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!
Whenever you purchase a new computer, software program or just about anything electronic, you will find the manual is missing from the box; so where did it go?
We’ve become so smart that manuals are unnecessary now, right? Nope!
Electronic manuals are often buried somewhere on the company’s website in the form of a PDF, making it hard to determine if you have the correct one, for your model.
Anyone that has a Windows computer can get help just by pushing a button. Simply tap the F1 and viola!
This F1 key is a universal way to get help in Windows. Most programs will pop up a help screen when you press the F1 key.
Mac users can’t do the same thing, but it’s still possible. Just press & hold ‘Command-Shift’ and then on the question mark key to pop up the help search bar.
Using the built-in Help does more than just save trees, they stay updated as new options are released. The info you pull up in the help screens is matched to what version you are using.
No need to scour the Internet for a missing manual because it’s always been just a keystroke away: it’s F1 and you’re done.
’Tis the party gathering season and if music is as important to you as it is to me for my get togethers, checkout today’s tip for creating crowdsourced DJ.
An app called ‘Festify is a free add on service for Spotify accounts that doesn’t force everyone at your party to install an app in order to participate.
You’ll need a Spotify ‘Premium’ account, so if you don’t have one but want to check this app out, simple start a 3 month premium account trial for 99 cents.
You just go to Festify.com to setup the console on your laptop, then connect the laptop to a sound system. Once your guests arrive, just give them a web link along with your party code to connect to the playlist.
Anyone at the party can add any song that’s in the Spotify library and also vote for songs as they are added to the playlist from any smartphone.
You can also send the info out well in advance of the party so everyone can start adding their favorite songs before they even get to the party.
It’s far and away our favorite party DJ tool!
Check it out at https://getfestify.com
It’s highly likely that someone in your household received some form of electronics this holiday season, which then means that you will end up with old tech devices you no longer have a use for.
It’s critically important to keep in mind that anything that plugs in or uses any type of battery typically contains lots of toxic waste, so please don’t throw your old devices in the trash.
Instead, check with your local schools and charities to see if any have a way to reuse your old electronics. Just because it’s not good enough for you anymore does not mean that it’s useless for everyone.
If it is too old for someone else to use, make sure to recycle it properly through a responsible recycler.
All that tech has toxins that range from lead, arsenic, mercury to a list of other toxic agents that will contaminate our landfills and groundwater if thrown in the trash.
We’re doing a poor job of properly disposing of the majority of the 3million+ tons of electronic waste since we are still throwing it in trash cans, because of the lack of awareness of the problem.
Please be sure you dispose of electronics properly and make sure your friends and family do the same!
One consistent problem has existed with computer users that hasn’t changed over the past 30 years; everyone knows they should be backing up their critical files, but they just haven’t gotten around to it.
If you’re in the camp that’s been meaning to get some form of backup setup, there’s a really important reason you should.
The very real threat of becoming a victim of ransomware exists for everyone. This attack allows hackers to sneak into your computer and hold your files hostage, including the files on your backup drive if it’s connected to your computer.
The most dangerous versions can spread by themselves in several ways we’ve never seen before.
Any victim of ransomware that doesn’t have some form of off-site backup has to choose between losing all their files or paying hundred or even thousands of dollars to regain access to their files.
Online backup tools like Carbonite are among the best ways to protect yourself from having to pay any file ransom, because your backup isn’t accessible through your computer at the point of attack.
If you still don’t have a solid off-site backup setup, here are the links to checkout Carbonite:
Acquiring a new computer is always fun, but it also means you have a bit of work to do to get all the programs and utilities necessary to get your new computer to work like your old one.
Getting your preferred browser, productivity tools and media tools along with the long list of utilities that are needed is just the beginning.
Most new computer owners fail to realize the many processes it’ll take to get that new PC operating properly until they’ve been subjected to the tedious task.
If you end up getting a new computer this holiday season, we have a more efficient way for both Mac & Windows users to get up to speed.
We’ve covered a web tool known as NiNite for new Windows computers because it allows you to create a single installation file that includes everything you want.
For those with a new Mac computer, checkout GetMacApps.com to execute the same time saving option.
Anyone tasked with setting up new computers for a business will find these tools a really easy way to make sure that all the computers are setup the same way!
Today’s tip is one for parents to use as the ultimate computational homework helper.
We’ve discussed Wolfram Alpha in the past, but we didn’t explain how to unleash the full potential that the tool offers.
It’s not a search engine, it’s more of a computational knowledge tool and it’s a great way for parents to have a handle of complex math homework.
Wolfram Alpha provides a fundamentally different way to get knowledge & answers. It doesn’t search the web; it performs dynamic computations based on a huge collection of data & algorithms.
Any student that’s struggling with complex math homework you can use Wolfram Alpha to both double check their work and get a better understanding of how they should have arrived at their answer.
You can also use the tool to compare things, such as people or places. For example, you can compare Albert Einstein to Thomas Edison or Honeydew to Watermelon.
So the next time you need computational data to research something, let Wolfram Alpha be your tool of choice:
If your car starts making strange sounds, you usually pay attention to that, right?
Well, this attention should also be paid when it comes to your computer because out of the ordinary sounds are often the sign of a potential meltdown.
Any unusual buzzing, grinding or whirring can be an early sign that a moving part within your computer is about to go bad.
For example, cooling fans are one of the most common failures we see and when the noise from a fan stops on its own, it often means that the fan stopped working altogether.
Since heat is one of the worst enemies of your computer, letting your cooling fan stop working is about the same as driving a car with no water in the radiator.
Whenever there’s a clicking sound and you can’t start the computer up, make sure you shut it off quickly and get professional help. Any clicking sound likely means you have a failing hard drive and the clicking can be causing more damage.
Trying to restart a computer repeatedly will cause irreparable damage and can lead to extreme data loss, so be especially careful when you hear a clicking sound.
If you’re new to LinkedIn or even an old veteran of the business networking tool, you may want to listen up!
Most of you have have a LinkedIn account but many of you still haven’t realized all the hidden gems that this business focused network provides.
One of the most overlooked but easy to use options is the ability to create a ‘Company Page’.
Company pages will allow anyone to setup a powerful online resource that will showcase your company along with your products and services which then allows anyone to follow your company itself.
It’s also a great way to show off your job opportunities or for job seekers to follow and learn more about your company before they apply for a position.
The page can be a way to get recommendations from your customers and gain new prospects as well.
Think of it as a Facebook Business page that’s free and easy and focused on business people.
If you’re noticing that odd items are just popping up on your computer out of the blue, it’s highly likely that it’s coming from those new programs that you are installing.
A sneaky practice these days is to hide 3rd-party programs into common installation programs or utilities when you’re installing or updating them.
The key to catching those sneaky programs that change how your computer works is to start paying very close attention to the screens during the install.
Software engineers count on you not paying attention and they encourage you to just tap next, next, next then on ‘I agree’!
A key method for sneaking this junk software into a computer is to convince the user that the ‘standard installation’ is also the ‘recommended installation’.
You don’t have to be a rocket-scientists to make use of the custom installation option; that is where you will get to view what they’re trying to get past you.
From now on, you should always choose either the advanced or custom option when installing any new program on to your computer so you can kill it before it messes things up.
This reminder is the best way to keep your browser clear of extra toolbars or having your default search engine changed too.
Voice recognition options such as Siri and Alexa have us all spending more time talking to our gadgets.
We can ask our tech lots of things to get the info we want and now you can ask your phone how you feel!
The ‘Moodies’ app says it can listen to you talk for about 15 seconds and provide you with a general impression of how you are feeling.
The app’s website states: “Based on our 18 years of research into human emotions, Moodies will analyse and present the current emotional state of the speaker in real time, while they speak”.
The app will present you with your primary, secondary mood as well as your overall mood group.
I have used it for a couple of times and it is kind of interesting to see what the app says, but I’m nowhere near ready to count on it to determine the mood of my family members or co-workers.
iOS App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/moodies-emotions-analytics/id793945393?mt=8
Android App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bvc.moodies&hl=en_US
Any parent of a student that’s in some form of higher level math has probably already run into the situation where you are asked for help on a math problem that’s overwhelming.
Any parent that wants a little assistance in explaining how to solve complex math problems should checkout an app called ‘PhotoMath’.
This amazing app allows parents to use the camera on their smartphones to scan a math problem, attempt to solve the problem and show the steps it takes to solve them.
If you think that kids will simply use this app to cheat on their homework, think about what was said about the calculator when it first came out.
There’s no question that this app can be used to cheat, but it’s truly a learning app that will teach kids how things are solved.
Keep in mind that kids can use other tools like Wolfram Alpha to solve math equations, but they’ll miss out on the explanation required to solve them.
Don’t let your fear keep you from using of this great parental teaching tool: https://photomath.net
Who among us doesn’t live on email? We all spend way too much time getting interrupted by messages that aren’t important because we’re on so many mailing lists.
Most of us don’t even know how we ended on most of the lists, but because of the all-to-common auto opt-in lists, it’s not going to go away any time soon.
If you are overwhelmed with insignificant subscription messages every day, an awesome tool called ‘Unroll’ is worth a look.
Once the system scans your inbox, it alphabetically lists your subscriptions so you can select that ones you want to keep, the ones you want to unsubscribe from or add messages to what they call a ‘roll up’.
It’s a daily digest of your subscriptions that you actually want to see condensed into a single message, so you no longer see them all day long.
You can mark important messages as ’Keep in Inbox’ so that you see them as they come in.
Unroll.Me works with with most major web-based email tools: https://unroll.me
Anyone that knows the life of the hard working working local musician, you also know how important tips from their audience can be as a sign of how well they are connecting.
Throwing a few bucks into a guitar case or tip jar is generally the option, but how many times are you in a position that doesn’t allow you to show your appreciation because you don’t have any cash on you?
Our society is practically a cashless one these days, so a lot of people in the service and hospitality world are making less because of it.
An app called ‘Bravo’ is trying to help by making it super easy to tip out those in the service or entertainment industry that you are near.
It makes it easy to tip tour guides, live musicians, valets or anyone that served you, electronically.
I always tell musicians to consider making a sign for the Bravo app next to their tip jar, which could encourage their audience to download the app and send them tips throughout their performance.
Whether you’re the tipper or the tippee, Bravo makes it a lot easier:
Anyone that spends as much time in the great outdoors as I do is likely to find themselves without any sort of cell signal.
In most cases, that’s probably on purpose, but there are often times when having a communication safety net is desirable in case you get lost or need help.
A handy device called ‘goTenna’ provides a communication option to connect with others whenever a cell signal isn’t available.
The device will allow you to send and receive text messages or share the GPS location where you are with someone that has the companion device. It can work from 1 to 50 miles, depending on your terrain.
An area like a ski resort is likely to provide better range than any city setting that has lots of tall buildings.
I just returned from a popular music festival that would have been a great place to have goTenna to contact my friends as the cell network was so jammed with traffic and virtually useless.
Learn more at: https://gotenna.com
Any of you that spend a lot of time on the road are used to less than desirable Internet speeds from the available wifi options.
It doesn’t matter whether you are on a flight, in a hotel lobby or meeting at a coffee shop, everyone on the connection is sharing a slow data pipe.
Airplane wifi can be especially challenging when you try to access all of the multimedia content that’s so common on most to today’s websites.
There is an option to optimize whichever browser you’re using for really slow connections, but then requires you to remember to put all the settings back to normal when you are back on a high-speed pipe.
To bypass that hassle, I suggest road warriors think about using the less known Opera browser when you are on the go.
The Opera browser provides a special mode they call ‘Turbo’ that optimizes all your content on the Opera servers before sending it to your device to reduce download times.
In addition, by automatically blocking Flash content until you click on the container further reduces the load of unnecessary multimedia content.
When you’re on an extremely slow connection, you can even set Opera to not load images at all, which increases the speed of written content.
More suggestions are posted at:
Anyone that runs a small business that occasionally needs to invoice their customers has probably found that many of the popular platforms are overly complex or just too expensive.
Generating simple invoices, estimates & POs doesn’t need to be rocket science, so the folks at Invoice2go created a system just for micro businesses.
Their tools will work on smartphones, tablets or computers and it will sync your paperwork across all those devices.
It allows you to create customized invoices with your company logo or even create one if you don’t currently have one which makes for a more professional appearance.
They can even help your business track receivables, track expenses, time on a job and your customers can sign estimates or invoices using your mobile devices.
You can use the free trial version to create a couple of invoices so you can test the system out.
Invoices2go will work on either Android or iOS devices: https://invoice.2go.com
The vast majority of email messages circulating the Internet are without a doubt junk messages generally trying to sell you special pills and lower mortgage rates.
It has made processing our email messages a lot more work than it needs to be and now those spammers are taking aim at your smartphone.
Text message spam is growing and no matter what rules are in place, the bad guys won’t bother following them.
But. did you know that you can help by fighting back every time you get spammed with one of those annoying messages?
Each time you get a junk message, you should report it to your wireless carrier by simply forwarding the message to ‘7726’ which is ‘SPAM’ spelled out.
Be sure to forward the exact message in its entirety and don’t add any comments of your own.
If we all start doing this each and every time we get a junk message, we can all put a small dent into the problem so they don’t ruin text messaging as well.
We’ve all found ourselves borrowing a friend’s computer to check on something on one of online accounts.
You need to log into Facebook to check on something and forget when you pop out to catch some dinner.
This scenario actually happened to a friend of ours and what happened later was not good.
The friends got into a heated discussion while at dinner and they both left the restaurant upset with each other.
When one of the friends returned home, he found that his former friend was still logged into his Facebook account, which allowed him full control over the account and proceeded to wreak havoc.
Did you know, there’s a way to rectify this situation if you ever find yourself in it? Facebook has an option that will allow you to remotely logout of any computer or device using the account.
You do this by going into your account settings on a smartphone or computer and clicking on the ‘security’ section.
Towards the bottom of the page, look for the words ‘Active Sessions’ then click EDIT on your computer, or REMOVE on your smartphone.
Computer will see a list of all the open Facebook sessions on any device which you can quickly choose to end, putting you back in the driver’s seat.
So many people from other countries speak many languages, but we typically don’t because new languages are hard to learn using traditional methods of learning.
You can do minor translations on the fly with various apps and websites but you won’t learn anything.
There is an online resource that can make learning that new language a more social experience, because you get to learn with others and challenge them while you are learning.
Duolingo.com takes learning a new language to a different level. they allow you to connect through Facebook or Twitter which will allow you to track your friends that are learning a new language with you.
They use many pictures, words, sentences and more interactive methods for learning, so you can quickly learn basic lessons then move on to advanced levels.
By simply dedicating a few minutes a day to learn the lessons, you will be speaking, understanding and possibly even writing in that new language.
Give it a spin for yourself at:
How many times have you recieved an email that includes a file attachment but you don’t have the proper program that will allow you to open the file.
This can result in one of two scenarios: replying to the person requesting an alternative type of file or finding a program that will convert the file so you can open it.
Not only can this make things inconvenient, there can also be a cost involved. Who needs to buy a program for a single use?
If you find yourself with the need to convert any file in the future, just visit Zamzar.com.
It’s a free website that will convert just about any file type to another file type.
Zamzar will convert ebooks to pdfs, mp3s to wave files, Quicktime to MP4; the possibilities are almost endless.
To convert files, you simply drag and drop them on the conversion tool, then select the format you want the conversion to be and type your email address, before clicking on the ‘convert’ button.
Zamzar will send you a link to download the file once they have converted it.
Targeted hacking known as ‘spear phishing’ is on the increase but lots of victims don’t realize when it’s happening to them.
Nowadays, when you get a random message from some bank that you don’t do business with, claiming than your account has a security issue, It’s easy to quickly figure out that it’s a scam.
But what about when you get email messages from your company's human resources department that includes an important policy update notification or ruling on your vacation time. You’ll generally click on it because you assume it’s from your company.
Today’s hackers are using spear phishing techniques using your own company name because they know most victims don’t think about opening a message that comes from someone in the same company.
So, how can you tell when a message is a spear phishing attempt? It’s impossible to provide absolute indicators, but we should all know enough to avoid clicking on any links or attachments included with the message.
Watch out for spelling errors and bad grammar, which are often the tip off of a scam message.
You can also check the validity of any links by looking for mismatched destinations by simply hovering the mouse pointer over the link and watching the status bar at the bottom left corner of the message to see if it matches. If it doesn’t, you’ll know it’s a scam message for sure.