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 it comes to physical fitness, having a personal trainer can certainly accelerate your progress and the same holds true for mental fitness.
If you’re like me, as you age, you realize that some of the mental sharpness of your youth has diminished and it’s irritating at times.
If you’re in the same boat as me and interested in trying out a personal brain trainer, checkout an app called Elevate, which is available for both iPhone and Android users.
Elevate uses games based on extensive scientific research that are designed in collaboration with experts in neuroscience and cognitive learning.
You start by choosing what you want to work on: focus, speaking skills, processing speed, comprehension and more.
Elevate then creates a customized daily challenge based on those choices and keeps track of your progress in each area.
The basic daily challenges are free or you can pay for unlimited usage if you really get into it.
One user referred to Elevate as taking a daily mental multivitamin, so if you’re looking for a better way to kill time than Candy Crush, checkout Elevate at http://elevateapp.com
If you have an iPad with a camera built-in, you probably know by now that the quality of the images it produces isn’t nearly as good as an iPhone.
The primary reason is that the optics in any iPad camera are less sophisticated, but many people like having the large display to get the shot.
If you tend to use your iPad for photography, you can improve the capabilities by using a photography app specifically designed to boost the images on your tablet.
Blux Camera for iPad offers a whole host of features that can help you improve the quality of the images you take.
Instead of giving you filters and photo adjusting setting after you take the image, Blux gives you a series of on-screen controls that lets you make adjustments before you take the shot.
It also has an interesting feature they call PEAR, which stands for Photographic Environment Analysis and Recommendation.
Think of it as a photo assistant providing guidance on how to improve the image based on the environment you’re in.
The direct link to Blux for iPad is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Apple created a pretty slick way to have your photos show up on all your devices, as long as they are all made by Apple.
Photo Stream is Apple’s automatic backup and sharing system for photos that assumes you’ll do something with the images within 30 days.
If you’re diligent, you’ll grab the ones you want and move them over to your iCloud account and sync your phone with your computer on a regular basis.
If Apple’s way of automatically handling your images isn’t to your liking, there are lots of other ways to automatically get your images uploaded without the limitations imposed by Photo Stream.
One of those options is to use the Google+ app for iPhone, which unlike photo stream will push both your images and video up to your Google+ account.
Google also provides you with 15 gigabytes of storage instead of the 5 gigabytes that Apple’s iCloud provides and they don’t count lower resolution images or videos under 15 minutes against your total.
But remember, because Google+ is a separate app from your camera, it must be open or running in the background in order to upload your media automatically.
Any trip or vacation these days generates a lot of great photographic memories especially when they are put together as a story.
The problem for most of us is that we never get around to pulling together the images while the details are still fresh in our mind.
If this sounds like you, checkout an iPhone app called Tripstr that could make it much easier to create those memories on the fly.
Because it’s a mobile app, you can pull together an awesome sharable story in minutes so that you are more likely to actually do it.
Think of it as an easy way to create a blog of your adventures while you’re still on the road, so you don’t have to make time after the trip is over.
You can pick a series of images by date or location, decide which ones to keep, add captions, a quick journal entry for the day and Tripstr does the rest.
Tripstr is a great way to fill the time on your way home from any trip that will create lasting memories of your adventures.
The link to download Tripstr is waiting for you at DataDoctors.com/radio
At the risk of grossing you out, I have to bring something to your attention: your smartphone is a filthy breeding ground for bacteria.
A recent news article claims that your smartphone has 18 times the bacteria that a typical public restroom door handle has, you know the one that you try to avoid touching.
To make things worse, smartphones typically are warm and get placed in insulated places like our pockets and purses which encourages the bacteria to breed.
Your first thought might be to wipe your phone down with antibacterial wipes, but the chemicals in those cleaners can be harsh on touchscreens.
A properly formulated screen cleaner is a better choice but it may not completely sanitize your handset.
If you’re really looking to safely sanitize your smartphone on a regular basis, checkout an interesting device called Phonesoap.
Phonesoap is a box that bombards your phone with UV light to disinfect it while it’s being charged.
Skeptical? I was too, but they have a pretty convincing Discovery Channel lab test video with impressive results.
Even if you aren’t a germaphobe, check it out for yourself at PhoneSoap.com
The summer travel season often leads to a road trip filled with amazing and unexpected memories; some good, some bad.
I love finding those off the beaten path and quirky places on my road trips but they usually only come from a chance meeting with a local.
This desire to find the fun and unusual is the focus of a great web resource at Roadtrippers.com.
You start by setting your starting and ending points so you can search for attractions, accommodations, entertainment, food and drink, history, nature or just about anything that will make your road trip interesting.
You can easily add stops along the way to see how long it will take and get an estimate of what you will spend in gas to complete your road trip.
Once you create your road trip, you can use their mobile app to sync it to your phone for turn-by-turn directions to every destination.
If creating your own road trip sounds like too much work, you can start with pre-existing itineraries like Route 66 or Haunted Hotels and modify them for your taste.
If you’re taking a roadtrip this summer, checkout RoadTrippers.com
If you’re a frequent flyer, you likely have a handful of go-to apps and websites that help you make the best decisions.
One of my first go-to resources when my travel plans are flexible is Google Flights, because it’s fast and full of filters to hone in on what I want.
Unlike other travel resources, when you make a change to the filter, the updates are instantly displayed so no more waiting for the data to get resorted.
You can filter results by airline, number of stops, price, takeoff or landing time, flight duration and even have the results displayed on a map.
It also includes price unknown for airlines such as Southwest, so you’ll at least know if a flight is available.
But my favorite part of Google Flights is the Lowest Fares icon on the far right side, which displays a bar chart at the bottom of the calendar showing when the lowest fares are available.
Once you select your outbound and return flights, you can save the info or pop over to the airline’s website to book the flight.
See for yourself at Google.com/flights
Despite our love for technology, nothing compares to curling up to a great book on a lazy weekend afternoon.
Whether you prefer books that focus on business, self-help, science, history or fiction, getting references from others is always a great discovery tool.
Amazon is great at recommending books based on what you have already read, but a site called GoodReads.com takes it to another level.
Not only can you get suggestions based on what you’ve already read, you can connect with your friends that are avid readers and learn what they do and more importantly what they didn’t like.
Think of it as a virtual library that makes discovering new books a lot easier than roaming the aisles of a bookstore.
You can create queues of the books you’ve read, that you’re currently reading and the ones you want to read or you can create your own customized bookshelf.
Goodreads works best if you get a group of your bookworm friends to join in with you as sort of a private virtual book club.
If you’re really into discussing literature, you can join or start discussion groups that can be public or private.
Check it out at GoodReads.com
If you are using an Android based smartphone or tablet, you’re more likely to be more interested in all of the tweaks and utilities that the platform offers.
If you are the hands-on type of slightly more technical user, and you’re used to the Windows file manager, I’ve got a great suggestion for you.
It’s called ES File Explorer and it’s one of the more popular utilities for Android devices with hundreds of millions of downloads already.
ES File Explorer replicates a lot of the functionality you are used to in Windows, with folders that you can cut, copy, paste, move, delete, rename and use multiple select for faster management.
As with any file manager on any system, if you don’t know what something is, never delete it!
It also integrates with Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft Sky Drive, Sugarsync and other popular online storage services, so pushing files to the cloud is made simple.
You can also manage applications, kill background tasks and clear out junk files as well as manage the files on your SD card.
If you’re the tweaker type of Android user, it’s worth checking out
I’ve got the link posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Sifting through the plethora of video on the Internet is one of the many challenges of digital life.
It’s a challenge that many companies are trying to make easier by making Internet video a lot more like the television experience that we are all used to.
One new attempt that looks promising is a project called EndlessTV because it breaks the videos down into categories and queues them on your device to avoid streaming issues.
Say, for instance, you’re interested in technology related video, you can download the TechTV app which curates short technology related video for you.
If the video you’re watching isn’t to your liking, simply swipe to the left and the next video will load up.
I’ve been impressed with the quality of the curation so far and find that just about all of the content has been relevant and useful.
At the moment there are 16 categories that include news, fashion, gossip, tech, sports, comedy, business and a handful of other popular subjects.
As the popularity of the service grows, more channels are likely to be added, so if you’re looking for a more efficient way to watching Internet vidoes, checkout Endless TV at endlesstv.com
Just about every airline is now offering wifi on lots of their flights these days, but the cost can range from five to fifty dollars, depending upon the device you want to use.
Today’s tip is a way to help you save money and be more productive on your next long flight.
Instead of paying for wifi to access content on the Internet, you can queue up lots of content before your flight on all your devices with an app called Pocket.
Pocket is one of the many ‘read it later’ utilities that make collecting content and accessing it later even without an Internet connection a breeze.
We’ve all been sucked down the rabbit hole of the Internet, so here’s a way to gather interesting items as you run across them, and view them later.
Pocket works across all your devices, so when you save a story from your computer and read it later on your smartphone or tablet or vice versa.
Pocket can’t let you view saved videos if you’re offline, but if you want to create a personalized newspaper for your next flight, it’s a great tool.
Check it our for yourself at Getpocket.com
The sophistication of the camera technology in smartphones has advanced so much in such a short time.
An average smartphone camera today has 2 to 3 times the resolution that the top of the line camera offered just 10 years ago.
With these higher resolutions came larger file sizes and sometimes you need to reduce the size of an image in order to e-mail or post it on the Internet.
Getting the image to an exact pixel width and height is also important when you create profile pictures for your various social media profiles.
The next time you need to make some quick adjustments to any image you have, checkout a website called WebResizer.com.
WebResizer lets you change the width, height, file size, image quality, exposure, contrast, tint, color saturation and makes it easy to crop or rotate your images as well.
While there are a lot of image manipulation tools on the web that can do all these things, figuring out where the tools are and how to use them can get confusing.
Webresizer is a one trick pony that does it’s one trick very well!
I’ve posted all the link at DataDoctors.com/radio
Instagram is becoming one of the more popular social networks with more than 200,000 million users that like the simplicity of just posting pictures.
The easy to use filters allow anyone to get creative with their pictures, which is adding to the popularity of the network.
At the moment, Instagram has no ability for you to schedule your posts, so you end up either mass posting pictures, which can turn your followers off, or you forget to post at all.
If you are a business that’s trying to engage with Instagram followers, overposting or underposting can be a big problem.
If you’d like to spread your Instagram posts around, you can get some help from an app called Latergram which is only currently available for iPhone and iPad users.
Latergram allows you to choose images, add a caption and attach them to a schedule so you can post it when the time comes.
To fight spammers, Instagram is very strict about third party posting services so Latergram will send the scheduled image with the caption to your phone so all you have to do is tap a button to post it.
It’s not perfect, but it is free and better than trying to remember on your own.
If you’re a runner, you know how much of a difference the right music can make on your workouts.
It can keep you going and in some cases motivate you to run longer, especially if the music is in time with your running pace.
If you’ve tried creating playlists that compliments your running pace, you know how time consuming it can become.
If you want an easier way to find music that compliments your running style, checkout an app called RockMyRun.
RockMyRun puts together music mixes that focus on Beats Per Minute, so you get a consistant mix of songs throughout your run.
You can search for mixes based on genre, beats per minute, length or whether the lyrics are explicit or not.
The standard mixes are free and are up to 45 minutes in length. A premium membership gives you access to mixes that are longer than 45 minutes and adds other extras like the MyBeat feature.
MyBeat allows you to change the beats per minute of the entire mix, so you can dial it in to match perfectly with your pace.
RockMyRun for iPhone or Android smartphones; take it on your next run!
If you’re like me, you take hundreds of photos with your smartphone every month and most of them will never be more than a passing memory that only exists in the digital world.
Sometimes when you take a great picture, you’d really like to do something special with it and an iPhone app called MadeSquare is trying to make it easy for you to do just that.
MadeSquare is an app designed to turn your digital images into physical memories that range from traditional prints to unique works of art or crafts.
From basic photo strips to photo strip books, mini wood blocks to canvas scrolls, MadeSquare is capitalizing on the square photo trend made popular by Instagram.
The app allows you to take any images on your iPhone’s camera roll and make them square to fit their 20 different physical options.
A couple of my favorites are the large format metallic, wood or canvas prints which has a much bigger wow factor when presenting someone with a special gift.
Another cool option are the photo clings that will peel and stick to just about any non-porous surface.
If you’re looking for an easy way to make keepsakes out of your precious digital memories, checkout MadeSquare’s iPhone app
Twitter’s a great way to keep up on current events, breaking news or whatever your personal interests may be, but nothing spoils the experience like an overtweeter.
The obvious way to deal with a compulsive overtweeter is to stop following them, but sometimes good people temporarily becomes overtweeters, say during a live sporting event.
In those cases, rather than using the unfollow or blocking options, Twitter is rolling out a Mute function so you can temporarily stop seeing their tweets.
Unlike the Block feature, anyone you Mute will never know it, so in some cases, it’s a more delicate way of dealing with trolls or those wingnuts on Twitter.
If you want to take the muting feature to another level and have an iPhone or iPad, checkout an app called TweetBot.
It allows you to mute based on people, hashtags and even keywords and it’s one of the most well rounded Twitter apps on the market.
Remember, Mute is rolling this out over time, so if you aren’t seeing it just yet, you will soon.
I’ve got the links on how to use the Mute feature or get the Tweetbot app posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
How to Mute Users on Twitter: https://support.twitter.com/articles/20171399
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, you know that there are hundreds of websites and apps that try to help you make your decisions.
Just about all of them focus on price and the reviews are from the general public, so they may not reflect your tastes or preferences in travel.
My favorite travel review of all time was someone complaining about all the stairs they had to climb in a seaside Italian hill town! Clearly not a very detail oriented traveler.
If you’re looking for travel tips and information from like minded people, checkout a website called GoGoBot.com
It has all of the usual information on hotels, vacation rentals, restaurants and things to do, but what makes them different is their formation of Tribes.
Tribes represent travel styles, so whether you’re a business traveler, thrill seeker, foodie or someone on a budget, you’ll get reviews from people that are more in tune with the way you travel.
It’s like sitting down at a table with thousands of other travel junkies and getting their best tips and recommendations.
There’s also a mobile app, so you can get location-based tips while you are on the road. Check it all out at GoGoBot.com
Today’s tip is perfect for anyone that’s always dreamed of creating cool movies but never got past the point of just shooting the video.
Video editing is complicated and expensive if you want to do it at a professional level, but for you weekend wannabes, there’s a free tool that will make you look like a video editing wizard in a snap.
It’s called Magisto and it’s aptly names because it’s magically spectacular even if you’ve never attempted to edit anything in your life.
With Magisto, you simply pick the videos and pictures you want to work with, select an editing style and a soundtrack and your movie is automagically created for you! That’s it; that’s all you as the human has to do to create an impressively beautiful video.
Once the auto editing is complete, it gets posted to a Magisto page where you can share it via social media, e-mail or download it so that is lives on your own hard drive.
There’s also an app for iPhone, Android and Amazon devices so you can make magnificent movies on the go.
Magisto is the tool that all you movie making wannabes have been waiting for; check it out at MAGISTO.com
Getting information published on the Internet is getting easier for non-technical users, but it can still be an overwhelming exercise in futility if you pick the wrong tool.
What if I told you that I have a free tool that anyone can use to publish a single web page in less than one minute?
I mean, no signing up for an account, not special tools to download, no domain registration needed…I mean click, type, publish!
Pen.io has been a hidden gem on the Internet that is totally embracing the Keep It Simple Silly approach to publishing a web page.
If you’re having a party, yard sale, fund raiser, company event or just need a simple way to get information posted on the Internet, Pen.io is your solution.
Want to publish your poem, random thoughts, memories of old friends, announce a new child or share notes with your classmates, Pen.io can make it happen in seconds.
Just pick a URL, assign it a password and you are off and running.
I’ve posted an example page that I created in less than 60 seconds and a link to give it a try for yourself at DataDoctors.com/radio
My example page: http://ddrtest.pen.io
Create your own page: http://pen.io
The Heartbleed bug was one of the worst vulnerabilities in history because it impacted virtually every user of the Internet. Over a half a million websites were exposed to this major security flaw.
This coding error was discovered to have been in existence since 2011 so that means malicious access to your usernames and passwords has been possible for that long.
Based on this discovery, you heard from every corner of the Internet that you should change the passwords for all your online accounts in order to protect yourself.
Well a recent survey by the PEW Research Center revealed that less than 40% of Internet users actually took the time to secure their online accounts.
If you’re one of those that didn’t make any changes, what you need to understand is that your compromised data will be sold around the Internet for years.
Just because nothing happened to you in the wake of the discovery does not mean nothing will happen to you down the road.
The only way to ensure you never get bitten by the Heartbleed bug is to change your online passwords now.
If you’re looking for guidance on password management, I’ve posted a link at DataDoctors.com/radio
I recently wrote an article on the dangers of using images you find on the Internet on your blog or website that has generated a tremendous amount of feedback.
It’s obvious that many people didn’t realize that they were infringing a copyright when they innocently posted an image on their website.
If you don’t want to get tangled up in an expensive legal proceeding, take a few minutes to review all the images on your website or blog.
If you don’t know where they came from, I highly recommend you remove them and find legal images to avoid an expensive mistake.
Getty Images recently opened up a large library of images that they allow you to embed on your site for free as long as you follow their posted guidelines and instructions.
There are also images that fall under a Creative Commons license that the owners allow to be used for free for certain types of uses.
Or if you want to play it safe, you can purchase images for a couple of bucks each at sites like BigStockPhoto.com.
If you missed by advice column on this very important subject, I highly recommend that you or anyone in your organization that’s responsible for online images read it...the link is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio