Tech Tips for Non-Technical People

Have you ever been confused by your computer?  Are you afraid of your phone?  Many of us use powerful technology every day, but we don’t always know how to make the most of it.  I write weekly tech tips to educate regular people about the technology they use. I’d like to share my love of technology with you and help you make friends with your software and devices.

Restricted list on Facebook

Want to add someone as a friend on Facebook, but don’t want them to see your status updates or photos (for example, your boss or co-workers)? Just add them to your Restricted list. Restricted people can only see posts you make public or that they’ve been tagged in.

Add a friend to your restricted list:

  • Go to their profile page
  • Click the “Friends” button, choose “Add to another list” and choose “Restricted”

Add to or edit your restricted list:

  • On the homepage, scroll down to the Friends section on the left and click More
  • Scroll down and click Restricted
  • In the right-hand corner click Manage List > Edit List
  • Choose “Friends” from the drop-down menu
  • Select which friends you would like to restrict. You can also search for them in the search box.
  • Click Finish

Track your baby

When you have a baby, it can be helpful to keep track of their feedings, sleep habits, and diapers. BabyConnect is an extremely useful website and mobile app that allows you to track all of these things and more (pumping, medicines, doctor visits, weight, etc). It also has useful charts and graphs, and can be accessed by other members of the family and caregivers. You can enter data via the website, your phone, or iPad/iPod.

Check out BabyConnect

Mobile barcode scanners

Need to do a price check while you’re out shopping? If you have a Google phone or iPhone it’s easy. Just download the RedLaser app, scan a barcode, and see comparative prices from local stores.

You can also scan items using the Amazon app, which shows you the Amazon price, and lets you save the items to a wishlist or registry. A great way to create a registry while on the go.

RedLaser Barcode: Android | iPhone

Amazon: Android | iPhone

Apple classes

Need help using your Mac or Mac software? If you have an Apple Store near you, you can take advantage of free classes for Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPhoto, iMovie, etc. If you are buying a Mac computer for the first time, you can sign up for a full year of personal training for only $99.

Find a class.

Buying digital music

Do you buy music online? If not, you should. CDs are on their way out, and digital music is the future. All you need is storage space on your computer, nice speakers or headphones, and an MP3 player. The three best places to get digital music are:

  • Amazon: Generally the cheapest option. Plus, they will store your purchases on their servers which you can listen to via their mobile app.
  • iTunes: If you use iTunes already, this is the easiest option as it automatically downloads purchases into your library.
  • Google Play: Like Amazon, Google will store thousands of your songs on their servers so you can listen via their mobile app or website.

Erase your hard drive

Getting rid of your computer or external hard drive? Whether you are selling it or recycling it, always make sure to securely erase your hard drive first.

Erase an external Mac drive:

  • Open Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities)
  • Select the disk you would like to erase and click the Erase tab
  • Click on Security Options and choose the single pass or 3-pass option and click OK.
  • Erase!

Erase an internal Mac hard drive:

Erase a PC hard drive:

Organize your financials

Having trouble keeping track of your money? Here are a few pieces of software that will help organize your money and give you peace of mind.

  • Quicken Essentials for Mac – Show bank balances, import transactions, categorize spending, create budgets.
  • Quicken for Windows – Show bank balances, import transactions, categorize spending, create budgets.
  • Intuit’s Mint.com – From the makers of Quicken, this online service has similar features as its desktop software, but is free and accessible online.
  • Freshbooks – Fantastic software for small businesses. Includes invoicing, time tracking, expense management, and more.

Schedule Gmail messages for the future

Writing an email at 12am but don’t want it sent until a reasonable hour? Boomerang is a free plugin for Gmail that allows you to schedule messages to be sent in the future. It can also remind you to follow-up on the email after a set amount of time.

  • Install the browser plugin
  • Open Gmail and write your message.
  • Click the “Send Later” button and schedule your email.
  • If you want a follow-up reminder, check the “Boomerang this” box and choose when you want to be reminded.