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!
Augmented reality apps that superimpose information over your smartphone camera screen are all the rage.
One of my favorite uses for augmented reality is the real-time translation of foreign words, whether on a restaurant menu, a street sign or a sign in a museum.
When you travel abroad, knowing what key words mean can make all the difference in what you eat or whether you get lost or not.
One of my favorites for real-time translation is an app called CamDictionary because it’s so much faster than looking words up the old way.
Simply open the app, point the camera at a word and tap the screen to get it translated in one of 54 languages.
It basically turns your camera into a dictionary to translate any word you point at.
CamDictionary can’t translate entire sentences at once, so it’s far from a complete translation, but if you can understand one or two words, you feel more confident.
CamDictionary’s base app is free for both Android and iPhone users, so if you are planning a trip abroad anytime soon, make sure you have this app before you leave!
I’ve got the links posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
When you’re having trouble getting a website to load, sometimes the problem is your equipment and sometimes it’s the website that’s having the problem.
The next time you’re having an issue getting a website to load, before you spend any time troubleshooting your own equipment, take a second to make sure that the website you’re trying to access is working for others.
A website called IsItDownRightNow.com can quickly give you some information to help you determine is it you or is it them.
Not only can they tell you if the website is down or up, they can tell you what the response time is and for major sites, a recent history of their availability.
If the site has been verified to be up, it gives you troubleshooting tips so you can try to figure out why everyone else can access the site, but you can’t.
If lots of other people are having issues with the same site, you’ll see their comments posted towards the bottom so you’ll know not to waste your time.
If a site is down, they try to provide a list of similar sites so you might be able to get the information you desire from an alternative site.
IsItDownRightNow.com, bookmark it!
We all seem to have a love hate relationship with our technology and gadgets because they keep us productive and entertained, but make us slaves to the machine at the same time.
Let’s face it, we feel naked and uncomfortable if we become separated from our smartphones and can’t check our email or social networks.
If I just described you or someone you know, maybe it’s time for a digital detox to create some balance in your digital life.
A friend of mine was raving about an unplugged retreat that he took amongst the redwood trees of northern California with an organization called Digital Detox.
Just imagine, no technology, no clocks, no screens and no networking...just an opportunity to get recharged and refocused without the stress of your technology.
DigitalDetox.org has device-free events, workshops, retreats, summer camp for adults, corporate training and can help you bridge the gap between disconnecting and connecting in the real world.
If you haven’t been able to figure out how to take a step back from the fast-paced existence of the digital age, maybe something you see at http://TheDigitalDetox.org will give you the motivation to truly disconnect.
We all love our pets and most of us treat them like humans on many occasions, but since they're not human, they can’t tell us what’s wrong when they’re sick.
Taking fido or fluffy to the vet is the obvious first choice, but when that’s not an option, PetMD.com might be able to provide some insight.
PetMD is the most comprehensive website for pet health, nutrition care and feeding that I’ve ever visited.
They have everything from symptom checkers to a complete health library to an explanation of veterinary terms.
If you’re experiencing strange behaviors, you can scan their well designed emergency section to try to determine what’s at the root of your pet’s discomfort.
PetMD isn’t just for urgent health issues, they have lots of great information on breeds, proper care and feeding and can even help you find a name for that new puppy or kitten.
Ever wonder why dogs eat grass or what to do when you discover a lump on your dog? PetMD has the answers.
By the way, PetMD isn’t just for cat and dog owners. If you’re a pet ower of any kind, PetMD.com is a great resource to add to your web bookmarks.
The internet and mobile apps are changing the way we do just about everything.
Now you can include finding someone to run errands or do odd jobs around the house or office with a website called TaskRabbit.
The aim of this web service is to connect those that have tasks with those that are nearby and willing to do those tasks.
You start by describing your task along with when and where it needs to be done.
You can decide what you're willing to pay or ask for bids to start getting offers from Taskrabbits.
If you have virtual tasks like vacation planning, research or proofreading, your Taskrabbit live anywhere.
Once you pick your Taskrabbit, you only pay when the task has been completed to your satisfaction.
Taskrabbits all have to go through a vetting process that includes a background check and reviews by others are also posted to help you decide who to hire.
If you’re a company looking for a temporary workforce for a specific project, you might find this network useful.
If your to-do lists are getting out of control, see if the taskers at TaskRabbit.com can lend a hand!
The weekend’s right around the corner and today’s tip is for your next house party!
Creating a playlist for your party can get to be a hassle and time consuming, so why not make it part of the party with an iPhone app called Party DJ.
Party DJ is a music queuing app that allows your guests to help pick songs and vote for the ones they like the most.
The songs with the most votes move up the playlist and get played sooner, so it’s a form of musical democracy that’s engaging and fun.
The host app costs 3 bucks but the guest app or a website allows your guests to pick songs and vote from your music library is free.
Just plug your iPhone or iPad into a set of speakers or use Airplay to connect and get the party started.
Everyone can pick songs and vote for them but only the host can skip or delete tracks, so you stay in control of the music.
Party DJ even allow your friends to add songs from their libraries to keep the party hopping.
I’ve got the link posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
The Internet is an awesome place to find just about any information on just about anything you need help with.
But sometimes you really need to consult an expert when you’re trying to pull off an amazing dinner party or a do it yourself project around the house.
Based on that concept, Google launched Helpouts last year that leverages live video on their Hangouts platform with experts in virtually every anything.
Some of the Helpouts are free, but most of experts charge by the minute or have packages in 30 minute or one hour segments.
Want rock guitar lessons? Matt charges 45 cents per minute. Want personal instructions on how to use your camera and edit the images afterwards? Brian charges $15 for 30 minutes.
You can get Helpouts in Art and Music, cooking, technology, education, fashion, fitness, health, as well as home and garden.
If you’ve got a webcam and a Google account, you’ve got everything you need to either ask for or offer Helpouts. Could be an easy way to make some extra money sharing your knowledge!
Sound intriguing? See how it all works at Helpouts.google.com
Reality shows that incorporate some form of makeover seem to be all the rage, but most of us would rather not become a national spectacle while doing so.
If you’ve ever thought about some radical new hairdo, a complete change of makeup or want see what you’d look like with blue contact lenses, have I got a site for you!
Taaz.com, that’s spelled T A A Z.com has an amazing virtual makeover system that’s simple to use and generates amazing results in minutes.
Simply upload a picture of yourself and start experimenting with your skin, lips, eyes, hair and even accessories.
If you’ve always thought that a certain celebrity had the look that you want to emulate, you can get their complete look on your face with the click of a button.
There are even Halloween ideas so you can see what you would look like as the Mad Hatter, a character from Avatar or see which Lady Gaga look fits you best.
While this site is clearly setup to assist women in making decisions on specific brands of makeup, you fellas can use it for more subtle makeovers too.
Microsoft recently released an update to an update to Windows 8 that’s actually really helpful for anyone that’s been struggling with the user interface.
In a clear signal that they are trying to get older Windows users to warm up to their newfangled look and feel, Windows 8.1 Update adds lots of keyboard and mouse features for all of us that don’t have a touch screen.
If you updated your Windows 8 system to Windows 8.1 a while back, you shouldn’t have to do anything to get the update, unless you turned off the automatic update.
This update isn’t just about keyboard and mouse features, it’s also an important step in making sure that you get future updates.
Microsoft is requiring anyone that has Windows 8.1 to get this update in order to continue to get security updates.
You want to make sure you have this update installed before mid May so you keep getting security patches and feature updates for your computer.
I’ve posted instructions for making sure your automatic updates are turned on and a video that shows you the new features that come with the update at DataDoctors.com/radio
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