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!
The idea of going paperless has been around for about as long as we’ve all had computers, but the reality is that less paper is about the only feasible goal.
If you just take a minute to think about the amount of paper that exists in your home or business, you’ll probably realize that much of can be tossed or shredded.
For those items that you do need to keep on hand, instead of stuffing them back into a filing cabinet, why not digitize those important documents?
Not only will it free up space, it makes tracking down a specific document much quicker through a search on your computer or online storage site.
Keeping the paper from ever getting to you is another great way to reduce the waste.
Just about everyone you do business with offer a paperless billing option, which also makes the record-keeping much simpler.
Finally, if you really want to get efficient with your incoming snail mail, have a professional service like https://www.earthclassmail.com scan everything for you so you’ll only get sent the physical mail you really want.
Despite all of the advances in technology, there are times when you are simply trying to get to a website and nothing is coming up.
It’s not uncommon to assume that there is something wrong with your computer, your Internet connection or your wifi, but that’s not always where the problem exists.
Websites big and small are at the mercy of a lot of other connections, so it’s entirely possible that even the biggest names on the web can have an outage.
The next time this happens to you, don’t start by assuming it’s something on your end until you do a quick check to see if the website is actually up and running right now.
A simple to use tool at https://www.isitdownrightnow.com makes it quick and easy to check the status of any website on the Internet.
You need only to type the website you want to have them test and in seconds, you’ll get back lots of information of the current status of the site.
It’s one of those websites that you won’t need on a regular basis, but having this site in your favorites will potentially keep you from chasing the wrong end of the problem!
There’s one thing that the modern age has taught us to never leave home without…our smartphones.
With that as the default, this electronic appendage is the perfect way to keep things organized in our lives.
Google recognized this when they developed a note-taking app they call Keep, which works with both Android and iPhone smartphones and syncs with your computer.
The idea was to create an easy way to capture ideas, thoughts and reminders on your smartphone that could be easily brought up on all the devices you use every day.
You can use text, voice and images to create notes that mean something to you and can help you accomplish your tasks in a more natural way.
One of the really cool features is the ability to take any note and turn it into a checklist through the addition of checkboxes.
This can be very useful when you get a text message from your significant other asking you to swing by the grocery store to pick up a bunch of items.
Try it for yourself at: https://keep.google.com
We’ve all heard the guidance of make every day count and today’s tip is designed to help you stay focused on doing just that!
An app developer was experimenting and decided to chronicle his life for a year by capturing just a single moment from each day and joining them all together.
As a result, he was able to easily re-live lots of special moments from that year because all it took was a brief video to remind him of them.
The app he created that allows us all to do the same thing is called One Second Every Day.
Think about all those amazing memories that get conjured up when you see a photo from the past.
Using quick video snippets of something you did each day will take your memories to new heights.
This free app for both Android and iPhone users could change the way you record your own life’s memories, so check it out for yourself at: https://1secondeveryday.com
One feature of our smartphones that continues to get better is the quality of the images that they can capture.
Even the cheapest smartphone camera today dramatically outperforms the top of the line point and shoot digital camera from a decade ago.
One side effect of these glorious images that we can snap on our phones is that all those extra pixels that are captured increases the size of each image.
These super high-resolution images can be problematic when you need to email a large number of them or be too much for uploading to a website.
Another common issue is getting an image to the exact size that’s required for our various social media profiles and pages.
Lots of sophisticated software programs have the ability to make the changes, but for those without any tools, there’s the http://webresizer.com tool.
It’s a fully functioning tool to resize, reshape and retouch your images without the hassle and expense of installing a special program.
It’s one of those obvious bookmark sites for those occasional times you need to manipulate your images!
I’ve often referred to the computer kitchen as an analogy to how things work and in that scenario, your hard drive is the equivalent of a refrigerator as it pertains to storage: no matter what the size, you can easily fill it up.
The downside to running a computer that is running out of storage space is that it can negatively affect the performance of everything.
Your computer makes temporary use of lots of empty hard drive space, so keeping it cleared of unneeded items is a good thing to do.
Most tech challenged users aren’t really sure what they can get rid of, which is the focus of today’s tip
Windows users can try the Treesize utility jam-software.com/treesize_free while Mac users can use the built-in utility: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206996
The tree reference comes from associating folders to branches and individual files as leaves on that branch.
Knowing which branches are using up the most space makes it much more efficient to free up lots of space quickly.
Keep in mind that if you don’t know what something is, you should never delete it and always start by backing everything up just in case you delete something you shouldn’t have!
It’s hard to imagine a world without the Internet, but it really wasn’t part of our lives all that long ago.
The early days of the Internet are pretty amusing and look pretty primitive compared to what we expect these days.
What was considered state of the art back then is pretty laughable now.
If you’d like to see what the online world looked like in the early days, there’s a website for that and it’s at https://archive.org
This project has been attempting to archive little bits of the Internet since 1996.
While it would have been great to see every page for every site with every update since then, it’s not that comprehensive.
Take a look at the website for the company you work for or check out what the Data Doctors were looking like back in the say at: https://archive.org/web
Unless you’ve gone to school to become an economist or stockbroker, your grasp of complicated financial terms is probably pretty limited.
A great way to dip your toe into the complex world of investing is through a website that we love called https://www.investopedia.com
What started out as a simple encyclopedia of investment terms has grown into a full-blown online resource full of great information.
From a simple dictionary of common terms to education on investment and trading fundamentals, this site can take you from clueless to clued in!
One great way to test your new-found knowledge without risking any capital is through their investment simulator.
It’s never too early or too late to learn about important investment principals and options, so everyone can learn valuable life lessons by spending time at: https://www.investopedia.com
Your smartphone is probably loaded with apps that you never use, but we have a suggestion for one that we think you will use on a regular basis.
It’s an app to help you decipher the stars in the night sky without having to be an astronomy nerd.
The Star Chart app for the iPhone offers the cool augmented reality feature that shows you an overlay of the constellations when you hold your phone up to the sky. The basic features are free with in-app purchase options for additional features.
The Sky Map app for Android users is a free open source project that provides similar features to the Star Chart iPhone app.
You’ll find yourself under the stars on many occasions in the future, not to mention all of the stellar events that get announced regularly on social media, so having this app in your smartphone will pay dividends!
It’s likely you’ve heard the old adage: hope for the best, but always prepare for the worst and nothing could be more appropriate when it comes to technology.
Whether you are a home user or a business user, you should develop a disaster plan for the most common situations that could devastate your technology.
The most likely situations that can wipe out your tech include malware, fire, flood and theft. If you are a business, disgruntled employees and sabotage need to also be added to the equation.
If you think it through, regaining access to your critical data and getting things back to operational status can be a lot different for each of these scenarios.
For businesses especially, you need to not only have a plan for securing your infrastructure, but just as important is the plan for getting back up to speed.
Downtime can be hugely expensive and it’s the least desirable time to be developing a game plan for getting things going, so take a few minutes every year to contemplate this very important situation.
Take a minute to think about how many different apps and tools you use on a regular basis to interact with all your friends, family and business contacts.
For most of you, the list is probably a lot longer than you thought since many people have a preferred communication channel for connecting with you.
This leads to the process of starting with the person, then working through the list of apps to figure out which one they prefer.
If this is happening to you on a regular basis, check out the app designed to streamline communications called Drupe.
This app will consolidate all your contacts and all of the most popular messaging tools onto a single screen.
Instead of having to go to each individual app, simply drag the picture of your contact to the messaging app of choice in the Drupe app to launch a session.
It’s interface can be used for so many regular tasks, which is why we are spotlighting it again.
The days of phone, fax and email as the only ways to communicate are relics of the past, so keep up with all of today’ channels at: https://getdrupe.com
One of the most challenging things to learning a new language is figuring out how to properly pronounce all the strange new words.
After all, speaking a foreign language in a way that won’t be understood by those that know the language is kind of useless.
Hearing how someone that knows the language pronounces things will exponentially improve your confidence in using these words, which is where today’s tip comes in.
A huge database of pre-recorded words lives at a website called Forvo.
Not only can you listen to how specific words are pronounced, but you can also download the audio files so you can access them when you aren’t connected to the Internet.
Using Google Translate to provide a word you want to learn how to pronounce in another language is a great way to combine the two language tools.
Even if you’re just curious about other languages, https://forvo.com is a great place to start any international language journey!
Keeping on top of your medication, especially if you are taking several at various times of the day can get complicated.
Today’s tip is for anyone you know that has a complex pill-taking schedule.
The Mango Health app takes advantage of your smartphone to no only help you stay on schedule with your pills, but learn about foods and liquids that could be a problem with what you are taking.
It’s more than just a calendar reminder app, as it can help you create a proper schedule based on the medication you are taking.
Let’s face it, one of the few things we don’t forget to take with us these days is our smartphones, so why not take advantage of this reality to make sure you keep your medication routine in check?
Learn all about this free app at:
If you’re a parent, it’s inevitable that at some point, you’ll be helping your child with their math and science homework.
The older they get, the more complex the assignments, which is where today’s tip comes in!
One of our favorite online tools is located at https://www.wolframalpha.com which is an extraordinary computational knowledge database that can help with any number of difficult math and science subjects.
Instead of searching the web for answers, Wolfram Alpha uses data and algorithms along with a dynamic computational interface.
It’s great for double-checking complex math questions and to see how the answer is derived, which is much better than simply providing the correct answer.
It’s also an awesome comparison database to compare two people, places, or things.
If you’ve never spent time on https://www.wolframalpha.com, whether you are a parent or not, it’s an amazing web tool that can provide incredible amounts of information like no other!
One of the big red flags we’ve warned you about for years is when you find a popular item for sale online that is substantially less than anywhere else, be suspicious.
Whenever you are about to do business with a website for the first time, there are some easy to use web tools you can use to help you validate the site.
Your first stop should be to Scam Advisor https://www.scamadviser.com which can quickly analyze the site and provide you with a safety rating.
The second tool we think everyone should check out is from Web of Trust https://www.mywot.com, which offers a browser add-on that can actively warn you of sketchy websites in search results, on social media or when you try to land on one.
Even after you do the research and decide to try the new online store out, never use your debit card as it’s a direct link to your checking account.
Even though the banks offer the same type of protection as they do with credit cards, the amount in dispute gets tied up, some times for weeks, which could cause you to bounce other checks.
Learning how to write code may seem overwhelming for those that have never done it, but there’s an important thing to keep in mind: every skilled programmer started from the same point of knowing absolutely nothing.
Today’s tip is for anyone that has thought about getting started in the area of learning how to write code.
A website called Code Academy was created as a DIY learning space for those interested in developing their code writing skills.
It’s a self-paced easy to follow set of courses that can work for anyone no matter what their background.
Lots of people have thought about checking into this world, so if you know anyone, send them to https://www.codecademy.com
No matter how young or old you may be, learning how to write code isn’t as challenging as it may seem when you start with simple lessons and go from there!
Craigslist, eBay and Amazon are among the most popular websites for purchasing merchandise, especially if they are hard to find items.
The problem can become the amount of time it takes to search through each of these sites for the item you seek, no to mention the specific areas that are required in a manual search on Craigslist.
A website called https://www.searchtempest.com has eliminated the need to manually search on each website for your merchandise.
The tool lets you use keywords, categories and most importantly a radius around your zip code from 25 miles to unlimited distances, so searching for something in the entire country is much more efficient.
They also provide lots of filtering options, which makes it even easier to drill down to your best options and prices for exactly what you are looking for…this one is bookmark worthy!
Every remodeling project starts with an idea that needs to be worked out via drawings and layouts.
Thanks to the Internet, you no longer have to pay big bucks to have someone with an expensive software program create drawings that will bring your ideas to life.
A web tool called Home Styler has a nice set of free tools that you can use to create the drawings you need yourself.
Simply measure your spaces and start with a floorplan of what you plan to do. From there, you can add a large number of items to flesh it all out.
It’s a virtual tool that can make it easy to play around with ‘what if’ thoughts you may have without a lot of work.
You can play with designs on your computer or your smartphone via their app, which allows you to take a picture of your space and work with it from there.
Learn more at https://www.homestyler.com
Most of us are more capable of absorbing information when it’s presented in a visually pleasing way, which is why infographics have become all the rage.
Spreadsheet nerds may prefer huge datasets in columns and rows, but for the rest of us, images and graphs are more appealing.
We’ve all seen these clever graphics on news sites and social media, but did you know that anyone can easily create their own infographics?
A web resource called Easilly has hundreds of templates that make creating infographics much simpler.
It’s a drag and drop web interface that also allows you to use your images and graphics if you’d like.
If you ready to make that next presentation of data to your peers much more dynamic, check out the low-cost options available at:
If you actively use any type of social media, you know how it becomes a sounding board any time any kind of earthquake is felt.
This very natural activity on social media has actually become a measuring and detecting system developed by some clever researchers.
These researchers decided to try to leverage the technology built into our smartphones that can help detect the activity based on location and movement.
The desired outcome is to create a very accurate warning system that can alert people near the center of the seismic activity in a way that hasn’t been possible so far.
The more people that volunteer their smartphones to this project, the more accurate the data will become, so let you friends and family in these areas in on the process: https://myshake.berkeley.edu
The rate at which most of us make purchases online has gone up exponentially, so here’s a way to make sure you are getting the best deals possible.
Coupons of various types are commonly available for a large number of online retailers, but you have to know where to get them or explore sites like RetailMeNot.com to dig for a specific coupon.
The good news is that there’s a much easier way to be alerted to potential money-saving deals and coupons and it’s called Honey.
Once you install the plug-in, which works with all the major browsers, the tool goes to work automatically every time you land on an e-commerce site.
Instead of having to go to another tab to spend a bunch of time trying coupons that are mostly expired, Honey just alerts you with their logo when it turns orange in your browser toolbar.
A green number will tell you how many offers are available for the page that you are on, so all you have to do is click the Honey icon and start saving!
Get started at https://www.joinhoney.com