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!
Cyber Security companies are constantly scanning the dark web and hacker websites for compromised passwords so they can alert users.
The bad guys are constantly adding to the list of known passwords as each new data breach occurs because they know that your password is the key to your kingdom.
These known password databases make their way around the Internet and are bought and sold as a regular course of business for hackers.
So how do you know if your passwords have been compromised because of a data breach?
Fortunately, there are simple free services such as https://breachalarm.com that will check for you.
When you type in any of the email addresses that you've used to set up accounts around the web, the site will scan the databases to see if your account has been compromised.
Knowing a password has been acquired, especially one that you use on multiple sites is a critical step in protecting yourself.
If you use the site and don't find any known breaches, don't get a false sense of security.
I'd suggest that you assume that any password that is more than a couple of years old has probably been compromised, so you should take a preemptive step and change them out.
It’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t turn to the Internet to go shopping for just about anything.
Today we’re going down online shopping’s memory lane to revisit one of the most popular early shopping tools called Woot.
In its early days, it provided a simple offer: a single item with limited quantities that would be gone by the end of the day.
While that approach was very popular for a long time, it just doesn’t cut it today, so they’ve evolved to offer a lot more than they used to.
It’s still focused on offering deals in lots of popular categories including electronics, home goods and even wine, but everything is available all the time until it’s gone.
It’s a lot more efficient than watching a cable shopping television show and can be a great way to get gift ideas during the holiday season: https://www.woot.com
Today’s online and digital world makes it easy to interact with anyone at any time, but it gets a little more difficult when you are trying to connect a group of people.
We’ve all either have been the one sending out an endless number of emails or been on the receiving end of the futile attempt to find a time that works for everyone in a group.
Anyone that seeks a solution, especially if this is a recurring issue, should check out an online tool called Schedule Once.
Instead of being the manual referee in a group scheduling situation, why not let technology and automation do the grunt work?
An additional benefit of their system is that it can manage the time differences no matter where in the world someone is connecting from.
This is a pay service for those that want to minimize the hassle of this challenge on a regular basis, but you can use it for 14 days to make sure it fits the bill before committing: https://www.oncehub.com/scheduleonce
Tech-related gifts are usually at the top of the list for most people, but just too expensive for those buying the gifts.
One item that we’ve spotlighted before is one of the best values in all of the tech gifting world.
Google Cardboard is a platform that allows anyone to experience virtual reality apps using their smartphone and a special viewer.
Coupled with good headphones, this cardboard-based viewing device will transport anyone into another world via the specially developed apps.
My first experience with Cardboard was through a special concert video with Paul McCartney that places you on stage with him during the show.
It’s also a great way to experience the 360 videos that are uploaded to YouTube that will completely change the experience.
It’s a truly inexpensive gift that’s one of the best bangs for the buck or you can create one yourself with their DIY instructions at https://google.com/cardboard
The lighting options for decorating your home and tree during the holiday season continue to get more sophisticated and many of them have wireless remote controls.
This has caused concerns by some about interference with Wi-Fi signals, which might technically be a possibility, but not very likely.
There’s a small chance of some interaction if they're being powered off of the same outlet as your router, so keep them separated to avoid it.
You can also test your network speeds with and without the lights being plugged in to see if there is any impact.
It’s more likely that your Wi-Fi signal will be impacted by other wireless devices like an infant monitor or a cordless landline phone than your holiday lights.
If you’re using an older wifi router, it won’t have the sophistication of automatically avoiding congested channels, so in those cases, setting your router to use channel 1, 6 or 11 will have the least overlap.
If you have an Android smartphone, there’s a great free Wi-Fi tool called WiFi Analyzer https://bit.ly/2JWC812 for checking every detail of your wireless network.
It wasn’t long ago that we were seeing stories from around the globe of fires that were caused by the hoverboard craze.
Trying to make popular items as cheaply as possible leads to lower quality products that can go from faulty to downright dangerous.
One of the prime suspects in these device fires has been tracked to mismatched chargers and lithium-ion batteries.
This potential danger isn’t exclusive to hoverboards as today’s battery technology is being used in virtually everything we own.
Another common issue we’ve seen on laptop computers is the damage done by a mismatched charger that’s either too much or underpowered.
Mismatching a charger with LiON batteries can shorten the life of the battery or cause excessive heat leading to a fire.
All batteries will heat up while being charged, but when the temperature gets uncomfortable for you to use, it’s a good idea to have the batteries examined or changed out for safety purposes.
We all love apps on our smartphones and often times photography-related apps can accumulate very quickly.
Most of them offer similar features that focus on the usual suspects such as brightness, contrast and color balancing.
But today’s tip will introduce you to a photo app that you probably don’t have because it focuses on correcting distortion.
Distortion can result in your images based on the type of lens that you’re using or if you’re at a bad angle taking the shot.
This singular focus is in an app called SKRWT which has been recognized at one of the best at what it does.
Unlike other apps, it doesn’t reduce the resolution of your image when you adjust either the distortion that can be side to side or up and down.
Learn more and download it at http://skrwt.com
Without question, one of the more common complaints that I field on a regular basis concerns the limited storage space that fills up so easily on smartphones.
More and more devices don’t offer the memory expansion option, which makes it important to stay on top of the space you’re using.
If you have a lot of apps that you no longer use, uninstalling them is a good start, but won’t generally free up as much space as content like long videos and high-resolution images.
Dumping old video files will clear the most space the quickest, so take the time to weed through them all.
Another less known place that you can free up a lot of space is by getting rid of old text messages that included photos or videos.
I’ve had great success with my wife’s iPhone storage issues by spending time deleting old text messages.
Here’s more of our advice on this problem http://bit.ly/2N8hwDt
Using Google to search for info has become so common that it’s now actually a verb.
Anytime you’re in the market for a new item or device, finding helpful reviews or comparison sites can dramatically increase your confidence to make a purchase.
Looking up reviews on products you know about is pretty easy, but how can you learn about products you don’t even know exist?
This is our shopping tip that’s helpful year-round; use Google with the versus parameter.
Let’s say you’re looking at new smartphones that are comparable to an iPhone 11 - you would simply type ‘iPhone 11 vs’ and leave the rest blank.
Google will provide links to lots of sites that will fill in the rest or in some cases multiple items that compare whenever you use this trick.
It’s so much more informative than simply looking at the first site that might come up in a standard search.
It’s made researching new products so much more efficient and it helps you feel like you’ve really done your homework before you make a purchase!
As great as our smartphones are at taking pictures and entertaining us, there’s an accessory that you can add that will make it even more useful.
No matter what you’re using your smartphone for, it’s very likely that it can be improved by using a tripod.
Having a small, but very useful tripod will increase the chances that it’ll get used, which is why we like the Stance line of tripods from Kenu.
Because it folds up to be very small, it easily fits into your pocket, purse or laptop bag so it’s with you when you need it most.
While a tripod is traditionally thought of for photography, the Kenu tripods make viewing videos or long-form movies better because you won’t have to hold your phone the whole time.
This is one of those items that you didn’t realize you needed until you start using it, so check out all that it can do at: https://www.kenu.com/products/stance-compact-tripod-bottle-opener-for-smartphones
Despite what most avid users of smartphones may think, the iPhone is not the most popular device in the world…it’s actually the combination of Android-based smartphones that are the most popular.
Google does its best to review and block malicious apps from its Play Store, but no matter what they do, there’s still a chance that something nefarious can get past them.
That’s where having an additional layer of security can come in handy in the form of an app called Malwarebytes.
After it’s been installed, it will automatically scan every app you decide to install on your smartphone to check for signs of anything sketchy.
In addition to scanning new apps, it can check other areas of your smartphone that can be compromised from a number of other threat vectors.
This company has been providing tools to sniff out malware for years for Windows-based computers and now it can be used by Mac computers as well as iPhone users for the same protection.
Here’s the link for Android users http://bit.ly/2L7Cvm6
Here’s the link for iPhone users https://apple.co/2Mzw7HK
As the weather becomes cooler, the increase in those infected with some variation of the flu goes along with the temperature change.
Our smartphones can actually help us know when an outbreak is happening near us through an app from a group that calls themselves ‘SickWeather’.
Just as Doppler radar scans the skies for indicators of bad weather, Sickweather’s algorithm scans social networks and 3rd party data sources for indicators of illness, allowing you to check for the chance of sickness as easily as you can check for the chance of rain.
Their sophisticated data gathering process can actually provide an early warning system for anyone using it so they can take extra precautions.
They claim that they can predict the rate of illnesses up to 15 weeks in advance with 91% accuracy using machine learning and archival data on sicknesses.
Learn more and download the app at: https://www.sickweather.com
We’re constantly reminding you how important it is to keep all your software updated, but there is a specific type of update that you don’t necessarily want to install.
You may run across websites or utilities that offer to keep all the drivers updated on your computer, which on its face sounds good.
Drivers are software programs that control specific hardware components and updating them for no reason can actually be detrimental.
It’s one of those updates that can make a computer that’s working great and turn it into a nightmare scenario if you’re not careful. For this reason, the only time that we recommend updating a driver is when you are trying to fix a specific problem that has been identified, with a driver update as a solution.
Despite what appears to be a helpful offer, updating drivers without a reason is a really bad idea, so take a pass when you see this type of utility.
One of the most popular things you can find online are lots of recipes, so much so that it’s becoming a chore to wade through them all.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could find a search tool specifically designed for recipes?
Well, there is and it’s at http://www.foodpair.com
Google’s great for finding recipes in general, but having more of a pinpoint filtering system can help you drill down to recipes you can actually make use of.
You can search by a keyword, a specific ingredient like chicken, which course it is and even the number of ingredients used for those days you want something simple to cook.
It pulls the images and a basic title of the recipe so you can let you eyes help you find something delicious to fix for dinner.
Move over Google, FoodPair is taking over when it comes to searching for the perfect recipe to pair with what you have in your fridge!
Anyone that routinely schedules appointments as a normal course of business has likely dealt with the pain of trying to do this manually.
If this is something you’re still doing and want a more efficient way of managing this very important task, today’s tip is for you!
There are lots of options online, but one in particular that seems to offer lots of important tools for small businesses is called Acuity Scheduling.
This simple self-booking appointment platform makes it simple for your clients to get on your calendar without you having to get involved.
There’s a free 7-day trial so you can give it a test drive to see if their library of integration tools is something that could help you be more efficient.
What’s great about it is that once set up, you can send or post a link for anyone that wants some time with you without the old coordination hassle.
Starting at fifteen dollars a month, this platform could become a digital assistant that’s worth a lot more than that!
One of the least desirable tasks we all have to engage in from time-to-time is to try to negotiate when buying a new or used car.
The haggling back and forth usually leaves you unsure of how good of a deal you got and several in the tech industry are trying to disrupt this old way of doing business.
Imagine using an app or a website to buy or sell your car that eliminates the sleazy feel that usually accompanies the traditional process.
One of the no-hassle options is from a company called Vroom https://www.vroom.com
It’s not limited to any specific market as their ‘dealership’ is virtual and available to anyone in the U.S.
Vroom takes care of all the paperwork and transportation issues and allows you to drive it for 7 days to make sure it’s a good fit.
Another great use of the website is to get a cash offer on a car that you plan on trading in at a traditional dealership to make sure you maximize your trade-in and keep them honest.
Today’s tip is for anyone that loves to swim in open water and wants assistance in staying in a straight line while doing so.
A device known as the OnCourse Goggles will analyze the direction that the user is swimming in and provide guidance on staying straight.
It uses some advanced technology including an on-board microcontroller, 3D accelerometer and compass to keep swimmers on the most efficient path.
It’s a simple device that allows the user to point in a particular direction, tap a button and start their swim.
The googles use LEDs to inform the swimmer when they are veering off course.
Each side has green, yellow and red LEDs to alert you when you are starting to go off course.
This is an expensive device, so it’s not designed for casual swimmers, but more for those participating in competitions like Ironman.
To learn more, visit their website at:
Kids start using technology at such an early age these days, that they become very comfortable with it very quickly.
This has led to smartphones and tablets becoming digital pacifiers for lots of parents because they are pretty darn effective at doing just that to our kids.
We’ve all seen the parent that tries everything to get a child under control only to find that handing them a device is the only successful approach.
That’s where it can become a bit of a dangerous proposition as allowing a digitally savvy child unfettered access to everything on your smartphone.
Whether they do it intentionally or not, they can wreak havoc in a very short period of time if they can make use of everything.
The good news is that both Apple and Google have built excellent control tools into their operating systems, so all you have to do is learn how to use them.
Google Android tips: http://bit.ly/2ZPYfrX
Apple iPhone tips: http://bit.ly/2ZMk3EX
Today’s tip is the antidote to all those times you’ve yelled damn auto-correct!
Frankly, this is one of those technological advances that most of us have a love/hate relationship with; we love it when it works and hate it when it makes us look silly.
If you’d like to add some value to the love side of the equation, how about creating your own customized entries into the database?
You may not have realized that you can add just about anything you want to most auto-correct libraries, such as an abbreviation for your address like ARDS to reduce the keystrokes when you need it.
If you see any of your devices automatically correcting your spelling, you can most likely hack it to be even more useful.
Just don’t make the mistake of using actual words as your abbreviation or you’ll never be able to ever use that word again!
Abbreviations and special characters are always a safe bet along with a number here or there sprinkled in.
Caching is an automatic process that occurs in your browser virtually every time you visit the websites that you use the most.
Think of it as storage space for your favorite websites as copies of the main structure of the site get saved to a special folder on your local hard drive.
Without this very simple process, everything on the web would take a bit longer, so it’s awesome except when it’s not.
Items in your browser cache can actually cause some problems when you visit sites that you’ve previously downloaded.
Today’s tip is for those rare occasions when a website seems to be having a problem loading.
You can tell your browser to ignore your local cache to see if it’s causing the problem by using the keyboard combination of Ctrl-F5 together.
If you’re a Mac user, the keyboard combo of Command -> Shift and the letter R will tell your computer to ignore the cache.
If you find that ignoring the cache lets the troublesome website to load, it’s a sign that you should clear the browser cache, which is detailed here:
One of the most amazing things you can do is learn another language, which is very common in so many other countries.
If you’re going to travel to another country down the road, you can get by with basic mobile translation apps, but it’s always more enjoyable if you can learn the language at a basic level.
As daunting as it may sound, technology has made learning a new language a lot easier and much more efficient.
Our go-to language training app and website is DuoLingo because it’s both engaging and free to use.
It’s especially engaging if you connect with friends or family that are also interested in learning the same language because they make it like a game.
The best part is that you don’t need more than 5-15 minutes a day to start to quickly learn that next language.
Choose from over 35 different languages with bite-sized lessons that can get you up to speed in a much more entertaining way at https://www.duolingo.com