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!
Most of us are spending a lot more time on our computers working from home and if you’re like me, you do better with music playing in the background.
While that may be good in some situations, music can also be a distraction depending on what is playing and what you are trying to do.
Another option for sound that could be much more soothing than music is the ambient sounds of nature. The sound of rain is pretty calming for me and available whenever I want it at https://rainymood.com
This simple to use tool loops a combination of sounds that include rain, thunder and dripping of water that only ends when you turn it off.
For those that want more options for soothing sounds of nature like chirping birds or crashing waves, check out a website called https://www.calmsound.com
Finding ways to make your screen time more productive and enjoyable make a lot of sense in this crazy time we are in and both of these websites are worth exploring!
If you feel like the Internet has reduced the general vocabulary of the masses, you’re probably not imaging things.
It seems that any word can be made up, abbreviated or misused despite the availability of auto-correct technology.
If you’d like to make sure you can step up your vocabulary game, then today’s tip is for you!
It’s a really fun site called, you guessed it -https://www.vocabulary.com and it’s both entertaining and educational.
No matter where your vocabulary skills are today, they’ll be even better as soon as tomorrow when you spend time on this awesome site.
The teaching tool works with you on the words that you don’t get right during their skills challenges, so it’s like playing a game that teaches you new words.
Even if you are a very strong word-nerd, there are lots of other features of the site anyone can enjoy.
A word of warning: this site can suck up a bunch of time because it’s so engaging, so make sure you are ready to be sucked down the vocabulary rabbit hole!
The task of making sure your children are continuing to learn is never-ending and made a little easier by an awesome free online teaching resource known as the Khan Academy.
This incredible web tool was originally launched in 2008 and continues to grow in both available content and effectiveness.
The lessons cover subjects for students K-14 that are personalized for each student.
Your child can learn at their own pace using the video interface that they love so much.
Their huge library covers math, science, engineering, computing, arts and the humanities, economics/finance and various forms of test prep.
Now more than ever, an online tool to help your child continue to learn both what is required and more importantly what they are interested in, can be a perfect choice.
Check it out for yourself at: https://www.khanacademy.org
We’re all making a lot more purchases online these days, which can make keeping track of everything more difficult.
For those with amazing organizational skills, it may not be that big of a deal, but for everyone else, there’s an app called Slice that can help.
It’s a free app designed to manage all of your purchases, track packages and even alert you when the price has dropped on something you just purchased.
The best part of the app is that it does most of its work for you automatically by monitoring your purchases via your Inbox since that’s where everything goes already.
Instead of manually searching your email for various receipts or tracking numbers, Slice gathers everything for you in one place.
It’s a really handy tool for those that have to generate expense reports on a regular basis as well.
Think about how much easier that expense report will be next month!
Slice works with just about all of the major web-based email platforms, so it’s simple to get started: https://www.slice.com
With the overwhelming number of places that you are likely visiting to gather information on the Internet, it’s helpful to have a good tool to manage it all in one place.
There are many tools that are attempting to do this, but one of our favorites is called Flipboard.
The platform allows you to combine the feeds that you like to read from your social media accounts along with sections that are focused on your areas of interest from around the Internet.
It started out as an app specifically designed for iPads, but it’s grown to all your mobile devices and your computer screens.
It arranges all your feeds to look more like a magazine or customized news site making it much easier to view everything in one place.
I always suggest that you download the mobile app first, to connect all your accounts and get things set up the way you want it, then when you go the website
https://flipboard.com and login, everything will pretty much look the same for both!
If you haven’t tried a content aggregator just yet, we highly recommend giving Flipboard a try.
It seems that there are two different kinds of people in the world when it comes to waking up in the morning: those that pop out of bed and those that struggle to get out of bed.
For those that struggle, finding the right kind of alarm clock can make all the difference in the world.
To that end, there are a number of apps for your smartphone that have incorporated puzzles that need to be solved instead of a snooze button.
The theory behind this approach is to wake up your cognitive skills over the simple motor skill of slapping the snooze button that leads to failure in waking up.
You can set these apps up as a regular alarm that uses various sounds, music or opt for the necessity to solve a puzzle in order to turn it off.
A simple search for puzzle alarms in your associated app store should provide you with a number of options or here are a couple of free apps to try out:
It’s no secret that giving up your privacy when you use most every online service is just how things work these days.
There are ways to reduce how much of your online behavior is being tracked with websites such as https://DuckDuckGo.com
Their approach is to put user privacy first, so unlike the major league search engines, they don’t track anything when you ask it for search results.
None of the commonly tracked data from what you are searching for to what kind of computer and browser you are using to the date and times you searched is collected by DuckDuckGo.
Because of its focus on privacy, it’s using a different process for generating search results which means that will differ from what you would commonly see in a Google search.
With this in mind, the best way to see if they provide adequate results is to do a side-by-side comparison with your current search engine.
One thing that we know for sure is that any ads that seem to follow you around the Internet won’t be from what you searched for in DuckDuckGo.
Today’s tip is for anyone that is collecting virtually anything and wants to make it easier to track and trade their items.
Serious collectors usually have some form of tracking system that’s hand written and laborious to keep updated.
Well, there’s a website for that! It’s called Colnect.com and it’s the ultimate network for collectors all around the world.
They’ve setup the website so you can keep track of your collection electronically and make it easy to interact with others with similar interests, including the buying or trading of items in your collection.
If you take the time to notate the items you are willing to discuss for a trade or a purchase as well as items that you’d like to add to your collection, the network becomes really useful.
It’s now nearly at 250,000 collectors in 245 countries which means you’ll find someone with the same interests as you somewhere in the world.
Get started at: https://colnect.com
Technology has permeated every aspect of our lives and finding ways to learn new things is highly recommended in order to stay current in the workplace.
Trying to use books to learn things that change so quickly is not nearly as effective as it used to be.
Finding online training resources that can be easily updated or changed all together provides better up-to-date training and is much more visual than a traditional textbook.
One of the best resources for learning all kinds of software programs as well as programming languages is at LinkedIn’s Lynda.com.
This well-designed system takes you from beginner through advanced courses at your own pace.
It’s a subscription service, but it offers a free month so you can try it out before committing to using it. The monthly cost starts a $20 when paid annually or $30 if you go month-to-month.
Not only can you jump into the lessons on your computer, but they have a full array of mobile apps that makes it easy to continue your lessons on the go: https://www.lynda.com/apps
Any business or individual looking to ramp up their software knowledge should look into https://www.lynda.com
Our smartphone apps and being connected to the whole world all the time is dramatically changing the way we get things done.
If you’re handy and can do most of the tasks that need to be done around the house, that’s great, but for those that lack the time or the skills, there’s TaskRabbit.
It’s a simple marketplace that connects people that have tasks that need to be completed with those that have the time and skills to get them done.
Posting a task starts with a description along with the where and when it needs to be done.
For those tasks that don’t require someone to physically come to your location, your pool of potential people to perform the task can be global.
Tasks can be posted as either a bidding process or by a rate that you choose.
Their vetting along with user reviews of those offering to complete the task makes it a little more comforting when choosing someone.
This could be helpful for some businesses that need temporary or seasonal works as well, so if you’ve never visited the site, check it out at https://www.taskrabbit.com
We love how amazing digital photography has become, but we’re always on the search for tools that can expand on the technology further.
Despite how incredible the technology in our smartphone cameras is, any number of variables can produce pictures that need a little help, which is why image-enhancing after the shot has been taken really helps.
A powerful combination of both a web tool and an app from a company called FOTOR is still one of our go-to options.
It’s loaded with lots of features that can really make your images pop, especially their HDR processing tool.
High Dynamic Range or HDR is the process of taking elements from multiple images and creating a single image that takes the best from each image.
If you take two shots and one is too dark while the other is overexposed, HDR can often create a new image that’s much better than either image.
There are also some interesting retouching tools that can take away any blemishes on any portrait shots to make everyone look like a runway model.
If you haven’t found the ultimate tool for your photos, give https://www.fotor.com a try!
In the age of technology, it’s a given that all new parents will commit to some form of a baby monitor of some type.
A rather unknown option for monitoring your child, especially if you are going to be on the road is the app for Android devices known as Dormi.
The app is a way to allow two Android devices to become a way to monitor your child no matter how far away you may be.
Traditional baby monitors require you to be nearby, but because the Dormi app can leverage cellar devices, it allows you to be just about anywhere and still keep tabs on your child.
Beyond providing a way to see and hear your child, you can also use the platform to speak to them as well.
You can use the basic service for free or pay a one time fee to use it forever.
Now those old Android devices that are collecting dust in a closet somewhere can become useful again with the Dormi app!
All email systems limit the size of your attachments, which is why you need a good strategy for sharing large files with others.
It’s best not to use a process that requires the recipient to jump through a bunch of hoops or sign up for a service they don’t already have.
Dropbox users that also depend on Gmail should look into a great little add-on that integrates the two services.
Once installed, it makes it really simple to share items you already have in your Dropbox account with anyone, even if they don’t use Dropbox.
This can save you lots of time because you don’t need to upload the file to another online file-sharing website.
This can come in really handy when you have a large number of files to share, which eliminates the need to send separate email messages or use a Zip utility that the user has to unzip.
The utility does a lot of cool things, so if you use both services and haven’t gotten the extension yet, check it out at: https://bit.ly/38aInGD
It’s an uncomfortable subject, but it’s something we all face and that’s death.
Most people have thought about their physical assets should something happen, but not enough have planned for their digital assets.
By design, all of our online accounts are set up to keep those that don’t have the proper credentials out, which is what can happen to our family if we were to pass suddenly with no access info left behind.
It’s a potential added layer of grief when a family member has to spend all their time trying to convince dozens of companies to allow them to get into your accounts.
Storing your passwords in a management program or even in a bank vault is great as long as you remember to keep the lists updated.
One way to make sure your family can regain access more easily is to make sure that they have the password to your email account or accounts.
Since most password reset options send the link to the registered email address, making sure your family has it will make things much easier for them.
Having been asked to help grieving families regain access to their departed relative's account on many occasions, a little planning up front can be a huge relief down the road.
As much as we like to treat our fluffy family members as humans, they’re not, which means that they can’t verbalize how they feel when they’re sick.
Consulting a qualified veterinarian is a no-brainer, but sometimes that isn’t a possibility, so for those situations, a website called PetMD is worth remembering.
As far as I’ve seen online, there’s not much that compares to the depth and breadth of information specifically about pets of all kinds.
From understanding terminology to browsing their health database to their symptom checkup option, it’s about as good as it gets.
Understanding what might be causing your pet’s unusual behavior can be very comforting, which is where their emergency room resources can be invaluable.
Beyond critical health issues, the website has great info on various breeds, basic health, feeding and nutrition.
The next time you find a strange mass on your pet or if you ever wondered why dogs chow down on grass from time to time, https://www.petmd.com is the place to go and it’s not just for dogs and cats!
The ongoing efforts by cyber-thieves to take over your online accounts are getting more sophisticated, so reviewing security information regularly is critical.
Google offers a host of features that allow you to quickly see your account activity, including when, where and with what device it’s been accessed.
Their security dashboard allows you to see this important log-in information for the past 4 weeks, which helps you to know if you have been compromised.
Most of the time, the general location information is included which should make it a little easier to figure out what device that you own is being used.
The real value is when you see something logged in from either a strange device or a strange location and indicate that you don’t recognize the device.
Google will immediately suggest that you change your password and include the link to get it changed.
This same page offers a link to do a security checkup: https://bit.ly/2Z6FTVm which I’d recommend you do at least once a month.
Here’s where it’s all available:
Chances are, you have several devices that you use regularly that can take amazing high-resolution photos, but that can also come with a downside.
All the advances in image capture technology mean that all those images are going to much larger in storage size than older low-resolution camera technology, which can eat up space on your hard drive.
For those that have been copying everything from computer to computer over the years, it’s highly likely that you may have a lot of space taken by duplicate images.
Unless you have been extremely disciplined in how you organize your images, filtering out the duplicates manually just isn’t going to be very efficient, which is where some free utilities can help.
The programs are designed to scan a folder or your entire hard disk to find all of the duplicates for you to review. Depending on how many files you have stored, the initial scan can take a long time, so plan accordingly.
If you are interested in trying these utilities, here’s the link for Mac users (ignore the apps attempts to get you to buy the pro version): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photos-duplicate-cleaner/id592704001
And here’s the link for Windows users: https://manyprog.com/duplicate-image-remover.php
Most of us are using our smartphones and computers at an equal pace these days, so wouldn’t it be helpful to push info between to two easily?
Discovering something online while on your computer that you’d love to have available on your smartphone is made easy with a utility called Push Bullet.
It’s a universal sharing platform that works as a web app for Chrome that integrates with Android mobile devices.
It’s a really simple way to share items that range from notes, pictures and data files to website links and lots of other useful items.
It’s a little quicker to use than some of the other sharing platforms that require a special download or program to be set up.
One of the coolest features is the messaging that can be mirrored between your phone and computer.
It’s really very useful for those that spend a lot of time bouncing from their Android smartphone and their computer - Mac or WIndows.
Web App: https://www.pushbullet.com
Who knew that carrots were originally purple or that sadly, the secret service was created by Honest Abe on the day he was shot!
The Internet is full of generally useless but interesting tidbits of information as long as you’re willing to go search for it.
Social media has also become a daily source of useless but interesting items depending on who you follow or are friends with, but we have another resource you can check out.
For the opportunity to learn some new bit of info every day, sign up for the Now I Know daily newsletter: http://nowiknow.com
When you sign up, you’ll start getting a daily message with some very interesting info that could make you much better in your next trivia game.
There are 10 years worth of posts in the archives, so if you’d rather manually search through the info yourself, it can be hours of fun!
The general interest in wine has exploded over the past few decades, but so many are intimidated by the sheer breadth of choices that are presented at grocery stores, wine shops and restaurants.
Learning so much takes time, but you can accelerate your learning and discovery with an app called Hello Vino.
Since you’ll never really get a grip of every one of the over 10 thousand varietals of wine grapes, why not make things easier by focusing on food pairings.
Discovering those magical food and wine pairings will expand your appreciation for the nectar of the gods quickly.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for the right wine for a backyard BBQ or the best to match multiple dishes at a fancy restaurant, Hello Vino is your wine assistant.
If you get asked to select a wine for a group at a restaurant, it’s so much easier if you start with what your friends are going to order for dinner or appetizers.
The app makes it really easy to find the best types of wines that will work, so you can find the right options even when the wine list is huge.
Try it out for yourself at: http://www.hellovino.com
You probably take the ability to open various websites in their own tabs for granted, but if you were around for the early days, you know how the ‘back’ button was the way we used to switch pages.
Tabbed browsing is very convenient but when you open too many tabs, it can chew up gobs of valuable working memory.
The result can be very sluggish performance or even temporary freezing of your computer, so here’s a suggestion: download the Great Suspender utility!
It’s a free add-on for the Chrome browser which will keep track of what you are and aren’t using at any given moment so it can pause the tabs that you haven’t clicked on for a while.
Disabling the background activities saves memory and it could even extend battery life on your laptop if you typically have a lot of tabs open.
The cool thing with this utility is that as soon as you click on a tab you haven’t used in a while, it automatically restarts the activity.
For those pages that you do want to have actively working in the background, such as a stock ticker, you can simply add them to a list in the utility so it’s always left alone.
Here’s the link to download The Great Suspender: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/the-great-suspender/klbibkeccnjlkjkiokjodocebajanakg