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!
With just about anything that experiences wear and tear, keeping it running at its best is achieved by performing regular maintenance.
In my experience, this common knowledge seems to be completely forgotten when it comes to our precious computers.
If we took this ‘wait until it breaks down’ approach with our vehicles, we’d always be facing huge repair bills, not to mention the untimely surprises.
If you’re a Windows user, there’s a new routine that I’d like to encourage you to adopt: run the built-in Disk Cleanup tool that’s waiting patiently to be used.
It’s really good at tracking down those unnecessary files that build-up in every computer, especially if it’s actively used on a daily basis. This will result in more free space and better performance.
If your computer has been neglected in this area, the first time you run the program, it’s likely to take a good bit of time to search out all the errant files, so be patient.
You can simply search for ‘Disk Cleanup’ from the Windows search bar to locate the tool.
Create a reminder in your calendar to run the utility once a month so you can stay ahead of the clutter that is just naturally building up in your computer.
Surveying your customers is an essential part of operating any type of business but there is a confusing field of tools to choose from.
A lot of what is available is full of great features that may be more than some businesses need.
For anyone that needs to create surveys on occasion, there’s a totally free option available from Google.
The free productivity tool from Google called Forms is a simple way to create survey’s whenever you need them.
The questions can be setup as text, checkboxes, multiple choice in nine different question types available.
Both the option to have required answers and the ability to shuffle your questions for more accurate feedback are included.
To start generating responses, simply copy the link to the completed survey and send it to your customers.
Once you start getting responses, they will appear in spreadsheet form, which allows for sorting of the data.
It’s so simple to setup and get valuable feedback on just about anything using https://Google.com/forms
Baby monitors of some type are pretty common these days if you have small children in your life.
There’s an inexpensive alternative for people that have kids and are on the go over a traditional setup. It uses Android smartphones, like that old one sitting in your drawer through the Dormi app.
It’s an app that uses two Android smartphones or tablets and turns them into powerful baby monitors that work from any distance.
This setup will work with both wi-fi and cellular connections, which means it’s effective in the house or on the road.
It allows you to say things to your child remotely when your voice can help them feel better. Making sure that your devices are in good shape with power is also monitored by the app. The basic option allows for up to 4 hours of monitoring a month and it’s free or for a one time fee, you can get lifetime usage that also unlimited. Start looking for those old Android devices so they can be put back to use by your or someone you know with small children!
Have you ever been using your computer or mobile device in a public setting and thought that others nearby might be trying to take a sneak at what is on your display? If so, you’re not alone.
This uneasy feeling that someone is spying on you from nearby actually has a name: Visual Hacking.
It can be that creepy person sitting next to you in-flight or some dude that’s just off your shoulder in a restaurant, but whatever it is, you can take simple action to fight this potential problem.
Installing something that’s been around quite a bit, known as a 'privacy screen’ can keep the displays on your various mobile devices safe from those prying eyes.
They provide protection because they make your display look pitch black unless you’re sitting right in front of the screen, which keeps those to either side in the dark.
As far as smartphones and tablets are concerned, you can also add this additional layer of protection and much more
Can you guess what math and going to bed have to do with each other?
According to some researchers, including some math during bedtime stories can vastly increase a child’s math skills.
Their research claims that kids can improve math achievement measurably if mom and dad include an app called Bedtime Math.
By combining images and math in the stories, the child learns to solve math equations in an enjoyable way.
This improvement is apparently possible even if the app is only used once a week.
It’s easy to be uncertain about anything that is specifically endorsed, but since this app is free, there’s nothing to lose in giving it a try.
Another benefit will be for parents that are apprehensive about helping their kids with their math homework. Your child can sense how you’re feeling, which can impact their learning.
The app isn’t just for very young kids, so if you’re looking for a fun way to help a child under the age of 10 to improve their math skills, give the Bedtime Math a try: http://bedtimemath.org/bedtimemath-app
Access to the Internet is available while flying on most routes these days and it can be a life saver when you’re on longer legs in the air.
While the connection is about as rudimentary as it gets, if you’re working on responding to a pile of email messages, it’s well worth paying for.
If you’re like me and have several devices that you’d like to connect, you have to decide if it’s worth the extra for each device or use today’s tip to avoid it.
That laptop computer you rely on every day can also become a private wi-fi hotspot, so you can connect all your devices with only one connection.
The Internet sharing option is available in both Mac and Windows so it’s really easy to save the extra money when connecting all your devices.
It’s not just for airplanes as other limited or pay-only connections such as at a hotel can be shared as well.
For those that find the built-in option offered by Microsoft to be too complicated, checkout an easier to use option from http://www.connectify.me
Here are the instructions:
Windows - http://howtogeek.com/112050/how-to-turn-your-windows-8-laptop-into-a-wireless-access-point
Mac - http://imore.com/how-turn-your-macs-internet-connection-wifi-hotspot-internet-sharing
We're all creating videos these days, most often with our phones, which can be great or horrible, depending on how still you can be while doing it. Far too often, nearly unwatchable, nausea inducing movies are what we end up with.
The pros use very sophisticated equipment to place cameras into which stabilize the video, with various attempts to create the same results available for your smartphone if you're ok with extra expense and size.
Thanks to the video nerds at Instagram, you don't have to buy expensive cameras or stabilization equipment; in fact you don't have to buy anything at all.
The created an app they call 'HyperLapse' which can be used whether you're an Instagram user or not.
Your iPhone has a gyro inside of it, which is what the app uses to create smooth video from what would normally be very shaky and jarring. The best part is that you don't have to do any 'post production' after you shoot the video...it's just ready to go.
If you're more interested in shooting a time lapse video that's also more stable, the Hyperlapse app does that too!
There's really nothing to learn with the only option being your playback speed when you're done.
Download it for your iPhone at: https://hyperlapse.instagram.com
We all remember how popular the now infamous "Ice Bucket Challenge" became as it focused our attention on those suffering from; it's now actually a historic moment for the Web.
A lesser known online phenomenon is the https://patientslikeme.com website which was also inspired by those suffering from ALS
The creators of the site had a brother that discovered that he had ALS, which prompted their desire to create an online community connecting other with the same disease.
Anyone suffering from a serious illness can find themselves feeling very alone, but this resource makes it clear that they're not.
There can be tremendous value by connecting with people that are going through the same issues that include treatment comparisons and similar symptoms.
Patients Like Me can be both a way to provide or receive support from people that truly understand everything that a specific patient is going through.
Those that want to contribute their own experiences can use online tools to track their ongoing health provide the data for research purposes to help build the database on their particular ailment.
With over 600K members of the online community that cover more than 2800 conditions, it's pretty likely that anyone seeking another person in the same situation to connect with will find their own community.
Today's tip is actually a non-technical safety tip when it comes to opening those hard plastic packages commonly known as clamshells. It used to be especially common with small expensive technology items.
This all-to-common packaging that seems to be almost unopenable, is now spreading to just about everything we buy.
These retail friendly packages are easy to hang and help to prevent shop lifting, so they're going to be with us for a long time.
If you usually reach for a knife or scissors to crack the clamshell, you're risking your fingers as you attempt to pry open the hard plastic.
Using those options means you'll end up with lots of sharp edges that are great way to create small cuts in your hands.
So here's what we recommend you use from now on...your can opener from the kitchen!
Not only is it a lot easier to get through that thick plastic, it's much less likely you'll end up with temporary scars on your fingers when you're done.
This suggestion is for anyone that’s been trying to create interesting videos but lacked the tools or confidence could be looking for, especially if they have a lot of old videos just sitting on their devices.
Creating even a simple video can become overwhelming, especially when your goal is to look like a pro.
That’s why today’s tip is so perfect for so many wanna be movie makers.
A series of tools called ‘Magisto’ is a little bit of magic that can make anyone look like they know what they are doing.
It’s a simple 3 step process: 1st, pick out the images and videos for your movie. 2nd, choose a style for your move and 3rd, select your music and then let the magic begin.
The platform’s AI will evaluate your images and videos and then create a fantastic movie all by itself.
When it’s finished, it’ll be posted to the Magisto website so you can easily share it, embed it in a web page or even download a copy to your computer with a premium account.
If this sounds like just the thing you’ve been looking for, check it out at: https://magisto.com
If you love to discover the inner workings of your technology and love to tweak and tinker under the hood, you’re more likely to be attracted to the Android platform.
Those that have been using the Windows File Manager on their computers will like today’s Android app tip.
The ‘ES File Explorer’ is an extremely popular app for tech savvy users with hundreds of million so people that have it installed on their smartphones.
It will be very familiar to avid Windows users because of the way it lays out all your files and folders and allows you to manage them just like on your computer.
But a word of caution when it comes to getting rid of thing to clear up space; if you don’t recognize it, don’t remove it!
The app also makes it easy to transfer important files to the Internet by syncing with lots of popular online storage platforms.
The app isn’t limited to just your internal memory as it can manage the files on any extra SD cards and even kill background apps while you’re using the phone.
Start managing your Android phone more deeply with: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.estrongs.android.pop
As awesome as technology is, there’s still no substitute for reading a book in your favorite spot to relax.
Discovering new books to read is possible using algorithms, but I’d rather engage with other readers to find new topics and titles to dive into.
If electronic guides and suggestions for your next book aren’t quite cutting it, checkout ‘GoodReads.com’ for an alternative to algorithms.
They certainly can provide suggestions based on what you’ve previously read, but the site will also get you in touch with friends that also love to read to gather ideas on what you’d like to read next.
Think of it as an online book club that’s much more efficient than wandering around your favorite book store looking for that next gem.
Your community can see the books you’ve read, the ones you’re in the middle of reading along with the books that are queued up for future reading.
It’s really a great way to connect with your bookworm buddies in a private book club or engage with others that aren’t your friends in discussion group for everyone.
Learn more at: https://GoodReads.com
If you’re not the creative type, but have to come up with a name that can also be registered as a new website, today’s tip is for you.
https://PickyDomains.com was created to act as a naming service leveraging the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ to help you name a product, service or an available domain for whatever you’re working on.
By posting the details around what you are attempting to create along with an associated website address is needed, the creative community around the world can go to work.
If you want a specific number of characters or names that don’t include specific words or themes, you can post those instructions as well.
The great part of this crowdsourcing website is that it’s a very affordable way to get creative work done for as little as fifty dollars.
As people submit ideas, you can interact and guide them until you get the name you’re happy with for your project’s parameters.
Need to come up with a name for something quickly? Give https://www.pickydomains.com a spin.
Anyone that loves to collect things like stamps, baseball cards or coins knows the importance of cataloging that collection.
If you’re old-school, you use a spreadsheet or notebook to reference your current and future items that you’d like to add to your collection.
Connecting with other collectors that have your same interests that might want to buy, sell to trade items has become much easier with the community gathered at
It’s a vibrant collection of collectors that can make it a lot easier to manage your collection and trade with like-minded people.
The site allows you to let others know about things from your collection that you’re willing to sell or trade along with your desired collectables. They act as a sort of match maker for collectors by matching those with items available with collectors seeking those specific items.
The community is nearly world-wide and growing every day, so it’s about as good as it gets for collectors online.
Mobile apps and smartphones have dramatically shifted how we do virtually everything in the digital age.
Well, now you can use your smartphone to find someone to do odd jobs using a platform known as TaskRabbit.
TaskRabbit was designed to connect people that are willing to perform tasks with those that have things that they need to have done.
Simply define what task you need to have done as well as the timing and location of the work to get started.
If what you need to have done isn’t location specific, your pool of available helpers is much larger.
Another great feature of the service is that you don’t pay until the work has been performed and you are satisfied with the work.
Anyone that’s available on TaskRabbit must be thoroughly vetted including a background check. Another helpful feature are the reviews that each person will have posted on their profiles.
TaskRabbit could be a perfect fit for businesses that can use a temp staff person for short term projects.
Download the app and check out all of the available talent for just about any task you may have!
Here's an inquiry that's been a pretty regular theme and that is where employees can get help learning how to use software programs.
If you're older than 30, the obvious default is to take a class and read books to gain knowledge, but there are much more efficient options using the Internet.
Today's teaching tools are visual as well as interactive with large volumes of content to learn from. A website that's leading that charge is https://lynda.com
With over twenty five hundred courses that are video based, the topics include productivity software such as Word and Excel and expand to more advanced topics like 3D animation as well as important web languages.
The teaching platform is presented for beginners, intermediate and advanced levels of training with close captioning included as an option.
This subscription service offers unlimited use of the tools starting @25 a month.
You can access the courses on computers, tablets and phones using their mobile apps which then let's you start lessons on one device and continue to learn from another as you move around.
Anyone asking the "where can I learn xxx?" question should look into the resources available at https://lynda.com
Our pets are like members of our family, with one big exception: when they are sick, they have no way of telling us where it hurts or what's wrong.
A visit to your trusted veterinarian is your first option, but often times that's just not possible, so in those cases the https://PetMD.com website can act as a fallback.
It's our go-to resource for issues related to our pet's health including things like nutritional and dietary guidance.
We rely on the symptom checker when they're sick and learn a lot from their health library which helps us understand veterinary terminology.
When an unusual symptom or behavior appears, try scanning the 'emergency' link to find something similar to better understand your pet’s discomfort.
PetMD also has helpful info about your pet's breed, how to properly care for them and what and how often to feed them. They can even assist you when that newest member of your family needs a name.
Although dogs and cats are the most popular pets for most, alternative pets such as reptiles are covered on the site as well. Take our advice and bookmark this website!
Whenever you use the Internet for research, it’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t assume the info you pull up on any single site will be completely accurate.
Cross referencing other similar sites to help either verify or challenge the info you are looking into is one way of validating, but that approach can get time consuming.
If you ever want help in finding similar websites on the Internet, checkout the tool at http://www.similarsitesearch.com.
It’s actually a specialized search engine that will bring up websites that are either similar or related as well as alternatives based the original websites content markers.
Just type the website you want to reference into their search engine to get a list of similar websites based on their popularity.
It’s a much easier way of getting a comprehensive list of alternative sources for anything you are trying to research.
You can pitch in and help improve their rankings by clicking on either the thumbs up or thumbs down icons when you feel it was related or not.
It’s another one of the websites that you’ll love remembering on those rare occasions you need this type of help, so bookmark it for future use.
A vital component to navigating the Internet is something called ‘DNS servers’, which plays an important role in helping you to get to the websites you seek.
The Domain Name System (DNS) acts as a sort of traffic cop providing your computer with the directions to the websites that you type in your browser.
The DNS settings you use daily are usually provided by your ISP, but there are benefits to modifying your current settings.
3rd party DNS servers can improve reliability as well as Internet speeds and for parents, the ability to block adult content or malicious websites throughout your household.
Our go-to option is called OpenDNS because it is efficient, reliable, truly easy to setup while providing you complete control over what you want to filter out from the users on your network.
We highly recommend changing the DNS settings in the router on your network to improve the performance and protection:
The 4 primary cellular companies are constantly battling each other to get your business often times with what can look like a sensational offer.
But, keep in mind, that whatever they're offering means nothing if the service in your specific area is less than usable. Before you make any decision to try a new carrier, doing a little homework could save you a lot of heartburn.
An excellent website called "Rootmetrics" allows you to check out all the networks where you work, live and spend most of your time.
You can start by reviewing the overall ratings for your city based on reliability, data speeds, call and text quality so you can get a handle on the strengths of each one.
An excellent tool that gets very granular is the 'Coverage Map' which will provide you with a detailed map by cell of call quality, data speeds and whether you can expect to get the full 4G LTE signal where it matters most.
There are also mobile apps available so you can generate reports wherever you go and add to their database if you want to help build more reliable information.
City reports: http://www.rootmetrics.com/en-US/rootscore/map
Coverage Maps: http://webcoveragemap.rootmetrics.com/en-US
iOS app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cell-phone-coverage-map/id399701910?mt=8
Anyone that’s listened to our tips knows that we are always searching for that next app or tool to enhance our digital photos.
We are constantly taking pictures with our phones these days, but they’re often times less than great. Finding the right tool to improve your images is helpful.
One of our favs is both a website and an app called Fotor http://www.fotor.com because it’s full of awesome features.
Along with the list of usual editing tools is a unique feature that allows you to create HDR images.
High Dynamic Range or HDR is a process of combining multiple images that vary in exposure and then combine them into a single image.
The tools allow you to update pictures that were too dark and too bright and combine them to create a better image.
There are also lots of tools for beauty retouching on Fotor including wrinkle reduction, blemish removal & even teeth whitening. It’s also available as a mobile app for iPhone and Android devices.
This could end up being the only photo editing tool you’ll need.