Tag Archives: Tips

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

 

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!

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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?

Surprise! Your Yoga has some holes in it.

Researcher Discovers Superfish Spyware Installed on Lenovo PCs – NYTimes.com

Surprise! Your “Yoga”, has some holes in it. Designed to be as attractive and useful as any Apple device (and marketed unconvincingly as a replacement for your MacBook Air), the Yoga unfortunately came (past tense, according to Lenovo) with Superfish Spyware pre-installed. “Adware” and “Bloatware” – collectively known as “crapware” – are de rigueur for Windows purchasers, but Superfish takes this to a new level with an unsigned certificate providing easy access to your data for anyone who knows how to use it.

I met an insider years ago (p.s. – Pre-Snowden), who told me he was convinced Lenovo had code embedded in the computer ROM that allowed Chinese authorities full access to the device. He gave up on trying to expose this security “flaw” after everyone, including the FBI, told him he was paranoid. So, who’s paranoid now?

Tip: Savvy computer buyers shop for those “special” Windows computers without crapware. Or buy Macs.

 

iPods and The Mystery of the Missing Songs

It was a calm, cold night—much as any other this wet December on the brink of a new year. I settled carefully down in my Queen Anne near the warmth of the radiator, hissing its gentle song, and propped my MacBook Pro on my lap to peruse the day’s email. For the most part there was little of note: The usual uncaptured spam, offers from Shutterfly and CVS, a note from my massage therapist, and several droll requests for assistance that required little thought and for which I had no interest. But just as I was to resign myself to another night struggling with the need to sleep in the absence of a full mind, the Subject: “Too few songs!!” caught my attention, and I seized upon this interesting message from an old acquaintance.

The fellow, whose anonymity I shall protect here, had over the years acquired quite a collection of iPods which he had managed to connect to assorted computer and audiophile equipment. He was no dunce certainly, and in fact had once worked for the diplomatic corps in a foreign post where he had kept a low profile until acquiring the wealth to enjoy his life with a gusto I envied, dabbling now and then in the legal profession, and as far as I could tell from my distance, primarily acquiring and enjoying a phenomenal collection of music in many styles and formats. With interest, I perused his query, which I edit for brevity as follows:

“Here’s something I do not understand.  My 2nd generation iPod, which has 20GB  of storage capacity, can hold around 2,000 songs.  My newer (like five years old) 60GB iPod can’t hold anywhere near as many.  Why?”

Clearly there was an explanation that went beyond the obvious assumption that he was mistaken either about the number of songs or the capacity of the devices—he assured me the numbers were accurate as provided. And so began another late night adventure, as I committed to resolving this mystery, when for the sake of my health, I might have been better sleeping.

Although I might have formed my own questions and submitted these to a higher internet authority, I started first by closing the lid of my laptop and leaning back in my chair, taking a deep breath, and entering my “memory palace”, where I was quite convinced I could locate a solution. A few moments later, and confident in what I had found, I started my iMac, plugged my iPhone into it, and launched iTunes to validate my deductions.

I include here an excerpt from the response to my client:

“Theoretically, we can assume that your music is recorded in its ‘largest’ format on iTunes on your computer. For example, you could use Apple Lossless format for the music on your computer and have GREAT quality (which would require a gigantic hard drive because of the large file format). You could listen to your music on your mobile iOS devices in the large format, but because they have less storage, you would be better off using much smaller files. You would sacrifice some of the music in terms of quality, but be able to put many more songs on the device than otherwise. And I postulate that you may have already configured your two iPods in this fashion, although you did not configure them both in the same way, causing an odd discrepancy in the number of songs that each device holds.

“I believe that the settings in iTunes are unique for each device. In the attached screenshot are the settings for my iPhone 6. Under Options, there is an option for ‘Convert higher bit rate songs to [128 kbps] AAC.’ If you had selected that for your OLD iPOD and your songs were all 256kbps or higher, and you used the DEFAULT (unchecked) setting for your newer iPod, then, since the lower 128kbps files are SMALLER, you could probably get a lot more songs on the old iPOD.

iTunes_convert_higher_bit_rate“This only uses greater compression when it syncs, leaving your songs on your iTunes on your computer, at whatever compression/quality level they were ripped.”

And here, with my apologies for a tale that has grown far too long, I conclude with a satisfactory answer, for it was only the very next afternoon that I received another electronic epistle confirming my solution to the mystery:

“TW:  When I plugged in the 60GB iPod and ‘downsampled’ higher bit rate songs to 256 kbps, I ended up with approx. 7,000 songs.  So that accounts for the older iPod seeming to hold more songs.”

B.

Why You Can’t Trust You’re Getting the Best Deal Online – WSJ

Why You Can’t Trust You’re Getting the Best Deal Online – WSJ.

Macintosh Users! Beware of Orbitz!!
(But if you use an iPhone, you might get a deal)

This article is about a study that concludes pricing is definitely different on web sites for a variety of reasons. Such as people on iOS devices getting lower prices, non-members getting higher prices, and so on. The article states that in 2012 Orbitz (online travel, no link provided deliberately) stopped “discriminating” (by giving Macintosh users higher prices for hotels) after experimenting with this for about a month, and there was no current evidence of this practice.

Wrong.

And then—oh help me please, I should have known better— I read the Comments, naively thinking there might be some value there. I forgot this was the Murdochian Wall Street Journal, with presumably throngs of Murdochian readers writing their mostly off-topic comments. Such as (and pardon me, I’m not going to directly quote all of these, because I will not read them again!):

  1. Everybody prices things differently for different customers. Who said the Internet was supposed to be “fair”?
  2. If it’s not illegal, how can it be wrong?
  3. Thomas Jefferson never guaranteed anyone the lowest price.
  4. You must be a “Socialist” because your opinion is clearly not the same as mine. (I love it when conservative whack-jobs drop the “S-Bomb”. Guys, I’m okay with socialism.)
  5. And then obviously racial references to Obama, Nike Jordan’s, and stupid denials that these are not racial comments. Puh-lease.

What do ANY of those comments have to do with the article? Pretty much, none, zero, nothing.

So, Yes, Virginia, when Orbitz, the travel web site, debuted in 2000, there was talk that it was going to offer the best prices because it was created by five of the six major airlines, and had special “favored nation” access to the lowest ticket rates. (Supposedly.) That was the impression. You were getting the lowest prices—or at least a pretty good shot at the lowest prices.

And that’s why it annoys me when I try to get a ticket on a flight that my colleague in the next cube over is booking on his DELL Windows PC, and on my Macintosh the same flight at the same price is impossible to find!! It’s just not there!! All my options are more expensive. And I’m logged in as an Orbitz MEMBER. I should get the best prices right? I logged out, I tried to get the flight on my Macintosh as a non-member. No dice.

Finally  I walked next door, opened a session on his DELL Windows PC, as a non-member of Orbitz, and…flight and price available. To me that means that Orbitz STILL (this happened in 2014) discriminates in some price-oriented way against Macintosh users, whether members or not. Because we have more money? Because we are willing to spend more money on a better computer? Because we are too creative and artistic to realize we are being gouged?

Too bad. I used to like Orbitz. Nowadays I might try Orbitz, but I always check another travel site, or the site of the airline itself. And if you want the best price, or the most flexibility in selecting a flight, I suggest you do the same.