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!
Whether for business or for personal reasons, we often find ourselves needing some basic graphic design work done, but it’s not important enough to hire someone.
If you’re design challenged or don’t have any programs that can get the job done, check out a web tool called Canva...think canvas without the s.
Canva is an extremely easy to use, template driven site that’s web-based, so there’s nothing to install.
Whether you need to create a flyer, a poster, a business card, a graphic for your blog, a properly formatted Facebook Cover image or any number of social media related graphics, Canva makes it dead simple.
Pick a design style, choose a template and start modifying the text to fit your needs.
You can upload your own images or make use of their huge library of professional images for as little as a buck a piece.
It’s easy to learn, easy to use, cheap and produces wonderful results...it’s a blogger’s dream tool.
If you lack the vision, skill, money or time to create professional looking graphics, Canva.com is definately work taking a look at...that’s C A N V A.com
Today’s smartphone’s have so many great features but for the most part, features suck...battery power that is.
When you’re on the road and only have a few minutes to recharge, you need to maximize what little time you have.
The best way to maximize a quick charge is to completely shut down the phone while you’re charging.
At the very least, put the phone in airplane mode so that background tasks and power sucking radios like wifi and bluetooth don’t negate whatever charge you are getting.
If you get to your hotel room and have more items to charge than outlets, don’t forget that most of today’s TV’s have USB ports that can be used as a charger.
It may not charge as fast as your regular charger and the TV needs to be turned on for it to work, but in a pinch, it can be a lifesaver.
One other thing to remember, heat is your phone’s biggest enemy. Nothing shortens the life of a battery more than heat, so keep it out of direct sunlight and hot vehicles. and never charge a phone when its hot to the touch.
If you’re a runner, jogger, walker or cyclist you know how much weather can impact your workouts and performance.
Environmental conditions such as air quality, humidity, temperature, wind, precipitation, cloud cover and rain can all determine the quality of your workouts.
With this in mind, the Weather Channel has created an interesting app called Outsider that is designed to help runners by tracking all of these environmental conditions.
The app creates a Run Weather Index and displays both a 48 hour and 10 day forecast along with the index so you have better data to plan your outdoor workouts.
You can also use the app for tracking your workouts, the routes you take, play music and track your stride using the GPS and motion sensor in your phone.
At the moment, the app is free but only available for the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with the motion sensing features optimized for the iPhone 5.
If you’re an avid hiker, this app can really help you make sure you’re picking the best day to take on that monster challenge.
If you want to checkout this great planning tool, the link is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you own an Android phone and use a lot of different apps, you know how cumbersome it can be to accomplish simple simple tasks like taking a picture or calling your spouse.
To use your flashlight, you have to tap the screen to wake it up, swipe to unlock, enter a code, go to your flashlight app, then open it.
This problem is being addressed by a unique accessory called Pressy, which offers a simple solution for all your routine tasks on an Android phone.
It’s actually a small device that plugs into your headphone jack and acts as a customizable button for launching apps and executing tasks.
Once you install the button and get the app, you can customize it to instantly take pictures, turn on your flashlight or call someone on your favorites list.
Each shortcut is executed by a series of short and long taps of the button, so now things like turning wifi or Bluetooth on or off, becomes a couple taps of a button.
The device was originally launched earlier this year, but a recent software update has made it even better.
The link to learn more is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Weddings are joyous to experience but the runup to the big day is filled with tasks and stress.
One of the big ones is choosing what and how you want to create the gift registry.
There are many options for creating a gift registry, but most of them limit the options to whatever that site wants to sell.
If you know anyone that has recently announced their engagement, have them checkout Zola.com; that’s Z O L A.com
Zola allows the couple to create a registry for products, services, experiences or a honeymoon fund, but the unique feature is that they can be from anywhere online.
They create a single place for anything and everything on their wishlist and manage all the transactions from that site.
There’s even a feature that will schedule the delivery of the gifts, which is great for newlyweds that are moving or want to delay delivery until after their honeymoon.
There’s even an option for group gifting for large ticket items...almost like a Kickstarter for newlyweds.
Zola.com is a fully customizable and moderrn registry with a single checkout, it can do it all for the newly engaged.
The Android mobile platform is preferred by techies that like to tinker because it offers a lot of flexibility.
The openness can also make the platform confusing especially for new users or those that have switched from Apple’s iOS environment.
One way to reorganize your Android devices to your liking is by installing what are known as launcher apps.
One of my favorites, especially for newer Android users is the Aviate launcher from Yahoo.
It’s an easy way to simplify accessing a large number of apps from a single screen, so you aren’t swiping through multiple pages to find the apps you use the most.
It also incorporates some intelligence so it presents you with timely information based on the time of day or where you happen to be at the moment.
When you install it, it automatically collects apps and organizes them in categories such as productivity, entertainment, social and photography.
You can add your own categories, press and hold apps to move them around and put the categories in the order you want.
Aviate has lots of other useful features and it’s free. Get it at http://Aviate.yahoo.com
The Internet has relegated the art of the long form article to the back seat as we all seek instant gratification from short snippets of information.
While that has its value, there are times when you really want to dig into a topic or subject that requires more than 140 characters.
When you find yourself seeking more in-depth information, checkout Longreads.com.
It’s one of the best curators of articles over 1500 words that you can search by keyword or topic category.
You can filter the search results by how much time you have to read the articles that range from less than 15 minutes to over an hour.
Each article is accompanied by the author, the source, the publication date and the length of the article in words and approximate time it will take to read it.
Longreads.com is more of an archiving system so it’s not going to be your go-to resource for breaking news.
If you have long form articles that you have written yourself, you can submit them for consideration to be added to their database.
Consider Longreads.com as another bookmark suggestion for your research needs
Craft cocktails are all the rage these days, but having them made at your local watering hole can get pretty expensive.
If you’d prefer to avoid hipster hangouts and save some money, why not learn how to make them yourself?
You can buy lots of books that will provide you with recipes, but a better way to go is with the huge database in the Mixology app.
You start by telling the app what liquor and mixers you have so you can get recipes for the ingredients you have on hand.
Nothing is more frustrating than finding a new drink recipe only to realize that you’ll have to run to the store if you want to make it!
You can get totally random suggestions or pick a specific liquor as a base to get lots of great suggestions.
The database goes way beyond simple cocktails; learn how to make specialty shots, punches, hot drinks, and even non-alcoholic drinks for the designated drivers at your party.
Mixology also has a complete bartender's guide and is a free app for both iPhone and Android users.
It’s a handy resource for extending your mixology skills!
A recent study by a Kansas State University researcher suggests that taking short microbreaks of a minute or two to play games or text friends can actually improve productivity.
The next time you want to take a break to blow off steam, instead of playing some mindless game on your smartphone, why not do something enjoyable and educational.
You can test your trivia and geography skills at the same time with Google's new SmartyPins game.
Smartypins presents you with trivia questions and asks you to place a pin on the correct location in Google Maps.
You can have take random questions or choose from specific categories like science & geography, arts & culture or history & current events.
When the question comes up on the left side, you can get bonus points if you can answer the question within 15 seconds.
If you need a hint, click the button and take your best guess. You start with a 1000 miles and when you guess wrong, it subtracts the miles between the correct answer and your pin.
Great fun with your kids too! The link is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Whenever you have an event, party or gathering, how to send out the invitations is one of your first decisions.
These days, it’s pretty easy to create electronic invitations that are simple to create and send and best of all, much easier to see who plans on attending.
But some events are too important for this informal method of sending out invites, so you have to go old school with physical invitations.
Making sure you have everyone’s address, choosing the right type of paper, the design and the envelope you want all take a lot of time.
The next time you want to send online or offline invitation, take a look at PaperlessPost.com
Not only can you create attractive online invitations, they have all the tools to make creating offline invitations much easier too.
One of my favorite features is the ability to use their online invitations to collect mailing addresses for offline invitations.
You can design your invitations on their website from any computer or through their iPhone and iPad app.
If you’re looking for a way to communicate in style both online and offline, checkout PaperlessPost.com
Coming up with something new to make for dinner is a constant challenge for most of us, so we often end up with a rotation of the usual suspects.
If you’re looking for a new spin on this daily choir, checkout an app called Dinner Spinner from the folks at AllRecipes.com.
When you open the app, you choose the type of dish you want to make, such as a salad, side dish or main dish, then an ingredient you have like fish or pasta and how much time you have to prepare the dish.
So when I asked for a main dish made with chicken in less than 20 minutes, it returned 25 matches that all looked pretty interesting.
When you tap the button to view the matches, you’re presented with a long list of possible recipes along with their ratings from other cooks.
If you’re feeling adventurous, just shake the phone to get a random combination to really fuel your creative juices.
If you have dietary restrictions, you can use the search option with 8 filters such as no dairy, vegetarian, high fiber and low sodium.
The all-you-can-eat subscription model for digital content has been pretty successful for companies like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify.
Pay a flat monthly price and consume as much of the content as you want.
Several attempts have been made to offer a subscription service for ebooks, but most of them were full of titles you’ve never heard of from mostly self published authors.
But both OysterBooks and Scribd offer a pretty solid selection of books that you’ll actually be interested in reading for $9 to $10 a month.
Don’t expect the latest best sellers, but just like with Netflix, there are lots of popular titles that you probably never got around to reading.
And because they’re ebooks, you can read them offline, which means you can make use of the service on airplanes or remote locations without an Internet connection. Try doing that with Netflix!
There are signs that Amazon is about to launch Kindle Unlimited for $10 a month as well , so it’s getting really good for bookworms.
These services support most of the popular mobile platforms, so you can use your subscription across all your gadgets too.
I’ve got the direct links posted at datadoctors.com/radio
When it comes to the Internet, the old adage that content is king coined by Bill Gates in 1996 continues to be true.
Valuable information, whether it’s yours or from someone else is the best way to stay connected and engaged with online audiences, but finding the good stuff can be challenging.
If you or anyone you know is responsible for developing and sharing content across various social networks, there’s an app that might make the task much more efficient.
The folks at Buffer, who have a great tool for easily scheduling content across multiple social media channels, recently launched a new app called Daily that helps you find great content to share.
Daily is a simple app that presents you with content that’s been hand picked and reviewed by humans for your consideration.
The really cool part is that it’s setup like the Tinder dating app; swipe to the left for content you don’t want or swipe to right to have it automatically added to your Buffer queue.
Daily can be a huge time saver, but it’s only available for iOS devices at the moment.
Get it by searching for Daily by Buffer in the App Store.
If you’re a homeowner, you can probably relate to the Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit from the 80’s.
Even if your house isn’t hopelessly dilapidated like the one in the movie, it can sometimes feel like there is no end the maintenance tasks.
One of the ways to minimize surprises is to proactively address issues that you know are going to crop up at some point.
To specifically help you learn and remember to perform maintenance tasks, checkout a website called BrightNest.
BrightNest lets you build customized tips and schedule tasks based on your home’s unique traits like what kinds of appliances you have, the material used for flooring and countertops and whether you have a pool or not.
You’ll also be presented with a wealth of tips on cleaning, organizing and maintaining just about every aspect of your home.
There’s even a mobile app to you get alerts and reminders as well as an easy reference when you’re at the hardware store.
Listen, we could all use some help staying on top of the endless tasks at home and BrightNest.com is a pretty darn good option
I find myself using a smartphone to accomplish more and more of the productivity tasks that in the past would have had to wait until I got in front of one my computers.
When I’m communicating with others and need to copy multiple items like URLs, pictures or various text, the back and forth to complete the message can get a bit laborious.
If you’re an Android user and struggle with this inefficient way of copying information, checkout an app called Copy Bubble.
Copy Bubble does what the name implies. Once you open the app, whenever you copy anything from anywhere, you’ll see an orange bubble appear with a number representing an item count.
Each item that you copy get’s compiled in chronological order and stays in the clipboard until you delete it.
The bubble floats over any app, so when you want to paste any or all of the information that you’ve copied, just tap the bubble and select what you want to use.
If you’ve copied a web address, you can even preview it in Copy Bubble before you paste it.
Copy Bubble is free and available in the Google Play Store.
The selfie has become such a social phenomenon, just about everyone has a picture of themselves holding the camera as far away as possible.
Holding your position and tapping on the button without shaking the camera is something that many of us struggle with.
And group selfies become even more challenging especially if your arm isn’t that long.
There are a number of physical attachments known as selfie sticks that you can use, but who wants to carry something like that around all the time.
An interesting approach to helping out with this first world problem is an app called GoCam from a Swedish company called Crunchfish.
GoCam is a gesture based app that works on any iOS device that has a camera.
You just setup your iPhone or iPad with the screen facing you, either holding it or propping it up, then follow a gesture routine that tells the app when you’re ready to take the picture.
GoCam can really expand your options for making sure no one gets left out of a group shot from now on.
Give it a shot, Search for GoCam! in the Apple App Store.
If you spend much time in meetings where information is shared via multiple means, you know how erratic the notetaking can become.
At a conference, a whiteboard combined with a PowerPoint presentation followed by handouts isn’t uncommon, so having a way to easily combine all that information would be handy, wouldn’t it?
Well, you guessed it, there’s an app for that!
Arcnote is an Android app that makes it easy to grab anything that your camera can capture and create a PDF of everything once you’re done.
What even better, ArcNote will automatically crop and correct skewed pictures so it doesn’t matter where you’re sitting in the room.
I was pleasently surprised how well this app works.
You can add text comments on each page or add voice annotation to the group of notes and share it directly to many of the popular social networks.
If you’re constantly jotting down notes so you can synopsis what was discussed at a meeting or conference, this free app is a must have!
ArcNote; that’s A R C N O T E. Search for it in the Google Play store
Often times, when a computer starts to run slow, most people assume that it’s time to buy a new computer.
Unless your computer’s really old, there may be a less expensive way to get it running like it’s new again.
It’s called a Hybrid hard drive and it’s probably one of the best kept secrets in the tech business.
You see, there are three major components that determine how fast your computer will run: the processor, the RAM and the hard drive.
Your hard drive is the biggest bottleneck in most cases and opening up that bottleneck can have a dramatic impact on performance.
And it costs a lot less than buying a new computer.
Hybrid hard drives combine a super fast Solid State memory circuit with a traditional hard drive and they store the stuff you use the most on the faster portion.
An added bonus is that your old drive can be turned into a backup drive by putting it into an external enclosure.
Before you replace that old computer, check to see if a hybrid hard drive can bring it back to life and save you money.
Is staying connected to your home wireless network a constant challenge?
If so, there’s a possibility that there is a simple fix for a constantly dropping connection.
Change the channel!
For the very common 2.4 Ghz frequency networks there are 11 channels available, but how do you know which one to use?
In general, the best choices are 1, 6 or 11 because they don’t overlap with each other but it’s still a guessing game.
2.4 Ghz is an open radio band that is shared by just about everything wireless in your home: cordless phones, baby monitors, garage door openers and Bluetooth earpieces are just the beginning of the list of devices that can interfere with your wifi connection.
If you live near others, their wifi network could also cause some interference in your house.
To help you pick the best channel, WIndows users can download the free NetSurveyor app which will give you a graphical report on the least used channels.
Mac users can run the built-in Wifi Scan utility from the Wireless Diagnostics menu to achieve the same thing.
I’ve got links on how to use both posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
The NetSurveyor App for Windows:
Mac Wifi Scan directions: http://osxdaily.com/2013/12/11/find-best-wi-fi-channel-wireless-tool-mac
When you’re planning a trip to a new place, isn’t it great to get insider information from people that have been there and done that?
Well, that’s the premise behind a website called Viator.
Viator focuses on making it easy to research interesting activities around the world that have been curated by travel experts over the past 15 years.
Using Viator isn’t necessarily about finding the lowest prices, although they do have a Low Price Guarantee when you book with them.
I’m generally more interested in reliable local operators that continue to get good customer reviews because nothing ruins a vacation like a poor experience because you tried to save a few bucks.
Their recommendations are pretty extensive and cover over 100 countries that include VIP tips if you’re interested in more exclusive options.
Each activity has an overview with highlights, what you can expect, reviews and all the important logistical details so you’re better prepared.
For major destinations, you can get a complete Insider’s Guide with timely events, top attractions and what the insiders love to do most in that area.
See for yourself at viator.com, that’s spelled V I A T O R.com
I’ve talked in the past about the frustration that many iPhone users have with Apple’s limitations when it comes to storing pictures and video.
Photostream only allows photos and it limits your access to the last 1000 images, which can be a problem for avid picture takers.
While you can certainly push video and pictures up to Apple’s iCloud, there is a limit to what you can store for free.
If you’re interested in an easier solution that can automatically upload pictures and video to a private online account with unlimited storage, checkout an app called Shutter from the folks at StreamNation.
By switching to the Shutter app, your pictures and video automatically get stored on your private account online, so you don’t fill up your device.
And no more having to constantly delete files in order to stay under a storage paywall.
Streamnation’s hope is that you will discover all of their digital media tools, so their using Shutter as an introduction to their offerings.
If you’re an Android user, you can sign up to be notified when they release the Android app in the near future.
Check it all out at StreamNation.com