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!
Adding new programs and apps to your computer can make it more useful, but if you’re not careful, it can have an irritating side effect.
Subtle tweaks to your computer such as changing the search engine, start page or adding those useless toolbars can actually be changes that you approved.
You see, the software companies know that very few of you are going to read the various screens while installing any new program, which is how this happens.
The 'next, next, next, I agree' process is so common that especially free programs will use this sneaky approach to gain access to your desktop.
From now on, always choose the expert, custom or advances options so you can actually see what they’re trying to add before they do it.
The software companies don’t want you to change your behavior, but we do to help you keep your system clean!
As our use of both smartphones and computers converge, integrating information across our devices is becoming more of a need.
Those that have an Apple computer and iPhone have seen lots of new options for this integration, but if you use Windows or macOS and an Android device, you’ll need an app to do the same.
A platform called Push Bullet will provide this interoperability for when you find things on your computer that you want to have access to on your smartphone.
The communication is established via the combination of a browser-based web app and a mobile app which can both be downloaded here: https://www.pushbullet.com
Once set up, it’s easy to share lots of different files, pictures and web links without having to sent them via email.
And just like with the Apple combo, notifications that would normally only appear on your phone will start to appear on your computer.
If you spend all day popping back and forth between your phone and your computer, this may reduce some of that wasted effort!
No matter how deep of a connection we have with our pets, they can’t talk to us when they aren’t feeling well.
We can try to figure out what might be causing their discomfort and getting them to a qualified veterinarian may be a challenge, which is where PetMD.com can be of help.
This very comprehensive online database of symptoms and pet health advice is second to none.
It can help you with everything from general care to emergency situations and it can also be breed-specific.
In those situations that appear urgent, their symptom checker and emergency guides can be very comforting.
I’d suggest checking it out for non-urgent situations as it’s packed with great advice and information.
If you have a pet, you’ll want to bookmark PetMD for that next time you really need a helping hand: https://www.petmd.com
I can still remember all of the conversations that I had with older folks about how unsociable using text messaging appeared to them.
Well, it’s hard to find anyone that thinks that way anymore because of how efficient and useful text messaging has become.
If you message using an iPhone, you’re using Apple’s own messaging app known as iMessage.
Not only will it automatically secure every message you send, unlike other messaging platforms, but it can also be used when wifi is the only way to connect to the Internet.
This makes it so much more useful when you are roaming around the world.
What has become obvious to us is that users of iMessage have no idea how powerful it can be, so that’s the focus of today’s tip.
We’ve posted a link to all of the amazing and lesser-known features of iMessage at: https://bit.ly/3gJ6DTZ
An essential task in fighting off the constant attempts by hackers to compromise your data is reviewing security settings regularly.
We all have Google accounts, so this is a reminder to take a few minutes to look over your account settings and security reports.
They’ve created a security dashboard that will provide everything you need to know about current activity, devices that have recently connected and any new options for making things more secure.
The list of the devices that have successfully logged into your account will also include general location info to help you determine if it was you or not.
If you see something strange, let Google know through this interface and change your password ASAP!
Reviewing these settings every 30 days or so will help prevent major issues: https://bit.ly/2Z6FTVm
The complete security interface is located here:
One of the daily tasks that those in the cybersecurity world do is to check for newly discovered breached passwords.
The underworld is constantly posting these huge lists on the dark web because they know that so many people still use the same password on multiple sites.
Your breached passwords are a big business for hackers, so it’s a good idea to keep tabs when someone you’ve got an account with has been breached.
One tool that will let you know whenever you want is called Breach Alarm https://breachalarm.com
Their database will cross-reference any of your email addresses to see if they have been included in any breaches.
When you learn that an account you have has been breached, it becomes imperative to stop using that password anywhere online.
Breaches are becoming so common that it’s a safe bet to assume that any password that’s more than 2 or 3 years old has most likely been acquired, so consider changing them to stay ahead of the hackers.
It goes without saying that we all want to be happy, but how often do you actually focus on your happiness?
If you said rarely, there’s an app that could be helpful in actually tracking your happiness.
The Track Your Happiness app was specifically created to help you figure out what actually makes you happy.
By tracking your state of mind, the app can learn the variables in your life that lead to being happier.
The process is driven by pop-up questions that ask you how you’re feeling at that moment so it can track the variables.
Over time, it can provide some guidance to help you understand and focus on your mental health on a regular basis.
Collectively, the data generated by the app helps the researchers that created it to better understand happiness as a whole.
Whether it actually has an impact or not, the mere fact that you’ll suddenly be focusing on your happiness has its appeal.
For the iPhone app, go to https://www.trackyourhappiness.org
There isn’t an Android app yet, but their web interface works just as well: https://go.trackyourhappiness.org
One of the benefits of being a kid around technology is that you aren’t afraid that you’re going to break anything like most adults do.
This is the perfect time to provide them with avenues to explore things like basic coding to see if it’s something they enjoy.
For younger kids, an app called Hopscotch could be the entry in discovering this creative skill based on things that a kid will enjoy creating.
It’s a visual tool that uses a graphical interface that eliminates the need to type anything to create games and animations.
The key to learning is curiosity and Hopscotch could be a great starting point that might lead to an amazing career.
Although it’s designed for younger children any adult could learn the basics with it as well.
Looking to raise an in-house coding geek? Check out https://www.gethopscotch.com
Technology that really helps people is always an amazing discovery, which is the focus of today’s tech tip.
An app and organization known as Be My Eyes was created for those with vision to help those with poor or no ability to see at all via their smartphones.
Sighted users of the app act as volunteers for those in need of visual assistance using the visually impaired person’s phone camera.
This allows you to help with important daily tasks such as reading a sign on the street or the expiration date on a perishable item.
It’s a really simple but life-changing service that is fueled by volunteers all over the world.
As you help users, your rating will go up, which will in turn provide you with more opportunities to help others.
Learn more by visiting https://bemyeyes.com
If you have children, you know the challenge of teaching them how to do their laundry in a way that won’t destroy the clothes.
A well-meaning but small excuse for our kids not knowing how to clean their own clothes the that they don’t know how to do it…but you can tell them, there are apps for that!
These apps don’t just show them how to clean their clothes, they also show them how to fold and iron them too.
How about helping them understand the various symbols on clothing that explain proper care?
Use their devotion to the smartphone to your favor when it comes to teaching them the fundamentals of laundry.
Imagine how much money you can save when they go to college and don’t ruin all their freshmen clothing.
By the way, these apps don’t just apply to young people as folks of all ages could use some assistance in this routine task!
If you use your computer at night on a regular basis, staring at the screen can lead to sleep issues.
The unfiltered light, especially if it’s bright, has a blue hue that has been shown to cause this problem.
Just turning down the brightness won’t help as much as changing the hue to a warmer color which can be done for free with a utility known as Flux.
This easy-to-use tool is a one-trick pony that will automatically adjust your screen based on the time of day.
It’s also easy to override when you need to see things in a more natural hue at any time.
It may seem a bit off at first, but once you see the difference at night, you’ll understand why this small change can have a big impact.
Get Flux for either of the major operating systems at: https://justgetflux.com
Enjoying movies in a theater can get really expensive, so checking to see what the critics have to say before committing has become commonplace.
Not that what a specific critic likes or dislikes is aligned to your tastes, but it can be a helpful barometer.
The power of the Internet has made individual reviews less relevant as the collective is so easy to find.
One of our favorite resources is to get the metascore from a website called Metacritic, because it’s a compilation of a large number of reviews.
Instead of a star rating or some form of up or down vote, it’s a more nuanced number system that’s more useful
Now you can search for the metascore on upcoming movies, TV shows and music based on the aggregate of lots of critics.
Dig deeper into your entertainment content at: https://www.metacritic.com
Remember when you had to use the back button to visit websites that were previously opened?
The introduction of tabs in browsers changed all that and made it easy to go back and forth between multiple websites, but this comes with some baggage.
Getting carried away with the number of open tabs makes use of a lot of your working memory, which drags on your computer’s performance.
If you’re a taboholic and want some help regaining valuable memory, check out the free Chrome add-on called The Great Suspender.
It automatically suspends tabs that aren’t being actively viewed to free up needed RAM.
It will auto-reload any tab you click on, so it’s as if nothing ever happened.
If you need certain tabs to keep updating in the background, you can tell the utility not to suspend them via a whitelist.
Give it a go at:
The number of devices that are available to make your home a smart home is growing almost daily.
The one fundamental service that makes all these devices work properly is generally a wireless Internet connection.
This connectivity determines whether your devices function properly or not.
The first step to getting things working again is always to restart the devices that provide access to the Internet, like your modem and router.
Some of those devices can be set up to routinely reboot to help ensure a solid connection, but that only works if you’re physically there.
An option for taking control of the situation when you aren’t there is with a remote power switch.
These power devices allow you to remotely restart anything that’s plugged in from anywhere in the world.
If you’re dealing with devices that need to be routinely rebooted, our long-time tips on how to improve or manage the situation is posted at:
Whenever we fly, our go-to entertainment device has become our smartphones.
Making sure that you have content that you want to consume before the flight allows you to avoid having to pay for slow wifi on the plane.
A popular app called Pocket is my go-to for this task because it’s easy to use and works across all of my devices.
It’s an efficient way to gather information for just about any need, but becomes very useful for those times when you know you won’t have an Internet connection.
There are some limitations, such as video, if you don’t have an Internet connection, so consider this more of a highly personalized digital newspaper for your flights.
To learn more about the free app or the premium options, visit https://getpocket.com
Today’s tip is about something that can dramatically improve your quality of life - stretching.
It helps your body in so many ways from better circulation to increased blood flows which distribute critical oxygen and nutrients to various parts of your body.
One of the best ways to stretch every day is through yoga routines, but who wants to go to classes filled with others that are already limber?
Don’t let this uncomfortable scenario keep you from reaping the benefits of this age-old exercise.
Yes, there’s an app for that and it’s named after one of the most useful positions - Down Dog.
It’s really a much more approachable way to learn how to benefit from this ancient but still relevant form of exercise.
If you’re ready to give it a go, check out the options at: https://www.downdogapp.com
Anyone born in the past 10 years was likely brought up with a small screen that often served as a way to pacify them when they were unruly.
It’s become the go-to solution for so many parents when they’re dealing with a restless child in a public area because it’s effective.
But handing your smartphone phone over to a child that has complete access to everything the device can do is flat out dangerous for many reasons.
If you’re finding yourself using your own smartphone as a pacifier for a small child, it’s critical to limit what they can do with it via the parental controls that are built right into the operating system.
Disabling internet access, blocking the ability to make purchases or simply locking the smartphone to a single app are all options you’ll have if you take the time to learn about them.
Both Android and iOS users have lots of options to childproof their phones by using these settings:
The stories of businesses large and small becoming victimized by hackers demanding hefty ransoms continue to grow because it’s become a relatively easy way to make money.
What the hackers know that so many business owners don’t is that instead of trying to penetrate sophisticated security layers, it’s much more effective to go after the weakest link - the users.
One of the most common tricks that hackers use to compromise individual employees is to send phishing emails that look very much like they came from an important person within the organization.
Spoofing an email to make it look like it came from management or from the IT department is incredibly easy.
That’s why it’s important to educate every employee about the methods used by clever tricksters that can lead to catastrophic breaches.
One way to help them understand is by testing them with tools that are available from companies such as KnowBe4 https://KnowBe4.com
They offer a free test that can be used to test as many as 100 users in your organization to see if they fall for skillfully crafted phishing emails.
Get your test setup today by going to the form at:
Virtual meetings are all the rage, but when you don’t need to see each other, the traditional conference call is still relevant.
Most conference call services require participants to jump through a bunch of hoops that generally include special codes or a long PIN, which is why prefer the Uberconference Platform: https://www.uberconference.com
When you’re trying to connect using your smartphone, having to manually input a long string of numbers is a big hassle that can be avoided with Uberconference.
Another great feature is that each attendee is represented by an avatar, so all of the irritating beeps and bops when someone joins or leaves aren’t necessary.
The host controls everyone and the avatars move when that person is speaking or introducing unwanted noise to the meeting.
It’s free for up to 10 users at a time, so give it a try the next time you need to gather a group on a call https://www.uberconference.com
The heat of summer is upon us and depending upon where you live, it can be unbearable and make you irritable.
Well, your technology feels the same way in the summer and it can dramatically impact your battery life.
Excessive heat can impact batteries to the point that they become useless from just a single incident.
Try to avoid leaving your tech in a hot car and whatever you do, don’t allow them to be exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period either.
If you find that your gadgets did get overly hot, it’s best to let them return to room temperature if possible before turning them on.
If you use your laptop while lying in bed, be aware of the small vents that can get blocked by placing it on a pillow or bedspread, which also insulates the heat.
The key is to remember that when you’re feeling overheated, so are you electronics so act accordingly.