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 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.
Just about every digital camera or smartphone is capable of taking very high resolution pictures these days, but there’s a side effect of all those extra pixels
High resolution images means large file sizes, which can start to fill up your computer if you aren’t careful and lead to big trouble!
Depending on far back you’ve been storing digital images on your computer, it’s possible that you’re taking up a bunch of unnecessary space with duplicate images.
Trying to find those duplicates manually would be an exercise in futility, so you’ll want to get some help with one of the many duplicate photo finder apps.
Since duplicates don’t generally reside in the same folder, these apps can scan all your picture folders to determine how many duplicates you have and where they are stored.
It’s the easy way to clear large chunks of space from duplicate pictures on your hard drive.
If posted links to a couple of free programs for Windows and Mac computers at DataDoctors.com/radio.
No matter what your age, there’s a decent chance that at some level, you’re a Star Wars fan.
I myself got hooked starting with the original movie when it took the world by storm back in 1977.
Well even if you aren’t ready to line up at midnight for the premier of Episode VII in December, you may want to checkout the new Star Wars App.
It’s loaded with great time wasters like official videos and news feeds, animated GIFs and even a Force training game so you can learn how to Use The Force.
The Sound Board and themed weather forecasts are kinda cool too, but my favorite feature is taking Star Wars selfies.
It allows you to take and share selfies in iconic costumes and settings that range from Princess Leia to Han Solo with Darth and Yoda in tow.
This isn’t one of those apps that’ll stay on your phone for very long, but it is a lot of fun for a while.
May the app be with you.
Remembering passwords continues to be one of the biggest challenges we all face and password management tools continue to be developed by a whole host of companies.
Well, you can add Google to that list with their newly launched Smart Lock feature that works on Android devices, Chromebooks and with the Chrome browser on your computer.
You’ve been able to tell the browser on your computer to save a password for years, but when you use your smartphone to access the same site, you have to remember your password.
Google Smart Lock aims to give you a way to sync your passwords, so passwords saved on your smartphone will be saved on your computer and vice versa.
The Android app is designed to keep your phone unlocked when it’s safe by recognizing things like location, other devices or even your voice and locked when it senses it may not be safe.
It’ll help cut down on the frustrating ‘forgot password’ routine on your trusted devices.
Learn all about it at http://google.com/smartlock
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