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!
Voice recognition has become a pretty standard feature on most smartphones because it can be so much more efficient than typing.
Whether you’re looking for a good Chinese restaurant nearby or trying to settle an argument with a Google search, it can be done quicker with your voice.
But what about when you’re sitting at your desk? Wouldn’t voice commands be more efficient there too?
That’s what some Google engineers thought sometime back, so they made it possible by adding a small microphone icon to the Google Search bar on your desktop computers.
But now, it’s even better because they’ve allowed it to be hands free with the new OK Google hotword extension.
Now when you use the Chrome browser with this extension at Google.com, all you have to do is say OK Google and then start saying what you want to search for!
It’s just like using your smartphone at your desk and it will even respond to your search with a pleasant voice itself.
Think about how useful this could be in the kitchen when your hands are full of egg batter and breadcrumbs and you need to set a timer or know how many ounces are in a cup?
Today’s tip starts with a little Geek Speak called Bundleware
If you’ve ever downloaded a free program or software update and suddenly noticed that a new toolbar popped up in your browser or your start page got changed, you’ve been a victim of bundleware.
Software companies will often include third party programs with their downloads because they get paid by others to do so.
They know that most of you will simply click Next, Next, Next, I agree so they’ll get away with it.
A good practice whenever you’re installing new software is to ignore the ‘recommended’ setting and always choose the custom option so you can uncheck the undesirable third party programs before they sneak into your computer
If you want a little extra protection against bundleware, download a free utility called Unchecky which acts as a watchdog for this common practice.
It will automatically uncheck unrelated offers and warn you if you’re about to accept a potentially unwanted offer or utility.
If you’re browser is being overrun with toolbars, now you know why and how to prevent it in the future!
There are an endless number of online resources that can help you discover new and exotic travel destinations but there’s a relative new-comer that you might want to try…Pinterest!
Pinterest is the social network that allows people to pin items of interest on a virtual cork board and share it with others…I’d say they pretty much nailed it with the name!
Pinterest recently launched their Place Pins because so many of their users were creating boards around vacations that they were planning.
Place Pins combine the beautiful imagery of a travel magazine with the utility of online maps making it real easy to explore new places in locations that you plan to visit.
If you’ve never had a reason to checkout Pinterest and you love to travel, it’s worth taking a look.
Want to explore the world’s best festivals or beachside honeymoon spots? How about travel destinations for Beatlemaniacs or UNESCO World Heritage sites?
You don’t have to join Pinterest just to see what we’re talking about, because we’ve got a special link that will take you to a treasure trove of examples.
Have we piqued your Interest in Pinterest…we hope so!
Timelines are a great way to share history or project the future of just about any subject, but putting one together can be tedious.
The next time a timeline would be the best way to present information to your audience, head over to TimeToast.com and checkout this simple and free creation tool.
Timetoast makes it really simple to start putting together your timeline and when you’re done, it has some really useful ways to share the timeline.
Others can view your information in timeline form or switch over to the text view to see all of the information in a chronological text list.
There’s even an embed option which will allow you to share the timeline on your website or blog to make sure more people see it.
It’s a great resource whether you’re a student, business professional or someone that just wants to chart their family history via a timeline.
The timelines are visually pleasing and do a great job of representing your data in a clear concise manner!
Timetoast does require Flash so you won’t be able to use it on most tablets or smartphones, so you’ll need to jump on your computer to check this one out.
We all have bad habits we’re trying to break and know that if we could just overcome some lazy behaviors, life would be so much better!
Your friends and family can help you if you choose to include them, but if you’d like a less emotional life coach, checkout a web resource called Lift.
Lift is like having a life coach in your phone that you design and has guidance, motivation, and tracking for 100,000 different goals.
It breaks your goals down into simple habits and routines, then prompts and encourages you to take regular steps towards your desired life change.
Fitness, productivity, healthy diet change, personal relationships or just about anything you want to change is easier with the right support.
Want help remembering to drink more water? Need a nudge to remember to jump into a downward dog yoga stretch? Trying to work up to your first half-marathon? Lift can help
Lift has a web interface as well as an app for Apple or Android devices to help keep you motivated wherever you go.
If you’re looking for a Lift in your self-improvement goals, this may be your ticket
Lift website: https://lift.do/
Lift for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.liftworldwide.lift&hl=en
Lift for iPhone/iPad: https://itunes.apple.com/app/lift/id530911645?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
In the old days, parents would set their young children in front of the TV to keep them occupied with age appropriate children’s shows, but today that trend is shifting to our iPhones and iPads.
YouTube is the most popular collections of videos on the Internet, but no matter what video you start with, your child could easily end up with suggestions that are not age appropriate within a few clicks.
Using the ‘safe’ mode on YouTube sounds like an option in theory, but in practice an algorithm is no substitute for parental oversight
That was a problem that some tech savvy parents were faced with so they started an online community called TOTLOL.com to help parents find safe video content for their children.
TOTLOL is both a website and a mobile app with the distinct purpose of protecting children by having a community of parents upload, review and rate video content.
They’re using the wisdom of the crowds to ensure that only age appropriate video can be viewed via their resources, so you can hide the YouTube icon and replace it with TOTLOL on your Apple mobile devices.
Once you launch the mobile app, your child can’t exit Kids Mode without a password so they’re limited to the safe video library.
Your smartphone stores just about everything that’s going on in your life, but it tends to be scattered around various apps that don’t talk to each other.
Google recognized this common issue and created something called Google Now that acts like an intelligent personal assistant on your smartphone.
Google Now integrates with Google Search and can pull meaningful information from e-mail, your location and the time of day to keep you on schedule.
From knowing the weather before you start your day, to planning the best route to avoid traffic, or getting an alert that your flight has been delayed, Google Now brings you the information you want without you having to ask for it.
It will know when you‘re at the airport and automatically bring up your electronic boarding pass while you’re standing line and alert you that your favorite artist is in concert next month.
Google Now works in the background so your information is automatically organized into simple cards that appear just when they’re needed.
Google Now works on both Apple and Android smartphones and it really does help you can spend less time digging for information and more time going about your business.
The holiday shopping season is upon us so here’s another Data Doctors organizational Tech Tip!
In any given year, you’re likely to accumulate a dozen or so warranties on various devices or appliances that you really should keep track of but probably won't.
Keeping track of your warranties can save you a lot of money and an Android app called Warranty Tracker makes it much easier to do.
The Warranty Tracker app allows you to scan items by barcode or take pictures of your receipts and enter the warranty deadline for each product
You can also set it up to send you a notification when that day is approaching in case you have any warranty issues.
If the product has a return deadline, you can also setup alerts for that too and your information gets stored in the cloud so even if you lose your phone, you’re covered.
Warranty Tracker can also track serial numbers, model numbers, and even rebate deadlines with their own set of notifications so you don’t forget to send that rebate in and miss out.
It’s only available for Android devices at the moment and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store…and best of all, it’s another free app!
In the age of streaming media, lots of us still want to watch movies from DVDs like in the old days because most streaming services lack the really new stuff.
Now that the last Blockbuster store has closed, your choices are one of the new kids on the block or your cable or satellite provider.
Netflix has been the leader in DVD rentals for a while, but the disks have to come in the mail, so you have to plan ahead or hope you can find something worth watching from their limited streaming library.
Another well-known option is to run down to your neighborhood convenience store to rent a movie from a Redbox kiosk or subscribe to their service to combine streaming and kiosk DVDs.
But there’s actually an old school option that most people haven’t thought about….your public library.
Many public libraries have an impressive collection of DVDs that can be checked out just like a book and some even have the ability to stream movies.
So the next time you’re in the mood to watch a movie, checkout what your local library has to offer and don’t forget your library card!
If building things or orchestrating groups of people is your business, you probably have a good handle on one of those sophisticated and expensive project management software programs.
But If you’re just an average guy or gal that just wants to get things done either in your personal or professional life, these programs are major overkill.
That’s what an enterprising programmer thought as well, so he created a simple yet powerful app to help us mere mortals get organized called Trello.
Trello is a simple app that turns your computer, smartphone or tablet into an electronic version of the old index cards on a cork board.
Whether it’s your to-do’s, random thoughts or a real project that you are trying to pull together, Trello’s simple drag and drop interface can help you make sense out of the chaos of life and it’s free!
You can attach pictures and files, web links, create checklists, use color coded labels and even drag people onto a card so you know who is responsible for that item.
If getting organized is one of your recurring goals, we think Trello is a fun and easy way to help you achieve that goal
Your desk is killing you and it's time to fight back with this Data Doctors Tech Tip!
You’ve heard it for years; sitting all day is bad for you, but during a crazy workday, it's hard to remember to take the breaks we need.
Think about it, most of us spend 150 hours or more sitting at a desk forcing our bodies into unnatural positions and performing repetitive tasks that stress out our muscles.
That’s where a useful web resource called FitBolt can help. Fitbolt is a browser add-on and desktop app that not only reminds you to take micro-breaks, but also tells you what to do during those breaks
Every thirty minutes or whatever interval you choose, FitBolt will pop up a reminder and also offer a quick exercise suggestion.
It’s a gentle reminder that doing a seated spinal twist or a wrist stretch or a host of other equipment-free one-minute exercises can make a big difference in how you feel at the end of the day.
Think of it as a kinder, gentler personal trainer that will never make you sweat; your spine, shoulders and entire body will thank you for it!
Let’s start with a little geek speak: VOIP or voice over Internet Protocol is essentially the ability to make phone calls over the Internet.
With services like Skype, as long as both parties are on the Skype network, the call is free, but if you want to use Skype to call a regular land line or cell phone, it’ll cost ya.
If you want the ability to make phone calls from your computer to any landline or cellphone in the US or Canada, look no further than Gmail!
Google combined the power of their Google Voice service into Gmail interface which makes it really simple to make a call.
Once you have the free plugin installed, just click on the phone icon in the left column and type in the any phone number in the US or Canada.
Or if you have the Gmail shortcuts enabled, just tap the letter G (as in Gmail) followed by the letter P (as in Phone) to bring up the number dialer.
Or you can click on phone numbers in any email message and it will instantly bring up the dialer with that number!
Has this ever happened to you: your filling out a complex form online or updating a blog post and just before you finish up, your browser locks up or crashes?
Or even worse, you accidentally press the back button on your browser and lose 30 minutes worth of work because it was a web form.
You’re not alone and that’s were a nifty little browser plug-in can come to the rescue with a single click.
Lazarus is a free form recovery add-on for Chrome, Safari and Firefox users and it can really save your bacon.
Once it’s installed, all you have to do is go back to the form that you were working on, click in the text box where you lost everything and the Lazarus icon will appear on the right.
When you click on the icon, all of the recoverable form entries magically appear so all you have to do is click on the version that you want to recover and pick up where you left off.
For security, you can (AND SHOULD) setup a password on the Lazarus tool so no one else can look at the recoverable text.
Windows 8 has been out for a while now, but there are still a lot of hidden features that a lots of users aren’t aware of
One of the really helpful new features is called File History and it does just what it implies; creates backups of your files each time you make a change.
By default, File History is turned off because it requires an additional storage device such as a flash drive or external hard drive in order to work.
Once you set it up, it will start by making a copy of all of your typical data files; documents, music, pictures, videos and any folders on your Desktop to the external storage device.
Then, as you make changes to those files or add new files, it automatically makes a copy for you in the background.
Not only does it serve as a traditional backup so you can restore files that you accidentally delete, but it allows you to go back to a previous version of a document if it becomes corrupted or you need to review what the original document had in it.
Here’s a scenario that seems to be more common these days: you’re killin’ it on Candy Crush and someone calls you right when you’re in the groove.
Or, you’re in the middle of responding to an urgent e-mail and an incoming phone call disrupts your typing.
Well someone that had enough of these disruptions on his Android phone has created a great little app that will allow you to manage phone calls while staying in your current app.
Call Popout for Android is a simple app that gives you control over your phone when someone calls you out of the blue.
Let’s face it, we use our smartphone more for apps than we do for phone conversations these days, so giving priority to apps makes perfect sense.
Call Popout allows you to choose specific apps or all your apps so you have complete flexibility for when it jumps into action.
A small blue circle with a picture of the person that’s calling will appear over the top of whatever app you’re in so you can decide what you want to do.
The basic version is free and available in the Google Play Store.
There’s a new form of malware known as ‘ransom-ware’ making the rounds and it’s one of the most vicious that we’ve ever seen.
Most infections cause problems for your computer or hide in the background to try to grab personal information, but this one will actually lock you out of your own files by using military grade encryption.
It’s called the CryptoLocker and if you get hit by it, your pictures, music, documents, tax records and everything you care about will become inaccessible unless you pay a ransom.
This nasty virus will even attack your backup drives or a business server, which means that one slip up by a single employee can cause an entire company to be locked out of their data files.
The primary methods of infection are from opening booby trapped e-mail attachments and websites that convince you that you need to update your video player.
Paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee that you will get your files back either, so consider this a wakeup call to re-evaluate how you are backing up.
We’ve got full details on what this attack does and how you can minimize your risk of becoming a victim, including what every business should be doing to fend off this malicious threat.
Google’s Android operating system has become the most popular mobile OS in the world and along with that distinction, it’s now the most targeted in the world.
Malicious apps are more likely to appear in places outside of Google’s Play Store, so limiting your app downloads to just the Play Store is a solid strategy.
Even with Google’s security oversight, it’s possible for some malicious apps to sneak in, so if you want a second layer of protection, download the free Malwarebytes app to your Android device.
Once installed, you can scan your phone to see if you have any questionable apps and it will scan every app you download from now on and give you a quick report automatically.
It also performs regular background scans to make sure that infected files haven’t snuck in and it has a privacy scanner that shows you what each app has access to on your device.
Malwarebytes has long been a great tool for Windows-based PCs and now that same approach to fighting malware is available for Android users…and its free!
Hey the weekend is here and if you’re like us, listening to music is part of how you enjoy your leisure time.
Part of the joy of music is discovering new artists and new genres of music that keep things fresh and interesting.
You music lovers already know about discovery services like Pandora and Spotify but there’s an app that makes discovery new bands really easy.
It’s called Band of the Day and it makes it really easy for you to discover new artists because it does just what the name of the app says…introduces you to a new band every day.
Think of it as your new go-to music geek who always seems to know about the coolest new bands before anyone else.
When you find a band that you like, you can listen to songs, watch music videos, read the lyrics and get background information right from the app.
If you really want to dive into exploring new bands, you can explore the daily archives that go all the way back to late 2011.
Band of the Day is available for both iPhone and Android user and it’s absolutely free!
Get paid for taking surveys! We’ve all seen the emails and social media posts from companies that you’ve never heard of claiming you’ll be rewarded for you opinion.
Some of them are legit and some are scammers, but unless you’ve done your homework, you need to be skeptical.
But what if we told you that a really well known company was willing to reward you for taking their surveys on your Android phone?
That’s right, Google recently launched the Google Opinion Rewards app and it allows you to rack up credits in their Play Store by taking surveys.
It’s a simple process that only shows up about once a week, but when you answer the handful of questions, you’ll get credits to buy apps, movies, books and music in Google’s Store.
The questions are simple like “which logo is best” or “what did you watch of television last night” and the app notifies you when a survey is available.
Google Opinion Rewards is a free Android app in the Google Play store.
A lot of the most popular iPhone apps these days are games, but most of them are mindless time killers.
Escaping for a few minutes by playing Angry Birds or Candy Crush can get addictive and end up wasting lots of time because they just keep you going.
If you’re looking for a more stimulating escape that at least has the chance to teach you something, checkout Quizup.
Quizup promotes itself as the biggest trivia game in the world with hundreds of topics and over 150,000 questions.
You can play against friends in real time or random trivia buffs from around the world in topics like Tv shows, books, movies, sports, music, art or even general knowledge quizzes like identifying logos.
It’s like your own personal on-demand version of Jeopardy that ends after a handful of questions, so you can get on with your life (or not)!
Quizup is only available for iPhone and iPad users at the moment, but they are working on the Android version if you want to be notified when its available.
Few things compare to getting lost in a good book that takes your mind on a magical trip around the
world or into deep space.
Often times something that’s mentioned in the book, like a location, a person, piece of music, an event or even an object can stir up your curiosity and that’s where a wonderful discovery website comes into play.
SmallDemons.com is a website that allows you to explore just about anything that you read about in
your favorite book, including other books that used the same word, location or music.
Let’s say a minor historical character in the book sparks your interest; just go to smalldemons.com and see if this character exists in other books.
Listen to the song that’s mentioned in the book and learn more about the musician, the era and other books that cover that period of time.
It’s a completely different way to discover new books, music, movies or lots of other things based on something you read in your book that will lead to some amazing treasures.