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!
Our window onto the Internet has become one of the most targeted programs we use, that being your web browser.
It’s at the front lines of our daily usage and will continue to experience challenges on a regular basis.
Our tip for this day also provides you with some ability to troubleshoot issues when you’re experiencing problems while surfing the web.
Whether it’s your primary computer, tablet or smartphone, having at least two different company’s browsers is a smart way to go.
Once you’ve got them available, you can quickly switch between them whenever you’re having a problem accessing the web.
If switching browsers alleviates the problem, you’ll know that your issue is browser-based and can act accordingly to check for malware or a corrupted cache.
When you switch and the same problem persists, you’ll know to pursue connectivity items to solve your problem.
This is a quick way to know which path to follow so you don’t waste time fixing something that isn’t the problem.
We love our pets but too much love can make them a bit unhealthy and overweight.
Today’s tip is for anyone that has a dog that might be tipping the scales.
The key to fitness is activity and technology can help you determine how active your dog is throughout the day.
The FitBark activity monitor is designed to track your dog’s BarkScore.
Why should activity monitors only be for us humans?
Just like with human monitors, the FitBark monitor can provide great insight into your dog’s daily routine.
It’s also a great way to monitor how anyone watching your pet is managing their activities while you are away.
Another great use of this device is when your furry friend isn’t feeling well and your vet wants info on their recent movements.
The value of having more information about your dog’s health and fitness can be invaluable, so check out the FitBark device if you’re interested!
Ever been out with a group of friends having a great time and when things wind down, you end up in the awkward process of figuring out who is going to pay for what?
A generous friend will sometimes offer to pay the bill and let everyone pay him for their share, which is fine if everyone has some cash to cover their end.
But who carries cash anymore? The modern-day solution for this and many other situations where a small amount of money needs to be transferred is an app called Venmo.
Instead of trying to figure out if someone has proper change so you can pay your share, Venmo allows you to pay any amount to others.
It’s such a convenient way to send money to just about anyone because it so easy to use.
There’s no transaction fee to use the service when it’s tied to your debit card, which is what makes it so useful.
This slick service is great for roommates, family group purchases and a variety of other common real-life situations.
Getting Venmo on your phone and set up to pay others will come in very handy: https://venmo.com
When you notice some new sound when you are driving your car, you know that ignoring it could lead to some very expensive repairs.
If you don’t use the same caution when you hear new strange sounds from your computer, the same expensive outcome could greet you.
Generally speaking, any rubbing or grinding sound coming from any computer means that a moving part has deteriorated or is about to fail.
One of the most important items to function properly on any computer are the cooling fans, which also commonly make noise before they fail completely.
What can be even worse is when those strange noises stop on their own and you just go about your business.
When a cooling fan completely goes dead, it will stop making noise and allow severe overheating issues to occur.
Popping, clicking and whirring sounds that are new are all early indications of a potential mechanical failure, so be sure you pay attention when your computer is trying to tell you something!
Our other signs of a potential meltdown are posted at: https://www.datadoctors.com/help/columns/21814
The iPhone has long been known for its camera technology, which is why so many use it as their primary camera all of the time.
These amazing high definition captures have a downside as they take up a lot of space, especially if you’ve had your device for a while.
There’s no doubt that many of the images on your phone are probably junk and can be deleted, but Apple doesn’t make it very easy to manage a large library.
Trying to make a decision based on a tiny thumbnail can be difficult, so if you’re interested in something a bit more efficient, check out the Cleen Classic App in the Apple App Store.
Instead of working with thumbnails, it allows you to view larger images that can be seen in full with an additional tap.
The best part of their management system is that you use simple swiping motions to either keep the image, get rid of it or decide later what you want to do.
When you’re done for that session, simply tap the trash icon to verify that you want to delete them all and bingo, you’ve just freed up a bunch of space for new images and videos!
Download it at: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/cleen-classic/id1334576825
It’s not hard to take having a solid Internet connection for granted these days, so when your connection becomes problematic, it can get irritating.
There are so many variables that can impact your Internet connection and if you don’t know where to turn or what to check, it feels hopeless.
Learning how to diagnose connectivity issues is very helpful both at home and when you’re using a public hotspot.
If you have the Google Chrome browser installed on your laptop, there’s a great free add-on that can quickly check some of the most common causes of connection issues.
The ‘connectivity diagnostic browser app’ will automatically run tests on various items that can be the cause of your issues so you aren’t completely in the dark.
It’s potentially going to generate some technical data that may be a complete mystery to less tech-savvy users, but the information can be essential when you are asking for help from someone more technical.
The link to download the tool is at:
If you’re like most people, your smartphone has become the center of your communication universe, so much so, that if for any reason you don’t have the use of your phone, you feel lost.
Having a phone go missing or become unusable is a very real possibility that we all should be planning for, especially for text messaging.
A little known resource that’s available to just about everyone is the ability to send and receive text messages without your smartphone.
Most carriers have an interface that you can set up to do just that, but it’s important to do it before your phone goes missing or becomes unusable.
For those needing a solution in a pinch, there’s an old website located at http://Textem.net that may be of value for emergency communications.
It’s only usable if you know which network the recipient is connected to and of course, their phone number.
If you haven’t gone through this ‘fire drill’ before, I highly recommend that you figure out how to do it well before you need it.
It’s well known these days that using public Wi-Fi can expose you to various security risks, but there’s another lesser-known item that you’ll want to address.
If you use a laptop, it’s possible that every time you connect to public Wi-Fi a part of your computer can be accessed by anyone on the same network.
All of the major operating systems provide an option to use a public folder for sharing items that should be disabled if you don’t use it.
It’s not that others can access the files you in your document folders, but it is possible that they can save a nefarious file to your folder or that you inadvertently saved an important file in the folder.
I’ve run into situations where someone didn’t realize they had files accessible to anyone else in their public folder that someone else may have put there.
Whether you’re using a Mac or Windows laptop, take a minute to close this potential security risk if you haven’t already.
Windows 10: https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/50179-turn-off-public-folder-sharing-windows-10-a.html
The ability to see things in the dark is possible through the process of thermal imaging.
In the past, unless you had a professional use for these hi-tech cameras, it was difficult to justify the cost, but not anymore.
The processing power of your smartphone combined with an app and a special attachment can inexpensively give you the ability to see in the dark!
A company called Seek Thermal has a series of devices that connect to most major smartphones via their power charging port to provide thermal imaging.
Once connected, you can take pictures or video in the dark to see what the human eye can’t see.
You’re not going to get super-high-resolution images from their system, but if you want to see if something is lurking in the dark, it’s effective.
Beyond the security aspect, these types of cameras are great for seeing where heat is escaping from your home or where your pipes are getting clogged by using hot water in them.
There really quite useful and affordable these days: https://www.thermal.com/compact-series.html
It’s pretty obvious that the Internet can be a very dangerous place, especially when you land on a site that you know nothing about.
Finding sneaky ways to compromise visitors to a rigged website is a standard method incorporated by the bad guys.
You’ll hear lots of security experts telling you not to visit websites that aren’t familiar with, but that’s not very practical advice for today’s Internet.
Fortunately, there are companies that spend a lot of time and effort tracking malicious websites every day and one of our favorites is the website checking tool from Trend Micro https://global.sitesafety.trendmicro.com
They constantly compile information on websites all around the web in a database and make it available to be searched by anyone.
Just copy and paste the URL into their webform and have it check the database for any details that have been gathered.
Beyond the security check, you can get a synopsis of the information on the site before you visit to make sure you know what will be there.
From now on, when you aren’t sure about a website, get a second opinion at https://global.sitesafety.trendmicro.com
The great thing about taking pictures these days is that we no longer have to worry about running out of film.
Despite this freedom, often times a photo that could have been almost perfect is ruined by some background item we didn’t
notice while taking the shot or even worse, a photo bomber.
It can also be something as benign as the reflection off of the glass you had to shoot through and couldn’t avoid while taking that epic shot.
For any and all of the reasons that you can’t go back to recapture the shot, I highly recommend downloading the Snapseed app.
It’s loaded with dozens of amazing tools to help you improve your images, but my absolute fav is the tool known as ‘Healing’.
It lets you take out just about anything in the background of your photos without having to use your computer and fancy software.
You just pinch-zoom to the area of the obstruction then use your finger to erase the unsightly item into the surrounding background colors.
The best part is that you can give it multiple tries before saving to get the image just right.
Get started at: https://snapseed.online
The popular list-making app known as Wunderlist has been acquired and put to rest by the folks in Redmond, Washington, which means it’s time to find a replacement app.
Microsoft is trying to get Wunderlist fans to use their replacement app, but it’s just not up to par.
A while back, I began searching for a solid replacement and found in an app called AnyList.
It provides the same top-notch list-making options but adds some really cool options that I really found useful, like integrating with the various smart-speaker platforms.
This means you can use voice commands t add items to any of your lists.
If you love to cook, the app makes it easy to import recipes from a lot of popular food sites so you have all of the needed items on your shopping list.
While you’re shopping, simply tap an item when you put it in your basket so it goes away or you can share the list with anyone.
It’s a free app with in-app purchasing options and available for all major smartphone platforms at https://www.anylist.com
The pandemic has many of us thinking that isolation is a good time to get in shape with a regular routine, but thinking about it just isn’t enough.
Jogging or even running is one of the first things many consider, so if you are looking for the motivation to get going, an app called ‘Couch to 5K’ may be what you’re looking for.
It’s specifically focused on helping those that have little or no running experience to work their way up to running a 5K.
If you’re willing to commit half an hour a day, 3 days during the week for a stretch of 9 weeks, this app can make it happen.
This isn’t a simple 'ra ra' app to try to motivate you, it’s been created with real personal trainers that know how to get the job done.
While you’re running, you’ll get input to keep you going along with the ability to listen to music that motivates you as well.
Grab your smartphone and head over to https://www.active.com/mobile/couch-to-5k-app to get yourself into shape in a very enjoyable way.
Most of us are used to all of Microsoft’s productivity tools in the Office suite, but more and more of us are adopting Google’s free online tools like Docs or Sheets.
One of the coolest things about these free tools is that you can extend their functionality using a myriad of add-ons.
You can create bibliographies, use music notation, DocuSign, add fonts or even merge for creating labels using these add-on tools.
One of the stark contrasts between Microsoft Office and Google’s online tools are the features, which can be added on specific to your needs.
The next time you’re in a document or spreadsheet, look towards the right side of the menu options for ‘Add-ons’ to get to the workspace marketplace through the ‘get add-ons’ option.
Whenever you add a new add-on, it becomes available for all the Google tools no matter which one you were in when you added it.
The best part is that new add-ons are being created all of the time, so this is one of those options you’ll want to take a look at on a regular basis to discover what’s new.
Clearing out unused or unneeded items is often one of the most common new year’s resolutions.
Much of what we want to get rid of is in perfectly good condition and really just needs to find a new home.
In the real world, larger items are often left on the curbside with a sign that tells anyone that wants it to take it for free.
Not everyone lives where that’s possible so there’s actually an online version of this time-tested way of repurposing your old stuff using the Freecycle network.
It’s an awesome way to keep items out of our landfills and into the hands of others that can really use a gift of sorts.
This location-based community website will help you find someone nearby that can make use of your discarded items and save resources while reducing household waste.
The next time you or someone you know wants to find a home for the stuff they are getting rid of, direct them to https://freecycle.org
Presenting information to a group has defaulted to being done using Microsoft’s PowerPoint, which is often a painful experience for those having to watch.
Keeping your audience’s attention is vital, especially when so many presentations are virtual these days, so we implore anyone having to create a presentation to use a different approach.
A free and much more engaging web-based tool that we love is at https://prezi.com.
Instead of a bunch of text-laden slides, Prezi creates dynamic and graphically pleasing presentations that have a better chance of getting your point across.
Start with any of their awesome templates or import those old presentations from your PPT decks and watch the magic happen.
One of the worst things you can do is create a presentation full of text that you simply read off to everyone watching.
A better approach is to engaging images with bullet point text that supports the concept you are presenting.
Focus on talking to your audience, not to your presentation slides!
Anyone willing to spend the time clipping coupons knows that they can save money, but it can get a bit labor-intensive.
If you’re a coupon clipper looking for a better way, there’s actually an app for that called Flipp.
This app is able to provide savings for its users at grocery stores, pharmacies and lots of very popular retail outlets.
Instead of you searching around for coupons when you need them, the app allows you to use a shopping list that then seeks out the best deals for those items.
It’s really useful when you are at a retailer and want to see if they have savings for you in real-time.
It’s also able to accumulate coupons as you find them so you can easily access them down the road when you need them.
Manually reviewing shopping ads also becomes much easier, because you can now do it in a single app.
If all this sound interesting, you can learn more at: https://flipp.com
The immediacy of the Internet often leads to us posting things without reviewing it, which is when we get a notification from those that want everything to be grammatically correct.
Some of the responses may come across as demeaning and usually completely overlooks what you were trying to say.
Using proper grammar is important, so if you’d like a less overbearing way to know when you’ve made an error, check out the tools at Grammarly.com
They range from browser plug-ins, desktop programs, mobile apps or a simple web tool for checking for issues.
You’ll get real-time alerts of items that you’ve typed that might need to be reviewed or retyped.
For more focused feedback, you can tell the apps who your intended audiences may be for additional suggestions.
They have both free and premium options, so no matter what level you’re at, the input can be invaluable.
Check it all out at: https://www.grammarly.com
Artificial intelligence is a technology that continues to evolve and that includes on our smartphones.
Some newer apps, such as Otter take advantage of the power of our smartphones and AI in the voice transcription realm.
Anyone that performs interviews or has to take meeting notes, even for virtual meetings will love the capabilities of this awesome app.
Artificial intelligence plays a role in this app when it comes to identifying the difference in those speaking during the recordings.
It can distinguish the various speakers and assign a number to each, which can be converted to actual names for the rest of the transcription.
The power of this app isn’t just when you are recording something live as it can do the same with a previously recorded audio or video session.
As powerful as it is, it’s not going to be 100% accurate, but it’s still pretty incredible.
There are free and premium options depending upon your needs, but it all starts with downloading their free version at: https://otter.ai
The new year generally leads to new resolutions and many of them are financially based.
Getting a handle on your future financial situation is a very good way to get started.
Some time ago, I discovered an excellent tool that provides so many useful tools for tracking and forecasting your finances.
The tools at https://www.personalcapital.com makes it easy for you to set up a financial dashboard.
You can connect to all of your various financial accounts and assets to create a single place to see it all.
Planning for your retirement is another option you can use with their forecasting tools, so you can clearly see what it will take to achieve your retirement goals.
Using both their website and mobile app, you can track everything on a daily basis to stay connected to all of your financial items.
Check it out for yourself at https://www.personalcapital.com
Cybercriminals are gearing up for one of their favorite seasons of the year - fraudulent tax return season!
There have been so many breaches that it’s highly likely that the social security info needed to file a fraudulent return before you is readily available to the bad guys.
It’s a lucrative ID theft crime that generates millions of illegal returns every year and this year will be no different.
If you become a victim of this crime, not only will you not see your legitimate refund any time soon, but the hassle of getting to the bottom of the situation can be endless.
Despite all of the breaches of government networks and healthcare organizations, you still need to do your best to protect your SSN from others.
The reality is that so many will become victims for the first time this year, so one of the best ways to avoid this scam is to file your return as quickly as you can before cybercriminals do.