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!
The vast majority of e-mails circulating the Internet these days are junk messages and the technology that tries to filter through it all isn’t perfect.
The specific words you use and what you include in your messages can actually make your legitmate emails look like a junk message to automated spam filters.
Simple things, like unnecessary images or certain words can boost your spam score and the parameters keep changing.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to test your messages to see if something you’re doing is making you look like a spammer?
Well, there’s a tool for just this purpose at http://mail-tester.com that will quickly evaluate your message and give you a spam score.
It’s really simple to use; just send your message to the address that they provide and then click the link below it.
You’ll get a spam score and a detailed report on your message including whether you’ve been blacklisted.
Start testing your messages at http://mail-tester.com
I've provided tips in the past on ways to extend the battery life of a smartphone, but most of those same suggestions will also extend the life of your laptop battery!
Almost 50% of the drain can come from powering your screen brightness, so turning it down as low as you can go is the #1 tip I can suggest.
And just like with your smartphone, turning off the Wifi and Bluetooth radios when you aren’t using them will save precious power.
If you have USB devices plugged into the ports that you aren’t using, unplugging them will keep your computer from either trying to charge or access them.
The most damaging thing to any battery is extreme temperatures, so you should never turn your computer on or charge it when it’s really hot or really cold to the touch.
Instead, you should wait until your laptop has acclimated to room temperature before using it, which will help extend the life of the battery.
Also, you should avoid using your laptop on any soft surfaces such as a pillow or blanket as it can block the cooling vents and cause your laptop to overheat.
Screen savers that display your favorite photos might be fun, but they also eat up your battery, so switching to a blank screen when your computer goes to sleep is much more energy efficient!
If you’ve always wanted to create awesome videos, but never had to time to learn, today’s tip is for you!
Video editing can be really complicated and expensive if you want to do it like the pros, but now there’s a really easy to use tool that will make it look like you spent hours creating movie magic.
It’s called Magisto and it’s one part magic and one part really clever technology for those that have no idea how to edit video.
Open the Magisto app, pick a few videos and pictures you want to include, then select the music you want and an editing style to have your movie ‘automagically' created for you!
Presto! That’s all you to do to create really cool video without all the hassle!
Once the automagical process is finished, your video gets posted to their website so you can share it on Facebook, Twitter or by e-mail.
You can also download your masterpiece so you’ll have a copy on your own computer.
If you’re a movie making wannabe, you can use the website or the iPhone or Android apps; check it all out at https://MAGISTO.com
One of the first mobile movie apps that I fell in love with years ago, was a silent movie maker.
It allowed me to easily create movies that looked like they were made in the silent movie era of 20’s, complete with text slides and piano music.
Well the app’s now called Vintagio and they’ve added video filters that include other vinatage years like the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s
These additional filters really boost the options for creating unique videos on either your iPhone or iPad.
The express mode makes it easy to quickly create simple videos, but if you really want to get creative, jump to the Pro Mode.
You can change the speed of the video, add one of their music beds or choose from your own music library.
While there are free alternatives that appear to do the same thing, none of them come close to Vintagio, which costs 4 bucks.
How many times have you put something in your calendar you really didn’t want to do?
Isn’t it time you start adding things you do want to do?
Well, that’s Google’s perspective as well and in that spirit, they recently rolled out a new feature called Goals for Google Calendar users.
Since finding time for exercise is often a big goal, you can choose a physical activity, set the frequency you’re shooting for and Google’s calendar will find time in your calendar for those yoga sessions or power walks.
If you end up with a conflict during that time or you’re running late, Google Calendar will reschedule your goals automatically.
The Goal option only appears on the mobile app for iOS and Android users, but once you set them up, you’ll see your goals on your computer as well.
Since a primary problem with achieving goals is simply remembering them, this new option might be just the motivation you need to finally start down the path to success.
If you’re a Windows user and have Apple’s Quicktime video player installed, it appears that it’s time to get rid of it.
Apple has officially stopped providing security updates for the player and security firm Trend Micro is already warning of two serious flaws that won’t be fixed because of this.
Mac users will continue to get security updates, but Windows users should uninstall the Quicktime player altogether.
You may even find that you didn’t need the program anyway, but if it turns out you have files that did require Quicktime, checkout a popular free alternative called VLC.
VLC is an open source media player that’s capable of playing everything from DVDs, to CDs or just about any type of computer media file you use.
It’s also capable of taking over for the Windows Media Player, so you’ll end up with a single program that can play all your digital media.
I’ve posted the download link for VLC at DataDoctors.com/radio
Wireless sensors that can attach to your keychain or other items so you can track them down when they’re lost have been around for a while.
Two companies have captured most of the attention: Tile and TrackR.
On the surface, they both appear to be very similar, but if you’re looking for that little extra, I’d checkout TrackR over Tile.
TrackR’s sensors are thinner, do more and don’t use special batteries, so you can replace them yourself.
One of the coolest features of the TrackR sensors is that you can use the sensor on your keys to figure out where your phone is when you can’t find it too.
They all use higher powered Bluetooth, which has a range of 100-150 feet of bidirectional communication.
If you buy them in volume, they can be as cheap as $15 each, so you can use them in your wallet, travel bags or anything you’ll ever want to track.
I’ve posted the link to TrackR at DataDoctors.com/radio
5G is coming, 5G is coming...the hype has already started in the wireless world.
Commonly referred to as 5th generation wireless, 5G the latest buzzword but it actually doesn’t even exist at the moment.
There is no currently recognized standard for what will eventually be called 5G, just a bunch of companies testing various technologies that they hope will one day be called 5G.
If you hear anything about 5G for the time being, assume it’s just another overzealous marketing department trying to get a jump on something we may not see for years.
There’s no doubt that all the major players are working on exponentially faster data for our mobile devices, but for now, it’s all speculation.
If you’ve heard the hype and thought about switching to another carrier because they appear to be close to offering the next big thing, think again.
Even when it does actually hit the market, you don’t want to be in early adopter group unless you like expensive pain.
How many times have you said ‘darn auto-correct’?
We all seem to have a love/hate relationship with this ubiquitous technology, but I have a suggestion that may help push you over to the love side of the equation.
Hack your auto-correct to be used as shorthand for commonly typed chunks of text.
For instance, your address can be added to the auto-correct library using an abbreviation such as A D R S assigned to it.
Once you’ve added it, you simply type ‘adrs’ and hit the space bar to have your address appear without all the extra typing.
Anything that you use that offers the auto-correct feature, whether it’s your smartphone or your word processor can be hacked in this way to become much more useful.
There’s no limit to how many entries you can add, you’re simply limited by your imagination, but remember not to use real words as your shortcuts.
Combining numbers and letters as your shortcuts helps; give it a try, you’ll love it!
Your e-mail account is often used as a verification process whenever you sign up for an online service or want to download information, but if you use your real address you can end up with more than you bargained for.
If you don’t need to hear from them in the future, using a temporary e-mail address will allow you to go through the verification process without exposing your real address to future junk messages.
There are dozens of temporary online mail services, but one of the easiest to use is called 10 Minute Mail.
You simply visit the site to get a disposable address that’s good for 10 minutes. Everything you need is right on one page, including any messages that get sent to the temporary address.
If you need more than 10 minutes, you just click the link for 10 more minutes to extend the time before it expires.
Remember, 10 Minute Mail accounts can’t be used to reset passwords down the road, so you use them wisely!
Augmented reality is the ability to overlay virtual items onto real world layers and one of the more interesting uses of it is in an iPad app called Adornably.
Adornably allows you to take a picture of any room and place virtual furniture in it with highly photorealistic images.
It cleverly uses a standard sheet of paper that you lay flat on the floor to create a point of reference for placing the furniture.
You just use your fingers to place, move, resize and even rotate the furniture so that it’s as close to the real thing as you can get.
You can choose from their library of sofas, chairs, sectionals, throw pillows, ottomans and dining chairs to lay out your new room.
While it’s currently limited to the items that the company is trying to sell, it’s a great peak into how virtual reality could become a much more useful technology in the near future.
Learn more and download the free app at http://www.adornably.com
Whether you’re shopping for new furniture, building something new for the house or asking for help from your local hardware store, having accurate measurements is critical.
What’s even more important is properly articulating those measurements to others.
It’s easy to take a picture using your smartphone, but any details including the measurements end up getting stored separate from the picture.
An app called My Measures makes it easy to add dimensions to anything that you take a picture of, so you can reduce the chances of misunderstandings when trying to explain something to a third party.
It eliminates the need for you to sketch something out on paper or hope that someone doesn’t confuse your measurements for depth, height and width.
You can add arrows and dimensions to any photo in seconds, then save or share the image, so it’s great for real estate agents, construction professionals or DIY fanatics.
My Measures is available for iPhone, Android and Amazon mobile devices and run 6 to 8 dollars.
If you’ve ever had to draw a floorplan for a room or an entire building, you know how time consuming it can be.
If you’re in the real estate or construction industry and work with floorplans on a regular basis, checkout an iPhone app called RoomScan Pro.
RoomScan uses the sensors in an iPhone to quickly generate a floorplan just by placing the phone on each wall in a give room.
You simply place your phone on a wall and wait for a beep and then move to the next wall to continue the process.
When you make it back to the original wall, you’ll get a double beep to complete the measurements and build your floorplan on the fly.
You can build an entire homes floorplan using that app and it even has features for situations where you may not be able to reach a wall.
If you want to see this 5 dollar app in action, check it out at http://locometric.com
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to home improvement projects, you know that the more tools you have, the better off you are.
Every project generally starts with calculations and measurements and a tool that can help in that area is Dewalt’s Mobile Pro App.
Originally designed for construction professionals, it’s loaded with contruction calculators, conversion tools and area calculators for linear or square foot calculations.
It’s also a resource on many construction related questions with various e-books and resource materials accessible right from the app.
It’s also an easy way to store your calculations for future reference or share them with others involved in your project via e-mail.
Whether you’re trying to figure out how much concrete you’ll need for a slab, how many studs and drywall sheets you need for a room addition or how much crown molding you’ll need for your dining room remodel, the Dewalt Mobile Pro App can help.
The app is free and available for both iPhone and Android users.
We’ve all been there; you’re on a long cross-country flight, you look out the window and see something interesting but have no way to know what it is.
If you take a picture and remember to research it after you land, you may be able to figure out what you were looking at, but who has time for that?
Well, now there’s an app for that and it’s designed to offer help even while your phone is in airplane mode.
It’s called Flyover Country and it works by pre-loading information that pertains to your upcoming flight, so you can pull it up during the flight.
You start by selecting two points that represent your upcoming flight so the app can research geomaps and points of interest along your flight path.
Once you’re airborne, it uses your GPS in airplane mode to roughly determine where you are and provides tappable points of interest all along the way.
Flyover Country is free and available for both iPhone and Android users
If you’re one of the millions that upgraded to one of Apple’s larger iPhones and only use it in the typical up and down portait mode, you’re missing out on a lot of cool features.
Just about every productivity app you use, like the calendar, mail, messaging and even notes provide special layouts when you flip your phone to the landscape mode.
For instance, you can view your mail in split screen mode, which will list your messages on one side, with a preview of the current message on the other.
Viewing your stock in landscape mode also makes use of the split screen for more detailed info on the selected symbol in your list.
Typing in landscape mode also gives you a little more room per key and in some apps, presents you with some very useful additional keys.
You’ll discover all kinds of useful items when you simply turn your phone sideways, so remember to start exploring all your apps in landscape mode.
You've heard me talk about a web resource called If This Then That or IFTTT, because it allows you to create processes called recipes that execute a list of various tasks automatically.
If you've discovered the beauty of IFTTT, then extend the power to your smartphone camera with the Do Camera app.
As with the web apps, you can create recipes for your camera to also perform a series of automated tasks with the pictures that you take.
For instance, you can create a recipe to automatically send your parents pics over Gmail or send pictures of receipts and important documents to Evernote or upload photos to a specific Facebook album with a tap of your screen.
As with the web version of IFTTT, you can take advantage of the crowd by using recipes created by fellow advocates or create your own; the sky's the limit when it comes to the possibilities.
The Do Camera app supports lots of very popular services like Tumblr, Wordpress, Twitter, Dropbox and hundreds more!
The free app is and available for both iPhone and Android users in their respective app stores.
If you're an avid online shopper, today's tip will save you time and money!
You already know how much money coupon codes can save you, that is if you can find the right code for the right item.
Popular resources like http://RetailMeNot.com make it easy to search for coupon codes when you are shopping, but how many times are the codes no good and how much time do you spend manually searching?
Well, I have a much easier way and it's free and easy...add an browser add on called Honey.
Once installed, Honey automatically searches for and even applies coupon codes when they're available and you never have to the leave the site you're shopping at.
The Honey icon is the letter H which will appear in the upper right corner of your browser.
Whenever you're shopping at a site where Honey knows it can save you some dough, the big H will turn orange to let you know.
Start shopping smarter and faster with the Honey add-on which is available for all major browsers at https://www.joinhoney.com!
Aren't free smartphone apps really great, especially if they're so useful that you use them just about every day.
Most of those 'free' apps are ad-driven to help pay for them, which is something you should be concerned about if you're on a limited data play or have contant battery life issues.
Those free apps could be costing you big by chweing up your data plan and battery serving all those ads.
Researchers at USC and a couple of other schools reported that the ads in many free apps can use up almost 80% more data on your plan than apps that aren’t ad driven.
The report also suggests that they also used 22% more memory and 16% more battery power in order to constantly deliver new ads .
So if your phone seems to die in the middle of the afternoon and you're constantly going over your data plan, those free apps may be why!
Throw in the additional permissions that many of them ask for and you can add privacy concerns on top of the pile.
The next time you're choosing between apps, it may be worth the 99 cents to avoid the hidden charges in many free apps.
There are many considerations these days when booking a hotel room for business and one of the biggest items to consider is Internet speeds.
Unfortunately, until we check-in to our rooms, we generally have no idea how fast the connection will actually be.
If this scenario plagues you when you travel, checkout a website called https://www.HotelWifiTest.com
The site is an actual database of speeds from actual hotel Internet connections that have been tested by previous guests.
If you rely on fast Internet connections on the road, adding https://www.HotelWifiTest.com to your travel planning kit is a must.
It’s as easy as typing in the name of the city you’re planning on traveling to to get a list of speeds by location.
The list is sorted by hotels with the highest expected speeds along with confidence levels and whether you’ll have to pay for access or not.
The community depends on the crowds to gather the information, so you can do your part by testing the connection in any hotel you stay out to share with others as well.
If you travel for business or pleasure, adding https://www.HotelWifiTest.com to your bookmarks makes fast sense!
The cord cutting revolution is leading to more households installing one of the many popular media streaming boxes to view and listen to content on demand.
Some of the major players in this growing segment of the tech industry include Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and even Microsoft’s gaming Xbox gaming console.
If you own an Android phone and a Chromecast, you can push whatever’s on your phone onto your TV.
The same holds true if you have an Apple TV and an iPhone, but what happens if you or your friends have a mix of both?
That’s where an app called AllCast comes in handy.
Allcast connects your iPhone or Android smartphone to just about any of the popular streaming boxes or smart TVs so you are no longer limited to devices from the same company.
There’s a free version of the app that allows you to get a sense of how it works, but you’re limited to 5 minutes of viewing time. If you feel like it’s worth using, pay $5 for the pro version which removes the limitation.
Sound interesting? Check out AllCast in either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.