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!
You’ve probably heard about the Google Earth website and may even have played around with it form time to time.
But you may not have known about the time-lapse project that they’ve been compiling since 1984.
What’s great about this project is that id allows you to easily watch the incredible changes to any part of our globe over the last 30 plus years.
Some of the more compelling time-lapses include the development of cities like Las Vegas and Dubai or the disappearing lakes from various parts of the world.
It’s not limited to the presets on the site; you can type the location anywhere in the world to see how things have changed in places you are personally familiar with.
You can also pause on any year while zooming in and out of the area for even more perspective of the changes.
If you haven’t ever experience the world through this awesome time-lapse project, check it out at: https://earthengine.google.com/timelapse
There’s been a constant emphasis on our physical fitness since we were in grade school, but very little about our mental fitness.
Our mental focus tends to diminish as we age, which is glaringly obvious for most of us.
If you’ve got your physical fitness routine down, but not your mental fitness, check out an app designed to be your brain’s personal trainer!
It’s called Elevate and based on lots of real scientific research in cognitive processes, it uses games to exercise your brain.
You can choose to improve your speaking skills, processing speed, understanding of what you are hearing which the app uses to present you with daily challenges.
Once you’ve set your course, the app will keep track of your advances for you.
This is a free app for basic use with options to pay for more extensive options if you find it helpful.
Games, in general, have been shown to be an effective way to exercise your mind, but you might be able to take it to another level with the Elevate app: https://www.elevateapp.com
Do you remember when Snapchat was all the rage because the messages disappeared once the recipient saw it?
It was popular with younger users with all of its filters and crazy add-ons, but that was about it.
Most of us can think of times when they want to send something very confidential or very personal that they want to make sure never gets out.
If you find yourself in that situation, there’s an app called Confide that you may want to look into.
Those working as confidential sources or when in sensitive discussions know that keeping the messages secure is a must.
The way that the app protects against screenshots is that it requires the persons viewing the message to run their finger over each line to see the text underneath.
It’s certainly a possibility that someone could use video to try and capture the entire message, so it’s possible to recreate the message.
Learn more about the various options for this app at: https://getconfide.com
There is a critical task that every computer user knows about, regardless of how tech-savvy they are, but they still don’t get around to it and that is creating a consistent backup process.
More than ever, having your data backed up is incredibly important because of all the threats to hold your computer hostage through the use of ransomware.
If you are unfortunate enough to become a victim of this sneaky attack, you’ll be locked out of your own files until you pay a ransom that can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
This is such a lucrative type of cybercrime that the thieves continue to evolve their tactics to thwart traditional forms of protection, such as anti-virus programs and firewalls.
The encryption used by the thieves would take today’s most powerful computers decades to crack, so your best form of protection is a protected off-site backup.
We install Carbonite for all of our clients and do so, because it’s automatic, can’t be touched by ransomware on your computer and bugs you if it’s not able to perform its daily tasks.
We carry something with us every day that is constantly trying to make us sick…our smartphones!
The data suggests that there's exponentially more bacteria living on your phone’s surfaces than that of the door handle at a public restroom.
Warm devices that get stored in dark places, like a purse or back pocket serve to enhance the chances of viral growth.
Wiping your device regularly is a big help, but you need to be careful with what chemicals you use as they may cloud screen protectors or damage some touch screens.
For another option that has proven to be effective, check out the devices available from a company called Phone Soap.
Instead of using chemicals to disinfect the surfaces, they use power UV light while your smartphone is charging at night.
How effective is this approach? Check out the lap results from this Discovery Channel video: https://bit.ly/3ekv9bQ
Ready to soap up your smartphone? Learn more at: https://www.phonesoap.com
If you’re the most tech-savvy person in your family or circle of friends, you’ll likely be the one that most of them come to for virtually any type of tech question.
It’s not always so obvious to those that feel intimidated by technology that most often, the question that they are asking you could have been answered in seconds by doing a simple Google search.
The problem is that they simply don’t know what they should type to get the results that would provide the information they seek.
Thankfully, there’s a simple website that can both provide them with the information that they are looking and provide them with a subtle message on what they can do for themselves in the future.
It’s located at https://LetMeGoogleThatForYou.com or https://lmgtfy.com for short and it’s simply fantastic and fun.
You start by typing the search condition you’d like them to understand and the site will create an animation that shows them how they could have done it themselves.
It’s the old saying of ‘teach a man to fish….’
There are generally pros and cons with virtually any type of technology, but once in a while something really amazing is created.
Today’s tip is one of those incredible creations called ‘Be My Eyes’ because of what it does to help other people.
An app developer in Europe created this app to help those that are either blind or have low vision navigate the physical world with the help of the app and volunteers on the other end.
When someone needs the help of a sighted person, they simply use the app to find a volunteer that can use the camera on their phone to help them see things, like expiration dates or street signs.
If you’d like to do something that makes you feel good, download this app and get set up as a volunteer.
The system has a rating system for volunteers so the best ones get the most opportunities too.
This simple but incredibly helpful task is such a great gift to your fellow man, so if you’re ready to help, go to: https://bemyeyes.org
It’s no secret that kids aren’t afraid of technology and take to it at a very early age, which could lead to much bigger things if they are given structured ways to learn.
Teaching any child programming skills will have a dramatic impact on their future potential and you can get them started before they can even type!
There is a free iPad app made specifically for children ages 9-15 that will get them started by creating games and animations.
Typing skills aren’t needed because Hopscotch is a visual programming language that they’ll take to right away.
The drag and drop interface allows your child to build programs with blocks of pre-written programming code.
Developing a tech-savvy child in today’s digital economy will result in so many more options as they enter the workforce.
This may be aimed at children but any adult that wants to learn the basics can use it too.
The best part is that mom and dad don’t need to be computer geeks to raise a computer geek any more!
Download this free app at: https://www.gethopscotch.com
It’s nearly impossible to be in business today without spending time on social media as it’s become just as important as answering the phone or responding to emails.
The challenge for so many time-strapped businesses is that they just don’t have the basic processes down but there is a way to learn how; taking a course!
I’m not suggesting that you sign for some class that requires you to drive somewhere, I’m suggesting a free course that’s designed to help in with just a few minutes each day.
A social media management tool called Buffer has created a simple to follow course for learning more because each lesson gets emailed to you every day.
This isn’t designed to make you some kind of social guru, but it will take you to new levels of understanding that could benefit your business.
It’s just not something you can bury your head in the sand over, so if you know anyone that could use some help, send them here: https://buffer.com/email-courses/social-media-101
I’ve got an out of this world tip for anyone with a creative mind and an iPhone.
Why put up with the limitations of this planet, when you can expand your horizons with the Alien Sky app.
instead of being limited to filters and color correction, this app will make everyone that sees your images do a double-take.
You can add effects like realistic-looking planets and m moon and combine them with lens flares to any picture on your iPhone.
Imagine your friends seeing two moons or a comet streaking over your shoulder when you post to Instagram or Facebook.
This app has an incredible collection of effects that will change the sky in any of your images with these amazing options.
There’s no shortage of creative options in this unique app, which you can learn more about at: http://www.brainfevermedia.com/alienSky.html
One of life’s chores that will never go away is doing laundry, which is why it’s something that every child should have a firm understanding of.
Since the most likely excuse for doing their own laundry is that they don’t know what to do, parents now have the perfect response: there’s an app for that!
This easy to use app provided the instructions they need not just for washing and drying clothes, but also folding and ironing as well.
It also explains the symbols on clothing tags so they can’t use that excuse either.
Your kids will get step-by-step instructions for every aspect of laundry and it includes a timer so they’ll know when it’s time for the next step.
This could save parents lots of money with a first-year college student that has to figure out what to do.
So many people of all ages could use this type of help, so spread the word about the Complete Laundry Care iPhone app!
Laundry Pro - Care Symbols https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.kloobi.laundry
Google offers a wide assortment of incredibly powerful tools and most of them are free for either personal or business use.
One of my favorites that seems to be lesser known by a lot of people is their Trends tool.
Imagine being able to leverage Google’s incredible database of what people search for every day; that’s what this tool offers!
Knowing what people are searching for as well as the related terms that are used are incredibly useful for everything from Search Engine Optimization to every facet of digital marketing.
The tool allows you to narrow the data by country, state, or even a specific language for the results.
You can see how certain search terms have trended over time going all the way back to 2004.
This is really useful when looking at the seasonality of certain types of searches, which is essential for building a solid marketing strategy.
If you’ve never used this tool, it really is something you should explore for a variety of reasons, especially those that are in business: https://trends.google.com
The tricky thing about aging is that the brain slows down a bit, which I can clearly attest to!
I’m often times searching for the right words for something that I am thinking, which never happened in my youth.
For this all too common situation, I turned to the Internet for help and found it via the Reverse Dictionary tool located at Onelook.com
You can type a general idea of what you are trying to say with a couple of words or even a sentence to get started.
An example would be using “the constant desire to travel”, which returned the word wanderlust amongst many others.
It’s also great for generating a lot of words related to a specific category, like large birds.
This is one of those resources that is awesome when you are driving yourself crazy trying to remember a word, so it’s a solid bookmark candidate.
Striving for happiness is something we all would like to aspire to, but we could all use a little help with staying focused.
Would you believe that there’s an iPhone app for that?
An app developed for doctoral research at Harvard University called ‘Track Your Happiness’ set out to discover what it was that made people happy.
The app helps you track your happiness, which in turn helps them understand the various factors that actually make you happy.
The way it works is through alerts you’ll get a couple of times a day that asks you how you are feeling at that precise moment.
Your responses combined with various other elements helps the app figure out what it is that allows you to be happy.
It’s also helping the researchers collect real-world data that can help them better understand the happiness that we all seek.
A byproduct of the app is that it seems to help users to focus on happiness, which could be just as powerful as the data.
Learn more at https://www.trackyourhappiness.org or Android users can use their web app at: https://go.trackyourhappiness.org
There is one regular task that just about every household deals with almost weekly that could use an app: grocery shopping.
If you’re like most families, you have a variety of ways that you add items to your shopping lists, which can lead to things falling through the proverbial crack.
It’s even more challenging when you have a large number of people chiming in on what needs to be picked up from a variety of communication methods.
A well thought through attempt to reduce both the missed items an inefficient communications is in the form of an app called Capitan.
Lists are great, but how about a grocery list that understands where items tend to be located in the store that also learns what you regularly purchase.
The real advantage is the location-based option in the app that can notify the rest of your clan that you just walked into the grocery store in case they have any last-minute requests.
It’s a really interesting approach that’s free at: https://www.getcapitan.com
We’re all doing so much more with our smartphones these days, including tasks that in the past would only be done while sitting at a computer.
The challenge to getting real work done on a smartphone is the keyboard as an interface.
Even if you have tiny fingers, tapping out a lot of text isn’t the most efficient way to get things done.
A wonderful alternative is the ever-advancing voice recognition technology, but in many cases, it’s still not the best way to go.
Having a regular keyboard for large quantities of text input is still the best option, which you can actually use even with a smartphone.
If you have a tablet, many of you have a Bluetooth keyboard to make things work better but hadn’t thought about it being of use on your smartphone as well.
Since it’s Bluetooth, it’s really no different than any other device that connects that way, so pairing the keyboard is quick and easy.
It’s not ideal for everything, but if you already have a Bluetooth keyboard, keep in mind that it can connect to any of your mobile devices in a pinch!
Mobile apps are clearly the biggest reason that smartphones and tablets so popular and downright indispensable these days.
Lots of businesses and small organizations have thought about creating an app, but finding the money to pay for such an expensive venture is tough.
That’s where an online resource called the App Machine can play a role.
They focused on creating a tool that didn’t require an extensive programming or coding background that just about anyone can use to create an app in a short period of time.
This is far from a substitute for a professional app builder as it’s just a basic do-it-yourself tool, but if you have a simple need, this simple tool could be all you need.
There’s really no limit to the kind of organization that might want an app, which they highlight on their website to get your creative juices flowing.
The tool itself is free to use, so you can try building an app with no risk; you’ll only pay a monthly fee if you decide to publish the app in the major app stores.
If you’re one of the millions toying with the idea of having their own app, learn how the App Machine can help at: https://appmachine.com
A request from my spouse to help her print something that she had on her iPhone brought back this tip that I’ve been sharing for years.
It’s highly unlikely that you don’t have a Google account these days, which is why this tip is nearly universal regardless of the device you are trying to print from.
It’s made possible by making the printer that is connected to your computer available via the ‘cloud’ which is just a metaphor for the Internet.
Once you’ve set it up, you can print from your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer no matter where in the world you are, because it uses the Internet to send the print job.
It’s a great way to print something to your office printer from home or vice versa and can be a lifesaver when a friend runs out of ink in the middle of a critical print job.
There are some printers that are ‘cloud-ready’ but they aren’t necessary for this awesome trick to work.
Everything you need to know to get started is posted at: https://www.google.com/cloudprint
If it seems like it’s taking forever for your smartphone to charge with certain chargers, you aren’t imagining things.
A number of variables can have a dramatic impact on how long it takes for devices to charge, especially the amperage and the quality and condition of the charging cables themselves.
The power output, which is measured in amperes needs to be high enough to charge your battery in a timely manner.
It’s best to use the specific charger and cable that came with your phone as it’s properly matched, but when you are forced to use an alternative, try to find something that has the same amperage rating.
There are fancy electronic measuring tools that can accurately tell you what the output of a charge is or if you have an Android-based smartphone, there’s an app called Ampere that’s fantastic.
Not only can it tell you the charging and draining data, but it also monitors the temperature and gives you some insight into the health of your battery.
If you have a hodgepodge of chargers, using the app when plugging into each one will tell you the fastest chargers in the bunch.
Get it from the Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gombosdev.ampere&hl=en
One of my favorite online resources that I have featured on many occasions is If This Then That tool which can automatically perform lots of tasks across many of your online services all at once.
For those that have started to see the incredibly powerful automated tasks that are available through the IFTTT website, I’d recommend extending the power to your phone’s camera with their companion app called ‘Do Camera’.
The pictures you take with the Do Camera app can now be integrated into these automated tasks.
You can automatically have pictures sent to specific Facebook albums, transfer images of important receipts and paperwork saved to your Evernote account, or lots of other possibilities.
The best part of the entire IFTTT universe is that smart people that have tested out various recipes make them available for anyone to use, so you don’t even have to create your own.
The app can work with most of the major picture related websites, so it’s useful no matter which platforms you’ve been using.
Check out the free apps available for both Android and iPhone users at: https://ifttt.com/products/do/camera
Who said “When you come to a fork in the road, take it?
Well-known quotes can come up in a variety of ways, but when you want to know who’s responsible for the quote, there’s a website for that.
Quotery.com is a web resource that has spent the time to document who said what when it comes to famous quotes.
They’ve created a huge database of proverbs, quotes, and quips that can be accessed by searching for the quote itself or exploring an author or any topic.
It’s a really helpful tool for anyone doing research on quotes that want to make sure the references are correct.
For those that don’t have anything to research, just randomly searching the database can be a lot of fun.
What’s great about this resource is that it goes beyond just who said what by providing additional context and sources.
With all that being said, if you run across an entry that you don’t totally agree with, you can throw in your two cents to help improve the database.
Add this one to your bookmarks so you’ll be able to quickly answer the ‘who said that’ question the next time it pops up!