Data Doctors Tech Tips
Tech Tips for Non-Tech People
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Your home's wireless router is the primary defense against common hacker threats, because it keeps the bad guys from gaining access to your computer.
If the default password on your router hasn’t been changed, you are at risk for major security issue that can allow hackers to compromise everything in your home.
Not your ‘Wi-Fi’ connection password; I’m referring to your admin account which allows anyone to take over your router.
Every default passwords for every device made is posted on the web through sites like http://RouterPasswords.com which can the bad guys to attack you.
Various security experts have discovered a type of attack that uses malicious e-mail messages that can allow thieves to sneak into the router when the default login credentials are still being used.
Once they silently get in, there’s not much they can't do because they can change the configuration which allows them to monitor all activity and grab passwords for your online accounts without you ever knowing it.
This is a threat that no security software can ever protect you from when you click a malicious link.
The simple, but effective way to protect yourself against this particular threat is just change the default password.
if you don’t know how to do it, get help!
For those that find the stock market or the world of investing in general a bit intimidating and mysterious, today’s tip may be just the thing to start gaining knowledge.
As with anything, knowledge is power but when it comes to investing, you don’t need to earn a degree from a major university to learn how the markets work.
WallStreetSurvivor.com is an online resource that actually started out as a virtual stock market simulator has evolved into an excellent tool for demystifying Wall Street.
‘Gamification’ as it turns out, is an excellent way to learn about the world of investing and trading stocks.
Rather than simple guidance on how to do things, you actually get to get involved in market trades without ever risking your own money.
It’s essentially a virtual stock exchange combined with tutorials, educational articles, courses & videos.
You can start learning the basics, then setup a practice portfolio and actually become part of a league to compete with others.
If you haven’t a clue what a ‘put’ or a ‘call’ is or the stocks vs. mutual funds, https://WallStreetSurvivor.com can really help to get a solid understanding.
It’s also a great tool for getting your kids learning about investing at an early age.
A parent recently excitedly told me how proud they were of their daughter who was a college freshman because she had started an investment account.
They were especially proud because they were the ones to convince her to using the Acorns savings app which apparently worked for their daughter.
The Acorns app auto-invests your spare change using the classic 'rounding up method' as you make purchases.
It takes this loose change and invests it through their parent company, Acorn Advisors, which is SEC registered as an investment advisor.
It truly is an interesting way to get any student started on an investment portfolio, because there are no fees for students that have an .edu email address.
Once it’s setup, you simply choose between five investment strategies that range from conservative to aggressive.
Any parent of a twenty-something that wants to get them started investing should look into the Acorns app at https://www.acorns.com
Virtually every mobile device you own likely has the capability to take pictures and most of them even include a flash of some sort.
Thinking that your flash is just for low lighting situations is probably keeping you from getting some really awesome shots.
For instance, outdoor settings that include people will end up with harsh contrasts combined with major shadows, which can make for a bad picture.
These scenarios can generally be fixed by using your flash when you normally wouldn't, which can turn unusable pictures into great shot.
Using the flash on your smartphone requires you to be close enough to your subjects to make the weak flash effective in those bright sunlite days.
On very bright days, it's better to put your subjects in the shade to eliminate the squinting from the bright light, then use your flash to fill in the lighting on their faces.
Knowing when not to use your flash indoors and when you should use it outdoors can really help the quality of your pictures.
The best way when to do what with your smartphone camera is to experiment in advance of being in those situations when you want everything to be captured perfectly!
Web-based streaming media devices from Apple, Amazon and Google have become much more common in many homes these days.
There are numerous options including Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku Amazon Fire TV and even the popular Xbox, that all allow you to stream TV and movies to your TV.
If you have both an Apple TV and use an iPhone, it's simple to push just about anything on your phone to your TV.
The same is possible if you use Google's Chromecast and an Android smartphone but those that live in a cross platform world, an app called Allcast is the answer.
Allcast allows you to connect either an iPhone or an Android phone to a large variety of streaming devices or even smart TVs. It’s now possible to push content from just about any type of smartphone to virtually every popular streaming device on the market.
The free version of the app allows you to test it out to see how it works, but limits you to 5 minutes of actual viewing. You get to test it and if you like it, upgrade to the fully functional version for about $5.
Just look for Allcast in the either the Apple App Store or in the Google Play store to give it go.
Yet another pop-up security scam is fooling a lot of people because of the official-looking warning screens.
You’ll most likely get a pop up box that attempts to lock down the browser, then warns you that you've been infected and that the best course is to call a toll free number they include so a security tech can assist you.
Mac users are also potential victims of this scam as it’s not limited to Windows. Mac versions of this scam are also being planted around the Internet as well.
The scammer create malicious links and post them through hijacked social accounts, hacked email accounts and as simple spam in comment sections across many popular websites.
Here’s something you should know; none of the commercial Internet security software companies will post their toll-free numbers, because they actually don't want you to call them as your first step.
Legit security software will block known attacks or malicious web links and limit your actual infection detection to a schedule or when you manually scan.
Remember, no company will ever pop-up their 800 number, so from this point forward, you’ll know it’s always a red flag.
Getting a new computer is always awesome, but the first thing that you have to do is get your programs and utilities installed which always takes quite a bit of time.
Installing the necessary browsers, web tools, file managers, office tools, streaming media players along with an endless list of other required utilities is just the beginning of the fun.
Most people don't realize just how many steps it will take to get a new computer functioning until they go through this tedious process.
The next time you get a new computer, there’s a much more efficient solution for both Mac & Windows systems.
I’ve discussed a website in the past called NiNite (that’s N I N I T E) for Windows users which allows for a quick creation of a single automatic install with everything you need.
Anyone setting up a new Mac should checkout a website called GetMacApps.com to accomplish the same thing.
Those responsible for IT at a business will find both of these sites to be a major time saver for getting all your computers setup the same way.
http://getmacapps.com and http://ninite.com
Email is a critical part of our daily lives but most of us spend too much time on meaningless marketing mail because of all the mailing lists we’ve managed to get on.
It’s most likely that you have no idea how you got on many of those lists, but you can count on it to continue happening.
If you've had just about enough of dealing with useless junk mail and unwanted newsletters, an awesome tool called ‘Unroll.Me’ will be a welcome addition.
You simply have the tool scan your Inbox to start the process so it can alphabetically list all your subscriptions so you can keep, unsubscribe or add messages to what they call a 'roll-up'.
This roll-up becomes a single digest message with all the subscriptions that you want to see at a later time, which will cut down the constant interruptions.
Whenever you want a message, just click the ‘keep in inbox’ button and you will see those messages as they are sent.
This useful free tool works with Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, iCloud, and Outlook.com webmail accounts.
Cleanup your Inbox at https://unroll.me
Anyone that’s into digital photography likely knows about 'Adobe Lightroom’ for the desktop as it’s one of the best for image editing programs available.
But not as many people know that this awesome suite of tools is available for your smartphone via a free app that can take mobile image editing to the next level.
The more sophisticated controls will out-perform those basic filters built-in to your smartphone’s camera as well as other third-party app you may have downloaded.
With over 40 presets that let you enhance your images with a tap of your screen, the app makes it easy to harness these powerful tools even if you are a novice.
Learning how to use the numerous manual adjustments will allow you to achieve edits that just couldn’t be done with your old editing apps.
The free Lightroom app is available for iPhone, iPad & Android devices and will allow for a whole new world of editing for anyone looking to step up their smartphone photography game.
The technology in smartphone cameras continue to get better every year.
Apple has always excelled in this area, but low lighting settings are generally the most difficult for any smartphone, which is why learning how to use the manual settings can dramatically improve the outcome.
If you're one of the millions that just leaves their camera in the auto capture mode, it usually results in grainy images when you don't use the flash and completely blown out if you do use the flash.
A young professional photographer put together a useful website that explains how he uses his iPhone with an app called 'VSCO Cam' to shoot great pictures in common low-lighting situations.
Each posted picture includes info on the preset he used and a description of what the focus of the shot was for him.
Anyone looking to improve their smartphone photography should checkout the link that I posted to this great website at DataDoctors.com/radio.
In the past, I've discussed the first truly wire-free security webcams called Arlo from.
The platform is a battery operated Wi-fi camera which eliminates the need to plug into a power outlet, so they can be setup virtually anywhere.
As expected, other companies jumped into this product category including the more affordable devices from a company called Blink.
Blink offers the exact same type of fully wireless motion-detecting, night vision, HiDef cameras but at a much lower price than Arlo, so monitoring your home or rental property just got a lot less expensive.
Not only are the starter kits cheaper, so are the add-on cameras, so you can now monitor a lot more area for the same money.
In both cases, your smartphone is your monitoring system, which eliminates the need to pay for external monitoring.
Anyone looking for an inexpensive way to monitor their home or business should look into http://blinkforhome.com
Using your smartphone for detailed maps is great when you are traveling with access to a cellular connection, but when you're off the beaten path, they are pretty much useless.
For those times, an app called Anchor Pointer for iPhone can be a real help.
Because the GPS in your smartphone works without a cellular connection, the app can turn your iPhone into a pretty decent compass.
The app allows you to create ‘anchors’, which are essentially waypoints for navigating using the GPS.
For example, if you are taking a hike, create an anchor point wherever you park your car or if you are exploring a remote area, you can create anchors where you are staying overnight.
Making use of GPS coordinates allows the app to provide both direction & distance to all of your anchors without the need to reference a map.
If you are traveling in a group, the ‘meet a friend’ option allows you to coordinate gatherings or meetups.
The Anchor Pointer app will run you $1.99 and is available in the AppStore
Supporting charitable organizations with a small donation should not happen only when we hear about horrible tragedies around the globe.
That’s the idea behind an app called 'One Today’ that was created by Google.
One Today profiles a different non-profit every day, explains their work and makes it easy to donate between one and ten dollars if you’d like to help.
You can also set up match donations to encourage your friends and family join in or use their Pay-it-Forward feature to build up the donation amount from a group.
Should you decide to donate to various causes, you can wait to pay it in a lump sum and when it reaches 250 dollars, Google will email you a tax deduction receipt.
Helping others always makes you feel better and the One Today app makes it so easy to make a small difference.
Imagine if a couple million people donated a dollar a day; nice work Google!
Learn all about it at https://onetoday.google.com
If you're like me and are fed up with all of the inconveniences of participating in a conference call, especially from your smartphone or tablet, raise your hand!
Because of this ongoing frustration, I’ve been touting that everyone make a change if you're responsible for hosting any conference call.
I highly recommend a service called "UberConference" for any kind of conference call because it is simply much better than old-school services.
To be clear, they aren't related to the Uber car-sharing service.
You no longer have to type in long PIN numbers on your phone, or put up with constant beeping as people join or exit the call and you no longer have to wonder who all is on the call and best of all, who’s currently speaking because it is all on display right on your screen.
The host controls make it simple to mute a participant, like when on-hold music starts blaring because someone put the conference on hold.
It allows you to record sessions, screen share and plenty of other useful features that will improve conference calls for everyone, whether they're on a computer or mobile device.
The basic free service allows for 10 users, but anyone needing more can opt for the $10 a month plan for up to 100 participants.
Take it for spin yourself at http://www.uberconference.com
Tech gadgets are amongst the most sought after every holiday season, but the good stuff can be really expensive.
Anyone seeking that unusual but amazing tech gift that won't cost an arm and a leg, should checkout Cardboard from Google!
I have talked about this simple virtual reality tool before and anyone that still hasn’t experienced it will be blown away whether they are technies or not.
Google Cardboard is a small cardboard holder that turns just about any size smartphone into an incredible virtual reality headset.
There's large number 'Cardboard' apps available to amaze anyone ranging from Paul McCartney concert videos to virtual field trips using the 'Expeditions' app.
You can also truly experience the latest 360 YouTube videos in a way that will totally immerses you, making you feel like you are right in video you are watching.
For as little as $15 to $30 It would be hard to find a better all around gift or if you are more of the creative type you can even make them yourself at https://google.com/cardboard
Whenever a technology problem pops up and you want to find the tech support number, Google is always a good place to start, right?
A growing number of users are being scammed when they call what they believe to be the legitimate phone number for tech support because they found in through a Google search.
For example, searching for ‘Norton Tech Support’ displays mostly companies as the official tech support but in fact have nothing to do with the software company.
Many are also posting toll free numbers in the ads, knowing full well that a percentage of people will just call the first number that appears from a search.
One AZ woman was victimized for $7,000 over the stretch of a year because she thought she was working directly with the tech support for Norton.
The simple way to make sure you are getting the legitimate tech support resources for any organization is to manually type their web address and add the word 'support' to the end.
For example, for Norton you would type http://norton.com/support
I have posted more tips for avoiding these growing scams at DataDoctors.com/radio
Getting a handle on your financial situation while planning for your retirement is something that we should all be thinking about, but getting around to it is often overwhelming when you try to track everything manually.
One of my recent discoveries called https://www.personalcapital.com is something that can greatly simplify tracking all your various financial accounts.
I was rather quickly able to create a dashboard that was able to show me everything in my portfolio in one place.
Personal Capital gives you easy to use tools to see everything ranging from your net worth to a complete analysis of your portfolio and also provides some ‘what if’ retirement planning to help you understand what it's going to take for retirement.
This tool isn’t intended for active stock traders, it’s really for anyone that wants one place to see a dashboard of their financial information.
They also have smartphone apps that will allow you to quickly check your financial life daily, no matter where you are!
Start truly managing your personal financial situation at https://www.personalcapital.com
This time of year, we see people on the Internet claiming that Christmas lights are causing problems on their wifi network.
While this is certainly technically possible, the real chances of this type of interference causing a wifi problem is actually quite low.
Be sure not to plug those strings of light in the same outlet as your wifi router just to play it safe and should you think there is interference, it’s really easy to test it out.
Just check your connection speed with & without the lights plugged in at a speed test site like http://speedtest.net.
Your Wi-Fi signal is much more likely to be interfered with by your microwave oven, old cordless phones, a baby monitor or most likely from your neighbor’s wifi router competing with yours.
If your Wi-Fi router doesn’t automatically find the least congested radio channel, for 2.4 Ghz signals, the best channels to use are 1, 6 & 11 because they tend to have the least amount of signal overlap from other channels.
Android smartphone users can also us a free app called WiFi Analyzer (http://wifianalyzer.mobi) that can also help.
Anyone that knows me knows that I am a huge music nerd that's constantly searching for great music, old and new.
I often revisit older bands by searching through their greatest hits which helps with discovery and rediscovery.
While searching around last week, I learned of a website that I had never heard of: TheTopTens.com.
Unlike other top 10 lists that are generally created by a single person, this resource leverages crowdsourcing to compile what "the Internet crowd" thinks should be in the top ten.
It isn't just for music; say you want to get a new nail polish or how about gatherin holiday gift ideas?
Anyone that wants to help out can vote on any of the lists and you do not have the hassle of signing up for an account; just click to Vote!
Even better, you can start a top ten list of your own to get feedback, so there really is no limit to the lists you’ll find.
Whether you are searching for new artists, new songs or just doing a little research for something a little more serious, checkout http://TheTopTens.com.
Yesterday I gave you a tip on using GetHuman.com to find the contact information whenever you need help from large brands.
Today I want to tell you about a website that works with GetHuman and lets you avoid being stuck on hold when you try to reach out to customer service departments.
A service called 'Lucyphone' will wait in your spot when you are calling recognized help phone numbers and you get put on hold.
When you use Lucyphone to call support numbers, it allows you to press the * button twice when you get put on hold. This lets the Lucyphone system to hold for you and call you when an agent finally picks up.
Simply type the customer service number along with your phone number and click the connect button to get started.
The system generates a call to your phone with options to either connect directly or get their instructions for things like how to record your message for the person answering when they pickup.
You can even have Lucyphone connect to completely different phone number when the support person does finally pick up.
Get more on this awesome free service at http://Lucyphone.com
We all need to get in touch with the various customer service department at large companies from time to time, whether to clear up billing issues or just to get help on something we purchased.
In some cases, the phone numbers are easy to get, but more often these days, many companies are doing their best to hide their toll free phone numbers.
Turning to Google for phone numbers can present you with a myriad of common scams, so there’s a better way called http://GetHuman.com
GetHuman has put together a list of the many ways to contact major organizations which can include numbers, email addresses, social media accounts and even live chat options when they exist.
We're not talking about a single number, but every number for every department they can find that provides some way to contact customer service.
Sometimes they can even provide the average wait times to get to a real live human being.
Bookmark GetHuman.com for the next time you need a customer service shortcut.
Tomorrow, I’ve got a tip for avoiding waiting on hold!