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!
Food & travel-based websites are growing in popularity, but in most cases, they have a lot to be desired.
Generally light on content and heavy on annoying ads is far too common.
Anthony Bourdain got involved with a website called Roads & Kingdoms a while back and it's brought a lot of attention to this useful site.
It’s award-winning digital journal approach to food, politics, travel and culture make it an excellent resource for anyone interested in any those topics.
They use long-form stories & beautiful images to provide a wonderful way to discover new foods, travel destinations and people from around the world.
The site lets you explore things by continent, food & drink, politics and culture or travel.
My favorite section on the site is called '5 O’clock Somewhere' which will explore a different drinking culture every day.
If you are interested in intelligent writing and beautiful images without the usual distracting ads, checkout http://roadsandkingdoms.com for a breath of fresh air.
Anyone that spends time on the Internet probably opens lots of tabs as you go and as a result, you’ve likely ran into this situation:
While you are in the middle of reading something on one website, you suddenly hear a commercial video starts playing in the background on one of the other tabs but you have no idea which one it is.
This forces you to click through all the other open tabs and scrolling around trying to figure out which one's causing all the annoying noise…it's a hassle!
The folks at Google probably had enough of this irritation themselves, because they added an option to the Chrome browser to fight this annoyance.
With Chrome, when any web page is generating any kind of sound, a tiny speaker icon will appear on the right side of the tab which lets you identify the offending page.
You can either click on the tab to pause the video or simply click on the X on the tab to close it all together.
If you have not tried Google Chrome yet, this is one of many reasons why it’s my favorite!
Today, just about all of our mobile devices have the capability to take photos and generally includes an option for a flash of some sort.
But if you assume that your flash is only for low lighting pictures could keep you from getting those great images.
Outdoor pictures especially when they include people will often end up with harsh white spots along with big shadows, which will ruin the picture.
Either of these situations can be improved by using the flash which can turn useless pictures into minor works of art.
Using the flash on your phone means you need to be close enough to your subjects to make the weak phone flash useful in bright sunlight.
On really sunny days, put your subjects in a shaded area to eliminate them from squinting and use your flash to fill in the shadows.
Knowing exactly when to use your flash both indoors and outdoors can have a major impact on the quality of your images.
The best way to get to know your camera’s abilities is to experiment way before you are in the situation where you need everything to be perfect!
The tech industry preaches about the dangers of public wifi all the time, but there is something that you probably may not have realized.
Your personal laptop may be automatically sharing files with anyone connected on the same coffee shop or hotel wifi you are using.
Most laptops are setup with default or public shares, so you may be allowing others to access or possibly save random files on your computer.
Generally speaking, this isn’t going to impact your personal data, but your computer is still accessible by any random stranger connected to the same public wifi.
As a safety measure, if you have no use for the public share folders sharing files with others, switch them off.
I have actually seen situations where sensitive files were being shared in these publicly accessible folders because the user most likely didn’t realize the whole world can access these public folders.
Both Windows & Mac users most likely have these public share folders turned on, so I have posted the instructions on how to turn them off 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:
You’re bopping around the Internet and suddenly a scary looking window pops up telling you that your computer has been infected. It can look a lot like a regular Windows screen, so you click on 'OK clean up my computer button' and they’ve got you.
The scam popup will take over and keeps you from doing anything, but they do offer to fix your problem if you will just enter your credit card number.
These very ominous but convincing scams are tricking people all over the world and we’re seeing an increase in these malware attacks lately.
They can use official sounding names like Windows Ultimate Booster or Windows Safety Master and if you click on anything, even the cancel button, they'll do their damage.
If you ever see anything strange pop up on your screen, don’t click on anything no matter how convincing it looks. Instead, use the three-fingered-salute (Ctrl-Alt-Del) to start the Task Manager which allows you to end the process altogether.
If you aren't familiar with this useful process, we have created a step-by-step instructional video so you can sidestep this scam:
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of websites on the web these days allow you to leverage one of your social media profiles to register for a free service.
It will be presented as a much faster way to get setup on the site, but you need to know that you are exposing your profile info just for a little faster access.
Many of today’s apps will also do the same and before you know it, you will have given permission to boatloads of third parties to gain access to your profile info.
Within the settings of each of your social networks is the option to revoke access, but only if you know where to find them.
To make it much easier, a website called http://MyPermissions.org provides help. They have mad it a lot quicker to find the setting for all your major social networks.
Just tap on the icon for Facebook, Twitter, Google or other well known networks you are using and you’ll be taken right to the settings.
My Permissions also allows you to sign-up for alerts when any new app gains access to your profile, as well as mobile apps so you can clean on the go.
Supporting causes you believe in is a good way of contributing to your local community and most often raising money comes into play to help your cause.
While the various traditional ways of raising money are helpful, leveraging social media and digital platforms can greatly increase the likelihood of funding success.
A website that was specifically created for online fundraising is called http://razoo.com
Whether you are fundraising as a non-profit, a foundation, a corporation or as an individual, as long as you have a recognized 501(c)(3), Razoo can help you get started.
They charge one of the smallest fees as a crowdsourcing site, so more of the donations go to the cause.
They also allow you to embed your campaign on a Facebook page or website which makes it easy to promote the fundraising drive by getting the word out.
All donations to your campaign are tax-deductible and for those with ongoing fund raising needs, you can recurring donations.
Better yet, It’s a great resource for finding local charities to support!
If you have ever wanted to snag a YouTube video so you can watch later when you’re offline or if you ever want to convert a music video into an audio file, it’s really simple to do.
While there are numerous sites that offer this type of service, the one I like the most is http://dirpy.com because its really simple and quick to use.
All that you need is the Youtube video link so you can paste it into the Dirpy tool to get a screen of download options.
If, for instance, all you want is the audio, just select the format quality & click the download link.
If you do want the entire video, you can select between low resolution to save space or HD to download a 720p version of the video with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Once you have download the file you want, just save it into your media library or sync it up to your smartphone or tablet and you’re good to go.
Anyone about to go on a trip with children will find Dirpy to be an easy way to gather tons of content that’s sure to keep them occupied for hours!
I really love tech that specifically fills the nooks & crannies of daily life and one of my favorites is a website known as IFTTT or If This Then That.
This awesome and free service helps you put the Internet to work by creating 'conditional statements’ also known as ‘recipes’ which will integrate your online accounts in many amazing ways.
For example, you can create a recipe that will automatically generate reminders on your phone whenever you tap the star on a Gmail message or have your phone automatically text your wife when you leave work.
The IFTTT recipes work with over 160 different online services and already has a huge assortment of recipes that have been created by fellow users.
You can also create your own recipes and share them with the rest of the IFTTT community.
IFTTT also has apps for iPhones, iPads and Android devices which allows you to leverage your mobile technology in awesome ways.
If you have yet to discover the wonderful world of IFTTT, take a minute and check it all out at http://IFTTT.com.
I've provided tips in the past on how to extend the battery life on your phone, but did ya know that most of these same tips will extend the life of your laptop battery as well?
For instance, turning down the brightness on your screen is the most important tip because powering that screen is almost fifty percent of the drain on your laptop and just like on your smartphone, turning off Wifi and Bluetooth when you aren't using them saves power.
If you plug devices into your USB ports that you are no longer using, unplugging them keeps your computer from constantly querying them for updates.
Extreme temperature is a big killer of batteries, so don't turn your hot laptop on or even try to charge it when it’s really hot or cold to the touch.
Waiting until the laptop has reached room temperature will help to lengthen the life of the battery as well.
Be sure to avoid using your laptop on a blanket, pillow or any other soft surface because you can block the cooling vents causing your laptop to overheat.
Those cute screen savers that display your favorite photos seem like fun, but they cam eat up your battery as well, so switch to a blank screen saver for the best results.
Anytime you purchase a new computer, one of the first things you'll end up spending a boatload of time on, is getting all those programs and utilities reinstalled.
Everything from various browsers, tools, utilities, media players, productivity tools and countless other little programs are just the beginning of what you need to be up and running.
Most people do not realize how many things need to be added to your 'new' computer to make it fully functional until they go through the countless downloads and installations.
The next time you are setting up a new computer, I have a much better option for both Mac & Windows users.
We have mentioned to Windows users in the past to use a website called NiNite.com (that’s N I N I T E) to get everything they need installed in one neat little automatic package.
Well, if you are a Mac user, you can do the same by going to GetMacApps.com
If you are the one in charge of the computers at any business, these resources are a huge time saver because you they create a single install file to setup all your computers exactly the same!
http://getmacapps.com and http://ninite.com
Remember when some people proclaimed text messaging to be an 'anti-social activity? I think even those most techno-phobic have figured out how efficient text messages really are.
If you are an iPhone user, you likely spend lots of time using the built-in iMessage app, especially if you're friends with lots of other iPhone users.
Unlike other texting apps, iMessage sends your messages securely with encryption and you don’t need a cellular network connection in order to send & receive messages.
This comes in handy for anyone traveling abroad that can only connect through wifi.
But did you know that there is a lot more to the iMessage app then just tapping out a message, like sending a quick voice or video message or tons of various filtering & blocking options.
If you haven't explored the numerous options available fin the iMessage app, check-out the fifteen power tips put together by the folks at Business Insider.
The Google Earth website has always been a wonderful way to explore any part of our world using your home or office computer.
A project that combines the Google Earth Engine with annual satellite images to create time lapse videos stretch back from 1984 make it even more interesting.
It allows you to select any location in the world and watch how it has changed over three decades.
You can watch the insane growth of Las Vegas, the unfortunate deforestation of the Amazon or the development of the amazing coastline of Dubai using the preset sites.
Because you can examine any location you want, you can checkout where you live, where you were born and view the time-lapse for that area over a long stretch of time.
The site allows you to zoom in and out and manually go year by year for a presentation of just how much the earth has changed in a very short period of time.
I've got a direct link posted at DataDoctors.com/radio.
An app called ‘Companion’, which was developed by students at the University of Michigan is growing in popularity.
Originally designed as an app for students walking home across campus at night, the usefulness of this app has caught on off-campus as well.
In a nutshell, the app will notify friends or family when you're walking somewhere on your own so they can virtually walk with you.
Just put in your destination and method of transport in the app then send out requests to friends or family to tag along.
Those you want to tag along don’t have to have the app installed; anyone in your contact list can become your companion.
When they get your text, they just need to click on the attached link to become a virtual companion on the way to your destination.
The app can monitor unusual movements such as falling or straying from your route which helps keep your companions updated.
Never walk anywhere alone again with the ‘Companion’ app! It’s free for both iPhone and Android users.
The now famous 'Ice Bucket Challenge' that brought attention to those suffering from ALS became one of the biggest on-line viral phenomenons in the history of the Internet.
Another Internet-based resource that was created as a result of the struggles with ALS is a site called 'PatientsLikeMe.com'
Created in 2006 by Ben & Jamie Heywood as a result of their brother's diagnosis of ALS, it has become a premier resources for sharing treatment, symptom and outcomes on-line.
Whenever anyone is diagnosed with a serious illness, it is really easy to feel that you are all alone in the battle, but you are not.
Connecting with others that are experiencing your same medical issues and being able to compare treatments, symptoms & your overall experiences can become a needed support system.
Whether you are looking to give or get support from other that are experiencing the same issues as you, the PatientsLikeMe website is an excellent way to make those connections.
The site can also be used to track your own health over time and allows you to contribute your data to research if you would like to participate.
https://PatientsLikeMe.com has over 500,000 members that are dealing with over 2500 various ailments, so you are very likely going to find many others that can relate to your medical situation.
Pets are capable of making a huge difference in our daily lives adopting responsibly allows us to do the same for them.
Making sure you adopt a pet that's compatible for your specific situation is critical to success and the AllPaws.com website take this part of pet adoption to another level.
The website creator had previous experience with online-dating tools and used that understanding of a proven compatibility process for matching humans to the proper pet with the AllPaws resource.
You can search for your new pet by the type such as dogs, cats, pigs, birds, horses or even reptiles including the ability to choose a certain breed if you've a preference.
The search results are presented in a list of profiles of each pet that matched your criteria accompanied by a picture and the story of this pet.
The results includes the age range, the coat length, the size, their compatibility with other pets and a number of other useful details to help improve your chances of a solid connection.
You can send questions to the current adoption site, add pets to your 'favorites' list or even begin the adoption process when you see what looks like your next pet.
For those that don’t have room to add another pet to their home, you can still help pets get adopted by sharing them through all your social networks.
Adopt your next pet at https://AllPaws.com
Anyone that travels for business knows about the constant hassle of creating expense reports, especially if you are doing it all manually.
We all have a smartphone with a camera these days, so using an app can help you go paperless very easily.
An app called Expensify claims it creates ‘expense reports that don’t suck'.
The app uses the camera in your smartphone so you can take pictures of every receipt as you get them, which can then be scanned to eliminate the typical manual entry.
It also allows you to automatically import expense data from bank or credit card accounts which cuts down on even more manual entries.
When you trip is finished, all your expenses are ready for you to categorize them or edit them without having to dig around to make sure you all your receipts.
The Expensify app's basic features are free and available for iPhone, Android and Windows phone users.
Test the free version for yourself at https://www.expensify.com!
If running is your exercise of choice, you know how enjoyable the right music can be during your workouts.
Not only can it keep you motivated, it can encourage you to run a little longer especially if the music matches your running pace.
Many of you have attempted to create playlists that will match your pace, but it's a bit of a time consuming process.
A helpful app called RockMyRun can make it a lot easier to find the best music to match your running style.
The app has created playlists that match specific BPMs (Beats Per Minute) providing you with a continuous list of songs that work with your running pace.
You'll find playlists based on specific genres, your desired BPM, the length of the list and whether it has clean or explicit lyrics.
The playlists that are free can be up to forty-five minutes in length, but if you want longer playlists, you can opt for their premium membership which includes other options like the 'MyBeat' feature.
MyBeat allows runners to dial in the exact match for their pace with finite control over the BPM for the entire list of songs.
If you're a runner, jogger or just a power-walker, the RockMyRun app is a unique offering that's available for both iPhone or Android users.
If you are a regular user of Google’s online office programs such as Docs, Forms and Sheets, here's a really great add-on you’ll want to look into.
It is called 'Save As Doc' and it makes it easy to turn any spreadsheet into a document.
This is very handy when you are incorporating spreadsheet info into a report, when the text in a cell is too much to display as a spreadsheet.
The add-on allows you to convert the entire spreadsheet or just a specific adjacent set of cells that gets converted into an editable document.
This tool is really useful when a spreadsheet is generated through a survey or questionnaire created in Google Forms.
No longer to you need to deal with formatting issues whenever you copy and paste info from a spreadsheet into a document.
You can even insert page breaks after each row, making the results in your report a lot easier to digest.
The 'Save As Doc’ add-on is free but only works with Google's Chrome.
I’ve posted the download link at DataDoctors.com/radio
If you are as big of a travel junkie as I am or you just plain love exploration, Google’s Cultural Institute has a handy tool that you’ll want to check out.
World Wonders is a resource that Google has created that will allow you to virtually explore exotic locations, art & museum collections along with historical info all from the comfort of your PC, phone or tablet.
It not only provides lots of great information and historical facts, it allows you to explore the sites like you were actually there because it includes Google’s Street View technology
A great use for anyone planning an adventure to world heritage sites is to get familiar with the area first using this World Wonders tool.
It will allow you to get familiar with the entire area you plan to visit along with extensive detail and historical perspective so you can get the most out of your adventure.
You can search their collection by a specific person, place, time or event so it can become s a great homework assignments tool as well.
I think it is a travel junkie's dream!
The Internet has always been a great way to connect people with similar interests or needs.
A web resource called 'Roomer’ was created to connect people looking for a hotel room with those that have nonrefundable rooms they can’t use.
Think of it as the ‘StubHub' of hotel rooms.
Roomer makes it easy to list your unusable reservations and offer them to others that can use it. The site takes care of all the work to transfer the reservation from you to the buyer.
The best deals that I found tended to be in large cities, especially when you are flexible on the days.
For example, I found an option in the trendy Chelsea neighborhood of NYC for just $76 a night that normally goes for $170 a night but you’d have to be able to stay the six nights of the original reservation.
With Roomer, if you just can’t be flexible with the days, you probably won’t find as many good deals.
The next time you get stuck with a non-refundable hotel room that you can no longer use, see if Roomer can help you sell it at https://www.roomertravel.com.