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 you’re car starts making strange noises, you pay attention right?
Well you should always do the same thing with your computer because strange sounds can be the sign of an impending meltdown.
Whether it’s buzzing, grinding or whirring, it’s generally a sign that a moving part inside your computer is beginning to wear out.
The cooling fans are some of the most common failures and if the noise stops on its own, it could mean that the fan has stopped spinning as well.
Heat is the biggest enemy of electronics and allowing your cooling fans to malfunction is like driving your car with an empty radiator.
If you hear a clicking sound and you can’t get the computer to boot, shut it off immediately and seek help. Clicking sounds generally mean you have a malfunctioning hard drive.
Trying to get it to work can cause irreparable damage and lead to permanent data loss, so be very careful with this sound.
If you were lucky enough to get a new tech gadget during the holiday season, you’re probably in a situation where you have to dispose of your old device.
Before you donate, sell or recycle that old gadget, take the time to protect yourself from the potential of identity theft.
Computers, tablets and smartphones are loaded with personal information and if they fall into the wrong hands, they have everything that a thief needs to assume your identity.
Smartphones and tablets all have a fairly simple process for resetting the device to the factory settings, so it’s just a matter of few taps in the Settings section to protect yourself.
Computers on the other hand, require you to spend a little more thought and time to properly wipe your personal data because retrieving data that’s been deleted is actually pretty easy.
You can install a secure deletion program, use a secure wipe program or remove the hard drive before the computer leaves your control if you aren’t sure what to do.
We’ve got the details and links to protect yourself posted on our site.
If you have a smartphone, downloading a useful or entertaining new app extends the love fest you may already have for your digital assistant.
If you’re like us, you generally look for a free app that will fill a need before you decide to spend your money.
You can spend your time searching for new free apps or us a free app called Apps Gone Free to keep you in the loop.
Every day, hundreds of iPhone apps offer their pay apps for free for a very short period of time to generate some downloads, but if you aren’t aware of them, you’ll miss the window of opportunity.
That’s where Apps Gone Free’s human editors can save you time and frustration because they actually hand pick each app and write a small summary of each to make sure it’s worth downloading.
Just take a peek at the 5-10 featured apps every day to see if any of them fill a need and if they do, you just saved yourself some money!
Apps Gone Free for the iPhone is the ultimate app for saving money on other apps.
The annual tech convention known as the Consumer Electronics Show is set to kickoff tomorrow and we’ll be there to cover it!
We’re expecting to see lots of new and interesting technology advances, along with the usual overabundance of solutions searching for a problem!
Some of the highlights we expect to see this year will come in wearable and fitness technology, biometric interfaces and a slew of new technology in and for your car.
Last year we covered the initial launch of the supremely expensive Super HD 4K television platform that should be much more refined and hopefully affordable this year.
We also expect to see prototypes of the flexible display and advances in the 3D printing world that will likely move it a little closer to being a mainstream consumer device and of course the latest in the tablet and smartphone wars.
The Internet of things and connected home technologies promise to be a really interesting area that could impact you in 2014
We’ll be there seeking out the most interesting and likely to be useful tech, so stay tuned!
Just about every mobile device you own has a camera in it and most of them include a flash of some sort.
Most people assume that flash is just for low lighting situations, when in fact, one of the best uses is just the opposite.
When you take someone’s picture outside, you typically end up with major shadows and harsh contrasts.
Forcing the flash can often fix both of these problems and turn what would be an awful picture into a minor masterpiece.
If you’re using your smartphone’s flash, make sure you get close enough to your subject to allow this weak light to have any effect in the daylight.
If it’s a really bright day, put your subjects in the shade so they aren’t squinting and let your flash fill the necessary light.
Understanding when not to use your flash indoors and when to use it outdoors will convert your pictures from the typical to the magical overnight.
Experimenting with your flash is the key to learning how to use it, so give this tip a try before your next big event!
If you’ve been on the Facebook cruise ship for a while, you‘ve likely accumulated what we call Facebook barnacles on your profile.
Facebook barnacles are those apps that latched onto your profile when you decide to try a new mobile app or play a game that you got bored with in 20 minutes.
Even though you aren’t using these apps any more, they’re still connected to your profile below the waterline.
You’ll probably be shocked to see how many companies that you have given permission to access your profile information.
It’s a new year, time for clean up and renewal so take a few minutes and review the list of apps that you’ve got stuck to your profile.
Click on the gear icon in the upper right hand corner, then on Account settings to get to the Apps section.
Once you’re there, start clicking on the X next to those apps you no longer have any use for…you’ll feel much better afterwards!
It’s the beginning of a new year and we all tend to think about a fresh start for just about every phase of our lives.
While you’re in the mindset, take a minute to look at your smartphone…count how many apps you have installed?
Now count how many of them you actually use? If you’re like most smartphone owners, you have dozens of useless apps clogging up your phone and the ones you use are spread all over the place.
Not only is it good to remove apps to free up space, most apps also asked for permission to access some of your private info when you installed them.
If you really don’t use the app, don’t continue to allow these apps to gather data on you or your social network profiles.
You’re bound to run into apps that you think you might use if you remember you have them, so move then to your home screen to see if you will.
Remember, your smartphone is a treasure trove of information that app companies would love to gain access to…that’s generally the exchange for getting a free app, so make sure it’s worth it!
Facebook has become such a ubiquitous communication channel for our friends and family that we tend to use it everywhere.
If you’ve ever borrowed someone else’s computer to check your Facebook account and realized later that day that you forgot to log out, you’ve got to hope your friend doesn’t decide to play a prank on you.
Whether you forgot to log out from a friends computer or from a workstation at your office, there’s an easy way to cover your tracks!
Facebook allows you to see any active sessions for your profile from the Security section and end them if you are no longer there.
It will list out when it was accessed, what device it was accessed from and the location so you can quickly figure out which session was the one you forgot to log out of and kill it!
It’s actually a pretty handy way to monitor your account as well to make sure that someone hasn’t figured out your password and is using your account without your knowledge.
We highly recommend that you take a quick look at this screen on a regular basis just to play it safe!
Autocorrect on our smartphones is pretty handy since the on-screen keyboards don’t leave much room for error.
But we’ve all seen the hilarious results of autocorrect gone wrong all over the Internet.
If you’re looking for something that takes typing on your smartphone to a new level, checkout the Fleksy keyboard app for iPhone or Android.
Fleksy aims to make typing on your smartphone eyes free…that’s right; I said EYES free meaning you don’t have to look at the keyboard any longer.
Their unique error correcting algorithm can magically figure out what you were trying to type just by your typing gestures.
It takes a little getting used to, but if when you learn to rely on your typing muscle memory, you can actually make the keyboard invisible and regain screen real estate as you type.
The developers of Fleksy have really taken a totally different approach to interfacing with your mobile devices and it’s wicked awesome
Intrigued? You can see it action and download the app to try it yourself at Fleksy.com…that’s F L E K S Y.com
You’ve got your brand new tech gadgets and your super excited about going on your first road trip with your new toys.
But before you hit the road, you might want to think about picking up one very important accessory: a portable charging system.
At some point you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you need to recharge your phone or tablet and there are no outlets in sight.
One of the more notable options is the $80 MyCharge Peak 6000 battery pack because it’s compact and powerful.
The Peak 6000 is just a little bigger than a deck of cards, but has enough power to charge the average smartphone 4 times before needing to be recharged.
Its unique design incorporates multiple connectors which makes it a universal portable charging station and it even has a voice mode to alert you when you’re charged.
You can recharge up to 3 devices at a time and because it has fold out wall prongs, you don’t need a special cable to recharge the battery pack.
It’s also powerful enough to recharge tablets, so if you do any kind of travel at all, you’ll be glad that you slipped this life saver in your bag!
If you got a new computer during the holiday season, as the excitement of that new shiny speedster starts to wear off, a small bit of reality kicks in…
Your new computer doesn’t have all your precious data, bookmarks, contacts or anything that makes your computer, your computer.
There are a number of methods for getting everything transferred but it can get a little labor intensive and time consuming.
The other problem is that you have to know exactly what you want at that moment so you don’t have to do it all over again.
Here’s a suggestion that will give you a little more time to figure out what you want and add another layer of security.
Take the hard drive out of your old computer and put it into an external USB enclosure so it can connect to your new computer.
This allows you to slowly transfer your data, contacts, bookmarks or whatever you want from your old system as you realize you need it.
And, when you’re sure you got everything on the computer, you can turn the old hard drive into a backup drive!
Electronic gadgets continue to be amongst the most popular gifts during the holiday season, which can result in some frustration the day after Christmas.
Getting a new gadget up and running often comes with a learning curve, especially if you’ve never used it before and that’s where we might be able to help.
Every year on the day after Christmas, we hold our annual Help-a-thon via our Facebook page. Ask any tech question about any tech gadget and we’ll do our best to help you through the learning curve.
Need help connecting that new gadget to your home wireless network or how to sync that new tablet with your music collection? We can help
Not sure if you should keep that new gadget or exchange it for something different? We’ll be happy to give you our two cents!
Just hop on over to Facebook.com/DataDoctors tomorrow morning and hit us with all your tech questions so we can make your new gadget less stressful and more fun!
The Data Doctors help-a-thon is our way of being Santa’s tech helpers to those that might need a hand!
As we gather with family and friends during the holiday season, we all pull out our smartphones to capture those special moments.
But many times, what looks decent on our little phone screens looks blurry and washed when we get to see the image in full size.
The two most common mistakes we see are not holding still long enough and not taking light sources into consideration.
The sophistication of the camera on a smartphone isn’t even close to the cheapest point and shoot camera, so you have to be smarter when snapping pics on your smartphone.
First tip: HOLD STILL LONGER…the shutter lag on smartphones is longer than most digital cameras. If you need help understanding when the picture is actually being taken, turn the shutter sound on your camera app.
The second tip: Pay attention to where the light is coming from. Smartphone camera lenses are pretty bad when it comes to dealing with too much or not enough light.
Don’t line people up in front of a window, turn around and have the window to your back so the natural light makes the shot better.
Today’s tip is designed to put a lot of space in your head
Those of us that live and breathe technology every day, often take for granted that everyone knows the basic shortcuts that are available on our various devices.
But once in a while someone will see us do something and remind us that these shortcuts aren’t as well known as we think
Take the space bar on your computer and your smartphone for instance. They do a lot more than just add a space between characters when you’re typing.
The next time you’re surfing the Internet on your computer and you need to scroll down the page, don’t reach for your mouse!
Just tap the space bar and it’ll jump down exactly one screen page. If you want to scroll back up, just hold the shift key, then tap the space bar again and voila!
When you’re typing things on your smartphone and need to end a sentence, just tap the space bar twice. It’s so much faster than switching over to the symbols keyboard then switching back to continue typing!
In one way or another, we all have our Bucket List of things we want to do before we die.
One website called BucketListly is an online bucket list community that wants to be your source of inspiration and give you a chance to leave a mark on this world.
Bucketlistly wants to help everyone unlock achievements in real life and inspire others to do the same through there interactive community.
You start by creating your online bucket list by posting all the goals you want to unlock in real life. This allows you to start a discussion or get advice, tips and tricks from those that have been able to achieve your bucket list items.
You can also connect with others that share a common goal to encourage each other to make it happen.
Whether you want to learn how to surf, trek the Himalayas or meet the Dalai Lama, there are members of the BucketListly community that have been there, done that and willing to share how they pulled it off!
Remember, "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.".
If you’re a seasoned business traveler, you’ve got your routine and timelines pretty well set to minimize delays and travel hassles.
But, no matter how seasoned of a road warrior you are, there’s one thing that's always a big variable in air travel: the lines at the security checkpoints.
If you travel the same routes on a regular basis, you might have a sense of what to expect, but you can do better than your gut feel with the WhatsBusy web app.
WhatsBusy can show you how long you'll stand in line at any major airport based on when you plan to arrive at the airport.
Just tell the site which airport you're headed to, what day, and when you'll get to the airport, and It’ll crunch historical data from the TSA and the airlines to give you a prediction of what security wait times will be.
It breaks it down by terminal, gates and in half hour segments, so you can see if you should consider getting there a little earlier or in some cases a little later.
WhatsBusy is available as a web-based service on any computer or mobile device or as an app for iPhone users.
We’ve all been there…you reply to an e-mail in a hurry and just as you click send, you realize that you hit reply all or said something that you already regret saying.
Most of us sit in terror as we begin trying to figure out how to explain what we just did, but if you use Gmail, you can add a feature that will give you a small safety valve when this happens.
Undo Send is one of the options available in the Gmail Labs section in Gmail’s settings and it’s really easy to turn on.
Just click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of Gmail and select Settings, then click on the Labs heading at the top.
Once you’re in the Gmail Labs section, scroll down to the Undo Send option and click the Enable button.
While you’re there, click the General heading which is the first one at the top and change the Undo Send setting from 10 seconds to 30 seconds then scroll down to the bottom and click save changes.
Now the next time you make a typo or regret sending a message, you can undo the action by clicking on the Undo Send option at the top of Gmail.
Most of us are becoming much more conscious of the importance of a balanced diet, but statistically a third of our caloric intake occurs when we eat away from home.
In the past, there wasn’t a whole lot of information available that would help us make good choices, but today nutritional information for restaurants is out there if you’re willing to take a few minutes to find it.
One web resource that’s making it much easier is a site called MenuStat because it’s a huge database of nutritional information that makes it easy to search and analyze what you’re interested in eating.
MenuStat is a free nutritional database of over 35 thousand food items served by the nation’s largest restaurant chains that it aggregates from nutrition information posted on restaurant websites since 2012.
In the mood for Kung Pao chicken or Chicken Caesar salad with the lowest calorie count, just type your desired meal into the Quick Search menu.
Want to take a deeper dive into dishes that still have high amounts of trans fat, cholesterol or sodium in them? Just ask!
Want to avoid the gluten free meals that are loaded with calories? No problem MenuStat.org has you covered!
Since we’re travel nerds too, we’re constantly scouring the web for resources that can help make travel more interesting and enjoyable.
One of the things that we all ask when someone returns from an exotic vacation is “what all did you do”?
By learning what others have done, enjoyed or wouldn’t do over again, we can be more confident in our own itineraries.
If you want the wisdom of the crowds in travel itineraries, checkout a web resource called JoGuru, that’s J O G U R U.com
You can search itineraries by city, by the length of the trip or create your own itinerary based on what you learn from other.
You can post questions you want to ask your fellow travel junkies about an upcoming trip, search the questions that have already been asked or help another member of the community with your past travel experiences.
You can search and review trip reports from those that have been where you want to go and ask them questions about your upcoming itinerary.
JoGuru.com is an excellent new travel resource because you’ll never have to start your travel itineraries from scratch ever again!
If you’re the go to tech person in your friends and family circles, you know how efficient remote access tools are when one of them calls for help with their computer.
Instead of the painful process of them trying to explain what they see, so you can try to get them to understand what you want them to do, you simply take over the mouse and keyboard and do your magic.
Well now you can do the same thing with Android mobile devices with a free app called Zikk… that’s spelled Z I K K.
With Zikk installed on both devices, you can remotely change the settings, download and remove apps, and add contacts on your tech-challenged friend or relative's Android devices.
And it’s so simple anyone can do it because it uses a permission system on a contact list that allows the owner of the device to control when they get support.
It’s also completely aware of privacy concerns so it blocks access to photos, emails and text messages.
If you have friends or relatives that are far away or about to go on a trip and you know that you’re going to have to help them at some point, get Zikk installed before you get that frantic call for help.
OK, quick show of hands out there…how many of you know every government official that represents you?
Sure, we all know our president and congress people, but what about your state, county and city representatives?
You don’t often need to know exactly who your school superintendent or corporation commissioner is, but when an issue impacts you, knowing how to contact them becomes priority number one!
Well, now it’s really easy to know every single person that has anything to do with where you live or work with the Map Your Representatives web resource.
Simply type in your zip code and you’ll be able to lookup every representative from national, to state to county, city and even local reps if they exist.
Want to call or mail them your with your thoughts about something happening in your community?
It’s easy with Map Your Representatives because all you have to do is click on their circle and their primary contact information
And if they have official social media accounts or websites, they’ll be included in the contact section
There’s no longer any excuse for not interacting with your public officials now that Map Your Representatives is around