Tag: windows

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: , , , ,

Import Quicktime into Container Fields via a Set Script Step

FileMaker Pro

I had some problems finding the correct syntax for this process, so now I have successfully found it I thought I’d share it:

On a Mac: moviemac:/path_to_your_file

On Windows: moviewin:/path_to_your_file

Oh and why might you want to do this? Because if you use the Insert File, Insert Picture or Insert Quicktime Script steps you have to specify a file path manually rather than doing so via a calculation, which is very inconvenient if you need to import say: 3,500 files as needed to.

If you use the Set Field Script Step and specify the appropriate Container Field, with the new contents being your Calculated File Path Field then you can effectively side step this problem. I only need to do this as a temporary measure so it’ll work just fine for my purposes.

If you’re looking for something more permanent you’d have to think about whether or not it stores the file as reference or actually inserts it, which makes a big difference and the answer to which I don’t know (if you DO know or find out please tell us in the comments).

Filed under: FilemakerTagged with: , , , , ,

FileMaker Custom Function for File Path to @Dropbox

FileMaker Pro

From the second version of my first database (back in 2002) I have used my FileMaker databases to control the creation of a structured folder system to enable the efficient and uniform storing of structured data for each of the businesses I have worked with.

Early on in my development of FileMaker systems I stumbled across the fantastic plugins offered by Troi Automatisering, in particular their File Plugin, now at version 5, which I will be creating this custom function to use.

This plugin enables me to create, with relative ease, a series of fields and scripts that allowed the automatic creation and opening of folders and files straight from the database. Relatively simple if you’re running FileMaker in a closed network, but it starts to get more complicated very quickly.

I’ve had the good fortune to design almost exclusively for Mac only networks (phew) although I have had to deal with mixed environments where my customers are still in transition from PCs to Macs so I’ve had to ensure that any system is compatible with both.

The Preparation

Determining the Windows System Version:

Since the route to the Documents folder hasn’t ever changed in Mac OS X I don’t need to worry about the version used, however, this is not the case in Windows where there is a different file path to the “My Documents” folder on Windows XP and the new versions Vista and Windows 7.

So I need to use the Get ( SystemVersion ) Function to determine whether or not the user is using Windows XP or a newer version. According to the FileMaker help the function returns the following information for Windows:

5.1 for Windows XP SP2

6.0 for Windows Vista

So I needed a test for which version of Windows is running. I did attempt to design my own custom function to determine this, but perhaps because I was unwell I wasted a good deal of time messing around with this before I came to my senses and looked at Matt’s github page.

His os.versionName custom function (which I’ve renamed as os.versions) is a quick and easy solution to this problem, which can go well beyond my needs, but will achieve what I want by returning the name of the Mac or Windows OS running on the users system.

It returns a simple easy to interpret name from the Get ( SystemVersion ) so the 5.1 response from the function is returned as “Windows XP” or 6.0 is returned as “Windows Vista”.

Dealing with Windows Folder Path Separators:

Windows file paths use the “\” separator. For some reason you can’t easily use these in FileMaker calculations (if someone knows why please let me know in the comments). So I’ve taken the easy step of creation of new global variable $$windowsnetworksymbol to contain the “\” separator.

n.b. To ensure this variable is set each time the FileMaker file is launched I’ve added it to a script called “Set Global Variables”, which I run as part of my start-up script.

Dealing with Mac Folder Path Separators

Mac file paths used by the plugin are formatted with the “:” separator. The only other thing you need to worry about is that a file path starts without any separator.

Get (DocumentsPath) Function

It is the product of this function that we have been working towards editing. The basic idea is to be able to call the Get ( DocumentsPath ) Function and then edit it’s product to point instead to the location of the Dropbox folder (assuming it is installed in the default location).

The Get ( DocumentsPath ) Function will return the following:

\C:\Documents and Settings\YourUserName\My Documents\ in Windows XP

\C:\Users\Your User Name\Documents\ in Vista or Windows 7

And we know from my earlier blog post: Default @Dropbox File Paths that the default file paths for Dropbox are:

\C:\Documents and Settings\YourUserName\My Documents\My Dropbox\ in Windows XP

\C:\Users\YourUserName\Documents\Dropbox\ in Vista or Windows 7

/Macintosh HD/Users/YourUserName/Dropbox/ in Mac OS X

So now we have all the building blocks in place it’s time to construct our custom function:

The path.dropbox Function

The function itself is relatively simple once we have done the above preparation. It has no parameters and is made up of a simple Case Statement which asks two questions:

1. Is the user running a version of Windows XP?

2. Is the user running either Windows Vista or Windows 7?

If both these questions are negative we will assume that the use is running Mac OS X.

Once we have determined which OS the user is using we will then grab the documents file path using the Get ( DocumentsPath ) Function and then reformat it to be compatible with the Troi File Plugin.

Formatting for Windows

We use the Replace Function to make this assessment:

Replace ( Get ( DocumentsPath ); 1; 3; “” )

This will replace the “\C:” part of the resulting Get ( DocumentsPath ) with simply “”.

We encase this Replace Function within a Substitute Function so that we can substitute the “/” separator for the “\” separator contained within our $$windowsnetworksymbol and get a properly formatted Windows file path for the Troi Plugin. So we get:

Substitute ((Replace (Get(DocumentsPath); 1; 3; “”)); [“/”; $$windowsnetworksymbol])

With both Windows File Paths to the Dropbox we then simply need to append the correct location which we can easily do by adding:

& “My Dropbox” & $$windowsnetworksymbol in Windows XP

& “Dropbox” & $$windowsnetworksymbol in Vista or Windows 7

Formatting for Mac

We again use Replace Function to remove the leading “/” and as before encase this within a Substitute Function so that we can substitute the “/” separator for the “:” separator. So we get:

Substitute ((Replace (Get(DocumentsPath); 1; 1; “”)); [“/”; “:”]; [“Documents:”; “”])

As you’ll notice we have also added to the Substitute Function a statement to replace the “Documents:”, which will strip back the Mac File Path to the User so we can then append:

& “Dropbox” & “:”

which will get us to the default location for the Dropbox on the Mac.

The Final Function:

Case (

os.version = “Windows XP 64-Bit” or “Windows XP”; Substitute ((Replace (Get(DocumentsPath); 1; 3; “”)); [“/”; $$windowsnetworksymbol]) & “My Dropbox” & $$windowsnetworksymbol;
os.version = “Windows 7” or “Windows Vista”; Substitute ((Replace (Get(DocumentsPath); 1; 3; “”)); [“/”; $$windowsnetworksymbol]) & “Dropbox” & $$windowsnetworksymbol;
Substitute ((Replace (Get(DocumentsPath); 1; 1; “”)); [“/”; “:”]; [“Documents:”; “”]) & “Dropbox” & “:”


Please note that I have not yet had the opportunity to test this on a Windows system, but I’ve followed paths that worked in the past. As soon as I have had the opportunity to test it I will post any corrections here.

Filed under: FilemakerTagged 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: , , , , , , , , ,

Damn McAfee


So I spent a glorious Sunday afternoon puzzling, amongst other things, over a friends broken laptop. It could connect to the internet when plugged in by cable, but not by the WiFi connection.

After a couple of minutes getting connected to her laptop by the ineffable logmein (using it from my iPad now!) and began exploring the problem.

First I updated her entire system, which including the delights of Sony Viao updater took a good long while, for good measure I also added Google Pack so she would stay updated with the essentials.

Then I got down to examining which setting might be wrong. Breezed through the Control Panel Network Settings, all seemed right; ran the Diagnose and Repair Wizard, all seemed right.

Then just as Google Updater was finishing installing the free anti-virus software it ships with, it occurred to me it might be McAfee. Shipped free with her Sony Viao and pestering her to renew via text message (how it got her number she still doesn’t know). So I thought what the hell it’s got to go.

One reboot later and low and behold it could connect to the internet via WiFi again! Now I don’t know if it was just this, or the repairs I ran, changes to the registry or Sony Viao updates, but I suspect it was McAfee.

When will PC manufacturers stop loading their laptops with such s**t? Soon I hope, because I’d like to stop having to uninstall it.

Filed under: GeneralTagged with: , , , , , ,

Sorted Menus in Windows XP

XP Logo

So I’ve been doing a little more work with Windows XP than I usually do :-( and it’s reminding me of all those small irritations that come with Microsoft products.

The system itself might well be robust enough, but its details that they don’t seem to have an eye for, one of those that particularly irritates me is that the “All Programs” menu isn’t alphabetically ordered.

So whilst I was waiting for a program to install off it was to google, where I found that this is relatively easy to correct (although it’s not sticky, so it needs repeating each time you add a program).

So for all those OCD suffers out there driven mad by this, here is the solution:

  • Press the “Start” Button
  • Select “All Programs” and navigate anywhere into the list
  • Right Click the mouse and select “Sort by Name”.

And you’re done!

To see where I found this and additional tweaks click here.

Filed under: GeneralTagged with: , , ,

Google Apps for Business

So if you haven’t yet made the google apps plunge for your business, the new year is the time to do so.

Despite Google having made the standard edition of google apps more difficult to find (by the way it’s here) I really don’t think that most businesses require more space than is provided for by the free edition; seriously 7gb and growing.

Re-directing your domain couldn’t be easier Google has a simple set of instructions for you to follow. It does involve changing CNAME entries and the like but it really isn’t very difficult and google has some great advice: available here with popular instructions for most domain hosts.

I’d also really advise if you want your employees to be able to easily access your services to set easy to find addresses such as: mail.yourdomain.com, calendar.yourdomain.com, doc.yourdomain.com and sites.yourdomain.com. Google has some easy to follow instructions here.

Uploading your archived email is also pretty easy. For windows users Google has it’s own special uploading program found here. For Mac users once you have setup your email (IMAP is essential) then you can just drag and drop your emails from the old files to the new and wait for the upload process (it can take some time) and you’re done.

For calendars, just export from outlook or ical in the vcal format and you can import your calendar directly to your new google apps calendar. Then share as you like amongst other employees. This is particularly good for office wide holiday calendars and the like, keeping everyone up to date with whats going on.

And really that’s the basic setup. Questions in the comments. Oh and if you need some help please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

Filed under: GeneralTagged with: , ,

What does it look like?

Every once in a while I get a call like this morning from an old customer, who I no longer have remote access to, running an old version of OS X (10.4 in this instance) and they want me to guide them through a network problem they have (in this instance another computer had hijacked the manual IP used by their Mac) and I struggle to remember what the network settings panel for their version of the OS looks like.

After a quick google I was able to find this very useful website called: www.simplehelp.net which had pictures of what I needed. Though it wasn’t too clear how to navigate them at first (click on the highlighted part of the image) it did provide me with what I needed. So if your offering support I thought I’d post their screenshots for the following OSes:

- Mac OS 10.5

Mac OS 10.4

Unfortunately they don’t have any older examples, or the newer 10.6 (but I’m running that so I don’t need it)

For windows fans (or those poor souls who have to support it :-/) they also have the TCP/IP Settings for the following OSes:

Windows 7

Windows Vista

Windows XP

Windows ME

Windows 2000

So hopefully I won’t need to rely on either my memory or google to get me there again, I can just come here! Phew.

Filed under: GeneralTagged with: , , , , , , ,

Upgrading to VMWare Fusion 3

VMware Fusion 3

VMware Fusion 3So my aunt called me this morning and asked me to pop over and upgrade her VMWare Fusion 2 to the new version 3, which I had persuaded VMWare to give her a free upgrade to, after biting the bullet and buying version 2 as a replacement to parallels one day before the period for which they were offering free upgrades.

The upgrade process for the new program and her virtual machine went like a dream and in a little under twenty minutes after downloading version 3 we were up and running. This is, unfortunately, where the problems with VMWare tools began…

The initial installation ran the VMWare tools installer but it simply didn’t go anywhere and after about twenty minutes of waiting around for it I did some googling and came across this article on the VMWare site that advised me to uninstall the previous version of VMWare tools before proceeding. A few minutes later this was done, but now not even the installer ran.

After some additional googling I learnt that it worked by mounting an ISO to the virtual machine and then the hunt was on for where that file would be locally stored so I could manually burn it to a CD and side step this issue. After a good amount of time I found the ISO was stored here:

Library/Application Support/VMWare Fusion/isoimages/windows.iso

After a little playing around I copied it to a usb and mounted the usb in windows and voila I could now install the VMWare tools successfully. If it hadn’t been for the problem with VMWare tools this upgrade would have been an hour at most job, but as it was it took over two hours (ouch) so if any of you are having the same problem, rest assured that the solution really is quite simple.

Filed under: TechTagged with: , , , ,

Handbreak updates to 64bit


Diligent as you may be sparkle is not always reliable for letting you know when an update is available and it was down to the guys and gals over at TUAW to let me know about the release of the new version of Handbreak (0.9.4), which is now 64bit compatible!

If by chance you haven’t heard of Handbreak before, it’s the leading free, open-source video transcoder available for the Mac (as well as PC and Linux platforms). It can take your .avi files or dvds and turn them into sparkling new mp4 files (with default options including encoding for iTunes, the web and the like) or anything else your heart desires.

I can highly recommend it, though running on a newer Intel Core Duo Chip or above is essential as video transcoding takes a surprising amount of time and the slower your processor the longer it takes!

Anyway find the update here.

Filed under: TechTagged with: , , , , , ,