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!
Most of us use our smartphones as a flashlight on a pretty regular basis because we always have them on us.
The bright LEDs are great for pointing light in one specific direction, but on occasion you really need to spread the light around like a lantern.
Today’s tip is a life hack that turns your smartphone into a light spreading lantern instead of just a flashlight.
All that’s required is a rubberband and any type of plastic water bottle that is full.
Start by attaching your smartphone to the plastic bottle using the rubber band, but be sure to point the smartphone's flashlight towards the bottle.
Don’t point it at the label; it’s actually best to remove the label altogether for the better dispersion of light.
This life hack is great when you’re camping or forced to work in the dark on something or when you are trying to lead a group around at night.
This little life hack elevates anyone into a real life ‘MacGyver’!
Yesterday’s tip discussed the dangers of ‘Juice-Jacking' which would allow a malicious USB-based charging device to gain access your private files without you ever knowing.
Those that travel extensively, especially to foreign countries might want to look into a device called a "Juice Jack Defender".
At $15, this simple adapter allows you to safely connect to any USB-based charging system with confidence because it will block any attempted access to your mobile devices while they are charging.
USB ports by design allow both a charge and the ability to communicate with your mobile device. This communication is desired when you’re connecting to your own computer, but not with everything else.
If you connect to any unknown charging system using the Juice Jack Defender, it converts the connection into a one way street.
The dangers of juice-jacking isn’t likely to be a problem at most public charging stations, there is simply no way to know if a USB charger is safe or not.
Using an AC outlet and your own chargers always the safest round, but that’s not an option, then a simple blocking device like this will provide peace of mind.
More at: http://ChargeDefense.com
Keeping all your tech devices charged while you're out and about is a lot easier then it used to be because of all the public charging stations that have been installed.
Those of you that travel around regularly should know about something referred to as 'Juice-Jacking'.
Juice-Jacking is possible if a charging station attempts to access your smartphone or tablet's data while charging your device.
When you plug most smartphones or tablets into a computer via a USB port, often times, it provides instant access to your private data.
This same holds true for any public charging station you might use, if it's setup maliciously and you will have no idea that it’s happening.
While it isn't very likely you will have to worry about this danger in US-based airports, international travelers should be on the alert for this scam.
To protect yourself from Juice-Jacking, try to stick to your own A/C charger plugged directly into a electrical socket, but if that's not an option, I’ll give you a tip tomorrow on a blocking device that provides peace of mind when you are forced to plug into any USB port.
In all my time helping people with technology, one consistent problem seems to always pop up - everyone knows about the importance of backing up their important files, but most people never can seem to make it important enough to get it setup.
If this most important task is still on your ‘to do’ list and you're looking for the motivation to make it a priority, see if this helps:
The awful reality of being hit by ransomware, which will lock you out of your own files, including any backup device that’s connected, is getting worse.
The current attacks can even spread by themselves, often using methods that we have not seen before.
Anyone that’s a victim of this scan that doesn’t have an off-site copy of their files data will either have to lose everything or pay hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars in order to regain access to their files.
Secure on-line backup services like Carbonite's unlimited package are the best tool for avoiding ever having to pay, because those backed up files aren’t accessible via your computer when you're attacked.
This is a wake up call for anyone that’s still using the old way of backing up their files!
If you’re like me, you constantly bop between various computers and your smartphone, so having an easy way to push info between them would be great, wouldn’t it?
For those times when you’d like to push something from your computer to your smartphone, or vice versa, there’s a free app called Pushbullet that can do just that!
The Pushbullet system is the combination of a Google Chrome web app and a mobile app for Android or iPhone that makes sending just about anything between your devices really simple.
Everything from your notes, useful web urls, addresses, lists, pictures or just about any kind of file can be sent between your daily devices.
Unlike the steps required by online services such as DropBox and Google Drive, Pushbullet allows you to share without having to download files or open a special app.
You can also use Pushbullet to send items to other people like your friends, family or co-workers.
Android users can also mirror their smartphone notifications on their computers.
Here are the links to get started:
Web App: https://www.pushbullet.com
Android App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pushbullet.android
iPhone App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pushbullet/id810352052
We’ve all seen those reality shows that use some form of a ‘make over’ as their theme, but most of us have no interest in becoming a national spectacle during the process.
Anyone that’s ever thought of some minor or major hairdo change, a change of which makeup they use or is just curious what they’d look like with say blue contacts, today’s tip is for you.
A website called https://Taaz.com has a pretty impressive online makeover system that is really easy to use and creates useful results in minutes.
You start by uploading your picture then experiment with various elements like your skin, lips, eyes, hair and finish with accessories.
Anyone thinking of emulating various celebrities can incorporate their look on your picture with a simple couple of clicks of the mouse.
The site also offers Halloween ideas which allows you to see what you'd look like as the Mad Hatter or an Avatar character or the various Lady Gaga options you might want.
This tool is more suited to assist women that are trying to decide on various brands of makeup, us guys can still use it for a basic makeover as well.
Social networks have become a vital communication tool, both personally and professionally for most of us.
If you are in business, keeping your LinkedIn profile updated is vital for what I call "the business networking on steroids".
But new users of the network can get confused about the best way to handle requests to connect from others that you don’t know.
Don't treat it like Facebook; LinkedIn is best suited to help you meet people you may not know at all, which allows you to grow your network of contacts.
If you were at a real-world business event, turning down someone’s business card just because you didn’t know them would be strange behavior, right?
Well, that's how i think of LinkedIn. With just a few exceptions, I generally give their profile a quick check and accept any connection request if it looks like a real profile.
Profiles that don’t have a picture, have very few connections or have little to no info about the person are my exceptions.
Keep in mind, you can always delete someone if you feel like they're abusing the connection.
If you need the steps for kicking someone from your LinkedIn network, here they are:
Today’s tip is based on our need to put a lot of space in your noggin.
Techies that use their tech every day often assume that everyone knows of all the shortcuts available on their devices.
On occasion, someone that sees me doing something quick will remind me that shortcuts are not as commonly known as we assume.
Let's use the space bar for example. It does way more for you than just adding spaces between words as you are typing.
Checkout this tip for when you are browsing the Internet on a computer and you want to scroll the page down that doesn't require your mouse.
Simply tap the space bar and it will scroll your web page down exactly one screen. To scroll back up, you can hold the 'Shift' key and tap your space bar to scroll on screen up.
While typing on your mobile devices and you come to the end a sentence, try tapping your spacebar twice in a row to end with a period. It is much faster than searching around for the period key!
For most of us, using text messaging is a critical daily method of communication with just about everyone we know and when something happens to our smartphones, we’re completely out of sorts.
Whether we leave our phones somewhere or it get’s broken or stolen, it’s bound to happen to all of us.
Did you know that you can log into carrier’s your online account which will allow you to send and receive texts from any computer as if it’s coming from your phone? I’d highly recommend you figure how it works before you’re next crisis!
For those that don’t know their account info or just haven’t ever had a need to use their online text option, get it figured out before you’re in dire need.
If your carrier doesn't support online texting from your phone number or you’re in urgent need to send a text, checkout this free online texting option at https://Textem.net
One downside of this service is that you’ll need to choose which cellular provider your recipient is using or it won’t work.
Texting from something other than your smartphone is vital when your phone goes missing or is broken, so don’t wait until you need it to learn how to do it!
Anyone that’s been on what we call the ‘Facebook cruise ship’ for any period of time will have accumulated some ‘Facebook barnacles’ in their profile.
We refer to Facebook barnacles as apps that have gained access to your profile because you tried a new app or played a silly game once and forgot all about.
Even though you no longer use those old apps, the company behind it still has access to your profile.
You may be surprised by how many apps you have given this type of permission to that still have access to your profile.
It’s time for clean up so take a few minutes and review that list of apps that you have allowed into your profile.
Just tap the gear icon in the upper right corner of Facebook, then the Account settings to access the Apps section.
When you see the list of apps, just click the X next to any app you no longer want or need, which should make you feel much better!
The link to the instructions is located at:
The upcoming summer travel season can often lead to road trips complete with lots of unexpected memories - sometimes they’re good, sometimes not.
I enjoy discovering quirky and ‘off the beaten path’ and places when I travel, but a lot of the really good stuff only comes from locals.
If you want help discovering the fun and unusual places on your next road trip, checkout a website called Roadtrippers.
You begin the planning by typing in your start and end which allows you to start searching various attractions, accommodations, entertainment, food, drink, history, nature or lots of other interesting options.
You can add items along the way to determine how much longer it’ll take and how much gas you might use to complete your trip.
After you’ve created your itinerary, you can sync it to your phone using their mobile apps which include turn-by-turn directions to each destination.
If that all sounds like too much work, there are pre-existing itineraries available that you can modify to your taste.
It’s pretty common for us all to provide our e-mail addresses while interacting with most websites, but so often, it leads to an onslaught of marketing messages.
Anyone that uses the same email address for every online interaction will find that it is very difficult to figure out who’s responsible for sending the which unwanted message.
A great way to avoid this common problem is to use an alternative e-mail address, especially for non-essential situations. If you are a Gmail user, you may not know that you can easily create something called ‘ liases' for all of your accounts.
In Gmail, for instance, you can create an alias for eBay when your primary address is ‘firstname.lastname@example.org by using [email protected] as your alias.
Once you do this, it allows you to setup filters which will auto-sort messages sent to each alias which will skip the Inbox and send it to Trash or apply a star or automatically forward the messages to another account.
There are no limits to the number of aliases you can create and it’s great way to track every message from any given site you’re sent whenever you buy or sign up for anything.
Managing your incoming messages can make things so much easier to deal with!
Any parent of teenagers is familiar with the ongoing challenge of getting them to start doing their own laundry.
The number one excuse is generally 'I don’t know how’, so for tech savvy teens, there’s an app for that!
The 'Complete Laundry Care’ app for iOS devices provides the instructions for everything from washing, drying, folding, ironing and it even shows a chart that explains the 'machine wash symbols’ on most tags.
This app provides step-by-step instructions that starts with sorting to setting timers for washing and drying while providing alert timers to keep your distracted teen from forgetting their chore at hand.
It’s a good way to help new college students from destroying their wardrobe in their first semester; no more of the 'throw it all in together’ approach to laundry.
This useful laundry care app could be for anyone no matter what age they are that hasn’t quite gotten the hang of the whole laundry process. It can save them thousands of dollars over their life if they get it right!
Complete Laundry Care App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/complete-laundry-care/id833637165
The four major cellular carriers are constantly battling to attract you as a subscriber with what often sounds like a sensational offer seemingly every week.
The reality of these ‘deals’ is that if their quality of service where you spend most of your time is spotty, an ‘incredible deal’ is pretty useless.
Before deciding to jump from one company to another, there’s a wonderful tool that can help you make a more informed decision.
Rootmetrics.com lets you properly evaluate the major network’s coverage where you work, live & travel.
I always start with where I live so I can get a good overall rating for each company that covers reliability, speed indexes and data speeds as well as call and text performance so I know the strengths and weaknesses of each where I would need them.
One of my favorite features is the ‘ overage Map' because it provides detailed cell-based maps of call quality, data speeds and the availability of 4G LTE service from each company.
Root Metrics also has a mobile app which you can use to help gather performance information when you are out and about.
The recommended links:
Explore the Coverage Map: http://webcoveragemap.rootmetrics.com/us
Mobile apps: http://rootmetrics.com/en-US/content/our-coveragemap-app-is-now-better-than-ever
The Internet and especially social media allows us to follow all of our favorite celebrities but did you know that this can actually be dangerous?
Malicious hackers are both cunning and evil in their methods and they specifically target the U.S. because of our celebrity obsessed culture.
They often create Internet-based scams that can allow them to silently sneak into your device using your favorite celebrity as bait.
In most cases, if they offer you a link and you click on it, your screen will have a pop-up window explaining that your video player needs to be updated in order to watch the video.
Anyone falling for theses scams is essentially granting remote control access of their device to a remote hacker.
Anytime you see any site or link telling you that you that your media player is out of date, consider it a big red flag.
Ask yourself why you would suddenly have the need for something special in order to watch a video when you’ve been watching lots of them almost every day. The simple answer is: YOU DON’T!
Celebrity-based social engineering continues to be an effective trick in the hacker’s bag of tricks, so don’t fall for it!
Regular listeners of our tech tips know about my endless quest to discover the very best ways to display the digital images that I’m constantly creating.
You may have seen beautiful high-res images that are printed on to glass in an art gallery, which are incredibly eye catching.
Well, you too can generate incredible images printed on glass photos right from he convenience of your computer with just a few mouse clicks.
An online company called ‘Fracture’ is a specialty printing option that lets you upload images to one of five different frame sizes ranging from roughly 5 by 7 to 22 by 30 in either portrait or landscape or square orientation.
The process will only take a couple of minutes with prices range from $18 to $125.
Fracture prints your image directly on the back of a piece of glass, then adds a black backing and ships it to you in a special package.
This way of displaying pictures makes for amazing wall art or makes a great gift for those people and moments special to you.
Check it all out at https://fractureme.com
Anyone that's ever worked in an office is familiar with Microsoft Word and using the macros feature that lets you insert portions of text usee on a regular basis using a saved keyboard shortcut to save time.
We're all spending a lot more time creating things online, so having macro capabilities in the browser can come in really handy.
Anyone using online productivity tools like Google Docs could benefit from this capability by installing a free add-on for the Chrome browser called Auto Text Expander.
You can use the 'Auto Text Expander' add-on to create shortcuts for really long e-mail addresses, commonly used phrases or for creating varios e-mail signatures that are easy to insert.
The add-on allows you to create your own collection of shortcuts like using 'bizadd' to insert your business address or 'persig' to insert your personal email signature; basically, it's helpful for any type of information used on a regular basis.
Once you have generated a shortcut, they're usable in any text field for virtually everything you do online, from e-mail to social media to blogging.
Download link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/auto-text-expander-for-go/iibninhmiggehlcdolcilmhacighjamp
That hard drive in your computer is a lot like your frig; it doesn't matter how big, you will fill it up eventually.
Just as is the case for your refrigerator, tossing out your unneeded items is a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a newer, bigger one.
The primary problem most user run into is that they haven't a clue what is taking up their storeage space, so they have no idea what they can get rid of.
For starters, uninstalling any unneeded software and if your drive is filled with tons of video or music files that aren't important, tossing those space hogs will free up a lot of space as well.
Windows-based computers can get a helping hand from a program called 'TreeSize' which is free.
The structure of file storate in Windows is referred to as a 'tree' with folders representing branches and individual files are the leaves. The TreeSize tool quickly shows you the size of each folder so you can easily determine what's taking up all your storage space.
WARNING: Never should you delete items when you don’t know what they are and always be sure that you have verified your backup before starting to delete anything from your hard drive.
The growing popularity of food photography has created both haters and lovers of this social media phenomenon.
If you are one of the lovers of snapping pics of your food in public places, there are a couple of tips you should keep in mind.
The first tip: turn off you flash! It not only is irritating to those near you, the image of the food will be overexposed turn out bad.
If you have a low-lighting setting, make sure you turn down the brightness of your screen to start as use a candle or another person’s screen to warmly light your subject.
Another thing that can be a minor irritation for others is the sound of the shutter each time you snap a picture, so mute that as well.
Choosing the right app to take the food pics will also make a difference in your results, so you may want to opt for a better option than the built-in camera app and use something like VSCO’s Cam app instead.
VSCO Cam is especially helpful with those low lighting situations with a whole host of editing options after you take the shot: http://vsco.co/vscocam
Let's start today's tip with some Geek Speak: Bundleware
Anyone that's ever downloaded a free program or even a simple software update may have noticed that they suddenly have a new toolbar that snuck into their browser or worse, the start page has been changed. That when you know that you’re a victim of 'bundleware'.
Sneeky software companies often include a third-party program hidden in their installation process because they get paid to do so.
They know that most users are going to click Next, Next, Next, I agree!
A good habit to get into when installing anything on your computer is to ignore the ‘recommended’ option and start choosing the 'custom' option so you can see what kind of third party programs they're trying to sneak past you.
For more protection against bundleware scams, checkout a free utility called 'Unchecky' that acts as a kind of checkmark watchdog.
Unchecky automatically unchecks thrid-party offers and also warns when you are about to install unwanted offers or utilities.
If you’re tired of you browser being overrun with unwanted junk add-ons, take control of your computer installs with
Anyone with younger children knows that using one of the many baby monitors on the market can be very comforting.
An alternative to traditional dedicated monitors or for those taking kids on a road trip is available through an Android app called Dormi.
The Dormi app will turn any 2 Android devices of any kind into a private baby monitoring system that can be used from any distance.
Because you're using Android devices, Dormi can use either wifi or cell connections, so it can work in the next room or the next state.
The app also allows you to talk to your child through the devices when a calming voice can help and it lets you know what the battery level is on the monitoring device.
The basic service is completely free for up to 4 hours per month or you can buy the app to get unlimited use forever.
Anyone with an old Android device sitting around somewhere could use Dormi to bring it back to a useful life for a parent in need.