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!
The cyber-security world views the tax season as Christmas for Crooks because they put a full court press on filing fraudulent tax returns.
Since the vast majority of taxpayers will receive a tax refund, the bad guys feel empowered to pull off this scam.
If they get their hands on your Social Security Number, they can essentially take over your ID for the purposes of filing a tax return before you do.
Anyone unfortunate enough to be a victim of this crime will get caught up in a quagmire of red tape to unwind the fake return and won’t see their actual refund for a long time.
Since we know that so many major breaches have included SSNs, the opportunity to do this has grown exponentially, but do your best to protect your SSN and file your return as early as is possible each and every year, as this type of fraud isn’t going to go away any time soon.
Who doesn’t love new technology as a gift during the holiday season? Well, with all the new tech comes to need to do something with the old tech.
For those that haven’t thought about it, your old technology contains lots of toxic chemicals, so if it powers up, it can’t be disposed of through the normal garbage channels.
Before you assume that your old tech is useless, check with your local schools, charities or even your friends and family to see if someone else can make use of it.
If no one wants it, you next step is to make sure you dispose of it responsibly.
When it ends up in our landfills, it introduces those toxic chemicals to the earth and potentially our ground water.
To date, despite attempts to get people to be responsible, a very small percentage of electronic waste is disposed of properly and is still ending up in our landfills.
Help us spread the word and remember that all Phoenix area Data Doctors locations serve as a year-round drop off point for all your e-waste products.
Anyone that’s uses a computer all day at work knows how it can lead to less than desirable posture, which can lead to other problems.
An ongoing problem from bad posture when sitting at the computer is CTS or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Depending upon how long it goes untreated, the only relief could be through a surgical procedure and downtime to recover.
The good news is that it can be easy to avoid by changing how you sit at your desk.
The chair height is the starting point, so make sure it set to allow for a ninety degree bend of your knees with your feel flat on the floor.
The position of your wrists should be as close to parallel to the floor as possible, which may require you to reposition your keyboard.
If you want a physical aid to keep your wrists in the right position, checkout the offerings from IMAK at https://www.imakproducts.com
People are talking about your business online, every day and it’s important to know what they are saying. If you haven’t started finding ways to monitor your online reputation, today’s tip is a good first step.
Google setup a simple keyword based monitoring tool called Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts) some years ago and it super simple to start using.
The website lets you enter your business name as the keyword, along with an email address to send to the alerts to.
Keep in mind, if you business name has more than one word, you should put quotation marks around the business name to avoid getting irrelevant alerts on each individual word.
When it comes to negative feedback from your customers, if you don’t know what they are saying, you can’t fix the problem or even appear to care to the rest of the Internet.
Ignoring negative feedback as if didn’t exist can be very harmful to your reputation. Responding in a caring way shows the rest of the world that you care and want to do what you can to make your customers happy.
There are lots of other monitoring tools for social media networks, but starting with Google Alerts should help you get started.
The tactics to take over your online accounts continue to grow in sophistication, which is why setting up 2 factor authentication on your online accounts is imperative.
This approach to security is best understood with your debit card, which requires 2 different ways to authenticate access: Your physical card and the associated PIN.
I equate not having 2 factor turned on as having a debit card that didn’t require a PIN in order withdraw cash from an ATM…super dangerous.
The second factor of authentication is something you typically always have with you - your smartphone!
Even if a thief steals your username and password, unless they also steal your smartphone and figure out how to unlock it, they won’t be able to get into your personal accounts.
It’s become available for just about every online account you may have, so learn how to set each one of them up at https://twofactorauth.org
The cyber security world uses a simple process for evaluating threats - think like hackers.
One of the most common items traded by the Internet underworld is your personal information and identity, which they generally acquire through fooling users.
Finding the most likely victims of their trickery makes their job easier, so focusing on kids is very common.
They know kids will eagerly download music, games and videos that appear to be free, which can have hidden trojan’s hiding in them.
They know that in most households, the parents share the same profile with their kids, which allows them full access if they can trick the kids.
Anyone with kids in their household should strongly consider reconfiguring their computers so the kids have a different profile.
The primary account for the parents can be the admin account, while the kids have a limited use profile to minimize the exposure.
This approach is how large organizations protect their sensitive data and it’s equally as effective for the average home user.
Today’s tip is a regular reminder that when you use the same passwords on multiple online accounts, you’re making it easy for the bad guys to win.
The only way to be secure with your passwords is to make sure you’re using some form of password management that allows you to follow our advice.
If using a program to manage your passwords is still too complicated, there’s another option that is more likely to be successful: just write down your passwords.
There are a number of ways to create a discrete password document that works best when you don’t use the word ‘password’ anywhere in or around the file.
In addition, creating a secret code system around your passwords, like a bunch of random character before your actual password will help secure the file even further.
No matter how cautious you are when it comes to your usernames and passwords, all it takes is a breach at one of the sites you use regularly to expose that password you are using everywhere.
Don’t make it easy for hackers; use a different password for each of your accounts even if you have to write all of them down to make it happen.
Today’s tip is our annual reminder to always pay attention to what you add to your computer or smartphone.
Those little changes on your screen that seem to creep in from nowhere is most likely happening when you add something new to the mix.
Most popular computer programs that are free will setup a relationship with another company that wants access to more people and include their product in the installation program.
When you know this is common, you’ll start to pay closer attention to those installation screens that pop up that most people never read and simply agree to get the program installed.
The trick is to get users to agree to use the standard installation option that allows the 3rd party garbage to make it into your computer.
They’ll try to make the ‘advanced or custom’ installation menu seem like it’s only for the hardcore nerds and geeks, but it’s not.
It’s actually the transparent version of the installation process they don’t want you to see.
Keeping the junk out to begin with is easily achieved if you always use the custom install option.
Being diligent will stop those useless toolbars, odd search engine changes or weird start pages from sneaking into your devices.
Paying attention to your long-term financial situation is something that everyone at any age should be focused on and quite frankly, the younger you start, the better.
If you one of the many that just hasn’t found the right tool to help you get started, I’d recommend checking out a website called Personal Capital.
In business, using a dashboard to track what’s happening is essential and doing the same with your personal finances is easy to do at https://www.personalcapital.com
The dashboard will provide graphs and data that starts with your net worth and extends to any investment portfolios you own as well as all of your banking accounts.
All this data is what makes it easy to start playing with ‘what if scenarios’ to help you find a path to retirement that is realistic.
This isn’t about trading stocks, this is about granular financial planning and monitoring via their website or mobile app that makes it easy to stay on top of your current situation and progress.
Get your financial dashboard up and running today at https://www.personalcapital.com
If you love music as much as I do, finding new songs and artists to enjoy is an ongoing pursuit.
One of the most common things that I’ll do is search through the greatest hits of any artist for both new songs and remembering old ones that I’ve forgotten about.
To that end, my search for hits landed me at TheTopTens.com a while back and it’s a great resource for discovery.
This isn’t some self-proclaimed music expert choosing their personal favorites, it’s a crowd-sourcing site that leverages the ‘wisdom of the crowds’.
This crowdsourcing rating site isn’t limited to music either, so it’s handy for just about any pursuit for the best of the best.
You can consume the content or get involved and vote on things yourself to help grow the collective intelligence.
If you can’t find a top ten list for something you seek, why not start the list yourself?
No matter what you are searching for online, leveraging the input from lots of others is made so easy at https://www.thetoptens.com
If you’re a camera buff with an expensive DSLR, it’s highly likely you have Adobe’s Lightroom installed on your computer for extensive image editing capabilities.
Whether you’re a photo nerd or a basic novice when it comes to taking pictures, having a powerful editing program like Lightroom on our smartphone is a good idea.
There’s really no limit to the number of image editing apps you can have on your phone, so this is one that I’d highly recommend you add to your tool chest.
Unlike the desktop version of Lightroom, the mobile app makes it very easy to make complex changes to all your smartphone pictures.
You can start with the pre-set options, but if you’re willing to take the time, learning how to use the manual settings will take your images to a whole new level.
You can download the free app for your Android, iPhone or iPad so you no longer have to settle for the basic adjustments that your phone limits you to!
The incredible technology that’s built into our smartphones is allowing ground breaking apps that use artificial intelligence possible.
One of my recent favorites is the Otter voice recognition and transcription app. It’s a no-brainer for recording interviews or taking meeting notes and easily sharing them with others.
The AI allows the app to recognize the various speakers in the conversation and assign them different numbers. If you tap on the number and give the speaker an ID, the app will tag the rest of the transcript with that speaker ID when they talk.
It also automatically generates summary keywords, so you can quickly identify themes from any discussion. The app isn’t just for your live recording sessions because you can upload any of your pre-recorded audio or video files to be transcribed as well.
It’s not perfect transcription, but it’s light years faster than the manual method.
The free version of the app allows you to generate up to six hundred minutes of transcripts per month with premium options if you need more.
Check it out at https://otter.ai
If you’re a coupon clipper looking for a more efficient way to save money, today’s tip is for you.
An app called Flipp - that’s with two p’s - has developed a platform for consilidating coupons from over two thousand retailers. From grocers and drug stores to some of the most popular discount retailers, Flipp makes finding coupons for them so much easier.
One of the cool features allows you to create a shopping list which the app will use to search for the best deals across all the stores.
You can manually browse the weekly circulars and coupons for stores near you or search for a specific store or item, right from your smartphone.
When you see an offer you want, just save it to your shopping list for future use.
If you’re looking for a way to collect relevent shopping ads in one place, the Flipp app is about as good as it gets.
Check it out for yourself by searching for Flipp with two p’s in your smartphone’s app store.
How many times have you seen those offers to get paid for taking a survey and assumed that they were a scam?
Well, for the most part, they aren’t what they appear to be, but there is one exception.
The folks at Google created their Opinion Rewards program initially for Android users years ago, but it’s now available to iPhone users as well. I mean, if Google is gather all this info on you, why not get reimbursed, right?
Once you download the app, it will present you with surveys from time to time through a notification that can earn you credits in the Google Play store.
The credits can be used to buy apps, music and rent movies and the survey’s only take a minute or so to answer.
A couple example of the questions are like "Which promotion is most compelling?" or"When do you plan on traveling next?".
I’ve been participating for years and have earned lots of credits that I’ve been able to use on items that I would have paid for otherwise.
If you want to check it out, just search your app store for Google Opinion Rewards
If you’re one of the millions that uses an app to enhance or edit your photos, you may want to think about doing the same with your videos.
Most devices make it easy to trim and possibly rotate your videos, but there’s so much more you can do if you start using an app called Vizmato that’s spelled V I Z M A T O
It’s an incredibly powerful app that makes it really easy to enhance your videos by speeding them up or slowing them down, using themes to create a dramatic feel and lots of visual effects like mirror to make your videos really stand out.
There are dozens of effects, emojis and animation tools that you can add to any part of your video just by tapping the screen. You can use music to either replace the audio or mix it with the sounds that you captured in the video.
There are lots of sound effects as well as dozens of text fonts that make it easy to put the emphasis on specific moments in the video.
Vizmato is free to try and if you really like what it can do, it’ll cost you $10 for a lifetime subscription.
When you visit a new city, whether it’s here in the US or abroad, understanding the best ways to get around that city is an essential task.
Google Maps does a pretty good job, but if you’re looking for something more focused on navigating public transit options, checkout an app called City Mapper https://citymapper.com
City Mapper offers both a website and mobile apps that can quickly show you all your options for getting to and from any two locations. Not only does it give you options for taxis, buses and rail services, it also includes bicycle and walking options.
In cities that offer rental bikes and scooters, City Mapper will tell you how many are available at any of the docking stations near you.
They’ll show you the best options right now or based on a time that you want to arrive or leave a specific location.
This is the most comprehensive navigation app that I’ve ever seen. It’s currently limited to about 40 cities around the world but you can help them expand by voting for the next city to be added.
If you’re going to be upgrading to a new computer to start the new year, you need to think about what it’s going to take to get your new computer to look like your old computer.
Not only will you need productivity tools like Word and Excel, you’ll likely need to install the browser of your choice, myriad utilities and possibly some media players or streaming services.
Left to be done manually, this process becomes a lot more work than you probably remember.
Luckily, instead of having to slog through everything manually, there are free tools available to help streamline the process.
For Windows users, a website called Ninite comes to your aid, while Mac users can speed things up by using the GetMacApps website.
Both sites allow you to choose all of the programs that you want to add so they can create a single massive installation download that makes it all much more efficient.
For Mac users: http://getmacapps.com
For Windows users: https://ninite.com
When it comes to email, the overwhelming majority of messages are junk messages that none of us really want and spam filters spend all day scraping away.
Still, much of what ends up getting past the filters and into our Inbox is mail that just wastes our time.
Most of us have found that text messaging is a more efficient way to communicate and the spammers have noticed and altered their tactics.
One of the ways that we can all help fend off the assault to text messaging is by collectively reporting it as soon as it hit’s our phones.
All of the major carriers have setup 7726, which spells S P A M as a convenient way for their users to report junk text messages.
Simply forward the message exactly the way you got it and without anything added to 7726 whenever they appear.
The more users that report the junk messages, the faster these guys can get shut down at the source by all the carriers.
If you share lots of photos on social media, there’s not much keeping others from making use of your images in a variety of ways.
One way to maintain some form of ownership of your shared images is to watermark them with your name or logo.
There are lots of apps available for any type of smartphone, but the app that I like to use is called Logolicious.
It has dozens of fonts to choose from if you want use text or you can upload a logo for a very professional look . You can save templates to maintain a consistent look and easily rotate and scale the watermark with your fingers right on your phone.
The text can be in various colors and you have total control of how transparent both text and logos appear in your images.
Logolicious is available for both Android and iPhone users and paying the developers for the app is completely voluntary.
Check it out at https://logolicious.com
We all experience a variety of challenges on a regular basis and our ability to manage those challenges can have a direct relationship to our happiness.
Life’s challenges can lead to stress, anxiety and depression if we don’t find a way to manage them and believe it or not, there’s an app for that.
The SuperBetter app encourages users to ‘live gamefully’. This approach is designed to bring the mindset and psychological strengths like optimism, creativity, courage, and determination that come natural when you’re playing a game
SuperBetter is backed by science that’s been validated in published studies that can help you build resilience and improve your mental health.
It’s resilience training powered by the science of games that millions of people have adapted both through the app and the best selling book of the same name.
If you’re trying to adopt better habits that will help you achieve your goals, build resilience and a positive attitude in life, checkout the SuperBetter approach at https://superbetter.com
Privacy has become one of the biggest concerns and challenges for the average person to navigate in the digital age.
While just about every platform we use offers some form of privacy controls, understanding how and when to use them isn’t always obvious.
Anyone looking for help managing digital privacy in a single place should checkout the Jumbo privacy app.
The creators of the app say it will empower you to take control of your privacy and security, right from your phone.
Once it scans the apps and websites you use, it provides recommendation to improve your security and privacy.
If you’re starting a new job and want to clean up old social media posts, Jumbo can help with that too.
We’re all looking for a better way to manage privacy and security, so checkout the Jumbo Privacy app at https://jumboprivacy.com