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!
Anyone that wants a solid photo editing program, but doesn't want to spend $700 to get it or need a cheap alternative to Microsoft Office should know about a website that offers alternatives.
The options in the software world are a lot wider than just the popular commercial ones that you've heard of and in many cases, there may even be some free alternatives.
Programs known as 'open source' are collaborative efforts that allow programmers from around the globe help in the ongoing development and most often offer the programs for free for anyone to use.
An excellent resource for discovering all those cheap alternatives to expensive software programs is a website called https://alternativeto.net
By typing the name of the program that you want an alternative for into the search box at the top, you'll get alternatives that you probably had no idea ever existed!
The options are based on other user's recommendations, so finding great alternatives to the applications you want is easy.
The suggested programs are for Windows, Mac, iPhone and iPad, Android, Linux and even Blackberry devices
The next time you seek an alternative to any program, just pop over to https://alternativeto.net to find it!
Today's tip could an literally change the way you keep up with concert dates for your favorite bands.
Instead of having to remember to visit their website or Facebook page to see when your band will be in town, checkout https://BandsInTown.com
You can either checkout the bands coming to your area or download their app, which connects to Facebook and starts alerting you in the news feed when your bands are booked for a gig in town.
No more remembering to follow you favorite artists, as Bandsintown will notify you and alerts you to similar artists in town; then RSVP for any show or even buy your tickets.
With BandsInTown you will never have to miss a concert again because the app knows which groups you like...HOW? Automagically!
The app can gather your music preferences from iTunes, Pandora and other popular music services by scanning your most listened to, preferred, and liked artists, and then suggest concerts going based on that info.
With BandsInTown, you no longer have to go searching for concerts, the concerts will be looking for you.
Have you ever wondered how some people are capable to creating amazing collages with their images? Do they have exceptional editing skills or are they using a special app that makes great collages easy?
The Photo Grid app is one option for creating collages easily with up to 9 images on your smartphone (both Android and iPhone). You can make appealing collages the very first time you use it.
When you launch the app, it asks you to choose the type of collage you wish to create from options that include free form, single image, grid, high - photo booth-style strip - or wide - a horizontal strip.
This app makes it very easy to swap images, crop, zoom and even change up the orientation along with border and background options as well.
When you feel like your masterpiece is done, simply save it to your smartphone and post it wherever you want!
As the holiday gift giving season rolls in, lots of us are going to be making as many purchases online as we can to avoid those crazy crowds.
After making your purchases, you have to aware of how the items will be delivered. In most cases, it'll be you front door usually when no one's home. This can lead to the growing problem of 'porch pirates'.
Thieves are going to tail delivery vehicles to stalk the best packages to grab after they determine that no one's home.
To fight this problem, it's best to have your packages sent to a neighbor or a friend that you konw will be home or if not, have the packages sent were you work.
Consider providing special delivery instructions for hidden places at your house or leave a note on your door if there's an alternative location for delivering the package.
Anyone that gets packages delivered regularly all year long should really install a motion-sensing camera or doorbell at the front door so everything is recorded any time motion is sensed at the door. You'll also get a text or email notification whenever anyone is ever at your door.
Being a huge fan of dual displays on my work computer, working without them just seems unimaginable.
But when I hit the road and need that extended display space, it isn’t practical to lug a second display around, unless that second display is an iPad.
Mac computer users have been able to use an iPad with their Macbooks as a second screen, but did you know that Windows users can do the same thing? It’s possible through an app called ‘Duet Display’.
Just install the program on your computer and the app on your iPad to start using it as a second computer desktop display.
This setup allows you to drag anything you’re working on from your desktop to the iPad, which is helpful when working with large spreadsheets or when you need to do a lot of copying and pasting.
Duet Display will work with Mac or Windows systems and iPads or your larger iPhones using the charging cable as a connector.
It’s quick to setup and free at https://www.duetdisplay.com
If you're a business owner or employee that has to track your mileage on a daily basis, there are a plethora of apps available to allow you to manually keep track of your driving, but wouldn't it be better to use the built-in GPS in your phone to automate this tedious task?
An app that does this very thing is called "TripLog GPS Mileage Tracker" and it puts the smart back into your smartphone.
Triplog can also track parking fees, fuel costs, tolls and other common driving expenses for a more complete trip report.
An excellent feature of the app is that it simply require you to plug the phone into a power connector or use your Bluetooth connection to automatically start tracking your mileage once you go more than five miles per hour.
It also automatically stops tracking your mileage, when you disconnect your phone from power or from your car's Bluetooth, so it eliminates a lot of the human error.
The basic features of Triplog are free with optional premium features if you feel they are worth spending money on.
As the world of social networking continues to grow, you aren't limited to only the most well known options such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
More obscure networks that serve a niche based on race, religion, gender, age, or any special interest group are available and for those that are fishing enthusiasts, there's a social network for that.
It's called “FishBrain" and it has millions of users that will connect you with fishing fans in over 200 countries.
It’s an interesting resource that's designed to provide information and connections to those that love the sport of fishing.
You can share and track fishing spots, compare your technique & bait options and compete with others as you record your catches using the network.
With over 330K catches and more than 50k bait options, you can engage with thousands of other anglers right from your mobile devices.
The network and apps can be accessed at:
For most households with kids, an iPhone or iPad has become an electronic babysitter of sorts, but allowing a young child to have complete access to your mobile device is pretty risky.
An underutilized option in Apple's operating system can make it easy to protect your sensitive info before you hand it to your child.
It is referred to as 'Guided Access' and it will allow you to completely lock down your device and only allow a single app to run.
Once you turn it on, you simply select the app you want allow, then lock the system to only that app which will keep your child from accessing anything else.
If you want to allow access to a number of apps, using the 'Restrictions' settings to specifically lock down individual apps may be a better way to go.
Both options can be setup relatively quickly using the 'Settings' menu without the need to be very technical.
The how-to links for both options are posted here:
Setup Guided Access: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202612
Setup App Restrictions: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201304
For all you frustrating iPhone photographers that work hard to get that awesome shot just to have it come out blurry so often, today's tip is for you.
You can always take many shots in a row to help improve your odds of a clear pic, but in many cases, the blurry shots are because of the movement created every time you tap to snap the shot.
Holding perfectly still and tapping gently on the screen also helps create clean shots, but there are a couple more ways to take pictures that a lot of probably forgot or didn't know they have.
One alternative is to use the volume buttons on the iPhone, which turns the process into more of an old-school camera method specifically when holding the phone sideways.
If you plug Apple's famous white earbuds in, you can use the volume buttons on those headphones to take a picture as well.
Using the earbud volume control to take a picture can be handy when you're trying to take a candid shot or if you are using a tripod.
Whichever way you go, always remember: hold still longer!
If you’ve had enough of all of the inconveniences of getting on a conference call, especially if your joining from your smartphone or tablet, today’s tip is for you.
If you’re the one responsible for creating the session, think about making a change from the old way, with a much better new way.
A web tool known as ”UberConference" is the best conferencing platform I’ve ever used because it’s just better than the old school options.
No more typing in a long PIN number when you’re on your phone or put up with the constant bleeping as people enter or exit the call. You can avoid having to wonder who’s on the call or who is currently talking because it’s all on your display visually.
The host is always in control making it easy to mute individual participants that subject the group to their on-hold music when they put you on hold.
You can also record sessions, provide screen sharing and plenty of other awesome features that will greatly improve the call for everyone, whether they are joining via their computer or smartphone.
Try it yourself at http://www.uberconference.com
Our smartphones and tablets have more powerful processors than the what NASA had to work with for getting man to the moon in the late 60's.
Your mobile devices also contain your very private thoughts
& a loads of sensitive information that you want to keep from the prying eyes of others.
For some reason, so many of you still don't think of your mobile devices the same way you do your laptop or desktop computer, but you must know that they are the same thing, especially when it comes to storing personal information.
This lack of connection is why so many of you still haven't added a basic step to protecting that valuable personal info by simply activating the lock screen option.
Many of you don’t activate it because you don’t want to be bothered every time to input the code, but the alternative is pretty dangerous.
Their is an exponential increase in likelihood of losing or worse, having a mobile device stolen, so just take a minute to protect your devices while you're thinking of it.
The rest of the security features in your phone are completely useless if you don’t lock the front door!
Lots of Internet users are more frequently thinking about online privacy for all their digital interactions.
When it comes to search engines, there's is a way to stay anonymous if you use alternative sites such as https://DuckDuckGo.com
It's a pretty obscure secure engine but it gets a lot of attention from privacy advocates because it doesn’t do what the popular search engines do: it doesn't track anything.
It won't save your search history, the dates or times of your queries, info about your operating system and computer or any of the other tracking points commonly used by virtually any website that you visit.
While DuckDuckGo excels in the privacy arena, don't expect it to be as powerful as Google. This might change the search results that you may be used to seeing.
If you want to see the difference, do your own search tests using the same queries so that you can see what you're giving up in exchange for the privacy.
Whether you are technical or not, in business, it's likely to find yourself in a situation where you are facing a tech-based decision when your working on a website.
Having technical decisions placed in front of non-technical decision makers results in tough decisions on the plethora of web technologies available for the project.
Both Fortune 500 CEO's and small business owners know that what other companies are using on their websites can help make the decision a bit more informed.
An excellent tool at https:\\BuiltWith.com can be very helpful in understanding web technology trends in general.
Just by typing in any website address at the site will generate a report on the various technologies used by that site; also good for knowing what your competitors are using.
They also generate reports on web technology trends allowing you to compare the technology that you are in the process of evaluating to see if it's out of favor or being used more.
The Builtwith.com web tool is a great and free intelligence gathering opportunity that I would highly recommend to anyone considering a web tech decision.
If you’re household is like most in the U.S., you have lots of devices that need to be charged via USB cable which requires a lot of adapters to plug into outlets in order to get them charged.
This forces you to gather many of the devices to one location instead of just charging wherever an outlet exists.
If you’d like a solution to make charging your USB devices just about anywhere in the house or office you’d like, checkout the ‘Snap Power’ solution.
Snap Power has created replacement power outlets which include USB ports on both sides for charging your mobile devices.
You can get them for as little as $20 with varying discounts when you purchase packs of 2 to or more.
The install can be done in a minute or two because there are no wires or batteries needed for these unique plates that use their built in power prongs to connect.
So just by replacing any wall plate in your house, you can add a new dual charging station.
Check them out at https://www.snappower.com
If you are among the millions that has acquired one of Apple’s larger screen phones but you only use it in the portrait mode, you are missing out on many hidden features.
Virtually every productivity app on your phone from the calendar to email to messaging have special features that only become available when you flip your phone sideways.
For example, you can see your emails in split screen mode, which lists your messages on one side and a preview of messages on the other side.
Viewing stock quotes sideways also makes use of the extra real estate using the split screen to provide more detailed info on the stock you’re viewing.
Try typing with your iPhone sideways to give you more room per key and in some cases, provides some additional keys.
You will discover lots of useful hidden features when you simply turn your phone to the landscape mode. Just start viewing all your apps in landscape mode to see what you’ve been missing.
Anyone that has a website or a blog for a small business knows that it's one of the best ways for customers to get to know your business.
But do you actually know if your website is always available? Are your customers able to connect to it whenever they want or is there downtime that you can't see?
If you are not 100% certain that your site is always up, you should take a look at https://uptimerobot.com
UpTimeRobot can monitor your website every 5 minutes and it is completely free.
Sign up for a free account, you can start monitoring in about 30 seconds on up to 50 sites.
You will get alerts by e-mail when any of your websites take a dive, so you won’t have to worry about some else alerting you hours after it went down.
If you don’t think this is a real problem, guess again! It commonly happens to websites of all sizes. If you have an e-commerce site, you know how much downtime can cost you.
Their monitoring dashboard is simple to understand, so you can quickly view the history of your site and see repeat problems that you wouldn't otherwise know about.
Again, this free tool at https://www.uptimerobot.com can monitor up to 50 websites for you.
Has your pup gotten porky?
It fido starting to fill out?
When your dog has become more of rug and less of a running partner, pay attention to today's tech tip.
If you are wondering if your dog sits around too much, a device for dogs called the 'FitBark' can let you know.
The small device can track just how active your dog is during the day with something they call a daily BarkScore.
Before the FitBark, there were lots of fitness traking options for us humans but nothing for our 4-legged friends.
With this tiny device on your dog's collar, the FitBark will let you know how active your dog is being at any given moment.
Even when you are out of town, you can see when the dog sitter took your fur baby for a walk and how long those walks are.
When your dog is feeling a little sick, giving your vet the details of your dog’s activity in the past few days, including how they have been sleeping can be very useful.
The FitBark will let you see how much activity your dog has gotten while you were at work and if they need some more. It should keep their tail wagging!
Ever forgotten any of your passwords? Don't feel bad, we all have.
Did you know that if you get locked out of your Facebook account that one of your friends can help you get back in?
Facebook launched a security feature some time back called "Trusted Contacts" to serve as an optional way for users to recover their accounts with the help of their online friends.
To use this option, you just pick 3 to 5 of your Facebook friends that you trust that can get you back in control of your account if you ever get locked out.
If it happens, Facebook can send a special security code to those friends you previously chose, who can forward these codes to you so you can get back in.
You will need at least three security codes to recover your account, which keeps any one friend from using their recovery key to access your Facebook account.
If you set this up, you won’t have to answer security questions or fill out long online forms to try to prove you are who you say you are; your trusted friends make it possible.
To select your Trusted Contacts, go to the security settings section of your Facebook profile, which will generate a notification to those friends that they have been enlisted as your trusted contact.
Think of it as picking your friends that you would trust with a spare car or house key.
Anyone that owns a home can relate to the classic Tom Hanks movie 'The Money Pit'.
Even when your home isn’t the money pit that is portrayed in the movie, it still seem like it's an endless list of tasks that's waiting for you to get done.
One of the best ways to avoid surprises is by being proactive with maintenance for items that you know are in need of regular attention.
Anyone that wants a little assistance remembering or even learning which maintenance tasks need to be done should look into a web resource and app called BrightNest.
BrightNest will allow you to create a customized list of tips and also lets you schedule thoses tasks based on your home’s needs. It does so, by you building a profile of what appliances you have, the type of flooring and countertops and if you have a pool or not, for example.
Beyond the scheduled maintenance tasks, there offer lots of tips for cleaning, organizing and maintaining those common areas of you home.
Using the mobile app provides you with reminders and alerts, while serving as a reference guide when you’re shoppting at your hardware store.
For a digital assistant to keep you on top of the important tasks of being a homeowner, go to https://BrightNest.com for lots of free help!
In the past, I’ve warned of the dangers of using images that you find online if you decide to use them on your website or blog without explicit permission from the rights holder.
It’s pretty obvious that many users on the Internet just don’t realize that they’re actually violating copyright laws when they post what they think are ’public' images on their site.
You can avoid getting caught up in costly legal situation by making it a point to review all your images that you’ve posted on any website or blog that you own.
When you aren’t sure where any image came from, the best course is to delete them and replace them with items that you know are not violating a copyright.
Getty Images and other services like them offer large libraries of images that you can legally embed on your online sites for free, as long as you stick to their guidelines.
Another option is using images that fall under a 'Creative Commons' license which means that the owners of the images are allowing you to make use of their image for free following certain terms and conditions.
Another option is to purchase your legal images from resources like https://BigStockPhoto.com for just a few dollars each.
Ignoring image copyrights can end up costing you thousands of dollars per image when you are caught, so don't ignore this issue.
My advice on this issue is posted at https://www.datadoctors.com/help/columns/21988
E-mail is one of those things we just can’t live without these days, but how often does it become a huge distraction that can put a dent in your productivity?
When your devices are setup to constantly alert as a new message arrives, manually turning the notifications on or off is also a bit cumbersome
Wouldn’t it be great if you could simply pause those incoming messages for a while when you need to focus?
Gmail users can do just that with a free add-on called ‘Inbox Pause’.
Inbox Pause is a simple tool that adds a button which allows you to pause or un-pause your inbox with the click of a mouse.
It also allows you to notify people that you’re currently in ‘pause mode’ in the event their message is urgent.
The banner at the top will remind you when you are ‘pausing’ so you won’t forget.
Download the add-on at: