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 work in just about any industry, LinkedIn has become a valuable networking tool for business owners, professionals and recruiters.
Because it’s become so popular, it’s also opened up another avenue for scammers and cyber-thieves.
A common scam is posing as a recruiter on LinkedIn to trick new connections involved in what they think is a potential new opportunity.
Their actual motivation is to either scam you with a fake opportunity or possibly to gather personal information from you via your resume for an ID theft scam.
A relatively new looking profile with few connections is always a red flag, as well as subtle grammar mistakes in their text.
The profile image itself can be a quick way to sniff out these scammers as most of them use stock photos or images that they stole from others.
Performing an image search using their profile pic via Google’s image search or the reverse lookup tool at https://tineye.com will check to see if that’s the case.
Connecting with new people on LinkedIn is a valuable thing, but take a minute to do a little PI work whenever you get one that’s a little suspicious.
Speaking to a real-live human to resolve an issue is often the preferred process, but can be a bit of a challenge if the organization that you are trying to reach is very large.
Your billing information may make it easy for billing issues, but it’s obvious that certain industries such as the tech industry do their best to make it hard to call them.
Using any of the major search engines to try to find the number can actually be very dangerous because of the scammers, so I’d suggest you turn to the GetHuman website: https://gethuman.com
They’ve compiled contact information on over 1000 organizations that isn’t limited to a single phone number, as other forms of contact are also listed when available.
They try to get as many numbers as they can listed for the various departments, which can be a huge time saver, especially for larger tech companies.
They also provide company-specific tips or shortcuts to help you reduce the aggravation that’s become getting help from so many companies.
Technology in our children’s lives is a given which means that many parents, especially new parents struggle with how they manage device usage by their kids.
In the past, the experience of our elders was consistent and useful, but when it comes to the new era of technology, those traditional resources aren’t an option.
Everyone may have an opinion on when and where technology should be introduced to young children, but for a data-based opinion, I’d suggest you turn to the AAP.
The American Academy of Pediatricians published a paper on raising kids in the digital age that reviewed all the different screens that will play a role in any child’s life.
They all have benefits but in moderation, as one would assume, but for really young children, it may be best to wait until they are at least 2 years of age.
Limiting their screen time was a critical component of the best practices that they reviewed as well as evaluating passive vs interactive screens and media.
You can read the one-pager or download the entire study from 2015 that’s still very relevant today at:
The last quarter of the year is when most of the ‘deals’ start to appear for just about every type of tech item that most of us want.
With this in mind, there’s something you should be very aware of when it comes to tech items: the lowest price doesn’t mean it's a good deal.
Looking for the lowest priced item in any category is usually a bad idea, but when it comes to electronics, it’s especially problematic.
Cheapest around in the tech world generally means that the manufacturer left out higher quality components in order to hit a specific price point.
What that means to those that buy those items is that important things like batteries or compatibility can suffer.
The best approach is to stick to brands that you have heard of and purchase them from retailers that have a clear option to return the product if it’s not up to your standards.
Trying to find the best deal in the lowest price categories requires a lot of time spent researching them all.
Looking for reviews for anything you’re interested in buying is a simple first step to making a decision.
Searching for an item followed by the word review should provide lots of useful feedback and if it doesn’t, then you should be really suspicious.
You may have noticed on random social media profiles that some weird characters are being used for their name or title.
These characters are not represented by any of the standard keys on your keyboard, but they are possible via what are known as Alt codes.
To see how this works, try holding down the alt key in either Windows or Mac (aka option) and tap the number 2 to have the trademark symbol appear.
These special characters go back to the old DOS days with 255 different keystroke combos that produce a plethora of symbols.
If you’re really into memorizing just trivial things, you can try or for a less involved way, check out a number of websites that will provide you with all of them and much more.
An example would be http://www.copypastecharacter.com that makes it easy to copy and paste any character you want without having to remember all the key combinations.
Whether it’s a symbol or character used in a foreign language, this is a much easier way to go.
This classic resource also created an iPhone app some time ago for characters on the go: http://www.copypastecharacter.com/iphone
When was the last time you stopped and thought about how many devices you need to keep charged on a regular basis?
If you’re like most households, it’s a bunch and that also means you need power outlets and USB cables to keep things ready for use.
Often times, this forces us to create a charging station where everything can get juiced up or purchase lots of extra chargers so they are in the right places all around the house.
There is an option that you may not have thought about available from a company called Snap Power.
They have a whole line of replacement power plates that can double as a USB charging station.
They’re cheaper than most smartphone charging packs at less than $20 a plate when you buy a pack of 3.
They work with older rounded plugs or the newer square faceplates and are really easy to install.
It’s just a simple replacement of the existing wall plug to get the chargers set up all over your house.
Learn about all their products at https://www.snappower.com
If you’re searching for something on the Internet, the most likely place you’ll start is at Google’s search engine site because it’s so incredibly powerful.
If you use too generic of a search term, you end up with a lot of junk in the results, which is where operators can help dramatically improve the quality of your results.
There’s a fairly unknown option to ask Google to provide results in a range that can be extremely helpful under certain circumstances.
To tell Google you want information within a certain numeric range, you simply add 2 periods with no space before or after between 2 numbers that constitute the range.
An example would be if you are searching for information within a certain range of years, such as ‘downtown Phoenix 1900..1960’ or if you are shopping for something, you may use ‘laptops $700..$1000’.
Including any symbols that denote the format of the number can also help Google bring up much more relevant results which can save you lots of time!
According to researchers, just the right type and volume of ambient sounds can be very beneficial to the creative process, which I totally agree with.
I generally turn to music of some form when I’m writing, but for those times that I really need to stay focused, I pop over to the https://asoftmurmur.com website for their sounds.
It’s a simple site with multiple types of sounds of nature that can be very soothing and lets you focus.
You can pick which sounds that you’d like to be played along with the volume of each sound to find the recipe that’s just right for you.
I always love the sound of rain or the ocean crashing against the shore, so I always build from there.
Another great use for this site is to create a more comfortable environment for going to sleep.
Not only can you use their website when you’re working, the apps make going to sleep a bit nicer too!
Getting a new computer is really exciting until you realize all the time you’re going to have to spend installing the basic necessities the computer will need.
Think about all of the utilities, browsers and work programs that are needed to make the computer a functioning tool.
With numerous programs and utilities to install, the amount of time to get it all done can turn into a week’s worth of work.
Today’s tip is for the next time you get a new computer and want to shorten the time to get it in functioning condition.
We’ve shouted out about our favorite setup website for Windows users known as Ninite.com and those using the macOS will find a similar tool at GetNMacApps.com.
These tools are an incredibly efficient way to set up one or many new computers, especially helpful if you are in charge of getting things set up at a business.
Both of these sites are bookmark worthy for everyone as it’s just a matter of time before you get a new computer.
If you use your printer much at all, you’ll likely end up in that aggravating situation where you’re out of ink right when you need it the most.
Ounce for ounce, printer ink is some of the most expensive liquid on the planet based on how it’s sold these days.
That left an opening for a printer company called Epson to think differently and use innovation to solve this common problem with their EcoTank technology.
They got rid of the expensive and tiny ink cartridges and developed larger ink tanks that hold exponentially more ink.
Unless you print a large volume every day, most home users can get a year or more before having to refill the ink.
The best part is that you simply buy ink in bottles that you replenish the tanks with, so it’s a lot less expensive.
You can expect to pay a little more for the printer compared to the direct competitors, but if you print a lot, you’ll save money and irritation over the long haul.
It’s a breath of fresh air in printer technology; check it out at https://epson.com/ecotank
One of the common irritations we all deal with is watching a computer take forever to shut down or restart.
Being impatient and using the power button to force the shutdown prematurely will create some hidden issues for your computer.
The longer you’ve gone between restarts or shutdowns, the longer it can take for the computer to get rid of all of the items the temporary files that it was using.
This automatic cleanup occurs during a shutdown, so when you cut the power, you don’t allow it to get rid of the junk files.
This buildup of unnecessary files can eat up valuable empty disk space, which your computer needs to operate properly.
For any Windows users that know they are guilty of this no-no, the Disk Cleanup program will get rid of the junk.
And this advice is not Windows-specific as all operating systems have a similar cleanup process, so always be patient!
For those that have enabled two-factor authentication (2FA) and also tend to use public wifi or travel on a regular basis, today’s tip is for you.
The whole point of 2FA is to use your smartphone to authorize a connection via text messaging, but that might not be possible in certain situations.
A great example is when you board a flight and connect to the in-flight wifi; when you try to log in, the text message with the special code isn’t going to make it to your phone.
Just about every service that allows 2FA also has special codes that you can use to get in when your phone doesn’t have a cellular connection.
The best place to learn where these special codes exist is the same place that you set up the 2FA for each account.
Google, for instance, generates 10 one-time use codes that you can use for these situations.
Keeping a copy of these codes on your phone, in your laptop bag on a sticky note or however you can safely store these codes is a great tip for road warriors.
Here are some example instructions:
Or you can try searching for “2-factor backup codes for XXXX” in a Google search with the XXXX representing the service that you are using.
Project management can get pretty complicated, which is what expensive PM software is designed to help with.
While we all tend to have projects that involve others in our day-to-day lives, those expensive software solutions aren’t a good fit.
This is why a simple project management solution called Trello was developed; for the rest of us.
Think of their system as a replacement for the cork-board organization system on your smartphone or computer.
Their free drag and drop interaction makes it a much easier platform to master and keep track of just about anything you are trying to accomplish.
Despite its ease of us, there are many powerful options that can be used to enhance your tracking.
Trello is perfect for anyone looking for a way to get better organized personally or professionally: https://trello.com
When you have a large quantity of data to present that stretches over a period of time, there’s no better way to do it than a timeline.
Creating a timeline can get to be a lot of work, which is why we suggest the Timetoast website for anyone that’s interesting in creating one.
It’s a free web-based tool that eliminates the need to download and install special software to create a timeline.
While you are working on it or when you’re done and want others to view it, your masterpiece can be viewed as a timeline or a list.
Simply copy and paste the link to your timeline on social media, email or private messages to show off your work.
Some folks like using timelines to show off their family history, but students and those in business may also find lots of uses for it.
If you’re looking to give life to a large time-based data set, head on over to Timetoast to get started! https://timetoast.com
That space bar that you take for granted actually has some hidden tricks up its sleeve.
Us tech guys sometimes forget that many of the shortcuts and tricks we use aren't very well known by the general public.
One of those hidden keystroke options comes courtesy of the humble space bar.
On both computers and smartphones, the space bar can make some common tasks much quicker.
On your computer, you can simply tap the space bar whenever you want to page down on a website, which allows you to keep your hands on the keyboard instead of having to use your mouse.
One tap auto scrolls the page down and holding the shift key and tapping the bar will roll it back up.
On your smartphone, tapping the space bar twice at the end of a sentence automatically adds a period and gets you ready for your next sentence.
Now you can fully utilize the space bar with these tips!
Unless you’re new to email, you’re probably much more careful to avoid being tricked by a phishing scam or clever spam messages.
That same level of caution should be used when you’re reading through comments in social media or on a discussion website.
The use of placing malicious links on popular forums has been around for a while and it’s likely going to get more intense as time goes on.
It’s easy to see the junk comments that claim to have made a fortune by working from home, but not all the tricks are out of context type comments.
Fast-moving stories on news sites can generate a lot of commenting activity all over the Internet and social media.
Whenever you see a link for any sort in the comments section of a website or social media post, don’t click on it, no matter how legitimate it may seem.
A better way to see the information is to search for the information yourself using various keywords in the posted link.
If it’s a legitimate website, it will have been indexed by Google. Malicious sites purposefully avoid having their pages indexed by Google.
If you’re in business, you’re most likely using a number of the tools offered by Google, but there’s one tool unknown to many that’s one of my favorites called Trends.
The Trends tool is essentially a web interface into Google’s massively informative database of search terms and how popular they are.
No matter what form of digital marketing that you might be trying to use, understanding the keywords that your customer’s most likely use to find your product or service is step one, which is why this tool is so valuable.
Trends allows you to drill down to a specific region or timeframe and see if the popularity is increasing or decreasing as time goes on.
In many cases, keywords can be very seasonal, meaning more people search for it at specific times of year - a perfect way to know when to launch a campaign.
I always start just about any project by diving into the data that Google offers, so if this is news to you, jump in at https://Google.com/trends learn more.
One of the recurring tasks that we all face every week, shopping for our groceries, can turn into a bit of a logistics game.
Most of us start with what’s been depleted and work from there, but the methods for tracking what needs to be added to the next run to the store come from all angles.
If your household has lots of people, the complications in keeping track of who needed what and when further complicates the process.
Anyone with a large family should check out the Capitan grocery app.
The app learns what’s on the regular rotation for your crew, organizes the items similar to the way grocery stores are laid out and has some great notification options.
The best notifications are to all of the rest of the family that someone just arrived at the store, so last minute requests are made easy.
If you haven’t figured out a smooth way to manage the weekly grocery list process, try the Capitan app: https://www.getcapitan.com
For those that have started their exploration of the complex world of wine, there’s a wine club that was created just for you.
The Tastingroom.com wine club is what I refer to as the Netflix of wine because you can sample so many different wines.
They start with a tasting kit that helps you and them learn more about the types of wines that your palette enjoys.
By starting with this tasting exercise which allows you to provide feedback via their website, their system can determine which wines are most likely to be pleasing to you.
If you have an idea of what you like already, you can always make adjustments to what is going to be shipped to you as well.
The best part is that every bottle is backed by their program so if it’s not to your tastes, you can get it replaced.
The more feedback you provide to them with each bottle, the more likely it is that they can start to nail down the best wines for you.
Get all the details to this wine club for newbies at: https://www.tastingroom.com
One of the fundamental components of any business in the tech era is a website, and figuring out what technology to use for your web presence is critical.
But how often are those with little technology experience tasked with making technology-based decisions?
One of the best ways to gather intelligence on website technology is by seeing what others are using, especially your competition.
This type of information is very easily gathered through a tool located at Builtwith.com This web tool allows you to type any website address into their form and you’ll get a detailed report on all the technology used by that site. The composite information on popular web tech is also available along with trending info to help you see what’s becoming popular or losing favor. If you know anyone struggling with tough tech decisions for their website, give them this tip to make it a little more data-based!
DNS servers are computers that are behind the scenes but critical to our ability to navigate the Internet.
The Domain Name System is essentially a routing mechanism that converts our www requests into the numeric address that’s associated with it.
By and large, you’re getting directions from the DNS servers set up by your ISP, but there are specific advantages to modifying this hidden setting.
One of the biggest reasons to make this change is that you can have better control over your entire network from one interface.
It can also make getting to websites faster and provide better up-times in some cases.
Our go-to DNS service, which is free, is located at OpenDNS.com.
By changing the DNS setting in your router to point to the OpenDNS servers, you can lock down anything that anyone connecting to your wifi attempts to access.
It’s a parental control setting that can’t be bypassed through a computer that’s connected to it.
If you’re interested, you can get the instruction by going to: