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 spend time in the outdoors as much as I do, you’ll often find yourself in the middle of nowhere without any sort of cell signal.
For the most part, that can be a good thing, but there are times when you’d like the safety net should you get lost or need help.
A new device called goTenna offers an option for communicating with others when your phone has no service.
It allows you to send and receive messages and share your GPS location with others that also have the device. The range can span 1 to 50 miles, depending upon the terrain.
A setting like a ski resort for instance, would likely provide better range than an urban setting with lots of tall buildings.
I just came back from a big music festival where having goTenna would have been a much more reliable way to communicate with friends because the cellular networks where jammed with traffic.
If you want to learn more, visit goTenna.com for all the details.
First it was Target, then Home Depot and most recently Dairy Queen.
Why are so many retailers being breached all of the sudden?
The main reason is because sophisticated hacking groups are focusing on Point Of Sale systems; they offer direct access to valuable personal information.
The Secret Service estimates that over 1000 businesses have been compromised by the Backoff Point of Sale malware and many have no idea that they are infected.
How these hackers are getting into systems in the first place is a huge wake up call for all of us.
Whether you’re a business or an individual, if you are using any type of remote access technology, you need to make sure you secure those connections.
If you’re using remote desktop products from Microsoft, Apple, Chrome, Logmein or other popular companies, you’re being targeted.
The hackers are generally using brute force attacks, so longer passwords, limiting login attempts and changing default ports are just a few steps you should take.
My detailed advice is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Well, today’s an other decision day for Apple customers as they roll out their latest update called iOS 8.1.
As I’ve previously said, whenever a new update to an operating system comes out, waiting for a while is always the safe play.
Let’s face it, Apple’s track record so for with iOS 8 updates hasn’t been particularly stellar but 8.1 is supposed to change all that.
Various online surveys and feedback suggest that there have been three types of user experiences thus far with those that have downloaded previous iOS 8 updates.
A third that had no problems, a third that had some minor problems and a third that had considerable issues.
So should you download iOS 8.1 today? If you’re a techie and don’t mind dealing with the unknown, go for it, but for the rest of you, give it at least a week to see what happens.
If you’re still on iOS 7, I would definitely hold off on, especially if you have an older iPhone 4s or iPad 2.
If you’ve got young kids or grandkids that you’ll be spending some time with this weekend, have I got something for you!
Wouldn’t it be great when story time comes around and you can read a book that stars your child?
A website called Storybots allows you to customize children’s books starring your child with just a few mouse clicks.
You simply upload a picture of your child to create their character and pick one of over forty books that cover just about any child’s interests and they become the star of the story.
They also have Starring You Videos, learning videos and activity sheets to keep the fun going.
Most of the apps can be used with your computer via the web or through an iPhone or iPad, so it’s perfect for bedtime stories that they’ll be excited to see and hear.
Storybots is kidsafe with no ads, no in-app purchases and no unsafe links in any of their resources.
Lots of the resources are free, but if you want unlimited access to everything, you can become a member for $3 to $5 a month at http://StoryBots.com
By now, you’ve heard of the wildly successful app called Snapchat that allows users to send messages and pictures to others that disappear after being viewed.
You’ve probably also heard that it’s a big hit with the younger crowd and that taking a screenshot of a message or picture renders the self destruct feature useless.
There are times when you’d like to send a message to someone, but the fear of it ever getting into the wrong hands may keep you from sending it.
An app called Confide bills itself as the confidential messenger for the business world.
Whether you’re engaged in a legal battle or in the middle of sensitive negotiations, keeping your message confidential and temporary can be critical.
Confide only allows you to send text messages and you must run your finger over each block to unveil the text underneath, so the entire message never appears on the screen all at once.
A recipient could potentially record a video while reading the message, so it’s still not 100% secure, but it’s a lot more so than Snapchat.
If you’re looking for a way to communicate ‘off the record’ go to http://GetConfide.com
Wearable technology is clearly one of the emerging platforms in the industry, but let’s face it, most of the designs don’t appeal to women.
Smartwatches, Google Glass, fitness monitors and those nerdy hands-free Bluetooth earpieces aren’t going to win any fashion contests.
Once company that is specifically catering to women that are interested in wearable technology is a company called Ringly that is focusing on smart jewelry and accessories.
Ringly’s current wearable device is a ring that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and notifies you of calls, app notifications, important emails and text messages with vibrations and light.
The idea is to allow you to keep your phone tucked away but still be aware when important communications come in. Ringly uses four vibration patterns and five colors to alert you to specific types of communications.
As far as wearable technology goes, at $195 it’s a relatively inexpensive device but it’s obviously not for everyone.
There are currently five different semi-precious stones to choose from and they work with both iPhone and Android smartphones.
If you want to see them for yourself, head on over to Ringly.com
We’ve all been there; flight delays, cancellations and overbookings.
When it happens, it can ruin your day; make you late for an important meeting or worse miss it altogether.
At best, you may end up with a meal voucher or a free drink, but that’s because the airlines know that you’re clueless about your rights.
This common irritation caused a group of frequent international travelers to take action, the created a service called AirHelp.
AirHelp is an app and a website that can quickly act as your advocate when the going gets rough.
It only takes about three minutes for them to see if you are eligible for real compensation, so you can make a more informed decision before accepting anything from the gate agents.
Getting compensated won’t happen quickly, but if AirHelp does get you compensation, they keep 25% to cover the leg work they do on your behalf.
If you’ve had a nightmare flight within that last three years and did not get compensation, you may still have a claim, especially if it was an international flight.
Check it all out at http://GetAirHelp.com
It’s always been a bit risky to plug a USB drive that you don’t know anything about into your computer, but now it’s gotten downright dangerous.
Malware and viruses have always been a potential threat from any USB drive but in general, an up-to-date antivirus program could detect and block the threat.
A recent exploit demonstrated at this year’s Black Hat Security Conference exposed a way for hackers to change the firmware on USB devices to hide malware.
This new exploit is basically undetectable by standard security software and virtually unpatchable, meaning there is no easy fix for this design flaw.
Based on this latest news, it’s extremely important that you avoid plugging in USB drives that you don’t personally own and never use a USB drive that someone else seems to have lost.
Think like a hacker for a minute; infected USB drives dropped near college campuses and businesses could make it very easy to gain access to secured systems.
The fact that this new exploit is undetectable requires that we all become very suspicious of any USB drive we don’t own.
Businesses should warn employees and set clear policies on USB usage.
Streaming video has become one of the most common types of content that we all consume on a daily basis.
Most studies show that watching streaming video accounts for more than 50% of all Internet traffic.
Sites like YouTube get 100 hours of video uploaded every minute of every day.
There is so much content available it’s the proverbial drinking from a firehose problem.
If you’re looking for a way to watch streaming content a little more like you watch television, checkout a website called 5by.com.
5by bills itself as a video concierge that will continuously stream video based on your preferences or mood.
For instance, if you’re in the mood to laugh, listen to music or just kill time with random footage, 5by makes it easy because you don’t have to keep finding the next video.
They’ve created dozens of channels that curate high quality videos for you, so it’s a lot more like watching television, but without the commercials.
5by that’s the number 5 B Y is both a website and a mobile app for anyone that wants online video the easy way!
If you come to fork in the road, take it.
If you’ve ever heard or read a famous quote and wondered, who said that, today’s tip is for you.
A nifty internet resource called Quotery.com has done a great job compiling and presenting famous quotes in an easy to use database.
You can search for over 100,000 quips, quotes & proverbs directly or by author or topic.
Whether you’re doing a research paper, working on a presentation or writing a blog, Quotery.com can be an extremely useful resource.
They bill the site as an encyclopedia of wit and wisdom, so its fun just to randomly search the database for interesting quotes.
What I like about Quotery.com vs other quote websites is that they include sources and context around the quote and author.
They even allow anyone to suggest an edit to help keep the information as accurate as possible.
Want to have some real fun? Go read all the rest of the awesome quotes from the great American philosopher Yogi Berra.
You won’t always need Quotery.com, but when you do, you’ll be glad you bookmarked this tip!
The Internet’s an awesome tool for finding comparisons of products or services that you are researching, but what do you do when you don’t know what to compare?
Here’s what I do when I know of a product but don’t necessarily know about any specific competitors.
I simply put the letters VS as in versus behind whatever it is that I am researching.
For instance, if I’m car shopping and want to see lots of comparisons to a Honda Civic, I just type Honda Civic vs and hit the enter key.
I find this especially helpful when I’m trying to find the best mobile app in just about any category. Once you find one app, you can generally discover lots of others that compare with this trick.
This seems to be especially helpful with anything in the technology category, since there are so many people comparing gadgets, software and websites all over the world.
It’s not a foolproof way for everything, but I find that it’s pretty effective most of the time because Google’s algorithm combines the keywords you’re typing with their popularity ranking.
If you work in an office full of cubicles, I refer to it as a cube farm, your computer can be accessed by just about anyone when you step away from your desk.
If you work with a bunch of pranksters, this can become a bit of an annoyance if you don’t remember to lock down your desktop before you leave.
Getting in the habit of using a keyboard shortcut before you step away, can save you lots of grief and keep snooping eyes off your work.
If you’re using a Windows desktop, just hold the Windows Icon key down and tap the letter L for lock.
If you using a Mac, holding down Control+Shift+ Eject at the same time will do the trick.
If you have a Mac that doesn’t have the Eject key, use Control+Shift+Power to lock it down.
All of this is predicated on having a login password setup, which is generally the standard operating procedure at a business.
Mom and dad, you can use this process at home too if you want to prevent a child from using your profile without permission.
Web based email services are great because you are no longer beholden to a specific machine for using email.
Gmail is still my favorite webmail system and if you use it every day like I do, learning some keyboard shortcuts can make it even better.
Most of the really useful Gmail shortcuts start with the letter G followed by a second character.
For instance, if you want to see all mail, you type G A
If you want to jump to your Draft messages, type G D
If you want to get to your contacts, type G C
If you only want to see your Starred messages, type G S and if you want jump to your sent messages, type G T as in senT.
There are actually over 60 keyboard shortcuts that address just about everything you would normally use your mouse to execute.
They can eliminate the need to take your hands off the keyboard, making you more efficient.
I’ve posted a link to all the shortcuts in Gmail so you can print them out at DataDoctors.com/radio
Ok, I admit it! I was a chess nut when I was growing up and I don’t mean the kind that grows on trees.
I mean the game of chess and it’s still one of the most challenging games ever created.
But since I haven’t actively played the game for years, I went on a search for resources that could help me regain some confidence in playing.
One of the best sites that I found was called Chessacademy.com because it presented lessons in a fun and easy to understand way.
If you don’t know a rook from a pawn or you’re a regular player looking to build new strategies, Chessacademy.com is a great resource.
A 7-time world champion joined forces with a couple of tech wizards to create lots of free online video lessons that can teach anyone how to play chess.
Once you feel like you’ve learned enough to give it a go, you can click on the Train option to work with specific scenarios to gain strategic knowledge.
If you’ve ever wanted to become a chess nerd, I can’t think of a better place to start than Chessacademy.com
It happened to me again; I was on the road and got an email requesting me to fill out some forms, sign them and email them back asap.
Finding a place to print out forms is usually pretty easy, but you may not always have a scanner so you can email them back.
The first time this happened to me years ago, I went on a search for a mobile app that would allow me to take a picture of the pages and turn them into a legible PDF document.
There are lots of great options these days, but I continue to rely on the CamScanner app.
CamScanner is free and dead simple to use. Just take a picture of the document, crop it to fit your needs and save it as a PDF.
You can scan a single page or tap the batch mode icon for multipage documents.
Once you capture the pages, you can rotate them, change the order and even add annotations and watermarks before sending it off.
CamScanner is available for Android, iPhone, iPad and Windows phone users in their respective app stores.
One the great byproducts of the Internet is that it’s become the greatest collection of trivial knowledge ever assembled.
We all reach for our smartphones whenever an argument breaks out over the most trivial of information, don’t we?
And isn’t it great when you stumble onto some useful piece of information that you weren’t even looking for?
Well, if you love learning useful things on purpose, you might want to check out a website called Useful Science.
It’s an awesome project created by a group of Canadian grad students and it’s an amazing resource for junkies of useful trivia.
Did you know that briefly looking at the color green before working on a creative task increases creativity?
Or, that songs with more bass in them make you feel powerful?
These aren’t just randomly written passages that someone decided to compile, they all have direct links to the research or reports that provide context.
If you love this kind of info, you can submit your own articles or subscribe to get useful science emails right to your Inbox!
It’s all at http://Usefulscience.org
Have you ever injured yourself trying to open those obnoxious plastic packages that seem to be on everything you buy these days.
Small expensive items in particular seem to use sealed clamshell plastic containers that are impossible to open, but more and more household items like light bulbs are being encased in this nightmarish packaging.
They’re popular because they help fight theft and make it easy to hang on retail displays.
It’s such a common irritation there’s even a wikipedia page devoted to wrap rage, which we can all relate to.
Most of you use scissors or a knife to try to get into the packaging, which can get dangerous especially as your irritation grows.
Even if you do get it open, it usually results in nicks and scrapes from the sharp edges of the plastic.
Well, until we figure out a way to ban this insane packaging there’s a better and safer way to open them: use a can opener!
It takes a lot less strength to cut through the thick plastic when you run the can opener along the edges of the package and it’s a lot safer.
If you’re like most people, you need another social network like you need another hole in your head.
But there’s a new social network called Ello that’s generating a buzz because it’s setting itself up as the anti-Facebook...it’s ad free and intends to stay that way.
Their manifesto proclaims that other social networks are owned by advertisers and they believe that connecting without manipulation can be a better tool for empowerment.
Ello was created by a group of designers and artists, so it’s very clean and minimal in its look.
It only has two lists for categorizing contacts: friends and noise so it’s pretty simple to use.
Others have tried a similar approach that never went anywhere, but the growing disdain for ads within social feeds may be why Ello has been gaining users a rapid clip.
Ello started as a private social network, but it’s slowing opening up to the general public.
It’s currently in beta and is an invitation only network, but as it gains users, you’ll likely start seeing more about it.
If you’re interested, you can request an invitation at E L L O . C O
As a baby grows, play is crucial for their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.
It can also bring parents and babies closer and makes their time together more enjoyable and an iPhone app called Knoala can help.
The app is loaded with thousand of age and weather appropriate suggestions for different parts of the day.
You can find different activities by using the extensive filters that let you focus on artistic, cognitive, emotional or motor skills.
Each activity explains what the developmental goals are and provides suggestions for making things more entertaining.
It also has lots of child friendly videos when you need a few minutes and story starter ideas to keep story time fresh.
It can be an excellent resource for moms, dads, grandparents, nannies and babysitters on the go or at home.
If you have an infant, toddler or preschooler, you’ll find a plethora of simple ideas that can boost your child’s development and keep it fun with the Knoala app.
It’s in the iPhone App Store and it’s spelled K N O A L A.
Remember: The more your baby laughs, the less they cry!
One of the challenges of being a stay at home mom, is that your social circle can be pretty limited.
Finding other moms with kids of similar age and interest is a pretty random process, which is what motivated three moms to create a website called MomMeetMom.com.
Taking a page from other match making services, the site is designed to help moms find other moms with similar intrests, schedules, families and personalities.
It can help moms find suitable play dates, outings, moms groups and support from others that can understand the unique mission that is being a mom.
There’s also a forum that allows moms to chat, ask questions, give advice or connect for friendship and support.
Everything from ages and stages to work life balance for working moms to product information is being discussed at the site.
MomMeetMom is a free ad-driven website that uses specially chosen criteria to match local moms based on preferences.
If you are or know a mom that could use a little social interaction with other moms and kids, have them give mommeetmom.com a try!
It’s time for another Data Doctors Tech Tip!
Staying in shape requires you to find workouts that you can understand, can accomplish and can afford.
One option if you’re trying to find a place to start your transformation is through easy to follow no-equipment workouts.
Neila Rey is a fitness author that has created a huge resource of visual workout routines that offers something for just about any fitness level.
Each workout is visually outlined on a single page with easy instructions on how many sets to do per workout.
One of my favorites is the Hold My Beer workout which incorporates squats, plank holds and burpees to help strengthen your core.
There are also programs and challenges compiled that range from 7 to 90 days complete with suggested meal plans that you can download and print or use with your mobile devices.
There are also resources on running, general fitness and motivation as well as nutrition, meal plans and recipes.
Whether you just trying to get started, bored with your current routines or need to find new ways to stay motivated, NeilaRey’s free visual workouts may be what you’re looking for.
The link is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio