Data Doctors Tech Tips
Tech Tips for Non-Tech People
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If you’re a parent, it’s inevitable that at some point, you’ll be helping your child with their math and science homework.
The older they get, the more complex the assignments, which is where today’s tip comes in!
One of our favorite online tools is located at https://www.wolframalpha.com which is an extraordinary computational knowledge database that can help with any number of difficult math and science subjects.
Instead of searching the web for answers, Wolfram Alpha uses data and algorithms along with a dynamic computational interface.
It’s great for double-checking complex math questions and to see how the answer is derived, which is much better than simply providing the correct answer.
It’s also an awesome comparison database to compare two people, places, or things.
If you’ve never spent time on https://www.wolframalpha.com, whether you are a parent or not, it’s an amazing web tool that can provide incredible amounts of information like no other!
One of the big red flags we’ve warned you about for years is when you find a popular item for sale online that is substantially less than anywhere else, be suspicious.
Whenever you are about to do business with a website for the first time, there are some easy to use web tools you can use to help you validate the site.
Your first stop should be to Scam Advisor https://www.scamadviser.com which can quickly analyze the site and provide you with a safety rating.
The second tool we think everyone should check out is from Web of Trust https://www.mywot.com, which offers a browser add-on that can actively warn you of sketchy websites in search results, on social media or when you try to land on one.
Even after you do the research and decide to try the new online store out, never use your debit card as it’s a direct link to your checking account.
Even though the banks offer the same type of protection as they do with credit cards, the amount in dispute gets tied up, some times for weeks, which could cause you to bounce other checks.
Learning how to write code may seem overwhelming for those that have never done it, but there’s an important thing to keep in mind: every skilled programmer started from the same point of knowing absolutely nothing.
Today’s tip is for anyone that has thought about getting started in the area of learning how to write code.
A website called Code Academy was created as a DIY learning space for those interested in developing their code writing skills.
It’s a self-paced easy to follow set of courses that can work for anyone no matter what their background.
Lots of people have thought about checking into this world, so if you know anyone, send them to https://www.codecademy.com
No matter how young or old you may be, learning how to write code isn’t as challenging as it may seem when you start with simple lessons and go from there!
Craigslist, eBay and Amazon are among the most popular websites for purchasing merchandise, especially if they are hard to find items.
The problem can become the amount of time it takes to search through each of these sites for the item you seek, no to mention the specific areas that are required in a manual search on Craigslist.
A website called https://www.searchtempest.com has eliminated the need to manually search on each website for your merchandise.
The tool lets you use keywords, categories and most importantly a radius around your zip code from 25 miles to unlimited distances, so searching for something in the entire country is much more efficient.
They also provide lots of filtering options, which makes it even easier to drill down to your best options and prices for exactly what you are looking for…this one is bookmark worthy!
Every remodeling project starts with an idea that needs to be worked out via drawings and layouts.
Thanks to the Internet, you no longer have to pay big bucks to have someone with an expensive software program create drawings that will bring your ideas to life.
A web tool called Home Styler has a nice set of free tools that you can use to create the drawings you need yourself.
Simply measure your spaces and start with a floorplan of what you plan to do. From there, you can add a large number of items to flesh it all out.
It’s a virtual tool that can make it easy to play around with ‘what if’ thoughts you may have without a lot of work.
You can play with designs on your computer or your smartphone via their app, which allows you to take a picture of your space and work with it from there.
Learn more at https://www.homestyler.com
Most of us are more capable of absorbing information when it’s presented in a visually pleasing way, which is why infographics have become all the rage.
Spreadsheet nerds may prefer huge datasets in columns and rows, but for the rest of us, images and graphs are more appealing.
We’ve all seen these clever graphics on news sites and social media, but did you know that anyone can easily create their own infographics?
A web resource called Easilly has hundreds of templates that make creating infographics much simpler.
It’s a drag and drop web interface that also allows you to use your images and graphics if you’d like.
If you ready to make that next presentation of data to your peers much more dynamic, check out the low-cost options available at:
If you actively use any type of social media, you know how it becomes a sounding board any time any kind of earthquake is felt.
This very natural activity on social media has actually become a measuring and detecting system developed by some clever researchers.
These researchers decided to try to leverage the technology built into our smartphones that can help detect the activity based on location and movement.
The desired outcome is to create a very accurate warning system that can alert people near the center of the seismic activity in a way that hasn’t been possible so far.
The more people that volunteer their smartphones to this project, the more accurate the data will become, so let you friends and family in these areas in on the process: https://myshake.berkeley.edu
The rate at which most of us make purchases online has gone up exponentially, so here’s a way to make sure you are getting the best deals possible.
Coupons of various types are commonly available for a large number of online retailers, but you have to know where to get them or explore sites like RetailMeNot.com to dig for a specific coupon.
The good news is that there’s a much easier way to be alerted to potential money-saving deals and coupons and it’s called Honey.
Once you install the plug-in, which works with all the major browsers, the tool goes to work automatically every time you land on an e-commerce site.
Instead of having to go to another tab to spend a bunch of time trying coupons that are mostly expired, Honey just alerts you with their logo when it turns orange in your browser toolbar.
A green number will tell you how many offers are available for the page that you are on, so all you have to do is click the Honey icon and start saving!
Get started at https://www.joinhoney.com
It should be abundantly clear by now that using the same password on all your online accounts is a really bad idea.
Using a unique password on all your accounts bypasses the threat of cyber thieves gaining access to all your accounts simply by compromising one account.
The only way to properly execute this critical security step is to use some form of password management program such as https://www.roboform.com.
It originally focused on providing users with info to fill out forms automatically, but it has evolved into a very solid password manager.
It’s free to use their basic services and they also offer a mobile app.
One of the more interesting features that they provide is the ability to sign-in to multiple accounts at launch automatically.
The whole point of these types of programs is to make it so you only need to remember one very long, complex password in order to use all your complex passwords on all your accounts.
While most of us can’t wait to get back to traveling the nation or the world, until the pandemic situation is more under control, we’ll have to settle for virtual excursions.
Exploring other places around the world allows us to understand and discover new cultures and art along with the amazing natural wonders that await us all.
We really like to tell people to check out the Google Arts and Culture site to virtually explore the world.
They combine technologies that include their street views in 360-degree videos along with lots of art and culture through the website or their app.
It’s a great way to do some detailed homework for famous sites that you plan to visit down the road.
You can explore famous museums and artwork along with famous places that most people have on their bucket list.
As you would expect, you can search by any number of topics or locations to start your explorations.
It’s a wonderful distraction from what’s going on in the real world, so the next time you need to take a virtual trip in your mind, might we suggest you go to:
Whenever we hear about a salacious news story or some dramatic world event, it’s not uncommon to jump onto a search engine to find more information.
Blindly trusting the results that come up in a search query isn’t nearly as safe as it used to be because there are so many cybercriminals trying to game the system.
They quickly create websites that can appear to be legitimate news sources but instead are websites rigged to see if you are missing any updates or have holes in your security system.
While the search engines do their best to quickly identify these rogue websites in their results, even being up for an hour or so can wreak serious havoc, so the bad guys keep doing it.
Today’s tip is designed to encourage you to change this behavior if it’s your default move.
Instead of a general search, keep your trusted news sources as bookmarks in your browser or use their associated smartphone app to do your research.
Apps like News360 aggregate a large number of news sources for any given story, so it’s a great way to find the breaking news in a much safer way.
If you’ve started using Google’s productivity tools that are the alternative to Microsoft Office, you may have noticed that it’s quite different.
They both provide the ability to create documents, spreadsheets and forms but they do it in very different ways.
If you only use Google’s tools with the built-in features, you’re missing out on an entire universe of options just waiting to be added.
In any of the programs, go to the ‘Add-ons’ menu, then click on ‘Get add-ons’ to open the add-ons that will work in that tool.
Mailers, faxing, diagrams, label and lots of other useful tools can be added to your Google productivity apps.
It’s one of those hidden gems that can drastically change the power of each program, so take some time to explore the huge library.
No matter which program you were in when you added it, the new tools will be available across all of the programs on the Google platform.
New tools are added all the time, so make it a habit to check them out on occasion so you can keep improving your productivity.
Those fancy and expensive activity trackers that have become so popular, but a lot of people can’t justify the cost.
Obviously, paying the price for those wrist-worn devices is going to provide you with the most accurate results, or at least that’s a common perception.
But it turns out that they may not be any more accurate than an app on your smartphone according to a study that was posted in the AMA journal some time ago.
Keep in mind, that this specific test was done in a laboratory and on treadmills instead of in real life, so it didn’t take into consideration those times when you don’t have your phone with you.
The bottom line is that either can be a huge motivator for those trying to increase their activity level, so the lesson is that you don’t have to spend the big bucks to get it done.
You can find lots of free app in the various apps stores by searching for ‘activity trackers’.
Instead of waiting until you can justify spending the money for an expensive tracking device, why not get tracking right away with one of the many free apps for your smartphone?
In today’s digital age, it’s not uncommon to need some simple form of graphic design created for a variety of reasons.
If you aren’t much of a creative person or don’t own any graphic design software, this can present a minor challenge.
Fortunately, there are a number of online options that can get the job done and one of our favorites is called Canva.
Not only does it bypass the need to pay for expensive software and install it first, but it’s also been specifically designed to help those with lesser design skills.
Within minutes of landing on the page, you can be creating numerous commonly needed graphic files for just about anything most people are trying to create.
Because it’s template-driven, it like coloring by numbers that result in professional quality graphics.
If you want to include an image for your design, you can either upload your own or purchase inexpensive images from their professional library.
It’s one of the best ways to create DIY graphics, so bookmark https://Canva.com for the next time you run into this need!
Data breaches seem to be reported almost daily these days and when you dig into the details of how it happened, in virtually every case it started with a targeted phishing attack.
Cybercriminals are only looking for one person in an organization to fall for their fancy tricks, which is why they constantly change up their game.
A simple way to sniff out an obvious scam is by using the ‘hover’ test over any links in the email message.
You’ll either see the destination website pop up via a smart icon or you may have to look in the lower-left corner of the email programs window to see the destination link.
When what is in the email doesn’t match the destination or look strange, it’s probably a scam link.
There are a number of online resources that can be used to test you Phishing IQ:
We’re all watching a lot more online video content these days and one genre that’s worth digging into is documentaries.
You can find lots of them on popular pay video streaming services, but there’s a lesser-known alternative that we want to share with you.
A website called Documentary Heaven has assembled an extensive library of documentaries that have been categorized by topic so you can quickly get to the content you’re most interested in viewing.
If you love tech and music as I do, their category listing makes it much easier to find the films that fit those topics.
Unlike the other streaming services, Documentary Heaven offers their films for viewing for free on computers and mobile devices.
Their catalog continues to grow, so checking back on a regular basis could introduce you to some really amazing documentaries.
Check them all our for yourself at https://documentaryheaven.com
In today’s Internet concentric world, when you start a new company or launch a new product, making sure you can get the web domain is critical.
If you’re in the process of developing either, coming up with the best name can be helped by the crowdsourcing website known as https://PickyDomains.com
You essentially post the information that will help the people that offer to create names from all around the globe to get working on your project.
You can specify certain words to be used or omitted, the length of the name or any themes you’re trying to convey with the name.
The cost of posting your project is determined by who you are willing to accept submissions from as well as some other details you choose.
The best part is that it’s not a one and done process because you can interact with those submitting ideas to help guide them to your ultimate creative goal.
Picking the right name for your project is so important, so if you’ve run dry on your own, this cost-effective web tool could be worth every penny!
Being paranoid about those around you in public places sneaking a peek at what’s on your laptop screen isn’t a bad thing.
The term visual hacking was created for this all-too-common situation when those around you may get a bit nosey.
We’re all trying to keep our distance these days, but someone that’s looking over your shoulder from an angle can be stopped with today’s tip.
You can add a simple layer of protection on all of your screens with a product known as a privacy screen.
This add-on will magically make your screen look like it’s black to those around you because it requires viewing of your screen directly.
These screens can be easily removed if you need to make a presentation, so it’s not a permanent setup.
If you want the same privacy on your mobile devices, you’ll get a second benefit as they also serve to protect your screens from impact damage.
Learn more about 3M’s range of screen privacy products at: https://bit.ly/2CNJOiZ
The fact that email is such an essential communication tool is why so many spammers use it to fill our inboxes up with junk with the hopes of snagging a few customers.
And as if dealing with junk email wasn’t enough, we’re now having to deal with more and more annoying text messages on our smartphones.
Despite various attempts to curtail junk text messages, the bad guys won’t follow any rules that are created.
Besides installing some form of app to help you manage the growing problem, there’s something that each and every one of us can do to help fight the scourge.
If we all were to report every message by forwarding it to 7726 (SPAM) no matter which cellular carrier we are using, it can make a dent in the problem.
In order for the reporting to properly function, you need to forward just the message in it’s entirety without adding anything to it.
This won’t eliminate the problem but it will help to keep the spammers hopping as they won’t be able to continue to use the same scam that gets reported by the masses.
Unless you’re a professional musician or someone that’s a student of song lyrics, you’ve probably made up words for many of your favorite songs.
Well, you don’t have to become a student of lyrics if you use an app called Musixmatch on your smartphone or computer.
It’s designed to monitor most of the popular music playing apps and streaming services and provide real-time lyrics as the songs play.
It uses many of the large music lyric databases to perform its magic, so some form of connection to the Internet is necessary in order for it to work.
Musixmatch can also help you identify songs when you hear music playing in the background from virtually any source.
This wonderful app is available for both Android and iPhone users at: http://bit.ly/2UWHe1R
The ‘Cloud’ is simply a non-technical reference to the Internet and storing your important files in the cloud is possible from a large number of companies.
For the most part, the basic version of their storage accounts are free but have a storage limit so they can pitch their pay services to you for more space.
As long as you aren’t a voracious smartphone photographer or videographer, the storage limits may be more than you need.
For those that are constantly taking pictures and videos and want to back up to the Internet automatically, today’s tip is for you.
Although Google is the company that created the Android smartphone platform, they offer their Photo app and service to either iPhone or Android users.
All you have to do is install the app and tell it to start backing up your photos and videos automatically, generally when you are connected to Wi-Fi.
The best part is that the storage is unlimited as long as you are OK with a small amount of compression. Learn more at: https://www.androidauthority.com/google-photos-937968