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!
For regulars of our tech tips, you know that I’m on a never ending search for new tools and apps for my digital photography.
We are all taking many more pictures with our phones these days and the results are not always that great, so having options to enhance the images after the fact is useful.
My latest favorite for this need is called Fotor http://www.fotor.com (spelled F O T O R) and it’s both an app and a web tool that is feature packed.
You'll get the usual types of editing features and collages, but one unique feature is the ability to create HDR images.
HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range, is a way to combine multiple images of the same type with varying exposures into a better single image.
Fodor allows you to take images that are too dark and combine them with images that are washed out to create a much better picture.
The app also has a series of retouching options for the beauty conscious, like blemish removal, wrinkle reduction and teeth whitening. The app is available for all the major mobile platforms.
Fotor has a lot of features, so it might become the only photo app you use!
Many of us that grew up in the 80’s consumed a steady diet of Pacman in arcades and bars.
I even had a buddy that owned one in his house, just so he could master every level.
If the memories of Pacman take you back to your youth, there's endless version of this classic in an app called Pac-Man 256.
It’s called 256 because of a well known bug in level 256 of the original game, taken to another level in this updated version of the game.
in the original version, you could win by completing all the levels, but in this game it's endless.
The controls for the game uses swipe motions on your screen, so you will have to forego the joystick, but ir doesn't take long to get the hang of it.
There are a number of power capabilities new to this game you can unlock as you gobble up the pellets, so if you’re into a bit of nostalgia on your mobile devices, checkout this app:
There are no shortage of ways to discover music through all of the various streaming services that are popular like Pandora & Spotify.
You probably know that Youtube is also a really great place to discover new music if you don’t mind weeding through all the cat videos and prank videos.
Google decided that it needed to make music on YouTube easier to discover, so they created an app called YouTube Music designed to filter out the junk.
With the app installed, you can discover music videos, live concerts and a huge number of instructional videos to teach you how to play your favorite songs.
With over 30 million licensed tracks, YouTube Music allows you to easily search them or it will suggest daily playlists for you.
There’s also an audio only mode which saves your bandwidth or play your music in the background while you do other things.
The free app is available for your iPhone or Android smartphone at https://music.youtube.com
I had a parent tell me the other day, just how proud he was of his daughter who is in a freshman in college because she had started her own investment account.
His was really proud because he convinced her to use an investing app called Acorns and it was working for her.
Acorns can automatically invest spare change using the round-up method whenever she makes any purchase.
It takes the rounded-up amounts and invests them through Acorn Advisors, which is an SEC registered investment advisor.
It’s a really interesting method of getting younger investors started on a portfolio, because for anyone under 24, there are no fees.
It’s also free for any student of any age that has a .edu email address.
Once you’ve set up your account, you can choose from one of five strategies for investing, ranging from aggressive to conservative.
If you’re the parent of a student that wants to get started on an investment portfolio, checkout the Acorns app at https://acorns.com.
Whenever you hear about breaking news, it’s common for us to hop online to try to get more details through a Google search.
It’s also common to believe that you can trust whatever pops up in a Google search, but I am here to proclaim that you can’t and shouldn’t, especially when it comes to breaking news.
Cyber thieves make it a point to target breaking stories by creating fake news sites claiming to have exclusive images that no one else has of the event.
They sometimes place rigged websites through the sponsored links which may be one of the first links.
Google does what it can to police this type of activity, but it is impossible to catch everything that gets thrown their way instantaneously.
To avoid this growing scam, try to stick to news sources that you trust instead of doing a Google search.
Your favorite news sites should be bookmarked on your computer and smartphone or better yet, use the news apps when they’re available.
These scammers constantly study our behavior so they can blend into our daily activities, so consider changing your behavior when it comes to breaking news.
If you’re in business, customer surveys are an integral process these days and there are lots of options available.
Tools such as https://www.surveymonkey.com provide a lot of great features, but unless you really need to send out surveys regularly, it’s probably overkill.
If you occasionally need to send out surveys, there is a free and simple option available in Google Docs.
By using Google Forms to create a quick survey, which allows 9 different question types through text, checkboxes and multiple choice.
You can even randomly shuffle the response order to help improve the quality of the data and have required questions on the survey.
Once you setup the survey, just send out the URL or post it on a website post to start generating responses.
The results will be posted to a Google spreadsheet which then allows you to do some basic sorting of the submitted data.
The next time you need to generate a quick and simple survey, start at https://Google.com/forms
Apple's iPad and iPhone have become popular devices in many homes with young children, so managing what can be done with them is important.
There are some pretty solid parental controls built-in, but if you’re looking for more extensive controls, check out an app from Intego called Family Protector.
It provides parents with more control over what & when your child uses on an iPad or iPhone, and can be managed and monitored remotely.
It allows you to block in-app purchases, adult websites, disable the camera or FaceTime and it creates logs to make sure you'll know exactly where they’re going online.
You can even automatically lock devices when it's mealtime or bedtime to eliminate distractions.
With older kids, you can lock down the devices remotely until your child checks back with you when they are unresponsive.
You can check out the system for 14 days and if you like it, it will cost run $5 a month for up to 15 devices at https://www.intego.com/family-protector
If staying connected to your Wifi network is a constant challenge, today's tip is for you.
In some cases, there may be a simple fix for a consistent dropping of your connection:change the channel!
For the common 2.4 Ghz frequency, there are 11 channels, but which one should you use?
For the most part, the best channels are 1, 6 or 11 because they are known as non-overlapping channels,but it’s still a guessing game, right?
The 2.4 Ghz radio band is on open spectrum that can be shared with just about everything wireless around you: cordless phones, baby monitors, garage door openers and even some Bluetooth earpieces can be just the beginning of the devices that can caues interference with your wifi connection.
Even worse, if you live close to others, the wifi network from your neighbor can also cause some interference in your home.
To help better select your channel, WIndows computers can download the NetSurveyor app which is free and will give you a graphical report on your least used channels.
Mac users can run a built-in utility know as Wifi Scan within the Wireless Diagnostics menu to accomplish the same thing.
I’ve got links on how to use both at DataDoctors.com/radio
The Windows NetSurveyor App: http://nutsaboutnets.com/netsurveyor-wifi-scanner
Mac Wifi Scan directions: http://www.letstalk-tech.com/access-wifi-scanner-macos-sierra
Just about all of us are slaves to our email to some extend and finding ways to better manage the onslaught is one way of staying productive.
One of the ways that lots of companies are trying to manage things is by turning the inbox into a CRM tool.
CRM, which stands for Customer Relationship Management, is the primary offering from companies like SalesForce.
If you are still looking for something that will work for you, an interesting option to turn your Inbox into a CRM tool is available from a company called Streak.
It was created because of the frustration of constantly popping between the inbox and other programs to keep track of things was inefficient.
Streak, which is a Gmail add-on that is free, has specific templates for everything from sales to customer support, tracking software bugs and hiring processes.
It also includes 'snippets' which are preformatted chunks of text that can be used to quickly respond to a common interaction.
There’s also an iPhone app which allows you to use it while you’re on the go.
If you use Gmail and want help with the overload, visit Streak.com
There are many tools on the Internet that allow you to share your desktop remotely with someone else that's online.
Many of them make you install special software as the host and also requires the computers remotely sharing your screen to do so as well.
If you aren't paying attention, some of the tools can also allow the people sharing the connection to see things you didn't intended to share.
For an option that’s really easy to use, does not require you or the person on the other end to install special software and limits sharing to just websites, checkout Surfly.
It’s a great tool for demos, helping your friends and family or sharing web-based content with a small group.
The hosts mouse pointer appears with a red glow around it and those viewing can’t click on anything, so you have complete control.
It doesn't allow the sharing of video content, but when it comes to helping non-technical users with basic website related questions, it’s a pretty handy tool.
Just setup your free account and create a special link to the site you want to share and email it to your viewers. They don’t have to sign up for anything, they just click on the link you send and viola, they see you’re what's in your browser!
Give it a try at Surfly.com, that’s S U R F L Y.com
Someone recently asked me a question that at first sounded strange, but made sense after I had thought about it.
He asked if I had any suggestions for adding Bluetooth to his non-Bluetooth speakers.
While Bluetooth speakers are pretty inexpensive, the really cheap ones don’t sound great.
So if you’re like him and have a spare set of speakers that sound good or just want the ability to stream music to a home sound system from your phone or tablet, check into Logitech’s Wireless Speaker Adapter.
It’s really easy to setup device that looks like many of the streaming devices like Roku or Apple TV and has both 3.5mm and RCA audio connectors.
Stand-alone speakers must be powered or connected to an amplifier for it to work and the device needs to plug into AC power as well.
At forty bucks, it is an inexpensive way to send music from your devices to any powered speaker system you own.
I’ve posted the link to learn more at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you happen to be sci-fi fan and also love to take pictures with your iPhone, I've got an out of this world app suggestion.
Instead of creating those boring everyday images and using mindless photo editing buttons, the Alien Sky app lets your imagination run wild.
Why keep using common colorization filters to try to make your images pop when you can take them to a whole other level with awesome space effects.
The Alien Sky app lets you create futuristic images by blending in high resolution space images and vivid lens flares to all of your images.
They offer lots of space objects like planets, moons, bright suns, star systems, comets and entire galaxies to really generate conversations on all your social posts.
The app has over 150 effects which gives you complete control over other-worldly customization, allowing you to recreate alien visions and photos that will stop people in their tracks.
Now you can convert those old blasé pictures into fantastic alien-looking photos with this 99 cent app.
The direct link to the Alien Sky app is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
For all those road warriors out there, you know that there are 2 constant issues for all your mobile devices: storage and battery power.
No matter how much storage space you might have, at some point you'll run out of space and be faced with the “what can I get rid of” problem.
And since it's constantly in use, you'll eventually end up with the low battery scenario usually when you are nowhere near a power outlet.
Both of these common issues along with some other potential benefits are the purpose for a product from Kingston called MobileLite Wireless.
It is a card reader that can attach to any smartphone, combined with a battery charger with wi-fi built-in.
It can serve as an external storage device that can also charge your devices and stream content to them as well.
It can also help you upload images to your social profiles from any standard digital camera card without having to use a computer.
It’s a pretty unusually helpful gadget for less than $50 that can expand what you can do while you're on the road.
Sound interesting? Get the link to learn more at DataDoctors.com/radio
The art of photo retouching is what allows fashion magazines to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary using expensive software programs like Adobe’s Photoshop.
Not only are they expensive programs to buy, they're pretty complicated and can take a rather long time to master.
The fashion industry has been chastised for going overboard, but there are actually those times when having basic touch up abilities can come in handy.
An app called Perfect365 provides some quick and easy retouching options on most major mobile devices, so you no longer have to wait until you get back to your computer to make adjustments.
You can use their pre-defined 1 touch cleanup or makeover button or manually touch-up any part of an image yourself.
The app can remove dark circles under the eyes, blemishes or soften skin and whiten teeth with a few taps of the screen.
Ever wanted to give yourself a facelift or nose job? Now you can do it virtually.
For an app that makes it a snap to go from drab to fab, checkout Perfect365 which is available for iPhone, iPad & Android users.
The links to download the free app is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
A favorite web resource of mine has gotten a makeover which makes searching the web’s history a bit easier.
It’s called the Wayback Machine and it's part of the Internet Archive which has been recording the web since 1996, so you can go back in time to see what the web looked like.
They routinely take screenshots of the web and currently have over 279 billion web pages saved.
Want to see what your firm’s website looked like a decade ago?
Just bring up the Wayback Machine and type in the web site and you’ll get a timeline of all of the available screenshots.
The archived screenshots just grab home pages, so that’s all you’ll be able to see, but the update to their technology will allow more items to be archived in the future.
It’s a lot of fun to see popular tech firms like Microsoft and Apple looked like in the past!
Check it out at http://Archive.org/web
Ever noticed that some smartphone chargers seem to take longer to charge then others?
If so, you aren’t imagining things because the output power of your charger known as the amperage or even a bad cable can make a big difference.
The lower your amperage, the longer it’ll take to charge the battery.
Of course, it is always best to use the charger that came with your device, but when that isn’t possible, using a charger with the proper amperage rating is always recommended.
Usually, you need a special type of device to measure output current, but if you have an Android smartphone, there is an app that’ll make it easy to see the differences for your various chargers and cables called Ampere.
The Ampere app will monitor battery charge and drainage, temperature and overall health of the battery.
Bringing up the app while using your various chargers and cables will quickly reveal the combination that will does the best job.
Get the free Ampere app at the Google Play store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gombosdev.ampere&hl=en
Passwords continue to be one of the weakest links in cyber-security and I’ve stressed extensively why it’s so important to use a different password for each of your accounts.
I have given you a lot of suggestions for tools that can manage your passwords, but it may still be overwhelming.
If that’s the case, I've got a low-tech suggestion for anyone struggling to keep track of your passwords; just write them down!
I don’t mean scribble them on a sticky note and pop it on your screen, I mean write them down & save them somewhere safe, like deep on your phone or in your desk.
Just dot use the word “password” anywhere on the document and incorporate your own form of "encryption” in the event someone discovers it.
For example, add four completely random characters or numbers at the beginning of your actual passwords, then you’ll be the only one to know to ignore them.
My point is, If your choice is to use the same password on every account or write individual unique passwords down, then write them down so you aren't totally exposed by a single data breach.
The cameras in our smartphones have become our go-to cameras because they are so good, but since they don’t fit in our hands in the same way as our point-&-shoot cameras, we can often end up with crooked pictures.
Trying to take the picture with one hand is what generally causes this problem, because it’s tough to get the phone aligned and tap the shutter at the same time.
You can fix the image that’s off kilter after the fact, but it’s too much work to commit to in most cases, so we just post them crooked.
It can look kind of artistic, but if you are taking too many crooked pictures and want some help, there’s an app for that.
An app called Orient helps you take straight pictures no matter how you are holding your iPhone because it can compensate for just about any angle by using the built-in gyroscope.
You don’t need to pay any attention to how you're holding your phone with the Orient app; just pick an aspect ratio from their options and the app does the rest.
You can align pictures horizontally or vertically and it works with both front or back cameras, so now your selfies will come out straight.
If you're using an Android smartphone or tablet, you are more likely to be interested in all of the tweaks and utilities that this platform offers.
If you're a more technical hands-on user that is used to the Windows approach to file manager, here's an app you might want to check out.
It’s called ES File Explorer and it is a very popular app for Android users that's been downloaded hundreds of millions of times already.
This useful app replicates much of the functionality in Windows, using folders that you can cut, copy, paste, move, delete, rename and allows multiple select options for faster management.
As with any utility on any system, if you don’t know what something is, don't ever delete it.
ES File Explorer can also integrate with Dropbox, Google Drive, Sky Drive and many other popular online cloud services, so pushing files to the Internet is made easy.
You can also manage other applications, stop background tasks from running and delete junk files even on your SD card.
If you are the tinkering type and have an Android phone, it’s worth checking out: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.estrongs.android.pop&hl=en
Whenever you’ve had to do research on the web, you know that you shouldn’t take the information you find on a single site at face value.
Finding similar sites that can help you verify or possibly dispute the information you are researching is a way of validating the info, but searching for related sites can get laborious.
That is where a website called http://www.similarsitesearch.com can help in a big way.
This search engine focuses on finding sites that may be similar, related or even alternatives based on your search words, the topic or category.
Simply type any website into the search site and it’ll return a list of sites that are similar ranked by popularity.
It’s a really quick way to get a solid list of alternative resources for just about anything you are trying to do research on.
You can even help them improve the rankings by giving each suggested site a thumbs up or down based on how accurate you feel the results are.
It’s one of those awesome resources that you will love when you need, so consider bookmarking it!
There is a vital process to surfing the Internet known as DNS that plays a critical role in directing you to the sites type in your browser.
DNS which stands for Domain Name System acts kind of like a traffic cop providing your computer with directions to the sites you want to visit.
The DNS setting is usually determined by your ISP, but changing from your defaults can have several major benefits.
Not only can you increase the reliability & your speeds but if you are a parent, you can easily block adult content or malicious sites for your entire household.
A really great free service called OpenDNS is fast, very reliable, easy to get setup and it gives you complete filtering control over everything that connects to your home network.
It’s as simple as changing the DNS settings in your router and every device in your home will have improved performance and be better protected.
The link to the free versions of OpenDNS are posted at DataDoctors.com/radio