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!
Despite what most avid users of smartphones may think, the iPhone is not the most popular device in the world…it’s actually the combination of Android-based smartphones that are the most popular.
Google does its best to review and block malicious apps from its Play Store, but no matter what they do, there’s still a chance that something nefarious can get past them.
That’s where having an additional layer of security can come in handy in the form of an app called Malwarebytes.
After it’s been installed, it will automatically scan every app you decide to install on your smartphone to check for signs of anything sketchy.
In addition to scanning new apps, it can check other areas of your smartphone that can be compromised from a number of other threat vectors.
This company has been providing tools to sniff out malware for years for Windows-based computers and now it can be used by Mac computers as well as iPhone users for the same protection.
Here’s the link for Android users http://bit.ly/2L7Cvm6
Here’s the link for iPhone users https://apple.co/2Mzw7HK
As the weather becomes cooler, the increase in those infected with some variation of the flu goes along with the temperature change.
Our smartphones can actually help us know when an outbreak is happening near us through an app from a group that calls themselves ‘SickWeather’.
Just as Doppler radar scans the skies for indicators of bad weather, Sickweather’s algorithm scans social networks and 3rd party data sources for indicators of illness, allowing you to check for the chance of sickness as easily as you can check for the chance of rain.
Their sophisticated data gathering process can actually provide an early warning system for anyone using it so they can take extra precautions.
They claim that they can predict the rate of illnesses up to 15 weeks in advance with 91% accuracy using machine learning and archival data on sicknesses.
Learn more and download the app at: https://www.sickweather.com
We’re constantly reminding you how important it is to keep all your software updated, but there is a specific type of update that you don’t necessarily want to install.
You may run across websites or utilities that offer to keep all the drivers updated on your computer, which on its face sounds good.
Drivers are software programs that control specific hardware components and updating them for no reason can actually be detrimental.
It’s one of those updates that can make a computer that’s working great and turn it into a nightmare scenario if you’re not careful. For this reason, the only time that we recommend updating a driver is when you are trying to fix a specific problem that has been identified, with a driver update as a solution.
Despite what appears to be a helpful offer, updating drivers without a reason is a really bad idea, so take a pass when you see this type of utility.
One of the most popular things you can find online are lots of recipes, so much so that it’s becoming a chore to wade through them all.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could find a search tool specifically designed for recipes?
Well, there is and it’s at http://www.foodpair.com
Google’s great for finding recipes in general, but having more of a pinpoint filtering system can help you drill down to recipes you can actually make use of.
You can search by a keyword, a specific ingredient like chicken, which course it is and even the number of ingredients used for those days you want something simple to cook.
It pulls the images and a basic title of the recipe so you can let you eyes help you find something delicious to fix for dinner.
Move over Google, FoodPair is taking over when it comes to searching for the perfect recipe to pair with what you have in your fridge!
Anyone that routinely schedules appointments as a normal course of business has likely dealt with the pain of trying to do this manually.
If this is something you’re still doing and want a more efficient way of managing this very important task, today’s tip is for you!
There are lots of options online, but one in particular that seems to offer lots of important tools for small businesses is called Acuity Scheduling.
This simple self-booking appointment platform makes it simple for your clients to get on your calendar without you having to get involved.
There’s a free 7-day trial so you can give it a test drive to see if their library of integration tools is something that could help you be more efficient.
What’s great about it is that once set up, you can send or post a link for anyone that wants some time with you without the old coordination hassle.
Starting at fifteen dollars a month, this platform could become a digital assistant that’s worth a lot more than that!
One of the least desirable tasks we all have to engage in from time-to-time is to try to negotiate when buying a new or used car.
The haggling back and forth usually leaves you unsure of how good of a deal you got and several in the tech industry are trying to disrupt this old way of doing business.
Imagine using an app or a website to buy or sell your car that eliminates the sleazy feel that usually accompanies the traditional process.
One of the no-hassle options is from a company called Vroom https://www.vroom.com
It’s not limited to any specific market as their ‘dealership’ is virtual and available to anyone in the U.S.
Vroom takes care of all the paperwork and transportation issues and allows you to drive it for 7 days to make sure it’s a good fit.
Another great use of the website is to get a cash offer on a car that you plan on trading in at a traditional dealership to make sure you maximize your trade-in and keep them honest.
Today’s tip is for anyone that loves to swim in open water and wants assistance in staying in a straight line while doing so.
A device known as the OnCourse Goggles will analyze the direction that the user is swimming in and provide guidance on staying straight.
It uses some advanced technology including an on-board microcontroller, 3D accelerometer and compass to keep swimmers on the most efficient path.
It’s a simple device that allows the user to point in a particular direction, tap a button and start their swim.
The googles use LEDs to inform the swimmer when they are veering off course.
Each side has green, yellow and red LEDs to alert you when you are starting to go off course.
This is an expensive device, so it’s not designed for casual swimmers, but more for those participating in competitions like Ironman.
To learn more, visit their website at:
Kids start using technology at such an early age these days, that they become very comfortable with it very quickly.
This has led to smartphones and tablets becoming digital pacifiers for lots of parents because they are pretty darn effective at doing just that to our kids.
We’ve all seen the parent that tries everything to get a child under control only to find that handing them a device is the only successful approach.
That’s where it can become a bit of a dangerous proposition as allowing a digitally savvy child unfettered access to everything on your smartphone.
Whether they do it intentionally or not, they can wreak havoc in a very short period of time if they can make use of everything.
The good news is that both Apple and Google have built excellent control tools into their operating systems, so all you have to do is learn how to use them.
Google Android tips: http://bit.ly/2ZPYfrX
Apple iPhone tips: http://bit.ly/2ZMk3EX
Today’s tip is the antidote to all those times you’ve yelled damn auto-correct!
Frankly, this is one of those technological advances that most of us have a love/hate relationship with; we love it when it works and hate it when it makes us look silly.
If you’d like to add some value to the love side of the equation, how about creating your own customized entries into the database?
You may not have realized that you can add just about anything you want to most auto-correct libraries, such as an abbreviation for your address like ARDS to reduce the keystrokes when you need it.
If you see any of your devices automatically correcting your spelling, you can most likely hack it to be even more useful.
Just don’t make the mistake of using actual words as your abbreviation or you’ll never be able to ever use that word again!
Abbreviations and special characters are always a safe bet along with a number here or there sprinkled in.
Caching is an automatic process that occurs in your browser virtually every time you visit the websites that you use the most.
Think of it as storage space for your favorite websites as copies of the main structure of the site get saved to a special folder on your local hard drive.
Without this very simple process, everything on the web would take a bit longer, so it’s awesome except when it’s not.
Items in your browser cache can actually cause some problems when you visit sites that you’ve previously downloaded.
Today’s tip is for those rare occasions when a website seems to be having a problem loading.
You can tell your browser to ignore your local cache to see if it’s causing the problem by using the keyboard combination of Ctrl-F5 together.
If you’re a Mac user, the keyboard combo of Command -> Shift and the letter R will tell your computer to ignore the cache.
If you find that ignoring the cache lets the troublesome website to load, it’s a sign that you should clear the browser cache, which is detailed here:
One of the most amazing things you can do is learn another language, which is very common in so many other countries.
If you’re going to travel to another country down the road, you can get by with basic mobile translation apps, but it’s always more enjoyable if you can learn the language at a basic level.
As daunting as it may sound, technology has made learning a new language a lot easier and much more efficient.
Our go-to language training app and website is DuoLingo because it’s both engaging and free to use.
It’s especially engaging if you connect with friends or family that are also interested in learning the same language because they make it like a game.
The best part is that you don’t need more than 5-15 minutes a day to start to quickly learn that next language.
Choose from over 35 different languages with bite-sized lessons that can get you up to speed in a much more entertaining way at https://www.duolingo.com
One of the most common questions we all ask these days is “which cell service is the best in my area”, especially if you’re coming to the end of a restrictive contract.
It’s standard protocol to start asking friends and family which network they use and are they happy with their choice.
Although this can provide you some generalized recommendations, unless they live, work and play in the exact same areas as you, their experience isn’t going to be reflected in your area.
You can certainly start with anecdotal feedback from others, but if you want to make a decision based on data, head over to the Coverage Maps on the Root Metrics website: https://webcoveragemap.rootmetrics.com
It will show you the coverage you can expect down to the cell segments for each of the major carriers and their smaller affiliates as reported by other users of each network.
Both the website and the app can help you better understand coverage for the areas you care about and with the mobile app, you can join in on the reporting by submitting your own tests to help the rest of the community.
Powerful big-name software programs can get pretty expensive to use, but there may be a free or much less expensive alternative available if you know where to find them.
Many software programs have been developed via the open-source community, which means it’s a collective of programmers that help create and modify the programs and make them publicly available.
We refer to these lesser-known programs as alternatives which you can search for at a website called AltnerativeTo https://alternativeto.net
With over 90,000 apps that also have comments, reviews and recommendations from hundreds of thousands of users, it’s the most comprehensive way that we know of to find great software.
You simply put the name of the expensive program in the search bar to have it search for alternatives that work with every major operating system.
It’s especially useful when you don’t really need to use a program more than once or twice, so keep this in your favorites for the next time you need to find an Alternative To anything!
Apps are what make our smartphones way more than just a voice device and the great thing is that so many of them are free.
But you may not realize that there may be a hidden cost to those free apps akin to ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’.
A couple of the potential costs include battery life and excessive use of your cellular data.
Much research has been generated around the use of free apps because they are so popular and the results show that free apps can eat up your data plan.
In addition to reducing your data plan loading ads in the background, that process also requires more battery power and your working memory, which can reduce all-around performance.
If you get a data usage warning far before the end of your monthly billing cycle or you find yourself out of juice in the middle of the day, it might be good to watch to see how many apps are serving up ads.
Another way free apps pay for themselves is by sharing data about you and your usage, so consider that cost as well.
Keeping all this in mind, when an app is available for free or as an ad-free version for a few dollars, paying for the app could be much more cost-effective.
The iPhone has been available in larger screen sizes for some time now and to make the most of the extra real estate, Apple has added features that you can only see if you turn it sideways.
Many of the apps you likely use on a regular basis have these hidden features, like mail, messaging and your calendar just to name a few.
When you go landscape with the Mail app, you can opt for a multi-screen mode that will show you all your messages along with a preview of the current message.
If you’re into looking up company info in the stocks app, it also has some additional screen space for additional info on any particular stock you’ve looked up.
One of the most obvious benefits of going to the landscape orientation is that you’ll have a larger on-screen keyboard often with additional keys not seen in portrait mode.
Since so many apps have taken advantage of the extra screen area, be sure to start checking whenever you open any app so you can find all the hidden gems that you didn’t know about!
For most of us, email is a necessary evil that we have a love/hate relationship with, especially if the unread message count gets out of control.
It’s not hard to get far behind with the plethora of messages that can come from a variety of senders.
There’s a kitschy tech term known as ‘email bankruptcy’ that refers to the act of declaring that you’ll never get to all the messages, so you’re going to wipe them all out of your inbox.
After you delete all the backed up messages, you’ll want to let the people you care about know that you’ve gone bankrupt and that if they have any recent messages that they’re waiting for a response on that they need to kindly resend it.
If you’re list of important people is short, you can alert them one at a time, but if you plan on sending a single message to a large number of recipients, make absolutely sure that you put all the addresses in the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) section, so the addresses are not visible to everyone on your list.
If running is your exercise of choice, today’s suggestion could help you pick up the pace.
How motivated to run will you be if you’re being chased by zombies?
Even if the Walking Dead isn’t your cup a tea, the Zombies Run! app could be an entertaining way to stay in shape.
You start with choosing one of the missions and then start your jog for the music and instructions to get going.
You become a runner headed to one of humanity’s last remaining outposts. Survivors need your help to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and defend their home while you’re on your run.
Combined with your favorite music, this approach to staying engaged in a regular exercise routine could be just what your boring runs have been looking for.
Get in shape and become a hero all at the same time with either the iPhone
Zombies Run app!
Whenever you’re interested in remodeling or even building something new, gathering ideas from others is always helpful.
The next time you’re in that position, remember a web resource with a huge library of inspirational images called Houzz.
Houzz https://houzz.com shows you what lots of pro designers have put together for their clients the can serve as the guidelines for your project.
You can search for specific ideas based on a specific room or style and save them to your own library and even contact the designers that did the work.
Posting your questions in their user forums is another way to get valuable input from those that have ventured down the path that you are beginning.
If you’re a construction or design professional, Houzz is a great way to show off your work and potentially generate new leads and customers.
Their mobile app allows you to explore on the go as well as provide visual aids when you go to the hardware store or furniture gallery.
No matter how big or small a home improvement project may be, in most cases, it starts with accurate measurements.
Making sure you have the right measurements recorded and have used the proper calculations for your job is made a lot easier with Dewalt’s free smartphone app called Mobile Pro.
Although it was initially designed for construction pros, it’s a great resource for any do-it-yourselfers.
With the various construction calculators and conversion tools, it’s very helpful when you are trying to determine the list and quantity of materials you’ll need for the task.
If your project involves others, it’s really easy to share the info you generate in the app via email.
Having pro tools and the right amount of the critical materials goes a long way to making any project go much smoother. Download the app at: https://dewalt.cengage.com/MobilePro/download
Lots of valuable resources on the Internet require you to provide a valid email address in order to gain access to their information.
In many cases, you may never have a reason to interact with that website again, but if you use your real email address, you’re going to hear from them again whether you want it or not.
For those instances, there’s a way to use a temporary but valid email address to gain access without exposing your actual email address to unwanted follow-up messages.
One of the simplest tools that I’ve used for years is one called 10 Minute Mail which offers exactly what their name suggests.
You simply go to https://10minutemail.com where you’ll be presented with a generic working address that is good for 10 minutes, more than enough time to access the info you seek.
It’s a web-based messaging platform, so everything that gets sent to that address will be accessible from the same page.
What’s nice about this quick and dirty tool is that if 10 minutes isn’t long enough, you can request an additional 10 minutes.
This site should never be used for anything that will require follow up down the road, so use it wisely!