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!
You’ve heard me and others in the tech industry preaching about the dangers of public wifi for years, but there’s something that you may not have realized.
Your laptop may be sharing information with anyone else connected on the coffee shop or hotel wifi you're using without you realizing it.
If your laptop is setup with default or public shares, you may be inadvertently allow others to access or even save files on your computer.
In general, this won’t really impact your personal data, but technically your computer is accessible by any random stranger connected to the same public wifi.
As a precaution, if you never use the public share folder to share files with others, turn it off.
I’ve seen situations where sensitive files have been stored in these publicly accessible folders because the user didn’t realize the whole world could access these folders.
Both Windows and Mac users have these public share folders turned on, so I’ve posted instructions on how to turn them off at datadoctors.com/radio.
Disable public shares in OS X: http://osxdaily.com/2014/02/11/disable-public-folder-sharing-mac-os-x
Disable public folders in Windows:
In my years of helping others with their technology, one constant issue seems to exist; everyone knows that they should be backing up their data, but they just never seem to get around to it.
If you’re one of the millions that have this critical task on their to-do list, but just can’t seem to get around to it, this may help.
The threat of ransomware, which is when sophisticated hackers gain access to your computer and lock down your data, including your backup drive is getting worse.
The latest versions are capable of spreading themselves in ways never seen before.
If you get hit by this attack and don’t have a secured off-site backup, your choices are to lose everything or pay hundred dollars to get your pictures, videos and sensitive documents back.
Online backup services like Carbonite are one of the best ways to avoid having to pay the ransom, because they aren’t connected to your computer when you get attacked.
Consider this a wake up call, if you don’t have a secure backup in place!
I love technology that fills the nooks and crannies of our daily lives and one of my long-time favorites is a web service called If This Then That or IFTTT for short.
This free resource helps you put the Internet to work for you by creating conditional statements called recipes that integrate your online life in amazing ways.
For instance, you can use a recipe that automatically creates a reminder on your iPhone whenever you star an email in Gmail or text your wife whenever you leave work.
IFTTT works with 160 different Internet services and has a treasure trove of recipes that have been created by millions of users.
If your imagination is willing, you can create your own custom recipes and share them with the IFTTT community.
IFTTT is a free service with apps for iPhones, iPads and Android devices to really leverage your technology in meaningful ways.
If you’ve never explored the IFTTT world, do yourself a favor and go to http://IFTTT.com and join in on the fun and productivity.
For those seeking an investment strategy, the Internet is filled with advice that ranges from throwing darts at the newspaper to exotic algorithms that track millions of market variables.
If nothing you’ve researched is resonating with you, how about tracking what a bunch of billionaires are doing with their investments?
An app called iBillionaire does just that; it breaks down and analyzes the investment data of leading billionaires like Warren Buffett, George Soros and Carl Icahn.
It also provides insights into the investment strategies of leading hedge fund managers to help confirm your ideas or discover opportunities with a different billionaire stock every day.
The investment strategies are based on the billionaire index that was created in 2013.
If you’d like to make better investment decisions by learning from the most successful, self-made billionaires in the world, checkout the iBillionaire app.
It’s available for iPhone and Android users in their respective app stores so you can start comparing your portfolio to the world’s wealthiest today.
For those of you that have discovered the benefits of yoga movements, something that I saw at CES this year may be of interest.
It’s called the SmartMat and it’s a yoga mat that’s loaded with 21 thousand sensors and pairs with a special app.
The combination becomes a virtual yoga instructor that helps you track, improve & perfect yoga poses.
It rolls up just like a standard mat, so you can take it to yoga class to track your progress or use it in the privacy of your own home.
A special stand allows you to set your smartphone or tablet at the front of the mat so you can follow the lessons and get real-time feedback to help you improve.
Whether you’re at the beginner level trying a downward facing dog or after advanced poses like the One-Legged King Pigeon, the Smartmat is a new option for learning.
The Smartmat isn’t available yet, but it can be pre-ordered at a discounted price by visiting http://SmartMat.com
If you use reading glasses to work with your smartphone, keeping track of them can become a constant source of frustration.
The solution for many is to buy a bunch of reading glasses and leave them all over the place.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could keep your reading glasses with your smartphone at all times?
That’s what the folks at ThinOptics thought, so they came up with something pretty inventive: a smartphone case with superthin reading glasses stored in them.
Their unique flexible optical design doesn’t have arms; they just clip onto your nose and stay put, which is why they’re thin enough to be stored on the back of your smartphone.
They offer cases that work with iPhone or Galaxy phones or a universal pod that can attach to the back of any case.
The kits range from $25 to $39, so it could be an inexpensive solution to the ‘where did I put my reading glasses’ problem!
You can see how they work and where to buy them at http://ThinOptics.com
Bitcoin, the virtual digital currency, is understandably something that most people have a tough time getting their head around, even those in the banking industry.
Because there is no regulatory body, it’s always been considered somewhat of a risky thing to get involved in, but a new company called Coinbase might be the first signs of legitimacy.
With $75 million in funding from investors such as the New York Stock Exchange and Spanish banking giant BBVA, Coinbase claims to be the first licensed US based bitcoin exchange.
At the moment, they are only licensed in 24 states as they must get approval on a state-by-state basis, so they’re just getting started.
Knowing that a legitimate financial entity is behind the exchange still won’t impact one of the biggest problems with bitcoin: extreme volatility.
If you are going to dip your toe into the bitcoin pond, Coinbase is probably your best bet at the moment, but I wouldn’t exchange any amount that you’re not willing to lose.
You can learn more at http://coinbase.com
The term ‘cord-cutter’ refers to households that have cut out cable or satellite television service in favor of Internet based services such as Netflix or Hulu Plus.
While cord cutters can save a boatload of money, they often have to give up access to first run content or live sporting events.
If you’re a hardcore sports fan, becoming a cord cutter has always been almost impossible until now.
The folks at the Dish Network introduced a new service at CES called Sling TV that may encourage more cord cutting.
For $20 a month, Sling TV allows you to stream 12 popular channels like ESPN, HGTV, The Travel Channel and CNN to any computer, tablet or smartphone.
You don’t get to choose your channels, but Sling TV combined with an HD antenna can provide most households with a pretty solid lineup of content.
There are no contracts, but it only works on one device at a time, so it may not be a great option for large families.
Sling TV is currently by invitation only at Sling.com
Attention online shoppers, here’s a time and money saving tip!
If you do any type of online shopping, you know that coupon codes can save you money, if you know where to find them.
Sites like http://RetailMeNot.com allow you to search for coupon codes for just about any online retailer, but it’s a manual process and often times the codes don’t work.
An easier way to find coupon codes automatically is to install a plug-in called Honey to your browser.
Honey will automatically search for and apply any coupon codes available without having to the leave the store you're shopping at.
Once you install the free plug-in, an icon with the letter H will appear in the upper right corner of your browser.
From then on, whenever you hit a site that Honey can save you money on, the icon will turn orange to let you know.
You can install the Honey app to all your browsers just by visiting http://joinhoney.com and instantly become a smarter online shopper!
All you can eat subscription services like Netflix for movies, Hulu Plus for television, Spotify for music and Amazon Unlimited for books are clearly resonating with consumers.
Well now, if you’re a magazine junkie there’s an all-you-can-read subscription service called Magzter that you may want to check out.
The Magzter Gold service gives you unlimited access to over 2000 magazines from over 40 countries.
You can access the service from anywhere ; your smartphone or your tablet through their app or from any internet connected computer for about $10 a month.
If you’re appetite is a little smaller, you can go with the Gold Lite subscription, which gives you access to up to 5 magazines for $5 a month.
The service seems to have just about all the major bases covered, but specialty magazines like the Harvard Business Review won’t part of the library.
They also offer some lesser known magazines for free, so you can see how the service works at http://Magzter.com that’s spelled M A G Z T E R
Rudimentary smartphone translation apps have been around for years and one of my favorites has always been WordLens because it could visually translate words using your camera.
Google acquired the company a while back and they're doing two things that I love: they made it free to use and they’re incorporating it into the Google Translate app.
Now a single app will provide visual translations as well as written or spoken translations.
Not only can you use your smartphone camera to translate words, you can press the microphone to automatically translate speech and use the handwriting recognition or keyboard to type what you want to say.
As with all translation apps, it’s not perfect and usually works best with short sentences, but it’s really quite handy.
The instant translation currently works to and from English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish with more languages to come.
If you’re headed to a foreign country any time soon, get and learn how to use the updated version of Google Translate before you leave.
Streaming media boxes are becoming a common sight in many of our homes these days.
With options like Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and even Xbox, the options are many to stream content to our HD TVs.
If you have an Apple TV and an iPhone, you can push whatever’s on your phone onto your TV.
The same holds true if you have an Android phone and a Chromecast, but if your household or your circle of friends have a mix of both, you may want to checkout the Allcast app.
Allcast can connect your iPhone or Android phone to a long list of streaming boxes and smart TVs so you can stream from your phone to just about any popular device.
The free version of the app lets you get a taste of how it works, but limits your viewing time to 5 minutes. If you find it useful, you can get the upgrade to the pro version that removes the limitation for $5.
Search for Allcast in the Apple App Store or Google Play to give it a try.
Today’s tip is a preemptive bit of information for a term that you may start hearing in the near future: Tizen.
No, it’s not some eastern neckwear or new buzzword for being efficient, it’s actually a relatively new mobile operating system.
A partnership between Samsung and Intel is aiming to use yet another mobile platform for smartphones, tablets and wearables.
While Tizen has some interesting technical merits, it’s really Samsung’s attempt to break away from Google’s Android platform for some of their gadgets.
Samsung is beginning the launch in other countries focusing on low cost handsets, so you aren’t likely to see it any time soon.
It’s possible that you might start seeing Tizen powered smartphones by the end of the year, but if you do, I’d steer clear for a couple of reasons: lack of apps and the potential that Samsung could pull the plug like it did with a previous attempt.
Getting people to try a new mobile platform is tough, just ask Microsoft.
My passion for technology and innovation is fueled by those rare occasions when someone comes up with something really amazing.
This week that thing is an app called Be My Eyes and it’s simply ingenious.
An enterprising social inventor in Denmark released an app that allows the visually impaired or blind to connect with sighted volunteers through a video connection.
This allows the volunteer to as the app suggests be their eyes and help them with small tasks, such as describing what’s in a can of food, seeing the expiration date on a carton of milk or explaining what a street sign says.
Anyone with an iPhone and a desire to help your fellow man or woman can volunteer to help simply by installing the app.
As part of the community, you’ll earn points each time you help someone, which elevates your level in the system, giving you more opportunities to help.
If you’ve been looking for a small way to do something that makes you feel good every day, visit BeMyEyes.org and get the app today.
When is a lightbulb not just a lightbulb? When it’s on display at the world’s largest electronics show.
Smart LED bulbs were everywhere at this year’s CES but one company believes that ightbulbs should do more than just generate light.
Sengled believes we should hide other ugly electronics in our lightbulbs, such as wifi boosters, security cameras and speakers.
The Pulse Solo is a pair of LED lights with JBL speakers embedded in them so you can turn it on and turn it up. Any Bluetooth audio device can play music from these cleverly concealed speakers.
The Sengled Boost bulb doubles as a wifi booster, which can be really handy for those with wifi blackout zones in the house.
The coolest item they showed called Snap had a camera, motions sensors and facial recognition built into a single light bulb.
Snap won’t be available until later this year, but the rest of the products are at http://Sengled.com, that’s S E N G L E D.com
Baby monitors are a pretty common sight in most homes these days, but a baby monitor that monitors before and after the child is born is pretty unique.
The Bellabeat Shell is a small round monitor that can let you listen to the baby’s heartbeat, track its movements and play music for your baby during pregnancy.
The associated app allows you to easily record the sounds and share them with friends and family too.
Think of it as a Fitbit for pregnant ladies that becomes even more when your baby arrives.
After the child is born, the Shell becomes a full fledged baby monitor that can analyze 7 different cries as well as monitor the temperature and humidity in the nursery.
It can play white noise to help your baby go to sleep and tracks all the activity during the night, so you can understand your child’s sleep patterns.
This stylish wooden ball is currently sold out, with a projected price of $119 but you can get on the list at http://BellaBeat.com
No matter what brand of laptop you own, the power adapter is usually an oversized but very necessary accessory.
It’s kind of a shame to have a thin, lightweight laptop with a massive power adapter.
Not only does it add weight to your carry case, it becomes a big bulging mess when you attempt to pack it away.
If you travel with your laptop, FinSix may have a solution for this common problem.
It’s called the Dart and they claim that it’s the world’s smallest laptop charger.
Not only does it provide AC power to many popular Windows laptops, it also has a USB port to charge your phone or tablet at the same time.
At 2.5 cubic inches and just over an 8th of a pound, DART isn’t much larger than most smartphone chargers.
If your laptop power requirements are 65 watts or less and between 18 and 21 volts DC, the Dart will probably work
A compatiblity chart is available at http://FinSix.com that’s spelled F I N S I X
When you first hear the term 3D food printer, you’ll probably roll your eyes and chuckle at yet another crazy tech idea.
If you jump to the vision of a machine printing a steak dinner, I can understand why.
But 3D food printers may actually become part of your life in the foreseeable future, believe it or not.
At the moment, most of them are creating confections, baked goods and pizzas as more of a proof of concept exercise.
But we’re starting to see interesting concepts that use fresh vegetables so you can create quick meals with healthy organic ingredients.
Imagine printing customized meals for each member of your family based on their health needs.
For now, you’ll probably get served a personalized confection from one of these gadgets as your first encounter.
The commercial use of this new technology will likely lead to consumer adoption as new use cases are discovered.
As goofy as this device may seem on the surface, the microwave oven wasn’t immediately understood or trusted either, so don’t discount them just yet.
This year’s International CES was dubbed ‘the Internet of Things’ show, which refers to common items in your life being connected to the Internet.
Light bulbs, doorbells, thermostats, garage doors and lots of other tech will slowly turn your home into a smart home that you can control from your smartphone.
But before you jump into the Smart Home revolution, do yourself a favor and look into the platforms themselves first.
There are a handful of competing standards that will only talk to devices that follow those specific standards.
If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a dozen apps on your phone for a dozen devices that don’t talk to each other.
The platform wars are just getting started as major players like Google and Apple are jumping into the game with both feet.
If you’re an early adopter and don’t mind replacing your smart technology as it evolves, go to town.
For the rest of you, let the smoke settle so you can make smart smart home decisions.
Lots of you have installed webcams as a security device in your homes, but if you want to take it to the next level, a company called http://Netatmo.com has an option.
They were one of a handful of companies showing home security cameras that included facial recognition, so it can tell the difference between your family and a stranger.
The sophistication of facial recognition has improved dramatically and the demonstrations at this year’s CES were pretty impressive.
This additional feature to a security webcam can send parents of latchkey children a notification when they get home, for example.
As more of your home becomes smart devices, facial recognition will be able to set lighting, mood music or temperature based on who walks into a room.
This level of technology has only been available for years, but only for the tech savvy with deep pockets.
You’ll be seeing a lot more of this do-it-yourself home security technology as the year goes on based on what I saw at this year’s show.
One of the more anticipated product launches this year is the Apple Watch, which is slated for a March release.
If you’re a tech fanatic with a wad of cash, it’ll likely be your smartwatch of choice.
Smartwatches have been available from other companies for years, but lets face it, they’re all pretty geeky looking.
If you’re interested in a smart watch that also looks smart, we’re finally starting to see elegantly designed Bluetooth connected timepieces from companies like Withings and Guess.
Both companies showed beautiful alternatives to the typical digital styling at this year’s CES.
Vibrating notifications and hands-free voice commands were just a couple of the features that we should see from these devices as they come to market later this year.
Sending texts, making or answering phone calls, checking the weather or sports scores and setting reminders just by talking to your watch will become the norm this year.
If you’ve been waiting for a better looking Dick Tracy watch, this will be your year!