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!
As we gather with family and friends during the holiday season, we all pull out our smartphones to capture those special moments.
But many times, what looks decent on our little phone screens looks blurry and washed when we get to see the image in full size.
The two most common mistakes we see are not holding still long enough and not taking light sources into consideration.
The sophistication of the camera on a smartphone isn’t even close to the cheapest point and shoot camera, so you have to be smarter when snapping pics on your smartphone.
First tip: HOLD STILL LONGER…the shutter lag on smartphones is longer than most digital cameras. If you need help understanding when the picture is actually being taken, turn the shutter sound on your camera app.
The second tip: Pay attention to where the light is coming from. Smartphone camera lenses are pretty bad when it comes to dealing with too much or not enough light.
Don’t line people up in front of a window, turn around and have the window to your back so the natural light makes the shot better.
Today’s tip is designed to put a lot of space in your head
Those of us that live and breathe technology every day, often take for granted that everyone knows the basic shortcuts that are available on our various devices.
But once in a while someone will see us do something and remind us that these shortcuts aren’t as well known as we think
Take the space bar on your computer and your smartphone for instance. They do a lot more than just add a space between characters when you’re typing.
The next time you’re surfing the Internet on your computer and you need to scroll down the page, don’t reach for your mouse!
Just tap the space bar and it’ll jump down exactly one screen page. If you want to scroll back up, just hold the shift key, then tap the space bar again and voila!
When you’re typing things on your smartphone and need to end a sentence, just tap the space bar twice. It’s so much faster than switching over to the symbols keyboard then switching back to continue typing!
In one way or another, we all have our Bucket List of things we want to do before we die.
One website called BucketListly is an online bucket list community that wants to be your source of inspiration and give you a chance to leave a mark on this world.
Bucketlistly wants to help everyone unlock achievements in real life and inspire others to do the same through there interactive community.
You start by creating your online bucket list by posting all the goals you want to unlock in real life. This allows you to start a discussion or get advice, tips and tricks from those that have been able to achieve your bucket list items.
You can also connect with others that share a common goal to encourage each other to make it happen.
Whether you want to learn how to surf, trek the Himalayas or meet the Dalai Lama, there are members of the BucketListly community that have been there, done that and willing to share how they pulled it off!
Remember, "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.".
If you’re a seasoned business traveler, you’ve got your routine and timelines pretty well set to minimize delays and travel hassles.
But, no matter how seasoned of a road warrior you are, there’s one thing that's always a big variable in air travel: the lines at the security checkpoints.
If you travel the same routes on a regular basis, you might have a sense of what to expect, but you can do better than your gut feel with the WhatsBusy web app.
WhatsBusy can show you how long you'll stand in line at any major airport based on when you plan to arrive at the airport.
Just tell the site which airport you're headed to, what day, and when you'll get to the airport, and It’ll crunch historical data from the TSA and the airlines to give you a prediction of what security wait times will be.
It breaks it down by terminal, gates and in half hour segments, so you can see if you should consider getting there a little earlier or in some cases a little later.
WhatsBusy is available as a web-based service on any computer or mobile device or as an app for iPhone users.
We’ve all been there…you reply to an e-mail in a hurry and just as you click send, you realize that you hit reply all or said something that you already regret saying.
Most of us sit in terror as we begin trying to figure out how to explain what we just did, but if you use Gmail, you can add a feature that will give you a small safety valve when this happens.
Undo Send is one of the options available in the Gmail Labs section in Gmail’s settings and it’s really easy to turn on.
Just click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of Gmail and select Settings, then click on the Labs heading at the top.
Once you’re in the Gmail Labs section, scroll down to the Undo Send option and click the Enable button.
While you’re there, click the General heading which is the first one at the top and change the Undo Send setting from 10 seconds to 30 seconds then scroll down to the bottom and click save changes.
Now the next time you make a typo or regret sending a message, you can undo the action by clicking on the Undo Send option at the top of Gmail.
Most of us are becoming much more conscious of the importance of a balanced diet, but statistically a third of our caloric intake occurs when we eat away from home.
In the past, there wasn’t a whole lot of information available that would help us make good choices, but today nutritional information for restaurants is out there if you’re willing to take a few minutes to find it.
One web resource that’s making it much easier is a site called MenuStat because it’s a huge database of nutritional information that makes it easy to search and analyze what you’re interested in eating.
MenuStat is a free nutritional database of over 35 thousand food items served by the nation’s largest restaurant chains that it aggregates from nutrition information posted on restaurant websites since 2012.
In the mood for Kung Pao chicken or Chicken Caesar salad with the lowest calorie count, just type your desired meal into the Quick Search menu.
Want to take a deeper dive into dishes that still have high amounts of trans fat, cholesterol or sodium in them? Just ask!
Want to avoid the gluten free meals that are loaded with calories? No problem MenuStat.org has you covered!
Since we’re travel nerds too, we’re constantly scouring the web for resources that can help make travel more interesting and enjoyable.
One of the things that we all ask when someone returns from an exotic vacation is “what all did you do”?
By learning what others have done, enjoyed or wouldn’t do over again, we can be more confident in our own itineraries.
If you want the wisdom of the crowds in travel itineraries, checkout a web resource called JoGuru, that’s J O G U R U.com
You can search itineraries by city, by the length of the trip or create your own itinerary based on what you learn from other.
You can post questions you want to ask your fellow travel junkies about an upcoming trip, search the questions that have already been asked or help another member of the community with your past travel experiences.
You can search and review trip reports from those that have been where you want to go and ask them questions about your upcoming itinerary.
JoGuru.com is an excellent new travel resource because you’ll never have to start your travel itineraries from scratch ever again!
If you’re the go to tech person in your friends and family circles, you know how efficient remote access tools are when one of them calls for help with their computer.
Instead of the painful process of them trying to explain what they see, so you can try to get them to understand what you want them to do, you simply take over the mouse and keyboard and do your magic.
Well now you can do the same thing with Android mobile devices with a free app called Zikk… that’s spelled Z I K K.
With Zikk installed on both devices, you can remotely change the settings, download and remove apps, and add contacts on your tech-challenged friend or relative's Android devices.
And it’s so simple anyone can do it because it uses a permission system on a contact list that allows the owner of the device to control when they get support.
It’s also completely aware of privacy concerns so it blocks access to photos, emails and text messages.
If you have friends or relatives that are far away or about to go on a trip and you know that you’re going to have to help them at some point, get Zikk installed before you get that frantic call for help.
OK, quick show of hands out there…how many of you know every government official that represents you?
Sure, we all know our president and congress people, but what about your state, county and city representatives?
You don’t often need to know exactly who your school superintendent or corporation commissioner is, but when an issue impacts you, knowing how to contact them becomes priority number one!
Well, now it’s really easy to know every single person that has anything to do with where you live or work with the Map Your Representatives web resource.
Simply type in your zip code and you’ll be able to lookup every representative from national, to state to county, city and even local reps if they exist.
Want to call or mail them your with your thoughts about something happening in your community?
It’s easy with Map Your Representatives because all you have to do is click on their circle and their primary contact information
And if they have official social media accounts or websites, they’ll be included in the contact section
There’s no longer any excuse for not interacting with your public officials now that Map Your Representatives is around
If you have students in your household, you know how stressful exam time can be, especially if your child isn’t that organized.
Keeping track of all the notes, flashcards and quizzes and gathering them up at crunch time often times is the root of most of the stress.
That’s where a free web service called ExamTime might be of assistance.
Examtime gives teachers and students a place to organize their study materials like mind maps, flashcards, quizzes, reports, class notes or anything associated with the upcoming exam.
They can share and collaborate with their study group partners as well as create a study planner that keeps them motivated and on track.
And they can access their notes and study planner from any computer, tablet or mobile device so they’re never without their study materials.
If you’re a teacher of just about any kind, you can use Examtime to create virtual study groups to share study materials and conduct group discussions.
Examtime leverages learning through visualization and it’s absolutely free.
Not sure if it’s for you? Checkout how other students are using it in their featured resources section first.
Voice recognition has become a pretty standard feature on most smartphones because it can be so much more efficient than typing.
Whether you’re looking for a good Chinese restaurant nearby or trying to settle an argument with a Google search, it can be done quicker with your voice.
But what about when you’re sitting at your desk? Wouldn’t voice commands be more efficient there too?
That’s what some Google engineers thought sometime back, so they made it possible by adding a small microphone icon to the Google Search bar on your desktop computers.
But now, it’s even better because they’ve allowed it to be hands free with the new OK Google hotword extension.
Now when you use the Chrome browser with this extension at Google.com, all you have to do is say OK Google and then start saying what you want to search for!
It’s just like using your smartphone at your desk and it will even respond to your search with a pleasant voice itself.
Think about how useful this could be in the kitchen when your hands are full of egg batter and breadcrumbs and you need to set a timer or know how many ounces are in a cup?
Today’s tip starts with a little Geek Speak called Bundleware
If you’ve ever downloaded a free program or software update and suddenly noticed that a new toolbar popped up in your browser or your start page got changed, you’ve been a victim of bundleware.
Software companies will often include third party programs with their downloads because they get paid by others to do so.
They know that most of you will simply click Next, Next, Next, I agree so they’ll get away with it.
A good practice whenever you’re installing new software is to ignore the ‘recommended’ setting and always choose the custom option so you can uncheck the undesirable third party programs before they sneak into your computer
If you want a little extra protection against bundleware, download a free utility called Unchecky which acts as a watchdog for this common practice.
It will automatically uncheck unrelated offers and warn you if you’re about to accept a potentially unwanted offer or utility.
If you’re browser is being overrun with toolbars, now you know why and how to prevent it in the future!
There are an endless number of online resources that can help you discover new and exotic travel destinations but there’s a relative new-comer that you might want to try…Pinterest!
Pinterest is the social network that allows people to pin items of interest on a virtual cork board and share it with others…I’d say they pretty much nailed it with the name!
Pinterest recently launched their Place Pins because so many of their users were creating boards around vacations that they were planning.
Place Pins combine the beautiful imagery of a travel magazine with the utility of online maps making it real easy to explore new places in locations that you plan to visit.
If you’ve never had a reason to checkout Pinterest and you love to travel, it’s worth taking a look.
Want to explore the world’s best festivals or beachside honeymoon spots? How about travel destinations for Beatlemaniacs or UNESCO World Heritage sites?
You don’t have to join Pinterest just to see what we’re talking about, because we’ve got a special link that will take you to a treasure trove of examples.
Have we piqued your Interest in Pinterest…we hope so!
Timelines are a great way to share history or project the future of just about any subject, but putting one together can be tedious.
The next time a timeline would be the best way to present information to your audience, head over to TimeToast.com and checkout this simple and free creation tool.
Timetoast makes it really simple to start putting together your timeline and when you’re done, it has some really useful ways to share the timeline.
Others can view your information in timeline form or switch over to the text view to see all of the information in a chronological text list.
There’s even an embed option which will allow you to share the timeline on your website or blog to make sure more people see it.
It’s a great resource whether you’re a student, business professional or someone that just wants to chart their family history via a timeline.
The timelines are visually pleasing and do a great job of representing your data in a clear concise manner!
Timetoast does require Flash so you won’t be able to use it on most tablets or smartphones, so you’ll need to jump on your computer to check this one out.
We all have bad habits we’re trying to break and know that if we could just overcome some lazy behaviors, life would be so much better!
Your friends and family can help you if you choose to include them, but if you’d like a less emotional life coach, checkout a web resource called Lift.
Lift is like having a life coach in your phone that you design and has guidance, motivation, and tracking for 100,000 different goals.
It breaks your goals down into simple habits and routines, then prompts and encourages you to take regular steps towards your desired life change.
Fitness, productivity, healthy diet change, personal relationships or just about anything you want to change is easier with the right support.
Want help remembering to drink more water? Need a nudge to remember to jump into a downward dog yoga stretch? Trying to work up to your first half-marathon? Lift can help
Lift has a web interface as well as an app for Apple or Android devices to help keep you motivated wherever you go.
If you’re looking for a Lift in your self-improvement goals, this may be your ticket
Lift website: https://lift.do/
Lift for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.liftworldwide.lift&hl=en
Lift for iPhone/iPad: https://itunes.apple.com/app/lift/id530911645?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
In the old days, parents would set their young children in front of the TV to keep them occupied with age appropriate children’s shows, but today that trend is shifting to our iPhones and iPads.
YouTube is the most popular collections of videos on the Internet, but no matter what video you start with, your child could easily end up with suggestions that are not age appropriate within a few clicks.
Using the ‘safe’ mode on YouTube sounds like an option in theory, but in practice an algorithm is no substitute for parental oversight
That was a problem that some tech savvy parents were faced with so they started an online community called TOTLOL.com to help parents find safe video content for their children.
TOTLOL is both a website and a mobile app with the distinct purpose of protecting children by having a community of parents upload, review and rate video content.
They’re using the wisdom of the crowds to ensure that only age appropriate video can be viewed via their resources, so you can hide the YouTube icon and replace it with TOTLOL on your Apple mobile devices.
Once you launch the mobile app, your child can’t exit Kids Mode without a password so they’re limited to the safe video library.
Your smartphone stores just about everything that’s going on in your life, but it tends to be scattered around various apps that don’t talk to each other.
Google recognized this common issue and created something called Google Now that acts like an intelligent personal assistant on your smartphone.
Google Now integrates with Google Search and can pull meaningful information from e-mail, your location and the time of day to keep you on schedule.
From knowing the weather before you start your day, to planning the best route to avoid traffic, or getting an alert that your flight has been delayed, Google Now brings you the information you want without you having to ask for it.
It will know when you‘re at the airport and automatically bring up your electronic boarding pass while you’re standing line and alert you that your favorite artist is in concert next month.
Google Now works in the background so your information is automatically organized into simple cards that appear just when they’re needed.
Google Now works on both Apple and Android smartphones and it really does help you can spend less time digging for information and more time going about your business.
The holiday shopping season is upon us so here’s another Data Doctors organizational Tech Tip!
In any given year, you’re likely to accumulate a dozen or so warranties on various devices or appliances that you really should keep track of but probably won't.
Keeping track of your warranties can save you a lot of money and an Android app called Warranty Tracker makes it much easier to do.
The Warranty Tracker app allows you to scan items by barcode or take pictures of your receipts and enter the warranty deadline for each product
You can also set it up to send you a notification when that day is approaching in case you have any warranty issues.
If the product has a return deadline, you can also setup alerts for that too and your information gets stored in the cloud so even if you lose your phone, you’re covered.
Warranty Tracker can also track serial numbers, model numbers, and even rebate deadlines with their own set of notifications so you don’t forget to send that rebate in and miss out.
It’s only available for Android devices at the moment and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store…and best of all, it’s another free app!
In the age of streaming media, lots of us still want to watch movies from DVDs like in the old days because most streaming services lack the really new stuff.
Now that the last Blockbuster store has closed, your choices are one of the new kids on the block or your cable or satellite provider.
Netflix has been the leader in DVD rentals for a while, but the disks have to come in the mail, so you have to plan ahead or hope you can find something worth watching from their limited streaming library.
Another well-known option is to run down to your neighborhood convenience store to rent a movie from a Redbox kiosk or subscribe to their service to combine streaming and kiosk DVDs.
But there’s actually an old school option that most people haven’t thought about….your public library.
Many public libraries have an impressive collection of DVDs that can be checked out just like a book and some even have the ability to stream movies.
So the next time you’re in the mood to watch a movie, checkout what your local library has to offer and don’t forget your library card!
If building things or orchestrating groups of people is your business, you probably have a good handle on one of those sophisticated and expensive project management software programs.
But If you’re just an average guy or gal that just wants to get things done either in your personal or professional life, these programs are major overkill.
That’s what an enterprising programmer thought as well, so he created a simple yet powerful app to help us mere mortals get organized called Trello.
Trello is a simple app that turns your computer, smartphone or tablet into an electronic version of the old index cards on a cork board.
Whether it’s your to-do’s, random thoughts or a real project that you are trying to pull together, Trello’s simple drag and drop interface can help you make sense out of the chaos of life and it’s free!
You can attach pictures and files, web links, create checklists, use color coded labels and even drag people onto a card so you know who is responsible for that item.
If getting organized is one of your recurring goals, we think Trello is a fun and easy way to help you achieve that goal
Your desk is killing you and it's time to fight back with this Data Doctors Tech Tip!
You’ve heard it for years; sitting all day is bad for you, but during a crazy workday, it's hard to remember to take the breaks we need.
Think about it, most of us spend 150 hours or more sitting at a desk forcing our bodies into unnatural positions and performing repetitive tasks that stress out our muscles.
That’s where a useful web resource called FitBolt can help. Fitbolt is a browser add-on and desktop app that not only reminds you to take micro-breaks, but also tells you what to do during those breaks
Every thirty minutes or whatever interval you choose, FitBolt will pop up a reminder and also offer a quick exercise suggestion.
It’s a gentle reminder that doing a seated spinal twist or a wrist stretch or a host of other equipment-free one-minute exercises can make a big difference in how you feel at the end of the day.
Think of it as a kinder, gentler personal trainer that will never make you sweat; your spine, shoulders and entire body will thank you for it!