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!
Anyone that’s listened to our tips knows that we are always searching for that next app or tool to enhance our digital photos.
We are constantly taking pictures with our phones these days, but they’re often times less than great. Finding the right tool to improve your images is helpful.
One of our favs is both a website and an app called Fotor http://www.fotor.com because it’s full of awesome features.
Along with the list of usual editing tools is a unique feature that allows you to create HDR images.
High Dynamic Range or HDR is a process of combining multiple images that vary in exposure and then combine them into a single image.
The tools allow you to update pictures that were too dark and too bright and combine them to create a better image.
There are also lots of tools for beauty retouching on Fotor including wrinkle reduction, blemish removal & even teeth whitening. It’s also available as a mobile app for iPhone and Android devices.
This could end up being the only photo editing tool you’ll need.
If jogging or running is the exercise you prefer, you know how awesome music can be during your running sessions.
Not only will it help to keep you motivated, it often times can encourage you to continue your run a while longer when the music actually matches the pace of your running.
Some of you have probably attempted to create a playlist that matches your pace, but found it to be too time consuming of an ordeal.
If you want this motivation made easier, give the RockMyRun app a try. It makes it a whole lot easier to use music that matches your running style.
The app offers curated playlists that focus on a specific beats-per-minute range to give you a continuous group of songs that align with your running pace.
You can search for playlists by genres, beat-per-minute, overall length of the playlist and clean lyrics if you want them.
The basic service is free, but if you want more control over the exact, you can opt for their premium membership which includes the option to precisely control the tempo.
It will allow you to dial in the perfect tempo for your pace with better control for the entire playlist.
Whether you simply a power walker, casual jogger or serious runner, the RockMyRun app for iPhone and Android users is worth giving a try.
How many times has this happened to you: you're trying to check something on a website, but you just can’t connect to it. It could be your bank's site or even your favorite online retailer and you don't know if it's the website or your connection.
In general, when you try to visit a site and can’t get it to come up, you likely go through the “what is happening to my computer” questions. But sometimes, it's actually not your computer's fault.
Websites do actually go down, even for really big companies, So what can you do to figure out whether it’s the website or your connection?
Our tip: whenever you experience this issue, try using https://www.isitdownrightnow.com to see if it's down right now.
This free resource can monitor the status of any website and will check to see whether it's down or not at the moment you're checking.
It really easy to use their test tool, because all you have to do is type the web address you want checked and a test will begin running as you watch the screen.
You can also see what service aren't available and see how long ago it was checked along with a list of the latest sites that have been checked. They keep an active list for many of the most popular websites or just type in any web address to run your real-time test.
Today’s Tip is a simple, but very critical reminder to Back It Up.
A distraught student posted an online plea to the person that stole their laptop and said they don’t care about the laptop itself. They posted that they would pay one thousand dollars for certain files on the laptop.
The student's thesis along with five years worth of their work were only saved on the laptop. Imagine losing something that important that fast!
So what could they have done to avoid this major pain? Simply having a backup would have done it.
Way too many users purchase an external hard drive, which they call a backup but the way they end up using it, it’s nothing close to a backup.
A true backup allows you to locate the file stored in more than one place. If the only place that the document exists is on the external drive, it's not a backup.
It needs to be saved both in the 'Documents folder' on the laptop and a second copy needs to be stored on the external drive.
For the easy backup of important documents, such as a thesis, saving a second copy to a USB flash drive will also get the job done.
There are also a number of cloud services that will perform the backups automatically, like Carbonite, to make sure all your critical files are properly secured.
No matter what you decide to do, it's important to start doing something to make sure you have copies of your pictures, documents and other important files backed up regularly.
No matter what you do on the Internet, it seems that most of us waste a lot of time dealing with email every day.
One of the biggest ways to waste time is replying to multiple people with the same message, especially if you have to do it throughout the day.
If you have a Gmail account, today’s tip could help you reduce this waste.
A hidden feature in Gmail that you should activate is called ‘Canned Responses’ and it can be a real time saver.
Once you turn on the feature in the ‘Settings’ menu, you’ll then have the ability to copy any body of text and have it as a canned response that can be pasted with the click of a mouse.
The tool will eliminate the time consuming process of manually typing out any common responses, phrases or even different signatures for you various accounts, both when responding to or creating a message.
Here are the instructions for turning on this awesome option:
For anyone that see’s themselves as a travel junkie or for anyone that loves exploring the world, today’s tip is for you!
Google’s Arts & Cultural website is an awesome tool that you’ll want to bookmark.
Google created it to allow us to virtually explore destinations, art & museum collections complete with lots of historical information from your computer or smartphone.
Not only does it provide useful info and historical facts, it also lets you explore some of the sites as if you were on the ground through Google’s Street View technology.
Anyone planning to visit a world heritage site can get familiar with the area before leaving using this awesome tool.
Now you can get familiar with an area that you’re planning on visiting with extensive local perspective allowing you to get the most out of your trip.
The collection is searchable by a specific individual, time, place or event so it’s also a helpful homework tool as well.
Start your exploration here:
Do you know what people are saying about your business online? Knowing what people are saying about your business is critical these days, but what are you supposed to do to know what’s being said?
Monitoring your online reputation is an essential part of running a business in this day and age and a basic process you need to incorporate.
Google Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts) is the first step for any business to monitor the chatter about their organization online.
Google allows you to set alerts so that anytime your business is mentioned anywhere online, you’ll get an email alert. Just type the name of your business and remember to use quotes if it’s more than one word to avoid getting alerts on each word seperately.
You shouldn’t fear negative comments ore even bad reviews, because knowing about a problem is half the battle. How you respond will show others how you conduct business when you are aware of a problem.
Doing nothing about negative reviews is the worst thing you can do. Not responding can easily be taken as you not caring, so make sure you know about posts as soon as they appear with the Google Alerts.
It’s important to be transparent, honest and aware with your online reputation.
Google alerts is just the beginning of your options as there are lots of other places and apps you can use to monitor your organization’s online reputation.
Camera’s with thermal imaging can detect infrared light in the dark, allowing you to see things around you thermally.
There have been a lot of devices that have been released that can turn any smartphone into a thermal imaging camera but most of them are really expensive.
But now, you can inexpensively turn most iPhone or Android handsets into a thermal camera that can clearly make out images in the dark using one of the ‘Seek Thermal’ camera attachment.
The small devices plug into the power connection on many smartphones and it lets you take both still images or videos in the dark.
The low resolution images are somewhat grainy, but if you need to see what’s lurking in the dark in your yard or down a really dark alley or parking lot, the Seek Thermal camera gets the job done.
The Seek attachment will also allow you to see where pipes might be clogged, where the hot air is seeping out of your house or check the temps of just about surface you point it at.
If you’re intrigued by thermal imaging, checkout Seek’s affordable devices at https://www.thermal.com/compact-series.html
Whether you like or despise Edward Snowden, one thing is perfectly clear - he certainly knows about cybersecurity.
So when Snowden endorses a messaging app that he says is secure that he personally uses, you can count on it being as private as any messaging system gets.
Snowden’s recommended app is called Signal and it made by Open Whisper Systems for iPhone or Android users.
Signal allows you to send secure messages using both text and voice and it won’t require you to go through a sign up process to use it.
The app uses your current phone number and contacts and doesn’t require a separate login or PIN.
Despite its very sophisticated encryption, the app is super simple to setup and use as your every day messaging app
The app also determines automatically if your recipient also uses the Signal app, so it will know not to secure messages that are sent to those that don’t have the app.
If you would like to have a more secure way of messaging, checkout the Signal app at https://WhisperSystems.org
I'm using today's tip to remind everyone to activate two-factor authentication for your online accounts because it's still an excellent extra layer of protection that's effective.
If you think about it, it's kind of like using your debit card where you have to have two-factors of authentication: your debit card as well as the associated PIN.
Just think how dangerous it would be if your debit card didn't require a PIN in order to get money out of an ATM. IMHO, it's what anyone that is not using 2FA is doing with their online accounts.
Once activated, a thief would be required to steal both your login credentials and your smartphone at the same time in order to sneak into your account.
This security layer also provides you with alerts to know when someone has stolen your credentials, because you'll get a security code out of the blue on your smartphone.
Virtually every major online account is now offering this extra layer of protection.
To see which of your online accounts offers the protection along with how to activate it, visit" https://twofactorauth.org
Our smartphones are marvels of technology and they are even more powerful than the computers used by NASA to get mankind to the moon, which is pretty amazing.
One of the best features of our smartphones is the high resolution cameras that pack a lot of technology into our pockets allowing anyone to take amazing pictures without having to be a pro photographer, or so we’d like to think.
Features such as auto white balance, focus, and exposure along with color correction are all great to have available but mean absolutely nothing when the person taking the picture doesn’t understand how to compose the picture.
The rule of thirds is a basic concept that appears to still be a mystery for most photographers but now there is an app for those people. Camera 51 focuses on the thing that most smartphone photographers seem to be clueless about, which is the all-important composition.
The app uses the sophistication of your phone to dissect the scene you are shooting, with an on-screen guide which allows you to know where you should point the camera.
Anyone that has no idea how to compose a photograph should definitely download this free app to start taking better pictures!
It’s a safe bet that your primary mobile device has a camera included that has some sort of flash.
It’s also common to assume that the flash is only needed in low-lighting settings, but in actuality, using it outside can make a huge difference in your pictures.
Whenever you’re take pictures of someone outside, they often times end up with lots of shadows and wide contrasts due to the bright light in the frame.
Manually forcing flash can in many cases fix both issues and turn a picture that might have been almost useless into a masterpiece.
Whenever you use the flash on your smartphone, be sure that you get close enough so the weaker light has the intended effect in daylight.
On bright sunny days, try putting people in a shaded area to eliminate the squints and use your flash to fill in their faces.
Knowing when not to use your flash, especially indoors along with when to use it outdoors can make a huge difference in the quality of your images.
Playing around with the flash on your phone before you have a special event is the best way to learn and know what to do when the time comes!
Clearly defining your financial plans along with retirement planning is something that everyone needs to do, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you attempt to manually track it all.
An awesome tool that I have been using available at https://www.personalcapital.com simplifies the tracking of virtually everything financial in your life.
Very quickly you can generate a visual dashboard that shows you your entire financial picture in one place.
Personal Capital gives you easy to use tools to generate net worth along with the ‘what if’ planning for retirement which allows you to see a much a clearer vision of what it might look like.
This is far from a resource for active traders, but it is for anyone looking for a replacement to having to go to multiple tools to generate a financial picture in a more concise way.
They also offer a concise mobile app that allows you to quickly review everything, every day on your smartphone.
Setting up remote access to your own computer is pretty common, but most of the options that used to be free, have converted to pay services.
Those looking for a great free tool that’s easy to use should look into the options available from Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop.
Just download the plugin to the Chrome Browser on any of your computers that you’d like to remote into.
Once it’s setup, whether it’s a Windows, Mac or Linux-based computer, you can remotely access it as if you are at the keyboard!
You can even use Chromebooks, tablets or smartphones to remote access your computers.
This allows you to remote into any of your computers right from a smartphone anywhere in the world in a pinch.
It only takes minutes to setup, so if your looking for a free remote access tool, we highly recommend this one!
Here are the links
Chrome Remote Desktop Add-on: https://chrome.google.com/remotedesktop
iOS remote app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chrome-remote-desktop/id944025852?mt=8
Android remote app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.chromeremotedesktop
An important way to understand ways of protecting yourself when online is to start thinking like hackers do.
A very valuable item sold on the dark web is your personal info, so tricking people online into allowing the bad guys into your computer is a very common method of attack.
But instead of trying to trick adults, hackers have figured out it’s much easier to trick the kids in the household to get to the parents.
They often sneak silent tracking programs into your computer by hiding them in free music, videos, games or other expensive programs that younger users are more likely to want to download.
The reason that this approach is effective is because parents generally let their kids use mom and dad’s profile which has full administrative control over the computer.
If your household is setup in this way, you should be making a change asap!
Parents should always setup a completely separate profile without full admin control for their children as a way to reduce the exposure to mom and dad’s profile.
It’s really a fundamental security step for every household, so if you need help setting it up, find someone you trust as every operating system is different.
There’s no question about the impact of social media in many aspects of our lives.
It can influence buying decisions, our politics and it’s been used many times in global conflicts to communicate to the masses.
This popularity has also encouraged the usage of technology known as 'social bots' which are simply software programs that do their best to act like are real humans.
It’s not uncommon for companies to use automated posts but spam artists also employ them to send junk ads disguised as posts.
It some cases, governments will use them as propaganda channels. The worst part is that bots are also used to infect accounts and resend malicious links, so it’s always best to avoid these undesirable accounts.
Twitter in particular is prone to lots of accounts that are using social bots, which is what led to a research project run by Indiana University.
They developed the ‘Truthy Project Bot or Not’ tool which attempts to analyze Twitter accounts for signs that they're a social bot.
It’s far from a definite tool, it’s a handy tool to avoid getting scammed by a profile that is trying to represent a real human. https://truthy.indiana.edu/botornot
I’m sure you’ve heard lots of experts talking about the dangers of using public wifi, but there may be something else you’re exposed to but didn’t realize.
Your beloved laptop might be sharing files with others connected to the same public Wi-Fi without you knowing what’s going on.
The default or public shares on your laptop may be allowing others to access or even save items onto your laptop.
This alone won’t impact your other critical files in other areas, but technically your laptop is accessible by any random user of the same public wifi.
To play it safe, especially if you never need to use the public share folder, turn off this feature.
I have actually seen situations where files that could be considered sensitive have been stored in the accessible folders because the laptop owner didn’t realize anyone could access those folders.
Both Mac & Windows users have this potential issue, so here are the instructions on how to turn them off
Disable public shares in OS X: http://osxdaily.com/2014/02/11/disable-public-folder-sharing-mac-os-x
Disable public folders in Windows:
For Windows 10 users: https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/50179-turn-off-public-folder-sharing-windows-10-a.html
There’s something that has become obvious from most of the major breaches that you’ve heard over the past couple of years.
Just about every one of the breaches began through a phishing message targeting someone in the organization.
Well-crafted fake e-mail messages, A.K.A ‘spear phishing’, are often used on many victims of ransomware.
A clever way to trick anyone is by creating what appears to be an important message from someone else in the same organization.
That means you need to start paying very close attention to every message that pops up from your co-workers, your boss or any of the administrators in your company.
If your organization would like to run a targeted phishing test on up to 100 employees, look into the tools at https://KnowBe4.com
Their phishing security test, which is free, can help you see how likely people in your organization are likely to fall for spear phishing messages that claim to be from your IT department.
The phishing test tool is located at:
Perusing information via the Internet is a lot like drinking from a firehose; you need to find tools to help you filter out the stuff you don’t really want and organize the stuff you do want.
One of my favorite tool for this task is called Flipboard, because it specifically works with your social accounts and your general interests.
Flipboard will grab your feeds from your Facebook and Twitter accounts along with your specific interests like sports, business or tech and then displays them in magazine form.
But did you know that you can also use Flipboard from your computer?
That’s right, you can make use of your big, beautiful computer display to see your custom magazine that you’ve already setup on your smartphone or tablet.
For those that have never used Flipboard, you should start by installing the mobile app on your mobile device first, which makes it easy to add your social accounts onto your Flipboard account.
Once you’ve done that, visit https://flipboard.com and login to see your feeds in all their glory!
It’s that time of year when you can count on the very best deals for just about any type of electronic gadget you have on your wish list.
But heed this warning: the lowest priced device is rarely the best idea.
Shopping for technology based on the price will play right into the plans of retailers that are simply interested in moving slow moving products.
In order to be the cheapest technology, the company generally cuts corners because the margins in the gadget market are razor thin.
The result can be batteries that don’t stay charged as long, software compatibility issues or apps and in some cases, dangerous security holes.
It’s best to look for name brand products from resellers that you’ve heard of and offer a liberal return policy.
The cheaper the gadget is, the more time you should spend researching before making the purchase.
Look for user feedback on the device by searching Google for the exact device followed by the word ‘review’.
If you can’t find any reviews, that’s your sign to take a pass!
Our social media accounts are an excellent way to document our daily lives, which is more apparent when you take a few minutes to look up previous posts.
But this requirement is kind of like having a bunch of photo albums on your shelf that you haven’t looked at in years.
Well the TimeHop app that I’ve featured in the past makes revisiting your past posts automatic.
It used to only work with Facebook, but now you can use it with Twitter, Instagram and even the camera roll off your phone.
Once you set up the app, you’ll get a daily reminder in the morning of the things you posted in the past on that day.
It’s like looking at a page of those old photo albums every day; it’s a great way to see those meaningful memories from the past.
It’s like your very own private #TBT every day!