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!
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
Today’s tip is for anyone that has a rental property or rents a place from a private individual.
Whether you’re the landlord or the tenant, if you’re still using the old fashioned deliver a check method, you know how inconvenient it can be for both sides.
A web service called Cozy can make this monthly task a lot easier.
If you’re the landlord, it takes all of 10 minutes to setup your rental property and bank information so your tenant can start paying online.
If you’re a tenant with roommates, splitting the rent payments is easy to do, so you’ll never have to play the ‘chase the roommates for a check’ ever again.
And the best part is, there’s no fee to use the payment system; it’s free for both the tenant and the landlord.
Cozy also has other features for landlords, including online rental applications, applicant screening and listing your property on their network.
If you feel like I’ve been talking to you, visit http://Cozy.co to learn more
The sharing economy has led to extremely popular startups like Uber and AirBnB because they leverage the power of the smartphone.
And now, a well funded startup called Roadie is attempting to compete with UPS and Fedex by creating what they call a neighbor-to-neighbor shipping network.
Their network is designed to match those that are already going from one place to another with those that have something they want delivered between those same two points.
They call these deliveries Gigs and they’re insured up to $500; think of it as carpooling for cargo.
You post a Gig by describing what you want delivered along with the route, then potential drivers called ‘roadies’ offer to make it happen.
You can track the progress of your delivery and connect with the driver along the way, right from the app.
The Waffle House chain has even stepped in as a meeting place for packages that also offers roadies a free waffle and a drink.
Http:\\Roadie.com is just getting started, but it’s a sharing network to watch.
Remembering all your passwords continues to plague most Internet users, so Yahoo has come up with an interesting way to deal with the problem: get rid of the traditional password.
Yahoo recently activated a new service called “on-demand” passwords, which lets anyone log into a Yahoo account using a short password the company texts to your phone instead of having to remember your password.
To set it up, just sign into your Yahoo account with your normal password and go to the security settings where you can register your phone and activate on-demand passwords.
From then on, when you try to sign in, the password field is replaced by a button that says “send my password,” which will send a text message with a four-character password to your phone.
This temporary password is only good for a short period of time, so it’s useless if someone sees it later.
This does require you to always have your phone with you, but I think that’s easier to remember than your passwords, right?
Smartphones and tablets continue to grow in popularity and one of the big reasons: apps!
If you’ve been thinking about creating an app for your business or organization, but there just isn’t a budget for it, a startup that debuted at SXSW is worth taking a look at.
The Instant AppMachine enables just about anyone to create a mobile app in minutes with no coding experience required!
Now this DIY approach isn’t going to compete with the sophistication of a professional app builder, but if you just want to create a simple app, it’s pretty easy to do.
The website highlights uses for artists, restaurants, non-profits, tourism and events but just about any type of business could benefit from this tool.
There’s no charge for using the app builder but you’ll pay $20 to $70 a month if you decide you want to publish your app in the various app stores.
You can get all the details or start building your first app at http://appmachine.com
When a problem pops up with your computer and you want to find the tech support number, Google’s a good place to find it, right?
A growing number of people are being victimized when they call what they believe to be legitimate numbers for tech support that they found in a search.
For instance, searching for ‘Norton Antivirus Tech Support’ displays mostly companies posing as tech support that have nothing to do with Norton software.
Some even post toll free numbers in the ads, knowing that some will simply call the first number that appears when they search.
One elderly woman was scammed out of $7,000 over a year’s time because she thought she was working directly with Norton.
The best way to make sure you’re getting the official support resources for any company is to manually type their address and add the word support to the end.
In Norton’s case, you’d type norton.com/support
I’ve got more tips for avoiding this growing scam posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Saving money is such an important skill set, but so many Americans struggle with doing it consistently or at all.
The average savings for people under the age of 35 is almost non-existent.
An interesting attempt to help solve this problem comes from a well funded startup called Digit.
Digit’s aim is simple, automate your savings plan based on your actual personal cash flow.
Digit's algorithm monitors your income and spending patterns then calculates the exact amount of money you won't be missing and automatically transfers it to a savings account.
It’s generally small amounts of money that ranges from $1 to $150 and it’s transferred to an FDIC insured account.
Digit is free to use and charges no fees, but the money in your savings account won’t earn any interest.
It’s not like the spare change in your checking account is earning any real interest anyway, so if you’re looking for an easy way to save, checkout http://Digit.co to learn more.
The Internet’s filled with websites that claim to know the best day and time to book airline travel, but it’s much too complex to be that simple.
If you generally plan your trips in advance, checkout the website and app from a company called Hopper.
Hopper helps you with tips on the best time to shop, buy and fly a specific route.
The website lets you run reports to lookup what a good deal is for any trip you’re considering before you start shopping and if you’re flexible, drill down to the best days to fly.
Their data mining also predicts whether prices are likely to go up or down and which airlines are generally the cheapest for your route.
The iPhone app will monitor your desired trip and constantly check prices to find great deals and can notify you the instant you should buy.
If you looking for better information before you book a flight, checkout http://Hopper.com for the app and a link to their travel reports
A couple of weeks ago, you heard all about the new Apple Watch from Tim Cook and his gang.
Despite all the hype, there was something much more important announced at that event that didn’t get nearly enough recognition: the ResearchKit app platform.
Apple decided to help the research community by making it easy for anyone with an iPhone to volunteer to be part of a research study.
Apparently, it’s not uncommon to be limited to 20 or 30 subjects in many research studies and this new platform is already paying dividends.
Stanford University cardiovascular disease research is one of the first 5 apps to launch and in the first day, they had 11,000 people sign up to be part of the study.
According the Stanford, it would have taken 50 medical centers a year to sign up that many participants.
The apps are currently targeting Parkinson's, diabetes, asthma, breast cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
iPhone users can search for ResearchKit in the App Store to learn more.
Today’s tip starts with a quick explanation of some geek speak: word cloud
A word cloud is a visual representation of a large amount of text, with the most prominently used words in larger fonts or special colors.
Word clouds are a great way to quickly extract important themes in large bodies of text.
For instance, if you’re a business that asks for feedback from your customers, instead of having someone manually review each one, you could use an online word cloud generator to mine the data for you.
One of my favorite sites is http://tagcrowd.com because it allows you to mine data in a number of ways.
Simply dump all the text into a single file and don’t worry about the formatting.
You can copy and paste the text directly into the site, upload a text file or document or even analyse any web link in a flash.
It’s great for presentations and meeting, so try it for yourself at TagCrowd, that’s T A G C R O W D.com
If you own an older Apple Macbook Pro and you think you’ve been seeing weird video issues, you may not be imagining things.
Apple recently announced a free repair program for owners of various MacBook Pro models that range from 2011 to 2013.
Symptoms of the problem can include distorted video, no video, or unexpected system restarts due to the known problem.
If you purchased a MacBook Pro in those years, you can check to see if your unit is covered by entering your serial number in their online check for coverage tool.
Or, if you paid Apple to have these specific repairs performed in the past, you may be eligible for a refund.
Even if you aren’t currently experiencing the issues, taking a minute to see if your laptop is likely to have the issue down the road would be prudent.
The affected systems are for MacBooks with either a 15” or 17” display only.
I’ve got the link with details and to check coverage posted at http://datadoctors.com/radio
Raise your hand if you hate all of the complexity and problems with conference calls, especially if you’re on your smartphone.
Me too and that’s why I’ve been trying to convince anyone attempting to hold a conference call to make a change.
I discovered a site called UberConference.com a while back and they just keep getting better. BTW, they have nothing to do with the Uber car service.
No more pin numbers, no more beeps every time someone joins or exits and no trying to guess who’s on the call or who’s talking because it’s all visually on your screen.
As the organizer, it’s easy to mute someone’s line if they put you on hold and subject everyone to their hold music.
Session recordings, screen sharing and a host of other awesome features make having web and phone conferences so much better for everyone.
Basic service is free and allows up to 10 callers, while the pro version allows up to 100 callers and costs $10 a month.
Learn more at UberConference.com
Apple Pay, the mobile payment system introduced last year continues to gain traction with retailers and banks, but it’s still got a long way to go.
You may have also heard various Apple Pay Fraud allegations in the news lately, which needs some explanation.
The security used by Apple is about the best we’ve ever seen and these stories may imply otherwise.
The fraud is actually occurring when thieves sign up for Apple Pay IDs with stolen credit cards, not by compromising the Apple Pay system itself.
Apple wanted to make using Apple Pay frictionless, so getting an account setup from a valid iTunes account is dead simple and the weak link that the thieves discovered.
This poses no direct threat to anyone that uses Apple Pay, because no one is hacking the system.
Banks are the ones at risk for this type of fraud, which is likely to change the initial authorization process itself.
Hacking Apple Pay directly is technically pointless, so don’t let the headlines keep you from using it.
Weak passwords continue to be one of the primary ways that hackers gain access to private and secured accounts.
It’s made even worse by the common practice of using the same password on many online accounts.
The only way to make sure you’re using strong unique passwords is to use a password manager; there’s just no way for you to remember them all yourself.
If you still haven’t found a password manager that you feel is secure enough, the folks at Intel are throwing their hat in the ring.
Their soon-to-be-available app called True Key incorporates lots of extra security features such as multi-factor authentication, trusted devices, facial and fingerprint authentication.
By making you your ultimate password, they’re trying to make things both easier and more secure.
The basic version will be free and allow you to manage up to 15 accounts and work on just about any type of computer or mobile device.
The recent announcement of HBO Now as a stand-alone streaming service may cause even more people to think about cutting their cable bill and going strictly to streaming television content.
Initially, you’ll need some type of Apple device to make use of the $14.99 a month HBO subscription, but that’ll change very soon as more options roll out.
If you’re paying for a cable or satellite service just because of HBO, it may seem like your ship’s come in, but you should do the math to make sure.
Once you add the cost of a stand-alone Internet service with online streaming accounts like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Sling TV and HBO Now, you may find the total creeping higher than you thought.
Cable and satellite providers aren’t going to go quietly in the night, so you can also count on them getting creative in order to keep their customers.
For now, take a few minutes and use the Cord Cutters Calculator at Slate.com to see if dropping cable TV and paying for streaming services really is going to save you money.
If you’re the parent of a child in a higher level math class, you’ve probably run into the situation where they’ve asked for help on a complex math problem.
If you’re looking for a little help in explaining how to solve complex math equations, checkout an app called PhotoMath.
PhotoMath uses your smartphone’s camera to scan a math problem, attempt to solve it and then it shows you step by step how it was solved.
Most people think about how students will use the app to cheat on their homework, but the same was said about the calculator when it was introduced.
The app can certainly be used to cheat, but it’s been designed as a learning tool to teach how things are solved.
Remember, anyone can use Wolfram Alpha to solve the same math equations, without the explanation on how it was solved.
Cheaters are going to cheat, so don’t let that keep you from making use of this wonderful teaching tool at http://PhotoMath.net.
If you’re on the creative side and own an iPad, you might want to checkout a pretty solid app called Paper.
Paper by Fifty Three is a simple but powerful app that allows you to Sketch, Write, Draw, Outline, and Color.
It does a great job allowing you to use your iPad like you would a piece of paper.
You can use your finger to draw and write or get their optional Bluetooth smart stylus with pinpoint accuracy for the serious artist.
What really sets this app apart from other sketch apps is its simplicity; it kind of works how you think, so it’s pretty intuitive.
You can also leverage their community of creators to find existing templates so you don’t have to start from scratch for your next project.
The Paper app is free and the Pencil stylus sells for $60.
You can get the app and see examples of what others are doing with the app at http://FiftyThree.com ; that’s 53 spelled out, not the numbers.
Booking flights, especially multi-city trips can be extremely time consuming if you want to find the best fares.
It’s not unusual to spend many hours over several days to really find the best flights, especially international flights.
On a recent booking, I decided to try out a service called FlightFox that claims that they have flight hacking experts.
They charge $49 for a single city trip and I wanted to see if they were able to find anything I couldn’t.
You start by describing your trip; destination, dates, flexibility and any other details that will help your expert understand what you’re looking for.
Within an hour, John was engaging with me through the website to drill down on the details.
He clearly found everything I was able to find with my hours of research and some options I hadn’t considered.
In the end, it was clear that they are very thorough and would have saved me more than $49 worth of my time.
See how it all works at http://FlightFox.com
For most of us, our smartphones have become our music players and our navigation systems in our cars.
Having your phone in the proper position to be of use is much safer than fumbling around with it while you’re driving.
An interesting option for positioning your phone on your dash is the AirFrame from Kenu.com.
It’s a lightweight holder that clips to just about any air vent on your dash so that it’s in a better line of sight for navigation and music.
There’s no need for adhesives, suction cups, magnets or special cases and it adjusts to hold just about any size phone, even with a case
The AirFrame costs $25 to $30 depending upon the size of your phone and it’s available at http://Kenu.com; that’s spelled K E N U.com
Keep in mind that if you’re blowing hot air through the vents, it can overheat your phone, so I wouldn’t recommend using it in those situations.
And remember, no texting while you’re driving!