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!
If you have noticed that your web surfing seems to be a bit slower these days, it may be because you’re a tabaholic!
One of best features of today's web browsers is that they allow you to open individual web pages in separate tabs.
It eliminated the need to hit the back and forward buttons, because you can simply click on any of the open tabs. The downside to this ability can become a piano on your computer memory’s back.
Every tab that’s opened uses up a chunk of RAM as if it were another stand-alone program, so the more tabs that you open, the more memory you’re using.
Today's tip will help improve your computer’s speed easily - keep your open tabs to a minimum.
Other programs that have nothing to do with your web surfing will be impacted when you open too many browser tabs, because your working memory (RAM) is shared by all programs.
If controlling your tab appetite isn’t working, checkout this awesome add-on for the Chrome browser called ‘OneTab’.
It only takes seconds to install and making use of it is just about as simple. The next time you’re out of control with open tabs, simply tap the OneTab icon and bingo - your tabs are consolidated in a list on a single tab.
OneTab instantly clears lots of memory from all your idle tabs that are open, but also allow you to quickly reopen those tabs when you need them.
It’s completely free and available at http://www.one-tab.com
Here we go again...the Microsoft tech-support scams, which are essentially dialing for dollars are on the rise again.
It generally starts with a phone call from a person claiming to be with Microsoft that says that they’ve detected that your computer is infected.
If you talk to them long enough, they’ll tell you that they can prove to you that you have the problem they called about, if you’ll just run a few tests yourself.
They’ll walk you through what will appear to be a diagnostic process and ask you if you see certain things showing up on your screen.
These ‘certain things’ are of course built into all Windows computers, so they will always appear, but for those that are not technical, it can be convincing.
If they can hook you on the bait, the next step is to walk you through the steps that will allow them remote access to your computer.
This will not only increase your risk of contracting a malicious program, you’ll be asked for a credit card number so they can properly clean up your computer.
The reality is that Microsoft or any other legit service company would never just call you out of the blue to alert you that your computer is infected.
The good news: avoiding this scam is really easy. Remote help for your computer is completely safe but only when YOU are the one initiating the request for help.
So if you ever get any type of call that is offering to help you with your computer from out of the blue, you’ll know what to do: Hang Up!
We previously told you about Adobe's subscription service for their very popular programs like Photoshop.
But for those that won't need these tools very often, it’s probably had to justify paying $50 a month.
Even buying an older version will cost hundreds of dollars, so today’s tip is about an option that's both easy and free!
Pixlr.com is a pretty complete photo editor that will work with nothing more than a web browser, so there are no downloads required and no money!
It’s got many of the tools that are popular in Photoshop, so you will have no problem making use of them.
You can start using Pixlr in seconds and there is no need to register to use it.
Here are just a few of the options in this free tool: red eye reduction, cloning tools, spot healing, drawing tools and the very useful sharpen and blur tools.
You can also use filters that will mimic HDR, glamor glows, tilt shift, vignettes, and noise adjustments.
You can of course control the very important tools: Contrast, Levels, Curves, Hue,, Brightness and Saturation
Now when someone sends you a Photoshop file, you can use Pixlr to open them too.
Check out all the tools for yourself at https://pixlr.com
Anyone looking for a better way to take daily notes will appreciate today’s tech tip, because there’s an app for that!
If you are an old school note taker and tend to use lots of post it notes, you probably use different colors for different types of notes. You’ll likely write your daily notes on individual notes for each category, for each day of the month.
That’s a lot of work... but it’s obviously very organized. Well if that’s how you think, then you’ll love the note taking app called ‘ThingList’. You simply take your notes and it takes care of organizing and categorizes them.
The categories are common activities like movies you’d like to watch, books you’d like to read, restaurants you want to try, ideas that you have, people you’ve met, places you’d like to visit, products you’d like to try or anything you’d like to remember…the ThingList app will remember and categorizes all your notes.
Anyone with an iPhone and a lot of things bouncing around in your head may find ThingList an awesome way to capture all those thoughts every day.
Just about all of us have heard the old saying, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”. Most business owners should know that mantra very well, which is why they should make sure they review their 'Digital Disaster Recovery Plan' on a regular basis.
For some business owners, it might even be a suggestion to simply “create” your disaster recovery plan.
So where should you get started? Start by asking yourself what you would do if one of the common disasters was to hit your business: fire, flood, theft, malware infection, ransomware, human error, sabotage, hardware failure and increasingly, a major data breach.
The steps required to recover from each of these disasters may be quite different and often requires different recovery processes.
Most businesses have focused on creating a solid backup procedure, but they rarely put much effort into the actual steps that will be required for the recovery process. It is akin to having a fire drill in school during a real fire and hoping everyone knows what to do when it happens!
The absolute worst time to create a disaster recovery process is during an actual crisis, so consider this a strong reminder to make it a priority soon.
Crowdfunding has become a very popular way to launch a new product or service because you can post the idea and ask for financial supporters and when enough of people think that you are onto something good, you get the funding.
Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are just a couple of ways to see what new products or ideas are being posted, but when they don’t get funded, those ideas and products are nothing more than vaporware...
In 2012 alone, Kickstarter had nearly $320 million dollars pledged and the site successfully funded over 18,000 projects.
For those that love discovering new products but don’t want to have to wait to see if they will will make it to their funding goals, there's a website calle https://OutGrow.me
Outgrow.me only posts recent products that have been fully funded and are either soon to be available or are in the pre-order stage so you won’t waste your time on projects that didn’t raise their funding goals.
This visual listing of successfully crowdfunded projects is an excellent way to see the latest and greatest technology ideas and lots of products that may having you saying “why didn’t I think of that”!
It’s also a great place to find truly unique items for those hard to shop for friends and family members on their special days.
For those that love crowdfunding projects, but don’t want to waste their time on ideas that the 'crowd' clearly didn’t like, checkout https://OutGrow.me
Taking medicine regularly can get to be a bit of a hassle... especially when there are several types of medicine which need to be taken at different times of the day
Anyone that has a complicated pill taking schedule should checkout an app that could literally be a life-saver that is called the Mango Health app.
The Mango Health app can start by alerting you when it’s time to take each pill based on a schedule you setup and then give you the info you necessary to prevent you from eating or drinking anything that could negatively interact with any of your medications.
It can also help you from taking pills that could negatively interact with each other.
Once you install the app, simply create the schedule and let it do the rest. The app makes it nice not having to set an alarm for each pill or guess what you can’t eat or drink while taking them.
If you’re one of the many that forgets to take their memory pills, but you never forget your smartphone, the Mango Health app is just what the doctor ordered.
Just about all of us get tons of junk email every week and no matter what we do, they still seem to find a way to get through the junk filters. Most of us setup rules, blacklists & whitelists in an effort to create a productive inbox, but all that work can create a different problem: false positives!
It is also nearly impossible to keep legitimate mail from ending up in our junk folders, whether it was from the sender using words that raise their spam score or if they forget to include a subject line or have a blacklisted domain.
Today’s tip is actually an important reminder to check your spam folders on a regular basis. It’s surprising to some that find important messages or messages from old friends that have been trying to contact you.
You won’t want to scroll through every message in your junk folder; using a few keywords as search criteria which should be based on any important contacts, words or any current projects that you might be working on.
When you do discover a legit message that was tagged as spam, you should use the tools in your mail system for reporting the message as not spam.
The sad fact is that spam isn’t going away and your legit messages will on occasion get caught in the filters, so consider setting a weekly reminder to check your spam folder to rescue legit messages!
Security experts are warning that spam messages from around the world are on the rise with many speculating that our improved economy is making us more of a prime target as a result.
How we conduct ourselves online can have a lot to do with the volume of spam we get and an easy way to cut down on junk messages is to use a disposable e-mail address.
From now on, when you need an e-mail address for a less important interaction such as getting special offers or gaining access to a sites that you will probably never use again, rather than giving them your actual e-mail address, try using a disposable address from the http://mailinator.com website.
You can make up any email address you’d like using the Mailinator tool or use one of their suggested addresses to get what you want without giving up your daily e-mail address.
There are no lengthy sign up processes, no cost involved and no waiting but remember not to use Mailinator addresses for anything sensitive because your temporary inbox is usable by anyone that thinks of the same address.
The next time you’re required to provide a working e-mail address from a site you know you willl never use again, remember our Mailinator tip!
Today’s the 5th day of the month and perfect for our $5 Data Doctors Tech Tip
‘Crowdsourcing’ is the ability to use the Internet to tap into a crowd of people that can potentially provide a service that you need.
Many crowdsourcing websites allow you to generate bids from the crowd for a task you have, but wouldn’t it be great if you could find a large crowd of people willing to do lots of tasks for just 5 bucks?
Well that’s just you’ll find at a site called http://Fiverr.com
Need to send a loved one a unique birthday greeting? it’s only $5!
Need a flyer designed for your upcoming event? it’s only $5!
Gift ideas, graphic design, videos, simple animations, online marketing, voice over talent, music beds or just about any kind of task can start as low as, you guessed it $5!
Tasks that are a lot more involved may cost you more, but this site is all about being cost really effective, so give it a shot for your next outsourced task!
Printing things from a web page can become a big waster of your paper and expensive ink because you’re forced to print advertisements and other junk that you have no use for.
Even when the page offers up a printable version of any article, its usually stuffed with an ad or other common ink wasters.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could print what you like instead of all the extra junk?
Now you can if you use an excellent online printing tool called http://printwhatyoulike.com
You just type the web address of the page you want to print and you will be provided with the tools that allow you to get rid of or isolate any section of what you see on your screen.
You no longer have to waste ink and paper on useless ads or other junk when you just want print out an airline boarding pass.
https://Printwhatyoulike.com is free and works with any major browser so there is nothing to download or install.
OCR which stands for Optical Character Recognition, is software that can scan images to recognize the text from something that generally can’t be edited, like a JPG or PDF.
OCR software generally comes with a scanner but setting it up can be a bit of a hassle and of no use if you are at the office and your scanner’s at home.
So, the next time you end up with a scanned image, electronic fax or other forms that you would normally have to retype manually, check out http://OnlineOCR.net and give the free online conversion tool a try.
It can extract text from everything from PDF files, JPGs, BMPs, TIFFs and even GIF files and convert them into editable text files, documents or spreadsheets.
It supports lots of different languages and will scan multi-page PDFs and Zip files when you register for free.
You just upload your image file, choose the language of the text and then choose the output format for it to do its magic…nothing to setup or install…
Any parent that’s about to send a child to their first year of college is probably including an expensive laptop computer as part of the mix.
That beautiful new laptop is also a highly sought after item by thieves, so before you send your child off, make sure you have installed and setup a location tracking program.
One of our suggestions is Prey, because it offers their basic tools as a free download at http://preyproject.com
Once you install it, the program can track the laptop’s location, take a snapshot of whoever using it, grab a screenshot and lock down the system when it goes missing.
One downside to using a freebie tool is that you are on your own to figure out how to recovery the laptop.
Anyone wanting tracking and recovery assistance should look into LoJack for Laptops instead http://www3.absolute.com/lojackforlaptops/home. It costs around $40 for two years for the standard package and if it goes missing, simply file a police report and they’ll do the rest!
We’ve all had to sit through a presentation just watching the presenter read off of a series of PowerPoint slides for an hour; it’s excruciating and why they refer to it as ‘Death by PowerPoint’.
If you’re one of the many that has to make presentations to a group, do us a favor - get rid of those boring Powerpoint slides and try using Prezi.com in its place.
Prezi is a free web-based tool that allows you create a much more interesting and dynamic presentation that is really easy to lay out using their virtual canvas. It allows you to present your info in a more engaging manner.
You can start by importing those old boring PowerPoint slides so you do not have to start all over and because it’s a web based presentation, it’s easily shared with your audience.
And here’s one more tip; instead of creating a long list of text heavy slides, try using images and short bullet points to encourage you to deliver your info in more of a conversational way. The idea is to talk to your audience not your slides.
On those occasions that you have an item that is in great condition but you no longer have a need for, you’d generally like to find someone else that can use it, instead of chucking it in the trash.
Finding that someone that wants it can be a bit of a hassle, so often times putting it out on the curb with a sign saying “take me, I’m free” usually helps to get it to someone else.
Well, that giving concept is what is behind an excellent community recycling website called http://Freecycle.org which is a virtual exchange site that can get items into the hands of someone that could really wants it.
At nearly 10 million members, this website is focused on building a worldwide gifting movement which will reduce waste, save our precious resources & ease the impact on our landfills.
This non-profit reuse community website makes it simple to gift your unneeded items to someone in your community that could probably use the help.
So if you know someone with items to get rid of or is in need of items, have them checkout the amazing environmental web community at http://freecycle.org
Anyone responsible for generating presentations or reports which needs to include website references has probably gone through the long process required to capture a thumbnail to add some graphics to your info.
You can certainly use screen captures along with image editing tools to accomplish this laborious task but we have a better way.
It’s called https://thumbalizr.com and it’s a really easy to use option. Simply type the web address of your desired website into the box and tap on the ‘Thumb It’ button.
This tells the tool to go out and gathers up the elements, assemble them and create a thumbnail image that can range from tiny to very high resolution.
http://Thumbalizr is spelled T H U M B A L I Z R and the basic service is free. It’s sure to improve any presentation of info that includes a website and it’s much more engaging than just the link.
Anyone with a dog that likes to take their furry family member along when they travel knows that you’ll have to spend some time ahead of time making sure wherever you are going is dog friendly.
Dog-friendly hotels are just the start of the research; you’ll want to find dog-friendly restaurants and sometimes even dog-friendly public transportation.
You’ll also likely want to find local dog parks, dog beaches and dog friendly tour operators.
If including fido in all your travels is important, you can find a treasure trove of dog-friendly travel info at http://dogfriendly.com
Their city guides can help you discover the dog-friendly hotels, campgrounds, attractions, parks, outdoor restaurants, beaches and using their highway guides can help you setup a cross-country trip showing all the pet friendly hotels on your route.
They can even help you understand what is involved in domestic or international airline travel for your dog.
How about figuring out which rental car company is more tolerant of dogs and which ones you’ll want to avoid? Sure enough, you can find it all at dogfriendly.com.
There are many situation where scheduling the delivery of an email message can be very useful, like when you don’t want to miss a friend’s birthday or anniversary.
Microsoft Outlook has had this ability for years, but if you have migrated over to Google’s excellent Gmail for email, you probably noticed that you lost this ability.
That is until you install the Boomerang for Gmail add-on, which is a free tool that does a lot more than just schedule e-mails for delivery.
The ‘Send Later’ option that will appear after you install it, makes it simple to schedule any message for delivery, but Boomerang can also help you stay organized. It can mark messages in the Inbox that you want to read later and schedule them to appear in your Inbox as a reminder.
It also lets you track any message you send and generate a reminder if you have not heard back from them, to allow timely follow-ups in an efficient manner.
Anyone that spends their day using Gmail will be more productive with http://Boomeranggmail.com
Anyone that’s a writer, leads a team, teaches, trains others or has to create any type of outline will want to checkout today’s tip on a simple but powerful tool.
Workflowy is one of the more useful sites that we’ve found for those that need help keeping things organized.
It’s an easy to use web app that leverages easy to create ‘nested lists’, that can start out as a basic outline and end up being a fully fleshed out lesson plan, training guide or user’s manual.
Those that teach can use it to develop a syllabus that can be easily shared as a lesson plan for their students.
The tool allows you to search, tag and filter lists as well as quickly move or duplicate sections, export and print the resulting outlines.
Sound interesting? Check it out for yourself at https://workflowy.com to see if this helps you stay organized!
Everyone that is now an expert programmer started at the exact same point….the beginning which meant that they knew nothing!
Anyone that’s ever thought about learning a little bit about how web and software programs are created, just to be a little bit smarter about today’s world, will love today’s tip.
Codeacademy.com http://www.codecademy.com is an incredible Do-It-Yourself, learn at your own speed tool that can teach anyone the basics of coding.
The website walks you through simple, step-by-step lessons to start writing simple code that anyone can follow.
If you or someone you know has had the curiosity to learn but didn’t know where to start, have them checkout CodeAcademy.com.
Want to see if your kid is the next Zuckerberg? Get them started at CodeAcademy.com and you may just bring out their inner geek on put them on the path to a digital future.
Anyone that doesn’t know the difference between a derivative and a triple tax free municipal bond shouldn’t feel bad because you are not alone.
The technical terms in the investing world, much less the investments themselves can get pretty overwhelming for average non-financial people, so finding help is a must.
One web resource that’s full of information on investing, digesting the markets, understanding active trading or just about anything to do with investing is at investopedia.com
The website offers tutorials, explanations of investment terms along with a dictionary that includes related terms.
It even offers a simulator that will allow you to test out the things you’re learning using virtual money.
So now when you hear ‘gap risk’ or ‘reciprocal currency arrangement’ on a financial news segment, you’ll know where you can go to understand what they’re talking about!