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 technical wizards over at Skype are working on something that could be a truly amazing breakthrough: real-time translation.
They are slowly rolling out their Skype Translator preview program which will kick-off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English.
The system is designed to translate spoken words into text and audio on a nearly instant basis, so it’s like what we’ve seen in the movies forever.
They will also provide instant messaging translation in over 40 languages in the initial roll out with plans to expand to other spoken languages over time.
If the demo video of two groups of school children in the US and Mexico are any indication, this is going to be epic.
The system uses machine learning which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets.
At the moment, the preview is only available to those that have signed up for test that are running Windows 8.1 on their computer or mobile device.
If you want to sign up for the preview, the link is at DataDoctors.com/radio
Anyone with an iPhone knows about the ongoing challenge of maximizing battery life while still making use of all the great features and apps.
One of the tips for extending battery life that’s been circulating for years is to close background apps, but that may actually be costing you battery life.
By default, iPhone apps in the background aren’t allowed to run, so they’re only taking up working memory, which is automatically managed by the phone.
For apps you use frequently, relaunching them every time requires more energy than switching back to them if they are in the background.
What you can do is disable location and background refresh settings on battery killing apps like Facebook.
These tips and other nuggets of knowledge have been posted by a former Apple Store Genius Bar employee and self proclaimed nerd, Scotty Loveless.
If you’re really looking to squeeze the most out of your iPhone battery, it’s worth reading through what this iPhone nerd has discovered from working with hundreds of users.
The link is at DataDoctors.com/radio
The latest Android operating system is 5.0 and codenamed Lollipop but just because you have an Android smartphone doesn’t mean you’ll get to download it.
When you get the update has a lot to do with which brand of smartphone you have and which cellular network you’re using.
One of the more useful features of Lollipop is a notification system that mimics the iPhone’s notification center.
With it, notifications appear as momentary pop-ups at the top or bottom allowing you to tap it if it’s important, swipe it if you want to get rid of it or just ignore it and let it fade away.
If you don’t want to wait for the 5.0 update to become available on your Android handset, checkout an app called Heads-up notifications.
This free app will be especially helpful for anyone that migrated from an iPhone to an Android handset and misses these types of notifications.
If you want to give it a try, the direct link is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Making sure you use a different password for each of your online accounts is nearly impossible if you’re going to rely on your memory.
Password management apps are one way of maintaining good security without having to remember everything and there are lots of great options available.
A couple that I like include RoboForm and LastPass, but another company called DashLane is working on something new.
Having your passwords compromised is likely to occur when someone you do business with gets breached, so Dashlane wants to make changing passwords much easier.
Dashlane can automatically change passwords on over 75 popular online accounts with a single click whenever you hear about a high-profile breach.
Their password generator comes up with a new, strong password, makes the change for you automatically, and saves it for future use.
Breaches are a fact of life and Dashlane is trying to make dealing with them quick and easy.
The tool is currently in beta, but the link to get on the waiting list is at DataDoctors.com/radio.
As we near the end of 2014, the inevitable lists reviewing everything from the most popular movies and music to the top in viral videos will all we hear about.
My contribution to this tradition is to present 2014’s most dangerous celebrity.
No, not a Gary Busey vs Steven Seagal showdown, but the most dangerous celebrity to search for on the Internet.
Every year, the folks at McAfee compiles the list of the most dangerous cyber celebrities because cyber criminals routinely use them to lure surfers into malware traps.
This year, Jimmy Kimmel is the favorite bait to deliver malware and viruses via the Internet.
Jimmy Kimmel related searches yield a nearly one-in-five chance of landing on a malicious site, according to McAfee.
The really dangerous stuff is what appears to be downloadable videos or other material that is generally protected by copyrights.
Jimmy has the distinct honor of kicking last year’s most dangerous celebs, the Kardashian clan to the curb.
With this in mind, be careful what you click on when big news breaks about any celebrity in 2015!
The ramifications and future implications of the massive hack of Sony Pictures continues to grow as the FBI places blame directly on the North Korean government.
The cyber security industry continues to examine the entrails as the details come out, but one big lesson that every business can learn from the hack is simple.
Since nothing is unhackable, using some form of encryption on sensitive corporate data will go a long way to limiting the damage if your computers are compromised.
Most massive hacks start with simple social engineering tricks generally via e-mail that allow the initial intrusion.
Rather than spend weeks or months trying to break traditional security barriers, hackers know that sending clever emails will get the job done quicker.
Continuously educating employees on email safety and incorporating encryption for sensitive data are basic security measures these days.
Hacking tactics are becoming more clever and destructive, so it’s important to think like a hacker to protect your assets.
Let Sony’s pain be your businesses gain by reviewing your data security measures.
If you’ve noticed that strange things just seem to pop up on your computer over time, it’s most likely from new apps or programs that you’ve installed.
A common practice these days is to sneak third-party programs into a printer installation program or utility such as Java when it’s downloaded or updated.
The key to catching these useless programs and changes to your computer is to pay close attention during the installation routine.
The software companies are counting on you not paying attention and just hitting next, next, next, I agree.
Another way to trick you into allowing junk software into your computer is by convincing you that the standard installation is the recommended installation.
They make it sound like you have to be a rocket scientist to choose the custom installation, but that’s where you’ll get to see what they are trying to sneak past you.
From this point forward, always choose the advanced or custom installation option whenever you’re adding any new software to your computer so you can stop it before it happens.
This tip is the key to keeping them from messing up your browser with extra toolbars or changing your default search engine or start page.
If you’re a runner, you know how much of a difference the right music can make on your workouts.
It can keep you going and in some cases motivate you to run longer, especially if the music is in time with your running pace.
If you’ve tried creating playlists that compliments your running pace, you know how time consuming it can become.
If you want an easier way to find music that compliments your running style, checkout an app called RockMyRun.
RockMyRun puts together music mixes that focus on Beats Per Minute, so you get a consistant mix of songs throughout your run.
You can search for mixes based on genre, beats per minute, length or whether the lyrics are explicit or not.
The standard mixes are free and are up to 45 minutes in length. A premium membership gives you access to mixes that are longer than 45 minutes and adds other extras like the MyBeat feature.
MyBeat allows you to change the beats per minute of the entire mix, so you can dial it in to match perfectly with your pace.
RockMyRun for iPhone or Android smartphones; take it on your next run!
If you’re a regular user of Uber, you should be aware that when you schedule a ride near a large event, you could get hit with their surge pricing.
During peak times around large events, rates have been known to go up as high as 10 times the normal rate.
If you’re using Uber around a major event or in a congested, high traffic area, you need to make sure you’re paying attention before you book.
If you have an iPhone, there’s actually a better way to avoid surge pricing with a free app called SurgeProtector.
SurgeProtector looks for areas nearby that either have lower surge rates or non-surge rates, so you can walk a few blocks and save a few bucks.
When you find a spot with a lower rate, you can schedule your Uber pickup at that location instead in the more expensive surge areas.
If you like using Uber, use SurgeProtection for the iPhone first to keep it cheap.
As you may have figured out by now, I’m a huge music fanatic and I’m constantly searching for great songs, old and new.
I like revisiting older bands by searching for their greatest hits for both discovery and rediscovery.
While doing this last week, I ran across a website that I had never used called TheTopTens.com.
Unlike a traditional top ten list that’s typically curated by a single individual, this site uses crowdsourcing to determine what the crowd thinks are the top ten.
And it’s not just music; want to know the best nail polish? How about the top ten holiday gifts?
And if you want to throw your two cents in by voting on any list, you don’t have to sign up for an account; just click Vote!
Anyone can start a top ten list to get feedback from the crowd, so there’s no limit to types of lists you’ll find.
Whether you’re looking for new bands, new songs or doing research for something more serious, http://TheTopTens.com is a pretty awesome resource.
Smartphones are pretty smart, but today’s tip will make your smartphone even smarter!
If your contact list has become an overwhelming mess, checkout an app called Humin, that’s H U M I N.
It will completely change the way you interact with your iPhone.
Humin is designed to remember people by how you come to know them.
When you meet someone new, Humin helps you remember the circumstances in which you met so it can add context to your contacts.
Instead of scrolling through an enormous alphabetical contact list, Humin that lets you search with terms like "lives in Houston" or “met last month”.
Humin integrates in the background with your email, calendar, contacts, Facebook and LinkedIn, so it can remember all the context surrounding your contacts.
Humin is a great way to help you connect with the people who are relevant, when they’re relevant.
It’s like having a personal digital assistant with a photographic memory and an amazing attention to context.
If you’re an iPhone user, visit H U M I N.com to learn more
Google Maps are awesome when you have an Internet connection and basically useless when you don’t.
If you know exactly where you’re going to be in an area with no access in advance, you can create an offline map, but often times you don’t get this luxury.
For those situations, an app called Maps.me allows you to download offline maps for an entire region or country so you can get detailed information without Internet access
Just like with Google Maps, you can get basic directions from your current location to your destination even without a GPS signal.
Think of it as an electronic version of traditional paper maps without the ‘folding it back’ problem.
With 345 countries and islands covered by the app, it’s a pretty handy app for international travelers as well.
It works differently than Google Maps, so make sure to work with it at home before hitting the road.
Maps.me is free and available for iPhone and Android users.
If you’ve owned an iPhone for a while, you probably have a plethora of pictures in your camera roll.
I’m willing to bet that a large number of the images are bad or useless pictures that you have no use for, but you just haven’t gotten around to deleting them.
As awesome as the iPhone is, clearing out the clutter on your camera roll isn’t terribly efficient if you need to see more than thumbnails.
A free iPhone app called Cleen, that’s spelled C L E E N makes sorting through and deleting your images in full size much faster.
The Cleen app uses swiping gestures to quickly determine what you want to do with each picture.
Swipe up if you want to keep it, swipe down if you want to delete it and swipe to the left if you can’t decide which puts the images in a do-it-later queue.
Once you’re done, just click on the trash icon to delete all the images at once. Viola!
Weather apps are a dime a dozen and they all pretty much do the same thing...give you their best guess about the weather.
Most of them are free, so featuring yet another weather app that actually costs money wouldn’t make much sense unless it did something really useful.
Well, the Weather or Not app does actually do something different that you might find useful and worth paying for.
It pairs your location, calendar events and the weather forecasts all on one screen so you can see how it will affect your plans.
In addition to traditional weather information, you’ll see your calendar events each with their own forecasts and locations.
This can be especially helpful if you travel a lot and need to properly pack for a variation of weather forecasts in various locations.
The app uses the Weather Channel’s forecasts and provide a detailed 7-day weather graph integrated with your events.
Weather or Not costs $2.99 and it’s currently only available for iPhone users via the Apple app store.
Social media is a great way to chronicle our lives, which becomes more evident if you take the time to look back at posts from the past.
But for most of us, it’s kind of like all those photo albums you have sitting on your shelf that haven’t been looked at for years.
An app I’ve talked about in the past called TimeHop makes strolling down memory lane automatic.
When I featured it before, it only worked with Facebook, but now you can use it with Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Flickr and the camera roll on your phone.
Once you set it up, you get a nice reminder every morning of things you posted on that day in the past.
It’s like being shown one page of that old photo album every day; it’s a great way to revisit those otherwise lost memories of the past.
It’s like your very own private Throw Back Thursday every day!
Timehop is free and available for both iPhone and Android users at http://TimeHop.com
When the battery on your phone dies and your significant other is trying to reach you, it can appear as if you are ignoring them.
Without a response, the anxiety and frustration can grow quickly.
This very scenario is what caused an app developer to create a more useful way to provide status updates to important people in your life.
The app is aptly named Status and unlike other options, it can do a lot of the work for you automatically.
Using motion sensors, phone and calendar information, it can automatically update your status to driving, at work, at home, in a meeting, unreachable and most importantly that your battery is low.
Android users can use the app to ask simple Yes-No questions or flip over to your text messaging app for more detailed exchanges.
Parents may also find this useful so they know not to reach out to a child if they are driving, for instance.
Knowing the status before you try to communicate can save everyone a lot of anxiety.
Get the free app at TryStatus.com
If you’re like most consumers of beer or wine, you tend to stick to the products you know, especially if you aren’t that adventurous.
Even if you are adventurous, trying to pick a new wine or beer from a wall of options can be intimidating.
That’s where an app called NextGlass comes in handy.
NextGlass uses science and technology to help predict how much you might enjoy that next bottle based on what you tell it you already like.
Once you build your taste profile, scan any label to instantly get a personal score while you’re shopping for something new.
You can also use the Glass Match feature to find beer and wine that tastes similar to your existing favorites.
The app even tells you what’s inside the bottle, like calories, sugar content and alcohol level.
If you’ve been looking for help figuring out what to try next, Next Glass is like having a personal expert that knows your taste right in your phone.
It’s a free app and available for iPhone and Android users; Cheers!
This is the time of year that you can count on the best deals for just about any kind of electronic gadget you have on your shopping list.
But a word of warning: the lowest price is rarely the best deal.
Shopping for electronics solely based on the price plays right into the hands of retailers that are only interested in moving product.
In order to be the cheapest in any category, the manufacturer has to cut corners because the gross margins in electronics are so thin.
This can result in batteries that don’t stay charged very long, compatibility issues with software and apps or in some cases, security holes in the device.
Stick to name brand products from retailers that you know that have a liberal return policy.
The cheaper the product, the more research you need to do before making the purchase.
Finding user feedback on any gadget is easy; just search for the device followed by the word ‘review’.
If you can’t find anything online, take a pass or risk becoming a guinea pig!
If you love hiking as much as I do, finding new trails to explore wherever you go becomes a bit of an obsession.
Just because it’s getting colder all around us doesn’t mean you have to give up this great form of exercise.
There are lots of great resources on the Internet for discovering new trails, but I generally start with one in particular: AllTrails.com
With 50,000 trails and 700,000 members, the mind share from this resource is simply incredible.
You can search for trails that are kid or dog friendly, include waterfalls or accommodate mountain biking.
You can see the approximate distance and time of each hike as well as the difficulty and user ratings.
And it’s really easy to find the best hikes nearby based on your location; a great way to find those hidden gems right in your own backyard.
The amount of information you can gather on any potential hike is amazing and http://AllTrails.com‘s mobile apps make it even easier to discover great new adventures everywhere you go.
The ongoing battle to protect yourself on the Internet just got a nice boost from Google.
Since we all have a Google account of some sort, knowing how and when your account has been accessed is a quick way to check for suspicious activity.
Google’s Device and Activity Dashboard makes it easy to see a complete list of all the computers and devices that have accessed your account in the last 28 days, including anything that’s currently signed in.
When possible, they include general location information to help you determine if the device is one of yours.
If any suspicious activity is noticed, there’s an option to immediately take steps to secure your account and change the password.
Even if you don’t see anything suspicious, take a second to click the ‘Secure your account’ link at the top.
It’ll run you through five ways to secure your account including a review of all the apps, websites and devices that currently have access to your account.
I’ve posted the direct link to the dashboard at DataDoctors.com/radio
One of the reasons that the Internet can be a dangerous place these days is from something known as scripts.
Scripts are like macros in your word processor; they're a list of commands that automatically run when you visit the site.
While the use of scripts can range from generating animation to serving ads, they can also be used to coax your computer to execute malicious commands in the background.
One of best ways to prevent being exploited by rogue scripts is to use an add-on for the Firefox browser called NoScript.
NoScript prevents any script from running unless it’s from a trusted website that you’ve approved, so you can slowly customize the filter.
While most scripts are needed in order for a website to function properly, putting you in control of when and if provides an extra layer of protection.
Now, because NoScript is a free open-source tool, it does require you to spend some time learning how it works, but it’s time well spent.
Check it out at https://noscript.net