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!
Smartphones are pretty awesome, but they’re only as smart as the user using them, right?
What’s the likelihood you’ve mastered all the features and hidden tricks that these modern marvels of technology have to offer?
Well, if you want to get smart and discover new tips and features on your smartphone, there’s an app for that!
It’s called Drippler and it’s a free app available for iPhone and Android users.
The app provides helpful tips, features and updates as well as how-to articles to help you with everything from extending battery life to discovering things that you had no idea your phone could do.
Think of it as the answer to the question “how do I keep up with all the changes on my smartphone?”
Each app is platform specific, so you’ll only get information that pertains to your operating system and device.
Personalized tips and tricks for your smartphone are just a download away.
Just search the Apple and Google App Stores for D R I P P L E R
Adobe Flash has long been a target for hackers because new flaws are discovered on a regular basis and they know that many users don’t keep it updated regularly.
There have been 7 critical updates published in just the last 7 months; how many of them have you missed?
To add to the risk, sophisticated phishing scams are in circulation via social media and email, encouraging you to secure your computer by clicking on the update link.
There was a time when Flash was a pretty important tool if you wanted to play games and watch videos, but much of the Internet has moved away from it, so you may not really need it.
Uninstalling it will instantly improve the security of your computer, but may reduce functionality for some websites, so running a test first makes more sense.
I’ve posted instructions on how to figure out whether you really need flash any more along with the proper link to update the tool if you do at DataDoctors.com/radio
The recent hack of the US Office of Personnel Management is one of the most prolific in history, with over 21 million potential victims.
That means roughly 1 in every 14 Americans has had personal information exposed from just this one breach.
Anyone that’s ever worked for the government, been a contractor, has ever applied for a job or is a spouse or child of those that have are at risk.
OPM is working with a company called CSID to alert and provide ID protection for those that are at risk and one of the ways that they’ll communicate is by email.
Don’t take any email alerts at face value because scammers have all the information they need to create very convincing phishing scams to trick you.
If you believe you are at risk and you get one of these emails, do not click on any links to enroll for the protection.
Play it safe and go to http://CSID.com/opm to enroll.
I’ve also posted the legit link at DataDoctors.com/radio
Twitter is an excellent communication tool but if you’re tweeting at the wrong times, your posts won’t get much engagement.
There are a lot of resources that generally suggest the best times and days to post your tweets.
One researcher suggests that brands get better engagement on weekends, while another suggests that late weekdays are better.
General trends are all well and good, but you’re better off figuring out when your network is active for the best results.
A simple free resource for analyzing your network is at http://Tweriod.com.
By analyzing your actual followers and your past tweets, Tweriod can provide insight into when you’re likely to get the most exposure and the most real-time engagement.
It breaks it down by weekends, weekdays, Sundays and Mondays so you’ll no longer have to guess when it’s best to schedule your posts.
Tweeting without a strategy is why so many people give up on the network, so checkout http://Tweriod.com for your best times to tweet!
Summer’s here and it’s getting hot enough to make us uncomfortable and cranky during the day.
Do you know what else gets uncomfortable and cranky from the heat?
Heat is the #1 enemy of the batteries in all your gadgets and being mindful of this can help extend their life.
Leaving your phone, tablet or laptop in a hot car, especially if it’s exposed to direct sunlight will definitely take its toll.
Also, if you notice that your electronics are warm to the touch from being in a hot setting, try to avoid turning them on until they return to room temperature.
You need to also be careful not t o block the exhaust vents on your laptop; using it on a pillow or thick bedspread is a very common way they get overheated.
If you’re going to be outside with your smartphone, do your best to keep it out of direct sunlight for extended periods of time.
Remember, if you’re uncomfortable from the heat, so are your gadgets!
Smartphone camera technology keeps getting better.
Apple has always excelled in this area and the iPhone 6 is certainly no exception when it comes to the quality of the optics.
Low lighting situations are generally the most difficult for most smartphones, but learning how to use some of the manual features can vastly improve the outcome.
If you always leave your camera in the auto mode, you’ll usually end up with a grainy image with no flash or a blown out image with the flash.
A 17-year old professional photographer has put together a very helpful site that shows how he uses an iPhone with a free app called VSCO Cam to capture images in various challenging lighting situations.
Each image shows which preset he used in the app and a brief description of what he was focusing on to get the shot.
If you’re interested in taking your smartphone photography to a new level, checkout the link that I have posted at DataDoctors.com/radio.
If you’re an avid iPhone photographer, nothing’s more frustrating than setting up for the perfect shot just to have the picture come out blurry.
Taking multiple pictures in a row is one way to help improve the odds, but often times movement is being created every time you tap to take the picture.
Learning how to hold still and gently tapping will go a long way to helping but there are a couple of other ways to snap the picture that a lot of people forget they have.
The first is either of the volume buttons on your phone, which can make it feel like a traditional camera when the phone is held sideways.
If you have Apple’s famous white headphones plugged in, you can use the volume buttons to snap the picture on them as well.
Using the headphones to take the picture can come in handy, especially if you’re trying to capture candid shots or you have a tripod.
Whichever way you go, remember hold still!
Google offers so many fantastic free tools, especially for business people.
A lesser known tool but one of my absolute favorites, Google Trends, just got some interesting upgrades.
Google Trends allows you to mine Google’s enormous database for any search-term you can think of to see how often it’s used relative to the total search universe.
Not only is it a great way to find keywords that will attract relevant users to your website, it’s an amazing market research tool.
You can look for trends in specific countries, states or languages and get a chart showing the interest over time.
You can change the timeframe from the past hour back to 2004 and see relationship between multiple terms.
It’s a great way to see seasonality of keywords, which can help with a variety of business planning tasks.
If you’ve never used Google Trends, make it a point to spend some time learning how to use this incredibly powerful tool.
Just go to http://Google.com/trends to get started
Yesterday, I gave iPhone and iPad users tips on restricting access to apps and today, I’ve got a lockdown tip for Android users.
An app called Hexlock is a really flexible way to manage privacy and security on Android mobile devices.
Hexlock allows you to lock individual apps you want to protect with a passcode or pattern lock screen, so you can let someone else use your device with complete confidence.
This can also come in very handy for when children get to use mom and dad’s phone or tablet.
It also acts as a secondary barrier if your phone gets lost or stolen while it’s in an unlocked state.
You can even create six different profiles like work, home, kids or vacation and protect apps based on where your device is being used.
Hexlock is a free app and the setup is pretty straight forward.
If it sounds like something you think you can use, just search for Hexlock in the Google Play Store.
It’s no secret that the iPhone and iPad have become electronic babysitters for millions of parents, but giving a young child full access to everything on your device is a little risky.
A feature in iOS that a lot of people don’t seem to know about can easily safeguard your device when you hand it to a child.
It’s called Guided Access and it allows you to lock the device to only allow one app to run.
Once you activate it, you can choose any app, lock the system to that app and hand it off knowing they can’t get into anything else.
If you have a number apps you want them to give them access to, using the Restrictions settings can safeguard individual apps.
Both of these features can be setup very quickly in the Settings menu and it doesn’t take a rocket-scientist, so it’s very convenient.
I’ve posted the how-to links for both features at DataDoctors.com/radio
Tomorrow, I’ve got a lock down app for Android users!
Setup Guided Access: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202612
Setup App Restrictions: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201304
We all know that phishing scams and spam are commonly used by hackers to set traps that allow them to exploit victims.
Most people have their guard up when it comes to e-mail, but that’s not the only place you’ll run across these clever traps.
Something referred to as ‘comment spam’ has been around for a while and it’s on the rise.
In the past, you could easily spot the out of context posting about working from home in the middle of a comment thread, but they’re getting more clever.
Whenever a breaking story hits one of the social networks or a popular news site, user comments are sure to follow.
In some cases, you may see someone making a good point with a link to more information, but you need to be just as careful as you are in email.
Even if you think the comment is legit, don’t click on the link...always do your own search for the information just to play it safe.
Spectrometers are an awesome bit of technology that can chemically analyze things based on light waves; they’re normally in scientific labs and are very big and expensive.
That is until a company called Consumer Physics introduced a product called SCio to the world.
SCio claims to be a molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand that can analyze lots of items with just a click of a button.
Food, plants, medication, oil, fuels and plastics are just a few of the items that Scio claims it can analyze.
Want to figure out which avocado to buy at the grocery store? What to get a sense of how your houseplants are doing? Can’t figure out what an unmarked pill is?
These are just a few of the potential use cases for this personal spectrometer that’s slated for an October release.
Skeptics want to see how accurate something so small and inexpensive can be, so for now, just keep an eye on the project at https://consumerphysics.com
Messaging apps continue to grow in popularity, especially those that allow for private messaging.
The messaging app wars rage on and Facebook just made it’s offering much more useful.
Despite the initial backlash when they separated the Messenger app from the Facebook app, many are using it on a daily basis.
One drawback to using Facebook Messenger has been that it only works for people that are on Facebook...until now.
Facebook just made it possible for people that don’t have a Facebook account to use Facebook Messenger.
This means you don’t have to use a separate messaging app for all those people that either stopped using Facebook or never had an account to begin with.
The ‘not on Facebook’ option will initially only available to people in the US, Canada and Venezuela but that’s likely to expand to other countries soon.
All the same features including voice and video calling are available to non-Facebook users with the only limitation being they can’t access messages via the web.
Social networking continues to grow in popularity and not just the majors like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Specialty social networks that range from those based on religion, race, age, gender and just about any interest you may are available and now if you’re a fishing enthusiast, there’s social network just for you.
FishBrain now has over 1 million downloads of their social app that connects fishing aficionados in over 200 countries.
It’s a treasure trove of information and connections for those that love to fish.
Share and track fishing spots, compare techniques and baits and even compete on a leaderboard as you record your catches to become the “King of the Water” at your favorite spot.
With more than 330,000 catches and 50,000 baits, you can gain insight from thousands of your fellow anglers right from your phone.
Now you have an easy way to see what’s biting in your area!
The FishBrain app and network are available for both iPhone and Android users
No matter which exercise and diet program you’ve chosen to use, there’s one common item that applies to all of them...drinking lots of water.
It’s one of the simplest ways to stay healthy, yet many of us just don’t drink enough of it during the day.
If you find that you aren’t drinking enough water because you get so busy and just plain forget, a Kickstarter project for a smart water bottle might be something to consider.
The Hidrateme water bottle is a Bluetooth connected water bottle that can help track your consumption and light up to remind you to take a drink.
The sensors in the bottle paired with an app helps track your elevation and humidity and based on your height and weight, can estimate when you should hydrate.
You can also pair the system to several activity trackers so that it can calculate water loss as a result of your activities.
If you’re interested in backing this project, I’ve posted a link at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you’re in a situation where you need to track your mileage, there are a number of apps that’ll allow you to manually track it, but why not use the GPS built into your phone to make it easier.
That’s what an app called TripLog GPS Mileage Tracker does...uses the smarts in your smartphone to make tracking mileage much easier.
The app also tracks tolls, parking fees, fuel costs or other related expenses to create a full trip report.
The coolest part is that all you need to do is plug your phone into a power source in your car or connect it via Bluetooth and it will automatically start tracking your mileage once you go faster than 5 MPH.
AND It automatically stops tracking when you disconnect the phone or turn the car off as well. It’s dead simple!
The Triplog app is free to use and is available for both Android and iOS phones with optional premium features that are all very inexpensive.
If you travel for business, you know the ongoing hassle of expense reports, especially if you’re doing everything manually.
Well, since you have a smartphone with a camera, using an app can help you go paperless in a hot minute.
Expense reports that don’t suck is the claim that an app called Expensify is making.
By using your smartphone camera, you can take pictures of each receipt as you get them, which can be scanned and read to eliminate manual entry.
You can also automatically import expenses from bank or credit card accounts to cut down on more manual entries.
At the end of your trip, all your expenses will be ready for you to categorize or edit without having to dig through your briefcase, wallet and laptop case to make sure you have everything.
Expensify basic features are free and their app is available for iPhone, Android, Windows or Blackberry smartphones
You can start testing the free version with just your work e-mail address at https://www.expensify.com
Voice recognition continues to evolve as a user interface and in the near future, you may find yourself hardly ever using your keyboard.
Siri and Google Now are leading the way on smartphones, but a small California company seems to be way ahead of both of them.
Soundhound, which is known for it’s music recognition app, is showing a demo of their voice recognition app they call Hound.
They’re touting their speech-to-meaning technology as a difference and the demo is pretty impressive.
It shows Hound quickly responding to extremely complicated questions like when is the sun going to rise two days before Christmas 0f 2021 in Tokyo Japan.
The speed in which it responds to these complicated questions in the video makes it almost seem fake, but various third parties claim the technology is real.
Android users can request an invite once it’s released with an iPhone version to follow.
I’ve got the links to the demo video and invitation site posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you’re all thumbs in the kitchen and seem to always over or under cook things, help is on the way in the form of a new smart oven.
A tech firm in San Francisco has created an intelligent oven they call June - it’s an amazing array of technology that can sit on the counter of any kitchen.
One of the unique features is something they call Food ID, which allows the oven to know how to cook something by visually identifying it.
The HD camera inside the oven along with the built in scale helps the oven know how long to cook something properly.
Right now, it’s capable of ID’ing meats and breads, but their machine learning process will allow it to learn as it goes.
This Wi-Fi enabled oven also has a remote app, so you can update the device as well as update the cook.
If you’re a gadget freak that can’t cook and have $1500 to burn instead of your next meal, you can reserve your smart oven at JuneOven.com
We all take so many pictures with our smartphones that most of them end up floating off into obscurity.
A lot of people take special moments and create photo books which can be great gifts or momentos.
But anyone that’s ever gone through the process knows that it’s extremely time consuming to layout the book and make edits.
Shutterfly knows your pain and has created a much easier way to document your travel adventures.
It’s an iPhone app called TripPix and it turns hours into minutes when it comes to creating a photo book.
You select 15 to 30 images, choose a theme and add a few annotations to get the book setup.
It’s specifically focused on travel, so it will only work with images that have location information included which allows you to include maps if you’d like.
The beautifully bound 6” x 6” books cost 20 dollars and include free shipping.
The TripPix app is free and available in the Apple App store.
As I’ve discussed over the past couple of days, phishing scams have become the tool of choice for many of today’s sophisticated attacks, especially when companies are the target.
They know that all it takes is one person in an organization to fall for their tricks for them to get a foot in the door.
Whenever I speak to business owners about security, one of the suggestions I have is to move the organization away from e-mail for intercompany communications.
Most successful corporate phishing attacks appear to be from someone in the company, which causes the victim to let their guard down.
If your organization stops using e-mail for internal communications, it makes it real easy to spot phishing e-mail scams.
One popular option is Slack because it not only provides a more secure way to communicate, it can greatly improve efficiency for the group as well.
Slack works on any device and the basic tools are free for an unlimited number of users.
See for yourself at Slack.com