Friday, July 31, 2015

The Windows 10 Giveaway

As of Wednesday Microsoft started giving away Windows 10.  What would you be giving away if you upgrade?  Privacy?  Security?  Performance? #UpgradeYourWorld

According to the Free Software Foundation1:
  • Windows' 10's privacy policy asserts the privilege to sell almost any information it wants about users, even creating a unique advertising ID for each user to sweeten the deal.
  • Microsoft announced that, starting with Windows 10, it will begin forcing lower-paying users to test less-secure new updates before giving higher-paying users the option of whether or not to adopt them.
  • Microsoft is reported to give the NSA special security tip-offs that it could use to crack into Windows computers.

"What am I supposed to do about it?" I hear you ask.

Close Windows, Open Doors
Close Windows, Open Doors


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Undo the Default App Selection in Android

Here's the scenario....  Your Android device presents you with a choice of apps to complete an action with.  You're supposed to select the app and then select either "Just Once" or "Always."  Either way the app opens to complete the action.

If you selected "Just Once" you'll have to choose again the next time you need to complete that same action.  That might seem annoying.  But what if it's the wrong choice?  If you choose "Always" you won't get to choose again, at least not easily.  And if the app cannot complete the action successfully, what then?

According to many lame blog posts and webzine articles, it's "easy" to change your mind after choosing "Always."  They say to just press the app's "Clear Defaults" button.  Here's one such article on AndroidCentral.

Fortunately AndroidCentral is swarming with brilliant users who are much more sophisticated than the folks who write the articles.  I say "fortunately" because when I needed to change the option of using Photos for downloading an image file attachment, the article's advice was useless because Photos' "Clear Defaults" button was greyed out.

A user called Siddhartha Gupta suggested that to remove Photos as the default app, it's necessary to change the setting for Google+.  That didn't work, either.

A user called ChromeJob pointed out that there's "a 'reset app preferences' in the action overflow button. This appears to reset ALL default app choices at once."  If only it were that easy for me.  It didn't work.

The thing that finally worked for me was to revert to the factory version of Photos by pressing the "Uninstall Updates" button.  After doing that, I was presented with a choice of two other apps to use.  The idea to alter Photos' version came to me after reading a comment byGrillMouster who stated that "when any of those apps receive an update the ["Just Once" / "Always"] dialog will pop up again, even if you had previously set an app as the default."

If you want the very gory details of why Photos didn't work, please read on to find out what I was trying to do.

I had used Firefox to log in to an Exchange Server using an Outlook Web Access (OWA) client hosted on a web page.  I then opened an e-mail that had a JPG file attached to it.  When I attempted to download the attachment, OWA again wanted me to provide my username and password.  Photos was unable to handle that request (and neither was Firefox).  It was only by completing the action with ES File Explorer File Manager that I found out about the need to provide username and password.  I've included this detail in case there are others who are having trouble downloading attachments with OWA.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Recent Repair of a Laptop AC Adpater

Yesterday, my laptop wouldn't charge when I plugged it in.  The battery had drained overnight, so the laptop was unusable.  I quickly figured out that the AC adapter has suddenly stopped working.

My nearby Staples had a universal adapter in stock at 20% off, so I picked it up and was soon back in business.

But then I wondered why the "old" adapter had failed. The technician at Staples said that most fail due to a broken wire near the connector that plugs in to the computer.  I know that if you flex any wire enough that it will break.  But this computer was kept in the kitchen at home, and the cable stayed in one place most of the time.  I decided to take it apart and fix it.

Most of the repair guides for Laptop AC Adapters resolve a break or short in the wire at one of the ends of the DC cable.  One even recommends that you cut off the connector, and splice a new connector on, which is silly given that no casual user has a spare connector lying around.  This same guide says that if there's no voltage after cutting off the connector, the adapter is dead and you have to buy a new one.  Turns out, that's not true at all.

My repair approach was different.  I decided that I would crack open the adapter housing and then verify continuity from the circuit board to the connector with a DMM.  But as soon as I removed the housing, I saw the problem: Cold Solder Joints.  Whoever soldered the wires to the circuit board failed to thoroughly heat up both the pad and the wire.  So the solder didn't flow down the via hole and fully coat the wire.  This never would have passed inspection at my company.

I fired up my soldering iron and reflowed the three connections in less than two minutes.  It took at least five times longer for me to break open the housing.  Message to manufacturers of consumer electronics: If you won't bother to assemble the electronics properly, at least design the housings so that they're easy to take apart and put back together!  I glued it back together with RTV, and it's curing as I write this.

I've fixed several items with this type of reflow repair, including a fairly expensive audio receiver.  A soldering iron and the ability to use it can keep you from throwing out perfectly good electronics.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Free Excel Tutorial

I'm still using Excel 2003 at work.  It does all we need it to do.

And at home, Open Office's Calc is so compatible that I can forgo Excel completely, although I still use the Excel Viewer.

But there are some really neat features of the latest Excel.  I especially like Data Bars and Color Scales.

To learn more about them, I studied this Excel Tutorial from Udemy.

Some of the other tutorial sections were helpful, too.  For example, Pivot Tables have been updated.  What used to be Page Fields is now Filter.  And unlike Page, Filter allows you to choose more than one value.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Reverse the Order of Worksheets in an Excel Workbook

Today I found myself wanting to reverse the order of sheet tabs in an Excel file.  The VBA code snippet below does just that.

Sub Worksheet_Reverse_Order()
Dim MySheet As Worksheet
Dim i As Integer

For Each MySheet In Worksheets
Debug.Print MySheet.Index, MySheet.Name

For i = 2 To Worksheets.Count
Set MySheet = Worksheets(i)
MySheet.Move before:=Worksheets(1)
Next i

For Each MySheet In Worksheets
Debug.Print MySheet.Index, MySheet.Name

End Sub

I had been maintaining weekly status updates as Excel spreadsheets, all grouped into one XLS document.  Each week I'd add a new sheet to the right of the previous week's worksheet tab.

But due to a change in workflow, I now have to copy the new sheet into that workbook rather than create it in the workbook.  In order to keep placing the new sheet after all the others, it's necessary to scroll to the end of the list of sheets and select "(move to end)".

"It would be so much easier if the sheets were in reverse order," I sighed to myself.  The thought of dragging them into reverse order manually was, well, unthinkable.  And thus this VBA macro was born.