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 the 4th of July and that means that we’re all going to be watching the sky light up with fireworks.
Anyone that’s struggled to get a decent picture of the light show in the sky, should listen closely to today’s tip.
If you don’t understand what it takes to be successful, it’s nearly impossible to get that perfect shot as the flashes pop above you.
With just a few quick adjustments to what you’ve been doing can easily improve your results.
Keeping your camera perfectly still is critical, so start by getting a tripod that will make it possible.
The flash is useless, so turn it off and look for either a night or better yet, a fireworks setting.
For even better results, look for a ‘burst’ mode, which take a lot of pictures in succession.
Try to setup at a place where you aren’t shooting straight up, but rather from a far enough distance that the show is more in front of you.
For those with cameras that offer manual setting options, a more detailed list of suggestions is posted
Today’s tip will help keep you from missing shows from your favorite bands that come to your area.
Rather than having to track your favorite bands individually via social media or a fan website, here’s a way to track them all in one place.
Start by visiting the https://www.bandsintown.com website, where you can get the app for your smartphone and connect your Facebook profile for a much easier way to track show for your favorite groups.
Once you’ve get it all setup, you’ll get a notice every time one of your favs is set to play in your town as well as provide options of similar bands.
The real power of this app is how it cultivates the lists of the bands you love so you don’t miss their next gig.
It does it by scanning the various music apps on your smartphone along with the songs that you listen to a lot and the bands that you like on Facebook.
With Bands in Town you can let technology do all the work so you can catch your favorite artists when they come to your town!
The single most important security protection you have is your passwords and it’s critical that you avoid using the same one everywhere.
There are many free password management tools available including one of our favorites called LastPass, but we also understand that apps may become overwhelming.
As much as I love technology solutions for common problems, there’s a non-technical option that you can use: just write them down.
Don’t display them in plain sight, but rather keep them written down in a safe place like a file on your computer or smartphone.
Avoid making it obvious that it’s a password list and use a way to mislead anyone that happens to find the file.
Create your own special encryption like add four or five random characters in front or after your real password so only you will know what the actual password is.
Remember that a single company that you have an account with will expose the password you’re using everywhere, so instead write them down so they’re all different.
Let’s start today’s tip with a little explanation of a tech term: Word Cloud
You may not have ever heard the term, but you’ve most likely seen a word cloud.
It’s those visual clusters of random words in a graphic image that shows the words used the most in the largest font or brightest color.
Taking a large amount of text and viewing it through a word cloud allows useful themes to emerge.
It’s a quick way to make sense of lots of feedback from your customer reviews, instead of having someone read them one at a time.
An easy way to start making your own word clouds is at a site called TagCrowd which allows you to copy and paste your text, upload a document or even evaluate any web page.
I’ve used it in presentations and for leading team meetings and recommend that everyone in business take a minute to see if a word cloud can make an impact in your business: https://tagcrowd.com
It’s no secret that most US citizens have a hard time saving money, though most would like to make it happen.
Younger people have little to no savings and generally don’t begin saving until their mid-30’s.
One of the many companies trying to help people start painlessly saving money is called Digit.
Their approach examines your personal spending needs and habits to figure out what you can save without missing other payments.
By understanding your financial patterns, it can figure out the spare amounts that you won’t need for your regular expenses and put it into a separate account.
The FDIC insured account gets built up with small, but regular amounts of money that you won’t need. This account won’t generate any interest, but not much is available that will these days.
Anyone looking for a way to start saving or help someone else start to save money should look into how Digit works at https://digit.co
Did you know that the very common file type used for online forms, known as a PDF stands for portable document format?
Just about any official form you will ever recieve will be a PDF file, which you generally have to print out to fill out manually. After all that, you still have to figure out how to get it back into your computer so you can send it back.
There are lots of programs you can install on your computer that will allow you to fill out forms electronically, but why bother for that occasional need.
A better approach for those of you that have an occasional need to electronically fill out a form is at https://www.pdfescape.com
While you can download and install their editing tool, using their website to upload your form is fast and hassle free.
You can create new forms, upload your own or even load them from another website. To fill out the form, simply use the text menu to start typing just about anywhere on the form and save it back to your computer when you finish filling everything out.
It totally bypasses the download, print, fill out, scan then send process so many are still using!
This tip is a very important one for anyone that has setup an Internet connected camera for their business or home.
There are websites that have been setup to expose weakly secured webcams by the thousands by showing the live feed because whoever set them up left them with a well-known password.
The webcams are not only giving up their live streams, they provide location information as well because they're still setup using the factory installed sign in info.
The people putting these websites together see themselves doing public service by exposing this all-too-common oversight.
The factory set password can be found by anyone, not just hackers, for virtually every gadget you own, so leaving devices that are connected to the Internet without changing this password is a bad idea.
Remember, if you can access something remotely, potentially the entire Internet can if you make it possible.
Make sure you change the default username and password on every device connected to your network and the Internet or take the risk of unwittingly sharing it with the world.
Owning a rental property is a great way to build assets for your family, but collecting the rent every month can be an ongoing hassle.
If you haven’t adopted some form of electronic rent collection as of yet, have I got a tip for you!
A free service to both the landlord and the tenant can take the hassle out of manual rent collection.
For the property owner, it takes no time at all to setup your account so you can convert to electronic payments.
For your renters, especially if there are multiple parties, splitting up the rent amount is a snap and eliminates the excuse of needing to track down a roommate.
The Cozy platform doesn’t charge a fee for either party in hopes that it can convince the property owner to use many of its other services like electronic applications, tenant background checks and even rental listings via their network.
You may have to wait a couple days longer than the 1st of each month to get your payments, but getting rid of the hassle could be just what many landlords are looking for: https://cozy.co
If you’re a person that has a very active mind, you may have trouble shutting down in order to get a good night’s sleep.
I’m in that camp and routinely testing various sleep aid apps that I can use in an unobtrusive way when I go to bed.
If you like a lot of soothing sounds of nature, check out an app called ‘Relax Melodies’.
It goes way beyond a handful of pre-programmed sounds and you have total control over all the elements used in making your own sleep sounds.
Birds, waterfalls, rain, ocean waves, running rivers and thunder are just the beginning of the options.
When you’re done with nature’s sounds, you can add any number of etherial music beds to complete you custom made tracks.
It’s available for free on all the major smartphone platforms with a premium option if you really want everything they have to offer.
By the way, it’s not just for going to sleep; you can create sounds that will help you be more productive during the day as well.
There are millions of apps available for our smartphones and many of them are free to use, which makes them very popular.
One possible downside to many of those free apps is that they use advertising to pay for them, which can be a hidden cost for those that don't have an unlimited data plan.
Another 'tax' that ad-based free apps typically put on your smartphone is a reduction in battery life.
There have been research papers done on this issue that show that the ads use eighty percent more data than apps that don't use ads to pay for them.
Since they tend to load the ads in the background, they can take up more memory and drain batteries faster.
Anyone that's constantly bumping up against their data plan's limits or has to recharge their phone in the middle of the day should pay attention to how many ads are being served in the apps they use.
Free apps may be encroaching on your privacy as well, which you inadvertently gave permission to as another way to pay for 'free apps'.
If you like a free app and they offer an ad-free version for a buck or two, it may be money well spent!
Anyone that's ever been tasked with manually generating a floorplan for a series of rooms knows how time-consuming it can be.
Whether you work in the construction or remodeling business or just a do-it-yourselfer, there's an iPhone app that you may want to check out.
RoomScan Pro from Locometric is super simple to use because all you have to do is place your iPhone flat on each wall in any room.
The app utilizes all of the very sensitive sensors in the iPhone to create a floorplan from the process.
Once you've gone to each wall in the room, the app creates a floor plan which can be built on with other rooms.
They've also thought about those situations where you may not be able to reach a wall for any reason.
There are lots of great demo videos on how the app works at: http://bit.ly/2WZjw6l
The Internet has become such a huge part of our lives, from the most important things to the most trivial.
On the trivial side, how often do you find yourself in a discussion that requires a quick search on the Internet to find the answer?
Searching for a specific answer during a discussion often leads to learning something new, but if you want to gain useful trivial knowledge on purpose, take a look at the resources posted at http://www.usefulscience.org
Whether you’re a trivia fanatic or just like discovering new nuggets of info, this is bookmark worthy.
There’s lots of great information about music, creativity, the environment, health, fitness, nutrition and lots more.
The best part of this resource is that it isn’t based on hearsay or conjecture as each nugget has a link to the science behind the information.
If you’re really into regular learning, you can subscribe to their newsletter here: http://www.usefulscience.org/about or listen to their podcasts here: http://www.usefulscience.org/podcast
Anyone that has a job that mandates strict tracking of times and locations for billing purposes knows that you need look no further then your phone.
While your phone may be able to provide some form of tracking without a special app, if you’d really like to step up your tracking capabilities, checkout an app called Instant.
It’s a personal tracking app that makes it much easier to keep track of just about everything you do, every day.
This app is part of something many are referring to as the ‘quantified self’ approach to managing your life through data that makes it much easier to exact change.
It’s a great help in managing your work life activities, physical fitness goals or for anyone seeking mindfulness reminders.
The instant app can be downloaded from http://instantapp.today
As the heat from the season’s temperatures rise, so does our sensitivity to the environment which can lead to us getting a bit cranky.
But we’re not the only ones getting cranky from the heat as the batteries in your electronics get the same way when it gets uncomfortable.
Nothing shortens the life of the batteries in all you devices like heat, so always being aware of the temperature is a good thing.
One of the most harmful scenarios is when you leave your devices in direct sunlight, which amplifies the heat.
If possible, avoid turning devices on when they are hot to the touch from being in the sun or other high temperature situations.
For all you avid laptop users, make sure you know where the air vents on your machine are and that you don’t block those vents when using them on soft surfaces, like on your bed.
The easiest way to manage this harmful scenario is to remember that when you’re uncomfortable from the heat, so are your devices!
If you’re like me and are involved with various groups that aren’t all in the same place, you find yourself on a fair share of conference calls.
More often then net, I’m forced to join the call using my smartphone, which can be a major pain.
When the opportunity presents itself, I try to convince the host to consider using UberConference - not associated with the car service - which is orders of magnitude more refined than those old platforms.
They’ve eliminated those irritating PINs, the beeps every time someone joins or leaves the call and they eliminated the guessing game about who is currently speaking with visuals.
Another awesome features is the host muting capability for any specific person, like the dumbo that put the conference on hold which subjects the whole group to their hold music.
This interface is especially useful for attendees that are joining via a mobile device, but equally as awesome on a desktop browser.
You can do a trial run with up to ten participants for free or step up to their full service package for @ ten bucks a month on an annual payment.
Check it out at: https://www.uberconference.com
A questions was asked by a friend with an Android smartphone if I knew of a simple way for him to record conversations that he was having on his phone.
He needed to create some sound files for a training program that he was putting together.
Before I gave him any suggestions, I wanted to make sure he understood that depending upon where he was when he was making the recordings, he could run into legal issues if he wasn’t careful.
If you aren’t sure what the legal stipulations might be whenever you are recording a call, it’s always best to notify all the parties on the call to be safe.
I’ve played around with various apps that offer this option, but the one that I liked best was simply called ‘Call Recorder’.
It works by floating a red dot in the corner of your device when you dial someone up.
To record the conversation, you just tap on the dot to both start and stop the recording.
Once you’re done, you can share the audio file in lots of ways and it includes info about the call, including caller ID, times and date.
There are lots of apps with the same name, so here’s the direct link: http://bit.ly/2Zkue3L
Lots of professional photographers use expensive, complicated photo editing software to create images for high-fashion websites and magazines.
Unless you’re willing to spend the money and time to learn these sophisticated programs, it doesn’t make much sense for most users.
Touching up photos to make people look better than they are has generated some heat in professional circles, but there are situations where having the option is useful.
Since we typically use our smartphones for taking most of our pictures, having the Perfect365 app on your phone for touching up images is most efficient.
As with most photo editing apps, you can use pre-defined touchup settings or go with the manual option for ultimate control.
It’s helpful with dark circles, blemishes, skin and teeth issues with nothing more than a tap or two.
It’s a pretty simple app that can help you try new looks by using augmented reality: https://www.perfect365.com
We have all been to websites that require some form of registration and validation to a working email address in order for us to access or download the information we seek.
In those instances where once you get what you want, you don't really need to hear from them again, using your real email account is simply setting you up for unwanted messages down the road.
That's where using a temp address can allow you access to the info you desire without exposing your daily account to junk messages.
While there are a variety of options online for this need, I particularly like one called '10minutemail'.
There's nothing to download or setup because it's a webmail tool that offers temp addresses ten minutes at a time.
If you use a temp address, any message sent to it will appear on the web page associated with that address.
Most replies for registration happen within a minute or so, but if it turns out that you need another ten minutes, you can extend it's use with the click of a mouse.
Keep in mind, you should never use a service like this if you're ever going to do a password reset or any important follow up action, so only when you know it's a 'fire and forget' situation.
The 24 hour news cycle has lead to lots of ‘breaking news’ stories that might tempt you to pop over to the Internet to search for the details.
While we’d all like to believe that if it shows up in a search result on any of the legitimate search sites, it’s just not the case especially when a big event has occurred.
Creating malicious websites that appear to have salacious information during a news event is a common tactic used by hackers to snare victims.
They may even attempt to use ads to lure unsuspecting users to their traps.
The search companies do their best to police this type of scam, but since news events can drive a lot of traffic, the bad guys don’t care if it’s only up for an hour if they can trap users.
Instead of using a search engine to track down a news event, make sure you only refer to the news sources that you always use to find the info.
Using a news app on your phone from your favorite resources or bookmarks to their breaking news section is a much safer way to go.
The bad guys watch how we use the Internet and will continue to target us based on our behaviors, so changing the way we seek news is a good way to steer clear of this method of attack.
If you’re in the process of learning a new language, it’s likely that you suffer from the common problem of worrying about whether you’re saying the words properly.
It’s great if you have a friend that already speaks the language that you can call whenever you want help with a specific word or phrase because hearing someone else say it makes you more confident when you say it.
Did you know that the Internet can be your fluent friend that speaks over 300 different languages?
The community supported website at https://forvo.com has a plethora of recordings for just about any word you want help pronouncing.
To make things better, you can download mp3 files for all the words that you’ll want to practice while you’re on the flight to a foreign country.
You can also start with a word in English that you ask Google to translate first, so you can go to Forgo to search for the proper word in the language that you’re trying to learn.
It’s all awaiting you at: https://forvo.com
Just about everyone of any age is consuming a lot more video online and no one has more video content than Google with YouTube.
Billions of hours of content are watched every month and the numbers continue to grow.
Whether you’re a small business trying to promote your business or just want to privately share videos with your family and friends, YouTube is the place to do it.
Did you know that YouTube is the second most used search engine on the Internet?
You don’t have to be a video or technology wizard in order to use all the free tools that are available.
The biggest stars on the Internet all started at the same place as anyone that’s new the format has to start, so jumping in is the best way to learn.
You don’t have to have expensive video cameras, special lighting or learn how to use a complicated video editor - if you’ve got a smartphone and a little time, you to can get started on your very own channel at: https://creatoracademy.youtube.com