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!
Let’s start the week off with a productivity tip for all of you that use Google Docs.
A recent addition to the Google Docs and Sheets platform is called Add-ons and it’s truly a hidden gem!
You can add features like Avery Label Merge or e-mail merge with Mailchimp accounts as well as an add-on called Hello Sign for digital signatures.
Want to create a quick table of contents in the sidebar from your documents? There’s an add-on for that! Need to send a fax? There’s an add-on for that too!
Charts, mindmaps, flowcharts and music notation are just the beginning of this new evolution of Google’s free online alternative to Microsoft Office.
To access the available add-ons, just open a document or sheet and click on the Add-ons menu towards the top right and then on Get Add-ons.
Once you install an add-on, it’s available across all your documents and spreadsheets, old or new.
There are lots of interesting options that’s bound to grow as more developers jump into the pool, so make sure to check back on a regular basis to take advantage of these awesome free tools!
One of the most common questions that I’ve gotten over the years, is where can I send my employees to get software training?
Us old timers immediately think about a class or a book to learn what we don’t know, but that’s just not the way to learn these days.
The web allows for a much more interactive and visual way to learn and one site that has a comprehensive online library of easy-to-follow tutorials is Lynda.com.
They have nearly 2500 video courses that range from the most common programs like Word and Excel to 3D animation and virtually every web language or program being used today.
The tens of thousands of training videos are broken up over beginner, intermediate and advanced levels and even offer videos with close captioning.
Lynda.com is a subscription service that starts at $25 per month for unlimited access to their training videos.
They also have mobile apps, so you can watch courses on laptops, tablets or smartphones and switch back and forth without losing your place.
If your business is looking for an inexpensive video training system http://lynda.com is worth taking a look at!
If you’re a collector of anything, coins, stamps, baseball cards, you know that cataloging your collection is a labor of love.
If you catalog your collection in the traditional way, you probably have a book or spreadsheet that you have to refer to when you want to add to your collection or trade something you have multiples of.
If you’re looking for an easier way to interact with other collectors that might want to trade, buy or sell items in your area of interest, checkout a website called Colnect.com.
Colnect is an online community of collectors of everything from beer coasters to video games that allows you to easily manage your own personal collection and interact with other collectors.
You can post items that you own, items that you have available to swap or items that you would like to acquire. The system allows you to find best matches for a swap because it can quickly find another collector that’s a good trading candidate for you.
It’s got almost 70,000 collectors in 219 countries, so it’s a serious marketplace for traders of lots of collectables.
I’ve got the direct link posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and it is truly the language of the Internet.
If you’ve got a youngster that’s really interested in learning how to build websites, they need to understand the underlying code that’s actually used to build things.
You often see websites telling you that you can build your own website with their easy to use tools, which can be true, but it’s limited to the pre-designed tools that the site has created.
HTML looks like Greek at first, but once you start learning the basic building blocks, it becomes much less mysterious.
A really cool way to learn web skills is from Mozilla’s Webmaker website where you can take simple pre-made sites and tinker with them to see what happens.
Breaking things is a really great way to learn web skills and with Webmaker, you can break things without causing any problems.
Understanding HTML is becoming a vital skill for more than just web developers and Mozilla’s goal is to encourage millions of people move from just using the web to creating it.
The Webmaker project is at http://Webmaker.org and it’s a great place for anyone that’s curious about how the web really works!
Smartphones are similar to computers in that, over time, they can build up a lot of junk files that can hamper your performance.
If you’re Android smartphone or tablet seems to be sluggish or is running out of memory, a free app called Clean Master can find all the unnecessary junk and free up valuable space in a snap.
I was able to clear our nearly 2 Gbs of junk files from the Samsung S4 handset that I’ve used for testing hundreds of apps over the past year.
Clean Master shows you how much storage and RAM you’re currently using and allows you to track down memory hogs so you can shut them down when you’re phone starts to drag along.
It also provides malware detection and real-time protection against web threats as well as an app manager that makes it easy to uninstall apps in groups.
Another great feature is that it allows you to see how many of the apps that came with the phone, most of which are useless, can be safely disabled.
Clean master’s free optimizer is available in the Google Play Store and is one of my favorite utility apps!
If you’re a parent, you know the frustrations of getting kids up to speed on doing their own laundry.
One of the biggest excuses is generally “I don’t know what to do”...fair enough...but there’s an app for that!
Complete Laundry Care is a free app for the iPhone that has instructions for washing, ironing, folding and has a chart that explains what the machine wash symbols on the tags mean.
The app literally walks you through each step of the process from sorting, setting the time for washing and drying and provides a timer to alert you when each load is done so the clothes don’t up being forgotten.
It’s a great way to make sure your new college student doesn’t destroy their entire wardrobe in the first semester of school by the throw it all in together approach.
It can even help save your child from burning their clothes when they decide to attempt ironing.
So if you know anyone at any age that just hasn’t gotten their head around the laundry process, this app could end up saving them thousands of dollars over the years.
I’ve posted the link at DataDoctors.com/radio
You probably recall the amateur video contest that Doritos sponsored during the Superbowl and how cool it was for an amateur to have his video become a commercial on national TV.
Well, If you or anyone you know is an amateur videographer that’s capable of creating some really amazing video, you don’t have to wait for the Superbowl every year to get your shot.
A crowdsourcing website called Poptent has been putting national brands and anyone that has creative skills in writing, directing, animating or cinematography together since 2007.
Whether you’re a professional or an amateur, you can submit your ideas for a commercial to fortune 500 companies and get noticed just like the Doritos Superbowl contest.
If your submission is chosen, you get paid; it’s a new way to get your foot in the door with the big brands.
If you’re a company, you can use the Poptent network to create cost effective video campaigns by accessing the largest community of independent filmmakers in the world.
I’ve got the links for both filmmakers and companies that want to use the network posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Filmakers go to http://www.poptent.com/creativenetwork
Companies go to: http://www.poptent.com
Learning a new language or improving your vocabulary is a lot easier when you can commit the time to focus on it, but that’s not always possible.
One unique approach to helping us improve our language skills is offered by a free web service called Lingua.ly.
Lingua.ly is a Chrome browser add-on that turns your daily web surfing into an opportunity to learn new words in any of 5 languages: English, Spanish, French, Hebrew and Arabic.
Once you install the extension, you simply double click on any word to get an instant translation along with audio so you can hear how to say the word.
Anything you double-click gets added to your basket of words so you can review them later as flashcards or as a guessing game.
They even have an app for Android handsets that allows you to do the same thing on your smartphone.
You’re not going to become fluent from scratch with this tool, but if you’re looking for an easier way to improve your language skills, it’s a winner!
Checkout the direct link to Lingua.ly at DataDoctors.com/radio
The next time you have a new project that requires some creative thought to come up with the right name or slogan, remember this tip.
A website called PickyDomains.com is a crowdsourced naming service designed to help you come up with a cool domain name , product name or slogan for just about anything.
Tap into the imagination of thousands of creative people around the Internet by posting a detailed brief of what you’re trying to convey and whether you need the name to be an available website domain.
You can dictate the maximum number of letters or words and any words you don’t want used in the name, like a word that a competitor already uses for instance.
The reward you pay for coming up with a name for your project starts at a measly $50 and the average order will get hundreds of suggestions.
You can give feedback to the contributors to shape the suggestions and when you feel like you’ve got a great new name, pick a winner for your project!
Got something that you’ve been struggling to come up with a name for?
Well, it happened again...a frantic Gmail user asked for help because they got locked out of their own account by a hacker.
Google has various resources for recovering a compromised account, but something he should have done long ago would have prevented the whole situation in the first place.
It’s c alled 2-step verification and it’s so simple to setup.
With 2-step verification turned on, even with your password, a hacker wouldn’t gain access to your account and here’s why:
Google knows when a strange computer is trying to access your account and will text a special code to your phone when it detects this activity.
Without the special code, the remote hacker won’t get in. It’s also a great way to know when your password has been compromised.
If you get an access code texted to you out of the blue, you’ll know that someone has figured out your password and it’s time to change it.
BTW, you can also protect accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Paypal, Microsoft, Apple and lots of other sites with 2-step verification.
I’ve got a link to the instructions for most major sites at DataDoctors.com/radio so get this done today!
The most recent iOS update for iPhone and iPad users introduced lots of new features as well as increased performance and stability.
But some features suck, battery life that is, which seems to happen every time there’s an iOS update.
One of the main reasons that you may experience shorter battery life is that often times new slick features are automatically turned on when you install an update, so turn off any features you don’t really need.
The additional feature draw on your battery combined with the likelihood that you’ll initially spend more time exploring the new features can easily exhaust your battery faster.
As usual, turning down your brightness and turning off bluetooth and wifi if you aren’t using them will save the most power.
If you think the update is actually causing the power drain, put your phone aside for an hour or so to see if excess power is being drained when you aren’t using it.
If you want more specific instructions for iPhone and iPads running iOS 7.1, I’ve posted a link to 8 common battery life fixes at DataDoctors.com/radio
The weekend is near and here’s a fun tip for creating memorable videos of your activities.
If you’ve ever wanted to be the director of a blockbuster special effects action movie, did you know all you need is your smartphone and an app?
FXGuru is a pretty amazing app that makes it easy to create action-packed videos out of just about anything you can record with your smartphone.
There are 12 free effects with the basic program that include UFO shuttles, satellites crashing and dancing skeletons with dozens of other effects that you can buy for 99 cents each.
Unlike some of the other movie effect apps I’ve used in the past, FXGuru uses virtual decals to show you where the effect will be used while you are shooting your video, so it’s much easier to line up the effect.
The only limits to your movie making this weekend will be your own imagination, so if you’re ready to film a UFO invasion over your backyard or blow up your golf buddy on the 9th tee box because he’s beating you, FXGuru makes it fun and easy.
You can download the iPhone or Android version at http://www.fxguruapp.com
Food photography has become a social media phenomenon that most people either love or hate.
If you’re on the love side of the equation, there are a few things you should keep in mind, especially when you’re in a restaurant.
The first is to turn off your flash...not only is it a distraction to your fellow diners, it’s going to ruin the actual colors of the food and make it look like plastic.
If you’re in a low lighting situation, turn down your screen brightness as well and use a candle to warmly light your subject.
Another potential irritant to those close by is the shutter sound every time you snap a picture, so turn that off too.
The app you use to take the picture can make a huge difference in the outcome, so instead of using your built-in camera app, checkout VSCO’s Cam app http://vsco.co/vscocam which gives you lots of editing options after you take the picture to brighten it up.
And don’t forget, you’re there to enjoy the meal, so you can wait until after you eat to post your pictures.
The link to VSCO’s Cam app is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Today’s tip focuses on something you may already have, but didn’t really know about.
If you use any of Google’s online tools like Gmail or Google+ you get at least 15Gbs of free cloud storage called Google Drive for documents, spreadsheets, pictures or whatever you want to store online.
One really good use of that free online space is to backup your important files and pictures which is made much easier if you install the Google Drive utility on your Mac or Windows PC.
Once installed, Google Drive becomes a folder on your computer so that anything that you save in it get’s automatically synced to your free storage account.
Any change you make in the Google Drive folder is mirrored in the My Drive section on the web. That means anything you share, move, modify, or put in the trash will be reflected in My Drive the next time your computer syncs.
It only takes a few minutes to get setup and once it’s in place, it’s a really simple way to protect your valuable digital assets and have access to them from any computer or smartphone you own.
Your computer’s hard drive is like a refrigerator; no matter how big it is, you’ll eventually fill it up.
And just like your refrigerator, getting rid of unneeded items is much cheaper than buying a bigger one.
The problem for most of you is that you don’t know what’s hogging up all the space, so you don’t really know what to get rid of.
In general, uninstalling old programs that you no longer use is a good start, but if you have lots of video or music that you no longer care about, those are space hogs too.
If you’re a Windows user, you can get a lot of help from a free program called TreeSize.
In Windows, the directory structure is referred to as a tree and each folder is like a branch. TreeSize will show you how large each folder is so you have a better idea where the space hogs reside.
A Word of Caution: You should never delete anything if you don’t know what it is and always make sure you have a verified backup before attempting to clean up your hard drive.
We all want to stay in shape, but it’s easy to get too busy to get to the gym or take that 30 minute run.
If you find yourself regularly skipping any kind of exercise because you don’t have the time, try shifting your focus to something easy to accomplish: the 7 minute workout app. It can be used anytime, anywhere, without any equipment.
Scientists have developed a 12-step high-intensity workout that uses your body weight, a chair and a wall to and it only takes 7 minutes to complete.
The research shows that even a few minutes of high intesity training approaching your maximum capacity produces changes within muscles comparable to those of several hours of running or bike riding.
And if that’s just too much of a time commitment to get started, there’s a 4-minute workout app that’s based on a regimen originally used by Japanese Olympic athletes.
Both of these apps are available for the iPhone from a company called TinyHearts or you can go to http://7minuteworkout.us on any computer to be led through the 12 exercises.
Fitness is a time committment, but with these options, it doesn’t have to be a huge time committement.
If you’ve noticed that strange things just seem to pop up on your computer over time, it’s most likely from new apps or programs that you’ve installed.
A common practice these days is to sneak third-party programs into a printer installation program or utility such as Java when it’s downloaded or updated.
The key to catching these useless programs and changes to your computer is to pay close attention during the installation routine.
The software companies are counting on you not paying attention and just hitting next, next, next, I agree.
Another way to trick you into allowing junk software into your computer is by convincing you that the standard installation is the recommended installation.
They make it sound like you have to be a rocket scientist to choose the custom installation, but that’s where you’ll get to see what they are trying to sneak past you.
From this point forward, always choose the advanced or custom installation option whenever you’re adding any new software to your computer so you can stop it before it happens.
This tip is the key to keeping them from messing up your browser with extra toolbars or changing your default search engine or start page.
If you or anyone you know is searching for an apartment or home to rent, you know how much work it can be.
Weeding through ads and figuring out where the potential rental property is actually located is really time consuming.
There are lots of places to research potential rental properties, but a website and mobile app called Lovely makes it a lot easier.
Lovely acts like a virtual rental agent by scouring popular websites for rental opportunities and maps them out on your computer or smartphone.
Since time is of the essence when new properties hit the market, Lovely shows you fresh listings in orange or allows you to setup alerts when new properties pop up in the area you want to live in.
If you’re a landlord, Lovely Pro offers several tools that allow you to List your rental, search an on-demand database of pre-credentialed renters, and run credit reports for every applicant all for free.
You can even setup an automatic rent collection from your tenant for a buck a month!
Lovely does all the hard work for both renters and landlords and it’s really easy to use!
I’ve posted the links to Lovely and Lovely Pro at DataDoctors.com/radio
Smartphone cameras have become so good that they’re now our go-to cameras, but because they don’t fit in our hands the same as a point and shoot camera, we often end up with crooked pictures.
Taking a picture with one hand is generally what causes the problem, because getting the phone perfectly aligned and tapping the shutter button can be challenging.
While fixing images that are off kilter is possible after the fact, it’s generally more work than we’re willing to commit to, so our pictures end up crooked when we post them.
In some cases, it can look pretty artistic, but if you’re finding that too many of your iPhone pics are crooked, there’s an app for that!
The Orient app clicks perfectly straight pictures, no matter how you hold your iPhone because it compensates for any angle using the built in gyroscope.
With Orient, you don’t need to pay attention to how you hold your phone, just pick one of 9 aspect ratios and the app does the rest.
It can align horizontally or vertically and works with the front or back camera, so even your selfies will come out perfect.
The direct link to Orient is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Social networks are a great way to monitor what’s going on in the world and seeing what people are sharing and who the key influencers are for a given subject can be helpful in business.
A new website called http://buzzsumo.com makes it very easy to see what the most shared links are when it comes to specific topics and who the key influencers are on those topics.
It’s also a great way to see what content you have created is getting the most interest and on which networks.
It breaks down the shares on 5 of the largest social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google plus
It also allows you to filter the most popular links by content type such as articles, video, interviews and infographics and choose a date range.
It can be used in business for strategic research or it can be used on a personal level to see the most shared links for your favorite hobbies, travel destinations or celebrities.
Everything on the Internet is driven by keywords, so once you know which keywords are important to your business or personal pursuits, Buzzsumo makes it a snap to plug into the buzz.
Check it out at BuzzSumo.com
If you’re an avid user of Microsoft Word, you’re probably familiar with macros that allow you to insert large chunks of text that you use on a regular basis with a keyboard shortcut to save time.
If you find yourself spending more time on the Internet creating content, having this same feature in your browser can be super handy.
If you find yourself using Google Docs instead of Microsoft Word and want this same capability, checkout a free add-on for Google Chrome called Auto Text Expander.
Whether you want to create shortcuts for long e-mail addresses, phrases you frequently use or create special e-mail signatures that you can easily insert, Auto Text Expander will get the job done.
You can create your own database of shortcuts like bizadd for your business address or persig for a personal e-mail signature or any chunk of text that you use on a regular basis.
Once you create a shortcut, it can be used on any text field for everything from e-mail to social media to your blog site.