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!
Have you ever wondered how people are posting those weird series of characters on social media and e-mail?
There’s nothing obvious on your keyboard but if you hold your Alt key down and tap on any number, you’ll see it’s possible.
For instance, Alt and the number two will generate the ™ trademark symbol.
There are 255 possible combinations that are available, but trying to remember which combination corresponds to which character isn’t realistic.
You can find online resources that chart out each character's number, but I have an easier way to make use of special characters.
Just go to CopyPasteCharacter.com which will show you all of the special characters so all you have to do is click on one to copy it.
From there, you can paste it into an e-mail message, on Facebook or Twitter or into any document or spreadsheet you’re working on.
They even have an iPhone app available if you want to use it on the go at http://copypastecharacter.com
Raise your hand if you’ve ever cursed at your inkjet printer because it ran out of ink right in the middle of an urgent project!
We’ve all been there and know that printer ink has become one of the most expensive liquids in the world.
Well, the folks at Epson have come up with something that may be worth considering; their EcoTank line of printers.
Instead of using those puny ink cartridges that are common in most printers, Epson is incorporating large ink reservoirs that hold the equivalent of 20 to 50 ink cartridges depending upon the model.
It’s enough ink to last a year or two for most home users and the best part is, you buy bulk ink in squeeze bottles to refill the tanks when they get low.
You pay more upfront, but the ongoing cost of ink refills is substantially lower because you're buying in bulk.
It’s a breath of fresh air in printer technology; check it out at http://epson.com/ecotank
Using a smartphone as a flashlight has become a pretty handy tool for most of us because we always have our phones with us.
It’s great when you want to shine light in a specific direction, but sometimes you might find it more useful if it was more like a lantern.
Well, there’s an easy way to turn your smartphone’s flashlight into a lantern for better dispersion of light.
All you need is a rubberband and a plastic bottle of water that’s full to make it happen.
Simply attach your phone to the water bottle with the rubberband making sure your phone's flashlight is facing into the bottle.
Avoid pointing it at the label or better yet, remove the label from the bottle altogether for the best results.
It’s a handy trick for camping, when you’re forced to work on something in the dark or leading a group of people around at night.
This little trick will make you look like a real life MacGyver.
Many of us are focused on improving our overall health on a daily basis mainly by concentrating on diet and exercise.
Knowing what you’re eating is essential to achieving your health goals and a website called TwoFoods.com can make it a little easier to make good decisions.
It’s a simple site that allows you to compare two different foods to get a breakdown of calories, carbs, fat and protein.
For example, you can see the relative differences between an apple and a banana if you’re looking for a snack.
It can be especially helpful when you’re trying to decide where to eat lunch on a busy day, because you can quickly compare actual restaurant items against each other.
You can even just put the name of two restaurants in to get reports on popular menu items to compare.
This comparison engine can be a real eye-opener if you haven’t been paying much attention to what you’re eating so check it out for yourself at http://www.twofoods.com
We all know that email is not a secure way to send sensitive information like account or credit card numbers, because it’s plain text that can be seen in a number of ways.
Another problem is that once you send it, you can’t control what happens to the information.
A free Chrome plug-in for Gmail called Dmail aims to help.
Dmail allows you to send sensitive information that’s encrypted and will self destruct based on a time you choose.
You can set it to destroy in an hour, day or week or choose never to allow you to manually revoke it whenever you want.
I don’t recommend this for everyday use; it’s only when you’re going to send sensitive information you know you shouldn’t be sending via regular email.
Once you install the plug-in, it defaults to being on, so make sure you turn it off at the bottom of regular messages.
I’ve got the link to the Dmail plug-in posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
The older I get, the more I find myself trying to remember a word to describe what I’m trying to say.
I understand conceptually what I’m trying to say, but I just can’t remember the word that properly conveys my thoughts.
That’s where a web resource called the OneLook Reverse Dictionary can come to the rescue.
It let’s you describe a concept and returns a comprehensive list of possible words related to that concept.
For instance, when I type in ‘constant urge to travel’, I get the word I was trying to remember: wanderlust!
You can also be very general with terms like ‘red berries’ or ‘large fish’ to get a wide variety of possibilities.
The next time a word is on the tip of your tongue, see if the OneLook Reverse Dictionary can help you spit it out!
I’ve posted the link at DataDoctors.com/radio so you can add it to your bookmarks the next time you’re tongue tied!
Security researchers have been warning us for some time now that our mobile devices are quickly becoming a very desirable target for hackers.
We all love finding new cool apps and that’s one of the latest attack vectors being used by hackers.
Nothing underscores this more than the recent discovery of at least 11 legitimate looking but malicious iPhone apps used in what are called masque attacks.
These malicious downloads imitate popular apps like Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype and Twitter but allow remote hackers to silently access and monitor just about everything on your iPhone.
This new threat can be used by tricking someone into downloading any of a number of popular apps, so it’s imperative that you pay close attention to the source of any app you install.
Links on social media or email that prompt you to download an app are the most likely ways you’ll come in contact with these scams, so make absolutely sure you only get your apps from the Apple App store.
I’ve been constantly reminding all of you to turn on 2 factor authentication for all of your online accounts because it continues to provide an extra layer of protection.
You’ve been using 2 factor authentication for years with your debit card because you have to have both the physical card and the associated PIN.
Imagine a debit card that didn’t require a PIN...well that’s what doing with your online accounts if you don’t turn on 2 factor authentication when it's available.
Once you turn it on, a cyber-thief that acquires your username and password would also need get their hands on your smartphone in order to make use your account.
It’s also a great way to know when someone has stolen your login information.
Just about every major online service or bank offers this protection.
If you want to see which services offer it and how to turn it on, I’ve posted a link to a site with a comprehensive list at DataDoctors.com/radio
The Internet of Things refers to everyday objects having sensors and Internet connections to enhance what they can do.
It allow us to remotely control, gather data and create automated alerts for things like thermostats, lighting systems or web cameras and now you can add your bicycle.
A startup called BikeTag is about to launch a smart safety sensor for your bike.
The basic concept of the device is to provide auto-tracking and crash detection by mounting it under your seat.
The aim is to eliminate the need to remember to turn something on in order to track your ride or notify someone where you are if you’re in a crash.
It’ll also allow you to upload your rides to your fitness tracking site when you finish automatically, if you choose.
Now, it relies on the GPS in your smartphone, so it can’t be used to track stolen bikes.
The BikeTag will cost $100 when it’s released, but you can pre-order now at 35% off.
Learn all about it at http://www.biketag.com
If you use your smartphone to listen to music without the headphones, you know that the sound volume can be less than optimal especially in noisy environments.
Well a new company in the smartphone business claims they have the ‘loudest mobile phone on earth’ for music fanatics.
Marshall, the company known for its legendary guitar amps and headphones is about the launch their first Android-based smartphone in Europe they’re calling London.
There are some unique features that are clearly focused on creating the ultimate phone for music lovers like two forward facing speakers, a dedicated music sound processor, Bluetooth with CD quality sound and two headphone jacks with separate volume controls.
It’s got me intrigued!
Unfortunately, it’ll be a while before it’s available in the US, but if you want to keep tabs on their progress, you can get on their e-mail list at https://www.marshallheadphones.com
Today’s tip is designed to help you put your best foot forward no matter what you’re doing.
If you’re favorite pair of shoes have seen better days and you aren’t sure repairing them is cost effective, checkout a site called http://www.cobblerconcierge.com.
It’s a high-tech solution for a low-tech problem with a very simple process.
Their no matter what the problem pricing takes all the guess work out of whether repairing is more cost effective than replacing.
Men’s shoes cost $80 flat, even if you need new soles, heels, patching or stitching work, womens shoes are $40 flat and handbags are $100 flat and all include shipping.
They’re like the Warby Parker of shoe repair!
Checkout the details including before and after pictures at CobblerConcierge.com.
How many pictures and videos do you have on your smartphone? What do you plan to do with them?
If you plan on posting them one at a time to one of the many social networks, you know that most of them will never see the light of day.
If you want an easy way to take a large number of images or video on your smartphone and create a quick movie, checkout the latest version of the FlipaGram app.
You can select a large number of images, arrange them in any order, add effects and text captions in a matter of minutes.
To give it a little punch, you can choose to add music from your own library or use one of the many 30 second music beds from popular artists that are part of the app.
Choose how long you want each image to display or the app can automatically set the timing based on where you plan to post it.
FlipaGram is available for iOS, Android and Windows based smartphones.
As inefficient and potentially dangerous communicating by e-mail has become, it’s still the primary way most of us communicate in business.
If you’re finding that your e-mail messages are not getting a timely response, it could be because of the day of the week or time of day that you’re sending it according to a recent study.
A company called Yesware analyzed over 500,000 sales emails and found that email open and reply rates are higher on the weekends. Why? It could be because there’s significantly less email being sent on weekends.
They also determined that sending messages in the early morning (between 6 and 7) and evening (around 8) were the most effective at getting a response.
With this in mind, you may want to learn how to schedule your important email messages if your email system offers that option; most of them do.
If you want to see the details of the Yesware study, I’ve posted the link at DataDoctors.com/radio
As good as mapping apps are for getting us from point A to point B, they become a lot less useful when a physical address isn’t available.
For example, you can get to the park for a big festival, but once you’re there, using the mapping app to connect with your friends is pretty useless.
If you’re a hiker, trying to coordinate with others in the middle of nowhere can be a challenge, unless you know how to use longitude and latitude.
A company called What3Words is attempting to solve these location problems by converting geographic coordinates into 3 word addresses.
The What3Words app is a global grid of 57 million 3 by 3 meter squares with a unique 3 word address assigned to each square.
So instead of confusing numbers, directions or relying on visual landmarks, you can tell your friends to meet you at crush.green.hilltop.
It’s actually a pretty simple, but brilliant location addressing solution.
Learn all about it and download the free app at http://what3words.com.
Transferring files between your smartphone and your computer is becoming a more common need for many of us.
Whether it’s a large video you shot on your smartphone that you want to edit on your computer or a bunch of PDFs that you want to review on a flight with no wifi, there’s an app for that.
Infinit is an entire suite of free apps for all your computers and mobile devices that makes transferring files between them a snap.
Anyone that uses multiple platforms on a regular basis, will find Infinit infinitely faster to use than Dropbox, iCloud or Google Drive because it bypasses the upload download process.
Infinit is a peer-to-peer transfer tool, so files are directly transferred between your devices.
For example, I can quickly share files or folders between an Android smartphone and MacBook laptop with no file size limitations that all the cloud-based services impose on users.
It’s a great group sharing tool as well, so check it out at https://infinit.io
If you find yourself using your smartphone for productivity more often these days, you’ve probably already recognized one of the biggest challenges: the keyboard.
On-screen keyboards can be a challenge for even the smallest of hands when you’re trying to get a lot done.
One alternative is to get better at using voice recognition as an input, but most of us are just too keyboard concentric.
Typing a lot of text or working with various cells in a spreadsheet is more efficient when you have a real full size keyboard, so make it so.
Tablet users are pretty familiar with connecting a Bluetooth travel keyboard to their tablets, but haven’t thought about using them with their smartphones.
The pairing process is pretty much the same as with any other Bluetooth device, so it’s easy to do.
Just about any Bluetooth keyboard can be attached to any mobile device, so if you have one for another device, don’t forget you can use it on your smartphone too!
I recently discussed the growing dangers of using Adobe Flash and posted an article with suggestions on how you could test to see if you still really needed it.
If you found that many of the sites you frequent do still require Flash, take a minute to learn how to enable the click to play feature in your browser.
By enabling click to play, your browser will no longer automatically load Flash content which gives you an extra bit of control and protection.
Malicious Flash attacks count on your browser automatically processing the code that’s been posted to attempt drive-by downloads of malware, but with click to play enabled, it won’t happen.
You’ll have to click on a specific Flash container in order for the content to load, which gives you ultimate control over what Flash code does run.
Each browser has different steps to turn on the Click to Play option, so I’ve posted a link at DataDoctors.com/radio with instructions for every major browser.
If you’re an outdoor person, keeping your iPhone protected while you’re out and about is generally accomplished with a good case.
A good case can protect your phone from the two most common problems: dropping it and getting it wet.
If you’re really hard-core, you may want a submersible waterproof case that still allows you to take great pictures above and below water.
This crazy combination can be achieved with the Optrix adventure cases from Body Glove.
They’re waterproof to one atmosphere for all you scuba divers, that’s 33 feet for you snorkelers and they’ve been drop tested up to 20 feet.
What really separates them from all the other cases I’ve seen are the interchangeable lenses that add telephoto, wide angle and macro capabilities to your camera while it’s still in the case.
You can get that great shot or video without having to worry about hurting your expensive phone.
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, checkout all the options and accessories for iPhones at http://Optrix.com that’s O P T R I X.com.
Robotics is a huge growth field that’s evolving quickly; it’s something our kids will likely take for granted 20 years from now.
With that in mind, when is it time to introduce today’s kids to concepts like robotics and coding?
Well, one company thinks 6 is not too early and they’ve got a Kickstarter project to create something they call Vortex the robotic toy reinvented.
It’s a small round robot that kids can play with and actually build programs for without having the learn any serious code.
It pairs with a smartphone or tablet so it can be maneuvered by tapping on the screen and controlled with various commands and game objects.
The real interesting part is the drag and drop function modules that can get your child started on basic programming concepts.
This open-source project could get very interesting down the road!
Vortex hasn’t reached it’s funding goal yet, but if you want to learn more or back the project, checkout the link I’ve posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
We’ve all been in a public space using our laptops, tablets or smartphones with the feeling that someone is snooping to see what we have on our screens.
So much sensitive information can be gleaned by others if we aren’t careful...it’s even got a name: Visual Hacking.
Whether you’re concerned about the nosey passenger sitting next to you on a flight or the shifty guy sitting near you at the coffee shop, there is something you can do.
Privacy screens have been around for a while and you can get them for laptops, tablets and smartphones.
They work by obscuring your display unless you’re looking directly at it, so those off to the sides only see a black screen.
On your portable devices, they provide privacy and an extra layer of protection for the glass.
They’re easy to install and remove, so if you spend a lot of time using your tech in public places, checkout the link I’ve posted to 3M’s protectors at DataDoctors.com/radio
When you take high definition video with your smartphone, sending the video to someone else can get to be a challenge.
Many of today’s phones create videos that can be over 100 megabytes per minute, so e-mail is out of the question.
Uploading it to Facebook or YouTube can reduce the quality and make it public, which you may not want.
A two minute HD video is generally even too large for one of the many free file transfer services so a file sharing service usually works best.
I use Google Drive and DropBox for files that I care about and use Mega for temporarily sharing large files with others.
http://Mega.nz actually offers 50Gbs of free space, but it’s owned by New Zealand’s Kim Dotcom, a controversial figure in the tech world so I’m not comfortable using it for anything permanent.
There’s nothing wrong with the service itself, I’m just not convinced it will be around forever because of his legal troubles, so user beware.