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 Apple TV is a wonderful device but I have a bone to pick with Apple. The remote is so small and sleek that it constantly disappears.
Whether it ends up between the cushions of the couch or it disappears underneath magazines on the coffee table, the refrain is always the same: has anyone seen the Apple TV remote.
Well, I have a cure for anyone suffering in a house full of users; program your primary remote to control the Apple TV box.
Buried in the Settings of the Apple TV is a simple way to take an unused input of your cable or television’s universal remote and add it.
Most remotes have an option for controlling a VCR, which most of us don’t use anymore, so that usually works perfectly.
The process only takes a few minutes and it’s changed the world at my house.
I’ve posted a link to the instructions at DataDoctors.com/radio.
Tomorrow, I’ll help all you Roku Box users with a similar tip
Free apps on our smartphones are great, especially when they become something you use every day.
Well, if you’re on a limited data plan or constantly running out of battery power, you may want to be careful using those free-ad driven apps all the time.
It turns out they can cost you by chewing up your battery and your data plan.
A recent report by researchers at USC and two other universities showed that the ads in many free apps can use up to 79% more of your network data than apps that aren’t ad driven.
It also showed that they drained 16% more energy and used 22% more memory in order to constantly deliver new ads .
If your phone seems sluggish and always running low on power, those free games could be why.
Free apps often require more permissions to run as well, so you can throw privacy concerns in for good measure.
To pay or not to pay...that is the question, the next time you’re choosing an app.
Google threw its hat into the wireless services ring last week when it launched Project Fi in the US.
It’s an ultra-low cost wireless service with some pretty interesting features.
The basic package starts at $20 a month for talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering and international coverage in 120+ countries, plus $10 a month for each Gigabyte of data you use.
It’s a pay as you go plan, so you don’t have to commit to any specific data plan and any unused data under your threshold gets credited to your next bill.
Google partnered with T-Mobile and Sprint to make this happen and included technology to figure out the best connection wherever you are.
It’ll automatically switch between Wi-Fi and LTE when you’re on a call and stay connected to the closest network that offers the fastest speeds.
At the moment, the only phone that’ll work on their network is the Nexus 6 and it’s invitation only, but it’ll expand.
If you’re looking for a low cost wireless alternative, checkout https://fi.google.com
What app has 800 million users, but is still relatively unknown by a large number of you listening to this right now? It’s an app called WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is a great alternative to the specialized messaging platforms like Apple’s iMessage because it works on any type of device.
When you install the app, it will automatically sync up your contact list with their user base, so all your friends that use it will just show up!
For those that don’t have an unlimited texting plan, WhatsApp eliminates the worry because it sends the tiny messages via data instead.
WhatsApp has long been the choice of those that communicate internationally, whether they’re on vacation or on a business trip.
And now it’s even better because you can make free voice calls with WhatsApp on Android or iOS devices.
There are a number of use cases for the app, especially if you have friends or family that live abroad, so give it a try for yourself at WhatsApp.com
Passwords continue to be the weakest link in cybersecurity and you’ve heard me talk extensively about why it’s important to use a different password for each online account.
I’ve given you lots of suggestions for password management tools, but for some, it’s still overwhelming.
Well, I have a low tech suggestion if you’re still struggling with keeping track of your passwords; write them down!
Now I don’t mean write them on a sticky note and put it on your display, I mean write them down and store them somewhere safe, like buried deep on your phone.
The key is not to use “password” anywhere in the description and use your own form of encryption just in case someone discovers the file.
For instance, add four random characters or numbers to the beginning of the actual password, so only you will know to ignore them.
If you have to choose between using the same password everywhere and writing unique passwords down, then write them down so you’re whole life isn’t exposed by one data breach.
Google’s recent change to how their search engine decides which websites are most relevant could have an impact on a lot of websites.
If you’re a business that relies on your website to generate customers, you need to take a few minutes to make sure your site isn’t a victim of what many are calling MobileGeddon.
Google’s adjustments are a reflection of the massive shift towards mobile usage around the world, especially when it comes to search.
If your website isn’t deemed ‘mobile-friendly’ by their search algorithm, you’re going to see a drop in traffic from mobile users.
Sites that are mobile-friendly will get preferential treatment by Google when the user is on a smartphone, which is a huge audience these days.
So what should you do? The first thing is to test your site with Google’s Mobile Friendly Test page to see if you need to make changes.
I’ve posted a detailed explanation along with the links you need to make sure you’re mobile friendly at DataDoctors.com/radio
How many remote controls do you have laying around your living room?
And even if you have a universal remote, how often do you have to go searching for it?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just use your smartphone as a universal remote?
Well, depending upon which smartphone you have, you may be able to.
Some Android handsets have Infrared built in, so in those cases, installing the free Peel app is all you need to do.
For iPhone users, a new device called Pronto pairs with the Peel app to turn your phone into a universal remote.
The Pronto, which costs $50, is a multi-directional transmitter that has a range of up to 80 feet.
It uses 4 AA batteries that last about a year, so you can set it up anywhere in your room.
It currently only works with iPhones, but an Android version is in the works and scheduled for release later this year.
See how it all works at http://GetPronto.com
If you’re a user of Google’s online productivity tools like Docs, Forms and Sheets, I’ve got a really cool add-on you might want to get.
It’s called Save As Doc and it allows you to easily turn a spreadsheet into a document.
This can be really handy when you’re trying to incorporate spreadsheet information in a report especially when text in a cell is too large to display as a spreadsheet.
You can convert the entire spreadsheet or select specific adjacent cells that you want to convert into a completely editable document.
This tool is especially helpful when a spreadsheet is the result of a questionnaire created in Google Forms.
No more formatting issues when you try to copy and paste information from a spreadsheet into a document.
You can even force a page break after each row of data, which makes the results in your report much easier to keep straight.
Save As Doc is a free add-on and only works with Google Chrome.
I’ve got the download link posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
When it comes to picking the best case for your phone, the options are pretty endless.
Some of the most popular cases include a secondary battery to extend your up time, but the PWR Case by Prong takes it one step further.
The PWR Case eliminates the need for you to carry around a charger and charging cable, because with a touch of a button, power prongs pop out of the back of the case.
You can recharge the battery by itself or with your phone when you plug it into the wall.
We’ve all been there; you either left your charger or the charging cable at home and your phone’s on fumes.
If you’re a power user that’s constantly running low on power, the convenience and flexibility of this unique design could be just what you’re looking for.
The PWR Case is currently only available for iPhone 5 or 5S, but an iPhone 6 case is in the works.
See how it works and get all the details at http://prong.com
If you own an Android smartphone, Google just made it really easy to find your phone when it goes missing.
You can actually go to any computer and type ‘find my phone’ in the Google search engine to locate the missing handset.
Once you sign in with your Google credentials, you’ll get a map of where the phone is and the option to make it start ringing.
Did you leave it in your car, did it fall between the cushions of your couch or did you set it down while you were in your closet?
The ringing will continue for up to 5 minutes, so you have plenty of time to locate it.
If you think it’s been stolen, you can click on the locater to lock it down or erase everything to prevent the thief from accessing your private information.
To make all this possible, just make sure you have the latest version of the Google app installed on your smartphone.
I’ve got a link to the step-by-step instructions posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
A GAO report on cybersecurity risks in the airline industry was all the talk last week, as it implied that next gen airplanes could potentially be brought down because they’re connected to the Internet.
In typical Internet fashion, this story spread like wildfire causing some to believe that flying on an airplane that offered wifi service was now dangerous.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The report was full of speculation about next generation designs and used the word “if” a lot.
Several aircraft and avionics experts have chimed in with very detailed technical explanations as to why this information has been widely misreported.
They stressed that airplanes all have unhackable mechanical backup instruments and even if the autopilot was hacked, disconnecting it instantly terminates the threat.
The hacker sitting in 6F can’t bring the airplane down, despite what you may have heard.
The bottom line here is, there’s no reason to cancel your plane tickets and take a bus or a train.
We all know those selfie obsessed friends that seem to be constantly holding their arm out to snap a picture or maybe you’re that person.
Either way, if selfies are an important part of your life, putting your best face forward is made easier with the Facetune app.
Facetune gives you simple tools to quickly touch up any selfie; their mantra ‘don’t wait for the perfect shot, Facetune it’.
Facetune lets you whiten your teeth, remove blemishes, get rid of bags or dark circles around your eyes and even tweak your smile with the reshaping tool.
You can even use the defocus option to make it look like a professional used an expensive camera to capture your greatness.
Let’s face it, if you’re gonna be self obsessed, spending 4 bucks on a pretty awesome touch up app is a no-brainer, right?
Retouching your image shouldn’t just be for famous celebrities, so if you’re really committed to the ultimate selfie, checkout the http://www.facetuneapp.com app for iPhone, iPad or Android.
On several occasions, I’ve talked about a web resource known as If This Then That or IFTTT that allows you to create recipes that can perform a series of specific tasks automatically.
Well, IFTTT also extends to your camera with the Do Camera app.
Just like with web apps, you can set up a recipe for your camera to quickly perform automated tasks with the images that you take.
For instance, you can use a recipe to automatically upload photos to a specific Facebook album in one tap or send your parents pics over Gmail or send pictures of receipts and important documents to Evernote.
Just like the IFTTT website, you can use recipes created by others or create your own and the options are only limited by your imagination.
You can auto upload to lots of popular web services like Twitter, Tumblr, Wordpress and hundreds of others.
The Do Camera app is free and available for both iPhone and Android users.
Have you ever noticed that some chargers seem to take longer to charge your phone then others?
Well, you’re not imagining things because the output current of the charger known as amperage or bad cables will make a big difference.
The lower the amperage, the longer it’ll take to charge your battery.
It’s always best to use the charger that came with your device, but if that’s not possible, using chargers with the same amperage rating is always recommended.
Usually, you need a special piece of equipment to measure the output current, but if you have an Android device, there’s an app called Ampere that’ll make it easy to see the differences in your various chargers and cables.
Ampere monitors battery charge and drainage as well as temperature and overall health of your battery.
Opening the app and using your various chargers and cables will quickly show you the combinations that will do the best job.
The Ampere app is free and available in the Google Play store
Yesterday, I told you about the 360 degree camera technology that could be the next big thing in video.
Well, capturing video in 360 is only half the equation because if you can’t view it in a meaningful way, what good is it.
Well, the folks at Google made the viewing of these awesome videos on YouTube possible by introducing support for 360 video uploads.
That means if you have the YouTube app installed on an Android phone or tablet, by moving the it around while watching the videos play, you can see all the different angles that were captured.
You can do the same thing on YouTube.com by dragging your mouse around to change the point of view, but the mobile experience is better.
Google’s working on an app that will work on iPhones and iPads, so everyone can enjoy this new world.
You can see examples of 360 videos and learn all about watching them at the link I have posted at DataDoctors.com/radio.
At CES this year, I was really impressed with some of the 360 camera technology I saw.
Not only can you take amazing panoramic 360 degree still images, there are now many options for capturing full 360 degree HD video as well.
All you have to do is search Google for 360 cameras to see some of the up and coming players and the amazing capabilities that they have.
They could even become your home security camera in the near future.
The current prices start around $300 and go up from there and they can capture video from standard resolution all the way up to the new Ultra HD 4K standard.
Some of them are even waterproof, so you can capture underwater scenes in 360.
If you’re looking for a creative way to capture experiences that goes way beyond typical action cams like the GoPro, keep an eye on 360 camera technology.
Tomorrow, I’ll fill you in on what Google’s doing to accommodate this coming trend on YouTube.
We rely on our smartphones so much, that when the battery goes dead or we forget our phones somewhere, panic mode can set in.
A small company in Montreal is attempting to address this common situation with an app called Hotel My Phone.
They refer to it as an AirBnB for phones, because you can temporarily borrow your friend’s phone to access your contacts as well as make and take calls from your phone number.
It works best with people you know; everyone installs the app on their phones and creates a trusted network so when the emergency arises, anyone can log in to any phone and clone their phone number.
If your phone dies and you’re expecting an important phone call or text message, having Hotel My Phone setup on your spouse’s phone could be a life saver.
In network calls and messages are free, but there can be charges for communication outside of your trusted network so make sure you understand the details posted at http://HotelMyPhone.com.
Photo radar systems are a contentious subject for many, especially if you’ve ever been nailed by the tell tale flash.
Lots of apps like Waze are designed to help point out automated traffic devices on the roadways, but now you can get an app from the source.
The ReflexLocator app has been created by RedFlex, the company that actually installs photo enforcement systems in 18 states.
Why would the company that makes money from traffic violations tell you where their equipment is set up, you ask?
According to the press release, their goal is to alert drivers where photo enforcement systems exist and encourage them to drive safely.
Their goal is to modify driver behavior to prevent accidents in the first place in any way possible.
It stands to reason that If accident rates go down because of their technology, they’ll continue to be used by municipalities.
The RedflexLocator app is free and currently only available for iPhone users.
Just search the App Store for redflexlocator with no spaces.
If you own a home, you’re well aware of all of the home improvement tasks that are waiting on you.
Time is generally the biggest enemy, but sometimes its a lack of expertise that keeps you from attacking a project.
Well, there’s an iPhone app for that….and it’s called Fountain.
Fountain is a new entry into the expert network space and what makes it different, is that it offers live expert help that fully uses the power of your smartphone to engage with an expert.
Not only can you talk to them, you can show them what you’re struggling with via live video or use pictures that you can draw to better explain the problem.
It’s like having an expert in your pocket; talk to an architect, interior designer, master gardener, carpenter, plumber or appliance repair specialist whenever you need them.
At $7 per 15 minutes, it’s a pretty cheap option for getting expert help.
If you have an iPhone and a home improvement question, checkout http://fountain.com
If you’re big fan of Apple products, you probably have an iPhone and a Mac that you use every day.
Apple has done a lot to make these two devices work together very nicely.
But did you know that you could tether them so your iPhone would automatically lock your computer when you stepped away and cause it to spring back to action when you returned?
This convenient and powerful security system comes courtesy of an app called Tether.
By loading the tether app on both your smartphone and Mac, both of which are free, you can actually make this happen.
And you don’t have to worry about Tether draining your iPhone’s battery to accomplish this magic because it uses Bluetooth Smart which is low energy.
If you work in an open environment or at home and want to control snooping eyes, this is probably one of the best tips I’ve ever given you.
Learn all about it and get the app for your Mac and iPhone at http://hellotether.com.
Honey, I need to print something from my iPhone!
This recent request from my wife reminded me of a tip I gave years ago that’s even more useful today.
Since we all seem to use Google services every day, why not include printing just about anything from anywhere with Google Cloud Print.
As long as you have a Google account of some sort, you simply configure your printer on your computer so that it becomes available via the Internet.
Not only can you print from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, you can also send a print job from your office computer to your home printer and vice versa.
Heck, you could even invite your friends, family and colleagues to print to your printer, if you needed to; like when someone’s having a printing emergency.
Cloud Print works with cloud-ready or traditional printers and allows you to print from a whole host of apps and devices.
To get started with this awesome tool, just go to http://Google.com/cloudprint