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!
The process for sending large files via email can be time consuming or require your recipient to sign up for a special service.
If you use Gmail and Dropbox, today’s tip will help you leverage them together in new way that streamlines the process.
A recent update to the Dropbox for Gmail extension for the Chrome browser is making sharing large files with others, even if they don’t use Dropbox, a breeze.
By inserting links to the large files in an email message, you eliminate the time needed to upload the files for sharing to a special site or deal with the limitations on file sizes imposed by all email systems.
No need to create zip files or send one file at a time either, because you’re simply sending links directly to your Dropbox files.
You can even share entire folders or use the extension to quickly add files to your Dropbox account that are sent to via Gmail.
I’ve posted the link to the free extension at DataDoctors.com/radio
Detailed smartphone maps are great when you’re traveling and have a cellular connection, but if you get off the beaten path, they’re essentially useless.
That’s where an iPhone app called Anchor Pointer can be a real help.
Since the GPS on your phone can work without cell service, the app essentially turns your phone into a sophisticated compass.
You can create anchors in the app, which are waypoints for the GPS to use for navigation.
For instance, if you’re going on a hike, you can create an anchor where you parked your car or if you’re staying in a remote area, you can create an anchor where your countryside B&B is located.
Using GPS coordinates, the Anchor Pointer app can provide direction and distance to any of your anchors without having to reference a map.
If you’re traveling with a group, you can use the ‘meet a friend’ feature to coordinate gatherings or meetups.
Anchor Pointer costs $1.99 and is available in the Apple AppStore
We all belong to various groups such as PTOs, kid’s sports teams or charitable organizations that from time to time need to collect funds from the group.
The smaller the organization, the more likely it is to rely on the old school method of collecting individual checks from everyone, which can be a logistical nightmare.
A site called Cheddar Up was born out of the frustration for both the collecting and paying parties for this common task.
Cheddar Up is an easy way to create a customized digital collection system that can be setup in a matter of minutes.
Payments can be made with credit cards or e-checks and it costs the organizer nothing to use.
It tracks everything for you and even provides an automated reminder e-mail system to eliminate the awkward follow ups that many organizers dread.
Collecting money for weddings, funerals or anything else you’ll need just got a lot easier.
The next time you’re on either end of these transactions, visit http://www.cheddarup.com to see if it can work for you!
This is an alert to all you road warriors out there; you may want to checkout a new service called DUFL.
They’re offering to take the hassle of laundry and packing off the busy traveler’ s to-do list.
Once you download the iPhone app and register, DUFL sends you a large suitcase to fill with the clothes you typically wear on various trips.
Once it’s ready, they pick it up and ship it to their warehouse where they inventory, clean and store it for you.
From then on, simply open the app, select the clothes you want and schedule the bag to be sent to your destination.
Your trips are now luggage free and you’ve eliminated the laundry task, because your bag gets picked up and sent back to the warehouse for cleaning and storing when you’re done.
The service isn’t cheap at $100 a trip, but if you’re routinely paying a $25 checked bag fee each way, it starts to look a little more economical.
Learn all about it at D U F L .com http://www.dufl.com
Yesterday, I told you about the PackPoint app that helps you stay organized when packing for a trip.
Today, I wanted to introduce you to the Travel Butler app, which can be really helpful when you’re traveling to unfamiliar cities or countries.
Just like PackPoint, it creates a packing list based on your destination and the weather, but adds in two additional suggestions: where to eat and what to see.
Travel Butler integrates with Foursquare to find popular places that trending on the social network, so it’s like using crowdsourcing to find fun and unique to visit.
Once you set your destination and length of stay, it creates a packing list and creates categories for activities for once you get there like tours, sightseeing, restaurants, bars and cafes.
It also monitors the weather so it can update you on the latest weather forecasts just before you leave for your trip.
Travel Butler is free, but currently only available to iPhone and iPad users via Apple’s App Store.
Whenever you’re preparing for a trip, remembering to pack all the right items is essential.
There’s nothing worse than getting to your destination and discovering you forgot an essential item, like a bathing suit or umbrella.
An app called PackPoint is a great way to minimize this travel trauma, because it helps you pack based on where you’re going and what you’re doing.
It starts by asking you your gender, destination, number of nights you’re staying and the activities you’re planning on doing.
It then checks the weather at your destination and assembles a suggested packing list.
You simply scroll down the list and pick the items that are relevant to you to create your own customized list, including reminders to take business cards, cell phone chargers and VPN keyfobs if it’s a business trip.
Once you’re done, you can share your packing list via e-mail or copy and paste the list to any other program for future use.
PackPoint is free and available for both iPhone and Android smartphone users.
Virus alerts are so common, that often times they go unnoticed or get ignored.
Well the alert I’m giving you today should not be ignored or your computer itself could become a victim.
Security researchers at Cisco recently discovered new malicious code that can jump into computer via phishing scams and attempts to steal all the saved passwords in your browser.
The twist with the Rombertik virus is that if it detects an attempt by security software to analyse it, it goes into destruction mode.
The primary attack is on your hard drive’s Master Boot Record, which if successful, would render your computer useless.
If the primary attack is unsuccessful, it will attempt to encrypt all the files on the computer, which would also render it useless.
The current phishing scam appears to be from the Windows Corporation with an attachment masquerading as a PDF file.
This type of attack is likely to grow, so make sure you have a solid security program and an off-site backup system to protect yourself.
We all have our favorite calendar and to-do apps on our phones so we can try to stay productive and on schedule.
But, if you’re like most people, your to-dos and your calendar really don’t have a relationship; they both rely on you to remember to negotiate time in your calendar for your to-dos.
Timeful is an iPhone app that’s a smart calendar that collects everything you need to do, habits you want to create, projects, events and finds a good time for you to get things done.
The app places items on your to-do list directly in your calendar as a suggested game plan for the open times of your day.
As you move items around and check them off as completed, Timeful learns more about you and your preferences.
The app syncs with popular calendars, like Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange, Apple iCal and other.
If you’re looking for a more productive way to deal with everything that demands your time, checkout Timeful.com to learn more.
The TOS or Terms Of Service is something you’re presented with every time you install an app or sign up for an online service.
Unless you’re a digital rights attorney, you probably do what most people do; next, next, next, I agree.
But wouldn’t it be great to really understand what you’re agreeing to?
That’s what an iPhone app called CitizenMe is trying to offer; clarity and oversight into all of the terms and conditions that you’ve agreed to.
The app uses a traffic light system to highlight what it feels are good, questionable or bad points within the Terms of Service.
The app also tries to track them and alert you when it detects that changes have been made.
You can contribute to the community by voting whether you agree or disagree with a specific rating by the app.
It also offers to give you insight into your online personality as it may be perceived by others.
iPhone users can get the app at http://citizenme.com
If you do a lot of presentations, many of you use Microsoft’s PowerPoint to engage with your audience.
And if you use PowerPoint in your presentations, you probably use a presentation clicker, that sometimes goes missing.
Did you know that you could setup a Windows or Android smartphone to become a remote control for Microsoft Office programs?
As long as your laptop is Bluetooth enabled or you add a USB Bluetooth adapter, you can pair your phone to your computer with the Office Remote app.
Not only can you control PowerPoint from your phone, you can interact with data and worksheets on an Excel spreadsheet or work with a Word document during your presentation.
You will need to have Office 2013 and the free Remote add-in installed on your computer for this to work.
If you’re boy scout training taught you to be prepared, having this trick in your back pocket could come in handy down the road.
The link to the instructions are posted at DataDoctors.com/radio.
Nothing is more frustrating than searching everywhere for a specialty remote control, which is an especially common problem if you have lots of younger users.
Yesterday, I told Apple TV users how to use an alternative remote control and today, it’s the Roku Box user’s turn.
You actually have two alternative device options for controlling a Roku Box, your phone or your computer.
With either device, you can simply go to http://remoku.tv, that’s R E M O K U.TV to get a virtual remote to pop up on the screen.
Click on the Settings to start a scan of your network and it’ll find your Roku Box automatically.
Once it does, you can just tap on the screen of your phone or click with your mouse to control everything.
Hardcore multitaskers can get an add-on for Google Chrome on your computer, so you can pop up a virtual remote anytime you’re surfing the web.
I’ve got the links to both of these resources posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
The Apple TV is a wonderful device but I have a bone to pick with Apple. The remote is so small and sleek that it constantly disappears.
Whether it ends up between the cushions of the couch or it disappears underneath magazines on the coffee table, the refrain is always the same: has anyone seen the Apple TV remote.
Well, I have a cure for anyone suffering in a house full of users; program your primary remote to control the Apple TV box.
Buried in the Settings of the Apple TV is a simple way to take an unused input of your cable or television’s universal remote and add it.
Most remotes have an option for controlling a VCR, which most of us don’t use anymore, so that usually works perfectly.
The process only takes a few minutes and it’s changed the world at my house.
I’ve posted a link to the instructions at DataDoctors.com/radio.
Tomorrow, I’ll help all you Roku Box users with a similar tip
Free apps on our smartphones are great, especially when they become something you use every day.
Well, if you’re on a limited data plan or constantly running out of battery power, you may want to be careful using those free-ad driven apps all the time.
It turns out they can cost you by chewing up your battery and your data plan.
A recent report by researchers at USC and two other universities showed that the ads in many free apps can use up to 79% more of your network data than apps that aren’t ad driven.
It also showed that they drained 16% more energy and used 22% more memory in order to constantly deliver new ads .
If your phone seems sluggish and always running low on power, those free games could be why.
Free apps often require more permissions to run as well, so you can throw privacy concerns in for good measure.
To pay or not to pay...that is the question, the next time you’re choosing an app.
Google threw its hat into the wireless services ring last week when it launched Project Fi in the US.
It’s an ultra-low cost wireless service with some pretty interesting features.
The basic package starts at $20 a month for talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering and international coverage in 120+ countries, plus $10 a month for each Gigabyte of data you use.
It’s a pay as you go plan, so you don’t have to commit to any specific data plan and any unused data under your threshold gets credited to your next bill.
Google partnered with T-Mobile and Sprint to make this happen and included technology to figure out the best connection wherever you are.
It’ll automatically switch between Wi-Fi and LTE when you’re on a call and stay connected to the closest network that offers the fastest speeds.
At the moment, the only phone that’ll work on their network is the Nexus 6 and it’s invitation only, but it’ll expand.
If you’re looking for a low cost wireless alternative, checkout https://fi.google.com
What app has 800 million users, but is still relatively unknown by a large number of you listening to this right now? It’s an app called WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is a great alternative to the specialized messaging platforms like Apple’s iMessage because it works on any type of device.
When you install the app, it will automatically sync up your contact list with their user base, so all your friends that use it will just show up!
For those that don’t have an unlimited texting plan, WhatsApp eliminates the worry because it sends the tiny messages via data instead.
WhatsApp has long been the choice of those that communicate internationally, whether they’re on vacation or on a business trip.
And now it’s even better because you can make free voice calls with WhatsApp on Android or iOS devices.
There are a number of use cases for the app, especially if you have friends or family that live abroad, so give it a try for yourself at WhatsApp.com
Passwords continue to be the weakest link in cybersecurity and you’ve heard me talk extensively about why it’s important to use a different password for each online account.
I’ve given you lots of suggestions for password management tools, but for some, it’s still overwhelming.
Well, I have a low tech suggestion if you’re still struggling with keeping track of your passwords; write them down!
Now I don’t mean write them on a sticky note and put it on your display, I mean write them down and store them somewhere safe, like buried deep on your phone.
The key is not to use “password” anywhere in the description and use your own form of encryption just in case someone discovers the file.
For instance, add four random characters or numbers to the beginning of the actual password, so only you will know to ignore them.
If you have to choose between using the same password everywhere and writing unique passwords down, then write them down so you’re whole life isn’t exposed by one data breach.
Google’s recent change to how their search engine decides which websites are most relevant could have an impact on a lot of websites.
If you’re a business that relies on your website to generate customers, you need to take a few minutes to make sure your site isn’t a victim of what many are calling MobileGeddon.
Google’s adjustments are a reflection of the massive shift towards mobile usage around the world, especially when it comes to search.
If your website isn’t deemed ‘mobile-friendly’ by their search algorithm, you’re going to see a drop in traffic from mobile users.
Sites that are mobile-friendly will get preferential treatment by Google when the user is on a smartphone, which is a huge audience these days.
So what should you do? The first thing is to test your site with Google’s Mobile Friendly Test page to see if you need to make changes.
I’ve posted a detailed explanation along with the links you need to make sure you’re mobile friendly at DataDoctors.com/radio
How many remote controls do you have laying around your living room?
And even if you have a universal remote, how often do you have to go searching for it?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just use your smartphone as a universal remote?
Well, depending upon which smartphone you have, you may be able to.
Some Android handsets have Infrared built in, so in those cases, installing the free Peel app is all you need to do.
For iPhone users, a new device called Pronto pairs with the Peel app to turn your phone into a universal remote.
The Pronto, which costs $50, is a multi-directional transmitter that has a range of up to 80 feet.
It uses 4 AA batteries that last about a year, so you can set it up anywhere in your room.
It currently only works with iPhones, but an Android version is in the works and scheduled for release later this year.
See how it all works at http://GetPronto.com
If you’re a user of Google’s online productivity tools like Docs, Forms and Sheets, I’ve got a really cool add-on you might want to get.
It’s called Save As Doc and it allows you to easily turn a spreadsheet into a document.
This can be really handy when you’re trying to incorporate spreadsheet information in a report especially when text in a cell is too large to display as a spreadsheet.
You can convert the entire spreadsheet or select specific adjacent cells that you want to convert into a completely editable document.
This tool is especially helpful when a spreadsheet is the result of a questionnaire created in Google Forms.
No more formatting issues when you try to copy and paste information from a spreadsheet into a document.
You can even force a page break after each row of data, which makes the results in your report much easier to keep straight.
Save As Doc is a free add-on and only works with Google Chrome.
I’ve got the download link posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
When it comes to picking the best case for your phone, the options are pretty endless.
Some of the most popular cases include a secondary battery to extend your up time, but the PWR Case by Prong takes it one step further.
The PWR Case eliminates the need for you to carry around a charger and charging cable, because with a touch of a button, power prongs pop out of the back of the case.
You can recharge the battery by itself or with your phone when you plug it into the wall.
We’ve all been there; you either left your charger or the charging cable at home and your phone’s on fumes.
If you’re a power user that’s constantly running low on power, the convenience and flexibility of this unique design could be just what you’re looking for.
The PWR Case is currently only available for iPhone 5 or 5S, but an iPhone 6 case is in the works.
See how it works and get all the details at http://prong.com
If you own an Android smartphone, Google just made it really easy to find your phone when it goes missing.
You can actually go to any computer and type ‘find my phone’ in the Google search engine to locate the missing handset.
Once you sign in with your Google credentials, you’ll get a map of where the phone is and the option to make it start ringing.
Did you leave it in your car, did it fall between the cushions of your couch or did you set it down while you were in your closet?
The ringing will continue for up to 5 minutes, so you have plenty of time to locate it.
If you think it’s been stolen, you can click on the locater to lock it down or erase everything to prevent the thief from accessing your private information.
To make all this possible, just make sure you have the latest version of the Google app installed on your smartphone.
I’ve got a link to the step-by-step instructions posted at DataDoctors.com/radio