Data Doctors Tech Tips
Tech Tips for Non-Tech People
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The heat of summer is upon us and depending upon where you live, it can be unbearable and make you irritable.
Well, your technology feels the same way in the summer and it can dramatically impact your battery life.
Excessive heat can impact batteries to the point that they become useless from just a single incident.
Try to avoid leaving your tech in a hot car and whatever you do, don’t allow them to be exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period either.
If you find that your gadgets did get overly hot, it’s best to let them return to room temperature if possible before turning them on.
If you use your laptop while lying in bed, be aware of the small vents that can get blocked by placing it on a pillow or bedspread, which also insulates the heat.
The key is to remember that when you’re feeling overheated, so are you electronics so act accordingly.
No matter how much you spent on your laptop, there’s a common issue that you can’t escape: degrading battery performance.
As it gets used and recharged, the battery naturally loses small amounts of energy storage over time.
This can be measured based on the number of charge cycles your device has gone through: https://bit.ly/2SvK0ep
Something that can help extend the life of your battery is to remove it, if possible, while you have it plugged into a power adapter for long periods of time.
Not only will you avoid unnecessary charge cycles, but you’ll also eliminate the associated heat from both the battery and the CPU in your laptop.
Heat is a big contributor to battery degradation, so anything you can do to avoid is good.
This obviously only works on laptops that have user-replaceable batteries and should only be done when the unit is turned off.
It’s also recommended to be plugged into a battery backup just in case the power goes out so you don’t lose everything you’re working on.
Being so into technology, it’s sometimes difficult to understand why someone tries to make use of old tech, when the new stuff is so inexpensive.
Case in point was a question about adding Bluetooth functionality to older speakers that only work if they are plugged into an audio output.
If the older speakers are very high quality, then it makes sense to spend the money to bring them into the wireless world.
The folks at Logitech understood that some people would like to do this, so they created a Bluetooth audio receiver to make it possible: https://bit.ly/3gZbVwL
It’s a simple device that can connect to your powered speakers directly if they have the 3.5mm mini-headphone plug or through RCA jacks if you want it to go into an older stereo receiver.
This nifty little device can bring any old audio gear into the wireless realm for a mere forty bucks!
Unless you’re retired, you probably deal with lots of email messages every single day, which can impede productivity if it becomes a distraction.
If responding to emails needs to be timely, you’re likely set up with a notification every time a new message comes in, which is where the distractions can start.
Fortunately, you can choose to ‘pause’ incoming messages to regain control of your schedule with a free plug-in called Inbox Pause: http://inboxpause.com
Once you install the add-on, a pause icon will appear to make it quick and easy to pause and unpause the incoming flow of messages.
You can also alert senders that you are in pause mode so they’ll know not to expect a quick response.
You can unpause manually or set up a specific length of time for the tool to automatically unpause.
If your inbound email volume is causing you to be less efficient, check out this great little tool at: http://inboxpause.com
Our go-to list making app for years was called Wunderlist, but it got acquired by the folks in Redmond a while back and integrated into their less impressive app for making lists.
When this happened, it prompted us to go searching for a solid replacement which we found in an app called AnyList.
In fact, we found really useful features that our old favorite lacked, including the ability to use our smart speaker to add items to the lists using voice commands.
One of the premium features they offer is the ability to import recipes online into the app so you quickly add a shopping list for a specific meal.
Simple swiping commands remove items from the list as you put them in your shopping cart and it even attempts to categorize your ingredients for more efficient shopping.
It’s really quite powerful and easy to use, so if you haven’t found a list making app that fits your needs, check out AnyList at https://anylist.com
Famous quotes have taken on a life of their own with the Internet and knowing who actually created them can be useful.
You can do a general search to figure out who said what, but there’s a much more efficient tool specifically for this purpose at https://quotery.com
It’s an enormous database of quotes that you can look up directly or by author or topic.
They’ve also compiled collections of quotes based on themes like Veterans Day or from popular shows like Game of Thrones.
Whether you are doing serious research or just have a passing interest in a particular quote, this is where you want to go.
From a research standpoint, they include lots of context for each quote including when and where it was first used.
If you want to help them improve the accuracy of any background info on a specific quote, you can submit an edit on any of them.
https://www.quotery.com for all your famous quote research needs!
If you think about it, you’re likely watching streaming videos online almost every day and in some cases, instead of watching traditional TV shows.
Not only does Google have the #1 search engine, but they also have the #2 search tool known as YouTube.
Creating your own YouTube channel, whether it’s for personal reasons or for your business is kind of a no-brainer.
It’s a great marketing tool for businesses and an awesome archiving resource for families that want to share and store memories of just about anything publicly or privately.
When you see the sophisticated videos on YouTube, you may assume that it’s too complicated to learn, but it’s not.
To that end, Google has the Creator Academy that will help anyone at any level of tech-savviness to get started creating and uploading videos.
Don’t let fear keep you from creating an incredible library of memories for you and your family at: https://creatoracademy.youtube.com
Whenever you’re dealing with important paperwork or contracts, there’s a good chance you’ll need to have them notarized
Traditionally, this required you to contact a notary and arrange to meet them in person so they could document the signing of the documents.
This is no longer necessary as a virtual option is available via the Notarize.com service.
It makes use of the cameras that all of our computers have so they can watch you sign documents instead of having them be there in person.
There’s a simple uploading procedure that gets the process going that doesn’t require any specific technical skills.
Not only is the notarization process easier, once it’s been completed, sending the official document online is a breeze.
At $25 per document, it’s pretty cost-effective for anyone that needs a notary quick.
We’ve all been to weddings that just seem like a fairy tale, but behind the scenes, it took a lot of work and stress to pull it off.
Planning a wedding and setting up a gift registry can be done with a variety of services and online tools to help reduce some of the stress.
If you know someone that’s just getting started with the plans for their wedded day of bliss, send them a link to Zola https://Zola.com so they can consider its tools.
It goes well beyond setting up a gift registry, which can be done with items from any online store, not just from the items Zola offers.
Along with their other tools, they are focused on creating a single place to do all the planning and setup leading to the wedding day.
You can set up a fund to contribute to the honeymoon and have the gifts delivered on a scheduled day after the couple returns from their honeymoon.
It’s also a great way to set up a group gifting site if you just want to provide cash to the newlyweds like they do in a lot of other countries.
Learn more at https://www.zola.com
If you enjoy a good cocktail now and again, you’ve probably seen the popularity of craft cocktails explode.
These sophisticated cocktails are great tasting but expensive when you go to a watering hole.
A less expensive alternative is to start making them yourself with a little help from today’s app: Mixology
It’s an easier resource than a dozen books or searching randomly online because it starts with the ingredients that you have on hand.
Many craft cocktails require specialty tinctures and mixes, so the app will steer you towards the ones that you can make with what is available to you.
If you want to narrow the selection, start with a specific spirit you have a taste for to increase the chances of success.
Mixology also has recipes for punchbowls, specialty shots and virgin cocktails for your designated drivers.
Learn more and download the free app at: http://mixologyapp.com
Have you noticed that strange new things appear on your screen after you install a new software program?
It may be something that looks like a useless toolbar or something as invasive as changing what happens when you start a browser session.
These things happen because less-knowns software companies are paying well-known companies to gain access to your computer.
This tactic works because very few people pay attention during the installation process and simply click ‘I agree’.
We’ve been telling you for years that you should choose the scary sounding ‘custom’ or ‘advanced’ option when installing any software so you can see what they are trying to sneak past you.
Another option is to combat this sneak attack is with a free utility known as Unchecky.
It’s another set of eyes to watch over any installation from now own available at:
Yesterday I talked about one of our favorite tools for improving general productivity known as IFTTT.
If you like what the online tools provide, you should check out their mobile app that takes your camera to a whole other level.
It’s called Do Camera and it extends the power of IFTTT to your smartphone’s image capture capability.
The recipes will automatically process your images to interact with hundreds of online tools like Instagram or any of the image-related websites.
These recipes can be built from scratch or better yet, you can make use of the thousands of recipes that have been created by others.
Learn all about it at https://ifttt.com/products/do/camera
We love technology that makes technology more useful and nothing fits that bill like the tools at https://ifttt.com
It allows you to combine various apps and accounts in a way that greatly increases the productivity of tasks you generally do manually
Not everything on the Internet plays nicely together, which is where the ability to connect them comes in handy.
Tasks are created using what they call recipes that can leverage over 150 different web-based services that either you create or from others that have shared their recipes.
It integrates with your mobile devices as well with the IFTTT mobile apps.
If This Then That is one of the most powerful free tools that anyone can use because it doesn’t require you to be a rocket scientist!
When it comes to cyber security, Edward Snowden is about as focused on the subject as anyone on the planet.
You may not care for his actions, but when he chooses a secure communication app to use for himself, you can bet that it’s about as good as it gets.
The app he uses is called Signal and it doesn’t require you to be a tech expert to use it.
Unlike other messaging apps, you aren’t required to ‘sign up’ in order to use it.
It makes use of what you already use every day, like your phone number and local contacts without tracking what you’re doing.
It uses very elaborate encryption technology to make sure only those that are meant to see a message are the ones that can see them.
You can make it your default messaging tool because it automatically determines who’s using it on the other end or not.
For those looking for the most secure messaging available, look no further than https://signal.org
If you have a mobile device, be it a phone, tablet or even a laptop, you have the ability to capture very high-resolution videos.
We’re all capturing more videos these days, but the ability to edit them without being a pro can be a challenge.
Most of us don’t have the time or can justify the expense of a costly full-featured editing suite, so if that’s you, here’s an alternative.
There are web-based editing options such as WeVideo https://wevideo.com that are both powerful and easy to use.
You’re not likely to create the next great cinematic masterpiece, but the tools available are understandable and usable even if you’ve never tried any kind of video editing.
Once you get a feel for the online tool, you can take this new skill with you via their mobile apps.
You can try it out for free so you don’t have to risk spending money on something you can’t use at:
When it comes to making a purchase of just about anything, we all start our research online.
Not only can we get the skinny on an item that we are interested in buying, but we can also use the Internet to discover competitive products that we may not have known about.
What I discovered years ago was that if typed the name of the item that I was interested in buying followed by the letters ‘vs’, I could uncover lots of review sites with lots of great info.
This seems to work with everything from cars, to software, to apps and financial services.
There’s really no end to the power of this search condition when it comes to widening your choices in any category.
The detailed information that comparison websites offer can alert you to specific features or benefit in competitive products that you may not have considered.
Start using the VS qualifier in all your informational searches to become a more informed consumer.
Have you noticed how many different tools that you use to communicate with others these days?
Phone calls, text messages, social media and video calls are just the beginning.
It’s gotten to the point that you have to think about the primary tool you use for each of the contacts in your life.
An app called Drupe claims they have a more efficient way to navigate communications in the present environment.
It combines your contacts with all of your communication tools on one screen.
Instead of hopping between apps to make contact, you simply drag the person’s image to the tool you want to use.
You can also interact with productivity apps such as your calendar and reminders.
It’s a completely different approach to managing your interactions that you can test for yourself at: https://getdrupe.com
A couple of things that we all have no choice but to deal with are death and taxes.
Today’s reminder focuses on the first one as it pertains to your digital assets.
Making sure whoever is going to be responsible for settling your estate has your passwords is critical.
It’s bad enough to go through the grieving process without the added stress of being locked out of a loved one’s accounts.
The fraud prevention tactics built into online accounts will also prove to be a challenge to overcome for the family of the deceased.
The absolutely critical password to make sure you make available is to your email account as that is the key to your kingdom.
Validation processes as well as password reset options all require access to the primary email account.
Even if you forget to leave login information for all your other accounts, making your email account accessible can be truly critical.
No one likes to think about this, but take a minute to work through your own situation so that those that are left behind aren’t saddled with the extra grief.
If you’re the type that chooses the window seat on a cross-country flight, you’ve probably often looked down to the ground and caught a glimpse of something curious.
You can try taking a shot with your camera so you can attempt to figure out what it was or you can be prepared for this common situation on your next flight. T
here’s an app called Flyover Country that was developed just for these situations.
The key to using this app is to preload your flight path in it so it can download the details of the items you’ll be flying over.
Remember, the GPS in your smartphone can still figure out where you are even if you don’t have any type of Internet connection, which is how this app helps you.
It’s filled with lots of info including points of interest, which can lead to a much more entertaining flight.
Get started by going to https://flyovercountry.io to download the app!
For those that love reading books on a Kindle, we offer today’s suggestion which will save you money with free ebooks.
This tip works for the Kindle device or the Kindle app on any mobile device.
Just point your browser to the HundredZeros website http://hundredzeros.com to start exploring the free ebooks that you can use on your Kindle
It’s so much faster than bouncing around Amazon.com to find what has actually always been available, but a task to find.
It’s a pretty simple resource to use with large images of each book and a list of nearly 30 categories that range from Art & Photography to Best Sellers and Travel.
This is one of those gotta have websites if you have a Kindle, so bookmark it and let your fellow book worms know about Hundred Zeros today!
We’ve all got those family members or close friends that are so hard to find unique gifts for because they seem to already have everything.
Another difficult gift scenario is those office parties where everyone is expected to bring a goofy gift.
If either of these scenarios presents itself down the road, check out the off the wall options at Perpetual Kid - https://perpetualkid.com or Vat19 - https://www.vat19.com
It’s wall-to-wall crazy, unusual gift options that are bound to be the hit with just about anyone that loves unusual items.
You can watch videos demonstrating how some of the items work, so you can really get the full understanding before making a buying decision.
For those with an unusual taste in snacks, these sights can be a goldmine.
Bookmark these sites for those situations down the road where finding crazy gift giving ideas is just wha the doctor ordered!