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!
Fitness monitors are all the rage these days, but at prices that can range from $100 to $300, they can get expensive.
But paying for something that’s on your wrist all day is a lot more accurate than just loading an app on your smartphone, right?
A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that an app on your smartphone can be just as accurate as a fancy fitness band when it came to tracking steps and activity.
The tests were done on treadmills so they don’t necessarily reflect real life situations where you may not have your phone with you.
But if you’re looking for motivation by tracking your activity everyday, you don’t have to buy an expensive gadget.
There are lots of great apps for your smartphone and many of them are free!
Checkout apps like Argus or Moves for the iPhone and the Runtastic Pedometer app for Android or iPhone.
Anything that motivates you to step up your exercise is a good thing, so get tracking today!
Reddit.com is a popular tool in geek culture, but it can be a little hard to take for the uninitiated.
It bills itself as the front page of the Internet and is a great example of democracy on the Internet.
It’s like a huge message board where articles and postings get voted up and down by the community, so popular content bubbles to the top.
One of my favorite features of Reddit are the AMAs, which stands for Ask Me Anything.
It’s a virtual live interview of famous folks that you can participate in by asking them anything; even the President’s done one.
If you get the Ask Me Anything app, you can search through past sessions and set reminders for upcoming AMAs so you can ask your favorite personalities a question.
If you find Reddit.com to be too much to handle, start with this excellent app.
Reddit is spelled R E D D I T and the Ask Me Anything app is available for iPhone and Android users.
Gathering information on the Internet is like drinking from a firehose, unless you use tools that help you filter out what you don’t want and organize what you do.
One of my favorite apps for doing this is Flipboard, which specifically focuses on your social networks and general interests
Flipboard takes the feeds from Facebook, Twitter and categories like sports, business or tech and presents the information like a magazine.
Until recently, you could only use Flipboard on your phone or tablet, but now you can use Flipboard on your computer.
That means you can now make use of that big, beautiful desktop display to access what you’ve already setup on your mobile device.
If you’ve never used Flipboard, be sure to start by loading the mobile app on your phone or tablet first, so you can add your social networks to the account.
Once it’s setup with your mobile device, go to http://Flipboard.com and sign in to get started on your computer.
Your Twitter feed never looked so good!
There’s a recurring theme that’s surfaced from just about every major hack you’ve heard about lately.
Most of the breaches started with a targeted phishing scam sent to someone in the company.
Cleverly crafted fake corporate e-mails, also known as spear-phishing, are also responsible for many victims of ransomware.
The easiest way to trick someone is to create a fake e-mail message that appears to be from someone else in the same company.
That’s right, you need to start paying close attention to any message that appears to be from a co-worker, boss or administrator where you work.
If your company wants to run a phishing security test on its employees, checkout http://KnowBe4.com.
Their free phishing security test can be used to test up to 100 people to see how many fall for the message that appears to be from the company IT department.
You’ll quickly know how vulnerable your company is to this growing threat.
I’ve got the link for testing your company posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
A security researcher recently released a list of 10 million stolen passwords that he gathered from around the Internet.
His hope was to enlighten the world that your older passwords are probably floating around cyberspace and for sale.
With each major breach, the list of stolen passwords grows by the millions.
If you’ve been using the same password for more than a couple of years, you can safely assume that someone you do business with has been breached.
One way to check for known breaches that may have included your passwords is at http://breachalarm.com.
Just put the e-mail address that you use for your online accounts in and they’ll compare it to a known stolen password list.
This is especially important if you’re still using the same password on all your online accounts.
Even if the site doesn’t find a known breach tied to your email address, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.
If you haven’t changed your passwords for years, take the time to change it to something you’ve never used before.
On a recent airing of 60 Minutes, Leslie Stahl was seen frantically trying to control a car that had been hacked by security researchers.
If you saw this sensational video and you’re thinking about selling your new gadget laden car, hold that thought.
What you saw was a proof of concept hack that took years of DARPA working with GM to pull it off.
What they didn’t show you was what it took to setup what you saw on television.
They used an older GM car with outdated On Star software and had to have prolonged physical access to the car in order to exploit it.
There’s no doubt that the industry must stay vigilant as they add more technology to our cars, but so far, there’s never been a car hacked in the public.
Hacking cars is expensive and difficult and requires very specialized knowledge and there’s no money in it for cyberthieves.
Real hackers are more interested in hacking your smartphone than your car, so don’t let these sensational stories keep you from getting a new car.
The Internet of Things was all the rage this year’s Consumer Electronics Show because inexpensive connected devices were everywhere.
I was particularly interested in wireless sensor tags that allow you to monitor location, motion, temperature and even humidity on just about anything you care about.
These inexpensive devices will allow you to monitor things like when a garage door is opened or when motion is detected. Toss one in your refrigerator door and you’ll get an alert whenever someone is raiding the fridge!
These sensors combined with a smartphone app can alert you to just about anything that happens in your home or business.
Motion sensing is great, but you can even monitor moisture levels, which can alert you to major water leaks in real time.
The technology that’s available to monitor everything you care about from your smartphone ranges from 20 to 70 dollars.
Wireless tags are the basic building blocks to monitoring everthing and you can learn all about their abilities at http://wirelesstag.net
You’ve heard me and others in the tech industry preaching about the dangers of public wifi for years, but there’s something that you may not have realized.
Your laptop may be sharing information with anyone else connected on the coffee shop or hotel wifi you're using without you realizing it.
If your laptop is setup with default or public shares, you may be inadvertently allow others to access or even save files on your computer.
In general, this won’t really impact your personal data, but technically your computer is accessible by any random stranger connected to the same public wifi.
As a precaution, if you never use the public share folder to share files with others, turn it off.
I’ve seen situations where sensitive files have been stored in these publicly accessible folders because the user didn’t realize the whole world could access these folders.
Both Windows and Mac users have these public share folders turned on, so I’ve posted instructions on how to turn them off at datadoctors.com/radio.
Disable public shares in OS X: http://osxdaily.com/2014/02/11/disable-public-folder-sharing-mac-os-x
Disable public folders in Windows:
In my years of helping others with their technology, one constant issue seems to exist; everyone knows that they should be backing up their data, but they just never seem to get around to it.
If you’re one of the millions that have this critical task on their to-do list, but just can’t seem to get around to it, this may help.
The threat of ransomware, which is when sophisticated hackers gain access to your computer and lock down your data, including your backup drive is getting worse.
The latest versions are capable of spreading themselves in ways never seen before.
If you get hit by this attack and don’t have a secured off-site backup, your choices are to lose everything or pay hundred dollars to get your pictures, videos and sensitive documents back.
Online backup services like Carbonite are one of the best ways to avoid having to pay the ransom, because they aren’t connected to your computer when you get attacked.
Consider this a wake up call, if you don’t have a secure backup in place!
I love technology that fills the nooks and crannies of our daily lives and one of my long-time favorites is a web service called If This Then That or IFTTT for short.
This free resource helps you put the Internet to work for you by creating conditional statements called recipes that integrate your online life in amazing ways.
For instance, you can use a recipe that automatically creates a reminder on your iPhone whenever you star an email in Gmail or text your wife whenever you leave work.
IFTTT works with 160 different Internet services and has a treasure trove of recipes that have been created by millions of users.
If your imagination is willing, you can create your own custom recipes and share them with the IFTTT community.
IFTTT is a free service with apps for iPhones, iPads and Android devices to really leverage your technology in meaningful ways.
If you’ve never explored the IFTTT world, do yourself a favor and go to http://IFTTT.com and join in on the fun and productivity.
For those seeking an investment strategy, the Internet is filled with advice that ranges from throwing darts at the newspaper to exotic algorithms that track millions of market variables.
If nothing you’ve researched is resonating with you, how about tracking what a bunch of billionaires are doing with their investments?
An app called iBillionaire does just that; it breaks down and analyzes the investment data of leading billionaires like Warren Buffett, George Soros and Carl Icahn.
It also provides insights into the investment strategies of leading hedge fund managers to help confirm your ideas or discover opportunities with a different billionaire stock every day.
The investment strategies are based on the billionaire index that was created in 2013.
If you’d like to make better investment decisions by learning from the most successful, self-made billionaires in the world, checkout the iBillionaire app.
It’s available for iPhone and Android users in their respective app stores so you can start comparing your portfolio to the world’s wealthiest today.
For those of you that have discovered the benefits of yoga movements, something that I saw at CES this year may be of interest.
It’s called the SmartMat and it’s a yoga mat that’s loaded with 21 thousand sensors and pairs with a special app.
The combination becomes a virtual yoga instructor that helps you track, improve & perfect yoga poses.
It rolls up just like a standard mat, so you can take it to yoga class to track your progress or use it in the privacy of your own home.
A special stand allows you to set your smartphone or tablet at the front of the mat so you can follow the lessons and get real-time feedback to help you improve.
Whether you’re at the beginner level trying a downward facing dog or after advanced poses like the One-Legged King Pigeon, the Smartmat is a new option for learning.
The Smartmat isn’t available yet, but it can be pre-ordered at a discounted price by visiting http://SmartMat.com
If you use reading glasses to work with your smartphone, keeping track of them can become a constant source of frustration.
The solution for many is to buy a bunch of reading glasses and leave them all over the place.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could keep your reading glasses with your smartphone at all times?
That’s what the folks at ThinOptics thought, so they came up with something pretty inventive: a smartphone case with superthin reading glasses stored in them.
Their unique flexible optical design doesn’t have arms; they just clip onto your nose and stay put, which is why they’re thin enough to be stored on the back of your smartphone.
They offer cases that work with iPhone or Galaxy phones or a universal pod that can attach to the back of any case.
The kits range from $25 to $39, so it could be an inexpensive solution to the ‘where did I put my reading glasses’ problem!
You can see how they work and where to buy them at http://ThinOptics.com
Bitcoin, the virtual digital currency, is understandably something that most people have a tough time getting their head around, even those in the banking industry.
Because there is no regulatory body, it’s always been considered somewhat of a risky thing to get involved in, but a new company called Coinbase might be the first signs of legitimacy.
With $75 million in funding from investors such as the New York Stock Exchange and Spanish banking giant BBVA, Coinbase claims to be the first licensed US based bitcoin exchange.
At the moment, they are only licensed in 24 states as they must get approval on a state-by-state basis, so they’re just getting started.
Knowing that a legitimate financial entity is behind the exchange still won’t impact one of the biggest problems with bitcoin: extreme volatility.
If you are going to dip your toe into the bitcoin pond, Coinbase is probably your best bet at the moment, but I wouldn’t exchange any amount that you’re not willing to lose.
You can learn more at http://coinbase.com
The term ‘cord-cutter’ refers to households that have cut out cable or satellite television service in favor of Internet based services such as Netflix or Hulu Plus.
While cord cutters can save a boatload of money, they often have to give up access to first run content or live sporting events.
If you’re a hardcore sports fan, becoming a cord cutter has always been almost impossible until now.
The folks at the Dish Network introduced a new service at CES called Sling TV that may encourage more cord cutting.
For $20 a month, Sling TV allows you to stream 12 popular channels like ESPN, HGTV, The Travel Channel and CNN to any computer, tablet or smartphone.
You don’t get to choose your channels, but Sling TV combined with an HD antenna can provide most households with a pretty solid lineup of content.
There are no contracts, but it only works on one device at a time, so it may not be a great option for large families.
Sling TV is currently by invitation only at Sling.com
Attention online shoppers, here’s a time and money saving tip!
If you do any type of online shopping, you know that coupon codes can save you money, if you know where to find them.
Sites like http://RetailMeNot.com allow you to search for coupon codes for just about any online retailer, but it’s a manual process and often times the codes don’t work.
An easier way to find coupon codes automatically is to install a plug-in called Honey to your browser.
Honey will automatically search for and apply any coupon codes available without having to the leave the store you're shopping at.
Once you install the free plug-in, an icon with the letter H will appear in the upper right corner of your browser.
From then on, whenever you hit a site that Honey can save you money on, the icon will turn orange to let you know.
You can install the Honey app to all your browsers just by visiting http://joinhoney.com and instantly become a smarter online shopper!
All you can eat subscription services like Netflix for movies, Hulu Plus for television, Spotify for music and Amazon Unlimited for books are clearly resonating with consumers.
Well now, if you’re a magazine junkie there’s an all-you-can-read subscription service called Magzter that you may want to check out.
The Magzter Gold service gives you unlimited access to over 2000 magazines from over 40 countries.
You can access the service from anywhere ; your smartphone or your tablet through their app or from any internet connected computer for about $10 a month.
If you’re appetite is a little smaller, you can go with the Gold Lite subscription, which gives you access to up to 5 magazines for $5 a month.
The service seems to have just about all the major bases covered, but specialty magazines like the Harvard Business Review won’t part of the library.
They also offer some lesser known magazines for free, so you can see how the service works at http://Magzter.com that’s spelled M A G Z T E R
Rudimentary smartphone translation apps have been around for years and one of my favorites has always been WordLens because it could visually translate words using your camera.
Google acquired the company a while back and they're doing two things that I love: they made it free to use and they’re incorporating it into the Google Translate app.
Now a single app will provide visual translations as well as written or spoken translations.
Not only can you use your smartphone camera to translate words, you can press the microphone to automatically translate speech and use the handwriting recognition or keyboard to type what you want to say.
As with all translation apps, it’s not perfect and usually works best with short sentences, but it’s really quite handy.
The instant translation currently works to and from English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish with more languages to come.
If you’re headed to a foreign country any time soon, get and learn how to use the updated version of Google Translate before you leave.
Streaming media boxes are becoming a common sight in many of our homes these days.
With options like Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and even Xbox, the options are many to stream content to our HD TVs.
If you have an Apple TV and an iPhone, you can push whatever’s on your phone onto your TV.
The same holds true if you have an Android phone and a Chromecast, but if your household or your circle of friends have a mix of both, you may want to checkout the Allcast app.
Allcast can connect your iPhone or Android phone to a long list of streaming boxes and smart TVs so you can stream from your phone to just about any popular device.
The free version of the app lets you get a taste of how it works, but limits your viewing time to 5 minutes. If you find it useful, you can get the upgrade to the pro version that removes the limitation for $5.
Search for Allcast in the Apple App Store or Google Play to give it a try.
Today’s tip is a preemptive bit of information for a term that you may start hearing in the near future: Tizen.
No, it’s not some eastern neckwear or new buzzword for being efficient, it’s actually a relatively new mobile operating system.
A partnership between Samsung and Intel is aiming to use yet another mobile platform for smartphones, tablets and wearables.
While Tizen has some interesting technical merits, it’s really Samsung’s attempt to break away from Google’s Android platform for some of their gadgets.
Samsung is beginning the launch in other countries focusing on low cost handsets, so you aren’t likely to see it any time soon.
It’s possible that you might start seeing Tizen powered smartphones by the end of the year, but if you do, I’d steer clear for a couple of reasons: lack of apps and the potential that Samsung could pull the plug like it did with a previous attempt.
Getting people to try a new mobile platform is tough, just ask Microsoft.
My passion for technology and innovation is fueled by those rare occasions when someone comes up with something really amazing.
This week that thing is an app called Be My Eyes and it’s simply ingenious.
An enterprising social inventor in Denmark released an app that allows the visually impaired or blind to connect with sighted volunteers through a video connection.
This allows the volunteer to as the app suggests be their eyes and help them with small tasks, such as describing what’s in a can of food, seeing the expiration date on a carton of milk or explaining what a street sign says.
Anyone with an iPhone and a desire to help your fellow man or woman can volunteer to help simply by installing the app.
As part of the community, you’ll earn points each time you help someone, which elevates your level in the system, giving you more opportunities to help.
If you’ve been looking for a small way to do something that makes you feel good every day, visit BeMyEyes.org and get the app today.