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!
When is a lightbulb not just a lightbulb? When it’s on display at the world’s largest electronics show.
Smart LED bulbs were everywhere at this year’s CES but one company believes that ightbulbs should do more than just generate light.
Sengled believes we should hide other ugly electronics in our lightbulbs, such as wifi boosters, security cameras and speakers.
The Pulse Solo is a pair of LED lights with JBL speakers embedded in them so you can turn it on and turn it up. Any Bluetooth audio device can play music from these cleverly concealed speakers.
The Sengled Boost bulb doubles as a wifi booster, which can be really handy for those with wifi blackout zones in the house.
The coolest item they showed called Snap had a camera, motions sensors and facial recognition built into a single light bulb.
Snap won’t be available until later this year, but the rest of the products are at http://Sengled.com, that’s S E N G L E D.com
Baby monitors are a pretty common sight in most homes these days, but a baby monitor that monitors before and after the child is born is pretty unique.
The Bellabeat Shell is a small round monitor that can let you listen to the baby’s heartbeat, track its movements and play music for your baby during pregnancy.
The associated app allows you to easily record the sounds and share them with friends and family too.
Think of it as a Fitbit for pregnant ladies that becomes even more when your baby arrives.
After the child is born, the Shell becomes a full fledged baby monitor that can analyze 7 different cries as well as monitor the temperature and humidity in the nursery.
It can play white noise to help your baby go to sleep and tracks all the activity during the night, so you can understand your child’s sleep patterns.
This stylish wooden ball is currently sold out, with a projected price of $119 but you can get on the list at http://BellaBeat.com
No matter what brand of laptop you own, the power adapter is usually an oversized but very necessary accessory.
It’s kind of a shame to have a thin, lightweight laptop with a massive power adapter.
Not only does it add weight to your carry case, it becomes a big bulging mess when you attempt to pack it away.
If you travel with your laptop, FinSix may have a solution for this common problem.
It’s called the Dart and they claim that it’s the world’s smallest laptop charger.
Not only does it provide AC power to many popular Windows laptops, it also has a USB port to charge your phone or tablet at the same time.
At 2.5 cubic inches and just over an 8th of a pound, DART isn’t much larger than most smartphone chargers.
If your laptop power requirements are 65 watts or less and between 18 and 21 volts DC, the Dart will probably work
A compatiblity chart is available at http://FinSix.com that’s spelled F I N S I X
When you first hear the term 3D food printer, you’ll probably roll your eyes and chuckle at yet another crazy tech idea.
If you jump to the vision of a machine printing a steak dinner, I can understand why.
But 3D food printers may actually become part of your life in the foreseeable future, believe it or not.
At the moment, most of them are creating confections, baked goods and pizzas as more of a proof of concept exercise.
But we’re starting to see interesting concepts that use fresh vegetables so you can create quick meals with healthy organic ingredients.
Imagine printing customized meals for each member of your family based on their health needs.
For now, you’ll probably get served a personalized confection from one of these gadgets as your first encounter.
The commercial use of this new technology will likely lead to consumer adoption as new use cases are discovered.
As goofy as this device may seem on the surface, the microwave oven wasn’t immediately understood or trusted either, so don’t discount them just yet.
This year’s International CES was dubbed ‘the Internet of Things’ show, which refers to common items in your life being connected to the Internet.
Light bulbs, doorbells, thermostats, garage doors and lots of other tech will slowly turn your home into a smart home that you can control from your smartphone.
But before you jump into the Smart Home revolution, do yourself a favor and look into the platforms themselves first.
There are a handful of competing standards that will only talk to devices that follow those specific standards.
If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a dozen apps on your phone for a dozen devices that don’t talk to each other.
The platform wars are just getting started as major players like Google and Apple are jumping into the game with both feet.
If you’re an early adopter and don’t mind replacing your smart technology as it evolves, go to town.
For the rest of you, let the smoke settle so you can make smart smart home decisions.
Lots of you have installed webcams as a security device in your homes, but if you want to take it to the next level, a company called http://Netatmo.com has an option.
They were one of a handful of companies showing home security cameras that included facial recognition, so it can tell the difference between your family and a stranger.
The sophistication of facial recognition has improved dramatically and the demonstrations at this year’s CES were pretty impressive.
This additional feature to a security webcam can send parents of latchkey children a notification when they get home, for example.
As more of your home becomes smart devices, facial recognition will be able to set lighting, mood music or temperature based on who walks into a room.
This level of technology has only been available for years, but only for the tech savvy with deep pockets.
You’ll be seeing a lot more of this do-it-yourself home security technology as the year goes on based on what I saw at this year’s show.
One of the more anticipated product launches this year is the Apple Watch, which is slated for a March release.
If you’re a tech fanatic with a wad of cash, it’ll likely be your smartwatch of choice.
Smartwatches have been available from other companies for years, but lets face it, they’re all pretty geeky looking.
If you’re interested in a smart watch that also looks smart, we’re finally starting to see elegantly designed Bluetooth connected timepieces from companies like Withings and Guess.
Both companies showed beautiful alternatives to the typical digital styling at this year’s CES.
Vibrating notifications and hands-free voice commands were just a couple of the features that we should see from these devices as they come to market later this year.
Sending texts, making or answering phone calls, checking the weather or sports scores and setting reminders just by talking to your watch will become the norm this year.
If you’ve been waiting for a better looking Dick Tracy watch, this will be your year!
The holiday season is over and the longer you’ve been on this planet, the more likely you’ll end up with some excess baggage...gift cards!
This ubiquitous holiday gift is always appreciated but often lost or forgotten, once the eggnog runs out.
That’s where an app called GoWallet can come to the rescue.
Instead of stuffing all those gift cards into your wallet or purse, snap a picture of them with the GoWallet app so you can easily keep track of them all.
In many cases, the merchant can scan the electronic record of the gift card right from the app, so you can redeem them without having to carry them all around.
If you really don’t want the gift card, you can exchange it for an Amazon gift card at a reduced price so it won’t go to waste.
Gift cards are great, but keeping track of them and knowing what you balance is can be a real hassle without some help.
GoWallet is available for iPhone and Android users and it’s free to use.
There was a time when shopping for a television was pretty easy, because their were only a few sizes and the price differences as you got bigger was pretty substantial.
Today, you can choose from displays that range from 26 to 90 inches with minor price differences as you get bigger.
With ultra-high definition displays, you don’t have to worry about being so close that you see the pixels, so bigger can be better.
As a rule of thumb, if you measure the distance in inches between where the TV will be and where you’ll sit and divide by 2, that will give you your minimum size.
For instance, if the distance is 7 feet, that translates to 84 inches. Divide by two and you’re minimum display size is 42 inches.
From there, if your budget will allow you to go larger, doing so will create a more immersive viewing experience.
If you opt for a 4K display, the resolution will be so high that you could double the size and still not be too close.
One of the more compelling themes from this year’s CES was the proliferation of 4K TV’s, which should result in the usual price wars.
At 4 times the resolution of your current HD display, the difference is clear as long as you’re viewing 4K content.
And that’s where you have to be careful not to fall for the hype when you go shopping.
Before you plunk down the extra cash for a 4K TV, make sure you have enough 4K content at your disposal.
Newer smartphones, camcorders and action cams like the GoPro are capable of creating 4K video if you have or plan on buying them.
Streaming video service like Amazon and Netflix are expanding their 4K libraries, but it’s all still pretty limited.
If you can hold out until this fall or better yet, the holiday season price wars, you’ll get more TV for your money and more options for viewing 4K content.
Tomorrow, I’ll give you a simple way to figure out how big your next TV should be.
You’re smartphone has an amazing camera that can take high resolution pictures and amazing HD video.
The results of using this great technology are huge files, especially if you’re shooting video.
When you send or post these high resolution files to e-mail and social media, it automatically gets compressed, so it lowers the quality.
If you want to share your high res and high def creations with others in all their glory, check out the app from http://WeTransfer.com
It’s simple and free to transfer up to 10 GBs at once right from your smartphone to any e-mail address.
It works with both iOS and Android phones, but Android users will get integration with the Share icon in any app.
Unlike other similar services, your recipient doesn’t need to install an app or create an account, they just click the download button to get your original uncompressed files.
It’s awesome and easy to use.
Get the free app for your phone at http://WeTransfer.com/mobile
There’s a mobile technology that’s been around for years that may become a viable option for many of you this year.
It’s a Google Chromebook, which looks and works like a regular laptop, but only costs a couple hundred dollars.
It uses Google’s Chrome OS and Google’s suite of apps, such as Google Docs that can be used offline.
Chromebooks won’t run traditional computer programs, so they’re not for everyone, but if you spend most of your time on the Internet, it could be a solid alternative.
Younger kids and seniors in particular may benefit from this platform because it’s cheap, simple to use and bypasses all of the malware that targets Windows and Mac users.
If you’re finding that most everything you care about is now in the cloud, a Chromebook may be worth taking a look at in 2015.
If you’re an Android phone user, watch for deeper integration between your phone and Chromebooks this year.
You can learn more at http://google.com/chromebooks
Chances are, you acquired some new electronic gadgets this holiday season, which means you’ll have older tech that you no longer use.
If it has a power button, plugs in or has batteries, it’s likely to contain toxic waste, so whatever you do, don’t throw electronics in the trash.
Start by checking with charitable organizations in your area to see if they can repurpose your old technology. Just because you can’t use it, doesn’t mean it’s obsolete.
If it’s just too old and needs to be recycled, make sure to find a proper electronic waste recycling program.
Our tech gadgets are loaded with arsenic, lead, mercury and a host of other toxins that wreak havoc on our landfills and groundwater.
Unfortunately, 75% of the 3.4 million tons of electronic waste generated in the US is still ending up in landfills because so many people just aren’t aware of the problem.
Do you part this year and properly dispose of your electronics and make sure you tell a friend to do the same!
How often do you find yourself trying to show various pictures on your smartphone to a group of people?
You either try to cram everyone around your screen or pass your phone around and have the same conversation multiple times.
The folks at Microsoft felt that there needed to be a better way, so they created an app called XIM, that’s X I M.
Now you can share your photos without having to share you phone.
You simply select a series of pictures on your phone, send a text message or email invitation to your friends for simultaneous viewing from their own smartphones.
The best part about it is that no one else needs to install the app, just the host.
Anyone can advance, pan or zoom the pictures to move the slideshow along; it quickly allows you to involve everyone at once.
Xim works on iOS, Android and Windows phones and it’s free
Checkit it out at http://www.getxim.com that’s G E T X I M.com
The mother of all electronic trade shows, International CES kicks off tomorrow in Las Vegas.
With over 2 million square feet of exhibits from over 3500 electronics companies, there’s no way to see everything over the next 4 days, but I’m going to try.
This year, you can expect to see a heavy dose of smart TVs with a variety of new brighter, crisper display technologies.
Wearable technology, including smart clothing is expected to be another huge area of innovation this year.
Drones, robots, smart home technology and the latest in 3D printing are also expected to make a big showing.
Another segment to watch for is the connected car and self driving car technology as we creep our way towards driverless cars.
As usual, you can expect a large number of devices that I call solutions searching for a problem that make you scratch your head.
If you’re a hardcore tech junky, you can download the CES mobile app for iOS and Android to explore the show for yourself.
Today’s tip is both fun and a little creepy because you get to see and talk to your futureself.
A promotional website put together by Orange, a European telecom company allows you to take a picture of yourself and have it transformed into a 3D representation of yourself 20 years from now.
I’m not really sure how this sells mobile phones or telecom services, but you can either use your webcam to snap an image or upload a picture from your computer to get started.
Once your futureself is rendered, you’ll b e prompted to have a conversation with yourself...this is where it starts to get a little creepy.
It turns out that in 20 years, you’ll have a British accent so it’s really cool for all you Downton Abbey fans.
If you have kids or grandkids, this site will probably provide a lot more fun because the futureself is kind of like playing with Siri.
Try it yourself at http://futureself.orange.com
It’s the beginning of a new year and we are all working on our new year’s resolutions, which often times includes eating better.
Well, if eating better means eating better food, as in more delicious gourmet meals, then I have a website to help you with that resolution.
It’s called Goldbely and their team of food explorers are on a mission to discover all things delicious and share it with you.
Their goal is to create an online marketplace that connects curious eaters with America's best gourmet food purveyors.
We’ve all stumbled upon those specialty food shops or local restaurants that have ‘to die for’ items that we wish we could get when we get home.
Well, now you don’t have to buy a plane ticket to discover those special delicacies.
You can search by region, food types or tastes and even if you don’t buy anything, it’s fun to explore.
And lots of gift ideas for that foodie friend that’s so hard to shop for at http://www.goldbely.com
The technical wizards over at Skype are working on something that could be a truly amazing breakthrough: real-time translation.
They are slowly rolling out their Skype Translator preview program which will kick-off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English.
The system is designed to translate spoken words into text and audio on a nearly instant basis, so it’s like what we’ve seen in the movies forever.
They will also provide instant messaging translation in over 40 languages in the initial roll out with plans to expand to other spoken languages over time.
If the demo video of two groups of school children in the US and Mexico are any indication, this is going to be epic.
The system uses machine learning which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets.
At the moment, the preview is only available to those that have signed up for test that are running Windows 8.1 on their computer or mobile device.
If you want to sign up for the preview, the link is at DataDoctors.com/radio
Anyone with an iPhone knows about the ongoing challenge of maximizing battery life while still making use of all the great features and apps.
One of the tips for extending battery life that’s been circulating for years is to close background apps, but that may actually be costing you battery life.
By default, iPhone apps in the background aren’t allowed to run, so they’re only taking up working memory, which is automatically managed by the phone.
For apps you use frequently, relaunching them every time requires more energy than switching back to them if they are in the background.
What you can do is disable location and background refresh settings on battery killing apps like Facebook.
These tips and other nuggets of knowledge have been posted by a former Apple Store Genius Bar employee and self proclaimed nerd, Scotty Loveless.
If you’re really looking to squeeze the most out of your iPhone battery, it’s worth reading through what this iPhone nerd has discovered from working with hundreds of users.
The link is at DataDoctors.com/radio
The latest Android operating system is 5.0 and codenamed Lollipop but just because you have an Android smartphone doesn’t mean you’ll get to download it.
When you get the update has a lot to do with which brand of smartphone you have and which cellular network you’re using.
One of the more useful features of Lollipop is a notification system that mimics the iPhone’s notification center.
With it, notifications appear as momentary pop-ups at the top or bottom allowing you to tap it if it’s important, swipe it if you want to get rid of it or just ignore it and let it fade away.
If you don’t want to wait for the 5.0 update to become available on your Android handset, checkout an app called Heads-up notifications.
This free app will be especially helpful for anyone that migrated from an iPhone to an Android handset and misses these types of notifications.
If you want to give it a try, the direct link is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Making sure you use a different password for each of your online accounts is nearly impossible if you’re going to rely on your memory.
Password management apps are one way of maintaining good security without having to remember everything and there are lots of great options available.
A couple that I like include RoboForm and LastPass, but another company called DashLane is working on something new.
Having your passwords compromised is likely to occur when someone you do business with gets breached, so Dashlane wants to make changing passwords much easier.
Dashlane can automatically change passwords on over 75 popular online accounts with a single click whenever you hear about a high-profile breach.
Their password generator comes up with a new, strong password, makes the change for you automatically, and saves it for future use.
Breaches are a fact of life and Dashlane is trying to make dealing with them quick and easy.
The tool is currently in beta, but the link to get on the waiting list is at DataDoctors.com/radio.