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!
If you have children, you know the challenge of teaching them how to do their laundry in a way that won’t destroy the clothes.
A well-meaning but small excuse for our kids not knowing how to clean their own clothes the that they don’t know how to do it…but you can tell them, there are apps for that!
These apps don’t just show them how to clean their clothes, they also show them how to fold and iron them too.
How about helping them understand the various symbols on clothing that explain proper care?
Use their devotion to the smartphone to your favor when it comes to teaching them the fundamentals of laundry.
Imagine how much money you can save when they go to college and don’t ruin all their freshmen clothing.
By the way, these apps don’t just apply to young people as folks of all ages could use some assistance in this routine task!
If you use your computer at night on a regular basis, staring at the screen can lead to sleep issues.
The unfiltered light, especially if it’s bright, has a blue hue that has been shown to cause this problem.
Just turning down the brightness won’t help as much as changing the hue to a warmer color which can be done for free with a utility known as Flux.
This easy-to-use tool is a one-trick pony that will automatically adjust your screen based on the time of day.
It’s also easy to override when you need to see things in a more natural hue at any time.
It may seem a bit off at first, but once you see the difference at night, you’ll understand why this small change can have a big impact.
Get Flux for either of the major operating systems at: https://justgetflux.com
Enjoying movies in a theater can get really expensive, so checking to see what the critics have to say before committing has become commonplace.
Not that what a specific critic likes or dislikes is aligned to your tastes, but it can be a helpful barometer.
The power of the Internet has made individual reviews less relevant as the collective is so easy to find.
One of our favorite resources is to get the metascore from a website called Metacritic, because it’s a compilation of a large number of reviews.
Instead of a star rating or some form of up or down vote, it’s a more nuanced number system that’s more useful
Now you can search for the metascore on upcoming movies, TV shows and music based on the aggregate of lots of critics.
Dig deeper into your entertainment content at: https://www.metacritic.com
Remember when you had to use the back button to visit websites that were previously opened?
The introduction of tabs in browsers changed all that and made it easy to go back and forth between multiple websites, but this comes with some baggage.
Getting carried away with the number of open tabs makes use of a lot of your working memory, which drags on your computer’s performance.
If you’re a taboholic and want some help regaining valuable memory, check out the free Chrome add-on called The Great Suspender.
It automatically suspends tabs that aren’t being actively viewed to free up needed RAM.
It will auto-reload any tab you click on, so it’s as if nothing ever happened.
If you need certain tabs to keep updating in the background, you can tell the utility not to suspend them via a whitelist.
Give it a go at:
The number of devices that are available to make your home a smart home is growing almost daily.
The one fundamental service that makes all these devices work properly is generally a wireless Internet connection.
This connectivity determines whether your devices function properly or not.
The first step to getting things working again is always to restart the devices that provide access to the Internet, like your modem and router.
Some of those devices can be set up to routinely reboot to help ensure a solid connection, but that only works if you’re physically there.
An option for taking control of the situation when you aren’t there is with a remote power switch.
These power devices allow you to remotely restart anything that’s plugged in from anywhere in the world.
If you’re dealing with devices that need to be routinely rebooted, our long-time tips on how to improve or manage the situation is posted at:
Whenever we fly, our go-to entertainment device has become our smartphones.
Making sure that you have content that you want to consume before the flight allows you to avoid having to pay for slow wifi on the plane.
A popular app called Pocket is my go-to for this task because it’s easy to use and works across all of my devices.
It’s an efficient way to gather information for just about any need, but becomes very useful for those times when you know you won’t have an Internet connection.
There are some limitations, such as video, if you don’t have an Internet connection, so consider this more of a highly personalized digital newspaper for your flights.
To learn more about the free app or the premium options, visit https://getpocket.com
Today’s tip is about something that can dramatically improve your quality of life - stretching.
It helps your body in so many ways from better circulation to increased blood flows which distribute critical oxygen and nutrients to various parts of your body.
One of the best ways to stretch every day is through yoga routines, but who wants to go to classes filled with others that are already limber?
Don’t let this uncomfortable scenario keep you from reaping the benefits of this age-old exercise.
Yes, there’s an app for that and it’s named after one of the most useful positions - Down Dog.
It’s really a much more approachable way to learn how to benefit from this ancient but still relevant form of exercise.
If you’re ready to give it a go, check out the options at: https://www.downdogapp.com
Anyone born in the past 10 years was likely brought up with a small screen that often served as a way to pacify them when they were unruly.
It’s become the go-to solution for so many parents when they’re dealing with a restless child in a public area because it’s effective.
But handing your smartphone phone over to a child that has complete access to everything the device can do is flat out dangerous for many reasons.
If you’re finding yourself using your own smartphone as a pacifier for a small child, it’s critical to limit what they can do with it via the parental controls that are built right into the operating system.
Disabling internet access, blocking the ability to make purchases or simply locking the smartphone to a single app are all options you’ll have if you take the time to learn about them.
Both Android and iOS users have lots of options to childproof their phones by using these settings:
The stories of businesses large and small becoming victimized by hackers demanding hefty ransoms continue to grow because it’s become a relatively easy way to make money.
What the hackers know that so many business owners don’t is that instead of trying to penetrate sophisticated security layers, it’s much more effective to go after the weakest link - the users.
One of the most common tricks that hackers use to compromise individual employees is to send phishing emails that look very much like they came from an important person within the organization.
Spoofing an email to make it look like it came from management or from the IT department is incredibly easy.
That’s why it’s important to educate every employee about the methods used by clever tricksters that can lead to catastrophic breaches.
One way to help them understand is by testing them with tools that are available from companies such as KnowBe4 https://KnowBe4.com
They offer a free test that can be used to test as many as 100 users in your organization to see if they fall for skillfully crafted phishing emails.
Get your test setup today by going to the form at:
Virtual meetings are all the rage, but when you don’t need to see each other, the traditional conference call is still relevant.
Most conference call services require participants to jump through a bunch of hoops that generally include special codes or a long PIN, which is why prefer the Uberconference Platform: https://www.uberconference.com
When you’re trying to connect using your smartphone, having to manually input a long string of numbers is a big hassle that can be avoided with Uberconference.
Another great feature is that each attendee is represented by an avatar, so all of the irritating beeps and bops when someone joins or leaves aren’t necessary.
The host controls everyone and the avatars move when that person is speaking or introducing unwanted noise to the meeting.
It’s free for up to 10 users at a time, so give it a try the next time you need to gather a group on a call https://www.uberconference.com
The heat of summer is upon us and depending upon where you live, it can be unbearable and make you irritable.
Well, your technology feels the same way in the summer and it can dramatically impact your battery life.
Excessive heat can impact batteries to the point that they become useless from just a single incident.
Try to avoid leaving your tech in a hot car and whatever you do, don’t allow them to be exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period either.
If you find that your gadgets did get overly hot, it’s best to let them return to room temperature if possible before turning them on.
If you use your laptop while lying in bed, be aware of the small vents that can get blocked by placing it on a pillow or bedspread, which also insulates the heat.
The key is to remember that when you’re feeling overheated, so are you electronics so act accordingly.
No matter how much you spent on your laptop, there’s a common issue that you can’t escape: degrading battery performance.
As it gets used and recharged, the battery naturally loses small amounts of energy storage over time.
This can be measured based on the number of charge cycles your device has gone through: https://bit.ly/2SvK0ep
Something that can help extend the life of your battery is to remove it, if possible, while you have it plugged into a power adapter for long periods of time.
Not only will you avoid unnecessary charge cycles, but you’ll also eliminate the associated heat from both the battery and the CPU in your laptop.
Heat is a big contributor to battery degradation, so anything you can do to avoid is good.
This obviously only works on laptops that have user-replaceable batteries and should only be done when the unit is turned off.
It’s also recommended to be plugged into a battery backup just in case the power goes out so you don’t lose everything you’re working on.
Being so into technology, it’s sometimes difficult to understand why someone tries to make use of old tech, when the new stuff is so inexpensive.
Case in point was a question about adding Bluetooth functionality to older speakers that only work if they are plugged into an audio output.
If the older speakers are very high quality, then it makes sense to spend the money to bring them into the wireless world.
The folks at Logitech understood that some people would like to do this, so they created a Bluetooth audio receiver to make it possible: https://bit.ly/3gZbVwL
It’s a simple device that can connect to your powered speakers directly if they have the 3.5mm mini-headphone plug or through RCA jacks if you want it to go into an older stereo receiver.
This nifty little device can bring any old audio gear into the wireless realm for a mere forty bucks!
Unless you’re retired, you probably deal with lots of email messages every single day, which can impede productivity if it becomes a distraction.
If responding to emails needs to be timely, you’re likely set up with a notification every time a new message comes in, which is where the distractions can start.
Fortunately, you can choose to ‘pause’ incoming messages to regain control of your schedule with a free plug-in called Inbox Pause: http://inboxpause.com
Once you install the add-on, a pause icon will appear to make it quick and easy to pause and unpause the incoming flow of messages.
You can also alert senders that you are in pause mode so they’ll know not to expect a quick response.
You can unpause manually or set up a specific length of time for the tool to automatically unpause.
If your inbound email volume is causing you to be less efficient, check out this great little tool at: http://inboxpause.com
Our go-to list making app for years was called Wunderlist, but it got acquired by the folks in Redmond a while back and integrated into their less impressive app for making lists.
When this happened, it prompted us to go searching for a solid replacement which we found in an app called AnyList.
In fact, we found really useful features that our old favorite lacked, including the ability to use our smart speaker to add items to the lists using voice commands.
One of the premium features they offer is the ability to import recipes online into the app so you quickly add a shopping list for a specific meal.
Simple swiping commands remove items from the list as you put them in your shopping cart and it even attempts to categorize your ingredients for more efficient shopping.
It’s really quite powerful and easy to use, so if you haven’t found a list making app that fits your needs, check out AnyList at https://anylist.com
Famous quotes have taken on a life of their own with the Internet and knowing who actually created them can be useful.
You can do a general search to figure out who said what, but there’s a much more efficient tool specifically for this purpose at https://quotery.com
It’s an enormous database of quotes that you can look up directly or by author or topic.
They’ve also compiled collections of quotes based on themes like Veterans Day or from popular shows like Game of Thrones.
Whether you are doing serious research or just have a passing interest in a particular quote, this is where you want to go.
From a research standpoint, they include lots of context for each quote including when and where it was first used.
If you want to help them improve the accuracy of any background info on a specific quote, you can submit an edit on any of them.
https://www.quotery.com for all your famous quote research needs!
If you think about it, you’re likely watching streaming videos online almost every day and in some cases, instead of watching traditional TV shows.
Not only does Google have the #1 search engine, but they also have the #2 search tool known as YouTube.
Creating your own YouTube channel, whether it’s for personal reasons or for your business is kind of a no-brainer.
It’s a great marketing tool for businesses and an awesome archiving resource for families that want to share and store memories of just about anything publicly or privately.
When you see the sophisticated videos on YouTube, you may assume that it’s too complicated to learn, but it’s not.
To that end, Google has the Creator Academy that will help anyone at any level of tech-savviness to get started creating and uploading videos.
Don’t let fear keep you from creating an incredible library of memories for you and your family at: https://creatoracademy.youtube.com
Whenever you’re dealing with important paperwork or contracts, there’s a good chance you’ll need to have them notarized
Traditionally, this required you to contact a notary and arrange to meet them in person so they could document the signing of the documents.
This is no longer necessary as a virtual option is available via the Notarize.com service.
It makes use of the cameras that all of our computers have so they can watch you sign documents instead of having them be there in person.
There’s a simple uploading procedure that gets the process going that doesn’t require any specific technical skills.
Not only is the notarization process easier, once it’s been completed, sending the official document online is a breeze.
At $25 per document, it’s pretty cost-effective for anyone that needs a notary quick.
We’ve all been to weddings that just seem like a fairy tale, but behind the scenes, it took a lot of work and stress to pull it off.
Planning a wedding and setting up a gift registry can be done with a variety of services and online tools to help reduce some of the stress.
If you know someone that’s just getting started with the plans for their wedded day of bliss, send them a link to Zola https://Zola.com so they can consider its tools.
It goes well beyond setting up a gift registry, which can be done with items from any online store, not just from the items Zola offers.
Along with their other tools, they are focused on creating a single place to do all the planning and setup leading to the wedding day.
You can set up a fund to contribute to the honeymoon and have the gifts delivered on a scheduled day after the couple returns from their honeymoon.
It’s also a great way to set up a group gifting site if you just want to provide cash to the newlyweds like they do in a lot of other countries.
Learn more at https://www.zola.com
If you enjoy a good cocktail now and again, you’ve probably seen the popularity of craft cocktails explode.
These sophisticated cocktails are great tasting but expensive when you go to a watering hole.
A less expensive alternative is to start making them yourself with a little help from today’s app: Mixology
It’s an easier resource than a dozen books or searching randomly online because it starts with the ingredients that you have on hand.
Many craft cocktails require specialty tinctures and mixes, so the app will steer you towards the ones that you can make with what is available to you.
If you want to narrow the selection, start with a specific spirit you have a taste for to increase the chances of success.
Mixology also has recipes for punchbowls, specialty shots and virgin cocktails for your designated drivers.
Learn more and download the free app at: http://mixologyapp.com
Have you noticed that strange new things appear on your screen after you install a new software program?
It may be something that looks like a useless toolbar or something as invasive as changing what happens when you start a browser session.
These things happen because less-knowns software companies are paying well-known companies to gain access to your computer.
This tactic works because very few people pay attention during the installation process and simply click ‘I agree’.
We’ve been telling you for years that you should choose the scary sounding ‘custom’ or ‘advanced’ option when installing any software so you can see what they are trying to sneak past you.
Another option is to combat this sneak attack is with a free utility known as Unchecky.
It’s another set of eyes to watch over any installation from now own available at: