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!
There are so many smart devices available that are simple to setup these days, that most people are adding them themselves.
One critical aspect of these devices is that you have a solid Wi-Fi connection at all times in order for them to work properly.
If there’s any issues with connectivity, your ability to remotely access the devices or get updates from them goes away.
For the most part, the first step in troubleshooting these issues start with a reboot of your router, which isn’t a possibility if you or someone else is not at the physical location.
You can check the settings menus of your router to see if you can setup a reboot on a regular basis, but another piece of equipment called a remote power switch can make this more convenient.
With one in place, you can remotely restart anything that’s plugged into it and in some cases, you can have the device constantly check for an internet connection and auto reset when it’s not working.
There are a handful of other troubleshooting steps you can take if you’re constantly having to reboot your router that I’ve posted at:
Anyone that’s been using dual monitors on their work or home computer can’t imagine working any other way.
If you have to travel a lot, taking a second display doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, unless you already carry an iPad in your laptop bag.
Those that have been using all Apple products have been able to connect their iPad to their Mac Laptops for years, but what most Windows laptop users don’t seem to know is that they can do the same thing.
There’s an app called Duet Display that can be installed on either a Mac or Windows computer and an iPad to magically connect them as a mobile dual display setup.
For those that have never used dual displays, having the ability to drag an app over to a second screen so that both are viewable in full-screen mode is awesome and very productive.
By the way, if you have one of the larger iPhone models, you can use it as a second display as well using https://www.duetdisplay.com
It’s pretty easy to sniff out a bogus email as a phishing scam, but there’s a type of phishing that’s much trickier to spot.
Some obscure bank that you’ve never heard of is an obvious clue but what about a message that comes from someone else where you work?
Emails that include links or an attachment are common in company messages, which is why the bad guys have stepped up their scams with this type of spear phishing.
It’s incredibly easy to spoof a message that appears to come from anyone in your company as there is no validation process for who actually sent the message.
It’s not really possible for us to provide exact signs of a scam, but now that you know that it can happen, don’t be so quick to click on links or open attachments that appear to be from a co-worker.
Since a lot of the scams are generated from foreign hackers, oftentimes there are clear grammar or spelling errors. Strange sounding sentences that are different than what you would normally expect from that co-worker is another red flag.
If a message includes a link, you can use the hover trick to see if what is in the message matches where it’s actually going to take you.
Just hover your mouse over the link, but don’t click it! Look in the bottom left corner of the message to see if it’s the same. If it isn’t, it’s another clear red flag of a scam.
I love spending time in the beauty of mother nature, but that often means that I’m putting myself in places that have no cell service.
For the most part, that’s by design and part of what makes it so appealing, but there are times when you might want to make sure you have some form of communication just in case.
Anyone that finds themselves in this situation regularly might want to look into the solution offered by a company called GoTenna.
They have a special gadget that allows you to use text messaging and share your location with others that have the same gadget. The range for these communications can be from 1 to 50 miles, based on the terrain.
Open areas like ski resorts or hiking trails will likely make for a better signal over a crowded urban downtown setting.
It’s also a great alternative at huge events with thousands of people where the cellular networks get so overloaded, they’re practically useless.
Learn more at this off-grid communication option at: https://gotenna.com
We had someone post a question for us on our Data Doctors Facebook page asking about a way to add a timestamp on their photos.
If your first reaction is to wonder why someone would want to make their pictures look like they were from another century, you’re not alone.
But it turns out there are some pretty solid reasons that you may want a timestamp on certain photos, like verification for others or to make sure the details never get separated from the photo itself.
Every image you capture actually contains a lot of details about the image in what’s known as the metadata, including the date and time.
There are apps that can read this metadata and place it on the photo for you, including TimeStamp-It for iOS or Camera Timestamp for Android-based smartphones.
Unlike the timestamps you may remember from years ago, these apps have an updated look and feel to the timestamp that’s much more modern.
Meetings are just a fact of life and so is the need to have someone take notes during the meeting.
If you’re the one tasked with taking notes at your meetings, there’s a much more efficient way to get the job done than the old school pen and paper.
If you write notes on paper during the meeting, then you’ve added more work for yourself transcribing the notes into your computer for distribution.
There’s a much better way and it’s located at https://minutes.io
It’s a lot more than just a note-taking tool because it can also track who said what, brainstorm and assign tasks from the meeting and when it’s all done, it’s a snap to send everyone the meeting overview.
Because it’s a web app, you can use your smartphone, tablet or computer to take the notes, even if you don’t have an Internet connection.
If you’re not the one stuck with this task, be a friend and let whoever is in your circle know about https://minutes.io
If you’re a deal hunter, especially for those hard to find items, cruising the big name sites like eBay, Amazon and even Craigslist is a good place to start.
As great as each of these sites are, if you really want to make sure you’re getting the best deal, you have to spend time searching through each one, one at a time.
When it comes to Craigslist, you’re limited to one metro area at a time when you search, so you have to perform multiples if you want to be thorough.
You can avoid the extra work by using a search tool called Search Tempest.
The tool searches lots of these sites including obscure ones like https://Oodle.com all at once and allows you to choose a radius around your zip code, you can do everything in one search.
https://SearchTempest.com is a bookmark worthy website for the next time you want to save time searching for the best deals!
Whether you’re in the process of moving or just getting rid of clutter around the house, it’s likely you’ll end up with perfectly good items that you simply don’t want any more.
Since it’s not garbage, finding someone that you know that could use it is the obvious alternative.
In some neighborhoods, putting out on the curb with a ‘FREE’ sign usually gets the job done, but that’s not an option for a lot of folks.
Thanks to the Internet, there’s a virtual curb available for those items which is located at https://freecycle.org
There are millions of users from around the country that have started using the site to gift their items to others in the same area.
This movement is an awesome way to recycle your gently used items by giving it to those that may be looking for that exact thing.
It’s an excellent use of the online community to connect people in your local community to prevent usable items from ending up in our landfills.
It’s also a great place for starving students to find items for free that they would normally have to pay for: https://freecycle.org
Death By Powerpoint! It’s what so many people suffer when they simply load a bunch of data onto slides and wreathe off for an hour in front a unengaged crowd.
It’s bad enough if you’re not comfortable with public speaking, but it’s made even worse for your audience when you commit this tactical error.
If you’d like something a lot more visually stimulating, checkout the free presentation platform known as Prezi. It’s a simple tool to master and will dramatically improve your presentations.
If you’re a PowerPoint warrior with lots of presentations, you can import them into Prezi so you’re not starting from scratch.
Because it’s so much more visual, you can reduce the amount of copy and stick to bullet points and images to tell your story to your audience, not talk to your slides.
When it’s all done, you simple provide the link to your audience instead of having to email a huge file!
Get started at https://prezi.com
If you’ve ever printed anything from a website, it’s very likely you wasted a bunch of ink on ads and other items that you really had no need to print.
Some websites offer a ‘print-friendly’ version of certain pages, but even then, you can end up with unnecessary items on the page that eat up your ink.
Well, from now on, you don’t have to put up with all that waste by printing only what you want to print.
An awesome website called https://Printwhatyoulike.com gives you total control over what you print before you print it.
It’s so easy to use because all you have to do is copy and paste the web address of whatever you want to print to get started.
The tool gives you options for getting rid of various items or selecting a specific portion of the web page that you want to print.
If you love to print out recipes to take with you to the grocery store, for instance, you no longer have to include the picture of the food or any ads on the page.
https://Printwhatyoulike.com It’s totally free, works in any desktop web browser and you can be using it in a matter of seconds!
Optical Character Recognition or OCR is the technology that allows you to take an image and extract the text so it can be edited.
If you own a scanner, it came with an OCR program, but setting it up and using it can be overwhelming for those that aren’t comfortable with unfamiliar tech.
Even if you do get it setup and working, it’s not of much use if you aren’t in the same place as you scanner.
Fortunately this thing called the Internet offers an elegant option. It’s located at http://OnlineOCR.net and it makes scanning any number of image files super easy.
Whether you have a PDF, JPG or any of the common image files that has text on it, http://OnlineOCR.net allows you to grab the text.
It’s so simple; you just upload the file you want to scan, select which language it’s in, then choose the type of text file you want when it’s done.
It’s free and easy because you no longer have to figure out how to install and configure complicated software!
They’re at it again…the fake tech support scammers pretending to be from Microsoft and it’s because some people still fall for their spiel.
They may claim that you have a malware infection or a Windows upgrade issue now that Windows 7 has been retired.
What they are trying to do is keep you on the phone long enough to convince you to run a few tests of your own to prove what they are saying is true.
If they convince you to run a diagnostic program, they’ll tell you to look for a specific word when the results are displayed.
The problem is that the specific word or words that they are having you look for are actually part of the Windows operating system and will always show up.
If that convinces you that they are legit, they’ll request remote access to help you clean things up.
Needless to say, if you fall for this, they’ll try to get you to give them a credit card number to cover the service or worse yet, buy an annual protection plan.
Here’s what you need to understand about the tech world - no legit company, especially Microsoft, is ever going to call you out of the blue to tell you that you’re having a problem.
Now that you know what to watch for, you can avoid these silver tongue devils and just hang up.
Only allow remote access to your computer when you were the one initiating the request for help.
Raise your hand if you have a mountain of paper records that you have been accumulating for a long period of time? Well, today’s tip will hopefully give you the incentive to take action.
Getting started begins with the first task, which is to figure out how much of the paperwork is even relevant any more. It’s likely you have a lot of documents and manuals for things you don’t even need anymore. Get rid of all the old, useless papers first.
The second task is to shred anything you plan on tossing that has even the smallest bit of personal info for your recycling pile.
The third task is to review what’s available online, which you can toss. Anything that isn’t online should be scanned so you can shred and discard the paper copies.
The fourth task is to review all of your billing options so you can opt for paperless bills from now on with as many companies as you can.
If you’re a business, the final task may be to look at an online mail processing service such as https://www.earthclassmail.com.
These services will scan all your incoming mail for you so that you only request the documents that you want in paper form.
It’s not hard to do if you’ll just take the first steps to get started.
It’s important to understand that the bad actors on the Internet are targeting you through your Internet activities.
In order to view what’s online, you must use a browser of some sort, which is why they are targeting browsers more specifically these days.
With this in mind, one of the ways you can identify a browser-specific issue is by having more than one available for testing.
This tip applies equally to computers and mobile devices.
When you encounter an issue with your web surfing, switching to another browser on the same device is a good first step.
If the issue clears up, then you know that you have a browser-specific issue like a caching issue or something that has infected your browser.
When you swap browsers and the issue remains, you’ll know that the problem is more connection-based.
Going through this process can save you and anyone you call for help lots of time because you avoid troubleshooting the wrong side of the equation.
Most households have removed their traditional landlines for the convenience of their smartphones, but this move also means you have to give your personal cell number out to everyone.
In many cases, you would rather not give them a phone number, but in some cases, you may not have a choice.
Well, there’s a solution for those situations in the form of an app called TextMe Up.
It lets you use phone numbers more like the way you can use email - different numbers for different uses, which also allows you to keep your personal number private.
You can now call or text anyone in the world with a separate phone number that allows you to track the calls based on the various numbers you setup.
It’s great when you are trying to buy or sell something with strangers or for avoiding annoying sales calls after you register for something.
The app is free for iOS and Android devices and so is your first number at http://www.textmeup.com
Email, you can’t live with it and you can’t live without it! The most aggravating part of our daily routine is wading through all the nuisance messages from mailing lists.
The vast majority of the lists we end up on is from sneaking ways the marketing world has created to get us to ‘agree’ to be on the list.
Unless you’ve got it all under control, one of the best tools you can use to clean up your inbox is located at https://unroll.me
When you first use the utility, it will burrow through all your inbox messages and list all the subscriptions you’ve been added to so you can choose which ones you want and which ones you want to unsubscribe from.
They also allow you to add subscriptions to what they call a daily roll-up, which is a compiled list of messages that you can view in one message. This makes it so that you aren’t being interrupted throughout the day with the messages that you do want.
It’s really a wonderful way to regain control of your mailing list messages and it’s free to use: https://unroll.me
Most of us have been on Facebook for many years, which means that there’s bound to be a number of companies that have access to our profile from old interactions.
There are a couple of ways that a company can gain access to your profile, mainly through apps or when you use Facebook to login to another website.
Even though you may not be using the app or service anymore, you actually gave them permission to continuously access your profile info.
If you haven’t reviewed the companies that currently have access to your profile in a while, you may be in for a surprise.
Our suggestion is to review who has access on a monthly basis, so you can keep it to just the apps and services you want to use.
If you navigate to the Apps and Websites section in Facebook’s Settings menu, you can quickly remove anything you don’t want connecting anymore.
If you want the exact steps, they’re posted here: https://www.facebook.com/help/170585223002660
The 3 rules of computing are backup, backup, backup.
An unfortunate university student was so in need of specific files on his stolen laptop, that he offered a reward of $1000 just for those files, not the laptop itself!
His entire body of work for his collegiate career was on that laptop and of course, it wasn’t backed up.
Even when some people think they have a backup, because they bought a ‘backup drive’, the reality is that they only have one copy of their critical files on that external drive.
In order to have a backup, there have to be two separate copies of the file, preferably on two different storage devices.
The best strategy is the 3-2-1 approach: 3 copies of your data on 2 different storage devices with one copy off-site in the cloud.
Even if you make a second copy on a USB flash drive manually, do whatever you have to when you have critical files.
We love putting our customers on Carbonite because it’s automatic, safe from ransomware threats and bugs the user when it can’t get files backed up.
If you don’t have a regular backup process yet, consider this another wake up call!
The ability to remotely access your computer has been around for a long time, but most of the options that used to be free are now charging to use their tools.
There is still a free option that’s more than enough for most people and it’s from Google.
There’s a plugin called Chrome Remote Desktop for the Chrome browser that makes this possible.
Any computer running the Chrome browser can become remotely accessible with this simple addition.
With it on your computer, you can access it from any other computer, smartphone or tablet that has the Chrome browser as well.
It’s easy to set up, easy to use and still a completely free option for remote access!
Get started with these links:
Chrome Remote Desktop Add-on: https://chrome.google.com/remotedesktop
iOS remote app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chrome-remote-desktop/id944025852?mt=8
Android remote app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.chromeremotedesktop
With the ability to capture extraordinary images with our smartphones, discovering tools to enhance those images is an ongoing exercise for us.
As great and sophisticated as these digital cameras are, we don’t always take the very best shot, so editing the image later can save the day.
An all-time favorite resource for us is called FOTOR and it’s a tool that can be used through a web browser or mobile app.
This incredibly powerful, but easy to use tool has a plethora of features including a post shot HDR option.
By combining multiple images of the same shot, the software can detect the best of each image and combine them into one.
If you want to make your subjects look like models, the beauty tools are spot-on for getting rid of blemishes and wrinkles.
Fotor is free to use and located at: https://www.fotor.com
The mobile apps can be downloaded at: https://www.fotor.com/mobile.html
The mysterious workings on the Internet starts with your computer and whichever DNS server it uses to find things online.
Domain Name System Servers make it possible for you to be guided to websites you type in, which are actually a bunch of numbers in reality.
By default, the company that you pay to gain access to the Internet also provides this valuable service, but there’s a very good reason to consider using an alternative.
Switching to another company’s DNS server can make things more reliable and provides hard to defeat parental and content control tools for anything that connects through it.
My favorite free service is located at OpenDNS.com, because it’s easy to use, effective and efficient.
The best way to use this type of service is to change the DNS settings in your home or business router, which forces your rules on everything that connects to it.
Learn more at: