Data Doctors Tech Tips
Tech Tips for Non-Tech People
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If you’re in business, help with school events or just tend to be an organizer of any sort, you’ve likely been in the situation where you need some simple design work done.
Hiring someone to do it isn’t generally feasible, so when you have to rely on your own skills to create the piece, there’s an online resource that you should have bookmarked called Canva: https://Canva.com.
Because it’s web-based, there’s nothing to install, download and very little to learn in order to be successful.
They provide a bevy of templates that you can use as a starting point to quickly and easily build professional looking business cards, posters, flyers and most importantly these days, the proper size graphics for all your social media profiles.
What’s great about the templates is that you generally need only to add text once you choose the one that represents the theme you’re trying to relay.
If you have your own images to add, you can or you can purchase inexpensive options from their catalog to really spice up your design.
It’s one of those websites that you may not need on a regular basis, but when you do, having https://www.canva.com at your disposal is a game changer!
Anyone that has to use reading glasses to be able to make use of their smartphone has probably found one without the other on many an occasion.
Lots of us simply buy a pile of reading specs and leave them in our most common daily deer trails.
If you’re constantly searching around for glasses when you want to read something on your smartphone, why not have a pair of glasses attached to your smartphone?
A company called Thin Optics has created a potential solution for people that have this problem - it’s a smartphone case that has a slot for their thin reading specs.
Because they don’t actually include the typical arms for reading glasses, they are thin enough to slip into the case.
You can get an entire case with the compartment or add the compartment to just about any existing case you have.
At $20 to $40, this inexpensive option may be just the solution that some of you have been looking for.
Learn more at: http://bit.ly/2nTED9j
How important has text messaging become for you? What would you do if a bad thing happened to your smartphone, like it gets lost or stolen?
There’s a decent chance that you’ll end up with either an unusable or lost phone at some point, so you should act accordingly.
Before you find yourself in this situation, search your carrier’s website for an online text messaging tool, get it setup and learn how to use it.
You’ll need the username and password associated with your phone number in order to use it, so that’s why I’d recommend you doing this before a crisis.
If you do find yourself in a crisis and need to send an urgent text from a computer, there’s a website called Text ‘em (http://textem.net) that might be helpful.
One issue that may prevent you from using the sight is that you’ll have to know which carrier that your intended recipient is using.
Learning how to send text messages when your phone isn’t available is something that is bound to payoff, so it’s a skill that I highly recommend that everyone learns.
Google’s Chromebooks have been around for quite a while and have become very popular in elementary schools, but it may actually be a great alternative for a lot of you.
These inexpensive laptop alternatives are designed for those that spend their lives on the web.
They use Google’s mobile operating system known as Chrome and a bunch of their productivity tools that can be used even without an Internet connection.
It’s not for those that have to run specific Windows or Mac programs or for those that want to edit videos, but for that average web surfer, they could work just fine.
For those with less of a need or as an additional computing device in your family for your younger users, these devices are shielded from the growing malware threat focused on Mac and Windows users.
To get a better understanding of what Chromebooks can offer, visit: https://www.google.com/chromebook
If you’re like me, you use your phone in the car to listen to music, podcasts and provide driving directions on a regular basis.
In order to stay safe, it’s important to have your phone in your normal line of sight instead of in a cup holder or other low places that requires you to look down to see it.
There are lots of devices that use suction cups, sticky glues or even magnets to present your phone in a safe place, but did you know that your air vents can be used as well?
A company called Kenu has a series of holders called the ‘AirFrame’ that simply clips to one of the blades of any of your air vents to hold your phone up high.
The various holders can generally hold any phone of any size including the extra space taken by a case.
Keep in mind that if your air vents or blowing out heated air, that can cause issues for your smartphone, so avoid doing that.
They offer lots of different options that you check out at: https://www.kenu.com/collections/vent-mounts
If you’re selling or buying a home or dealing with any sort of official business, there’s a strong chance you’ll need to have the documents notarized.
In this busy world we live in, tracking down a person that can do the notarization can be a bit of a logistical issue, especially if you are traveling.
Should you ever find yourself in a position of needing a notary fast, check out an app called Notarize.
It’s a completely legal virtual notary service that provides its services via the Internet.
It’s a straight forward process that anyone can execute by uploading the document that needs to be notarized and following their step-by-step instructions.
A licensed notary will connect with you via live video and witness you signing the document.
Everything is documented and saved for legal purposes and once you’re done, you can easily send the completed document wherever you need it to go.
It’s convenient and available around the clock, but that convenience comes at a price: $25
It’s one of those things that is worth every penny for some folks, so bookmark https://www.notarize.com just in case you find yourself in need of this awesome service.
Achieving physical fitness is much more likely to be successful when you can find routines that are easy to follow, don’t cost a fortune and will motivate you to continue.
The approach that avoids the need to spend money on expensive equipment may be a good starting point.
The Internet has made it possible for experienced fitness teachers to develop unique options for helping others, especially through visual aids like at a website called https://darebee.com
These routines use visual outlines to guide anyone through workouts complete with instructions on how many sets to do.
Not only can you get help with long-term routines that will help you get more fit, they also help you with meal planning to go along with your routines.
No matter who you are, if you are looking for something fresh to get you moving, the awesome visual options at Darebee.com are worth checking out!
Part of what makes viewing things on the Internet more efficient is through a background process that happens automatically called ‘caching’.
This process keeps a copy of elements of any website that you’ve visited in the past in a special place on your hard drive, so it doesn’t have to download every item, every time you revisit the site.
While the process, 9 times out of 10, benefits you, there are times when something that’s cached can cause issues.
Websites that just don’t seem to be loading properly or updated info that you know exists but isn’t appearing can be caused by a caching problem.
Whenever you have a challenging issue with a website, you can quickly bypass the cache in Windows by holding down the Ctrl key and tapping the F5 key.
MacOS users can do the same by pressing Command-Shift-R (think reload) at the same time.
This quick troubleshooting tip can help you avoid those irritating situations - if this works, it’s probably time to clear you cache:
iPhone users, especially those with one of the larger displays, may be missing out on a lot of cool options if you only use them in the up and down position, better known as portrait mode.
Apple has allowed for lots of hidden features and options in lots of different apps and utilities if you simply flip it from portrait to landscape mode.
Some apps, like mail, can show you split screens like you’re used to on your computer, just by flipping your iPhone sideways.
The extra screen space when turned on its side allows apps to reallocate where things go in a way that just isn’t possible in portrait mode.
One of the most obvious benefits is the ability to have a wider keyboard when you are typing.
Not sure which apps offer which features? Don’t worry about looking things up online to learn; just start turning your iPhone sideways on a regular basis to see what’s possible!
If you’ve ever flown across this country, especially on a clear day, you’ve looked down and seen things on the ground that made you curious.
Google image search may work, but only if you have an Internet connection or remember to do the search once you’ve landed and back online.
If you find yourself in this situation on a regular basis, there’s an app for that called Flyover Country.
As long as you pre-load the app with your upcoming flight path, which is easily done simply by choosing your take-off and landing cities, the app will download interesting points all along the way.
Then, when you are airborne and look down, the GPS that will work whether you have an Internet connection or not, will help the app identify what you’re looking at.
Check it out at: https://flyovercountry.io
Auto-correct has no-doubt caused you to post things online that made you look like you mistyped something.
We love it when it does properly auto-correct our typing and curse it when it makes us look silly.
Did you know that there’s a way to vastly improve the usefulness of this great tool, by creating your own custom entries!
How often do you have to type out your entire address? Why not create a shortcut using ADRS to tell auto-correct to spit out your entire address just by tapping out those 4 characters followed by the space bar.
All of your devices, apps or programs that fix your typing mistakes can be customized in this way.
The only thing you have to remember is to never use actual words in your customized entries as that will cause some interesting problems down the road.
Stick to made up words or abbreviations and don’t forget that you can use a combination of numbers and special characters as well!
You’ve probably used Apple’s Quicktime video app for years, but if you’re a Windows user, you should stop using it ASAP!
The critical security updates that allow you to safely use it have not been available to Windows user for years now.
If you’re using Quicktime on a Mac computer, there’s nothing to worry about as security updates have continued to be delivered to you.
Windows users should not only stop using the program, they should uninstall it completely to avoid accidentally using it.
For most Windows users, Quicktime really isn’t necessary any more, but if you find that you have older files that need it, use a free open source alternative called VLC instead.
The program works with just about any type of old or new video file and it’s available for just about every device you own.
Get it at:
It’s easy to get impatient when you are waiting for your computer to shutdown so it can restart, but not letting it do it’s thing can be bad.
No matter how many times you think about forcing it to shutdown by popping the power button, don’t do it.
The operating system in your computer constantly creates temp files as it performs the tasks you ask it to perform and these unneeded files are marked to be sent to the trash when you computer goes through its shutdown sequence.
A lot goes on during a shutdown, especially if you haven’t shut your computer down for a long while.
When you cut the process short, those unnecessary files build up and waste space.
Done repeatedly, this can fill your hard drive up, which will cause your computer to become unstable.
For those that have been guilty of this common action, it would be a good idea to run the Disk Cleanup utility in Windows.
For the most part, those running a MacOS would also be wise to allow the computer to properly shutdown as a similar impact will result.
Do you remember how often we used to hear about hover boards catching fire and causing lots of damage?
The popularity of the devices led to a rush of off-shore companies to get anything they could to market without much regard for testing or safety.
Improper charging systems with the wrong amperage connected to Lithium-Ion batteries is the most likely reason that we saw so many catching fire.
While most of us don’t have a need for a hover board, the issue that caused their problems can happen to anything you own that has a lithium ion battery.
We’ve seen lots of customers that ended up damaging their laptops, for instance, because they chose to use a cheap non-factory charger.
The damage can range from overheating to catching fire and it’s almost a guarantee to shorten the life of the battery.
Keep in mind, heat is an indicator of a battery problem, so if you notice that yours is getting very hot during the charging process, make sure you have everything checked out to avoid damaging your laptop.
Anyone that’s serious about improving any form of athletic skill they are working on should be using some form of slow-motion capture technology.
It turns out that we all have a very sophisticated slow-motion capture device in hour hands that just needs an app like the one available from Hudl to get the job done.
It’s the go-to for parents, students and coaches that want to be able to help an athlete improve through frame by frame analysis only available with slow motion.
The app does much more than just capture slow motion as it was specifically designed to help train through annotations and sharing of the videos.
There’s also an option to create a before - after comparison of two videos of the same person or for a comparison with a professional athlete in the same motions.
There’s so much in the app waiting to help coaches and parents point out slight areas that could benefit from corrections at: http://bit.ly/316xxgk
Are you one of the millions that is constantly getting a message on your smartphone that your storage space is almost full?
Both Android and iPhone users that have devices with no expandable memory need to be more diligent in keeping unneeded items from taking up valuable space.
You can certainly start with old apps that you haven’t used since you downloaded them, but a more likely hog of the space is your images and videos.
The biggest space hogs are those high-resolution videos as a single file can be as big as a large number of images.
Did you know that there’s another, less obvious place that could be the culprit? It’s your old text messages.
Many text messages have associated pictures and video attached to them, so if you don’t get rid of those old messages, those attachments will continue to take up space.
For more tips on clearing out the junk on you phone, checkout our advice at: http://bit.ly/2N8hwDt
If you have a young child, you’ve likely thought about what you can do to help them become proficient in our increasingly digital world.
One skill that, in my opinion, has become a fundamental must-have for any young person is learning how to code as it translates to value in virtually everything these days.
This isn’t to say that they need to pursue coding as their life’s work, simply that having a solid grasp on how things are created on the Internet and how software is developed will be extremely valuable.
A solid starting point for exposing your child to this skill is at an awesome and free website developed by MIT - https://scratch.mit.edu
It’s known as the ‘Scratch’ project, because it will help anyone that wants to learn coding to start from scratch.
All of the skills that need to be understood and developed in any child for their future can begin with this great web tool.
For the record, anyone at any age that want’s to better understand the world of coding should checkout https://scratch.mit.edu
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that mobile devices like tablets and smartphones have become digital babysitters for lots of parents these days.
Anytime you see an unruly child in a public setting, often times the only way to get them under control is to hand over a screen to distract them.
The problem with doing this without locking down various parts of the device is that unintended outcomes can be plentiful and in some cases, expensive.
All of these mobile pacifiers have options that allow parents to lock down various apps, functions or even access to the Internet that are built in and waiting to be activated.
If you’re not aware or familiar with these settings, there are lots of places to get up to speed, including these sites:
Android users: http://bit.ly/2ZPYfrX
iOS users: http://bit.ly/2ZMk3EX
There’s a popular visual method of presenting data known as an ‘infographic’ that may seem like a difficult thing to create.
It’s been transforming nearly undigestible data from spreadsheets and long white papers into easily digestible bits of data for years.
If you spend any time of social media or news sites, you have not doubt seen an infographic and assumed that a graphic designer was at work.
It turns out that anyone can make an infographic from any information they want to share at a website called Easelly.
Start with a template or if you’re up to it, create your own design and drag the visual elements that will make your complex data very pleasing to view.
This free tool is for anyone that wants to step up their game in the info presentation process - no design skills required!
Check it out for yourself at https://easel.ly
The internet has made connecting with lots of people that aren’t nearby very easy, unless you are trying to connect with a large group of people at the same time.
If you do this on a regular basis, hopefully you aren’t still using the old email - manual coordination process that’s a huge consumer of your time, not to mention frustratingly tedious.
Automating this common need is being done at a website called Schedule Once.
It’s designed to help both individuals and teams wrangle the scheduling issue, while offering automatic syncing options to make it even more efficient.
No matter where in the world the various members of your group may be, the tool manages and understands the differences in time zones.
Before you commit to using the service, you can sign up for a free 2 week trail to give it a test drive first at http://www.scheduleonce.com
It’s not going to be long now for the nasty flu bug to start rearing its ugly head.
Since we all want to avoid anyone that’s already contracted the virus, wouldn’t it be awesome to have an app that could warn you about the potential outbreaks that may be happening near you?
Well, there is an app for that and it’s called SickWeather for either iPhone or Android users.
The primary function of the app is to scan social media for obvious terms that indicate that someone is sick along with the data the other user provide though the app.
They can then forecast potential problems based on the data that they collect using sophisticated machine learning algorithms.
This approach has been able to predict outbreaks ahead of the CDC in previous years and it gets better at it as more people start to use it.
Learn all about it or download the app at http://www.sickweather.com