Base64 Encode or Decode on the command line without installing extra tools on Linux, Windows or macOS Base64 encoding is used in quite a few places and there are many online web sites that let you encode or decode Base64. I am not very comfortable using such sites for security and privacy reasons so I went looking for alternative solutions. Whether you're using Linux, Windows or macOS you can use built-in tools to both encode or decode Base64 data. So ditch any online sites and start using software that is installed locally on your computer. Here's how.
NeoOffice Viewer macOS Word Document viewer vs Preview and Microsoft Word It's amazing how much of a market share Microsoft has when it comes to people producing documents using it's Office software on Windows. I often find myself in situations where I have to read DOC or DOCX files on my Mac and without a Mac version of Office installed this can be quite frustrating. So I decided to try the NeoOffice Viewer which is a free product that runs on macOS and lets you view (but not edit) files created in Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Six must do tips to secure your laptop while travelling abroad I've just recently come back from a round-the-world holiday (which was blogged about here) and of course I had a travel laptop with me the whole time. Being security aware and generally a little paranoid about people getting access to my data I took a few precautions before leaving for this vacation. Here are six must do tips that any traveller with a laptop should follow before setting foot at the airport.
Lync (Skype for Business) users showing offline on standard Skype Yes it is possible to Use normal Skype to connect to Skype for Business (Lync) contacts and it's been a feature I've heavily relied on. However, I noticed that some contacts always showed 'Offline' to me. I wasn't able to send messages to them and they weren't able to send messages to me. After lots of head scratching I found this article on Microsoft Support pages and decided to give it a shot, and it worked, though with some catches.
Preventing SSH client disconnection by remote host A lot of work gets done using SSH and one of the most frustrating things to happen is when the remote server disconnects you due to inactivity, but while you had your environment set up just the right way for the tasks you were doing. Imagine that you had to have a number of environment variables set just right in your remote shell and you stepped out for lunch only to come back to this...
Use normal Skype to connect to Skype for Business (Lync) contacts As Microsoft acquired Skype, it was a natural step to connect it's Lync (now called Skype for Business) service to the regular Skype service. I tried this out recently and it works like a charm. If you have a need to connect with a colleague who uses Skype for Business but you are not able to get the corporate app (or have no desire to) just follow this guide and use your regular Skype client instead.
How to remove images from Skype's 'Recents' profile pictures list in OSX Skype allows you to change the picture that's displayed as your avatar, the (sometimes) unfortunate side effect is it keeps all of the previous pictures you used in its 'Recents' tab. I never really liked this kind of functionality, but do admit it can come in useful sometimes. In the case of Facebook you can delete the recent profile photos, but in Skype, at least on OS X there is no way to remove these recent pictures within the app itself. However, there is a more complicated way to remove them if you're willing to put a few minutes of your time into it.
Windows not recognising digital camera, showing exclamation mark in device manager After I upgraded to windows 10 and then promptly uninstalled it a number of issues started to surface with the Windows 7 installation that weren't there previously. One of these was that whenever the digital camera, a Canon IXY 220F, was connected to the computer, it would not be recognised and would have a yellow exclamation mark next to it in Device Manager. Uninstalling the camera in Device Manager and reconnecting it to the computer would fix the problem temporarily, but after a restart the camera would not be recognised again. After digging through the Event Viewer I was able to find the cause of this problem and found a way to fix it.
OneNote vs Apple Notes round two, Microsoft loses this time More than a year ago now I wrote an article mostly praising Microsoft's OneNote app on OS X. Now that OS X 10.11 El Capitan has been released, my position on OneNote has become less enthusiastic. I really did love aspects of OneNote for a time, but for my purposes Apple's updated Notes App does the job better all around.
Don't like Windows 10? You have a month to uninstall it, here's how Now that I finally was able to install Windows 10 by jumping the queue, I thought that I'd upgrade a desktop running Windows 7 to Windows 10. Big mistake. I had issues starting Edge, the all new web browser - it would open and immediately close. Control Panel would also crash in a similar manner, but worst of all, Windows 10 decided that one of the accounts on the computer would automatically login even time, even though auto-login was not enabled.
How I upgraded to Windows 10 without waiting in queue Windows 10 has been officially released for two days, so I thought that was enough time for everyone to have finished downloading it already and that I'll have no issues getting it quickly. However, I was surprised to find out that the upgrade is being rolled out in waves and I couldn't just click and upgrade. I didn't want to give up so easily and a quick search gave me this article that described how to force your windows to upgrade immediately. With no hesitation I went ahead and tried out the steps, there needed to be some correction in the paths that the article described, but I did get there eventually, read on for how.
Using Excel to generate SQL statements from raw data One of my tasks recently has been to analyse erroneous duplicate data in our production system and to come up with a number of data fixes that could be executed using simple SQL update statements. The sanitised data was provided to me as an Excel spreadsheet containing just enough information to work out what should be done with the duplicate, but not enough to identify who the data belongs to. This meant that I could work on it outside of the production environment, but it also meant that I needed to provide a way for the production operations team to reproduce what I did on real data and with relative ease.
Microsoft OneNote vs Apple Notes When Microsoft OneNote came out, I was very quick to download it and make the switch from the iOS/OS X Notes app, but over time I've been finding myself slowly creeping back and using the original Notes app for certain things. These are my thoughts about both of these apps: I think both have legitimate use cases and can coexist and used together, but their use is quite different.
Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool failing on Windows XP with a bootsect error I've been asked to built a Windows computer recently that would have no DVD drive so I had to use the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to create a bootable USB stick with the Windows installer. Since I only have Macs at home I had to use my Windows XP virtual machine to create this and quickly ran into problems with the tool reporting 'unable to run bootsect to make the USB device bootable'. This is how I solved it.