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!
Helping out charitable organizations with a donation shouldn’t happen only after we hear about a horrible tragedy somewhere in the world.
That’s the thought process behind an app from Google called One Today.
One Today presents a different non-profit each day by explaining their primary goals and makes it really simple to donate a small amount if you’d like to help them.
In addition, you can setup matched donations to get your friends and family to help generate donations or use the Pay-it-Forward option to increase the donation total from your circle.
When you choose to donate to various causes, you can pay it in a lump sum as it builds and when it reaches $250, you’ll get a tax deduction receipt from Google.
You know how helping others makes you feel and the One Today app can provide that feeling on a daily basis.
Think about the real impact that a couple million people can make by donating one dollar a day!
Get started today at: https://onetoday.google.com
When a tough situation rears it’s ugly head on your computer and you want to find a toll-free tech support number, Google’s a great place to find it, right?
So many people are being victimized because of this thought because they call what they believe to be an official phone number for tech support that they got from searching Google.
Searching for ‘Norton Antivirus Tech Support’ for instance, will display many companies posing as official tech support but they have absolutely nothing to do with Norton.
Many of them prominently post toll free numbers, knowing that lots of people will just call the first number that appears in the search results.
We know of one elderly victim that was scammed out of over $7,000 because she thought she was working directly with Norton.
If you want to avoid this con game for any company that you want help from, the best way to get the real number is to manually type the company web address and add the word support to the end.
Like norton.com/support for instance.
I’ve posted more tips for avoiding this clever scam at DataDoctors.com/radio
Popular startups like Uber and AirBnB have led to what is being called the sharing economy that leverage the power of the smartphone in your pocket or purse.
Well, now a startup called Roadie is attempting to compete with UPS and Fedex with a concept they call a neighbor-to-neighbor shipping network.
The service is designed to match people that have something they want delivered with people that are already going between those same two points.
These ‘Gigs’s as they’re called are insured up to $500 for your protection, so you can think of it as carpooling for packages.
You can post a Gig on the app simply by describing what you want delivered and the route which allows potential ‘roadies’ which are the drivers to complete the task.
The app allows you to track the progress of your delivery or even connect with your driver along the way.
Waffle House locations were one of the first official Roadie Roadhouses where you can meet to exchange packages with special treats for the drivers.
If you love the sharing economy and have something unusual to get sent somewhere, checkout http:\\Roadie.com as an option.
Hey honey, I need help printing something from my iPhone!
My wife’s recent request reminded me of a tip I gave a while ago that’s become even more useful today.
We all seem to use one of Google's services every day anyway, so why not start using their free remote printing service called Google Cloud Print from just about anywhere as well!
You simply need any type of Google account to get started with an easy setup of the printer on your computer to make it available via the Internet.
You can then print from any mobile device like your smartphone or tablet or you can send important print jobs from your office PC or Mac to your home printer and vice versa.
You can even invite your friends, family and colleagues to print to your printer; especially helpful when someone is having a printing emergency!
Cloud Print works with any cloud-ready or standard printer from a larger number of apps or programs.
Sound like something you’d like to have in your back pocket? Just visit http://Google.com/cloudprint to get started.
Bluetooth enabled speakers are a wonderful way to improve the quality of sound coming from smartphones, tablets or laptops, but that also means you have to carry them around with you.
If you'd prefer a Bluetooth speaker that can be synchronized to play music throughout the house, Pure’s Jongo wireless speaker system may fit the bill.
There super flexible system can make use of both fixed and portable wireless speakers that can play the same music stream coming from your smartphone or tablet.
Their unique 'CaskeID' technology that's built into the Jongo system allows for exceptionally accurate synchronization across all your speakers.
That means if you're in range of any Jongo speaker with any of your Bluetooth enabled devices, you can control all the other speakers throughout your house as long as they are within range of your wifi network.
This specialized approach leverages the convenience of Bluetooth with the bandwidth and long range of wifi to provide a flexible whole house sound system.
You can even turn any traditional stereo and speakers into an extension of the entire system with one of their extender devices.
Learn all about it at http://Pure.com
Have you ever seen a high-resolution image printed directly to glass at an art gallery and viewed it with awe.
Well, now you can have those same incredible glass photos hanging in your house with a few clicks of the mouse.
A web service known as Fracture and they allow you to upload any image and then choose from one of 5 frame sizes that go from 5x7 up to 22x30 in landscape, portrait or even square images.
The process of getting it setup takes a few minutes and you can choose from options that cost $18 to $125.
The selected image gets printed directly on the back side of a piece of glass, then completed with a black backing and sent to your house in a couple of days.
This way of displaying your favorite pictures makes for amazing wall art or an awesome gift for special moments in your life.
If you don’t have anything you shot yourself, you can select from the photos and art from their Art Store to create famous Fractures of your own.
Check it all out for yourself at https://www.fractureme.com
The hard drive in your computer is like your refrigerator; no matter how large it is, you’ll going to fill it up, eventually.
And just like with your frig, tossing out old or unnecessary junk is whole lot more cost effective than buying a bigger one.
The big issue for most of users is that they haven’t a clue what’s hogging up their drive space, so knowing what to get rid of is a little puzzling.
For starters, getting rid of old programs you stopped using is a great start and if you’re storing lots of video or have a massive music library that you no longer use, they’re taking up a good chunk of space as well.
Windows users that want a little help should checkout a free program called TreeSize.
Windows refers to its directory structure as a tree with each folder being a branch so the TreeSize program can show you how large each branch is so you can quickly track down the space hogs.
A Word of Warning: Never ever delete anything that you don’t recognize and make absolutely sure you’ve got a verified backup before you attempt any king of cleanup of your hard drive.
I’ve posted the link at DataDoctors.com/radio
Summer is here and so is travel season which can lead to vacation road trips filled with amazing and unexpected experiences.
I really enjoy finding those "off-the-beaten-path" or truly quirky joints on my excursions and generally find that talking to a local is one of the best sources of discovery.
If you love finding the fun and unusual on your road trips, checkout a website called Roadtrippers.com.
You can search for attractions, accommodations, entertainment, food and drink, history, nature or just about anything that will make your road trip interesting by setting your starting and ending points to get started.
By adding stops along the way, you can calculate how long the trip will take and even get a general prediction of what you'll spend in gas to make it happen.
After you've created your road trip, you can sync it to their mobile app for turn-by-turn directions to every destination on your road trip.
If all that sounds like too much of a hassle, you can use any of the pre-existing road trips like Haunted Hotels or Route 66 and then modify the itinerary to meet your needs.
Anyone planning a summer road trip should checkout RoadTrippers.com
Fashion magazines use the process of photo retouching to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary but usually with really costly software programs like Photoshop.
Not only are these programs expensive to buy, they are complicated and have a large learning curve.
The examples of them overdoing it are posted all over the Internet, but that shouldn't keep you from making use of basic touch-up tools for your own images.
An app called Perfect365 offers quick and easy retouching options which you can use on your smartphone or tablet, eliminating the need to download them to your computer in order to get the job done.
There are makeover settings and predefined one-touch clean-up settings or you can manually work with any part of a image on your own.
Perfect365 can remove blemishes and dark circles from your eyes as well as soften skin and whiten teeth with a few taps of the screen.
You can even get crazy and give yourself a virtual nose job or facelift.
If you get the urge to take your images from drab to fab, checkout Perfect365 for just about any mobile device: iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows 8 or Windows Phone.
Check it all out for yourself at DataDoctors.com/radio
Let's start today's tip with a review of a little geek speak: word cloud
A word cloud is a visual depiction of a large amount of text, with the most prominent words specially placed with bold colors or larger fonts.
I've found that the best way to easily pull important themes in large bodies of text is by using word clouds.
If you’re a business that with customer feedback, for example, instead of having to manually review each one to compile themes, you can quickly mine the data with an online word cloud generator.
One of my go-to tools is at http://tagcrowd.com because it's quick and easy and powerful.
You start by creating a single plain text file with all of the information you want to work with without worrying about formatting or structure.
You then copy and paste the text into the site or you can upload the text file, CSV spreadsheet or document or even point at test via a web URL.
I find TagCrowd, that’s T A G C R O W D.com to be an excellent tool for presentations and meeting especially when discussing large chunks of data.
Many of us have to use reading glasses to use our smartphones, but get frustrated trying to keep track of where you used them last.
Buying a large number of them so you can leave them where you typically use them is one solution, but wouldn't it be more effective to keep your reading glasses with your smartphone all the time?
A company called ThinOptics feels your pain and created a pretty clever solution to this common problem: super thin reading glasses that fit into your smartphone case.
The got rid of the arms and you just clip them onto your nose, making them thin enough to be stored in the case of your smartphone.
The cases work with iPhone or Galaxy phones directly or you can get the universal add-on pad for just about any case.
If you suffer from 'where did I put my reading glasses' syndrome, Thinoptics solution runs between $25 to $39, so it could be more cost effective than buying a large stash of glasses.
Learn all about them at http://ThinOptics.com
I've been assisting people with their technology for decades, but one consistent behavior continues to exist; users know the importance of backing up but just never seem to get around to doing it.
If getting an automatic backup setup has been on your to-do list, hopefully this will get you to take action.
Hackers have stepped up their ransomware attacks, which when successful locks down all your critical files that includes any attached backup drives.
They've found ways to spread the threat in ways never seen before with the latest versions.
If you don’t have a secured off-site backup and you get hit with ransomware, you have one of two choices: lose everything and start over or pay a hefty ransom to get your personal files back.
We highly recommend using an online backup service, Carbonite being our choice as the best way to avoid having to pay the ransom. Online backups are not vulnerable because they are not physically attacked to your computer.
If you don't have a secure off-site backup automatically running every day, consider this your wakeup call.
Although you've heard over and over again that using public Wi-Fi can be dangerous, there's something about it that you may not have known.
Without you realizing it, it's possible that your computer is sharing files with everyone else that's using the same hotspot at the coffee shop or hotel.
You could be offering up some of your files or allowing others to save infected files on your computer if you have publicly shared folders turned on.
Generally speaking, this isn't the biggest threat to your personal information, but it's potentially open access to your computer when you're on public Wi-Fi.
Protecting yourself, especially if you never use the public share folders is pretty easy...just turn them off.
I have been on connections where publicly accessible folders that contain actual files showed up because the owners had no idea that everyone connected could see these files.
Whether you're a Mac or Windows users, you shouldn't have these turned on if you don't use them, so the instructions for turning them off is posted at datadoctors.com/radio.
Disable public shares in OS X: http://osxdaily.com/2014/02/11/disable-public-folder-sharing-mac-os-x
Disable public folders in Windows:
Just about every major hacking incident you’ve heard about recently, has a recurring theme connected to it.
Most of the scams start by sending a targeted phishing message to lots of people in the company, hoping that just one of them gets opened.
These very convincing fake corporate messages a.k.a. "spear-phishing" are the tool of choice for most of today's ransomware attacks.
The likelyhood of someone falling for a message that appears to be from someone important in the same company is very high and the hackers know that.
This means you have to start paying really close attention to messages that seem to be coming from your co-horts, especially when they are asking you to open a file attachment.
If you'd like to test the users in your company, you can run a phishing security test at http://KnowBe4.com.
The free version of the test can send what poses as a message from the IT department to up to 100 people so you can see who falls for the trick.
These threats are growing and your users are the biggest point of entry for all of them, so educating them is critical.
I’ve posted a link to the free testing tool at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you hate all of the inconveniences of conference calls, especially if you’re on your smartphone or tablet, raise your hand!
My hand is up too and that’s why I’ve been preaching to anyone that will listen to make a chance when it comes to hosting conference calls.
I started using a service called UberConference when I host a conference call because it’s so much better than traditional services.
And no, they have nothing to do with Uber the car sharing service.
No need to type PIN numbers on your smartphone, no more beeping from people joining or exiting the call and no more trying to figure out who’s all is on the call or who’s currently speaking because it’s all on your screen, visually.
As the host, it’s super simple to mute a participants line, like when music starts playing because someone put their line on hold.
You can record the sessions, share your screen and find lots of other great features that will make the calls much more enjoyable for everyone, whether they are using a browser or a mobile device.
The basic 10-person service is free, but if you need more, for $10 a month, you can host up to 100 participants.
Take it for a test drive at http://www.uberconference.com
Web based e-mail programs are awesome because you are no longer tied to a specific machine for getting at your email.
Gmail is still my absolute favorite system and if you’re like me and use it every day, you should checkout the keyboard shortcuts which can make it even better.
Shortcuts can eliminate the need to move your hands off the keyboard allowing you to be more efficient.
Most of the truly helpful shortcuts start with the letter G as in Gmail followed by a another character.
For example, typing G then A will let you see all mail,.
Typing G then D allows you to jump to your Draft messages.
Typing G then C will get you straight to your contacts.
If you use the option for Starred messages, typing G then S will show them and if you type G then T as in senT, you’ll jump to your sent messages.
There are more than 60 keyboard shortcuts that can dramatically reduce your dependence on your mouse to get the job done.
To learn more about Gmail shortcuts, checkout the link that I’ve posted at DataDoctors.com/radio.
From time to time, you probably find yourself in need of some basic graphic design work, but it’s rarely important enough to hire a professional, whether it’s for personal or business reasons.
If you don’t have the software or find that you lack the talent to do it yourself, there’s a website called Canva … like canvas without the s...that you should check out.
Canva is dead simple to use, because it’s a template driven tool that’s also web-based, so you don’t have to install anything on your computer to get started.
You can use it to create flyers, posters, business cards, blog graphics, perfectly formatted Facebook Cover images or any number of other social media related needs, Canva is a great DIY tool.
You start by picking a design style, then choose a template you like and make changes to the text to fit your needs.
You can use your own images or choose from Canva’s large library of professionally generated images; some are free others only cost a buck to use.
It’s a dream tool because it’s easy to use, cost-effective and produces really great results in a very short period of time.
For those that lack the skill, money, vision or the time to generate professional looking graphics, Canva.com is worth taking a look at...that’s C A N V A.com
When your computer starts to run slow, far too often, too many users assume that it’s just time to get a new computer.
If your computer is really old, that probably makes sense, but for most people there’s a much less expensive option to get the system running great again.
It’s known as a Hybrid hard drive and it’s still one of the best kept secrets in the computer business.
There are 3 major components in your computer that primarily determine how fast it’ll run: they are the processor, RAM and hard drive.
The hard drive is always the biggest bottleneck so opening it up can make an old system seem brand new again.
It’s a lot less expensive then buying a new computer.
What makes a Hybrid hard drives unique is that is combines a lightening fast Solid State circuit with a traditional magnetic drive and includes the intelligence to keep the files and programs you use the most on the faster portion.
If you go this route, don’t forget you can turn your old hard drive into a backup drive just by getting an external enclosure kit.
If you’re looking for more speed from your computer, check to see if a hybrid drive can save you lots of money and return your computer to the performance you need!
We all face the constant challenge of deciding what to make for dinner but usually end up picking from one of a handful of regulars from our rotation of meals.
If you want a new spin on this regular challenge, There’s an app called Dinner Spinner you may want to check out.
The app is from the folks at AllRecipes.com and allows you select a type of dish you’re interested in, such as a salad, main course or side dish, and a main ingredient, like pasta or fish.
You also include how much time you have to prepare the meal and then give it a spin.
I tried it by asking for a main course that included chicken with less than 20 minutes to prepare it and got 25 different ideas, which all looked appetizing.
When you view the potential matches, you’ll get a long list of recipes that also includes their ratings from other users.
For those that are little more adventurous, try shaking your phone for random recipes that you may never have thought of cooking.
Those with dietary restrictions can use filters to limit the results if you’re looking for low sodium, vegetarian, high fiber or you want to avoid things like dairy.
The many great features in our smartphone’s are awesome, but lots of features can suck...battery power that is.
When you’re traveling and you only have a short window to recharge, maximizing the charge for the little time you have is critical.
A quick way to improve the quality of a quick charge is to shut the phone off while you’re recharging.
Putting the phone into airplane mode is another options which will turn off background tasks as well as wifi and bluetooth so you don’t spin your wheels while trying to recharge.
Don’t forget the TV in your hotel room can be an additional charger if it has USB ports, especially when you have more items than outlets.
The TV needs to be turned on and it won’t charge as quickly as a regular charger, but it can come in very handy in a pinch.
And always be mindful that heat is your phone’s worst enemy. Nothing shortens battery life like excessive heat, so always avoid leaving your electronics in direct sunlight or hot vehicles.
If it’s hot to the touch, you should let it get back to room temperature before attempting to charge your devices.
When you come to a fork in the road, take it!
When we hear or read a famous quote, we often wonder 'who said that?', which can be solved with today’s tip.
A cool website called Quotery.com has done a great job of compiling famous quotes in a database that’s easy to use.
There are over 100,000 quotes, quips and proverbs that you can search directly or by author or topic.
Quotery.com is an excellent resource for those working on research papers, blogs or presentations that rely on accurate information.
They website claims to be an encyclopedia of wit and wisdom, so you can also randomly search for interesting quotes using their tools.
One of my favorite things about Quotery.com is their inclusion of sources and context that can help make better sense of the quote or the person that wrote it.
You can also help improve the information by suggesting edits when you feel you have something to add.
One of my favorite things to do at the site is read the many quotes from the great American philosopher Yogi Berra.
Quotery.com isn’t something you’ll use every day, but the next time you’re trying to figure out who said what, give it a try!