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’re a homeowner, you can probably relate to the Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit from the 80’s.
Even if your house isn’t hopelessly dilapidated like the one in the movie, it can sometimes feel like there is no end the maintenance tasks.
One of the ways to minimize surprises is to proactively address issues that you know are going to crop up at some point.
To specifically help you learn and remember to perform maintenance tasks, checkout a website called BrightNest.
BrightNest lets you build customized tips and schedule tasks based on your home’s unique traits like what kinds of appliances you have, the material used for flooring and countertops and whether you have a pool or not.
You’ll also be presented with a wealth of tips on cleaning, organizing and maintaining just about every aspect of your home.
There’s even a mobile app to you get alerts and reminders as well as an easy reference when you’re at the hardware store.
Listen, we could all use some help staying on top of the endless tasks at home and BrightNest.com is a pretty darn good option
I find myself using a smartphone to accomplish more and more of the productivity tasks that in the past would have had to wait until I got in front of one my computers.
When I’m communicating with others and need to copy multiple items like URLs, pictures or various text, the back and forth to complete the message can get a bit laborious.
If you’re an Android user and struggle with this inefficient way of copying information, checkout an app called Copy Bubble.
Copy Bubble does what the name implies. Once you open the app, whenever you copy anything from anywhere, you’ll see an orange bubble appear with a number representing an item count.
Each item that you copy get’s compiled in chronological order and stays in the clipboard until you delete it.
The bubble floats over any app, so when you want to paste any or all of the information that you’ve copied, just tap the bubble and select what you want to use.
If you’ve copied a web address, you can even preview it in Copy Bubble before you paste it.
Copy Bubble is free and available in the Google Play Store.
The selfie has become such a social phenomenon, just about everyone has a picture of themselves holding the camera as far away as possible.
Holding your position and tapping on the button without shaking the camera is something that many of us struggle with.
And group selfies become even more challenging especially if your arm isn’t that long.
There are a number of physical attachments known as selfie sticks that you can use, but who wants to carry something like that around all the time.
An interesting approach to helping out with this first world problem is an app called GoCam from a Swedish company called Crunchfish.
GoCam is a gesture based app that works on any iOS device that has a camera.
You just setup your iPhone or iPad with the screen facing you, either holding it or propping it up, then follow a gesture routine that tells the app when you’re ready to take the picture.
GoCam can really expand your options for making sure no one gets left out of a group shot from now on.
Give it a shot, Search for GoCam! in the Apple App Store.
If you spend much time in meetings where information is shared via multiple means, you know how erratic the notetaking can become.
At a conference, a whiteboard combined with a PowerPoint presentation followed by handouts isn’t uncommon, so having a way to easily combine all that information would be handy, wouldn’t it?
Well, you guessed it, there’s an app for that!
Arcnote is an Android app that makes it easy to grab anything that your camera can capture and create a PDF of everything once you’re done.
What even better, ArcNote will automatically crop and correct skewed pictures so it doesn’t matter where you’re sitting in the room.
I was pleasently surprised how well this app works.
You can add text comments on each page or add voice annotation to the group of notes and share it directly to many of the popular social networks.
If you’re constantly jotting down notes so you can synopsis what was discussed at a meeting or conference, this free app is a must have!
ArcNote; that’s A R C N O T E. Search for it in the Google Play store
Often times, when a computer starts to run slow, most people assume that it’s time to buy a new computer.
Unless your computer’s really old, there may be a less expensive way to get it running like it’s new again.
It’s called a Hybrid hard drive and it’s probably one of the best kept secrets in the tech business.
You see, there are three major components that determine how fast your computer will run: the processor, the RAM and the hard drive.
Your hard drive is the biggest bottleneck in most cases and opening up that bottleneck can have a dramatic impact on performance.
And it costs a lot less than buying a new computer.
Hybrid hard drives combine a super fast Solid State memory circuit with a traditional hard drive and they store the stuff you use the most on the faster portion.
An added bonus is that your old drive can be turned into a backup drive by putting it into an external enclosure.
Before you replace that old computer, check to see if a hybrid hard drive can bring it back to life and save you money.
Is staying connected to your home wireless network a constant challenge?
If so, there’s a possibility that there is a simple fix for a constantly dropping connection.
Change the channel!
For the very common 2.4 Ghz frequency networks there are 11 channels available, but how do you know which one to use?
In general, the best choices are 1, 6 or 11 because they don’t overlap with each other but it’s still a guessing game.
2.4 Ghz is an open radio band that is shared by just about everything wireless in your home: cordless phones, baby monitors, garage door openers and Bluetooth earpieces are just the beginning of the list of devices that can interfere with your wifi connection.
If you live near others, their wifi network could also cause some interference in your house.
To help you pick the best channel, WIndows users can download the free NetSurveyor app which will give you a graphical report on the least used channels.
Mac users can run the built-in Wifi Scan utility from the Wireless Diagnostics menu to achieve the same thing.
I’ve got links on how to use both posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
The NetSurveyor App for Windows:
Mac Wifi Scan directions: http://osxdaily.com/2013/12/11/find-best-wi-fi-channel-wireless-tool-mac
When you’re planning a trip to a new place, isn’t it great to get insider information from people that have been there and done that?
Well, that’s the premise behind a website called Viator.
Viator focuses on making it easy to research interesting activities around the world that have been curated by travel experts over the past 15 years.
Using Viator isn’t necessarily about finding the lowest prices, although they do have a Low Price Guarantee when you book with them.
I’m generally more interested in reliable local operators that continue to get good customer reviews because nothing ruins a vacation like a poor experience because you tried to save a few bucks.
Their recommendations are pretty extensive and cover over 100 countries that include VIP tips if you’re interested in more exclusive options.
Each activity has an overview with highlights, what you can expect, reviews and all the important logistical details so you’re better prepared.
For major destinations, you can get a complete Insider’s Guide with timely events, top attractions and what the insiders love to do most in that area.
See for yourself at viator.com, that’s spelled V I A T O R.com
I’ve talked in the past about the frustration that many iPhone users have with Apple’s limitations when it comes to storing pictures and video.
Photostream only allows photos and it limits your access to the last 1000 images, which can be a problem for avid picture takers.
While you can certainly push video and pictures up to Apple’s iCloud, there is a limit to what you can store for free.
If you’re interested in an easier solution that can automatically upload pictures and video to a private online account with unlimited storage, checkout an app called Shutter from the folks at StreamNation.
By switching to the Shutter app, your pictures and video automatically get stored on your private account online, so you don’t fill up your device.
And no more having to constantly delete files in order to stay under a storage paywall.
Streamnation’s hope is that you will discover all of their digital media tools, so their using Shutter as an introduction to their offerings.
If you’re an Android user, you can sign up to be notified when they release the Android app in the near future.
Check it all out at StreamNation.com
The aftermath of the Edward Snowden leaks continues to generate apprehension and uncertainty when it comes to our digital communications.
Whether you agree or disagree with what Snowden did, the concern for keeping our private conversations private is leading to new products and services from many companies.
A new smartphone option called Blackphone claims to be impervious to the NSA’s various methods of breaking encryption so your voice calls, texts, video calls and file transfers are secure.
The Blackphone is built from the ground up with a focus on security, so it has a proprietary Android-based operating system and lots of built-in encryption features.
At $629, this smartphone isn’t cheap and it will currently only work on GSM networks, so if you’re a Verizon, Sprint or US Cellular customer it’s not an option.
Blackphone is a collaboration that includes SilentCircle, a well known mobile encryption provider and is currently sold out.
A cheaper alternative for security minded mobile users is to use the SilentCircle service on your existing phone for $99 a year.
You can get more information on all the secure mobile options at SilentCircle.com
It’s our nation’s birthday and the fireworks will be lighting the skies tonight.
And lots of you will attempt to take pictures of the fireworks with your digital cameras and smartphones, generally with really poor results.
Photographing fireworks clearly is one of the more difficult things you’ll attempt. but if you take a few steps, you can dramatically improve your chances of getting great results.
The first thing you really need to be successful is a tripod, because you have to keep the camera absolutely still.
If you’re camera has a fireworks setting, use it or at least the night setting and make sure to turn off the flash.
Another way to help you get the shot is to use the burst mode on your camera, so it takes 5 or 10 shots in a row.
It’s hard to get a good shot when you’re right under the show; try to get a high vantage point away from the action so the fireworks are more in front of you.
If you’re comfortable making manual adjustments or want more detailed advice, I’ve posted my suggestions at datadoctors.com/radio
The technology world has been trying to convince us all that we really need 3D video and pictures, but most of us haven’t bit.
The lack of affordable tools that can create 3D video and pictures has been one of the problems that many companies are trying to address.
One of those companies is Poppy, which has developed an inexpensive way to turn an iPhone into a 3D camera system.
You just slide your iPhone in and start capturing 3D videos and pictures that are instantly viewable and shareable.
Poppy looks like a modern day version of the View Master that we all grew up with and uses mirrors to capture two stereographic images with your iPhone’s single camera.
There are no batteries to charge, because Poppy is a cleverly engineered device that leverages the power of your iPhone.
If you’ve been intrigued with creating 3D content, but didn’t want to spend the money, Poppy sells for $59.95, so it’s pretty inexpensive in comparison.
Poppy works with iPhone 4 or newer or the 5th generation iPad touch.
If you want to see it in action, check it out at Poppy3d.com.
The summer blockbuster movie season is here and ducking into a cool theater with an ice cold beverage is a great way to beat the summer heat.
With that in mind, I wanted to remind you of one of our classic tips that can help you when nature calls during the movie.
It’s called RunPee and it’s an easy way to know when the best times are to run to the restroom during just about any movie.
Instead of stressing out about when to go, you can have RunPee gently vibrate your phone whenever the movie is at a slow point so you’ll know exactly when to go.
RunPee tries to find 3-5 minute long scenes that are less important so you don’t miss crucial plot twists, funny moments, or exciting action.
Parents with younger kids can use this app to be preemptive so you don’t miss any of the important parts.
You can even get a synopsis of what happened while you were away, so you don’t have to whisper, what happened to the person next to you.
RunPee works on iPhone, Android or Windows Phones and can be downloaded from RunPee.com
I recently went on a quest to find an app that would make a task in our household more efficient: grocery shopping.
My wife and I have used the text messaging method for years, but when the list is long, keeping track of what I’ve already picked up while I’m shopping becomes a chore.
There are lots of apps that work well if you’re both on the same platform, but she has an iPhone and I have an Android, so I had to search a little harder.
After trying a number of options, my clear favorite is Wunderlist, that’s Wonder with a U instead of an O.
Now either of us can add or remove items and when I’m shopping, I just tap on each item as I pick it up.
Wunderlist is free and supports iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows, Android and even the Kindle Fire, so you can share lists with everyone.
Wunderlist can be used for all kinds of list that can be easily shared, Honey-Do lists, work projects, volunteer groups and it’s really easy to use.
Try it for yourself at Wunderlist.com, remember that’s Wonder with a U.
If you’re like most Internet users, you’ve probably noticed that you’re viewing more online videos these days.
The undisputed king of online video is YouTube with over 6 billion hours of video being viewed every month.
In fact, 100 hours of video is being uploaded to Youtube every minute of the day.
Whether you’re a business or a family with a lot of active kids, having your own YouTube channel is kind of a no-brainer these days.
Businesses can create valuable video content to attract new customers and families can upload and publicly or privately share videos of Johnny’s baseball game or Jannie’s gymnastics meet.
If you’re not the techy type, getting started may seem a little intimidating, but it’s really pretty easy.
To help both novices and emerging viral video stars, Google has put together an excellent resource that they call the YouTube Creator Academy.
You learn everything from getting started to the 10 fundamentals to a creative strategy for your business whenever you have a few minutes to spare.
If you’re ready to get started, I’ve got the direct link posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Apple recently announced that they will be adding predictive text to the keyboard in their next major update for iPhone and iPad users.
If you’re an Android user, you’re probably chuckling because it’s been available on your phone for years.
This predictive text feature has been part of one of the most popular Android keyboard apps called Swiftkey that millions have paid $4 to own.
If you’ve never experienced this efficient way of typing, you can give it a try on your Android device for free.
Swiftkey is now offering it’s basic keyboard add-on for Android devices for free, so unlike Apple users, you don’t have to wait for an update.
Swiftkey also supports the Swype style of typing and even has emoji support that can also become predictive.
Swiftkey’s prediction engine learns from your usage patterns so over time, the accuracy of the predictions becomes better.
The increase in typing speed can be dramatic, so if you don’t already have it, I highly recommend you give it a try.
You can see how it works and download the app at Swiftkey.com that’s S W I F T K E Y.com
It’s no secret that if you’re in business, you need to be using the web to increase your chances of being successful.
Every web strategy should start with making sure your business appears properly in all of the thousands of directories that have essentially replaced the phone book.
But keeping up with all those directories or even knowing where they are is a bit of a challenge, so you’re going to need help.
A great way to quickly educate yourself on the importance of accurate directory information as well as run a listing report for your business is through the MOZ Local website.
MOZ is a well known and respected resource for anyone that is trying to be found on search engines.
The MOZ Local listing tool is free to use and will provide you with a detailed report on where your information is accurate and where it’s incomplete along with the links to update each listing.
Or, if you don’t want to deal with it, you can pay them $49 per year per location to keep things updated for you. Either way, don’t skip this important task.
I’ve got the link posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
An important part of mobile security is to make sure you setup an unlock code on your phones and tablets which keeps strangers from accessing your personal information.
But if you lose your phone or are in an emergency situation, a good samaritan might not be able to help you without knowing who the phone belongs to.
If you want the best of both worlds, consider adding In Case of Emergency information to your lock screen.
Some phones allow you to add owner information to your lock screen or you can install an
In Case of Emergency app to display the information you want to share.
You can post who the phone belongs to and a number to call in case it’s found or you can have emergency contacts or special health information listed that would inform first responders or EMTs if you are ever in an accident.
One such app called ICE Standard has been developed by the About the Kids foundation, a nonprofit organization, with input from EMTs, police officers, firefighters and emergency room personnel.
The link to download the ICE standard app for both iPhone or Android is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Photo retouching is a art form that allows fashion magazines to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary with expensive software tools like Adobe’s Photoshop.
Not only are these tools expensive, their complicated and take a long time to master.
The fashion industry has been chided for overdoing it, but there are times when having some basic touch-up capabilities can come in handy.
A free app called Perfect365 can give you some quick and easy retouching options right on your mobile device, so you don’t have to wait until you get your images onto your computer.
You can use pre-defined one-touch clean-up or makeover settings or manually work with any part of a portrait yourself.
You can remove blemishes and dark circles under the eyes or soften skin and whiten teeth right from your phone or tablet.
Want to give yourself a virtual facelift or nose job? You can do that too.
If you’d like an app that makes it easy to go from drab to fab, checkout Perfect365 which is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows 8 or Windows Phone.
The link to learn more and download the app is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you’re a regular listener to these tips, you know that I am on a never ending quest to find the best way to physically display my digital photography.
If you’ve ever been to an art gallery and seen a high-resolution image printed directly to glass, you know how eye catching that can be.
Now you can create these incredible glass photos right from your computer with a few clicks of your mouse.
Fracture is an online printing company that allows you to upload your image and select one of 5 frame sizes that range from roughly 5x7 to 22x30 in portrait, landscape or square.
The whole process only takes a few minutes and the prices range from $18 to $125.
Your image gets printed directly to the back side of the glass, then assembled with a black backing and shipped to you in a couple of days.
This method of presenting an image makes for great wall art or a remarkable gift for those special people and moments in your life.
You can also choose to create Fractures from famous art and photography from their Art Store.
You can see how it all works at https://www.fractureme.com
The process of flying from one destination to another involves a lot more than just the getting the ticket purchased, if you think about the trip from the door-to-door perspective.
Everything from where to check-in, knowing which terminal has the best food or amenities during a layover or finding the best choice for ground transportation can come into play.
If a ‘day of travel’ assistant sounds like something you’d benefit from, checkout the TravelNerd website before your next trip.
You can get help getting to and from the airport as well as finding your way inside of it.
Simply select your airports they will show you detailed terminal maps, with restaurants, shops, airport lounges, and amenities such as Wi-Fi availability, where to find the family bathrooms, and ADA specific information.
TravelNerd also provides a nice list of ground transportation options that include shuttles, public transportation and taxis with phone numbers, as well as nearby parking options.
You can use their website on your mobile device or download the iPhone app so you can get to the information at any point on your trip.
Very helpful airport information awaits you at TravelNerd.com
If you’re in charge of a business website in any way, you’ll want to listen up to this tip.
We’ve all experience the situation where you click on a link from your smartphone for a specific bit of information, but get redirected to a generic mobile homepage instead.
This annoying tendency by some websites is considered a faulty redirect by Google and they are going to start calling those websites out in search results.
Google is now warning mobile users when it detects that a site is generating a faulty redirect in an effort to spare users from the frustration.
What this will mean to your business website if it’s guilty of this error is a reduction in traffic from mobile devices.
You’ve probably noticed that you are using your mobile device a lot more these days and you are not alone.
Mobile is such a large percentage of Internet traffic these days that you must properly configure your web properties to accommodate 3 screens: the computer, the tablet and the smartphone.
Google has posted their advice for avoiding this loss of traffic, so make sure someone in your organization is reviewing these tips.
I’ve got the link posted at DataDoctors.com/radio