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 like me, your smartphone is now your primary mode of communication, but then there are those times when you would rather not hand over your personal number to allow someone to contact you.
Whether you’re trying to sell an item or do business with folks in another state or even country, you would likely prefer that your personal number stays private.
In those instances when having a second number would be nice, there’s an app for that and it’s called TextMe Up.
TextMe Up will allow you to generate special local or even international numbers, for those specific one-off situations that will allow you to keep our cell number private.
TextMe Up also allows you to text anyone in the world using a different number, as long as you’re ok with ads in the messaging app.
Anyone that could use separate phone numbers for various activities in your private or public life, should checkout the TextMe Up app.
Your first number is free and the app works on iOS and Android devices: http://TextMeUp.com
Cyber-thieves are constantly creating new ways to take advantage of us because we use the Internet on a daily basis.
The web browser is how you navigate most of what’s available online, which is why so many exploits focus on exploiting your browser.
It's also common to experience various issues with your browser, so today’s tip is a troubleshooting step when issues do pop up.
Make sure you have two different browsers installed on all your devices so you track down Internet issues more easily.
The next time you run into an Internet access situation, if you switch to the alternate browser, check to see if the issue goes away. If it does, you’ll know to look into your main browser and try things like clearing your cache or running a deep malware scan.
If when you change browsers, it doesn't change your problem, then it’s more likely to be an issue with your device, the modem or your router, which should be reset all together.
Chasing the wrong side of a problem can be quickly avoided if you try this easy troubleshooting process first.
A Rutgers student recently posted a plea to the thief that stole their laptop letting them know that they don’t care about the lost computer, but they’re willing to pony up $1,000 for what was on the computer.
5 years of work including their thesis was on the laptop and that laptop only. Imagine losing something that valuable, that easily?
So how could this unfortunate situation have been avoided? Quite simply with a backup.
We help users all the time that bought an external hard drive, called it a backup but didn’t realize that it’s not.
An actual backup means you are able to point at your files in more than one place. When you use an external hard drive and the your files are only there, that is not an actual backup.
They should live in your Documents folder on the computer and a second copy should be saved on the external hard drive.
Anytime you are working on critical documents, like a thesis, don’t forget that you can also use ‘save as’ or copy those files to any flash drive.
You should also consider on of the many online backup services for your important documents because they will take care of backing up automatically.
Whatever you do, do something because the worst kind of backup, is no backup at all!
Most of us are storing half a forest of paper in our filing cabinets at home or in storage and have been contemplating taking on those piles of papers.
If you are attempting to eliminate as much paper from your life, it’s a daunting task made obvious as soon as you open your filing cabinets. So, how and where do you get started?
First step is to sort and sift with a purpose! The mountain of paper will likely include old owners manuals, tax records from 20 years ago, really old credit card receipts and paycheck stubs from a job you don’t even have anymore. Toss the useless stuff first.
Second step is to shred and recycle old stuff! Many important documents may already be online, so your don’t need to keep all these old paper copies. Start building your recycling pile.
Third step is if it isn’t already online... scan it! Pile those important papers in one stack and scan them.
Forth step is to stop killing trees! Just about every business you deal with offers a paperless option for your accounts. Convert those accounts to stop the flow of useless papers.
The final step, especially if you are a business owner is to look at a service such as https://www.earthclassmail.com, because they can virtualize all your mail, by scanning things that generally pile up on your desk.
Remember, with no more paper, comes no more paper cuts!
Every so often, we tend to get behind and sometimes we get so far behind that we really need to start over.
It's really hard to stay on top of the deluge of emails we get on a daily basis and when you get a couple days behind, it can seem like it’s impossible to get caught up. You can easily end up with hundreds of messages in the Inbox that you haven't been able to read.
When you find yourself submerged with a pile of emails, your only way out may be to declare “email bankruptcy”. This means you will be deleting every message in your inbox. It’s like a financial bankruptcy; you’re writing off the losses and starting over.
The best way to declare email bankruptcy is to send a message to all the people you care about letting them know that you’ve filed email bankruptcy and if they’re waiting on a response from you, they need to resend those messages.
When you do this as a group message, be sure that you type all the addresses in the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) section so you keep all those email addresses private.
How many times has this happened in your family?: “Hey, I can’t connect to the wifi” or “sweety, my email isn’t working again” or “I can’t get on Facebook”!
When experience any kind of nagging issue with your tech, whether it’s your desktop or laptop computer, tablet or smartphone, remember what your shampoo bottle says.
Lather, Rinse & REBOOT! Rather than lather, rinse & repeat, we’re saying Lather, Rinse, Reboot to make it easier to remember.
If your smarphone’s email program is stuck, or you can’t get the WiFi connection to work even though it says you’re connected... Lather, Rinse, Reboot!
If your computer starts running like molasses or that spreadsheet just isn’t adding up... Lather, Rinse, Reboot!
When your laptop can’t connect to your favorite online resources or the screen goes blank randomly... Lather, Rinse, Reboot!
All computing devices will deplete resources as they’re used. The longer it’s been in continuous use, the more likely that the resources have been sucked up.
Whenever you terminate an app or resource, it returns most of its memory to the operating system, but a portion of that memory has been lost, so after a while, you can run low on those essential resources.
The next time your computer acts catty, your desktop is dismal, or your tablet is getting tardy, before you call the IT hotline, remember to Lather, Rinse, Reboot!
If you need a little boost to make your morning runs a lot more fun, checkout the
Zombies Run app.
Zombies Run is one part Runkeeper and one part Walking Dead and it’ll turn your morning run into a run-for-your-life virtual adventure.
Out of energy on your run and pushing to bring yourself to finish that last mile? Well, maybe a bunch of virtual zombies breathing down your neck will help you with the adrenaline you need.
That's the concept behind the Zombies, Run app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices. It gives you a totally immersive running game and audio adventure right on your phone.
Here’s how it works: Before you begin your run, you just start the app, pick a ‘mission’, slap on your headphones, and hit your run.
Each mission has various goals such as get supplies, rescue others, delivering news to a base and of all things, keep ahead of the Zombies.
With 200 missions, Zombie Chase interval training and using your own music, it provides you with the best of both worlds - a solid morning workout while saving the rest of the world from being eaten.
So if you’re looking for more excitement during your morning run, then try running away from Zombies.
We have for years discussed why Gmail is our favorite web email service available, but how do you use a web-based service when there’s no Internet connection?
Gmail users know why we are such huge fans: it has great tools and spam filters.
But what happens when you don’t have an Internet connection, but still need to respond to emails or read your pile of unread messages.
Gmail Offline to the rescue.
Gmail Offline is an app that will allow you to work with your Gmail account, even when you are not online.
It allows you to respond to messages and search through your old messages, but how?
Just install the Chrome plugin and it will automatically start synchronizing your messages whenever you’re online and you open the Chrome browser.
The user interface is a lot like the tablet version of the Gmail app so it’s fast and focuses on the things you most likely need, your email and contacts.
To use the app, just sign into your account, open a new tab and click on the icon. You’re now up and running!
The app also provides offline capabilities for Google Calendar and Google Docs as well!
The next time you have to fly across the country, you won’t have to buy an expensive in-flight internet package to be productive!
If you have noticed that your web surfing seems to be a bit slower these days, it may be because you’re a tabaholic!
One of best features of today's web browsers is that they allow you to open individual web pages in separate tabs.
It eliminated the need to hit the back and forward buttons, because you can simply click on any of the open tabs. The downside to this ability can become a piano on your computer memory’s back.
Every tab that’s opened uses up a chunk of RAM as if it were another stand-alone program, so the more tabs that you open, the more memory you’re using.
Today's tip will help improve your computer’s speed easily - keep your open tabs to a minimum.
Other programs that have nothing to do with your web surfing will be impacted when you open too many browser tabs, because your working memory (RAM) is shared by all programs.
If controlling your tab appetite isn’t working, checkout this awesome add-on for the Chrome browser called ‘OneTab’.
It only takes seconds to install and making use of it is just about as simple. The next time you’re out of control with open tabs, simply tap the OneTab icon and bingo - your tabs are consolidated in a list on a single tab.
OneTab instantly clears lots of memory from all your idle tabs that are open, but also allow you to quickly reopen those tabs when you need them.
It’s completely free and available at http://www.one-tab.com
Here we go again...the Microsoft tech-support scams, which are essentially dialing for dollars are on the rise again.
It generally starts with a phone call from a person claiming to be with Microsoft that says that they’ve detected that your computer is infected.
If you talk to them long enough, they’ll tell you that they can prove to you that you have the problem they called about, if you’ll just run a few tests yourself.
They’ll walk you through what will appear to be a diagnostic process and ask you if you see certain things showing up on your screen.
These ‘certain things’ are of course built into all Windows computers, so they will always appear, but for those that are not technical, it can be convincing.
If they can hook you on the bait, the next step is to walk you through the steps that will allow them remote access to your computer.
This will not only increase your risk of contracting a malicious program, you’ll be asked for a credit card number so they can properly clean up your computer.
The reality is that Microsoft or any other legit service company would never just call you out of the blue to alert you that your computer is infected.
The good news: avoiding this scam is really easy. Remote help for your computer is completely safe but only when YOU are the one initiating the request for help.
So if you ever get any type of call that is offering to help you with your computer from out of the blue, you’ll know what to do: Hang Up!
We previously told you about Adobe's subscription service for their very popular programs like Photoshop.
But for those that won't need these tools very often, it’s probably had to justify paying $50 a month.
Even buying an older version will cost hundreds of dollars, so today’s tip is about an option that's both easy and free!
Pixlr.com is a pretty complete photo editor that will work with nothing more than a web browser, so there are no downloads required and no money!
It’s got many of the tools that are popular in Photoshop, so you will have no problem making use of them.
You can start using Pixlr in seconds and there is no need to register to use it.
Here are just a few of the options in this free tool: red eye reduction, cloning tools, spot healing, drawing tools and the very useful sharpen and blur tools.
You can also use filters that will mimic HDR, glamor glows, tilt shift, vignettes, and noise adjustments.
You can of course control the very important tools: Contrast, Levels, Curves, Hue,, Brightness and Saturation
Now when someone sends you a Photoshop file, you can use Pixlr to open them too.
Check out all the tools for yourself at https://pixlr.com
Anyone looking for a better way to take daily notes will appreciate today’s tech tip, because there’s an app for that!
If you are an old school note taker and tend to use lots of post it notes, you probably use different colors for different types of notes. You’ll likely write your daily notes on individual notes for each category, for each day of the month.
That’s a lot of work... but it’s obviously very organized. Well if that’s how you think, then you’ll love the note taking app called ‘ThingList’. You simply take your notes and it takes care of organizing and categorizes them.
The categories are common activities like movies you’d like to watch, books you’d like to read, restaurants you want to try, ideas that you have, people you’ve met, places you’d like to visit, products you’d like to try or anything you’d like to remember…the ThingList app will remember and categorizes all your notes.
Anyone with an iPhone and a lot of things bouncing around in your head may find ThingList an awesome way to capture all those thoughts every day.
Just about all of us have heard the old saying, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”. Most business owners should know that mantra very well, which is why they should make sure they review their 'Digital Disaster Recovery Plan' on a regular basis.
For some business owners, it might even be a suggestion to simply “create” your disaster recovery plan.
So where should you get started? Start by asking yourself what you would do if one of the common disasters was to hit your business: fire, flood, theft, malware infection, ransomware, human error, sabotage, hardware failure and increasingly, a major data breach.
The steps required to recover from each of these disasters may be quite different and often requires different recovery processes.
Most businesses have focused on creating a solid backup procedure, but they rarely put much effort into the actual steps that will be required for the recovery process. It is akin to having a fire drill in school during a real fire and hoping everyone knows what to do when it happens!
The absolute worst time to create a disaster recovery process is during an actual crisis, so consider this a strong reminder to make it a priority soon.
Crowdfunding has become a very popular way to launch a new product or service because you can post the idea and ask for financial supporters and when enough of people think that you are onto something good, you get the funding.
Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are just a couple of ways to see what new products or ideas are being posted, but when they don’t get funded, those ideas and products are nothing more than vaporware...
In 2012 alone, Kickstarter had nearly $320 million dollars pledged and the site successfully funded over 18,000 projects.
For those that love discovering new products but don’t want to have to wait to see if they will will make it to their funding goals, there's a website calle https://OutGrow.me
Outgrow.me only posts recent products that have been fully funded and are either soon to be available or are in the pre-order stage so you won’t waste your time on projects that didn’t raise their funding goals.
This visual listing of successfully crowdfunded projects is an excellent way to see the latest and greatest technology ideas and lots of products that may having you saying “why didn’t I think of that”!
It’s also a great place to find truly unique items for those hard to shop for friends and family members on their special days.
For those that love crowdfunding projects, but don’t want to waste their time on ideas that the 'crowd' clearly didn’t like, checkout https://OutGrow.me
Taking medicine regularly can get to be a bit of a hassle... especially when there are several types of medicine which need to be taken at different times of the day
Anyone that has a complicated pill taking schedule should checkout an app that could literally be a life-saver that is called the Mango Health app.
The Mango Health app can start by alerting you when it’s time to take each pill based on a schedule you setup and then give you the info you necessary to prevent you from eating or drinking anything that could negatively interact with any of your medications.
It can also help you from taking pills that could negatively interact with each other.
Once you install the app, simply create the schedule and let it do the rest. The app makes it nice not having to set an alarm for each pill or guess what you can’t eat or drink while taking them.
If you’re one of the many that forgets to take their memory pills, but you never forget your smartphone, the Mango Health app is just what the doctor ordered.
Just about all of us get tons of junk email every week and no matter what we do, they still seem to find a way to get through the junk filters. Most of us setup rules, blacklists & whitelists in an effort to create a productive inbox, but all that work can create a different problem: false positives!
It is also nearly impossible to keep legitimate mail from ending up in our junk folders, whether it was from the sender using words that raise their spam score or if they forget to include a subject line or have a blacklisted domain.
Today’s tip is actually an important reminder to check your spam folders on a regular basis. It’s surprising to some that find important messages or messages from old friends that have been trying to contact you.
You won’t want to scroll through every message in your junk folder; using a few keywords as search criteria which should be based on any important contacts, words or any current projects that you might be working on.
When you do discover a legit message that was tagged as spam, you should use the tools in your mail system for reporting the message as not spam.
The sad fact is that spam isn’t going away and your legit messages will on occasion get caught in the filters, so consider setting a weekly reminder to check your spam folder to rescue legit messages!
Security experts are warning that spam messages from around the world are on the rise with many speculating that our improved economy is making us more of a prime target as a result.
How we conduct ourselves online can have a lot to do with the volume of spam we get and an easy way to cut down on junk messages is to use a disposable e-mail address.
From now on, when you need an e-mail address for a less important interaction such as getting special offers or gaining access to a sites that you will probably never use again, rather than giving them your actual e-mail address, try using a disposable address from the http://mailinator.com website.
You can make up any email address you’d like using the Mailinator tool or use one of their suggested addresses to get what you want without giving up your daily e-mail address.
There are no lengthy sign up processes, no cost involved and no waiting but remember not to use Mailinator addresses for anything sensitive because your temporary inbox is usable by anyone that thinks of the same address.
The next time you’re required to provide a working e-mail address from a site you know you willl never use again, remember our Mailinator tip!
Today’s the 5th day of the month and perfect for our $5 Data Doctors Tech Tip
‘Crowdsourcing’ is the ability to use the Internet to tap into a crowd of people that can potentially provide a service that you need.
Many crowdsourcing websites allow you to generate bids from the crowd for a task you have, but wouldn’t it be great if you could find a large crowd of people willing to do lots of tasks for just 5 bucks?
Well that’s just you’ll find at a site called http://Fiverr.com
Need to send a loved one a unique birthday greeting? it’s only $5!
Need a flyer designed for your upcoming event? it’s only $5!
Gift ideas, graphic design, videos, simple animations, online marketing, voice over talent, music beds or just about any kind of task can start as low as, you guessed it $5!
Tasks that are a lot more involved may cost you more, but this site is all about being cost really effective, so give it a shot for your next outsourced task!
Printing things from a web page can become a big waster of your paper and expensive ink because you’re forced to print advertisements and other junk that you have no use for.
Even when the page offers up a printable version of any article, its usually stuffed with an ad or other common ink wasters.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could print what you like instead of all the extra junk?
Now you can if you use an excellent online printing tool called http://printwhatyoulike.com
You just type the web address of the page you want to print and you will be provided with the tools that allow you to get rid of or isolate any section of what you see on your screen.
You no longer have to waste ink and paper on useless ads or other junk when you just want print out an airline boarding pass.
https://Printwhatyoulike.com is free and works with any major browser so there is nothing to download or install.
OCR which stands for Optical Character Recognition, is software that can scan images to recognize the text from something that generally can’t be edited, like a JPG or PDF.
OCR software generally comes with a scanner but setting it up can be a bit of a hassle and of no use if you are at the office and your scanner’s at home.
So, the next time you end up with a scanned image, electronic fax or other forms that you would normally have to retype manually, check out http://OnlineOCR.net and give the free online conversion tool a try.
It can extract text from everything from PDF files, JPGs, BMPs, TIFFs and even GIF files and convert them into editable text files, documents or spreadsheets.
It supports lots of different languages and will scan multi-page PDFs and Zip files when you register for free.
You just upload your image file, choose the language of the text and then choose the output format for it to do its magic…nothing to setup or install…
Any parent that’s about to send a child to their first year of college is probably including an expensive laptop computer as part of the mix.
That beautiful new laptop is also a highly sought after item by thieves, so before you send your child off, make sure you have installed and setup a location tracking program.
One of our suggestions is Prey, because it offers their basic tools as a free download at http://preyproject.com
Once you install it, the program can track the laptop’s location, take a snapshot of whoever using it, grab a screenshot and lock down the system when it goes missing.
One downside to using a freebie tool is that you are on your own to figure out how to recovery the laptop.
Anyone wanting tracking and recovery assistance should look into LoJack for Laptops instead http://www3.absolute.com/lojackforlaptops/home. It costs around $40 for two years for the standard package and if it goes missing, simply file a police report and they’ll do the rest!