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!
Today’s tip focuses on something you may already have, but didn’t really know about.
If you use any of Google’s online tools like Gmail or Google+ you get at least 15Gbs of free cloud storage called Google Drive for documents, spreadsheets, pictures or whatever you want to store online.
One really good use of that free online space is to backup your important files and pictures which is made much easier if you install the Google Drive utility on your Mac or Windows PC.
Once installed, Google Drive becomes a folder on your computer so that anything that you save in it get’s automatically synced to your free storage account.
Any change you make in the Google Drive folder is mirrored in the My Drive section on the web. That means anything you share, move, modify, or put in the trash will be reflected in My Drive the next time your computer syncs.
It only takes a few minutes to get setup and once it’s in place, it’s a really simple way to protect your valuable digital assets and have access to them from any computer or smartphone you own.
Your computer’s hard drive is like a refrigerator; no matter how big it is, you’ll eventually fill it up.
And just like your refrigerator, getting rid of unneeded items is much cheaper than buying a bigger one.
The problem for most of you is that you don’t know what’s hogging up all the space, so you don’t really know what to get rid of.
In general, uninstalling old programs that you no longer use is a good start, but if you have lots of video or music that you no longer care about, those are space hogs too.
If you’re a Windows user, you can get a lot of help from a free program called TreeSize.
In Windows, the directory structure is referred to as a tree and each folder is like a branch. TreeSize will show you how large each folder is so you have a better idea where the space hogs reside.
A Word of Caution: You should never delete anything if you don’t know what it is and always make sure you have a verified backup before attempting to clean up your hard drive.
We all want to stay in shape, but it’s easy to get too busy to get to the gym or take that 30 minute run.
If you find yourself regularly skipping any kind of exercise because you don’t have the time, try shifting your focus to something easy to accomplish: the 7 minute workout app. It can be used anytime, anywhere, without any equipment.
Scientists have developed a 12-step high-intensity workout that uses your body weight, a chair and a wall to and it only takes 7 minutes to complete.
The research shows that even a few minutes of high intesity training approaching your maximum capacity produces changes within muscles comparable to those of several hours of running or bike riding.
And if that’s just too much of a time commitment to get started, there’s a 4-minute workout app that’s based on a regimen originally used by Japanese Olympic athletes.
Both of these apps are available for the iPhone from a company called TinyHearts or you can go to http://7minuteworkout.us on any computer to be led through the 12 exercises.
Fitness is a time committment, but with these options, it doesn’t have to be a huge time committement.
If you’ve noticed that strange things just seem to pop up on your computer over time, it’s most likely from new apps or programs that you’ve installed.
A common practice these days is to sneak third-party programs into a printer installation program or utility such as Java when it’s downloaded or updated.
The key to catching these useless programs and changes to your computer is to pay close attention during the installation routine.
The software companies are counting on you not paying attention and just hitting next, next, next, I agree.
Another way to trick you into allowing junk software into your computer is by convincing you that the standard installation is the recommended installation.
They make it sound like you have to be a rocket scientist to choose the custom installation, but that’s where you’ll get to see what they are trying to sneak past you.
From this point forward, always choose the advanced or custom installation option whenever you’re adding any new software to your computer so you can stop it before it happens.
This tip is the key to keeping them from messing up your browser with extra toolbars or changing your default search engine or start page.
If you or anyone you know is searching for an apartment or home to rent, you know how much work it can be.
Weeding through ads and figuring out where the potential rental property is actually located is really time consuming.
There are lots of places to research potential rental properties, but a website and mobile app called Lovely makes it a lot easier.
Lovely acts like a virtual rental agent by scouring popular websites for rental opportunities and maps them out on your computer or smartphone.
Since time is of the essence when new properties hit the market, Lovely shows you fresh listings in orange or allows you to setup alerts when new properties pop up in the area you want to live in.
If you’re a landlord, Lovely Pro offers several tools that allow you to List your rental, search an on-demand database of pre-credentialed renters, and run credit reports for every applicant all for free.
You can even setup an automatic rent collection from your tenant for a buck a month!
Lovely does all the hard work for both renters and landlords and it’s really easy to use!
I’ve posted the links to Lovely and Lovely Pro at DataDoctors.com/radio
Smartphone cameras have become so good that they’re now our go-to cameras, but because they don’t fit in our hands the same as a point and shoot camera, we often end up with crooked pictures.
Taking a picture with one hand is generally what causes the problem, because getting the phone perfectly aligned and tapping the shutter button can be challenging.
While fixing images that are off kilter is possible after the fact, it’s generally more work than we’re willing to commit to, so our pictures end up crooked when we post them.
In some cases, it can look pretty artistic, but if you’re finding that too many of your iPhone pics are crooked, there’s an app for that!
The Orient app clicks perfectly straight pictures, no matter how you hold your iPhone because it compensates for any angle using the built in gyroscope.
With Orient, you don’t need to pay attention to how you hold your phone, just pick one of 9 aspect ratios and the app does the rest.
It can align horizontally or vertically and works with the front or back camera, so even your selfies will come out perfect.
The direct link to Orient is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Social networks are a great way to monitor what’s going on in the world and seeing what people are sharing and who the key influencers are for a given subject can be helpful in business.
A new website called http://buzzsumo.com makes it very easy to see what the most shared links are when it comes to specific topics and who the key influencers are on those topics.
It’s also a great way to see what content you have created is getting the most interest and on which networks.
It breaks down the shares on 5 of the largest social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google plus
It also allows you to filter the most popular links by content type such as articles, video, interviews and infographics and choose a date range.
It can be used in business for strategic research or it can be used on a personal level to see the most shared links for your favorite hobbies, travel destinations or celebrities.
Everything on the Internet is driven by keywords, so once you know which keywords are important to your business or personal pursuits, Buzzsumo makes it a snap to plug into the buzz.
Check it out at BuzzSumo.com
If you’re an avid user of Microsoft Word, you’re probably familiar with macros that allow you to insert large chunks of text that you use on a regular basis with a keyboard shortcut to save time.
If you find yourself spending more time on the Internet creating content, having this same feature in your browser can be super handy.
If you find yourself using Google Docs instead of Microsoft Word and want this same capability, checkout a free add-on for Google Chrome called Auto Text Expander.
Whether you want to create shortcuts for long e-mail addresses, phrases you frequently use or create special e-mail signatures that you can easily insert, Auto Text Expander will get the job done.
You can create your own database of shortcuts like bizadd for your business address or persig for a personal e-mail signature or any chunk of text that you use on a regular basis.
Once you create a shortcut, it can be used on any text field for everything from e-mail to social media to your blog site.
Booking airline tickets has become a combination of luck and timing if you’re trying to find the lowest possible fares.
While there is no absolute best time to book the cheapest air fare for every trip, CheapAir.com does have some interesting data to share based on over 4 million trips from last year.
They took every possible booking date from 320 days in advance to one day before to compile their data set.
Based on what they compiled, on average the best time to buy a domestic airline ticket is 54 days before your next trip, which equates to roughly 7.5 weeks.
What their data clearly showed was the absolute worst thing to do is book your ticket less than 14 days before your flight, but you probably already knew that.
What was really interesting was that booking too early could cost you dearly as well and on average the fare changed 92 times before the flight takes off.
The sweet spot across all flights was between 29 and 104 days, so the lesson here is to plan ahead when you can.
If you’d like to read the full report, the link is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Most of us bounce between our computers and our smartphones on a pretty regular basis, so wouldn't it be great to have an easy way to push information between the two?
If you’ve ever been in a situation where you found something on your computer that you wanted to push up to your smartphone, or vice versa, checkout the free solution at Pushbullet.com
Pushbullet is a web app for Google Chrome combined with a mobile app for Android or iPhone that makes it easy to send things between your computer and your smartphone.
Notes, web links, addresses, lists, pictures or files can all be sent from one device to another with the greatest of ease.
Pushbullet eliminates the steps involved with popular services like DropBox or Google Drive because whatever you push can be accessed without having to download files or open special apps.
You can even use Pushbullet to send things directly to your friends, family or co-workers.
If you’re an Android user, you can even mirror your smartphones notifications right on your computer.
If you’re sufficiently intrigued, we’ve got the direct links for the mobile and web apps posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Android App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pushbullet.android
iPhone App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pushbullet/id810352052
Web App: https://www.pushbullet.com
Everyone knows that Google is the undisputed king of search, but very few businesses have an understanding of how important Google + is to being found in a Google search.
Whether you use Google+ as a social network or not, if you’re a business with a physical presence, you need to make sure you have a Google+ Local page setup to maximize your exposure.
Google + Local pages can dramatically improve your exposure, especially in local search because Google uses the information on your page to help determine relevance.
It’s figuratively and literally how you get your business on the map, especially when it comes to mobile search.
50% of mobile search queries are local and 61% of those searches generally result in purchases. Think of it as today’s virtual phone book...if you’re not in it, you’re not going to be found.
The best part of this tip is that getting your business found on Google search, maps, mobile and Google+ will cost you nothing but your time and the results can be dramatic.
Getting started is pretty easy, so don’t let the fear of the unknown scare you. I’ve posted the link for getting started at DataDoctors.com/radio
Text messaging has become the go-to method of efficiently communicating with a large number of people for most of us and if something happens to your smartphone, you’re lost.
Well, at some point in your life, you’re going to leave your smartphone somewhere or it will get stolen or broken, so planning for that eventuality is today’s tip.
If you are a Verizon or AT&T customer, you can log into your online account to send and receive text message via any computer as if you still had your phone, but I recommend that you do this before you’re in crisis mode.
If you don’t know your account info or you've never used the online texting interface, do it as a test before you actually need it so you can jump right in when the need arises.
If you’re on a carrier that doesn't support online texting from your account and you’re in a pinch, you can temporarily use a free online texting service such as Textem.net to reach out via your computer.
The only caveat to this service is that you will need to know which cellular provider your recipient is on, so it’s got limited usability.
There are dozens of other methods for sending text messages from your computer, so take a minute to set something up before your next smartphone emergency
Providing an e-mail address when you are interacting with a website has become a pretty common occurrence, but in many cases, it will just lead to more junk messages.
If you use the same address for everyone, it can make it really hard to figure out who’s responsible for sending you what junk.
You can use an alternative e-mail account for non-essential interactions or if you use Gmail, you can create e-mail aliases on the fly.
For instance, if I wanted to use an alias for anything I do on eBay and my regular address is [email protected] I would use [email protected] as the alias.
By doing that, I can setup filters to automatically direct any mail sent to that address to Trash, apply a label or star, skip the Inbox or even forward it to another account.
What’s great about this method is that there’s basically no limit to the number of aliases you can setup and it’s a great way to track how much junk a site starts sending you because you signed up for something.
If you use Microsoft’s Outlook.com online mail service, you can use the same procedure for creating instant aliases as well.
We’ve all been in those awkward situations where you’re trying to find a graceful way to make an exit.
Wouldn’t it be great to get a phone call right in the middle of that awkward situation so you could politely excuse yourself?
Well, there’s an app for that and it’s called Tickle. Tickle uses your phones accelerometer to detect touches or gestures that you pre-configure so you get a phone call just when you need it!
Once you have it installed, it sits in the background waiting for you to make the gesture that you need to escape and viola, you get a phone call.
The creators of the app claim that the app is so sensitive, it can detect the gesture even if your phone is in your shirt or pants pocket.
You can use subtle touches or wiggles to generate the rescue call as an excuse to excuse yourself!
Tickle is currently in private beta and will initially only be available for the iPhone, but if you think this app could be useful for you, you can get on the waiting list at http://UseTickle.com
By now, you should know that having a long, somewhat complex password is a necessity to help fend off password attacks.
We always recommend adding a string of special characters or numbers to the end of a password you can remember and shoot for at least 15 characters.
But typing that long password in every time you start your computer can get to be a pain, so if you’re running Windows 8, you've got some options for signing in quickly but retaining your complex password.
The first alternative is to setup a picture password that has gestures associated with it.
You basically pick a picture, create three gestures that can include lines, circles or taps on the picture and that becomes a sign in alternative.
The gesture based sign-in is especially handy on tablets or touchscreens, but you can also set it up on standard computers using your mouse.
The other option is to add a 4 digit PIN that can be used as your sign in access code instead of the computer’s primary password.
The step-by-step instructions for setting up these convenient alternatives is posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
Social media has become a vibrant communication channel for most of us both personally and professionally.
If you’re a business professional, having an updated LinkedIn profile is an essential tool for what I consider business networking on steroids.
But there’s a lot of confusion for those new to LinkedIn about how to handle connection requests from those that you don’t know.
Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is designed to help you connect with people you don’t know so you can grow your business contacts.
When you go to a real world networking event, refusing
to take someone’s business card because you don’t know them would be rather strange, right?
Well, the same holds true for LinkedIn. With very few exceptions, I recommend that you give their profile a quick once over and accept all requests to connect if they look like a real person.
The exceptions are accounts that don’t have a picture, have few connections and have very little filled out in their profile.
Remember, you can always kick someone from your network if they abuse your connection.
Want the directions for kicking someone from your LinkedIn network?
They’re posted at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you own an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer, you need to listen closely to today’s tip.
You probably heard recently about a security issue with virtually all Apple devices, but if you’re like most busy people, you just went on with your day.
Apple has unfortunately been training you to ignore security alerts, because so many of them pertain to Windows users, but that’s actually becoming a bad thing.
This most recent discovery of a flaw in how Apple devices verified secure websites, like your bank, was about as dangerous as they get.
There’s a simple way to check any Apple device to see if you’re in danger; just visit http://GoToFail.com for a quick test.
If you get an unsafe report on your device, I’ve posted directions for updating iPhones, iPads and Mac OSX computers at DataDoctors.com/radio.
I’d also recommend that you change the passcodes on any website you’ve used in the last 18 months just to play it safe.
Despite what Apple has been preaching for years, it’s time to start paying attention to security threats because the bad guys are coming for you too.
You’ve been hearing for some time about the impending retirement of Windows XP, and now there’s less than a month to go.
Various research firms are still showing that 20-30% of computers that connect to the Internet are still running WIndows XP, and if you’re one of those folks, you’ll be taking a huge risk by continuing.
Microsoft has already stated that you’re 6 times more likely to be hacked running Windows XP, even with the security patches, so after April 8th, you could be a sitting duck for hackers as new exploits are discovered.
Since transitioning to a new computer always takes more time than you think, waiting until the last minute with something this important is a really bad idea.
At the moment, you still have a choice of migrating to Windows 7 or WIndows 8, but that won’t last for long, so make the move while you still have a choice.
You’ve probably noticed that data breaches via compromised computers seem to be occurring on a regular basis these day, so consider this a wake up call if you’re still running Windows XP
Everywhere you turn, you see people holding their smartphone in front of their face and taking the now ubiquitous selfie!
The word Selfie was 2103’s Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year because of the popularity of taking a picture of yourself with your smartphone.
The selfie has become an artistic expression for a lot of people and if you’re looking to take this narcissistic pursuit to the max, have I got an app for you!
Selfie360 takes the dull boring single flat image selfie to a new level with various ways to create an animated 3d or panoramic selfie.
You can create a portrait selfie that’s an animated 90 degree rotation of your face or a panoramic selfie that shows a 360 view of where you are taking the picture.
If you really want to go for it, you can create a full 360 degree 3D selfie, although it’s technically not a selfie because you’ll need someone else to take it for you.
Once you create your selfie on steroids, you can share it via text, Instagram, Facebook or email.
Selfie360 is free but only available for the iPhone
If your mobile devices are on a data plan that has a cap, keeping your data usage under that cap is vital.
One of the best ways to do that is to switch to the Opera Mini browser for all your web surfing.
Opera has an option to switch to off-road mode which reduces data usage while you’re surfing the web and shows you how data it saved while using it.
Opera does some interesting things with compression before your phone actually downloads the information so it uses less bandwidth than other mobile browsers when in the off-road mode.
In some cases, this compression can actually speed up internet access especially on slow connections or it can cause irregularities on dynamic sites, which is why you need to the option to turn it on and off.
Opera also has speed-dial for your favorite websites; think of it as a more visual version of the bookmarks you’ve always used.
Want to give Opera Mini a test drive?
Just grab your mobile device and go to m.opera.com and they’ll automatically provide you with the proper link.
If you have young children, having a baby monitor of some sort is a pretty standard device.
If you’re looking for an alternative or want something that’s really convenient when you take the kids on a trip, checkout the Android app called Dormi. that’s D O R M I
Dormi is an app that turns any two Android phones or tablets into fully functional baby monitors that work from any distance.
Unlike a traditional baby monitor, Dormi works with wifi or cellular connections, so it can work in the next room or the next county.
You can even push a button to talk to your child if you need to provide a calming voice and Dormi keeps you posted on the battery level of the monitor phone.
The basic service is free and allows for up to 4 hours of monitoring a month or you can get unlimited use forever by buying the app for $7.
If you have an old Android phone sitting in a drawer somewhere, this could be the perfect way to bring it back to life.