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!
No matter how much you may try to keep your smartphone clean, it’s going to be full of bacteria that loves living on your devices.
If you’re afraid of touching the door handle to a public restroom, you should be more afraid of your phone as it’s been suggested that it’s eighteen times the filth of a restroom door knob.
The device itself along with how we typically store it in dark, warm places provides everything that bacterial want to thrive.
Constantly wiping your phone off with a harsh chemical wipe can do damage to your touch screen, so that’s not a good option.
A scientifically proven method of keeping your phone sanitized is available from the folks at https://www.phonesoap.com
The approach they take is to blanket your smartphone with UV light, which allows them to disinfect your device while it’s charging.
When you first hear about this method, it may seem a little out there, but a video shot during a multi-day lap test shows just how effective it can be.
Watch the lab test video and learn more at: https://www.phonesoap.com
Protecting your accounts online requires diligence and if you have a Google account, there’s a tool you should know about.
You can easily see what devices have connected to your account and when to sniff out unauthorized access.
The ‘Recently used devices’ screen (http://bit.ly/2EFipxt) provides a list of every device that’s successfully logged into your account and a general location within the past twenty eight days
Should you detect an unauthorized device in the list, you can tap the link to secure your account and start by changing your password.
If everything looks good, take a extra couple of minutes and do a security checkup while you are thinking of it: http://bit.ly/2EusxsD
If Google thinks you should do something to improve your security, you’ll be given the links to make it more difficult for the bad guys to gain access to your account.
If you’re like most users, you have been storing your digital photos on your computer for a decade or more and since you got a smartphone with a camera, both the size and quantity of your photos has increased.
The size of each photo has increased as the pixel ratings have improved on your cameras, which means you can eat up disk space much faster.
The longer that you’ve been storing images on your computer, the more likely that you have inadvertently created unnecessary duplicates that are taking up valuable space.
Looking for those duplicates manually would be overwhelming and a huge time suck, so finding a software tool that can do the job is a better approach.
No matter where the duplicate files may be hiding, these programs can find them and show you where they are stored in a fairly short period of time.
Not only can using this tool free up disk space, you may find yourself motivated to reorganize your photos at the same time!
Windows 10: http://bit.ly/2EqO05D
Older versions of Windows: http://bit.ly/2EpQ4eg
When’s the last time you took a look at all the apps on your smartphone that are just for photography?
Most of them focus on colors, contrast, filters and other obvious adjustments, but I’ve got an app suggestion that’s totally focused on a different area.
Despite how awesome smartphone cameras are, if you try to take an image with a wide angle setting, you’re likely going to see some distortion.
The app I found that fixes this problem is called SKRWT and it’s a natural addition to anyone’s smartphone camera app group.
The curved distortion that can happen with certain setting is easily eliminated by adjusting both the vertical and horizontal planes using the app.
It only does one thing, but it does it really well.
You can checkout some of their other apps as well at: http://skrwt.com
Here's a common problem most of us experience; setting goals we just aren't that motivated to accomplish without some type of external reinforcement.
If you use Google Calendar and want to try to keep your goals in front of you, there's a little feature that a lot of users still haven't looked into called 'Goals' that could help.
The idea behind the feature is to set common goals such as regular physical activity that your calendar will find a slot for on a regular basis, based on how often you want to make it happen.
What's really cool about the goals feature is that if you run into a scheduling conflict or don't accomplish the goal that day, it will get pushed to another day automatically to keep you on your goal.
You have to create your goals using the Google Calendar app first, which will then appear on your desktop computer when you access it through your browser.
The whole challenge with our goals usually includes reminding ourselves on a regular basis to pursue them, so now your calendar can at least help you with that part of the equation!
For instructions on how to create goals, go here: http://bit.ly/2QgxFFp
A keyboard is the most common interface for most of your digital devices, but in the very near future, you could be primarily using your voice as an interface.
Even though companies like Apple and Google are leading the charge in the smartphone arena, there’s a lesser known company that seems to have them both beat.
A company known for it’s music recognition app called Sound Hound is now being lauded for it’s voice recognition app called Hound.
To see the future of voice recognition, checkout their demo video that seems to have a better understanding of complex voice commands.
In the video, you’ll see multiple examples of questions that would confuse most humans, much less a smartphone voice app.
Since it’s a demo video, it’s easy to question the validity of anything that works this fast with such complicated questions, but it’s an actual app you can test yourself.
The free Hound app is available for both major platforms at: https://www.soundhound.com/hound
The impressive demo video is at:
By now, everyone should know how dangerous it is to send sensitive information via an email message that isn’t encrypted as anyone that comes in contact with the transmission can see everything in plain sight.
Email also makes it impossible to control what happens that a message once it’s sent.
For those situations where you want a lot more control over what happens to a specific message after you send it, checkout the Gmail extension called Dmail.
The free add-on provides you with the ability to have the message automatically self-destruct and always sends the message in an encrypted form.
Messages sent with the extension can be terminated in an hour, day, week or never, which then gives you manual control over when the message gets destroyed.
This isn’t intended for daily use, just for messages that contain sensitive info that you want to better control.
If you install it, the default setting is on, so make sure you turn it off when you don’t actually need it.
Download it at: http://bit.ly/2EfoiRL
No one likes to think about something we will all eventually have to deal with: passing away.
If you take a minute to think about how important it will be for your heirs to have access to your various online accounts, making it easy for them to do so, should you pass, is a pretty generous thing to do.
The amount of time, effort and frustration that those you leave behind may have to go through if they are completely locked out of your accounts can be overwhelming, all while they grieve.
Keep in mind that the myriad security settings that you put in place to keep the bad guys out will also keep your loved ones out in their time of need.
Even if you store your passwords somewhere safe that your family will know about, don’t forget that your passwords will often change over time, so there’s on password that’s the most important: your primary email account.
Why is this? Think about where all your password reset messages typically go when you click on a ‘forgot my password’ link on any account.
If nothing else, having this single account password will allow whoever is left to manage your estate to easily gain access to any and all of your accounts.
No matter your age, this uncomfortable issue is something that we should all take care of for the benefit of those we leave behind.
Data is much of what drives most business decisions and anyone that works with data all day long knows the power of spreadsheets.
Complex data sets can present problems in making sense of what you're looking at, which is why graphical representations of the data is so helpful.
Most spreadsheet programs have an adequate number of tools for creating graphs or charts, but if you're a data nerd that wants more, there's a free tool called RawGraphs that's worth checking out.
Unlike the limited options in your spreadsheet program, RawGraphs offers numerous options for really complex data sets by simply pasting the data from your spreadsheet into their web tool.
The various charts present data categories that you choose to drag into the interface.
There are lots of options for creating a visual chart that will help others make sense of your data set.
This incredibly powerful and free tool will build your chart on the fly as you drag data to it and once you're done, you can download the chart in a number of different file formats.
The number of amazing features that just about every smartphone offers these days are awesome, but one downside of using a lot of these features is diminished battery life.
For those of you that spend a lot of time on the road, you know how strategic you need to be when trying to keep your devices charged.
When you only have a short amount of time to charge, it can be maximized by turning off the device while charging.
If you can't turn off your phone, turn off as many of the radios as you can - Bluetooth, cellular and Wi-Fi to maximize the charge.
Another tip to remember is that most hotel TV's have a USB port that can be used to provide a bit of a charge, as long as the TV is turned on.
It's not going to charge as quickly as your phone's charger, but it can come in handy when you're under duress.
As the warmer weather approaches, be mindful of heat or direct sunlight exposure to your electronics as heat is one of your batteries biggest threats.
Charging your devices while they're overheated is also something to avoid...let it get back to room temperature for the best results.
Our smartphones have as much personal information stored on them as our computers, but because they are portable, they pose a much greater security threat.
If someone with ill intent gets their hands on your phone, they can wreak lots of havoc including locking your out of your own accounts, so if you don’t have a passcode lock setup yet, do it right away.
If you plan on getting rid of a smartphone, there are a number things you should be doing to it before it leaves your possession.
Your first step is to reset to phone to the factory default, which will wipe out all of your sensitive personal data, info and files.
A lot of smartphones have an optional memory expansion slot, so if you used it, make sure to remove it or format the card if you’re selling it before you part with your device.
If you’re switching cell providers, make sure you dispose of your old SIM card before getting rid of the phone as well. If you’re staying with the same provider, move the SIM card to your new phone.
The factory reset of the entire phone should be easy to find somewhere in the device settings menus.
For more tips, checkout our column at: http://bit.ly/2WJovE0
Battery life issues are among to most common complaints for those that use a laptop as their primary computer.
Because all batteries have a specific number of charge cycles, the more you charge it, that faster the battery life begins to lessen.
Whenever you know that you are going to be using your portable computer plugged in like a desktop computer for an extended period of days or weeks, one way to help improve the life of the battery is to remove it.
It’s not to limit the charge cycles, it’s to reduce the exposure to heat that is one of your batteries biggest killers.
Both the battery and the processor inside your computer generate a fair amount of heat that you can avoid generating when you won’t need it to be portable.
A word of warning: don’t unplug or plug in your battery while the device is running. Be sure to shut off your laptop and be sure it hasn’t gone to sleep.
The best way to run without the internal battery is to plug the power into a battery backup for safety sake.
It’s pretty rare not to see a streaming video device in most homes these days.
The list of companies that offer an option that can be added to your TV is pretty long, but not all smartphones interact with all streaming devices.
If your an all Apple household with iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs, you can easily push your pictures an videos up to your TV.
Likewise, if you’re an Android fanatic with a Chromecast plugged into your TV, you can push thing up as well, but more and more of us have a combination, especially when it comes to friends and family.
An app called ‘Allcast’ was created to unify all smartphones with just about any streaming box or smart TV to make it easy to watch what’s on your smartphone on any connected television.
The best part is that they allow you to try it before you buy it, because they offer a fully functional free version that allows you to watch up to 5 minutes of content through it.
If you like how it works, you can buy the Pro version which has no limitations and is fully functional.
Want to take the app for a spin? Just search for Allcast in your associated app store or visit http://www.allcast.io
Today’s search giants like Google and Microsoft provide a great service for finding things online, but in order to make use of these powerful search engines, we have to give up some of our privacy.
Sometimes the tracking of everything we search for can help provide a better experience, but with so much focus on privacy lapses, many of you are looking for a better way to search.
Well a website that claims it’s ”the most private search engine" is at https://Startpage.com
Bing and Google track virtually every aspect of where you came from, your location info and which results you clicked on in order to better target you with ads that might be relevant.
What makes Startpage unique is that it offers the power of Google with none of the granular tracking.
It’s actually a way to stay invisible to Google, but still use their power search tool.
Bookmark this site for any private searches you want to perform in the future: https://Startpage.com
Unless you stop to think about how you communicate every day, you probably didn’t realize just how many ways you are doing it.
It starts with social media messaging platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram to stand alone apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp to video apps like Skype.
You have to think about who you want to communicate with, then which communication channel you want to connect with them on, then go to that specific app in order to start a conversation.
If you want a way to streamline this growing complexity, I’ve got a great suggestion for you.
The ‘Drupe’ app takes all your contacts and all your communication apps and puts them on a single screen!
The app allows you to drag any contact over to any of the communication apps without having to jump back and forth.
Drupe isn’t limited to working with communication apps alone, as financial apps, reminders and calendars are just a few other ways to leverage their approach.
The days of a single way to communicate with all your contacts is long gone, which is why Drupe may be just the app that makes things easier for all of us!:
Have you ever experienced charging problems when you jump from one charger to another? Do some chargers seem to work better than others?
Well, the fact is that if your charger isn’t the proper amperage for your device or you have a connecting cable that is starting to go bad, the charging times can be quite different.
If you think of amperage like water pressure, the lower it is, the longer it’s going to take to fill the bathtub.
The best results are achieved by using the factory shipped charger and cables; if you can’t, you really need to pay special attention to the rating of the substitute charger.
Fancy electronic devices can actually measure the true amperage and current, but for those with an Android smartphone, there’s an app for that!
An app called ‘ampere’ is an excellent way to monitor all the important aspects for charging your battery the proper way.
You can use the app while charging with your various chargers to see which ones are properly performing the task instead of just guessing.
Check out this free app for yourself at: http://bit.ly/2WtZdJK
The power of Amazon’s business is impacting so many of us because you can find just about anything you could ever want to buy.
But did you know that not only can you buy the latest and greatest, you can trade your old stuff in to help pay for it.
Their online trade in guide will provide you with an estimated trade for your older electronics, books, video games and more.
Choose a category for your trade, use the filters to narrow it down or use their search by name option to find your exact item.
Once you’re there, you’ll be asked various question that will help to establish an estimated trade value along with a range that will be determined once your item has been inspected.
To have it inspected, you’ll need to ship it to Amazon, but they cover the shipping costs to get it there.
Anyone that wants to declutter their house or office and save money should look into this option before the value of those items gets even lower: https://amzn.to/2DLzAwR
There is no shortage of options for storing things ‘in the cloud’ with options from Apple, Google, Dropbox, Microsoft and more.
Most of them incorporate a ‘freemium’ model by giving you a small amount of free space with hopes that you’ll fill it up and buy additional storage when you do.
While you can get as much as 15gbs of free storage, which sounds like a lot, you can quickly max out if you are constantly taking pictures and video with your smartphone.
If you’re one of the millions that finds themselves maxed out of their current cloud storage choice, I have a suggestion that you may not thought about.
Google’s online photo and video storage offers unlimited space for free by installing the ‘Google Photos’ app on any smartphone.
It’s not just for Android smartphones, so even iPhone users can take advantage of this awesome storage option just by installing the app and setting it to automatically backup.
This is especially good news for the many long suffering iPhone users that keep running out of space on their phones…move them to Google Photos and free up lots of valuable space!
Depending upon your age, you may have viewed text messaging as being impersonal at some point in the past, but you've figured out just how efficient it is as a communication tool.
Apple iPhone fans probably don't realize how unique their messaging platform, known as iMessage, is in the smartphone world.
If you have a lot of friends and family that also use an iPhone, iMessage provides some exceptional features that you don't have to learn how to use.
The first is that encrypts everything for you and the second is that it doesn't require a cellular connection in order to work with other iPhone users.
This means you can still get text messages if all you have is a wifi connection, like when you travel to other countries.
There are a host of other options that many of you may not even know exists, so that's what today's tip is going to point out.
Even if you use a lot of the extra features available in iMessage, you may not know about all 15 of these power user tips: http://bit.ly/2PFkQUJ
Language translation apps for your smartphone have been getting much better.
One of my early favorites was an app called WordLens primarily because of it’s ability to translate items that appeared via your camera.
Fortunately, they were acquired by Google some time ago and turned it into a free feature that is now incorporated in the Google Translate app.
What used to take multiple apps to accomplish, written, spoken and visual translations can now be achieved in this one app
It offers hand writing recognition, two-way real-time verbal translation and visual translations of signs, menus and other important items in your environment.
As helpful as the app can be, it’s far from perfect, so try to keep your translations to short couple of words for the best results.
It now supports 32 languages on the fly, while recognizing 103 languages by text and 38 in the image conversion mode.
Anyone headed to a foreign country should put this app front and center on their smartphones to make communications much easier.
Popular online services such as Netflix, Hulu and Spotify that offer a buffet style option are popular for a reason: you get lots of choices for a fixed price.
If you like these kinds of offers and you also like to read magazines, there’s a service for that and it’s called Magzter!
The primary “Gold” option provides an unlimited collection of over 5000 magazines from around the world to its subscribers.
For about $10 a month, you can read your favorite magazines from any of your devices as long as you have an internet connection.
For about $5 a month, you can go with their ‘Lite’ option which gives you the option of reading up to five magazines.
There are lots of popular magazines available on the service, but premium magazines that have their own subscription package, such as the Harvard Business Review are not included.
You can checkout the plethora of options including lots of lesser known magazines from around the world at: https://www.magzter.com