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!
It’s always been a bit risky to plug a USB drive that you don’t know anything about into your computer, but now it’s gotten downright dangerous.
Malware and viruses have always been a potential threat from any USB drive but in general, an up-to-date antivirus program could detect and block the threat.
A recent exploit demonstrated at this year’s Black Hat Security Conference exposed a way for hackers to change the firmware on USB devices to hide malware.
This new exploit is basically undetectable by standard security software and virtually unpatchable, meaning there is no easy fix for this design flaw.
Based on this latest news, it’s extremely important that you avoid plugging in USB drives that you don’t personally own and never use a USB drive that someone else seems to have lost.
Think like a hacker for a minute; infected USB drives dropped near college campuses and businesses could make it very easy to gain access to secured systems.
The fact that this new exploit is undetectable requires that we all become very suspicious of any USB drive we don’t own.
Businesses should warn employees and set clear policies on USB usage.
Streaming video has become one of the most common types of content that we all consume on a daily basis.
Most studies show that watching streaming video accounts for more than 50% of all Internet traffic.
Sites like YouTube get 100 hours of video uploaded every minute of every day.
There is so much content available it’s the proverbial drinking from a firehose problem.
If you’re looking for a way to watch streaming content a little more like you watch television, checkout a website called 5by.com.
5by bills itself as a video concierge that will continuously stream video based on your preferences or mood.
For instance, if you’re in the mood to laugh, listen to music or just kill time with random footage, 5by makes it easy because you don’t have to keep finding the next video.
They’ve created dozens of channels that curate high quality videos for you, so it’s a lot more like watching television, but without the commercials.
5by that’s the number 5 B Y is both a website and a mobile app for anyone that wants online video the easy way!
If you come to fork in the road, take it.
If you’ve ever heard or read a famous quote and wondered, who said that, today’s tip is for you.
A nifty internet resource called Quotery.com has done a great job compiling and presenting famous quotes in an easy to use database.
You can search for over 100,000 quips, quotes & proverbs directly or by author or topic.
Whether you’re doing a research paper, working on a presentation or writing a blog, Quotery.com can be an extremely useful resource.
They bill the site as an encyclopedia of wit and wisdom, so its fun just to randomly search the database for interesting quotes.
What I like about Quotery.com vs other quote websites is that they include sources and context around the quote and author.
They even allow anyone to suggest an edit to help keep the information as accurate as possible.
Want to have some real fun? Go read all the rest of the awesome quotes from the great American philosopher Yogi Berra.
You won’t always need Quotery.com, but when you do, you’ll be glad you bookmarked this tip!
The Internet’s an awesome tool for finding comparisons of products or services that you are researching, but what do you do when you don’t know what to compare?
Here’s what I do when I know of a product but don’t necessarily know about any specific competitors.
I simply put the letters VS as in versus behind whatever it is that I am researching.
For instance, if I’m car shopping and want to see lots of comparisons to a Honda Civic, I just type Honda Civic vs and hit the enter key.
I find this especially helpful when I’m trying to find the best mobile app in just about any category. Once you find one app, you can generally discover lots of others that compare with this trick.
This seems to be especially helpful with anything in the technology category, since there are so many people comparing gadgets, software and websites all over the world.
It’s not a foolproof way for everything, but I find that it’s pretty effective most of the time because Google’s algorithm combines the keywords you’re typing with their popularity ranking.
If you work in an office full of cubicles, I refer to it as a cube farm, your computer can be accessed by just about anyone when you step away from your desk.
If you work with a bunch of pranksters, this can become a bit of an annoyance if you don’t remember to lock down your desktop before you leave.
Getting in the habit of using a keyboard shortcut before you step away, can save you lots of grief and keep snooping eyes off your work.
If you’re using a Windows desktop, just hold the Windows Icon key down and tap the letter L for lock.
If you using a Mac, holding down Control+Shift+ Eject at the same time will do the trick.
If you have a Mac that doesn’t have the Eject key, use Control+Shift+Power to lock it down.
All of this is predicated on having a login password setup, which is generally the standard operating procedure at a business.
Mom and dad, you can use this process at home too if you want to prevent a child from using your profile without permission.
Web based email services are great because you are no longer beholden to a specific machine for using email.
Gmail is still my favorite webmail system and if you use it every day like I do, learning some keyboard shortcuts can make it even better.
Most of the really useful Gmail shortcuts start with the letter G followed by a second character.
For instance, if you want to see all mail, you type G A
If you want to jump to your Draft messages, type G D
If you want to get to your contacts, type G C
If you only want to see your Starred messages, type G S and if you want jump to your sent messages, type G T as in senT.
There are actually over 60 keyboard shortcuts that address just about everything you would normally use your mouse to execute.
They can eliminate the need to take your hands off the keyboard, making you more efficient.
I’ve posted a link to all the shortcuts in Gmail so you can print them out at DataDoctors.com/radio
Ok, I admit it! I was a chess nut when I was growing up and I don’t mean the kind that grows on trees.
I mean the game of chess and it’s still one of the most challenging games ever created.
But since I haven’t actively played the game for years, I went on a search for resources that could help me regain some confidence in playing.
One of the best sites that I found was called Chessacademy.com because it presented lessons in a fun and easy to understand way.
If you don’t know a rook from a pawn or you’re a regular player looking to build new strategies, Chessacademy.com is a great resource.
A 7-time world champion joined forces with a couple of tech wizards to create lots of free online video lessons that can teach anyone how to play chess.
Once you feel like you’ve learned enough to give it a go, you can click on the Train option to work with specific scenarios to gain strategic knowledge.
If you’ve ever wanted to become a chess nerd, I can’t think of a better place to start than Chessacademy.com
It happened to me again; I was on the road and got an email requesting me to fill out some forms, sign them and email them back asap.
Finding a place to print out forms is usually pretty easy, but you may not always have a scanner so you can email them back.
The first time this happened to me years ago, I went on a search for a mobile app that would allow me to take a picture of the pages and turn them into a legible PDF document.
There are lots of great options these days, but I continue to rely on the CamScanner app.
CamScanner is free and dead simple to use. Just take a picture of the document, crop it to fit your needs and save it as a PDF.
You can scan a single page or tap the batch mode icon for multipage documents.
Once you capture the pages, you can rotate them, change the order and even add annotations and watermarks before sending it off.
CamScanner is available for Android, iPhone, iPad and Windows phone users in their respective app stores.
One the great byproducts of the Internet is that it’s become the greatest collection of trivial knowledge ever assembled.
We all reach for our smartphones whenever an argument breaks out over the most trivial of information, don’t we?
And isn’t it great when you stumble onto some useful piece of information that you weren’t even looking for?
Well, if you love learning useful things on purpose, you might want to check out a website called Useful Science.
It’s an awesome project created by a group of Canadian grad students and it’s an amazing resource for junkies of useful trivia.
Did you know that briefly looking at the color green before working on a creative task increases creativity?
Or, that songs with more bass in them make you feel powerful?
These aren’t just randomly written passages that someone decided to compile, they all have direct links to the research or reports that provide context.
If you love this kind of info, you can submit your own articles or subscribe to get useful science emails right to your Inbox!
It’s all at http://Usefulscience.org
Have you ever injured yourself trying to open those obnoxious plastic packages that seem to be on everything you buy these days.
Small expensive items in particular seem to use sealed clamshell plastic containers that are impossible to open, but more and more household items like light bulbs are being encased in this nightmarish packaging.
They’re popular because they help fight theft and make it easy to hang on retail displays.
It’s such a common irritation there’s even a wikipedia page devoted to wrap rage, which we can all relate to.
Most of you use scissors or a knife to try to get into the packaging, which can get dangerous especially as your irritation grows.
Even if you do get it open, it usually results in nicks and scrapes from the sharp edges of the plastic.
Well, until we figure out a way to ban this insane packaging there’s a better and safer way to open them: use a can opener!
It takes a lot less strength to cut through the thick plastic when you run the can opener along the edges of the package and it’s a lot safer.
If you’re like most people, you need another social network like you need another hole in your head.
But there’s a new social network called Ello that’s generating a buzz because it’s setting itself up as the anti-Facebook...it’s ad free and intends to stay that way.
Their manifesto proclaims that other social networks are owned by advertisers and they believe that connecting without manipulation can be a better tool for empowerment.
Ello was created by a group of designers and artists, so it’s very clean and minimal in its look.
It only has two lists for categorizing contacts: friends and noise so it’s pretty simple to use.
Others have tried a similar approach that never went anywhere, but the growing disdain for ads within social feeds may be why Ello has been gaining users a rapid clip.
Ello started as a private social network, but it’s slowing opening up to the general public.
It’s currently in beta and is an invitation only network, but as it gains users, you’ll likely start seeing more about it.
If you’re interested, you can request an invitation at E L L O . C O
As a baby grows, play is crucial for their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.
It can also bring parents and babies closer and makes their time together more enjoyable and an iPhone app called Knoala can help.
The app is loaded with thousand of age and weather appropriate suggestions for different parts of the day.
You can find different activities by using the extensive filters that let you focus on artistic, cognitive, emotional or motor skills.
Each activity explains what the developmental goals are and provides suggestions for making things more entertaining.
It also has lots of child friendly videos when you need a few minutes and story starter ideas to keep story time fresh.
It can be an excellent resource for moms, dads, grandparents, nannies and babysitters on the go or at home.
If you have an infant, toddler or preschooler, you’ll find a plethora of simple ideas that can boost your child’s development and keep it fun with the Knoala app.
It’s in the iPhone App Store and it’s spelled K N O A L A.
Remember: The more your baby laughs, the less they cry!
One of the challenges of being a stay at home mom, is that your social circle can be pretty limited.
Finding other moms with kids of similar age and interest is a pretty random process, which is what motivated three moms to create a website called MomMeetMom.com.
Taking a page from other match making services, the site is designed to help moms find other moms with similar intrests, schedules, families and personalities.
It can help moms find suitable play dates, outings, moms groups and support from others that can understand the unique mission that is being a mom.
There’s also a forum that allows moms to chat, ask questions, give advice or connect for friendship and support.
Everything from ages and stages to work life balance for working moms to product information is being discussed at the site.
MomMeetMom is a free ad-driven website that uses specially chosen criteria to match local moms based on preferences.
If you are or know a mom that could use a little social interaction with other moms and kids, have them give mommeetmom.com a try!
It’s time for another Data Doctors Tech Tip!
Staying in shape requires you to find workouts that you can understand, can accomplish and can afford.
One option if you’re trying to find a place to start your transformation is through easy to follow no-equipment workouts.
Neila Rey is a fitness author that has created a huge resource of visual workout routines that offers something for just about any fitness level.
Each workout is visually outlined on a single page with easy instructions on how many sets to do per workout.
One of my favorites is the Hold My Beer workout which incorporates squats, plank holds and burpees to help strengthen your core.
There are also programs and challenges compiled that range from 7 to 90 days complete with suggested meal plans that you can download and print or use with your mobile devices.
There are also resources on running, general fitness and motivation as well as nutrition, meal plans and recipes.
Whether you just trying to get started, bored with your current routines or need to find new ways to stay motivated, NeilaRey’s free visual workouts may be what you’re looking for.
The link is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
The stock market tends to be an intimidating and mysterious place for those not acquainted with the world of investing.
Just like with anything else you’ll do in life, knowledge is power but you don’t have to go to a prestigious university to get an education on how the stock market works.
A website called WallStreetSurvivor.com started out as a fantasy stock market simulator that became a site that helped to lots of people demystify Wall Street.
They figured out that gamification was a better way to learn how to invest and trade.
Instead of being told how to do things, you get to actually do it without the risk of losing any real money.
It’s a virtual stock exchange combined with lots of courses, articles, videos and tutorials.
You can learn the basics, set up a practice portfolio or join a league to compete with other virtual traders.
If you don’t know a put from a call or the difference between stocks and mutual funds, wallstreetsurvivor.com is worth checking out.
It’s also a great way to get your kids involved and learning early.
Often times, hiring an expert to get up to speed on a subject or trend is the fastest path to learning.
But where do you turn to find these experts?
A relatively new online resource called 24sessions bills itself as a global community of experts that are available via live video.
Subject fields currently include marketing, tech, strategy, coaching and training, sales, legal and financial with a large number of international experts.
This could prove to be especially helpful if you’re trying to learn how to do business in other countries.
If you’re an expert in your own right and want to make yourself available to others, you can apply to become an expert at 24sessions.com
The rates for a session range from free to hundreds of dollars depending upon the field and the expert.
You can search by topic, tags and language or send out a general request for an expert.
They offer practice sessions so you can test out the service and if you choose to hire an expert, they offer a satisfaction guarantee to minimize your risk.
That’s at 24sessions.com
If you’ve ever had to send or receive money from abroad, you know how complicated and expensive it can be.
Sometimes those expenses aren’t initially visible, especially if you’re working with multiple banks, but there’s a peer-to-peer alternative.
Whether it’s for business or personal reasons, you can minimize the hassle and expense with a web resource called TransferWise.com.
The site has some pretty impressive backers that include Peter Thiel and Sir Richard Branson, so it’s not anything as nebulous as Bitcoin.
Their rate calculator makes it easy for you to see what the fees will be and how they compare to an average back transfer. The primary savings come from their .5% fee vs traditional bank fees that can be as high as 5%.
You can even send money if you don’t know the bank details for the recipient, just an e-mail address. They’ll get an email asking them to fill out the bank info to receive the funds.
At the moment TransferWise only works with US and European currencies and requires a minimum of $1500 for USD based transfers.
Transferwise.com: A interesting new way to transfer international funds.
One of the most anticipated product launches in recent history was the new Apple Watch.
While it won’t be available until next year and it’s got a steep starting price tag of $350, it’s generating a lot of excitement.
As usual, Apple is attempting to do it better, but the smartwatch category has some real challenges.
I’ve had a smartwatch for a while now, and at the moment, all smartwatches seem to be a solution searching for a problem.
This may change as new use cases are developed, but until they don’t have to be tethered to a smartphone, I’m skeptical about their usefulness.
We don’t know what battery life will be like, but Apple’s first generation will likely require you to recharge it every night...no thanks...I’ve already got enough to charge.
If anyone can advance the ball in smartwatches, I’d bet on Apple, but unless you’re an early adopter, gadget freak with lots of disposable income, let this category mature.
Wearable technology is certainly exciting but it’s at such an early stage; lots of sizzle with very little steak.
My advice; wait for the steak!
If you own an iPhone or iPad and you're happy with what you have, you probably didn’t spend a lot of time fussing over all of the new product announcements.
Why spend money when you’re content, right?
Well, lost in all of the new hardware announcements was something that will have a bigger impact on all Apple customers...a major update to iOS.
iOS 8 is out today and it’s a free way to update just about all of your Apple mobile devices.
If you have an iPhone 4s or newer, an iPad 2 or newer or the iPod Touch 5th generation, you can add lots of new features for free.
But history tells us that often times a major update will have it’s bugs, so if you want to play it safe, wait at least a week or two to download the update.
Let a few million early adopters download and test the update so you don’t become a guinea pig, unless you want to be one.
When will it be safe to install the update? I’ll keep tabs on the industry buzz and let you know!
As we continue to see major data breaches, it’s obvious that our credit card system needs a major overhaul.
The reason that large retailers are targeted so often is because they store lots of valuable credit card information.
This needs to change and that’s the aim of the upcoming Apple Pay mobile payment service.
Instead of giving merchants your credit card information, Apple Pay generates a one-time use code that is only usable by that merchant. So even if a hacker intercepts that code, it’s kind of useless.
Apple is also using the Touch ID fingerprint detection as verification, so even if a thief gets your phone, they can’t use it make purchases.
While Apple’s approach to security is quite impressive, it’s only going to be available to iPhone 6 and Apple Watch users for the time being.
Another hurdle is that the Touch to pay terminals needed by merchants are pretty rare at the moment.
The Mobile Payment race just got a huge boost with the Apple Pay announcement, but we’ve got a long way to go yet.
Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the iOS 8 update.
Now that we know the specs of the new iPhones, the question is should you buy one?
If you’re an Apple fanatic and early adopter, you’ve already made up your mind. If you’re an Android user, you’re probably chuckling over the hype.
If you have an older iPhone, upgrading to a newer model probably makes more sense then if you have an iPhone 5s.
Bigger screens with higher resolution, better cameras, faster graphics and faster processors are all improvements in the iPhone 6.
but if the latest and greatest isn’t that important to you, Apple dropped the price of the iPhone 5c to 99 cents and the 5s to 99 dollars with a two-year contract.
The larger screens on the new iPhones are finally here, but remember that may require you to use two hands, so give it a test before you decide.
If you were thinking about getting an iPad mini and you’re eligible for an upgrade, the iPhone 6 Plus might save you big bucks because it’s like combining a phone and a tablet.
Lots to think about! Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the new Apple Pay service