Data Doctors Tech Tips
Tech Tips for Non-Tech People
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Who said “When you come to a fork in the road, take it?
Well-known quotes can come up in a variety of ways, but when you want to know who’s responsible for the quote, there’s a website for that.
Quotery.com is a web resource that has spent the time to document who said what when it comes to famous quotes.
They’ve created a huge database of proverbs, quotes, and quips that can be accessed by searching for the quote itself or exploring an author or any topic.
It’s a really helpful tool for anyone doing research on quotes that want to make sure the references are correct.
For those that don’t have anything to research, just randomly searching the database can be a lot of fun.
What’s great about this resource is that it goes beyond just who said what by providing additional context and sources.
With all that being said, if you run across an entry that you don’t totally agree with, you can throw in your two cents to help improve the database.
Add this one to your bookmarks so you’ll be able to quickly answer the ‘who said that’ question the next time it pops up!
The Wunderlist list-making app has been a favorite of ours for many years, which is why when we heard the news that it was being shut down on May 6th, we were a bit dismayed.
As happens in the software world, they were acquired by Microsoft and they want to migrate everyone to their own listing app which is in a word…meh!
In our search for an app that did as much as Wunderlist, we actually found one that does even more called AnyList.
It’s got all the basics that would expect from a list app, but it also extends the usefulness by integrating with voice commands through Alexa and Google Assistant to add items to your lists.
For those that like to cook as much as we do, it also has the ability to import items from recipes you find online, which builds your shopping list in a snap.
It’s easy to share any list with anybody via email or text messaging and swiping items removes them from the list.
If you have large Wunderlist lists, you can export them and then copy/paste then into Anylist as well. Learn more at: https://www.anylist.com
Email is both a blessing and a curse, especially if you’re trying to get work done and the messages keep flying in.
By default, most email programs are set up to alert the user when new messages come in, and turning it off when you want to get some work done isn’t really that efficient.
What email needs is a pause button and for those using Gmail, there is something available the does exactly that!
The Inbox Pause option is part of the offerings in the add-on from Boomarang.
Not only can you quickly pause and unpause incoming messages, but you can also alert senders that you are in the pause mode in the event that the message they sent is urgent.
When you hit the pause button, a big yellow banner will appear at the top and you can choose to automatically unpause the inbox at a specific length of time you choose when you pause.
It’s a really easy way to control the flow of interruptions that plague all of us on a daily basis.
Learn more at: http://inboxpause.com
Let’s face it, we’re all spending a lot more time online these days and the bad guys know this, so they’re stepping up all of their scams.
Since everyone on the Internet is using a web browser, it’s one of their most obvious targets.
Not only can a malicious trick cause your browser to experience problems, but a host of other causes can also as well.
With this in mind, one of the basic troubleshooting tips we’ve stressed for years is the need to have at least 2 different browsers installed on all your Internet-connected devices.
The reason for this is to quickly test to see if the problem you are experiencing has to do with the browser or your connectivity.
If you switch to another browser and the problem goes away, you’ll know to try things like clearing the cache or removing toolbars and add-ons.
If the problem persists when you switch browsers, then the problem either exists in your operating system or in one of the devices that connects you to the Internet, which should all be restarted.
Checking simple things when you’re having issues with the Internet can save you a lot of time, which is why this is a fundamental tip for troubleshooting.
No matter what you are doing to stay active, any type of physical activity is good for you, but if you like to jog or run to stay in shape, today’s tip is for you.
No doubt that just about everyone you see when you are out running has some earphones or earbuds in while they're exercising.
That’s just a testament to how powerful music can be as a motivator, especially if it’s in sync with your running pace.
The best songs are those that match your stride rhythmically, but creating a manual list of songs that work is a lot of work.
An app that I’ve featured many times before called Rock My Run makes it so much easier to have music playing that matches your pace.
It’s all based on BPMs or beats per minute which is what makes it possible to match your running strides.
Rather than creating your own, you can search the existing playlists to see which ones work for your workout.
You can try out the free commercial-sponsored version to see if it works for you and upgrade to the non-commercial, 'total control of the beats' version if you feel it’s worth the money.
Rock My Run is available for both iPhone and Android users at: https://www.rockmyrun.com
I had one of those questions that when it was initially asked sounded kind of wacky, but once I let it sink in, it was actually a very good one.
They asked me if I knew of any way to make regular speakers usable with Bluetooth.
My initial thought was that wireless Bluetooth speakers are super cheap and readily available, but the sound quality can be a bit off.
They had a really nice set of speakers that just needed to be adapted to allow a Bluetooth signal, which is exactly what Logitech offers with their Wireless Speaker Adapter.
This small device has standard audio outputs, so it can be connected to a traditional stereo system or powered computer speakers.
As long as you have a way to amplify the signal coming out of the adapter, you can make virtually any traditional speaker a Bluetooth compatible sound system.
It’s a $40 device that can dramatically improve the quality of sound coming from any Bluetooth streaming device: https://bit.ly/357A0dj
The value of your personal information has always been high for criminals, not just since we all started using computers and the Internet.
The bad guys love when lots of people do the same thing because it makes it so much easier for them to exploit lots of people.
One of the behaviors that they know most people will follow is in the area of passwords; they know you use your passwords on more than one online account.
We’ve heard about massive data breaches so much that we’ve almost become numb to the reality, but when a company that you have an account with gets breached, you need to pay attention.
The Internet underworld long ago started sharing stolen credentials with each other and today, there are huge datasets on the dark web that are called known password databases.
Your email address or addresses are generally associated with the stolen passwords, so they know that all they have to do is try them on all the major sites online or even on your smart devices around the house.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know when a company that you had an account with gets breached?
Well, here are a couple of ways to do just that!:
Anyone that uses a laptop on a regular basis faces the same challenge that everyone experiences…deteriorating battery life.
The longer you’ve owned it, the more likely you are experiencing relatively short times before you have to recharge the battery.
This is because there are a finite number of charge cycles that the battery has before it starts to degrade.
If your laptop has a removable battery, taking it out when you know you’re going to be connected to AC power for an extended period eliminates the chances of creating unnecessary charge cycles.
Another upside to removing it when it’s not needed is that you keep it from heating up, which is another cause of battery degradation.
Most of the major components inside your laptop generate heat, so why subject your battery to it when it’s not needed?
It should be obvious, but make sure you completely shut down your computer before removing the battery and plugging it into a battery backup will give you an extra layer of protection should your power ever goes out.
Just about any document of importance, especially if it has legal significance, will need to be notarized in order to make it official.
In the past, this meant tracking a notary down and setting up a time to meet face-to-face to get the document processed.
There are a variety of reasons that this can be problematic, which is where an online service called Notarize can be more convenient.
This virtual witnessing platform uses remote video to process your document and it’s completely legal in every state.
You start by uploading the document to them through the platform then follow the steps required to make it official.
The virtual part comes in when the remote notary watches you sign the document via the video conference.
Another awesome benefit of using the service is that once you’ve completed the document, getting it sent off to the receiving party is a breeze.
As you would expect, this convenience comes at a slightly higher cost of $25.
We’re living in an age when minimizing the need for an in-person meeting can be a good thing, so add https://www.notarize.com to your productivity links for that next time you need a notary.
The industry standard for word processing is by far Microsoft Word, which anyone that’s ever worked in an office environment will know.
One of the great and powerful features in Word is the ability to create macros, which are essentially a recording of a combination of keystrokes that can be launched via a keyboard shortcut.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have that same capability for all the web-based productivity tools we use every day?
Well, there is a Chrome browser extension called Auto Text Expander that will allow you to just that.
The only limit to how many ways you can use this free tool is your own imagination, as you can take any large chunk of text and assign it to a made-up word.
For instance, you could create a shortcut called bizadd which would quickly insert your full business address or create any number of signatures for your various email accounts.
What makes this approach so useful is that it isn’t just for Google’s online word processor called Docs; it works in any text field that you use on any platform.
It’s really a simple but powerful tool that you should add to your toolbox!: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/auto-text-expander-for-go/iibninhmiggehlcdolcilmhacighjamp
For a variety of reasons, you may want to minimize the data usage on your mobile devices and that’s the focus of today’s tip.
When you don’t have the option to use wifi for your surfing, every bit and byte counts against your cellular data plan.
If you’ve never explored the Opera browsers for your mobile device, this is the reason you should consider downloading it, because it’s designed to reduce your data usage while still providing a solid web experience.
One of the ways they pull this off is through a clever compression process that takes place before you even start to download the info from the Internet.
When you’re on a really slow connection on the edge of your carrier's signal, Opera can really show off its differences.
Opera also has a speed-dial startup option so you can have your most-used web links as your start page.
It’s easy to start using the Opera browser specifically designed for mobile devices just by going to https://m.opera.com on your smartphone or tablet.
Today’s tip is for anyone that has to decide how to hold a web conference call, that includes people on smartphones and tablets.
As great as video conferencing may be for some, for a large number of meetings, it’s completely unnecessary.
There’s an online alternative to video conferences at https://www.uberconference.com that’s exponentially more effective than traditional phone conference calls.
This awesome service, which has no connection to the ride sharing service is better because the eliminated those long irritating meeting IDs and crazy long PINs that are required to access the meeting.
The best part of the platform is that it identifies each participant with an avatar that represents each attendee.
The host also has total control over who they can mute, which is great when someone decides to put the call on hold.
Features like screen sharing and call recording are built in and this approach is so much more effective for those on mobile devices.
You can hold small meetings for free and if you really get like the platform, increase to 100 attendees with their pay option.
Learn more at https://www.uberconference.com
Most of us rarely go a day without checking into one of our social media accounts and it’s also where we typically learn that someone has passed away.
When that happens, Facebook is often the central place where friends and family will post pictures and memories that they had with the dearly departed.
In far too many cases, the family of the person that has passed on has no way to access the account, so it will eventually be converted by Facebook to a memorialized account.
Most Facebook users seem to be unaware that they created a way for anyone to appoint as the caretaker of their profile should you pass.
The feature is known as a Legacy Contact, and it will provide that person access to your profile.
The option can currently be accessed in the Settings menu in the General section under the Manage Account heading.
No one really likes dealing with their mortality, but this is a simple way to make sure you give your loved ones control of all your precious memories, which can be very helpful as they grieve.
Nothing is more enjoyable for a techie than to discover a new trick, so today’s tip is for those that have yet to discover IFTTT.com
IFTTT stands for If This Then That and it’s an awesome free tool that can leverage your various web-based accounts in a very powerful way, by creating something resembling a macro.
For instance, you can use one of the ‘recipes’ that are posted to send a reminder to your smartphone when you click on the star in Gmail messages or text your spouse when you’re leaving the office, automatically!
This platform works with hundreds of online services and lots of users have already created very useful recipes for you to start using right away.
If you really get into it, you can share your own recipes as you find new ways to use the tool.
It’s not confined to your computer either, as apps are available for all your mobile devices as well.
We’ve talked about this before and we’ll do it again until everyone realizes how cool IFTTT.com is!
Other than battery life, the number one complaint that I hear from smartphone owners is that they are constantly running out of storage space.
It’s especially problematic with smartphones that don’t offer any type of memory expansion slot, which is becoming a lot more common these days.
It’s best to start with all those apps that probably haven’t even opened for some time, but for a real increase in storage space, focus on your videos and pictures.
Those quick HD videos that you can shoot with your smartphone can take up a lot more space than dozens of images, so if you don’t really need them, dump them!
A hidden area of your phone that could be hogging up lots of space is from all the attached images and videos that are in your text messages.
I’ve seen a huge gain in free space on lots of phones by getting rid of old text messages, especially for those that use it as their primary communication channel.
For more suggestions on managing your smartphone storage, check out this column:
The power of your smartphone can be leveraged to create some amazing stop-motion videos, but the folks at Stikbot have an even better idea.
Their app works like most of the other stop-motion options, which allows you to create videos with what appears to be movement of a particular item.
Making something appears to move around a table or plate is pretty easy with this genre of apps.
What makes the Stikbot offerings so compelling is that you can order their figurines to be the star of your movies.
The wide variety of figurines are designed to allow the stop motion action to be much more elaborate because they can be attached to a variety of surfaces using suction cups.
Let’s face it, giving your kids the tools to let their movie making creativity come out could be the beginning of something amazing.
Check out what all this looks like at https://stikbot.toys
If you’ve gotten tired of the games you play on your smartphone, today’s tip is for you, especially if you can remember all the arcade fun we had in the 80’s.
Pac-Man was the all-time king of arcade games and mastering every level was the goal we all had.
If you were actually able to master all the levels with the arcade game, you’ll never get to the end with the new Pac-Man 256 because it’s endless.
For those in the know, the ‘256’ is a nod to the famous glitch in the arcade game.
You won’t have the old familiar joystick, so you have to get used to swiping the screen to get around.
Not only is this game endless, there are lots of new power capabilities that you can add when you gobble up those famous pellets, so if you’re into old-school video games, it doesn’t get much better than Pac-Man:
Who doesn’t love free apps, especially those that you discover are useful or entertaining on a daily basis?
Something important to understand about free apps is that most of them are free because they include lots of advertising, which have a couple of hidden costs, especially if you have a limited data plan with a cellular carrier.
Not only can all those ads eat up your data plan, but they can also increase the chances of you running out of battery power sooner.
Studies have been done comparing apps that are available as both ad-supported or as a paid app and the findings were very surprising.
Ad-supported apps can increase data usage to your plan by as much as 80% over the apps that you pay for to remove the ads.
These apps can also take up valuable working memory on your smartphone and impact battery life by as much as 16%.
For those struggling with keeping their phones charged through the day or those that are constantly bumping up against data limits, those free apps may be the culprit.
Free apps can also overreach in the privacy area, which is another reason to be careful.
Knowing this, paying a buck or two for an app to remove the ads may actually be a bargain if you use them all the time.
We’re all making more meals at home these days so finding new dishes that don’t drag you back into the usual suspects is a help.
Well, there’s an app for that and it’s called Dinner Spinner from the people at All Recipes.
The app asks you to choose that type of disk, like a salad or entree along with any specific ingredients that you have on hand and most importantly, how much time you’re willing to spend on making the dish.
My first time using app provided me twenty-five options for a 20 minute or less recipe that included chicken as the protein.
As with Amazon, you’ll also get suggested recipes from others that are similar or complementary to the one you are reviewing.
For the more adventurous chef, you can ask the app for a totally random recipe by shaking the phone with the app open.
For those with specific dietary items they want to avoid, the filter allows you to screen out recipes that won’t work.
Inspiration for discovering new family favorite dinner options await you at:
One of the most common things that we tend to do these days, is pop on to the Internet and do a Google search whenever we hear about some type of breaking news.
For the most part, people believe the if Google has indexed the website, it must be safe, but despite all of the technical know-how they possess, they can’t vet everything that appears from their indexing in real-time.
The bad guys know this, which is why they tend to use breaking news stories to create fake web pages with outrageous headlines.
Since you know that Google, with all of its tech tools can’t stay ahead of this, choosing a different approach for the information on a fast-breaking story is much safer.
Your go-to should be the news sources you already trust, whether it’s through their website or a new app that you already have on your smartphone.
Scammers are very clever and constantly adjust their approach based on what they see the masses doing, so from now on, to avoid potential scams surrounding breaking news, stick to your trusted sources.
With the sudden need to work from home, sharing the same computer that you use to remotely work with your kids is a bad idea.
If you don’t have a separate computer for your kids, an alternative to a second expensive computer is a laptop-like device known as a Chromebook.
Google created the web-concentric operating system that many hardware companies have embraced.
This is by no means a replacement for anyone that needs to install specific Windows-based programs on their computer, but it’s perfect for anyone that essentially does everything online.
These machines generally cost a couple of hundred dollars and they have an added benefit of being immune to the various malware that targets macOS and Windows users.
Since most kids tend to only need access to the Internet for the things they want to do, a Chromebook could be the perfect solution.
You don’t have to be an Android phone user to make this option useful, but the integration between your smartphone and Chromebook is pretty slick.
Start your exploration at: https://www.google.com/chromebook