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!
All email systems limit the size of your attachments, which is why you need a good strategy for sharing large files with others.
It’s best not to use a process that requires the recipient to jump through a bunch of hoops or sign up for a service they don’t already have.
Dropbox users that also depend on Gmail should look into a great little add-on that integrates the two services.
Once installed, it makes it really simple to share items you already have in your Dropbox account with anyone, even if they don’t use Dropbox.
This can save you lots of time because you don’t need to upload the file to another online file-sharing website.
This can come in really handy when you have a large number of files to share, which eliminates the need to send separate email messages or use a Zip utility that the user has to unzip.
The utility does a lot of cool things, so if you use both services and haven’t gotten the extension yet, check it out at: https://bit.ly/38aInGD
It’s an uncomfortable subject, but it’s something we all face and that’s death.
Most people have thought about their physical assets should something happen, but not enough have planned for their digital assets.
By design, all of our online accounts are set up to keep those that don’t have the proper credentials out, which is what can happen to our family if we were to pass suddenly with no access info left behind.
It’s a potential added layer of grief when a family member has to spend all their time trying to convince dozens of companies to allow them to get into your accounts.
Storing your passwords in a management program or even in a bank vault is great as long as you remember to keep the lists updated.
One way to make sure your family can regain access more easily is to make sure that they have the password to your email account or accounts.
Since most password reset options send the link to the registered email address, making sure your family has it will make things much easier for them.
Having been asked to help grieving families regain access to their departed relative's account on many occasions, a little planning up front can be a huge relief down the road.
As much as we like to treat our fluffy family members as humans, they’re not, which means that they can’t verbalize how they feel when they’re sick.
Consulting a qualified veterinarian is a no-brainer, but sometimes that isn’t a possibility, so for those situations, a website called PetMD is worth remembering.
As far as I’ve seen online, there’s not much that compares to the depth and breadth of information specifically about pets of all kinds.
From understanding terminology to browsing their health database to their symptom checkup option, it’s about as good as it gets.
Understanding what might be causing your pet’s unusual behavior can be very comforting, which is where their emergency room resources can be invaluable.
Beyond critical health issues, the website has great info on various breeds, basic health, feeding and nutrition.
The next time you find a strange mass on your pet or if you ever wondered why dogs chow down on grass from time to time, https://www.petmd.com is the place to go and it’s not just for dogs and cats!
The ongoing efforts by cyber-thieves to take over your online accounts are getting more sophisticated, so reviewing security information regularly is critical.
Google offers a host of features that allow you to quickly see your account activity, including when, where and with what device it’s been accessed.
Their security dashboard allows you to see this important log-in information for the past 4 weeks, which helps you to know if you have been compromised.
Most of the time, the general location information is included which should make it a little easier to figure out what device that you own is being used.
The real value is when you see something logged in from either a strange device or a strange location and indicate that you don’t recognize the device.
Google will immediately suggest that you change your password and include the link to get it changed.
This same page offers a link to do a security checkup: https://bit.ly/2Z6FTVm which I’d recommend you do at least once a month.
Here’s where it’s all available:
Chances are, you have several devices that you use regularly that can take amazing high-resolution photos, but that can also come with a downside.
All the advances in image capture technology mean that all those images are going to much larger in storage size than older low-resolution camera technology, which can eat up space on your hard drive.
For those that have been copying everything from computer to computer over the years, it’s highly likely that you may have a lot of space taken by duplicate images.
Unless you have been extremely disciplined in how you organize your images, filtering out the duplicates manually just isn’t going to be very efficient, which is where some free utilities can help.
The programs are designed to scan a folder or your entire hard disk to find all of the duplicates for you to review. Depending on how many files you have stored, the initial scan can take a long time, so plan accordingly.
If you are interested in trying these utilities, here’s the link for Mac users (ignore the apps attempts to get you to buy the pro version): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photos-duplicate-cleaner/id592704001
And here’s the link for Windows users: https://manyprog.com/duplicate-image-remover.php
Most of us are using our smartphones and computers at an equal pace these days, so wouldn’t it be helpful to push info between to two easily?
Discovering something online while on your computer that you’d love to have available on your smartphone is made easy with a utility called Push Bullet.
It’s a universal sharing platform that works as a web app for Chrome that integrates with Android mobile devices.
It’s a really simple way to share items that range from notes, pictures and data files to website links and lots of other useful items.
It’s a little quicker to use than some of the other sharing platforms that require a special download or program to be set up.
One of the coolest features is the messaging that can be mirrored between your phone and computer.
It’s really very useful for those that spend a lot of time bouncing from their Android smartphone and their computer - Mac or WIndows.
Web App: https://www.pushbullet.com
Who knew that carrots were originally purple or that sadly, the secret service was created by Honest Abe on the day he was shot!
The Internet is full of generally useless but interesting tidbits of information as long as you’re willing to go search for it.
Social media has also become a daily source of useless but interesting items depending on who you follow or are friends with, but we have another resource you can check out.
For the opportunity to learn some new bit of info every day, sign up for the Now I Know daily newsletter: http://nowiknow.com
When you sign up, you’ll start getting a daily message with some very interesting info that could make you much better in your next trivia game.
There are 10 years worth of posts in the archives, so if you’d rather manually search through the info yourself, it can be hours of fun!
The general interest in wine has exploded over the past few decades, but so many are intimidated by the sheer breadth of choices that are presented at grocery stores, wine shops and restaurants.
Learning so much takes time, but you can accelerate your learning and discovery with an app called Hello Vino.
Since you’ll never really get a grip of every one of the over 10 thousand varietals of wine grapes, why not make things easier by focusing on food pairings.
Discovering those magical food and wine pairings will expand your appreciation for the nectar of the gods quickly.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for the right wine for a backyard BBQ or the best to match multiple dishes at a fancy restaurant, Hello Vino is your wine assistant.
If you get asked to select a wine for a group at a restaurant, it’s so much easier if you start with what your friends are going to order for dinner or appetizers.
The app makes it really easy to find the best types of wines that will work, so you can find the right options even when the wine list is huge.
Try it out for yourself at: http://www.hellovino.com
You probably take the ability to open various websites in their own tabs for granted, but if you were around for the early days, you know how the ‘back’ button was the way we used to switch pages.
Tabbed browsing is very convenient but when you open too many tabs, it can chew up gobs of valuable working memory.
The result can be very sluggish performance or even temporary freezing of your computer, so here’s a suggestion: download the Great Suspender utility!
It’s a free add-on for the Chrome browser which will keep track of what you are and aren’t using at any given moment so it can pause the tabs that you haven’t clicked on for a while.
Disabling the background activities saves memory and it could even extend battery life on your laptop if you typically have a lot of tabs open.
The cool thing with this utility is that as soon as you click on a tab you haven’t used in a while, it automatically restarts the activity.
For those pages that you do want to have actively working in the background, such as a stock ticker, you can simply add them to a list in the utility so it’s always left alone.
Here’s the link to download The Great Suspender: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/the-great-suspender/klbibkeccnjlkjkiokjodocebajanakg
For the most part, we’ve come to rely on critics to a certain extend when it comes to choosing a movie or binging a tv series.
This isn’t to say that what a critic likes is what you’ll like and vice versa as we’ve all disagreed with them many times.
Rather than guessing whether a specific critic has the same tastes in creative work as you, wouldn’t it be nice to get more reviews from a group of critics?
That’s exactly what you will find at a website called MetaCritic! It combines the ratings from a number of well-known critics and creates a single score based on them all called a metascore.
It’s much more sophisticated than a simple thumbs up or down or even your basic star rating system.
This score is prominently displayed on movies, tv show and music throughout the site, so it’s a really quick way to find highly reviewed content.
Make good decision quicker from now on using the scores at https://www.metacritic.com
Plastic containers dominate the retail landscape and those really thick, hard to open ones can also be a hazard to your fingers!
The more expensive the item being packaged, the more likely it’s using a large, very hard to open plastic container to prevent theft and to make it easier to hang on some retail display.
How bad has this problem become? Bad enough to deserve it’s own rage wiki page railing against the use of it!
It’s impossible to get into the package without using scissors or a sharp knife, both of which can cause various injuries of their own.
When you finally get a portion of the package opened, you can’t help but try to pry the rest of the package apart with your hands, which can get easily cut or nicked as a result.
This type of packaging isn’t likely to go away any time soon, so here’s a suggestion that can make it less of a risk….try a can opener!
Not only is it safer, but it’s also so much easier to open packages because of the leverage that the can opener provides.
Give it a try the next time you’re facing down a big ugly plastic clam shell package!
There’s a potential connection between the extended use of a computer screen at night and struggling to go to sleep afterward.
It’s been shown that the bright light with the blueish tint can actually cause people to have trouble going to sleep after staring at the screen.
If you want to reduce the chances of this happening to you or just want to reduce the eye strain common when using a computer in a dark room, check out a free app called Flux.
It’s a simple utility that can automatically adjust your display at sunset to a warmer tint that’s easier on the eyes. It does this based on the clock in your computer and where you live.
You can adjust the level of warmth or turn it off if you need to see colors properly.
At first use, you’ll likely not be all that interested in continuing with this strange hue, but over time, you’ll see how it can help cut down on the effects of a bright display.
You can download the Flux utility for Windows or Mac computers at: https://justgetflux.com
Streaming music service like Spotify and Pandora are an excellent way to learn about new music groups or solo artists, but it’s either put up with commercials or pay a monthly subscription.
For anyone that loves to discover lesser-known bands and wants to do so for free without having to listen to commercials, there’s an alternative to the majors called EarBits.
Their approach is to spotlight independent artists from around the world that you aren’t going to hear on the radio every 30 minutes.
The apps and the website has tons of playlists or genres to choose from, so it’s easy to find a bunch of new artists that fit your preferred type of music.
I really love the Festival Guides they have because most of my best discoveries have been on smaller stages at big music festivals.
Earbits makes it much easier to learn about all the great musicians that are working their way up the popularity ladder.
Just search your app store for ‘Earbits Music Discovery’ or visit their web option at: https://earbits.com
If the ‘middle of the week doldrums’ has got you in its clutches, break out of it with this fun app!
The ‘Chatterpix’ app will allow you to turn anything in your pictures into a talking animation.
The way it works is you simply choose an image from your phone or iPad, drag your finger where you want the mouth to be, then record what you want your image to say.
From there you can accentuate the image with filters, stickers and frames before you post it to social media or text it to someone.
There is also a young child version called Chatterpix Kids that removes the sharing capabilities for kids from 5-12 years old.
The apps are all free but only available for iOS devices.
The company that makes the app, DuckDuckMoose has a number of kid-friendly apps that can also be educational, so check them all out at: http://www.duckduckmoose.com
No matter what age you are, it’s likely that you have fond memories of comics and comic books.
Most of us are not so immersed in the comic culture that we’ll get dressed up and go to Comic-Con, but you can re-ignite the nostalgia with the Comic Studio app from Seedlings.
This iPhone app makes it really simple to make yourself, your children or your friends and family the hero in their very own comic book..
It can use any picture you already have on your phone to get things started by removing the background and adding costumes and props to the story.
Just like in the comics, you use thought or speech bubbles along with words like POW and KABAAAM to create action effects.
To complete the story, you add a cool background and the legend is born!
You don’t have to be a comic book fanatic to enjoy this app, as it’s great for communicating lots of things in a really amusing fashion.
Check it out at https://www.seedling.com/comic
There are so many electronic devices that can take a picture these days, but they aren’t the same as a regular camera in so many ways, such as the flash.
Despite what most people think, using your flash is not limited to low light situations.
Light is one of the most important elements in picture taking and too much light in the wrong places can make people in your pictures appear to be overexposed.
There are actually times when using your flash, especially if you have a stronger flash on a point and shoot camera can save the day.
Smartphone flash strength is pretty low, so they tend to only have any impact if you are close to your subject, especially in daylight.
The worse setup is when you have your subjects in direct sunlight, causing them to squint and be overexposed. Moving them to a shaded area can fix both problems!
Using your flash indoors can also cause images to be overexposed, especially since most newer smartphones have low light sensitivity capabilities.
As with most electronic devices, playing around with the settings well before you need them to work properly is the key. Spend some time experimenting with your cameras for the best results!
Your smartphone is still pretty safe from malicious apps as long as you haven’t tampered with the built-in protection and stick to getting your apps from the associated app stores.
The tampering is known as jailbreaking or rooting your phone because it opens the device up to load anything from anywhere.
In the past, those users were the only ones that needed to be extremely careful about loading apps, but now everyone should.
There are lots of scams that can appear as compelling text messages or emails that include a link to get the app the message is talking about.
Those that fall for these clever messages, that may even be from people you trust, clicking the link can lead to trouble.
That someone you trust could easily have been compromised so the bad guys can trick their friends and family.
Just remember to only install apps that you specifically went looking for and not from links on websites, emails or texts.
For some additional protection, you can download the free personal version of Lookout to watch over you as well: https://www.lookout.com/products/personal
For those of us that spend a lot of time in nature away from any type of signal, the traditional mapping options aren’t nearly as useful.
In most cases, it’s not that important, but when it is, there’s an option for iPhone users that is much more useful called Anchor Pointer.
It’s an app that takes full advantage of the GPS in your iPhone to provide much more detailed navigation options.
One of the coolest features is the ability to create ‘anchors’ which are the same as waypoints in a traditional expensive GPS device.
It’s great for marking points of interest for future hikes or to make sure you know how to get back to your starting point.
It’s a really great way to make sure you know how far you are from the nearest anchor, which can take all the stress out of being in an unfamiliar and unmarked area.
If your friends also have the app on their iPhones, you can make it easy to meet up at a specific point.
Learn all about the capabilities of this $4 app at:
Are you someone that seems to be more productive when you hang out at a busy coffee shop?
Well, it’s most likely not the coffee but the shop that is creating an environment that improves your output.
There’s actually been research that shows that it can make a difference as a totally quiet or extremely noisy surroundings has shown to be distracting for many.
It turns out that the low hum of activity in a coffee shop may be just right.
No need to go to a coffee shop to test this approach for yourself with the sounds available to you at https://coffitivity.com
There are some basic soundtracks you can test that will replicate the sounds like those found on college campuses and coffee shops where lots of people tend to get work done.
Once you’ve tested and found the sounds useful via their website, you can take it with you via their iPhone app: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/coffitivity/id669576390
It may be one way to survive the working from home change that so many of you are struggling with!
There was a time when anyone over the age of 25 thought that text messaging was for those that simply had no interest in having an in-person conversation.
We’ve all come to realize how incredibly efficient and useful text messaging is, so learning more about the tools is helpful.
Apple has done something different with their form of messaging known as iMessage when both parties are using an iPhone.
It automatically secures your communications and unlike traditional text messaging, it’s usable even when you don’t have a cell signal.
As long as you have a wifi connection, you can still message your friends and family on their iPhones, which can be critical when you are traveling.
Beyond these important benefits, there are a whole host of other tips and tricks many of you may not know about, so today’s tip is to help you learn more!
There is an extensive list of the features of iMessage posted at: https://bit.ly/3gJ6DTZ
You’ve probably heard about the Google Earth website and may even have played around with it form time to time.
But you may not have known about the time-lapse project that they’ve been compiling since 1984.
What’s great about this project is that id allows you to easily watch the incredible changes to any part of our globe over the last 30 plus years.
Some of the more compelling time-lapses include the development of cities like Las Vegas and Dubai or the disappearing lakes from various parts of the world.
It’s not limited to the presets on the site; you can type the location anywhere in the world to see how things have changed in places you are personally familiar with.
You can also pause on any year while zooming in and out of the area for even more perspective of the changes.
If you haven’t ever experience the world through this awesome time-lapse project, check it out at: https://earthengine.google.com/timelapse