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!
A recent phenomenon in the world of social media is the ability to live stream just about anything from your smartphone.
Apps like Periscope, which was acquired by Twitter, have become all the rage for sharing just about any experience by live streaming the video right from your phone.
The app makes it easy to take your friends and family along on a hike, to a little league game, live music event or just about anything you want to share.
Periscope was initially launched as an iPhone only app, but now it’s available for Android users as well.
Even if you have no interest in sending out live streams of your own, don’t let that stop you from getting the app.
You can find celebrities, news reporters, politicians, sports fans and millions of others that are using Periscope to share events in real-time.
It’s an interesting new trend in sharing you might want to look at.
You can Find the Periscope app in both the iPhone and Android app stores.
We’ve all heard the adage that the two happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the day that they buy the boat and the day that they sell it.
With this in mind, renting someone else’s boat seems to be a great way to avoid the perils of boat ownership.
If you’ve never taken a vacation on a sailboat or catamaran, I highly recommend it and a new website called Sailo can make it happen.
Sailo has created a network that’s like the AirBnB of boat ownership, since most boats sit idle for most of the year.
Whether you want to find a small powerboat or a 50’ foot catamaran for a luxury cruise, Sailo makes it easy.
AND, You don’t have to be a seasoned sailor to make use of these boats because you can find them with a captain as well.
At the moment, the boats are only in some areas of New York and Florida, but if it catches on, watch for it to expand.
Checkit out at S A I L O.com
Are you being throttled? Wouldn’t you like to know if your Internet Service Provider is throttling your unlimited service package?
Several ISPs have been caught over the years lowering the bandwidth of customers on unlimited bandwidth packages once they’ve passed a certain level of usage.
Most people don’t realize it’s happening, but everything just seems to take a lot longer to load.
If you still have an unlimited data package for your smartphone, there’s an easy way to test your bandwidth to see if you’re being throttled.
Download the Ookla Speedtest app, do several speed tests at the beginning of your billing cycle and make note of the speeds.
Then, do the same tests towards the end of your billing cycle to see if the speeds are significantly slower, if they are, you’re probably being throttled!
What good is having an unlimited data plan if the data speeds are clamped down because you’re actually using it?
The link to download the testing app is at datadoctors.com/radio.
Doesn’t it seem like we live our lives on e-mail these days, especially when it comes to our work?
A big time waster is responding to multiple messages with the same response, especially if they’re spread out through the day.
Well if you use Gmail, there’s a free feature you can turn on called Canned Responses that can make this process super smooth.
Once you turn it on, you can take any chunk of text and turn it into a canned response that can be inserted into any message with just a few clicks of the mouse!
No more having to copy and paste text that you use over and over again or signatures that you use, depending upon who you want to respond as.
The Canned Response feature is part of the experimental tools available via Google Labs, which can be accessed from the Settings menu in Gmail.
I’ve posted a link to step-by-step instructions on how to turn this awesome feature on at DataDoctors.com/radio.
Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets or by the pool or at the lake with today’s tip.
I love having music wherever I go, so I’m always testing out new Bluetooth speakers and boy did I find a winner!
The Boom Swimmer waterproof speaker is one of my favorite new audio gadgets, because not only does it sound great, it’s extremely flexible in how you use it.
It comes with a unique rubber tail that lets you wrap it around just about anything so the speaker can be mounted everywhere.
Handlebars, backpacks, showerheads; the possibilities are endless.
It also comes with a suction cup, which allows you to slap it on flat surfaces which can enhance the bass as well.
And this bad boy isn’t water resistant, it’s waterproof, so if it falls in the pool or gets soaked when someone does a gainer, it’s no big deal.
I’ve found them on Amazon for @$50, so just search for Boom Swimmer Waterproof Speaker if you’re interested!
Cloud-based storage services are everywhere these days: iCloud, Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive and the list goes on.
They all start you out with free storage that can range from 5 to 15 Gigabytes, which can be ample for those that don’t generate much content.
But for those that take a lot of pictures or video with their smartphones, that’s not nearly enough.
Most of these companies all use the freemium business model; get the basics for free and charge for the premium.
If you’ve hit the free limit of your cloud storage service because of your pictures and videos, I’ve got some great news for you!
Google recently updated it’s photo storage system and app and now you can get unlimited storage for free.
Both iPhone and Android users can take full advantage of the free storage via the Google Photos App.
The best part is that Google won’t compress your smartphone pictures or video like they did with Google+
Hey all you frustrated iCloud users, I’m talking to you...get this app now!
Reminders are a critical tool we all use on our smartphones, but most people only set reminders based on time.
In many cases, setting reminders based on location is much more useful.
For instance, you can tell Siri to ‘remind me to pickup air filters when I’m at Home Depot’ as long as you have Home Depot set up as a location in your address book.
If you’re an Android user, you can tell Google Now the same thing, but because it’s so tightly integrated with Google Maps, you don’t have to pre-define the location.
If you set this reminder and choose any location, you’ll get the notification when you walk in to any store, which I find to be much more useful.
iPhone users can use Google Now via the Google Search app, if you want to set location reminders for places that aren’t in your address book.
If you haven’t been using location based reminders, once you do, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them!
I’m not a hardcore gamer, but I do enjoy the escape of an entertaining game from time to time.
One that recently caught my eye uses augmented reality to bring the game into your own physical world.
By using your smartphone and your location, you’re suddenly thrust into a world that has discovered something called exotic matter and you have to decide if you are going to be part of the enlightened or resistance factions.
It essentially turns your local environment into a sort of capture the flag scenario.
You’re told where the nearest ‘portals’ are, which are generally points of interest in your physical environment, that contain this exotic matter.
The game is played by visiting these portals and executing various actions while you are there.
It’s a way to discover things in your area, get some exercise and experience augmented reality all at the same time.
It’s a pretty interesting shift in game playing you can checkout at https://ingress.com
Helping charitable organizations out with a small donation shouldn’t only happen when we hear about horrible tragedies around the world.
That’s the perspective behind an awesome app called One Today that’s been put together by Google.
One Today profiles a different non-profit every day, explains their work and makes it easy to donate between one and ten dollars if you’d like to help.
You can also set up match donations to encourage your friends and family join in or use their Pay-it-Forward feature to build up the donation amount from a group.
As you decide to donate to various causes, you can wait to pay it in a lump sum and if it reaches $250, Google will email you a tax deduction certificate.
Helping others always makes you feel better and the One Today app makes it so easy to make a small difference.
Imagine the impact of a couple million people donating one dollar a day, nice work Google!
Learn all about it at https://onetoday.google.com/
There’s no question that social media has become a vital communication tool, much like e-mail and telephones, but many small businesses are still struggling with it.
Getting the basics down is the only way to start to build a useful strategy, so if you or anyone you know is still struggling with the basics, I’ve got a suggestion: take a course.
I know the first reactions is who has time for taking a course, but the course I’m suggesting only takes two minutes a day.
The folks at Buffer, which make one of my favorite social posting tools, have put together a free 7-day, 7-email course that will help you understand the basics in 2 minutes a day.
You’re not going to become an expert after 7 days, but you will get some solid help to build on.
Social media is too important for any business to ignore so if you’re looking for a helping hand, check it out.
I’m a big fan of dual computer displays and can’t imagine functioning at my desk without them.
When I’m on the road and want extended display space, it’s just not practical to carry a second screen around, unless that screen is an iPad.
Mac users have long been able to tether their iPads to their Macbooks, but now Windows users can do the same thing using an app called Duet Display.
By loading the app on your laptop or desktop and iPad, you can easily use your iPad as an extension to your computer.
Once it’s setup, you can drag any program over to the iPad from your desktop, which can be really helpful when you’re working with large spreadsheets or doing a lot of copying and pasting.
It works with Mac or Windows computers and iPads or iPhones as long as they’re physically connected by the charging cable.
If you’ve never experienced the joys of having dual displays, give this cool trick a try.
It’s free and easy to setup. Check it out at http://DuetDisplay.com
If you’re a travel junkie like me or you just love exploration, Google’s Cultural Institute has an amazing tool that you’ll want to bookmark.
World Wonders is a resource that Google has put together that allows you to explore exotic locations, art and museum collections, and lots of historical information from the comfort of your computer or tablet.
Not only can you get lots of information and historical facts, you can explore sites like you’re actually there using Google’s Street View technology
My suggestion for anyone planning a trip to any world heritage site is to spend some time first using the World Wonders website.
It’ll get you familiar with the area you plan to visit and provide extensive detail and historical perspective so you can get the most out of your visit.
You can search the collection based on a person, place, time or event so it’s a great resource for homework assignments as well.
It’s a travel junkie's dream!
The Internet’s great at connecting people with similar interests or needs.
A website called Roomer is attempting to connect people looking for a hotel room with those that can’t use their reservations.
It’s kind of like a StubHub for hotel rooms.
They make it easy to list unused reservations, sell them to others that can use it and do all the work to transfer the reservation to the buyer.
I found the best deals in large cities and when you’re flexible on the dates you’ll stay.
For instance, I found a hotel room in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City for $76 a night that normally costs $170 a night as long as you’re able to stay the 6 nights of the original reservation.
Keep in mind, if you aren’t flexible with your dates, you won’t find as many great deals.
If you ever get stuck with a non-refundable hotel reservation you can’t use, see if Roomer can help you out at https://www.roomertravel.com
As good as the Google Maps app has become, there is still one area that it lacks in functionality a great deal: offline mapping.
Sure you can save specific maps for use offline, but that requires you to know exactly where you’re going to be, which often times isn’t practical.
There’s actually another mapping system that Windows Phone users are familiar with, that iPhone and Android users may find useful.
Nokia’s Here app provides all the standard features found in Google Maps, but is a much better choice for offline mapping.
Offline mapping isn’t just for when you don’t have an Internet connection, it can also save your battery on long treks, because you can put your phone in airplane mode and still get turn-by-turn instructions.
Here offers downloadable maps for over 100 countries and real-time traffic reports in over 40 countries.
It also has public transit maps, directions and information for more than 900 cities around the world.
The app is free and available in both major app stores.
There are lots of websites that offer to help you find great travel deals, but if you have a flexible travel schedule, I really love the Matrix Airfare Search Tool.
You start by entering your departure and destination cities, a 30 day departure date range and the range of days you can stay at your destination.
Once you do, it gather all the latest flight information and displays the cost to fly on each day of the month.
What I like about the way the information is displayed is that you can quickly determine if staying an extra day or cutting your trip by one day can save you a bundle on airfare.
Sites like Kayak or Google Flights are powered by this site and I prefer the way the information is displayed over those other sites.
You can’t book airfare through the site, but spending a few minutes on it before deciding which airline to book through can save you lots of time.
The process for sending large files via email can be time consuming or require your recipient to sign up for a special service.
If you use Gmail and Dropbox, today’s tip will help you leverage them together in new way that streamlines the process.
A recent update to the Dropbox for Gmail extension for the Chrome browser is making sharing large files with others, even if they don’t use Dropbox, a breeze.
By inserting links to the large files in an email message, you eliminate the time needed to upload the files for sharing to a special site or deal with the limitations on file sizes imposed by all email systems.
No need to create zip files or send one file at a time either, because you’re simply sending links directly to your Dropbox files.
You can even share entire folders or use the extension to quickly add files to your Dropbox account that are sent to via Gmail.
I’ve posted the link to the free extension at DataDoctors.com/radio
Detailed smartphone maps are great when you’re traveling and have a cellular connection, but if you get off the beaten path, they’re essentially useless.
That’s where an iPhone app called Anchor Pointer can be a real help.
Since the GPS on your phone can work without cell service, the app essentially turns your phone into a sophisticated compass.
You can create anchors in the app, which are waypoints for the GPS to use for navigation.
For instance, if you’re going on a hike, you can create an anchor where you parked your car or if you’re staying in a remote area, you can create an anchor where your countryside B&B is located.
Using GPS coordinates, the Anchor Pointer app can provide direction and distance to any of your anchors without having to reference a map.
If you’re traveling with a group, you can use the ‘meet a friend’ feature to coordinate gatherings or meetups.
Anchor Pointer costs $1.99 and is available in the Apple AppStore
We all belong to various groups such as PTOs, kid’s sports teams or charitable organizations that from time to time need to collect funds from the group.
The smaller the organization, the more likely it is to rely on the old school method of collecting individual checks from everyone, which can be a logistical nightmare.
A site called Cheddar Up was born out of the frustration for both the collecting and paying parties for this common task.
Cheddar Up is an easy way to create a customized digital collection system that can be setup in a matter of minutes.
Payments can be made with credit cards or e-checks and it costs the organizer nothing to use.
It tracks everything for you and even provides an automated reminder e-mail system to eliminate the awkward follow ups that many organizers dread.
Collecting money for weddings, funerals or anything else you’ll need just got a lot easier.
The next time you’re on either end of these transactions, visit http://www.cheddarup.com to see if it can work for you!
This is an alert to all you road warriors out there; you may want to checkout a new service called DUFL.
They’re offering to take the hassle of laundry and packing off the busy traveler’ s to-do list.
Once you download the iPhone app and register, DUFL sends you a large suitcase to fill with the clothes you typically wear on various trips.
Once it’s ready, they pick it up and ship it to their warehouse where they inventory, clean and store it for you.
From then on, simply open the app, select the clothes you want and schedule the bag to be sent to your destination.
Your trips are now luggage free and you’ve eliminated the laundry task, because your bag gets picked up and sent back to the warehouse for cleaning and storing when you’re done.
The service isn’t cheap at $100 a trip, but if you’re routinely paying a $25 checked bag fee each way, it starts to look a little more economical.
Learn all about it at D U F L .com http://www.dufl.com
Yesterday, I told you about the PackPoint app that helps you stay organized when packing for a trip.
Today, I wanted to introduce you to the Travel Butler app, which can be really helpful when you’re traveling to unfamiliar cities or countries.
Just like PackPoint, it creates a packing list based on your destination and the weather, but adds in two additional suggestions: where to eat and what to see.
Travel Butler integrates with Foursquare to find popular places that trending on the social network, so it’s like using crowdsourcing to find fun and unique to visit.
Once you set your destination and length of stay, it creates a packing list and creates categories for activities for once you get there like tours, sightseeing, restaurants, bars and cafes.
It also monitors the weather so it can update you on the latest weather forecasts just before you leave for your trip.
Travel Butler is free, but currently only available to iPhone and iPad users via Apple’s App Store.
Whenever you’re preparing for a trip, remembering to pack all the right items is essential.
There’s nothing worse than getting to your destination and discovering you forgot an essential item, like a bathing suit or umbrella.
An app called PackPoint is a great way to minimize this travel trauma, because it helps you pack based on where you’re going and what you’re doing.
It starts by asking you your gender, destination, number of nights you’re staying and the activities you’re planning on doing.
It then checks the weather at your destination and assembles a suggested packing list.
You simply scroll down the list and pick the items that are relevant to you to create your own customized list, including reminders to take business cards, cell phone chargers and VPN keyfobs if it’s a business trip.
Once you’re done, you can share your packing list via e-mail or copy and paste the list to any other program for future use.
PackPoint is free and available for both iPhone and Android smartphone users.