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!
What do bedtime and doing math have in common?
As it turns out, adding math to bedtime stories is a great way to improve a child's mathematic skills, according to University of Chicago.
The study showed an increase in achievement in a measurable way when families used an app called Bedtime Math.
The app combines images, stories and math so a child and their parents can solve math problems in a fun way.
The study showed measurable results even if the app was used just once a week.
Whenever I hear about a research paper that touts a specific product, I get a little suspicious, but the Bedtime Math app is free for both Android and iPhone users.
For parents with math anxiety, it can be especially helpful, because the study showed the parent’s anxiety had an impact on the child’s progress.
Bedtime Math is not just for young kids; there are varying levels of difficulty that can be a challenge to just about everyone in the family.
Checkout this fun way to improve math skills at http://bedtimemath.org/apps.
You know the vital importance of CPR when anyone is in trouble, but most of us have no idea what to do.
The difference between life & death can be just a few minutes, so the more you know what to do, the better it will be.
And there are lots of other first aid situations that you may encounter, but most of us aren’t really prepared to deal with those either.
If you’re looking to be a little more prepared when life’s unexpected situations pop up, install the Red Cross First Aid app on your smartphone.
The Red Cross has compiled lots of critical advice for common emergencies so that it’s in the palm of your hand when you’re faced with a critical situation.
The content is pre-staged within the app, so even when you don’t have a cellular signal, you can still get the step-by-step information to many common situations.
This isn’t one of those apps you’ll use every day, but it’s pretty obvious why you should have it on your phone.
We’ve posted the link are at DataDoctors.com/radio
Stop motion video animation apps for your smartphone have been around for a while, but an app called Stikbot takes an entirely different approach.
This free app works just like all the other stop motion apps you may have tried; take an initial shot and a ghost of the image remains as a guide so you can setup your next frame.
For example, you can create a video of a fork moving around a plate by ensuring that the plate is lined up in each frame while you repeatedly move the fork around.
Where the Stikbot approach differs from others is through their optional figurines that can be purchased for around 10 dollars.
These figurines are specifically designed to help you make amazing stop motion videos with the flexible limbs and suction cups on the hands and feet.
It’s a clever combination that can be the start of a movie making career or a just a great way to waste some time.
Get the free app and see some examples at http://www.stikbot.toys/about
Our smartphones are pretty amazing, but they’re only as amazing as the user using them.
It's not very likely you have discovered all of the features or hidden tricks that these tiny bundle of technology have to offer, unless you're a hardcore techie.
So if you're looking to get smarter and discover more of the features on your phone, good news: there’s an app for that!
The app is called Drippler and it’s available for both iPhone and Android users for free.
Drippler presents useful tips, hidden features and general updates as well as valuable how-to documents that can help you with everything from extending battery life to discovering lots of hidden options that you probably had no idea existed.
Think of it as the your own compact tech advisor that helps you keep up with all the changes on your smartphone.
The app is platform specific, so you’ll get tips and how-tos that apply to your operating system & mobile device.
All these free tips and tricks for your specific smartphone are just a download away.
Just look for Drippler in the Apple and Google App Stores!
If you’re considering using webcams to monitor your home or business, there are a plethora of options in both wired or wireless configurations.
But a wireless webcam really isn't wireless if you have to plug them into an electrical outlet, right?
Not only does this make them unsightly, it can drastically limit where you are able to setup the webcams.
If you want a truly wire-free option, take a look at Netgear’s Arlo security webcams.
They are HD webcams that are also weatherproof and use long life battery system so they truly are wireless.
They are not made for constant streaming of video, they're designed to provide a motion sensing monitoring system that alerts you when motion is detected.
I've been using them to monitor a rental properties front and back doors when it’s not being used, so I get an alert any time someone approaches the house along with an option to watch a 10-second video to see what's happening.
Instead of paying a monitoring service, you're alerted directly via your smartphone!
Check it out at https://www.arlo.com that’s A R L O.com
With the flu season right around the corner, taking steps to avoid others that are sick is always a good idea.
Just like Doppler radar can scan the skies for indications of bad weather, the Sickweather app scans social media and collects reports from other users to keep you abreast of potential outbreaks near you.
It’s really great because it allows you to check for reported infections in just about area as easily as you can check for the chances of rain.
Sickweather keeps tabs on Facebook and Twitter posts with words like "I'm sick," "the doctor says I have bronchitis" or "My kid has the chicken pox."
Any of the public posts that include location info will get added to the database in real-time in addition to reports by other users of the app.
The app was able to detect the early start of the flu season six weeks ahead of the CDC in 2012, so this app could be a great way to stay ahead of any outbreaks.
Sickweather is available for both iPhone and Android users or you use their website at http://sickweather.com to view live maps any time.
If you've ever had to call tech support, you know that one of the first steps in the troubleshooting process is to restart your computer.
It’s amazing how many problems that this simple step can solve and when it comes to common Internet related problems, there’s an equally easy step many people overlook...clearing the browser cache.
The cache which is spelled C A C H E is a copy of items that have been downloaded from previous surfing sessions.
By reusing items that are already in the cache, your computer, smartphone and even your tablet will load a website much faster because it doesn’t need to download every element from the Internet.
But on occasion, elements used from your cache can actually cause a website to no load properly, especially on pages that require you to sign-in.
So, the next time you are experiencing problems with a specific website, try the universal fix of clearing your cache first.
If you’re not sure how to clear your cache, I’ve posted a link to instructions for the most common browsers at DataDoctors.com/radio
Popular streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu are creating a whole different type of television viewer - the binge-watcher.
Watching the entire season of your favorite show in one sitting is becoming standing weekend event for many and the list of options of what to watch is expanding weekly.
With this endless trove of choices, you may need help determining what’s worth watching or what you shouldn’t waste your time watching.
Reviews on IMDb is one place to get some insight, but there’s a website called 'Graph TV' that can be so much more helpful.
Graph TV is a visualization of every IMDb rating for each season and each episode.
You just click on a show to see every episode of every season’s rating accompanied by a trend line representing each season or the entire series.
It’s a great way to see that series like Mad Men and Breaking Bad had trend lines showing great reviews while series like the Simpsons were higher rated in the early years.
If ya love data like I do, checkout the link at DataDoctors.com/radio
People that are constantly running out of space on their phones is one of the most common cries for help I get these days.
It’s an even bigger problem for iPhone users because there is no way to expand memory like Android smartphone owners can.
Uninstalling unused apps will certainly free up some space, but dumping old pictures & video will free up much more.
Getting rid of videos especially will free up lots of space because a two-minute file can take up as much space as 100 pictures.
Another area that most people don’t even think to address is all those old text messages, especially the ones that have photos, images or videos attached to them.
The wife’s iPhone had more than 5 GBs of space hogged up by those old messages because so many of them had attachments.
If you’re in the club that’s struggling with the ongoing storage problem, I’ve got a number of suggestions posted at: DataDoctors.com/radio
For those in business, technical or not, it’s not uncommon to be in a situation where you're faced with a technology decision, especially when it comes to your web presence.
All too often, a non-technical decision maker such as a CFO or CEO have tough decisions to make on the various web technologies for important projects.
Whether you’re a fortune 500 CEO or a small business owner, understanding how other companies are leveraging web tech can help you make a more informed decision.
A useful website called BuiltWith.com can be a tremendous aid in understanding web and technology trends in general.
Simply type any web URL into the site's lookup engine and you get a complete report on all the technology being used by any website, like by a competitor.
You can even see their reports on web technology usage trends so you can compare the technology that you’re evaluating to see if it is falling out of favor or on the rise.
The http://Builtwith.com web resource is a fantastic free business intelligence tool that I'd recommend to everyone facing web technology decisions.
Have you ever been sitting in a public place using our laptop, tablet or smartphone and got the feeling that someone was snooping to see if they could get a peak at your screen?
There's so much personal information that can be captured by those around you if you're not careful; It even has its own name: Visual Hacking.
Whether it's the nosey person seated next to you on a long flight or the sketchy guy sitting behind you at a coffee shop, there's something simple you can do to protect yourself.
Install a privacy screen, which have been around for a long time for computers and now they're available for tablets and smartphones too.
They obscure your display for anyone that not looking directly at it, so those off to the sides will only see a darkened screen.
On tablets and smartphones, in addition to providing privacy, they add extra screen protection for the glass.
They are really simple to install as well as to remove, so anyone that spends a lot of time operating their gadgets in open public areas should checkout the link I’ve posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Our smartphones have become pretty handy whenever we need a flashlight because we always have them with us.
They’re especially useful when you need to shine light in a specific area, but there are times when using it more like a lantern would provide better light and make them even more useful.
There’s actually a pretty simple way to turn the LED on your smartphone into a lantern when you need a more dispersed light from it.
All it takes is a rubber band and a plastic water bottle that’s full for the magic to happen.
Simply place your smartphone next to the bottle with the light facing into the bottle and use the rubber band to make keep it in place.
It’s works best if you remove the label from the bottle, but if you don’t, make sure to avoid placing the light on the label.
It’s a handy life hack for campers, when you need to lead a group of people in the dark or in any situation where you’re in need of widespread light at night.
MacGyver’s not the only one that can take common items and turn them into something completely awesome!
Whether you like what Edward Snowden did or not, everyone can agree that he knows a bit about cyber-security.
With this in mind, when Snowden tweets about a messaging system that he personally uses because of its security, you can count on it being about as secure as communication can be.
The Signal app from Open Whisper Systems is the one that was mentioned in the tweet and it's available for both iPhone and Android smartphones.
The app provides secure messaging for text or voice communications and best of all, it does not require you to get an account in order to use it.
Because it uses your current number and personal address book, it requires no separate sign-ins, usernames, passwords, or PINs.
It makes use of very sophisticated encryption technology, but it’s still really easy to setup so you can start using it as your primary messaging app.
It also automatically determines if your recipient has the same app, so it doesn't encrypt messages sent to people that aren’t using the app.
If your business could benefit from secure messaging, check it all out at http://WhisperSystems.org .
If you’re into shopping, the Internet has made it so much more convenient when you want to buy things you know you want, but when you aren’t sure what to buy, how much time do you spend researching your options?
That’s where a startup called Operator, which is the creation of a co-founder of Uber wants to help online shoppers.
They offer human help from the Internet via smartphone apps if you’re shopping for anything from romantic getaways to concert tickets or even if you’re just looking for a new mattress.
They’re goal is to become that trusted friend you tap whenever you want info on something you’re interested in buying.
Think of it as a personal concierge service waiting inside your smartphone, or at least that’s what they’re trying to become.
Since it’s a startup, how quickly someone responds may vary for now, but depending on what you need help with and when, this interesting approach could come in handy.
If you want to give it a test drive for yourself, you can get the app at https://www.operator.com
If you love live music and understand the life of the working musician, you know how grateful they are for tips from those that came to listen.
Jamming money into their tip jar is what most of us do, but some times you may not be able to show your appreciation...like when you don’t have any cash with you.
Since we’re typically using cash less often these days, many in the service and hospitality industry are suffering as a result.
That’s where an app that makes it really easy for those in the service industry to get the tips they deserve comes in.
It’s the Bravo app and it makes electronically tipping your guides, musicians, parking valets or anyone in the service industry when cash isn’t an option a snap.
I routinely suggest to musicians that they should make a sign promoting the Bravo app next to their tip jar, so those that are listening can download the app and electronically tip them throughout the performance.
Whether you’re using it to tip or to get tipped, I say Bravo to the awesome Bravo app!
It’s not hard to take for granted the amazing technology in our smartphones these days, but they’re more powerful than what NASA used to get us to the moon in the 60’s.
They include amazingly sophisticated camera technology so we can all take incredible images without the need to be a professional photographer, right?
Not so much…
Features like auto-focus, auto-white balance, auto-exposure and auto-color correction can’t help you with your pictures if you don’t understand composition.
The very helpful rule of thirds seems to be a challenge for many emerging photographers and thankfully, there’s an app for that.
The Camera 51 app concentrates its efforts on helping novice photographers with the all important composition.
It uses the sophistication of your smartphone to analyze scenes you’re getting ready to capture to provide you with an on-screen guide to suggest where you should point the camera.
If you’re looking to dramatically improve your pictures through better composition, check out the free Camera51 app for iPhone or Android smartphones.
Today’s tip focuses on the ongoing issue that we all deal with on a regular basis...grocery shopping.
If you’re like most families, you use paper lists, text messages, emails or even a chalkboard on the refrigerator and keeping track of what’s on-hand adds to the fun.
The bigger your family unit is, the more complicated the problem becomes, as requests for items to be added to the list comes from everyone, on any day and through any of the potential channels.
If you’re looking to reduce the hassles of keeping everything on track, checkout the Capitan app.
Think of it as a grocery list on steroids that learns what you’re family regularly buys as well as organize the list to come closer to how things are displayed in the grocery store.
You can even use location services on your phone so the app can remind you of the list when you walk into your grocery store as well as alert your family that you just walked into the store should hey need any last minute items.
Checkout this cool app at http://www.getcapitan.com
Professional football is a national obsession this time of year, with fantasy football leagues that range from one week to the entire season becoming just as popular.
Fantasy football, for many fans, creates a reason to watch meaningless games, which makes it very popular with both the fans and the league.
If you’re looking to add yet another dimension to being part of each game, a real-time prediction app called ringit! Pro is something to check out.
It’s a play-by-play fantasy app that allows you to predict the next play while watching your live games.
You accumulate points for making the right picks, while competing with others throughout the game.
It’s fast-paced interactions that allow you to act like your the coach during the game and compare your skills with your fellow fans.
iPhone users can download ring it! from the App Store, while Android users have to download it directly from their website:
The task of transferring files between a mobile device and a computer is becoming more common these days.
Whether you've got a large HD video you shot on your smartphone and you want to edit it on your PC or a large number of PDFs that you want to review on an airplane that doesn't offer wifi, there’s a cool solution for that.
Infinit is group of free apps for just about any mobile device or computer and it makes transferring files between them all super simple.
If you're one of the millions that now regularly uses multiple operating system platforms, Infinit will be infinitely faster to use than other sharing tools such as iCloud, Dropbox or Google Drive because it eliminates the upload/download process.
Infinit uses peer-to-peer connections, so files can be transferred directly between your devices.
Because I use an Android handset and a Macbook laptop, Infinit allows me to quickly share my files and folders between them with no file size restrictions like all the others impose on users.
It’s also a great sharing tool groups, so give it a go at https://infinit.io
E-mail these days tend to be inefficient and often a dangerous way to communicate, but it is still the method of choice for most businesses.
If your business is not getting a timely response to the messages you're sending, it could be due to your choices in when you send them according to a recent study.
An e-mail marketing company called Yesware analyzed over half a million email messages and discovered that the open and reply rates for email are actually higher on the weekends. Why? Maybe because your message doesn't have to compete with as many other messages on the weekends.
The study also showed that messages sent early in the morning (between 6am & 7am) and in the evening (closer to 8pm) got responses at a higher rate.
If you want to test these times for yourself, learn how to schedule your important email messages as most e-mail programs have an option or an add-in that can send your messages when you want them to be seen.
For more details on the Yesware study, I’ve posted the link at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you’re just beginning your exploration of the wonderful but confusing world of wine like millions of others, there’s a different kind of wine club that you may want to take a look at.
Think of it as a Netflix for wine when you visit http://TastingRoom.com.
The key to their approach is helping you to figure out your preferred wine profile by using a 6 bottle tasting kit that gets sent to at your initial sign up for the service.
When you get the kit, you simply go to their online guided tasting challenge which helps them learn what flavors and varietals your palate prefers .
Based on this process, you’ll start to get sent wine to you or you can customize the shipment if you know what you really want to drink.
If you don’t like something that’s sent to you, each bottle is guaranteed so you can get it replaced or credited towards future bottles.
The key to refining your choices is to continue to update ratings you give each bottle you get sent, so your wine discovery will tend to be more spot on as you go.
Learn all about it at https://www.tastingroom.com