Category: Help

Adding weeks to Google Spreadsheet

Google Sheets

I thought this would be difficult. In turn it was easy. A simply =SUM(A1+7) where A1 is a previous date works. It even understands leap years like 2012. Saved me loads of time.

Filed under: Help

Transfer O2 Personal Number to a Business Number


So I have a business account with O2 and I wanted to transfer another number in from a personal O2 account and add it as an additional SIM card user to my account… sounds like a straightforward process right? Oh, only in a joined up world an O2 is nowhere near embracing its own synergies.

My first call to O2 represented the more naive, trusting element of my personality. I called O2 explained exactly what I wanted to do, cleared all the security questions on both accounts, spent the better part of an hour on the telephone and was told it was all arranged, but I’d need to check back in a few days.

A few weeks later (I got distracted by other things) I received a bill for the personal account, but no final bill had arrived, so I thought I’d better call and chase them up. And surprise, surprise the left hand didn’t know what the right was doing and though there were ample notes on my account no action had been taken.

I was told that I actually had to fill outcome paperwork to make this happen and directed to, where I discovered (at the bottom of this general page) not an online form but a pdf you have to download and send in by post, fax or email.

Now cautious, I called back to check which of these methods would be the most efficient in expediting my request and was advised the fax was best (though I had to borrow a customer’s fax machine to send it in) and now wait with baited breath to see if o2 is actually capable of actioning my request.

I’ll let you know the outcome in a couple of weeks… (yes, unbelievably, it’ll really take a couple of weeks).


Indeed it did take a couple of weeks, in fact because of Christmas it didn’t happen until the first week of January. Hardly a smooth transition.

Filed under: Help

iPad could not be backed up because a session could not be started


If you ever seen this error message in iTunes:

iPad could not be backed up because a session could not be started

Then here is how I fixed this on my iPad (iOS 4.2) before upgrading to iOS 4.3:

  1. Do a hard reboot of your iPad by holding down the top button and the home button until the device reboots.
  2. Re-connect to iTunes (stop sync) and then right click on the iPad to ask it to backup.
  3. This didn’t work for me the first time, with a different error coming up, but by the second try it did work and I managed to complete a backup.

There are some other accounts over on Apple Discussions if this does not work for you; in no particular order I read this, this and this.

Oh and if you’re having problems upgrading to iOS 4.3 then I’ve found links to enable you to manually download the upgrade here (it’s 625.8mb BTW).

And if you need instructions on how to manually update an iOS device watch this video:


(though be warned of the irritating music!).

Filed under: HelpTagged with: , , , ,

Making your Mac Safe to Sell

Nuclear Explosion

So. You’ve upgraded your Mac and you’ve decided to sell your old Mac. Just how do you go about removing all your personal data?

Erase Everything! (The Nuclear Option)

If you’re not worried about leaving Apps on for the lucky purchaser or free beneficiary of your new Mac then the best method is the Nuclear option:

1. Boot from the Recovery Disks

2. Open up Disk Utility and select your Hard Drive

3. Pick Erase from the options and then click on “Security Options”

4. You should be fine with selecting the First Option and then hitting Erase

5. But if you want to be MORE secure then options get safer down the list, but…

6. Just remember the more Secure the erase the longer it’ll take, especially for large disks!

A More “select” Erase (The Precision Bombing Option)

If you’re running a newer version of Mac OS than came with your Mac and/or you don’t want the hassle of erasing the disk and then reinstalling the software then this might be the

How To Securely Empty the Trash

First we’ll want to make sure that when we delete stuff Finder is not just removing it’s file location (which makes files easily recoverable for those in the know) but that it’s securely deleting the files by writing over them with gobbledygook.

To do this once all you need to do is add the files to the trash and then go to the Finder Menu and select “Secure Empty Trash…”:

Secure Delete from the Finder Menu
Secure Delete from the Finder Menu

But as we’re probably going to be doing a lot of deleting it’s probably best to go to Finder and set this as the default preference. So if you click on “Preferences” instead of  “Secure Empty Trash…” it’ll bring up this window:

Advanced Finder Preferences
Advanced Finder Preferences

Where you should make sure that the box labelled “Empty Trash Securely” is ticked and now each time we empty the trash as normal it’ll be deleted securely.

Deleting Apps

Most people who sell or gift their Mac leave some if not all of the applications installed, but if you’re deleting any of the apps then you’ll want to make sure that you do it properly, and there is just the app for that, they’ve even been so bold as to tag it “the Uninstaller Apple Forgot”.


AppZapper makes sure that all the little hidden files that an App installs are also deleted. This is especially helpful if you’re uninstalling programs that are available to all users, as these will create preference files, etc, in the root library rather than your user account library. It’s well worth the $12.95 purchase price, and I’m pretty sure that there is a free trial.

I use a version integrated with Hazel that I bought years ago so I haven’t checked).

Don’t Forget System Preferences

If you’ve installed any custom system preferences then to remove them simply launch System Preferences and right-click on the appropriate custom system preference and select “remove preference pane”.

User Files

So you’ve copied all of your user files from the Mac onto a spare hard drive, usb stick or (my personal favourite) your dropbox account and you now want to delete your user data, the best way to do this is to go to Users in System Preferences:

Accounts Preference Pane
Select Accounts Preference Pane
Accounts Preference Settings
Create a New User

and select accounts. Then if it’s locked as in the above picture you’ll have to unlock it before you proceed so click and enter the password. Then you can select the little + button at the bottom of the User Name list to add a new user, which takes you to this window:

Add New User

Make sure you select a new Administrator account (no it’s not the default) so you’ll have to click on the list and select Administrator like below:

Select Account Type
Select Account Type

Then create a new account administrator account, name it as you like and give it an easy to remember password, say “password’, the new owner can always change it to something better.

Once you’ve created your new account, you can safely log out of your current account and into the new account and once in you go straight back to the Accounts section of the System Preferences. And instead of adding a new account, select your old administrator account and click the – instead of the – and delete your old user account.

Oh and make sure you tell it to delete the user home folder. And that you empty the trash securely.

And you’re done. One “pretty clean” Mac.

Notes for the Security Conscious

PS If you want to be extra cautious once you’ve done this you can use Disk Utility to erase the empty space on your Hard Drive, which will give it another good going over.

PPS This method is itself reasonably secure but the only truly secure way is to opt for the Nuclear Option or even better don’t sell your Mac with the Hard Drive.

Filed under: HelpTagged with: , , , , ,

How to Stop Dates Changing when Cutting and Pasting between Excel Files

So I was moving some old financial records across to a single new excel file in Microsoft Excel 2008 when I noticed that the dates were changing by about four years, perplexed I resorted to a great deal of googling before I came across the reason for this.

In Microsoft Excel 2004 for Mac all Excel files by default used the Microsoft system base date of 01 January 1900 but in Microsoft Excel 2008 for Mac (and onwards) they have changed this to use the Mac system base date of 02 January 1904. Why I’m not sure; standardisation perhaps?

What Microsoft have not done is made this very well known. So if you’re opening an .xls file created in Office for Mac prior to the 2008 version it’ll be using the 1900 base date and if you created an .xls file after this date it’ll be using the the 1904 system. So you’ll have to change it before cutting.

Do in preferences select this setting:

Calculation Preferences Excel for Mac 2008

And then tick this box to use the base 1900 date system:

1904 Base System Date

Unfortunately I am yet to discover a way to change this permanently. :-(

Filed under: HelpTagged with: , , , ,

Error Uploading Photos to Google Places

Claiming your Google Places listing is an important part of establishing your presence for local searches. Before you go ahead and add your listing you should always check if Google Places already has a listing for you, which you can do simply by going to Google Maps and performing a search, if you can’t find it then you can add one yourself by going here.

One of the most frustrating parts of dealing with Google Places is the process for uploading your own photographs (you can add up to 10 photos), as in typical Google fashion the error message they give you is not helpful at all:

Google Places Image Upload ErrorAs you can see this gives you no additional information and if you click on the link it takes you to a submissions guideline page, which further refers you to individual submission policies for both Google Maps (for images) and YouTube (for video). The Google Maps submission policy doesn’t give you anymore information as to the types of images, their dimensions and maximum sizes.

So it was off to Google (Search that is) to find some answers and low behold with this query: “maximum size for uploading photographs to google places” the first listing was for a similar question in the Google Places discussion forum. Midway down the page I found a link to an answer to my question provided by Lance Mayhew, who had clearly done a great deal more googling.

So the link is here, but if you want the short answer you can upload the following types of images, dimensions and file sizes:

When adding a photo to your listing, keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Each photo must be smaller than 1MB.
  • Each photo must be under 1024 x 1024 pixels.
  • Photos must be in one of these formats: JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, BMP

Why Google can’t add such helpful information to their Google Places page when a the submission of a photograph fails is beyond me. Oh and this is what success looks like:

Google Places Successful Photograph SubmissionThis helped me, I hope it helps you too.

Filed under: HelpTagged with: , , , , ,

Default @Dropbox File Paths

So I needed to know the default file paths for dropbox on the Mac and different versions of Windows for a Filemaker Custom Function I’m building and couldn’t find a simple listing anywhere on the internet so if you’re interested here they are:

Default Dropbox location on Mac OS X:

Macintosh HD/Users/YourUserName/Dropbox/ or more quickly ~/Dropbox

Default Dropbox location on Windows XP:

C:\Documents and Settings\YourUserName\My Documents\My Dropbox\

Default Dropbox location on Windows Vista & 7:



I found these from the otherwise helpful dropbox Wiki. Check it our here.

Filed under: HelpTagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

How to Add Web & Email Links to Adobe InDesign CS3

Adobe InDesign CS3 File

Sometimes you want to achieve something that you think should be easy, but it turns out not to be as easy as you imagined and not because the task itself isn’t straightforward but because you can’t find the tools to achieve the task and the help isn’t say helpful.

So if like me you don’t use InDesign too frequently and you don’t want to puzzle around looking for the function to convert some text into either a web link or an email link then you’ve come to the right place.

How to add an web or email link to text in Adobe InDesign

1. Select the text you’re looking to convert.

Selected Text

2. Right Click on that text and you’ll see this menu:

InDesign Menu

3. You’ll want to select “Interactive” and you’ll get this menu:

Add Hyperlink

4. You’ll want to select the “New Hyperlink…” (I know who calls URLs Hyperlinks anymore?) And you’ll get this menu:

Add Hyperlink

6. Choose URL and if you’d like to link to website put it in this format: or if you’d like to send to an email put this format:


7. And if you want to avoid the standard, ugly Adobe styling then make sure to select: Type and choose “Invisible Rectangle”:

Display Type

And that’s it. You’re done.

Filed under: HelpTagged with:

A Disappearing Word Scroll Bar

Mac Word 2008

So a customer called this afternoon with the strangest of problems: the scroll bar in her copy of Word 2008 for the Mac had disappeared.

It seemed a tad strange so I used logmein to remote navigate into the computer and this is what she was seeing:

Word 2008 without a Scroll Bar
Word 2008 without a Scroll Bar

As you can see there was no scroll bar.

This is what she was expecting to see:

Word 2008 with a Scroll Bar

As I’ve never seen this before I had to take a look about, but I figured it was probably a view setting that had killed the scroll bar. And true to my expectations it was.

Microsoft Word 2008 View Menu
Microsoft Word 2008 View Menu

So if you experience this problem you can correct it by going to the view menu (as seen above) and navigate to the “Full Screen” option, and make sure it is un-ticked.

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How to resolve iOS4 problems on an iPhone 3G

Since updating to iOS4 on my iPhone 3G I have experienced no end of problems with my iPhone 3G it has in short become sluggish at best and frankly unusable at worst, which has made my waiting for @o2’s stock of iPhone 4s to become plentiful enough for me to be able to drive to a store a purchase one seem like quite a challenge.

I have however stumbled across a solution that has certainly eased my problems, if not fixed them outright. Thanks to the wonderful Dan Dilger over at Roughly Drafted for this solution:

In order to force the iOS to rebuild (a step that seems to optimize a variety of things), you have to press and hold the Sleep/Wake button along with the Home button for about ten seconds, which will kill the phone and initiate a reboot.

After doing this twice I have found my iPhone 3G has largely returned to it’s wonderful self and though it is still not without problems it is largely much better.

Check out the full post at Roughly Drafted and comments over at the Apple Support Thread if this doesn’t work for you.

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