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’re in a line of work that requires you to log your time and location in order to bill clients or generate reports, your smartphone can make the tracking process much easier with an app called Instant.
Instant bills itself as a lifelogging app that gives you a detailed overview of your daily activities, including daily device usage, where you’ve been and how long you stayed there as well as fitness tracking and daily travel times.
If you want to reduce the urge to constantly check your phone, you can set usage limits with reminders to help you change your subconscious urge to constantly look at your screen.
It’s also an app that helps in the quantified self movement which allows you to view your life through unemotional data so you can make measurable changes.
Whether you’re interested in fitness, wellness, time tracking or mindfulness, the Instant app can be a big help.
It’s available for iPhone and Android users at http://instantapp.today
Text messaging has become the go to communication tool for so many of us because it’s an extremely efficient way to have multiple conversations throughout the day.
And as always, the flies go where the honey is...that is to say that spammers and scammers are increasing their attempts to trick us via text messaging.
Another issue with text messaging is sometimes you don’t know who someone is because they aren’t in your contacts list.
If you’re looking for a better way to manage both of these situations, checkout a free app called Truemessenger.
Truemessenger is part of the Truecaller community of over 100 million members that join together to report spam and automatically block known junk messages.
It can also use the community to help identify who is texting you when they aren’t already in your contacts, so you can avoid the awkward ‘who is this’? response.
It’s not perfect, but if your looking for some help, I’ve posted the link at DataDoctors.com/radio.
The world of comics continue to grow in popularity because it lets us all relive our childhood pretending to be a superhero.
If you’re not quite ready to get dressed up to go to Comic-Con, you can use an app to fulfill your dreams of becoming a comic book hero.
Seedlings Comic Studio is an easy to use iPhone app that lets you create your very own comic book story starring yourself, your co-workers or your kids.
Take any picture you have, easily cut out the background and add props and costumes to create your superhero.
Then add speech bubbles, thought bubbles or captions and top it off with the classic KAPOW, BAM and ZAAP effects.
Then choose a cool background theme to really make your story come to life.
Even if you aren’t big comic book fan, this app is a clever way to communicate just about anything you want to say in a very fun way.
Check it out at https://www.seedling.com/comic
A new form of pop-up security scams seems to be catching a lot of people off guard with their cleverly designed schemes.
You’ll essentially get a popup that appears to lock up your browser and warn you that you’ve been infected and that you need to call a toll free number so a certified security expert can help you.
This scam is not limited to Windows users as a Mac specific version of the scam has been planted around the Internet as well.
The scammers plant malicious links on social media, in clever phishing email messages, in user forums and in the comments section of popular websites.
Here’s the thing, none of the legitimate antivirus programs will post an 800 number as your first course of action, because they actually don’t want you to call them.
Good security software will block known attacks and malicious websites and will only detect infections during a scheduled or manual scan.
They won’t ever pop-up their 800 numbers so now you know it’s a red flag.
One of the most requested features by Facebook users for years has been a Dislike button, which Mark Zuckerberg recently revealed is in the works.
He didn’t indicate when it would be released or even if it will be called a Dislike button, but that didn’t stop scammers from jumping on the pent up demand.
The most convincing scam appears to be an early invitation to test out the new Dislike button, which is actually either a survey scam or an attempt to steal a user's login credentials.
If you see a headline that says “GET NEWLY INTRODUCED FACEBOOK DISLIKE BUTTON ON YOUR PROFILE.” don’t click on it.
The scam even goes so far as you urge victims to share this ‘invitation-only’ offer with their friends, which is pretty clever.
If you fall for this scam, make sure you do a thorough malware scan of your computer and change your Facebook password.
Remember, real Facebook announcements can always be found at http://newsroom.fb.com
If you’ve updated your Apple device to iOS 9, you’re probably noticing some things just seem to be a little different.
If you noticed something seems a little strange when you’re typing, you’re not imagining things.
Most people can’t figure out what’s changed, because it’s a really subtle tweak.
On past keyboards, the displayed letters were always capitalized but you needed to hit the shift key to actually type capital letters.
The iOS 9 keyboard now defaults to lower case and switches to caps only when you hit the shift key.
I’ve seen this cause people to think that the keyboard is smaller, which it isn’t, it’s just an optical illusion.
If you want to go back to the old all caps keyboard, just go to Settings, then General, then Accessibility and under the Keyboard option, turn off Show Lowercase Keys.
It’s interesting how something so subtle can have such a big impact on some people.
If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you’ve probably been presented with the most recent update, iOS 9, which is full of lots of new features.
If you’ve updated to iOS 9 already, there are two things you should know: a minor update has already been released and a lock screen bypass bug has been discovered.
iOS 9.0.1 has already been released to fix a few minor bugs but it doesn’t fix a lock screen bug that makes use of Siri to gain access to pictures and contacts on a locked device.
Apple will certainly publish another update to fix this bug, but in the meantime disabling Siri from the lock screen or changing to a alphanumeric passcode will keep you safe from this exploit.
In the grand scheme of things, this exploit isn’t really that dangerous, but it does underscore the value of waiting to update to the latest and greatest version of any new operating system until the kinks get worked out.
If you’re one of the millions that are just beginning your exploration of the wonderful and confusing world of wine, there’s a new wine club you may want to look into.
It’s called the Tasting Room and it’s kind of like Netflix for wine.
The key to their process is helping you set up a wine profile initially through a 6 bottle tasting kit you are sent when you sign up for the service.
Once you receive the kit, you go online for a guided tasting challenge that helps them learn what flavor profiles you prefer.
Based on your profile, you’ll start to receive shipments of wine or you can customize the list if you have a sense of what you like.
Every bottle is guaranteed so if you don’t like what you get, you can get it replaced or credited towards another bottle.
As long as you continue to update your ratings of the wines you receive, they can refine their recommendations to hit more homeruns.
Check it out at https://www.tastingroom.com
Loaning money to friends or family usually leads to uncomfortable situations whether you’re the lender or the borrower.
Obviously avoiding the situation altogether is a guaranteed way to avoiding the problem, but sometimes you may find yourself breaking that rule.
Crowdfunding from peers in your personal network has become more common, but the process of keeping track of repayment can get complex and is usually the point of contention.
Whether you find yourself in the position of providing small loans or receiving them, an app called Ledge may be a huge help.
It can set up clear terms, interest rates and deadlines and allow for automatic payments using Venmo.
It also ensures that both parties are using the same ledger to reconcile the loan over time and provides a less awkward way to make sure the loan is repaid.
There are no fees for using the app and it’s available for iPhone and Android users.
Get all the details and the direct download links at http://Ledge.me
Unless you’re a political junkie, you’re probably overwhelmed by the number of potential presidential candidates.
One issue voters can simplify the process, but if you’re really interested in figuring out which candidate is aligned with your view on major issues, it gets overwhelming.
An app called Voter is hoping to help busy citizens quickly identify candidates based on your stance on major issues.
By answering questions on various issues, it can quickly show you which party and which candidates are most aligned to your views.
You answer questions using the simple swipe left for no, swipe right for yes made popular by the Tinder dating app.
If you want more information on an issue before answering, simply tap the screen or you can skip it altogether.
I wouldn’t abdicate my vote to any app, but it is an interesting way to quickly weed through the herd and dig a little deeper on your own.
At the moment, it’s only available for iPhone users, but an Android version is in the works.
One of the basic security steps everyone should be taking with their smartphones is to set a screen lock code of some sort.
This keeps prying eyes from your sensitive data in the event your phone is lost or stolen.
Android users can use a traditional password, PIN or swipe pattern but a recent flaw was discovered if you are using the traditional password method.
Security researchers have discovered how to bypass the lock password by crashing the system with a huge password.
Fortunately, the PIN and swipe pattern lock codes are not susceptible to this exploit, so until an update had been released for your specific phone, switching to one of these other methods would be wise.
The entire tech world knows about this bypass hack now, so a motivated thief can make use of it if they get their hands on your phone.
To make the change, go the security section of the settings menu on any Android phone or tablet and look for the screen lock option.
Apple’s AirDrop feature is a handy tool that allows you to easily transfer files wirelessly between two devices that are nearby.
Pictures, videos or even GPS coordinates can be transferred but a security researcher discovered that it can also be used for malicious activity.
A bug in the AirDrop service could allow someone near you to silently install a malicious app without your knowledge.
AirDrop’s range can be as far as 30 feet, so it’s a real threat, especially in congested public areas.
Apple has fixed the problem in its latest update iOS 9, so if you’ve already updated your device, you’re in the clear.
If you haven’t updated or don’t plan to update, be sure to turn off AirDrop and Bluetooth whenever you aren’t using them to avoid this exploit.
Mac computer users should do the same until they update to the upcoming OS X 10.11 also known as El Capitan.
Tomorrow, I’ll explain what Android users should know about a recently discovered security vulnerability
A new app developed by a group of students at the University of Michigan called Companion is growing in popularity.
It was originally designed as an app to help students walking home at night across campus, but it’s usefulness has caught on off-campus.
Essentially the app notifies friends and family when someone is walking alone so they can virtually walk them home.
You simply put in your destination and mode of transportation then put out a request to friends and family to tag along.
Your friends and family don’t have to have the app installed, so anyone in your address book can become your companion.
They simply click on the link sent via text if they want to become a virtual companion on the trip home.
The app monitors unusual movements like falling down or straying from the route to help keep companions updated.
You never have to walk home alone again with the Companion app which is free and available for both iPhone and Android users
Windows 10 has become the fastest-adopted new operating system ever with an estimated 75 million users in the first month of its release.
To put that into perspective, Windows 10 already has a 5 percent market share in one month; the entire market share for the Mac is only 7 and a half percent.
For those that have upgraded, there’s a small but helpful feature called ‘print to PDF’ which now shows up in your printer options.
A practical use for this feature is when you need to email someone a portion of a document and you want to make sure they can open it.
Rather than sending a long Word document or an entire spreadsheet, you can select what you want to send and print it to a PDF file so you can easily email it.
Think of it as a quicker way to scan and send a document!
If you’re using an older version of Windows I’ve posted a link to a free PDF printer at DataDoctors.com/radio
Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu have created a whole new category of television viewer - the binge-watcher.
Watching an entire season of a popular show in one sitting is becoming a regular weekend occurrence for many and the list of potential shows to watch is growing.
With an endless buffet of choices, you may want some help figuring out what’s worth watching and what you might want to take a pass on.
IMDb reviews are one way to get input, but a web resource called Graph TV takes it to a whole other level.
Graph TV is a way to visualize IMDb ratings based on each episode and season.
Just pick a show and see every episode of every season’s rating along with trend lines for each season or the entire series.
It quickly shows you that series like Mad Men and Breaking Bad had upward trend lines while the Simpsons got better ratings in the early years.
If you love data as much as I do, I’ve posted the link at DataDoctors.com/radio
Whether you’re technical or not, you’ll probably run into a situation where you have to make decisions about technology, especially when it comes to the web.
Often times, non-technical decision makers like CFOs and CEOs have to make tough decisions on which web technologies to use for important projects.
Whether you’re a small business owner or the CEO of a fortune 500 company, understanding how others are using web technologies can help you make a more informed decision.
That’s where a website called BuiltWith.com can be a big help in understanding web technology trends.
You can put any web address into their lookup engine and get a comprehensive report on all the technology being used by a competitor, for instance.
You can also look up web technology usage trends to evaluate whether the technology you’re considering is on the rise or falling out of favor.
http://Builtwith.com is a treasure trove of free business intelligence that I highly recommend to anyone faced with web technology decisions.
I recently had a discussion with the mother of a toddler who was asking about preparing her child for the future when it came to tech skills.
In my opinion, one of the best things you can teach a child is how to write code as this second language will serve them well no matter what they decide to do with their life.
You don’t have to be a programmer, web developer or scientist in order to benefit from knowing how to code.
It’s becoming such a fundamental skill set that will allow individuals to better leverage the digital world around them.
One of my suggestions is for parents to checkout MIT’s Scratch project
Scratch allows kids age 8 to 16 to program their own interactive stories, games, and animations.
It fun and helps them learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively; all essential skills for life in the digital age.
It’ll help curious adults learn as well, so checkout this awesome free resource at https://scratch.mit.edu/
Yesterday, I told you about GetHuman.com as a quick way to get customer service numbers for major companies.
Today, I’m going to tell you about a website that works with GetHuman so you don’t have to wait on hold when you do finally reach customer service.
It’s called Lucyphone and when you use it to call recognized support numbers and get put on hold, it’ll wait in your spot for you.
Just press the star button twice when you get put on hold and Lucyphone will call you back when an agent is finally reached.
To use the site, just put the customer service phone number along with your phone number and click the connect button.
You’ll get a call from Lucyphone with the option to connect or get instructions, such as how to record a message for the agent when they pick up the call.
You can even have Lucyphone connect to another number when the agent picks up.
Learn all about this free service at http://Lucyphone.com
From time to time, we all need to get in touch with the customer service department at a large company, whether its to clear up a billing issue or to get help on something we bought.
Sometimes the direct phone numbers are easy to find, but increasingly, it seems many companies are going to great lengths to hide their toll free numbers.
Using Google to search for phone numbers can expose you to a myriad of scams, so I’ve got a better suggestion: http://GetHuman.com
GetHuman has compiled a comprehensive list of various ways to contact major companies that include phone numbers, email addresses, Twitter accounts and live chat options if they exist.
I’m not talking a single phone number, but every phone number for every department known that provides some form of customer service.
In some cases, they can even give you the average wait times to get to a real live human.
Checkout GetHuman.com for lots of customer service shortcuts.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how to avoid waiting on hold!
One of the most common cries for help I get these days is from people that are constantly running out of space on their phones.
It’s especially a problem for iPhone users because there’s no way to expand the memory like you can with an Android phone.
Getting rid of unnecessary apps will free up a little space, but getting rid of old pictures and video will go a lot further.
Deleting videos in particular can free up a good chunk of space because a 2 minute video can take as much space as 80-100 photos.
But one area that most people don’t think about are old text messages, especially those that came with photos and videos attached.
My wife’s iPhone had over 5 GBs of space taken by old text messages because of all of the attached photos and videos.
If you’re one of the millions struggling with this ongoing problem, I’ve posted various tips for managing storage on your smartphone at DataDoctors.com/radio
Amazon’s a great place to find just about anything, but did you know that you could also trade-in your old stuff to pay for your new stuff?
Amazon’s Trade-in program will buy your old phones, cameras, tablet, laptops and other electronics as well as books, movies and video games.
You start by choosing the category of the item you want to trade-in and using the filters to find it or search for it by name.
When you find it, you’ll see an ‘up to’ price with a yellow Trade In button that get’s the process started.
You’ll need to sign into your Amazon account to get a price based on the condition it’s in: acceptable, good or like new.
If you decide to sell it, you’ll need to send it in, but Amazon covers the shipping too!
If you’re an Amazon junkie, making use of the trade-in offers can both declutter your life and save you some money, so check it out.
I’ve got the direct link posted at DataDoctors.com/radio