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!
Anyone that spends most of their day on their computer may find music helps you focus and possibly makes you more productive.
For some, music can be a distraction depending upon what you’re listening to, so there may be something a bit more soothing, like ambient noise.
Anyone that finds the sound of a gentle rain storm to be soothing should checkout the website at: http://Rainymood.com.
There is nothing to download or setup; just land on the page and hit the play button to listen the recording of distant thunderstorm and gentle rain that loops until you turn it off.
For those that prefer the sound of an ocean or a rainforest waterfall or birds in the trees over a rainstorm, checkout http://calmsound.com
If you like what Calmsounds.com provides, you can download an entire album of nature’s soothing sounds.
Setting up a conference call or online meeting or even an in person meeting with a number of people outside of your company can be a bit challenging and time consuming when done in the traditional way.
Anyone that’s still manually e-mailing attendees to ask if they can meet on a certain day knows that they will end up spending way too much time trying to figure out everyone’s schedule.
Now you can streamline this common process when you go to https://ScheduleOnce.com and let their online system do the work.
Schedule Once allows you to schedule group meetings, to accept appointments or offer multiple meeting types and even at multiple locations.
It can work with your own calendar and it also takes care of time zone issues even when you are working with people from the other side of the world.
It only takes a few minutes to setup your personal ‘Meet Me’ page that also allows attendees to select their preferred meeting days and times with their mouse or phone!
This tip shouldn’t be something that you will use on a regular basis, but when you need to find a hotel room in a pinch, you will be glad you learned about this.
The HotelTonight app specializes in last minute bookings for hotels, so instead of having to pay a huge bill because you didn’t have the ability to plan ahead, find a room near you that’s more of a deal.
Remember, hotels all want to fill each and every room, every night so they offer last minute deals as a way to do just that.
Whether you are unexpectedly spending the night in a strange town or are just spontaneous when you travel, using the HotelTonight app might save you big bucks.
In our random tests of the app against the popular booking sites, Hotel Tonight was generally lower on last minute offerings and they also offer a price guarantee.
The app is available for both iPhone and Android smartphones and can be used in the US, Canada, Mexico and many European countries.
Just pick your city and the # of nights you want to stay to get their best deal on last minute options.
Here’s a situation that’s becoming much more common these days: you are killing it while playing Candy Crush and you get a call right when you are in the groove.
Or even more importantly, you are in the middle of replying to an urgent email message when that incoming call disrupts your train of thought and typing.
Well a developer that had enough of these types of disruptions on their Android smartphone created a simple free app that’ll allow you to manage those disruptive calls while letting you stay in your current app.
The app is called ‘Call Popout’ and it gives you total control over your phone calls that tend to come from out of the blue.
Let’s be real; we are using our smartphone far more for apps than we are for phone conversations, so setting up priority to apps makes a lot of sense.
The app allows you to select specific apps or even all your apps to provide you with complete flexibility for when it jumps into action.
A picture of the person that’s calling along with a small blue circle will appear over the top of the app you are currently using, so you can decide what you want to do.
For Android users in the Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rootuninstaller.callpo
All you avid online shoppers know how easy it is to lose track of what you have spent and where you spent it throughout the year, unless you are very organized.
For those that are that organized, bravo! For the rest of us, there is help from an app called ‘Slice’ which can take all the work out of tracking all your purchases.
Slice is a free app that makes it a snap to store your receipts making returns easier while tracking your online spending and it can even track packages automatically.
But unlike other tracking apps that require you to manually enter everything, Slice will scan your email messages to collect your online purchasing history auto-magically!
The app will show you what you have on order, when it’s scheduled to ship and what you have already taken delivery of all from a single interface.
With Slice, you will never have to go searching through your messages to find an old receipt ever again; it’ll just be waiting for you!
Business users should think about how much easier your expense reports will be from now on!
Our email has become so full of spam messages that the various tools designed to detect them can often mistake legit messages, (ham) for spam.
Most people don’t know that specific words in a message and how messages are constructed can actually make your legit communications look like a scammers message to automated filters.
Images in the message that aren’t needed or specific words can dramatically increase your message’s ‘spam score’ but how do you know what is and isn’t acceptable?
A free web-based tool that will allow you to test for the spam score of any message at http://mail-tester.com is an excellent way to know.
The next time one of your messages ends up in someone’s spam filter or they keep telling you that they never got the message, get the spam score of the message to see if that’s the cause.
You simply send the message to a special address that’s provided and then after a few seconds, you click a link to check your message’s spam score.
You will be presented with a score with optional details on the message including whether your address has been blacklisted, which could be the cause of many messages being blocked.
Those of you that are part of a large group of friends that regularly get together, often times end up splitting checks, sharing rides or buying each other theater tickets.
You then have to repay them and if you happen to have the right change, pay them with cash or more likely try to keep a ledger, which get’s pretty complicated with a large group.
That’s why the Venmo app comes in handy for those situations, because it allows you to easily transfer money to others without any fees.
Venmo allows you to pay your friends exactly $8.27 instead of that awkward point when you realize that you have to make change.
The transfers are FDIC insured and once you have setup your account, it will only take a couple of taps to send a friend some money.
Remember, there are no transaction fees, it allows you to send really small amounts of money to cover sodas from your coworker , so they’ll know you don’t take it for granted.
Users with roommates can easily split rent, utility bills and even groceries to avoid that constant juggling act when you live together.
You won’t need it every day, but when you do, it can take a lot of the drama out of these common social situations.
The tech tip for today is a reminder to all the old-school Internet users out there because it’s a site you most likely forgot about.
In the early days of the Internet, the first real popular deal site that we loved was a site called Woot (http://woot.com) because it had a really simple offer: One item for a single day.
This ‘deal of the day’ would always sell out really quick so you had to be quick as well or you would miss out.
Today the Woot.com website offers many deals in everything from watches to tech to home and garden items, sporting goods, kids stuff and one of my personal favorites: WINE!
One of the best features is that you can discuss any of the items with your fellow shoppers to get input on items before you buy them.
W O O T.com is kind of like a virtual home shopping channel without any annoying pitch people but do be careful…it can be addictive!
Counting calories is a vital skill for any type of fitness program these days and many restaurants are joining in by publishing the calories right on their menus.
But when we get to the grocery store, we have to spend time looking into the product labeling to figure out the nutritional values, which can get be too time consuming.
Unless you’re able to go shopping with a nutritionist, we have an app suggestion for getting the info you need before you buy anything at the store.
It’s an app that provides food education called ‘Fooducate’ and all you have to do is take a picture of the barcode to generate a health grade, calorie count and lots of other health info if you really want to know what you are about to buy.
The app tells you if a product has controversial ingredients, high levels of sugar or sodium, if it’s highly processed and best of all, it will give you a list of alternate products that are healthier to consider buying instead.
Anyone counting calories can now do it with ease with the Fooducate app; available for free on both iPhone and Android handsets.
Lots of you regularly start your day by walking, jogging or taking a bike ride because it makes you feel so good.
Anyone that exercises daily and wants to the value of your regular workouts should checkout the ‘Charity Miles’ app for your phone.
‘Charity Miles’ is an app that tracks all your activities but it also includes a charitable connection which allows you to generate money for a charity of your choice with every activity.
Bike riders can raise ten cents a mile, while joggers and walkers can raise twenty five cents a mile for the charity of thier choice.
You have most likely seen your friends posting ‘Charity Miles’ updates via social media and now you know why!
Anyone that wants to help organizations like ‘the Wounded Warrior Project’ or Autism Speaks or Habitat for Humanity and many other charitable organizations can do so with something they’re already doing every day!
The Charity Miles app is available for iPhone & Android users and using it will allow you to claim that you’re now a sponsored athlete!
Red with meat and white with fish - if this is about the end of your wine knowledge, there’s an app made just for you!
‘Hello Vino’ is a useful app for anyone looking to learn more and simple to use while being full of great info to allow you to expand your knowledge beyond the basics.
With over 10 thousand types of wine grapes on the planet, the best part of discovering new wines is in my opinion, is finding food pairings that are made in heaven.
The app makes it so simple. Need to find a wine that will go great with a bacon cheeseburger? No sweat!
Looking for a wine to pair with that creamy French Brie that you’ve just sampled at the deli counter? Just say Hello Vino!
Need to find the right white wine to go with that spicy Thai curry? The app has you covered there too!
Another great use is when you feel overwhelmed at a restaurant when you’re asked to choose a bottle of wine, let Hello Vino save the day. Ask your fellow diners what they plan to eat and let the app guide your choice.
Finding the perfect wine pairing in Hello Vino will have you talking like a wine snob in a few minutes!
The creation of tabs in browsers is one of the greatest improvements to web surfing to ever come happen because you can quickly bounce between websites without having to use the back button everytime.
But when you get overzealous with too many tabs, it can eat up lots of memory and slow your computer down.
If you have noticed that you tend to have lots of tabs open routinely, check out an extension called The Great Suspender for the Chrome browser.
This great utility automatically monitors tab usage and pauses the web sessions that haven’t been used in a while. Whenever you click on a paused tab, it will reload and pick up right where you left off.
Not only does this tool free up memory & processing power, it can also help to reduce drain on your batteries by pausing all the background activities.
You can easily add special sites, like real-time stock trading pages to a ‘whitelist’ so it knows not to ever pause them.
For avid web surfers that are constantly battling slow performance, this tip is a lot cheaper than buying a new computer!
Download the tool here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/the-great-suspender/klbibkeccnjlkjkiokjodocebajanakg?hl=en
Tracking online activities and search requests is big part of today’s Internet and it’s easy for companies to track your every move.
Since most people are taking more of an interest in their privacy online, finding tools that allow you to see who’s tracking you and blocking them are becoming more popular.
A tool called ‘Disconnect’ gives you a simple way to manage your privacy while your are browsing and searching the Internet.
It’s a browser add-on for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera and it allows you to pay-what-you-want to support their online privacy and security efforts.
Once the add-on is installed, all online activities become masked as it then looks like all requests are coming from the Disconnect servers, not your actual computer.
The Disconnect add-on also shows you all of the invisible tracking requests that are occurring and makes sure you’re using encrypted connections as you share your data.
So anyone that wants an easy to way to manage who can see personal surfing habits should look into the disconnect tool.
If a cyber-thief gains access to any of your important e-mail accounts on your smartphone, they can pretty much get every password reset message that they want, since they get sent to your phone from your bank when they are prompted.
Your smartphone is loaded with lots of sensitive info that can make ID theft of piece of cake, so anyone that doesn’t have the access passcode setup on they phone yet, get it done.
Another thing to keep in mind when you plan on trading, selling or disposing of an older smartphone is to remember to reset the phone to remove your personal info.
The resetting precess to the reset your phone to the factory settings is easily done with just a few taps of the screen within the ‘Settings’ menus.
If your smartphone has an memory expansion slot, remember to remove the micro SD card before you get rid of your phone as well.
If you decide to include your old micro SD card when you sell your phone, be sure to format the memory first.
You should also remove your old SIM card as the person that ends up with your phone will have no need for it.
Anyone that needs step-by-step instructions for resetting their phone can simply enter their model number followed by ‘reset instructions’ in a Google search.
Here’s our complete advice: https://www.datadoctors.com/help/columns/21892-Wipe-Before-You-Get-Rid-Of-Your-Old-Smartphone
The Internet is plagued with malicious websites that are almost like virtual ‘venus fly traps’ that are waiting for you to land on them.
Staying away from websites that you’ve never heard of is the usual general advice, but that really isn’t very practical, so what are you supposed to do to stay safe?
A useful and free resource from the folks at Trend Micro, which is one of our favorite Security companies, is what we recommend.
They have one of the largest online ‘site reputation’ databases that’s constantly being updated, so when you paste the web address of any site into their tool, they’ll run a quick safety check.
Within seconds, you will get one of several safety ratings: Safe, Dangerous or Suspicious or if the website has yet to be tested, Trend Micro will add it to their tests.
You will also be presented with a summary of the content that you will find at the website, so you won’t end up at an inappropriate site.
Making the assumption that a website is safe is a really bad strategy these days, so before you visit any strange website, get a security opinion from Trend Micro!
Most of us continue to get many e-mail messages that end with things like ‘Sent from my iPad’ or ‘Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S8’.
These default ‘signatures’ on most mobile devices are designed to advertise for the manufacturer of your device without your input.
They know that many of you won’t bother to change the defaults and they end up with millions of free mini-ads.
With the number of messages that we still see using these free mini-ads at the end, it’s pretty obvious that this approach is working for them.
Proclaiming that you’ve sent a message from your mobile device can in some cases be a minor security risk, so we should all take a minute and update our smartphones email messaging signature today.
For business users, an updated signature is a great way to send contact info with every message and help recipients become aware of your company’s blog, website or other important marketing tools.
We have posted the links to provide step by step instructions for iPhone, Android and even Blackberry devices to stop you from being a pawn for smartphone companies.
iOS & Android: https://www.pcworld.com/article/2052156/how-to-change-your-email-signature-on-your-smartphone.html
When you are trying to decide on watching new movies, TV shows, or listening to new music, respected critics are one source of information.
But often times, don’t you find that you’ll love a movie that a famous critic hated?
Unless your tastes are exactly the same as any critic, you really should be looking to see what a number of them are saying to get a consensus.
Many websites have ratings from several critics, but if you want to really tap into the wisdom of the crowds, visit https://metacritic.com
The Metacritic website will combine the opinions of the most respected critics into a single number that they call their ‘metascore’.
The algorithm they claim is unique takes the averages of well-known critics so you can avoid having to click around to a bunch of sites to see what the critics are saying.
Metacritic.com quickly shows you all the movies that are showing in the theaters, available on DVD or are coming soon along with the consensus of the critics.
This resource is also a great way to discover new music as well, which is why we think this is a worthy bookmark site.
Did you all know that carrots were actually purple in the beginning or that Abe Lincoln formed the Secret Service on the day he was shot?
The web is loaded with useless information that not going to change your life, but will make you say, huh!
Most of us learn about these interesting factoids by chance or randomly from a social media post but why allow this type of knowledge to come to you by chance?
Anyone that loves factoids as much as I do should checkout a website called NowIKnow and subscribe to their daily emails.
Every day, you will receive an interesting email message with something that will most likely make you say “huh” or in some cases make you a bit smarter.
With NowIKnow.com, you’ll learn something new daily such as the world’s shortest war lasted 40 minutes and how the turkey actually got its name.
If you have been wanting to learn how to speed read, but not bad enough to pay for a course, there’s an Internet site that you may want to check out.
It’s called Spreeder.com and it’s an online speed reading tool that can help you improve your reading speed as well as comprehension.
According to the site, it’s an art of silencing subvocalization, which is just another way of saying your inner voice that most of us hear when we’re reading.
The online app helps you improve the way that you read so you aren’t held back by your slower inner voice.
Reading skills are typically developed when we’re young and taught to verbalize all the words.
Spreeder allows you to break away from that learned approach by exercising your mind in a completely new way and it is free to use, so give it a try for yourself.
Anyone that works on their computer at night on a regular basis may find it hard to get to sleep afterwards.
That blueish light coming from the computer screen especially at night has been shown to keep people from getting to sleep afterwards.
Anyone experiencing this sleeping after use problem or anyone wanting to reduce the potential for eye strain from your computer screen should checkout a free app called ‘Flux’.
The Flux download will automatically warm up the computer screen at sunset and returns it to normal after sunrise because it will know the time zone of your computer.
It lets you adjust the warmth of the display at night or manually turn it off whenever you’re doing color sensitive work.
It may take a bit to get used to, but once you see the brightness of the normal setting on your display, you will understand why this change can help.
Flux is free and available for Windows and Mac users at Justgetflux.com
You’ll be paid just for taking surveys! You’ve likely seen these email and social media posts from unknown companies proclaiming that you will be rewarded just for sharing your opinion.
While some can be legitimate, most should be considered scams, so unless you have done your research, you should always be skeptical.
But what if there really was a legitimate company that was truly willing to reward you for taking surveys on your Android smartphone?
Well the folks at Google created the Google Opinion Rewards app which will allow you to earn credits in the Play Store for taking those surveys.
It’s an easy system that will only show up once a week or so and every time you answer their simple questions, credits are added to your account so you can purchase apps, movies, books or music in their store.
Sample questions include “which logo is best” or “what was on your TV last night”. The app will notify you whenever a new survey is available.
Search for Google’s ‘Opinion Rewards’ app in the Google Play store.