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!
Electronic gadgets always the most sought after holiday gift items, but often times, the good stuff is pretty expensive.
If you are seeking an amazing tech related holiday gift that doesn’t cost a fortune, but will amaze both techies and non-techies, checkout something called Google Cardboard!
I’ve featured this wondrous way to experience virtual reality before and if you still haven’t seen it in action, I guarantee, it’ll be the hit of any holiday gathering.
Google Cardboard is simply a small kit that can turn just about any smartphone into a powerful virtual reality headset.
There are numerous Cardboard apps that will amaze you that range from concert videos with Paul McCartney to virtual field trips with the Expeditions app.
You can even experience the 360 degree YouTube videos in a totally immerse way that really makes you feel like you're in video you’re watching.
At between $15 to $30 you won’t find a better all around gift or if you’re the creative type you can make it yourself at https://google.com/cardboard.
If you're holiday shopping is going to be online this year, I've got a tip that will save you both time and money!
We all know how much a coupon code can save you money, but you have to find the right code for items you want.
Websites such as http://RetailMeNot.com can make it easier to search for coupon codes, but often times the codes may be no good which can turn into a major waste of time.
I've got a much easier suggestion for saving money and it's free and easy...it's a browser add on called Honey.
Once you install it in your browser, Honey will automatically search for and apply coupon codes whenever they are available without ever having to the leave the web page you're shopping in.
A greyed out H is the Honey icon which appears in the upper right corner of any browser that it's added to.
Then whenever you are shopping at a site where Honey knows of special deals, the H icon turns orange to let you know.
Add the Honey plug-in to any major browser so you can start shopping smarter faster at https://www.joinhoney.com!
Don’t you hate when your computer takes what seems like forever to shut down?
While you may be tempted to force it to shutdown by hitting the power button, it’s understandable but a really bad idea.
Your computer generates a lot of temporary files through its normal operation which are tagged for deletion when you shut your computer down.
Windows computers have an especially extensive housekeeping procedure that it needs to perform whenever you shut them down, which is reflected by the flashing hard drive light on your computer.
When you don’t allow this process to finish, you can fill your hard drive with junk files.
When your computer starts to get low on hard drive space, it will dramatically impact your performance.
So, if you’re guilty of impatience and have done shut your system down before it could finish, you can track down the unnecessary files and clear them out with the built in Disk Cleanup utility.
This is one of those many times that patience is both a virtue and a benefit.
By the way, if you’re a Mac user, you should heed this same advice to keep things running smooth.
Because we're all spending so much more time on the Internet these days, hackers and cyber-theives are spending more time thinking of ways to exploit us.
Your web browser is how you view everything on the Internet, so more of the exploits are focusing on targeting all browsers.
It’s not unusual to have other issues pop up when using your browser either, so today’s tip is a troubleshooting suggestion when they do occur.
Make sure you install at least two different browsers on your devices so you can quickly track down Internet related issues.
When you start experiencing a problem, try switching to an alternate browser to see if the problem goes away. If it does, you’ll know that the browser may need some attention, like clearing the cache or running a malware scan.
If it doesn't change, your issue is more likely to be with your computer, router or modem, which should all be reset.
Chasing the wrong end of a problem can be avoided by spending some time with this simple troubleshooting procedure.
Just about every security expert is warning that smartphones are becoming one of the biggest targets for cyber-thieves and hackers.
The good news is that the majority of dangerous threats are targeting users outside the US through third-party app websites.
Since installing apps on your smartphone is one of the most likely ways you will be threatened, you need to make sure you only get your apps from the official app stores so you can avoid most of today's threats.
Android users can take an extra step to avoid the other sneaky methods we’re starting to see from the bad guys.
In the Security section of your smartphone's Settings menu, look for the 'Unknown sources' section.
Make sure you switch this option to the off position so your smartphone won’t allow apps installs from unknown sources without alerting you of the potential dangers.
Avoiding unnecessary app installs not only helps from a security standpoint, but it also avoids privacy issues and will free up valuable space for music and pictures.
E-mail, we can't live with it and we can’t live without it! It's become a huge distraction that can really kill our productivity.
For those setup to be constantly alerted when a message arrives, turning the notifications on and off to avoid distracitons is a bit cumbersome
Wouldn’t it be great if you could hit a pause button for your messages for a while sometimes?
Well Gmail users can do just that with a free add-on called "Inbox Pause".
Inbox Pause is a simple app that adds a button to allow you to pause and unpause your email messages with the quick click of the mouse.
It also allows you to notify senders that you're in 'Pause Mode' in case the message is a time sensitive one.
The add-on displays a banner across the top to remind you that you’re in pause mode so you don’t forget to unpause.
The Inbox Pause add-on works in either Firefox or Chrome browsers:
When we want to learn anything about just about anything we turn to Google but when it comes to searching for help with computer problems, you need to be very careful.
Google searches for support on specific products can often be full of fake tech support companies posing as legitimate companies in order to victimize unsuspecting users.
For instance, searching for ‘McAfee Antivirus Tech Support’ can display many companies posing as tech support that have nothing to do with McAfee at all.
Another trick they can use is to post toll free numbers in the ads themselves because so many people will call the first number that comes up in search results, often without clicking on the ad to checkout the company first.
The lesson to be learned is that you can’t trust companies just because they show up in search results, because scammers have figured out how to game the system.
The best way to make sure you are getting the actual support resource for any company is to manually type their address and add a slash and the word “support" at the end.
For example, if you’re looking for McAfee support, you’d type in mcafee.com/support which will take your directly to their support page.
For more tips on avoiding this common search scam, check out my advice at DataDoctors.com/radio
For many of us, our smartphones have become our primary communication tool, but there are moments when you’d rather not give out your personal cell number.
Whether you are selling something or doing business with people in another state or country, you’d probably prefer to keep your personal number private.
For those situations that could require a second phone number, take a look at an app called TextMe Up.
TextMe Up allows you to create special phone numbers, including international numbers, for specific reasons which allows you to keep your personal number private.
You can also text anyone in the world through these secondary numbers, as long as you are willing to put up with ads in the messaging app.
For anyone that wants separate phone numbers for different parts of your private and public life, TextMe Up can be of help.
The app is available for both iPhone and Android users and your first number is free at http://TextMeUp.com
One way to better protect yourself online is to take a different tact from the norm is to think like a hacker.
Your personal info is extremely valuable on the black market, so they’re constantly looking for ways to sneak into your computer by tricking users.
Hackers figured out long ago that one of the best ways to get to your information is through your children.
Enticing children and teens to download free games, screensavers, music, movies or programs that generally cost hundreds of dollars is how they are sneaking malicious programs into your computer.
A big reason that this method is so effective is because you use the same computer and user profile as your children with full administrative rights.
If this is how your home computer is being used, I’d highly recommend you make some changes immediately.
You should setup a completely separate sign-in account for your children and limiting their rights, which will go a long way to protecting everyone in the house.
The steps for doing this is different for each operating system, so If you aren’t sure how to do this, get some help from someone technical…it’s too important to let go.
If you’re one of the many folks that likes some form of noise to distract your mind in order to go to sleep, today’s tip is for you.
I’m always searching for something that can help my mind slow down but not wake up my wife.
My latest find is an app called Relax Melodies and it’s a really flexible sound generating sleep app that’s one of the best I’ve ever used.
It has lots of really soothing sounds that can be mixed together to generate customized sleep-inducing background sounds.
Choose from running river, waterfalls or ocean waves which can be matched with a crackling campfire, chirping birds or the sound of the rain hitting a tin roof.
You can also add ethereal music from a piano or flute to create a sleep inducing soundtrack that’ll help you settle your mind much quicker.
The Relax Melodies app is free and available for iOS, Android and Windows phones and I’m really glad I discovered it.
In fact, I’m even using it at my desk in the middle of the day as a productivity boosting background.
The link to create your relaxation soundtrack is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
We all take lots of smartphone pictures, but we tend to have way too many to share, so most of our pictures end up stored and hidden on our phones or computers.
One of the ways we share lots of images on our social networks is by creating slideshows, which are pretty simple to do.
The next time you have a bunch of images from a wedding, a child’s play or any special event, there’s an easy way to make a movie out of them.
One of my go-to options for generating creative slide shows in a few minutes is called Slidely.
Slidely can work with the images on many of your online accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Picasa, Flickr and Dropbox or you can use the pictures from your computer.
You can use up to 90 images and add a music bed from a library of great songs in the app.
You can also select music from any of the great artists or theme songs from your favorite movies and TV or upload your own music to give your show some zip.
Any of the albums that you have setup on Facebook can create an animated keepsake in just a few minutes.
It’s a lot easier to use than most and you can try it for yourself at http://slide.ly
Pets can make a huge difference in your daily lives and when you responsibly adopt, you can do the same for them.
Ensuring that you find a compatible pet for your specific situation is very important and a web resource by the name of AllPaws.com can take pet adoption to a whole new level.
The creator of the website had experience with online dating sites and used that knowledge of proven processes for matching up humans to create an effective resource for adopting pets.
You start by searching for pets by the type you desire to adopt, like dogs, cats, pigs, birds, horses or reptiles with the ability to choose a specific breed if you have a preference.
The results from your search creates a list of profiles of the pets that match your criteria complete with the picture and story of each pet.
They include age range, coat length, size, compatibility with other pets and a number of other details to help you make your connection.
You can send questions to the adoption organization, add them to your favorites list or begin the adoption process if you see your next pet.
Even if don’t have room to adopt another pet, you can help get pets adopted by sharing available pets with your friends and family on all your social networks.
Check it out at https://www.allpaws.com
We all remember the Ice Bucket Challenge which drew attention to ALS and became an amazing online phenomenon in the history of the Internet.
Another lesser known ALS inspired Internet resource is a website called PatientsLikeMe.com
Ben and Jamie Heywood launched it in 2006 because of their brothers ALS diagnosis and it has become an amazing treatment, medical symptom and outcome-sharing community on the Internet.
When anyone you know is diagnosed with a serious illness, it is really easy to feel like they're alone in their battle, but they are not alone.
By connecting with others that are going through the same medical situation and comparing your treatments, symptoms and general experiences, the site becomes a very valuable support system.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to get or provide support with people that are experiencing the same situation, PatientsLikeMe is a really helpful tool for making the connections.
You can even use the site to track your health timelines and provide your data to research if you are so inclined.
PatientsLikeMe.com has over 400,000 members with over 2000 health conditions, so it’s a great way to find lots of other people that can relate to your situation.
Did you hear the awesome news? Mark Zuckerberg is going to give away his money to a thousand lucky users of Facebook! He’s going to give away forty-five billion dollars and if you're lucky, you could be chosen if you simply copy and paste this message yourself!
It's pretty amazing how many of your Facebook friends still fall for these over-the-top hoaxes and turn into copy/paste zombies when they see something they think the world should know.
A big part of the problem is that way too many users just assume that since their buddy posted it, it must be true and safe to repost.
One of these misguided posts quickly gets out of control when the entire network becomes copy/paste zombies.
We’ve seen it so many times, we created a fun little warning video that we poste whenever we see users posting things they clearly didn’t checkout first.
The next time you see someone becoming a copy/paste zombie, use our little educational video which is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio to gently educate your friends.
It's the season for family and friends to gather and if music is something that plays a big role in your get-togethers, I’ve got a suggestion for a very democratic way for deciding which songs get played and in what order.
It’s called Festify and it's a really simple add-on service to Spotify that unlike other options, doesn’t mandate that everyone at your party has to install a special app.
Festify makes use of Spotify Premium accounts, which you can get as a free 30-day trial if you want to test the system out.
Once Festify is setup on your computer, connect it to your sound system and them give your guests a custom link and your party code to connect to the partly playlist.
All of your friends and family can add any song that exists in the Spotify catalogue or vote for songs that are already added to the playlist from any smartphone.
To really get things going, send the info out in advance of your party so your guests can start adding their favorite tunes before they even get there.
It’s the best and easiest group party DJ platform that we’ve ever used.
Check it out at http://getfestify.com
If you’re a regular user of word processors and spreadsheets, you're probably familiar with the power of macros which can record a string of command that can be assigned to a simple key combination.
Well, if you're an iPhone user, there's a tool that exists that allows you to create macros for your smartphone with an app called Workflow.
Workflow gives you the ability to automate various processes and interactions between lots of apps on your phone by dragging and dropping the combination of tasks you desire.
There are over 200 actions that can work with everything from contacts to Calendars, Browsers, Maps, Reminders, Music, Photos, Cameras, AirDrop, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud Documents and much more.
For example, if you're a road warrior and often have the need to search for a local coffee shop, you can create a single tap process using the Workflow app.
What makes this app even better is the plethora of pre-made workflows that have been created by others that have been shared in the gallery; you can quickly leverage the great ideas of other people! .
If you want to boost the power of your iPhone, checkout Workflow in the Apple App store.
Using wi-fi on an airplane has become commonplace with just about every airline offering this convenience, which is especially useful on long flights.
Because everyone on the flight is sharing the same data connection, it’s not going to be the fastest thing you’ll ever use, but when you need it, it’s better than nothing.
Most of us travel with multiple devices that you’d sometimes like to connect at the same time, but it's not worth paying extra for each device.
When those situations arise, don’t forget that your laptop computer can be turned into a wifi hotspot, which would allow you to share that expensive connection connection with your other devices.
Both Windows and MacOS computers can be setup using Internet sharing options that allow you to connect your smartphone, tablet or any other device to the same connection.
It’s helpful anywhere you might get charged by the device for Internet access, such as a hotel.
If you’re a Windows user and find the built-in option a bit too complicated, checkout an app called Connectify Hotspot which can make it much easier.
The links to instructions for both Mac and Windows are posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Mac - http://imore.com/how-turn-your-macs-internet-connection-wifi-hotspot-internet-sharing
Windows - http://howtogeek.com/112050/how-to-turn-your-windows-8-laptop-into-a-wireless-access-point
Connectify Hotspot - http://www.connectify.me/hotspot
It’s common knowledge that phishing scams and general spam are widely used by hackers to set traps in order to exploit their victims.
Most of us have our guard up when it comes to catching these tricks in e-mail, but it's not the only place where you are likely to run into these traps.
An approach commonly known as ‘comment spam’ has been growing in popularity for a while and it’s getting worse.
In the beginning, it was pretty east to spot the posts about working from home or other out of context messages, but the bad guys are getting more clever.
When breaking news stories hit the internet or any social media or news sites, comments from users around the world is sure to follow.
You may see posts that seem to be making a good point with links to learn more, so you need to be just as suspicious as you are with links in email messages.
Even when you are convinced that a comment is legit, avoid clicking on the link. Instead, do your own manual Google search for the posted information as a precaution to this new form of trickery.
The latest form of pop-up security scams appears to be tricking a lot of users because of their cleverly designed and convincing wording.
What you’ll see is a pop-up that appears to lock down your browser, alerts you that your computer has been infected and then tells you that you need to call a toll free number to have a "certified security expert" help you get rid of it.
The latest scams are not limited to Windows computers as a MacOS version of this convincing scam has been popping up around the web as well.
The scam can be planted in malicious links posted on social networks, in convincing email messages, all over user forums and even in the comments section of many websites.
Something to keep in mind is that none of the legitimate security software programs will ever post their toll-free number as their primary action, because they generally don’t want you to call them.
Well designed security software can block all the known attacks as well as malicious websites and can detect infections when a scheduled or manual scan is performed.
They’ll never pop-up their toll-free number so now you know it’s a big red flag!
The smartphone has become a digital pacifier in the digital age for many households because they tend to do a good job of pacifying most kids.
It can be a godsend especially in a crowded restaurant or anytime you need to keep a restless child from becoming disruptive in many social settings.
However, giving kids full access to everything on your smartphone is kind of a dangerous way to go, so understanding how to 'childproof’ your mobile devices is pretty essential these days.
Both Android and iPhone devices have many built-in options to control access that just need to be activated, but not many parents seem to be aware of how to do it.
Controlling what apps your child can use, Internet access, whether they can make purchases or not and blocking in-app purchases are just the beginning of the options you have.
Every device and operating system has its own set of procedures and options, so if you’re unsure where to go, I’ve posted a link that covers Android and iPhone users at DataDoctors.com/radio
iPhone and Android: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2921718/2-easy-ways-to-child-proof-your-android-or-ios-device.html
Professional athletes often study themselves using very sophisticated slow-motion capture technology to analyze their every motion.
Did you know that your smartphone is a really powerful computer that can be used in this same way with the Technique app from Hudl?
Whether you’re a coach, an athlete or just a supportive parent of a an up and coming athlete, anyone can review and breakdown the motions in your child’s pitches, their golf swing or virtually any activity in any sport.
The app also allows you to add annotations and notes so you can provide suggested tweaks and also share the videos.
It also allows you to match up and synchronize two separate videos so your child can see a side-by-side comparison of their motion compared to a pro or to chart their own progress over time.
You can also pan and zoom within any of the videos so you can focus attention on a specific detail for an even better understanding of lessons.
The features in this free app are pretty amazing and can be helpful to anyone striving to improve in an type of physical activity.
The link to the free downloads are posted at DataDoctors.com/radio