less than 20 minutes to prepare it and got 25 different ideas, which all looked appetizing.
When you view the potential matches, you’ll get a long list of recipes that also includes their ratings from other users.
For those that are little more adventurous, try shaking your phone for random recipes that you may never have thought of cooking.
Those with dietary restrictions can use filters to limit the results if you’re looking for low sodium, vegetarian, high fiber or you want to avoid things like dairy.
The many great features in our smartphone’s are awesome, but lots of features can suck...battery power that is.
When you’re traveling and you only have a short window to recharge, maximizing the charge for the little time you have is critical.
A quick way to improve the quality of a quick charge is to shut the phone off while you’re recharging.
Putting the phone into airplane mode is another options which will turn off background tasks as well as wifi and bluetooth so you don’t spin your wheels while trying to recharge.
Don’t forget the TV in your hotel room can be an additional charger if it has USB ports, especially when you have more items than outlets.
The TV needs to be turned on and it won’t charge as quickly as a regular charger, but it can come in very handy in a pinch.
And always be mindful that heat is your phone’s worst enemy. Nothing shortens battery life like excessive heat, so always avoid leaving your electronics in direct sunlight or hot vehicles.
If it’s hot to the touch, you should let it get back to room temperature before attempting to charge your devices.
When you come to a fork in the road, take it!
When we hear or read a famous quote, we often wonder 'who said that?', which can be solved with today’s tip.
A cool website called Quotery.com has done a great job of compiling famous quotes in a database that’s easy to use.
There are over 100,000 quotes, quips and proverbs that you can search directly or by author or topic.
Quotery.com is an excellent resource for those working on research papers, blogs or presentations that rely on accurate information.
They website claims to be an encyclopedia of wit and wisdom, so you can also randomly search for interesting quotes using their tools.
One of my favorite things about Quotery.com is their inclusion of sources and context that can help make better sense of the quote or the person that wrote it.
You can also help improve the information by suggesting edits when you feel you have something to add.
One of my favorite things to do at the site is read the many quotes from the great American philosopher Yogi Berra.
Quotery.com isn’t something you’ll use every day, but the next time you’re trying to figure out who said what, give it a try!
Think about how influential social media has become in virtually every aspect of our lives.
Everything from simple buying decisions to politics, the stock market and even global conflicts are all influenced by social media every day.
This has given rise to a technology referred to as 'social bots' which are nothing more than software programs that attempt to appear to be real humans.
They’re commonly used by companies for automated postings while spam artists employ them to flood our profiles with junk ads. Some governments use them as simple propaganda machines.
Unfortunately, these bots can also be used to infect your accounts and circulate malicious links, so it’s best to avoid them whenever you can.
It seems that Twitter particularly has a large percentage of accounts that are leveraging social bots, which made way for a compelling research project at Indiana University.
The Truthy Project’s Bot or Not tool was created to analyze Twitter accounts for indications that they're using a social bot.
While it's not a definite appraisal, it can be a handy tool to avoid getting fooled by a profile that appears to be a real live human.
The link is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
For all you spreadsheet warriors out there, you know working with huge data sets can make for very complex and difficult analysis of the data.
Charts and graphs are a fantastic way to take an enormous amount of data and turn it into something much more digestible or understandable.
While the tools that are built-in for creating charts and graphs may get the job done, there are superior resources on the Internet if you really want to step up your game.
A free and open source option that’s one of my faves is called RAW.
It calls itself 'the missing link between spreadsheets and vector graphics’ and it’s really cool.
To get started, you simply copy and paste or drag and drop files into the interface.
Once you chose the layout type, you can drag datasets to map your dimensions to the categories you want to use.
Once the basic data is in place, it allows you to customize what will become your visualization to fit your needs or your output format.
Once you’ve got it finalized, download it and use it any way you choose.
It’s pretty powerful stuff!
The link to RAW is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you took our advice and setup 2-factor authentication (2FA) as a protective measure on your online accounts, there’s more thing that those that travel need to do.
Since 2FA keeps others from accessing your account by sending your phone a text code whenever it doesn’t recognize a device, it’s extremely helpful even if someone has snags your username and password.
But, if you’re on an airplane using the on-board wifi, when you sign into your accounts, your phone can’t get the required text code to get in.
This is where backup codes come to the rescue.
If you’re a business traveler, being locked out of Facebook or Twitter may be no big deal, but access to email on a long flight is critical.
The backup codes are generally stored in the same area that you used to setup 2FA in the first place, so go back to your setup menu to find them.
Making a copy of these one-time use codes and keeping them stored in your travel gear will solve this problem.
It doesn’t matter how you store them; on a piece of paper in your wallet or purse or in a password protected file on your computer, just make it something only you will know is the backup codes.
I’ve got links for many of the major sites posted at https://www.datadoctors.com/radio
Or search “2-factor backup codes for XXXX” where XXXX is the name of the online service
One of the best ways to understand techniques for protecting yourself online, it helps to truly think like a hacker first.
One of the most valuable things sold on the Internet underground is your personal information, so tricking humans into allowing them into your computer is one of the most common tactics.
And rather than directly work on adults, hackers figured out long ago that it’s easier to trick your kids to get to you.
They can sneak malicious tracking programs in by posing as free music, videos, games and expensive programs that kids and teens are more likely to download.
Why is this tactic so effective? Generally, it’s because parents often allow their kids to use the same user profiles as them with full administrative access for complete control over the computer.
If this is how things are working in your house, you should really make a change immediately.
You should setup a separate account with limited access for your younger users as a way to minimize the exposure to mom and dad’s sensitive information.
This is a critically important security measure, so if you don’t know how to get it setup, get someone to help you as every OS has different steps.
One of the biggest issues in the digital age is finding a way to keep our mobile gadgets charged up.
Having the proper charger and cable for each of those devices can sometimes mean you're packed with a small arsenal of batteries and cables…Wireless charging will certainly make this all much easier.
A rather promising technology for wireless charging is a project called WiTricity and it’s starting look like a reality.
From its meager beginnings at MIT in 2007 as a research project, the technology could be ubiquitous in the very near future.
I’m looking forward to hiding wireless charging transmitters in desks, kitchen counter tops and in convenient places like the console in my car.
The idea is to recharge wirelessly just by being near one of these WiTricity chargers with everything from smartphones and tablets to electric cars!
The technology behind this system is referred to as 'resonant energy transfer based on Synchronized Magnetic-flux Phase Coupling phenomenon'; yeah I don’t get it either, but I want it now.
There are a number of existing products being tested with many other potential uses on display at http://WiTricity.com
If you throw house parties that must have music playing all the time, today's tip is for you!
You've probably created playlists in the past, trying to guess what your guests might like but why guess when you can make it part of the party with the Party DJ iPhone app.
Party DJ is the perfect way to create playlists that you're friends will enjoy because they can all help pick and vote for the songs they want to hear.
It's essentially a crowd-sourcing tool that plays songs based on the tunes that have the most votes, which move to the top of the list.
It'll cost the host 3 dollars but all your guests can use the free app or the website to join in on the fun.
All you do is connect your iOS device to a set of speakers or you can use Airplay to set things up.
The host always stays in charge by being able to skip tracks or delete them altogether if someone adds an undesirable track.
Other iPhone users can even add songs from their own libraries through the Party DJ app...it's pretty cool!
I've posted the link to learn more at DataDoctors.com/radio
Setting up remote access to your computers can come in handy, but many of the most popular options that used to be free now charge a fee.
If you can't justify paying for this capability, checkout Google's simple and free Chrome Remote Desktop.
You don't have to be a techie or a nerd to set it up because it's just an add-on to the Chrome Browser on the computers that you want to setup for remote access.
It's super flexible so any Windows, Mac or Linux computer can be used to access your computer remotely; it'll be just as if you're sitting in front of it.
You can even use your smartphone, tablet or Chromebook to remotely access your computers.
I've used it from all over the world to access my computers back home when I need something that's stored on it.
This is one of the easiest to use yet fully functioning remote tools that's still free to use.
Setting the system up only takes a few minutes, so I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a free remote solution.
I've posted all the links at DataDoctors.com/radio
Chrome Remote Desktop Add-on: https://chrome.google.com/remotedesktop
Chrome Remote Desktop for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.chromeremotedesktop
Chrome Remote Desktop for iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chrome-remote-desktop/id944025852?mt=8
If you like running for exercise, you know how the right music can make a world of difference during your workouts.
Not only is it helpful in keeping you motivated, you can end up running longer if the music matches your pace.
Lots of us have tried to create playlists that match our pace, but it's a hugely time consuming task.
An app called RockMyRun makes it much easier to find motivational music that matches your running style.
The app compiles playlists that match the beats per minute (BPM), so you get a continuous mix of tunes that compliment your running pace.
You can from playlists based on a specific genre,the BPM, how long they last and clean or explicit lyrics.
The free playlists can be up to 45 minutes in length, but if you want them to me longer, you'll need to pony up to a premium membership which includes other extras like the MyBeat option.
MyBeat allows you to dial in the perfect match for your pace with pinpoint control over the BPM of the entire playlist.
If you run, jog or power-walk for exercise, RockMyRun is worth a try and available for iPhone or Android smartphones.
Anyone that works in an office full of cubicles, which I call a cube farm, you know that your computer can be accessed by anyone that happens to wander by if you step away from your desk.
This can become a bit annoying if you work with a group of pranksters, if you don’t take a second to lock down your computer before stepping away.
You need to get in the habit of locking down your system with a simple keyboard shortcut before leaving your desk, which keeps snooping eyes off your work and will save you tons of grief from your mischievous co-workers.
Windows users can press the Windows Icon key and the letter L as in 'lock' to get the job done.
Mac users can press Control+Shift+Eject at the same to secure their desktops.
If you're Mac lacks the Eject key, just use Control+Shift+Power instead get it done.
This only works if you have a login password setup, so make sure you don't skip this very important step.
Parents can also use this tip to prevent their young children from spending time on the computer when they aren't supposed to be on it.
Email is just an important part of our lives that you likely spend lots of time daily waisting time on meaningless messages because of all the mailing lists you’re on.
With all those auto-opt in mailings, you probably don’t have a clue how you got on many of the lists, but it’s going to keep happening.
If you’re tired of dealing with tons of daily junk mail and uninteresting newsletters, an online service called Unroll.Me is just what the doctor ordered.
Just let it scan your Inbox to start the magic as it’ll alphabetically list every subscription it can allowing you to keep, unsubscribe or add messages to something they call a 'roll-up'.
Their Roll Up is simply a digest of all the subscriptions that you do want to see combined daily into a single message, so no more constant interruptions with junk
If you do want messages, you simply click on the 'Keep in Inbox’ option and you’ll continue to see them as they are sent.
This awesome free resource works with AOL, Yahoo!, Gmail, iCloud, and Outlook.com online mail accounts.
Save your Inbox today at https://unroll.me
Getting a new computer is always a joy, until you realize that you'll have to spend a lot of time downloading and installing all the programs and utilities you need.
Multiple browser programs and other Internet tools, file managers, video or audio players, Office programs and a long list of utilities are just the beginning of it takes to get a new computer functional.
Most people forget about how many things they've installed over time that they count on until they're faced with these frustrating time wasting tasks.
Whether you're a Mac or Windows user, I've got a better way the next time you have to deal with this.
Windows users can go to a website called NiNite (that’s N I N I T E.com) to gather all of the browsers, utilities and program they want installed in a single automatically run install package.
If you get a new Mac computer, checkout GetMacApps.com to do the same.
Business IT folks will really find these sites to be a huge time saver because you can quickly get all your computers setup with the same list of programs.
Links: http://getmacapps.com and http://ninite.com
If your on a limited data plan with a low cap on your smartphone, minimizing your data usage whenever you can is critical.
If you're constantly surfing without a WiFi connect, you should consider switching to the Opera Mini browser.
Opera Mini has the ability to switch to off-road mode which will lower data usage while you’re on your data network and it'll even show you your data savings as you use it.
They accomplish this by using compression on their end before your phone actually starts downloading the websites which is how it uses less data as long as you're in off-road mode.
If you're lucky, the compression might noticeably increase the speed of your Internet connection, especially if you're on the edge of your network.
It can, however, cause irregularities on dynamic sites, which is why you want to be able to turn it off when you want.
They also include their famous 'speed-dial' for your favorite links; it's a visual set of bookmarks that can be used as your start page.
If you want to give Opera Mini a try, just point any of your mobile devices at m.opera.com, which will automatically bring up the proper app download link!
If you use Microsoft Word on a regular basis, you’re likely familiar with something called 'macros' which allow you to work with large chunks of text that you may use regularly with time saving keyboard shortcuts.
We're all spending more time on the Internet creating content, so having this type of capability in your browser can also come in handy.
If you're like me and use Google Docs instead of Microsoft Word on occasion, checkout the free Auto Text Expander add-on for Google Chrome.
You can create shortcuts for unwieldy e-mail addresses, sentences or other large chunks of text you often use and create various signatures for e-mail that you can easily insert with your own custom keystrokes.
For instance, you can use 'bizadd' for a business address or 'persig' when you want to use a personal signature in e-mails or anything you use on a regular basis.
The best part of this utility is that once you've created a shortcut, you can use it in any text field for everything you use on the Internet.
Get it here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/auto-text-expander-for-go/iibninhmiggehlcdolcilmhacighjamp
Although the Internet is loaded with kittens on a treadmill and a plethora of epic fail videos, it’s also a truly amazing place to learn things if you can get past the mindless entertainment.
A site called Learnist is taking an interesting approach to helping people learn and teach what they know.
It’s king of like learning meets Pinterest as it provides users with the ability to create boards of learning that others can engage in and follow.
You can get insight and learning from others on everything from
You can explore everything from art and design to technology and business at this site.
If you want to teach others about something you know,
You can even start your own board of learning and easily add to or update the content if you have knowledge that you want to share with others.
After all, it’s been said that the best way to learn something well is to teach it to someone else.
If either of these scenarios sounds interesting, check it all out at http://learni.st
These days, all of your mobile electronic devices have the capability to take pictures, which generally includes a flash of some sort.
Assuming that the flash is only for low lighting situations could be keeping you from getting great shots.
Outdoor pictures that include people can often end up with harsh contrasts and major shadows, which can ruin the image.
Both of these scenarios can often be fixed by using your flash, turning that unusable picture into a minor work of art.
With the flash on your smartphone, you need to make sure you're close enough to make what is generally a weak flash effective in bright sunlight.
On super bright days, try putting your subjects in a shaded area to eliminate squinting and use the flash to fill in the needed light.
Knowing when to use your flash outdoors and when not to use it indoors can have a major impact on the quality of your pictures.
The best way to know what works best with your cameras is to experiment before you’re in a situation where you need everything to be perfect!
If cyber-thieves can access your e-mail account on your smartphone, they can get password reset messages sent to the phone from just about any of your online accounts in a matter of minutes.
Today’s phones are loaded with tons of sensitive information that make stealing your credentials very easy, so if you haven’t setup an access pass code just yet, do it right away.
Keeping this in mind when you plan on trading in, selling or getting rid of any smartphone; you have to make sure that you do a factory reset to get rid of you personal info.
Getting your phone reset so it’s a pristine as the day you got it is pretty easy to do and generally done via the Settings menus.
Android users should also remember to either wipe or remove the expansion micro SD card before allowing the phone to leave your possession.
Formatting the micros SD card is the best way to protect yourself if you’re selling the phone with extra memory.
The SIM card from your cellular provider should be removed as well, just for good measure as it won’t be of any use to the next owner.
For specific instructions on how to reset you phone, just use Google to search the word reset and your exact model number.
I’ve posted additional instructions at: https://www.datadoctors.com/help/columns/21892-Wipe-Before-You-Get-Rid-Of-Your-Old-Smartphone/
Many of the legal documents or registration forms we deal with every day usually come in a universal file format known as a PDF file.
But when you have to sign a document and send it back, you’re usually printing the document, signing and scanning or faxing it in order to get it back to the sender.
Dealing with forms that have spaces so small that it’s hard to fill it out or sign is another common issue.
Typing directly into the form is so much more efficient and it’s easy to do with a site called PDFzen.
PDFzen doesn’t require you to install any software on your computer because it’s all handled online.
You simply upload your PDF document to the site to use any of their tools that include typing into it, highlighting text, drawing anywhere or signing the form and you can even add comments with just your web browser.
What makes it even better is that it’s also functional on your smartphone or tablet and there’s nothing to sign up for or register to get started.
PDFzen is one of those utilities that’s a life saver when you need it.
If watching YouTube videos when you aren’t online or if you like a music video and want to grab just the audio as an MP3 file are of interest, there’s actually a simple way to do it.
Of all the sites that are offering to provide this type of help, one of my favorites is a site called http://dirpy.com because you don’t have to be a nerd to use it.
All that’s required is copying the YouTube video link from the video and pasting it into the Dirpy interface to get your options.
If you just want the generate a music file, you just choose the audio quality and tap the download button.
If you want more, like a complete video, you can select a low resolution to save space or high resolution to get a 720p copy of the video that you can watch whenever you want.
Once you grab the video or audio that you desire, It’ll be on your hard drive or you can transfer it to your mobile devices and for on demand viewing or listening.
Dirpy is really useful if you’re going on a long trip with young kids, because you can keep them entertained without a WiFi connection and it’s free!