Category Archives: Tips

Want a Private Facebook? Try #Slack

NYTimes: A Charming Alternative Universe of You, Your Friends and No News

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/18/technology/a-charming-alternative-universe-of-you-your-friends-and-no-news.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

imageThe Times article (above) tempts with the idea of an alternative to the competitive, super-public, extrovert dominated world of fake friends and insincere “likes”. But, the NYT never seems to escape from that social norm, suggesting instead the candy sweet illusion of Instagram “Stories”.

Really?

TechWite says: Try Slack
Do you want a place online where you can share photos, web links, movies, and all that other stuff but not have it smeared with ads, streams of articles and media curated by robots, comments from people you don’t know, don’t remember, or want to forget? Do you want an app where you can have a private conversation (the “DM”—Direct Message—in Twitter becomes a “Private Channel” in Slack) with someone you already know, who is already participating in this place, and where you don’t have to use email to do it? And your team only has members that you want in it. Period.

Not “The Next Big Thing”—Better!
Yea, yea, yea, everyone tells you to use Slack for business, for software development projects, to integrate your two diverse companies that now have to merge their email systems and don’t have a common platform to work on, blah, blah. Blech!! I’m suggesting you, and a small group of real friends who want to plan your next bike trip, group vacation, backpacking adventure, etc. etc., create a Slack Team. Spend a little time and effort figuring out how Slack works. Yes, there are apps for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and POWB (plain old web browsers). And sure, there are tons of plug-ins and commercial upgrades and corporate tie-ins, but only if you want them. This is not “The Next Big Thing”—this is the thing you want to use to communicate and stay in touch with your REAL Friends and Family. The basic version is free.

Life is short. Create a team! Have fun!
These links open in a new window:
Create your own Slack Team:  https://slack.com
Join the public SlackBITS Team run by our friends at TidBITS: http://slackbits.herokuapp.com

Tell them TechWite sent you!

BTW: No, I have no commercial, financial, or stock interest in #Slack. But I am open to the possibility!

—Peace Out

Advertisements

How to Fix Persistent Apple Calendar Entries

Icon_Calendar1Meetings, appointments, reminders—if you’ve put Apple’s iCloud Calendar to good use for awhile, you probably have lots of old Calendar events, maybe years, maybe decades of old events. You are paying for that storage with your money, and for the processor overhead with your time. And…do you really want the NSA to have access to all this? You should clean it up. It’s the past. Let it go! But how?

This is Apple, so it should be easy, right? Well, yes, but friends, this is one of those rare potholes in the normally smooth road of the Apple ecosystem. Apple will help you hide your old Calendar entries, but we want to DELETE, and just locating information on deleting them requires an epic effort worthy of a Homer narrative. For you, TechWite provides the “Cliff’s Notes” shortcut to the answers:

🙈  The iCloud Ostrich Method

iCloud_hide_events

Hide old events in iCloud: Click the Gear icon for Preferences… > Advanced > Old Events. But they are still there.  We want to DELETE and in iCloud, that’s as good as it gets. On your Mac? Back when versions of OS X were named after BIG CATS, there was a similar option in Calendar > Preferences. That option is GONE.

SAre_you_sure_you_want_to_delete_this_event?top Making Sense—Warning: If you manually delete appointments ONE at a time, iCloud will try to send “updates” to all your meeting recipients. You may have hundreds or thousands of entries. Imagine the annoyed responses from old friends, lovers, family, and former work associates asking why you are cancelling a meeting in the PAST?? My advice: If you encounter this issue, and get queries, DON’T RESPOND.

Like the Labors of Hercules! The long, tedious, and frankly annoying search propelled as if by a motivational prophecy from the Delphic oracle—that this should be easier, this should be obvious, and if “The Steve” were here, this simply would not be a problem.

iCloud: Advanced Calendar and iCal troubleshooting

The most common causes for data-based issues with Calendar are:

  • Unreadable or incompatible calendar data.
  • Reoccurring calendar events that have no end date (such as birthdays).
  • Duplicate events.
  • An excess of calendar events that happened in the past (especially those that were previously synced from another calendar client).

Any of these conditions could be the cause of your issues with Calendar in OS X (or iCal) and iCloud.

Well thanks Apple! And in that most important article, Apple explains how to perform all kinds of maintenance on your Calendars, backing up, disconnecting from iCloud and other services, cleaning up, and restoring. I leave that work to you, reader.

…to delete those old entries, I provide the two answers:

  1. Delete Entries in Macintosh Calendar App: In the search bar, type “.“—a single period—and press <Return>. This will produce a search response list of ALL your entries, which you may then select (using the various select options that you know how to use, right?) and <Delete>. (This still has the issue with sending “updates” to recipients, so be careful. Otherwise, go to #2, below.)
    [BTW: Can you do this in iCloud? I can’t even find the Search Bar in iCloud. Where is it??]
  2. Use a 3rd Party Macintosh Calendar Tool: Download a more capable Calendar replacement, or a Calendar utility. These will do the work for you that Apple has abandoned. I recommend BusyCal. You can download the free trial, and use it to batch clean your calendar using their wonderful List View of calendar entries. You may like it so much that you decide to buy it. (I did!)

And there you have it.  Peace Out.—TW

 

IPad Quirky? Unstable? Manage your storage!

A former colleague, Cary, asked TechWite about her unstable iPad. TechWite responds…

Your iPad, has a limited amount of storage.  You may recall hearing that it had: 16 Gig, 64 Gig, 128 Gig (Gigabytes). Depending on what you do with it, that storage on your iPad gets used by photos, songs, movies, books, and everything else. If the iPad gets slow, undependable, crashes, or won’t install the latest iOS update, chances are the storage space (whatever it was originally) is all “filled up”. A trip to visit your local Apple Store, or Apple Dealer, or friendly, knowledgeable consultant may be in order. But first, you can try clearing out some space yourself.


“What was a lot then, is nothing now.” —Christo’s 2nd Law of Computing

What’s a Gig? A Gigabyte is a thousand Megabytes. What’s a Megabyte? In the PaleoMac days of the PC revolution BI (Before iOS), early adopters and PC enthusiasts liked to throw around numbers the way auto afficianados today talk about the doomed-wheeled-hunks-of-metal-and-plastic that will soon be replaced by autonomous cars. Those PaleoGeeks made hilarious comments like, “I upgraded my Mac to 512K RAM and bought an external 10Meg SCSI Hyperdrive.” If you’re a Facebook user, or an “elliptical” (as the media calls this new generation), you don’t care what a Megabyte is, and it doesn’t matter. So forget the details.

Just remember, as always in capitalism and technology: more is better. When you buy your next Apple device, try to get the one that has *more*. Eventually, even that won’t be enough, but for now, that’s all you need to know.


To get started, the Settings app is the place to go. Open it, and follow along…

Step 1 – Check Storage

Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage

This will take you to a panel that displays your “Used” and “Available” storage (below). There is no hard and fast rule here, but you want the “Available” number to be big. (If it is already 5 Gig or more, then storage is probably *not* what is causing your problems.) Next, let’s make more storage available by getting rid of stuff that no longer serves you.

Step 2 – Manage Storage

Tap Manage Storage…
It may take some time for your device to fill in the details of your “Storage” panel. Be patient. Eventually, you will get a list of your apps and how much storage they use—sorted from biggest data usage to smallest. You can go through all of these apps, but you are going to get the best results by working on the apps at the top of the list, which are usually Music, Videos, and Photos (below).

Step 3 – Identify and Delete Songs that no Longer Serve You
Tap Music:
You’ll get a list of all the music on your iPad, grouped by Artist, Album, and Song. You can start deleting right at this “top” level, and Delete all songs by one artist.

Tap on one Artist, and Slide to the LEFT, to reveal the “Delete” button.
Tap “Delete” to delete all the songs by that artist.

Don’t want to get rid of everything by that artist? Just want to delete one song? You can “drill down” and use the same method as above to Delete specific albums or songs. Below, we tap Artist “A.C.Newman” > Album “Shut Down the Streets” > Song “Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns” and then Delete.

6bc6f9ff9c8c058fb88996da1e725d5a

13bc945723bc8de65619270d58ca471f

 

9ca675a1b9de2aaec89eaedfea24992a

Step 4 – Repeat, and Validate
Repeat this process to get rid of as much music as you want. You can then use the same process to Delete the space-eating data of other apps on your iPad. When you are done, check your storage again. (From Step 2, above):
Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage

Finally, power your iPad completely down and restart it:

  1. Hold the “Sleep/Wake” button down until the screen goes dark and you see the “Slide to Power Down” button on the screen.
  2. Slide to Power Down.
  3. After the iPad completely shuts down, wait 30 seconds, and power it back up. How? Hold down the Sleep/Wake button until the Apple logo appears.

NOW, with that extra space that you’ve saved, does your iPad behave better? If not, you could try re-installing the OS, but for most people, that means it’s probably time for a visit to your local Apple support person.

Thanks for stopping by,

—TechWite

This post was written (almost) entirely on an iPad using Evernote. Interested? Tell me.

Overlooked and Underused: iPhone Personal Hotspot

Mac and iPhone—Best of Friends

 

MacWiFiMenu12_17_15

Tether this. On a PC, if you don’t have access to ethernet or Wi-Fi, you can “tether” your cell phone for internet access—if your phone and data plan support it, and if you can figure out the configuration. You set it up with a bunch of steps, using Bluetooth or a USB cable, Windows, and phone configuration settings, and hopefully, it works. The real “road warriors” out there know this and may use it, but for most people? Meh. Too much trouble. (I used to tether a Blackberry. Maybe it’s easier for you Windows folks now. I hope so, but it doesn’t matter to me—because I use a Mac!)

In the Apple world, we expect a little more… Think about it. You guys are “tethered” to the Internet like you’re being tied up or something. iPhones come with “Personal Hotspot” capability, and it’s another one of those overlooked and underused, convenient, “personal” features that makes me want to exclaim, “THERE! See? THAT’S why I use a Mac!!”


Sometimes I wonder if this “personal stuff” is Apple’s snarky revenge for the late-to-the-party IBM PC, that usurped the name “Personal” Computer, and then danced around with a lampshade on its head screaming, “Look at me! Look at me!” for the next 30 years, while the Mac tried to get attention by standing in the corner, being cool, and drawing pictures.


My iPhone is in my backpack. To get to the internet, I don’t have to touch it; I don’t have to see it! It appears on the Mac Wi-Fi menu as a “Personal Hotspot” choice (see screenshot). And get this, incredibly, my iPhone “Personal Hotspot” is actually “Off“. (Check this on your iPhone: Launch Settings > Personal Hotspot.) It’s “Off”, but my Mac and iPhone are pals, so my Mac puts the iPhone on the list, and even displays signal strength (Yellow Arrow) and battery level (Blue arrow). If I select “Christo’s iPhone 6” from the Mac Wi-Fi menu, the “Personal Hotspot” on the iPhone switches to “On“. The secret here is that my devices share the same iCloud account. Cool right? Will it turn it back “Off” too? Of course! After connecting, a “Disconnect from Christo’s iPhone 6” item appears on the menu. As long as I choose that, the “Personal Hotspot” turns “Off“.

Here’s an important tip: Remember to “Disconnect..” if you just close the lid on your MacBook, your iPhone continues to act like a Wi-Fi router, burning battery and cellular data like a FIEND!! So remember to Disconnect first! Why doesn’t Apple just make it turn off as soon as you shut the lid on your MacBook? They could, but remember, you might not be the only one using the Personal HotSpot!

It’s your business if you get “tethered” or get “Personal”.  I know what I like, and to TechWite, this Personal Hotspot functionality has been well thought out and sensibly integrated, end-to-end. And, as I’ve been saying for a long time, “…that’s the difference!”


Would you like to hear more? Sometime soon TechWite will write again about: “Mac and iPhone—Best of Friends”.

Dealing with Bad GUI: Conversation View in Outlook 2013

In Outlook 2013 for Windows, in your Inbox > View by Conversation mail list, conversations are indicated by the little triangle, sometimes referred to as a “twisty”. The target area where you must click to display the conversation is about 10 pixels to the right of the "twisty" triangle. If you don’t know this, you have probably tried clicking ON the twisty—as you would expect from your experience on other programs and platforms. But that doesn’t work in MicrosoftLand. Keep trying, once in awhile you might get it to open, suggesting that the target is a single dot somewhere inside the twisty, but please, stop wasting your time!

Tip: Only click within the range suggested by the red box (below), starting about 10 pixels to the right of the twisty, and vertically in the row of the message. (Clicking on the triangle doesn’t work!)

Evernote helps you remember everything and get organized effortlessly. Download Evernote.

I admit it!!

OS X: Keyboard shortcuts – Apple Support.

I admit it! Although I’ve been using Macs as long as there have been Macs, I still can’t remember those weird symbols that represent the Macintosh “modifier” keys. Okay, the “clover leaf”, i.e. Command key, is easy, but do you really recognize all the other ones? Can you distinguish an Option key from a Caps Lock?

In any case, I present them here from Apple’s most excellent “OS X: Keyboard shortcuts page”. Go there. I guarantee you will learn something. Or use the page to jump to another good one, like how to access the special character variations:

 

Enjoy!

 

A Mac Tip for You

Are you spending way too much time trying to get something done? I’m talking about on your computer. If you don’t have the right tool—or you don’t know how to use it—you’re going to waste time. Time is your life. Don’t waste your life! I’ll focus more on that, next time, but for now, how about a hot Mac tip?

Keeping the “Desktop” on your computer clean and organized can be a challenge. Even for the most disciplined and organized of users, it’s still like the kitchen in your home. It accumulates stuff. Kitchen: Mail you don’t know what to do with, groceries you haven’t put away, dirty dishes. Computer: Files, folders, apps, stuff you haven’t decided if you want to keep or not.

I’m not going to tell you how to clear your whole Desktop, but I will tell you about one awesome, simple feature built into the Mac OS that every Mac user should know about. (Windows users, I can’t help you.) And this feature is so easy, so obvious, and so useful, to me it is a metaphor for the whole Macintosh experience. Check it out.

You’ve got files and folders all over your Desktop. It’s a mess. So sort it.

  1. Click on your Desktop
  2. In the Finder select View > Sort By > Name
  3. Everything on your Desktop is now sorted by Name. Not what you wanted? You’ve got other choices, try one of those, including: by Kind and by Tags.

2_Finder Sort by Name

Does that help? Now you’ve got a lot of organized junk on your Desktop. And that’s not my favorite tip. Go ahead and think about some of those files. Maybe you want to put all the photographs into one folder? Maybe you just want to put most of that stuff into a folder called “Organize Later” and get it out of sight. Either way, follow along…

  1. Select the files that you want to put in a folder. This is basic Mac stuff, you know how to:
    1. [Command]+[Click] to make multiple selections
    2. Use the mouse to drag a selection triangle over a group of files
    3. Or use [Command]+[A] to select All—everything on the Desktop—(but de-select any drive volumes, or this tip won’t work)
  2. Once you’ve made the selection, [Right]+[Click] with a mouse, or two-finger click with a trackpad…
  3. You should see a pop-up menu, with “New Folder with Selection (xx items)” at the top.
  4. Select that menu and, Walla! Watch everything you selected jump into a newly created folder on your Desktop called “New Folder with Items”. Without lifting your fingers from the keyboard, type a folder name and press [Return].
  5. Done!

Pasted_Image_3_30_15__10_21_PM

These are explicit instructions, but seriously, this is as simple as: Select files, [Right]+[Click], select menu, Name the folder. Oh! Did you make a mistake? Didn’t want that name? Didn’t want all those files in that folder? No big deal, in the Finder Edit menu, right at the top, you can UNDO.

To me, this is an elegant, mind-bogglingly simple function that does so much, and says so much about the Macintosh OS: Choice, flexibility, ease of use, speed, and downright utility! Not everything on a Mac makes this much sense, but if you explore, you’ll find there are many, many features like this to help simplify and automate your work. Because really, shouldn’t the computer be working for you?