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!
Hanging out with a large group of friends at a restaurant is great fun, but figuring out the owes what, can get to be a bit of a chore.
You can download any number of apps on your smartphone that are designed to help in this situation, but there’s an easer way if everyone agrees to split the bill equally.
Instead of yet another app that you don’t really use a lot, why not use the Google tip calculator?
Just type ’tip calculator’ in Google to get to their easy to use tool for figuring out what everyone should pay.
By inputing the total bill, the tip % and the number of people, you can quickly get a breakdown of what each person is to contribute.
For those that like to tip extra for great service, the tool separates the tip from the bill to make it easier.
One variable that you need to evaluate is whether a large group minimum tip has already been added.
The great thing about this awesome tool is that it’ll work on any of your devices that has an Internet connection.
Most of us aren’t avid gamers that spend hours every day playing, but most of us do enjoy an escape at times.
If you’re looking for something completely different than a card game on your smartphone, there’s an interesting augmented reality game called Ingress that you may want to check out.
Leveraging the power of your smartphone combined with your location emerges you into the game wherever you may be looking for something called XM.
The best analogy I can think of is a virtual capture the flag game with lots of other people.
Locations in your physical world will be listed as portals that contain the all important XM, which when visited requires certain action for the game play.
You could end up discovering all kinds of new places all around you whether you are at home or visiting an unfamiliar place.
If you’ve never really experienced augmented reality, this may be your gateway to this emerging technology!: https://ingress.com
In my previous tip, I told you about the possibility of having your smartphone hijacked while it’s plugged into a public charging station.
Road warriors, especially those that spend a lot of time abroad that want the option of connecting to a public USB based charger should look into getting a charge blocker.
These inexpensive USB adapters will not allow data transmissions to occur but will allow electricity to flow to charge your smartphone or tablet.
Since the USB interface is designed to both charge devices and allow data access, limiting what can happen when you’re connecting to anything is a good idea.
The problem with the juice jacking threat is that there’s just no way to know by looking at a charging station to know if it’s been tampered with.
As we suggested previously, it’s always better to use your own charger through an electrical outlet, but when a USB port is your only option, a charge blocking device from companies like https://chargedefense.com will provide you with the extra security that give you peace of mind.
Have you noticed that more options are showing up in lots of public places that allow you to charge your smartphone via a USB port?
But did you know that you could become a victim of a scam that can actually be perpetrated with these USB ports?
It's called ‘juice jacking’ which is when the device you connect to for a charge actually attempts to connect to your device to access data.
Depending upon the type of phone your using, you may be able to see how easy it is by plugging your smartphone into a USB port on your computer.
If you see a window pop up with the file folders from your phone, nefarious charging stations may be able to do the same thing.
I’d be much more concerned about this scam in smaller airports in foreign countries, but it certainly could happen to anyone, anywhere.
The good news is that it’s easy to avoid becoming a victim by always using your own charger via an electrical outlet instead of a USB port on a public charging station.
If you want to have the option of using a foreign USB port as a charger safely, tomorrow I’ll tell you about a simple device that will make sure you’re only getting juice and not jacked!
"Measure twice, cut once" is one of the many tips you'll hear from anyone that's ever had to build something.
Having the right tool for the job is another way to make things go smoother.
Since it all starts with the initial measurements and subsequent calculations, the Mobile Pro app from Dewalt is worth considering.
This powerful app made for pros has lots of functional calculators and conversion features essential for calculating areas.
Beyond those tools, it has lots of other helpful information for referencing common questions.
The app lets you save your work or share it with others that are involved in your project.
Knowing how many bags of concrete to buy for your slab or how many linear feet of all the materials necessary for building out a room can be done with this awesome app.
Our annual summer road trips provide us with lots of opportunities to discover new interesting places here in the US.
If you’re like me, you love finding the path less traveled by talking to the locals wherever you happen to be.
When the insider knowledge isn’t available, there are lots of web resources that can help you find awesome side trips, including one of my favorites at https://RoadTrippers.com
Just type in your starting and ending points to start finding things your interested in along your intended path.
By using the website to build your trip plan, you can easily determine how much time an extra stop or point of interest might take along with the potential gas consumed.
Zoom into any part of your path to really see what’s possible, save your trip and then transfer it to your smartphone so you can get in-car directions to everything you plan on seeing.
If you’re pressed for time or just too lazy to build your own road trip, you can start with someone else’s trip and make adjustments to suit your taste.
No matter how much you may try to keep your smartphone clean, it’s going to be full of bacteria that loves living on your devices.
If you’re afraid of touching the door handle to a public restroom, you should be more afraid of your phone as it’s been suggested that it’s eighteen times the filth of a restroom door knob.
The device itself along with how we typically store it in dark, warm places provides everything that bacterial want to thrive.
Constantly wiping your phone off with a harsh chemical wipe can do damage to your touch screen, so that’s not a good option.
A scientifically proven method of keeping your phone sanitized is available from the folks at https://www.phonesoap.com
The approach they take is to blanket your smartphone with UV light, which allows them to disinfect your device while it’s charging.
When you first hear about this method, it may seem a little out there, but a video shot during a multi-day lap test shows just how effective it can be.
Watch the lab test video and learn more at: https://www.phonesoap.com
Protecting your accounts online requires diligence and if you have a Google account, there’s a tool you should know about.
You can easily see what devices have connected to your account and when to sniff out unauthorized access.
The ‘Recently used devices’ screen (http://bit.ly/2EFipxt) provides a list of every device that’s successfully logged into your account and a general location within the past twenty eight days
Should you detect an unauthorized device in the list, you can tap the link to secure your account and start by changing your password.
If everything looks good, take a extra couple of minutes and do a security checkup while you are thinking of it: http://bit.ly/2EusxsD
If Google thinks you should do something to improve your security, you’ll be given the links to make it more difficult for the bad guys to gain access to your account.
If you’re like most users, you have been storing your digital photos on your computer for a decade or more and since you got a smartphone with a camera, both the size and quantity of your photos has increased.
The size of each photo has increased as the pixel ratings have improved on your cameras, which means you can eat up disk space much faster.
The longer that you’ve been storing images on your computer, the more likely that you have inadvertently created unnecessary duplicates that are taking up valuable space.
Looking for those duplicates manually would be overwhelming and a huge time suck, so finding a software tool that can do the job is a better approach.
No matter where the duplicate files may be hiding, these programs can find them and show you where they are stored in a fairly short period of time.
Not only can using this tool free up disk space, you may find yourself motivated to reorganize your photos at the same time!
Windows 10: http://bit.ly/2EqO05D
Older versions of Windows: http://bit.ly/2EpQ4eg
When’s the last time you took a look at all the apps on your smartphone that are just for photography?
Most of them focus on colors, contrast, filters and other obvious adjustments, but I’ve got an app suggestion that’s totally focused on a different area.
Despite how awesome smartphone cameras are, if you try to take an image with a wide angle setting, you’re likely going to see some distortion.
The app I found that fixes this problem is called SKRWT and it’s a natural addition to anyone’s smartphone camera app group.
The curved distortion that can happen with certain setting is easily eliminated by adjusting both the vertical and horizontal planes using the app.
It only does one thing, but it does it really well.
You can checkout some of their other apps as well at: http://skrwt.com
Here's a common problem most of us experience; setting goals we just aren't that motivated to accomplish without some type of external reinforcement.
If you use Google Calendar and want to try to keep your goals in front of you, there's a little feature that a lot of users still haven't looked into called 'Goals' that could help.
The idea behind the feature is to set common goals such as regular physical activity that your calendar will find a slot for on a regular basis, based on how often you want to make it happen.
What's really cool about the goals feature is that if you run into a scheduling conflict or don't accomplish the goal that day, it will get pushed to another day automatically to keep you on your goal.
You have to create your goals using the Google Calendar app first, which will then appear on your desktop computer when you access it through your browser.
The whole challenge with our goals usually includes reminding ourselves on a regular basis to pursue them, so now your calendar can at least help you with that part of the equation!
For instructions on how to create goals, go here: http://bit.ly/2QgxFFp
A keyboard is the most common interface for most of your digital devices, but in the very near future, you could be primarily using your voice as an interface.
Even though companies like Apple and Google are leading the charge in the smartphone arena, there’s a lesser known company that seems to have them both beat.
A company known for it’s music recognition app called Sound Hound is now being lauded for it’s voice recognition app called Hound.
To see the future of voice recognition, checkout their demo video that seems to have a better understanding of complex voice commands.
In the video, you’ll see multiple examples of questions that would confuse most humans, much less a smartphone voice app.
Since it’s a demo video, it’s easy to question the validity of anything that works this fast with such complicated questions, but it’s an actual app you can test yourself.
The free Hound app is available for both major platforms at: https://www.soundhound.com/hound
The impressive demo video is at:
By now, everyone should know how dangerous it is to send sensitive information via an email message that isn’t encrypted as anyone that comes in contact with the transmission can see everything in plain sight.
Email also makes it impossible to control what happens that a message once it’s sent.
For those situations where you want a lot more control over what happens to a specific message after you send it, checkout the Gmail extension called Dmail.
The free add-on provides you with the ability to have the message automatically self-destruct and always sends the message in an encrypted form.
Messages sent with the extension can be terminated in an hour, day, week or never, which then gives you manual control over when the message gets destroyed.
This isn’t intended for daily use, just for messages that contain sensitive info that you want to better control.
If you install it, the default setting is on, so make sure you turn it off when you don’t actually need it.
Download it at: http://bit.ly/2EfoiRL
No one likes to think about something we will all eventually have to deal with: passing away.
If you take a minute to think about how important it will be for your heirs to have access to your various online accounts, making it easy for them to do so, should you pass, is a pretty generous thing to do.
The amount of time, effort and frustration that those you leave behind may have to go through if they are completely locked out of your accounts can be overwhelming, all while they grieve.
Keep in mind that the myriad security settings that you put in place to keep the bad guys out will also keep your loved ones out in their time of need.
Even if you store your passwords somewhere safe that your family will know about, don’t forget that your passwords will often change over time, so there’s on password that’s the most important: your primary email account.
Why is this? Think about where all your password reset messages typically go when you click on a ‘forgot my password’ link on any account.
If nothing else, having this single account password will allow whoever is left to manage your estate to easily gain access to any and all of your accounts.
No matter your age, this uncomfortable issue is something that we should all take care of for the benefit of those we leave behind.
Data is much of what drives most business decisions and anyone that works with data all day long knows the power of spreadsheets.
Complex data sets can present problems in making sense of what you're looking at, which is why graphical representations of the data is so helpful.
Most spreadsheet programs have an adequate number of tools for creating graphs or charts, but if you're a data nerd that wants more, there's a free tool called RawGraphs that's worth checking out.
Unlike the limited options in your spreadsheet program, RawGraphs offers numerous options for really complex data sets by simply pasting the data from your spreadsheet into their web tool.
The various charts present data categories that you choose to drag into the interface.
There are lots of options for creating a visual chart that will help others make sense of your data set.
This incredibly powerful and free tool will build your chart on the fly as you drag data to it and once you're done, you can download the chart in a number of different file formats.
The number of amazing features that just about every smartphone offers these days are awesome, but one downside of using a lot of these features is diminished battery life.
For those of you that spend a lot of time on the road, you know how strategic you need to be when trying to keep your devices charged.
When you only have a short amount of time to charge, it can be maximized by turning off the device while charging.
If you can't turn off your phone, turn off as many of the radios as you can - Bluetooth, cellular and Wi-Fi to maximize the charge.
Another tip to remember is that most hotel TV's have a USB port that can be used to provide a bit of a charge, as long as the TV is turned on.
It's not going to charge as quickly as your phone's charger, but it can come in handy when you're under duress.
As the warmer weather approaches, be mindful of heat or direct sunlight exposure to your electronics as heat is one of your batteries biggest threats.
Charging your devices while they're overheated is also something to avoid...let it get back to room temperature for the best results.
Our smartphones have as much personal information stored on them as our computers, but because they are portable, they pose a much greater security threat.
If someone with ill intent gets their hands on your phone, they can wreak lots of havoc including locking your out of your own accounts, so if you don’t have a passcode lock setup yet, do it right away.
If you plan on getting rid of a smartphone, there are a number things you should be doing to it before it leaves your possession.
Your first step is to reset to phone to the factory default, which will wipe out all of your sensitive personal data, info and files.
A lot of smartphones have an optional memory expansion slot, so if you used it, make sure to remove it or format the card if you’re selling it before you part with your device.
If you’re switching cell providers, make sure you dispose of your old SIM card before getting rid of the phone as well. If you’re staying with the same provider, move the SIM card to your new phone.
The factory reset of the entire phone should be easy to find somewhere in the device settings menus.
For more tips, checkout our column at: http://bit.ly/2WJovE0
Battery life issues are among to most common complaints for those that use a laptop as their primary computer.
Because all batteries have a specific number of charge cycles, the more you charge it, that faster the battery life begins to lessen.
Whenever you know that you are going to be using your portable computer plugged in like a desktop computer for an extended period of days or weeks, one way to help improve the life of the battery is to remove it.
It’s not to limit the charge cycles, it’s to reduce the exposure to heat that is one of your batteries biggest killers.
Both the battery and the processor inside your computer generate a fair amount of heat that you can avoid generating when you won’t need it to be portable.
A word of warning: don’t unplug or plug in your battery while the device is running. Be sure to shut off your laptop and be sure it hasn’t gone to sleep.
The best way to run without the internal battery is to plug the power into a battery backup for safety sake.
It’s pretty rare not to see a streaming video device in most homes these days.
The list of companies that offer an option that can be added to your TV is pretty long, but not all smartphones interact with all streaming devices.
If your an all Apple household with iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs, you can easily push your pictures an videos up to your TV.
Likewise, if you’re an Android fanatic with a Chromecast plugged into your TV, you can push thing up as well, but more and more of us have a combination, especially when it comes to friends and family.
An app called ‘Allcast’ was created to unify all smartphones with just about any streaming box or smart TV to make it easy to watch what’s on your smartphone on any connected television.
The best part is that they allow you to try it before you buy it, because they offer a fully functional free version that allows you to watch up to 5 minutes of content through it.
If you like how it works, you can buy the Pro version which has no limitations and is fully functional.
Want to take the app for a spin? Just search for Allcast in your associated app store or visit http://www.allcast.io
Today’s search giants like Google and Microsoft provide a great service for finding things online, but in order to make use of these powerful search engines, we have to give up some of our privacy.
Sometimes the tracking of everything we search for can help provide a better experience, but with so much focus on privacy lapses, many of you are looking for a better way to search.
Well a website that claims it’s ”the most private search engine" is at https://Startpage.com
Bing and Google track virtually every aspect of where you came from, your location info and which results you clicked on in order to better target you with ads that might be relevant.
What makes Startpage unique is that it offers the power of Google with none of the granular tracking.
It’s actually a way to stay invisible to Google, but still use their power search tool.
Bookmark this site for any private searches you want to perform in the future: https://Startpage.com
Unless you stop to think about how you communicate every day, you probably didn’t realize just how many ways you are doing it.
It starts with social media messaging platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram to stand alone apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp to video apps like Skype.
You have to think about who you want to communicate with, then which communication channel you want to connect with them on, then go to that specific app in order to start a conversation.
If you want a way to streamline this growing complexity, I’ve got a great suggestion for you.
The ‘Drupe’ app takes all your contacts and all your communication apps and puts them on a single screen!
The app allows you to drag any contact over to any of the communication apps without having to jump back and forth.
Drupe isn’t limited to working with communication apps alone, as financial apps, reminders and calendars are just a few other ways to leverage their approach.
The days of a single way to communicate with all your contacts is long gone, which is why Drupe may be just the app that makes things easier for all of us!: