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!
For the most part, we’ve come to rely on critics to a certain extend when it comes to choosing a movie or binging a tv series.
This isn’t to say that what a critic likes is what you’ll like and vice versa as we’ve all disagreed with them many times.
Rather than guessing whether a specific critic has the same tastes in creative work as you, wouldn’t it be nice to get more reviews from a group of critics?
That’s exactly what you will find at a website called MetaCritic! It combines the ratings from a number of well-known critics and creates a single score based on them all called a metascore.
It’s much more sophisticated than a simple thumbs up or down or even your basic star rating system.
This score is prominently displayed on movies, tv show and music throughout the site, so it’s a really quick way to find highly reviewed content.
Make good decision quicker from now on using the scores at https://www.metacritic.com
Plastic containers dominate the retail landscape and those really thick, hard to open ones can also be a hazard to your fingers!
The more expensive the item being packaged, the more likely it’s using a large, very hard to open plastic container to prevent theft and to make it easier to hang on some retail display.
How bad has this problem become? Bad enough to deserve it’s own rage wiki page railing against the use of it!
It’s impossible to get into the package without using scissors or a sharp knife, both of which can cause various injuries of their own.
When you finally get a portion of the package opened, you can’t help but try to pry the rest of the package apart with your hands, which can get easily cut or nicked as a result.
This type of packaging isn’t likely to go away any time soon, so here’s a suggestion that can make it less of a risk….try a can opener!
Not only is it safer, but it’s also so much easier to open packages because of the leverage that the can opener provides.
Give it a try the next time you’re facing down a big ugly plastic clam shell package!
There’s a potential connection between the extended use of a computer screen at night and struggling to go to sleep afterward.
It’s been shown that the bright light with the blueish tint can actually cause people to have trouble going to sleep after staring at the screen.
If you want to reduce the chances of this happening to you or just want to reduce the eye strain common when using a computer in a dark room, check out a free app called Flux.
It’s a simple utility that can automatically adjust your display at sunset to a warmer tint that’s easier on the eyes. It does this based on the clock in your computer and where you live.
You can adjust the level of warmth or turn it off if you need to see colors properly.
At first use, you’ll likely not be all that interested in continuing with this strange hue, but over time, you’ll see how it can help cut down on the effects of a bright display.
You can download the Flux utility for Windows or Mac computers at: https://justgetflux.com
Streaming music service like Spotify and Pandora are an excellent way to learn about new music groups or solo artists, but it’s either put up with commercials or pay a monthly subscription.
For anyone that loves to discover lesser-known bands and wants to do so for free without having to listen to commercials, there’s an alternative to the majors called EarBits.
Their approach is to spotlight independent artists from around the world that you aren’t going to hear on the radio every 30 minutes.
The apps and the website has tons of playlists or genres to choose from, so it’s easy to find a bunch of new artists that fit your preferred type of music.
I really love the Festival Guides they have because most of my best discoveries have been on smaller stages at big music festivals.
Earbits makes it much easier to learn about all the great musicians that are working their way up the popularity ladder.
Just search your app store for ‘Earbits Music Discovery’ or visit their web option at: https://earbits.com
If the ‘middle of the week doldrums’ has got you in its clutches, break out of it with this fun app!
The ‘Chatterpix’ app will allow you to turn anything in your pictures into a talking animation.
The way it works is you simply choose an image from your phone or iPad, drag your finger where you want the mouth to be, then record what you want your image to say.
From there you can accentuate the image with filters, stickers and frames before you post it to social media or text it to someone.
There is also a young child version called Chatterpix Kids that removes the sharing capabilities for kids from 5-12 years old.
The apps are all free but only available for iOS devices.
The company that makes the app, DuckDuckMoose has a number of kid-friendly apps that can also be educational, so check them all out at: http://www.duckduckmoose.com
No matter what age you are, it’s likely that you have fond memories of comics and comic books.
Most of us are not so immersed in the comic culture that we’ll get dressed up and go to Comic-Con, but you can re-ignite the nostalgia with the Comic Studio app from Seedlings.
This iPhone app makes it really simple to make yourself, your children or your friends and family the hero in their very own comic book..
It can use any picture you already have on your phone to get things started by removing the background and adding costumes and props to the story.
Just like in the comics, you use thought or speech bubbles along with words like POW and KABAAAM to create action effects.
To complete the story, you add a cool background and the legend is born!
You don’t have to be a comic book fanatic to enjoy this app, as it’s great for communicating lots of things in a really amusing fashion.
Check it out at https://www.seedling.com/comic
There are so many electronic devices that can take a picture these days, but they aren’t the same as a regular camera in so many ways, such as the flash.
Despite what most people think, using your flash is not limited to low light situations.
Light is one of the most important elements in picture taking and too much light in the wrong places can make people in your pictures appear to be overexposed.
There are actually times when using your flash, especially if you have a stronger flash on a point and shoot camera can save the day.
Smartphone flash strength is pretty low, so they tend to only have any impact if you are close to your subject, especially in daylight.
The worse setup is when you have your subjects in direct sunlight, causing them to squint and be overexposed. Moving them to a shaded area can fix both problems!
Using your flash indoors can also cause images to be overexposed, especially since most newer smartphones have low light sensitivity capabilities.
As with most electronic devices, playing around with the settings well before you need them to work properly is the key. Spend some time experimenting with your cameras for the best results!
Your smartphone is still pretty safe from malicious apps as long as you haven’t tampered with the built-in protection and stick to getting your apps from the associated app stores.
The tampering is known as jailbreaking or rooting your phone because it opens the device up to load anything from anywhere.
In the past, those users were the only ones that needed to be extremely careful about loading apps, but now everyone should.
There are lots of scams that can appear as compelling text messages or emails that include a link to get the app the message is talking about.
Those that fall for these clever messages, that may even be from people you trust, clicking the link can lead to trouble.
That someone you trust could easily have been compromised so the bad guys can trick their friends and family.
Just remember to only install apps that you specifically went looking for and not from links on websites, emails or texts.
For some additional protection, you can download the free personal version of Lookout to watch over you as well: https://www.lookout.com/products/personal
For those of us that spend a lot of time in nature away from any type of signal, the traditional mapping options aren’t nearly as useful.
In most cases, it’s not that important, but when it is, there’s an option for iPhone users that is much more useful called Anchor Pointer.
It’s an app that takes full advantage of the GPS in your iPhone to provide much more detailed navigation options.
One of the coolest features is the ability to create ‘anchors’ which are the same as waypoints in a traditional expensive GPS device.
It’s great for marking points of interest for future hikes or to make sure you know how to get back to your starting point.
It’s a really great way to make sure you know how far you are from the nearest anchor, which can take all the stress out of being in an unfamiliar and unmarked area.
If your friends also have the app on their iPhones, you can make it easy to meet up at a specific point.
Learn all about the capabilities of this $4 app at:
Are you someone that seems to be more productive when you hang out at a busy coffee shop?
Well, it’s most likely not the coffee but the shop that is creating an environment that improves your output.
There’s actually been research that shows that it can make a difference as a totally quiet or extremely noisy surroundings has shown to be distracting for many.
It turns out that the low hum of activity in a coffee shop may be just right.
No need to go to a coffee shop to test this approach for yourself with the sounds available to you at https://coffitivity.com
There are some basic soundtracks you can test that will replicate the sounds like those found on college campuses and coffee shops where lots of people tend to get work done.
Once you’ve tested and found the sounds useful via their website, you can take it with you via their iPhone app: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/coffitivity/id669576390
It may be one way to survive the working from home change that so many of you are struggling with!
There was a time when anyone over the age of 25 thought that text messaging was for those that simply had no interest in having an in-person conversation.
We’ve all come to realize how incredibly efficient and useful text messaging is, so learning more about the tools is helpful.
Apple has done something different with their form of messaging known as iMessage when both parties are using an iPhone.
It automatically secures your communications and unlike traditional text messaging, it’s usable even when you don’t have a cell signal.
As long as you have a wifi connection, you can still message your friends and family on their iPhones, which can be critical when you are traveling.
Beyond these important benefits, there are a whole host of other tips and tricks many of you may not know about, so today’s tip is to help you learn more!
There is an extensive list of the features of iMessage posted at: https://bit.ly/3gJ6DTZ
You’ve probably heard about the Google Earth website and may even have played around with it form time to time.
But you may not have known about the time-lapse project that they’ve been compiling since 1984.
What’s great about this project is that id allows you to easily watch the incredible changes to any part of our globe over the last 30 plus years.
Some of the more compelling time-lapses include the development of cities like Las Vegas and Dubai or the disappearing lakes from various parts of the world.
It’s not limited to the presets on the site; you can type the location anywhere in the world to see how things have changed in places you are personally familiar with.
You can also pause on any year while zooming in and out of the area for even more perspective of the changes.
If you haven’t ever experience the world through this awesome time-lapse project, check it out at: https://earthengine.google.com/timelapse
There’s been a constant emphasis on our physical fitness since we were in grade school, but very little about our mental fitness.
Our mental focus tends to diminish as we age, which is glaringly obvious for most of us.
If you’ve got your physical fitness routine down, but not your mental fitness, check out an app designed to be your brain’s personal trainer!
It’s called Elevate and based on lots of real scientific research in cognitive processes, it uses games to exercise your brain.
You can choose to improve your speaking skills, processing speed, understanding of what you are hearing which the app uses to present you with daily challenges.
Once you’ve set your course, the app will keep track of your advances for you.
This is a free app for basic use with options to pay for more extensive options if you find it helpful.
Games, in general, have been shown to be an effective way to exercise your mind, but you might be able to take it to another level with the Elevate app: https://www.elevateapp.com
Do you remember when Snapchat was all the rage because the messages disappeared once the recipient saw it?
It was popular with younger users with all of its filters and crazy add-ons, but that was about it.
Most of us can think of times when they want to send something very confidential or very personal that they want to make sure never gets out.
If you find yourself in that situation, there’s an app called Confide that you may want to look into.
Those working as confidential sources or when in sensitive discussions know that keeping the messages secure is a must.
The way that the app protects against screenshots is that it requires the persons viewing the message to run their finger over each line to see the text underneath.
It’s certainly a possibility that someone could use video to try and capture the entire message, so it’s possible to recreate the message.
Learn more about the various options for this app at: https://getconfide.com
There is a critical task that every computer user knows about, regardless of how tech-savvy they are, but they still don’t get around to it and that is creating a consistent backup process.
More than ever, having your data backed up is incredibly important because of all the threats to hold your computer hostage through the use of ransomware.
If you are unfortunate enough to become a victim of this sneaky attack, you’ll be locked out of your own files until you pay a ransom that can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
This is such a lucrative type of cybercrime that the thieves continue to evolve their tactics to thwart traditional forms of protection, such as anti-virus programs and firewalls.
The encryption used by the thieves would take today’s most powerful computers decades to crack, so your best form of protection is a protected off-site backup.
We install Carbonite for all of our clients and do so, because it’s automatic, can’t be touched by ransomware on your computer and bugs you if it’s not able to perform its daily tasks.
We carry something with us every day that is constantly trying to make us sick…our smartphones!
The data suggests that there's exponentially more bacteria living on your phone’s surfaces than that of the door handle at a public restroom.
Warm devices that get stored in dark places, like a purse or back pocket serve to enhance the chances of viral growth.
Wiping your device regularly is a big help, but you need to be careful with what chemicals you use as they may cloud screen protectors or damage some touch screens.
For another option that has proven to be effective, check out the devices available from a company called Phone Soap.
Instead of using chemicals to disinfect the surfaces, they use power UV light while your smartphone is charging at night.
How effective is this approach? Check out the lap results from this Discovery Channel video: https://bit.ly/3ekv9bQ
Ready to soap up your smartphone? Learn more at: https://www.phonesoap.com
If you’re the most tech-savvy person in your family or circle of friends, you’ll likely be the one that most of them come to for virtually any type of tech question.
It’s not always so obvious to those that feel intimidated by technology that most often, the question that they are asking you could have been answered in seconds by doing a simple Google search.
The problem is that they simply don’t know what they should type to get the results that would provide the information they seek.
Thankfully, there’s a simple website that can both provide them with the information that they are looking and provide them with a subtle message on what they can do for themselves in the future.
It’s located at https://LetMeGoogleThatForYou.com or https://lmgtfy.com for short and it’s simply fantastic and fun.
You start by typing the search condition you’d like them to understand and the site will create an animation that shows them how they could have done it themselves.
It’s the old saying of ‘teach a man to fish….’
There are generally pros and cons with virtually any type of technology, but once in a while something really amazing is created.
Today’s tip is one of those incredible creations called ‘Be My Eyes’ because of what it does to help other people.
An app developer in Europe created this app to help those that are either blind or have low vision navigate the physical world with the help of the app and volunteers on the other end.
When someone needs the help of a sighted person, they simply use the app to find a volunteer that can use the camera on their phone to help them see things, like expiration dates or street signs.
If you’d like to do something that makes you feel good, download this app and get set up as a volunteer.
The system has a rating system for volunteers so the best ones get the most opportunities too.
This simple but incredibly helpful task is such a great gift to your fellow man, so if you’re ready to help, go to: https://bemyeyes.org
It’s no secret that kids aren’t afraid of technology and take to it at a very early age, which could lead to much bigger things if they are given structured ways to learn.
Teaching any child programming skills will have a dramatic impact on their future potential and you can get them started before they can even type!
There is a free iPad app made specifically for children ages 9-15 that will get them started by creating games and animations.
Typing skills aren’t needed because Hopscotch is a visual programming language that they’ll take to right away.
The drag and drop interface allows your child to build programs with blocks of pre-written programming code.
Developing a tech-savvy child in today’s digital economy will result in so many more options as they enter the workforce.
This may be aimed at children but any adult that wants to learn the basics can use it too.
The best part is that mom and dad don’t need to be computer geeks to raise a computer geek any more!
Download this free app at: https://www.gethopscotch.com
It’s nearly impossible to be in business today without spending time on social media as it’s become just as important as answering the phone or responding to emails.
The challenge for so many time-strapped businesses is that they just don’t have the basic processes down but there is a way to learn how; taking a course!
I’m not suggesting that you sign for some class that requires you to drive somewhere, I’m suggesting a free course that’s designed to help in with just a few minutes each day.
A social media management tool called Buffer has created a simple to follow course for learning more because each lesson gets emailed to you every day.
This isn’t designed to make you some kind of social guru, but it will take you to new levels of understanding that could benefit your business.
It’s just not something you can bury your head in the sand over, so if you know anyone that could use some help, send them here: https://buffer.com/email-courses/social-media-101
I’ve got an out of this world tip for anyone with a creative mind and an iPhone.
Why put up with the limitations of this planet, when you can expand your horizons with the Alien Sky app.
instead of being limited to filters and color correction, this app will make everyone that sees your images do a double-take.
You can add effects like realistic-looking planets and m moon and combine them with lens flares to any picture on your iPhone.
Imagine your friends seeing two moons or a comet streaking over your shoulder when you post to Instagram or Facebook.
This app has an incredible collection of effects that will change the sky in any of your images with these amazing options.
There’s no shortage of creative options in this unique app, which you can learn more about at: http://www.brainfevermedia.com/alienSky.html