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Computers Blog Posts

Useful technical information that I have found.

Computers Blog Posts

Useful technical information that I have found.

A list of all the Blog Posts in this category.

July 12, 2020

Phone Number Format in Apple Numbers

Apple doesn't have any formula to format a numeric field to a phone format. It's actually pretty easy to set up using a custom format.

Steps to Create a Phone Number format

  1. Select the numbers in the column that you want to format
  2. Select the Cell under the format section on the right of the table
  3. Under Data Format select Custom Format
  4. Click the "Edit Custom Format" button.
  5. Now change the format to this:

Apple Number Phone Format

Some Notes

  1. I put in a rule so that only the numbers that match "8004249090" will get formatted. Everything else stays the same.
  2. The ### are special data fields in Numbers. You can't just type in the ###. You have to drag and drop the txt format to the field area.
  3. I had to type in the brackets and the dash
  4. If you click on the blue box you can remove the separator and reduce the number of numbers being displayed.
  5. Keep an eye on the number in the preview section, as it will help you build out the correct format to use.
April 29, 2017

Yanoff Internet Connections

Yanoff Display

In the early days of the Internet, Scott Yanoff Internet Connections was a way for people to learn about functionalities that were available on various servers. You would run the unix finger command to get the latest list.

Scott Yanoff is now an IT manager at a company and co-authored some Internet books.

The list stopped around 1993 as there was increase completion from other sources.

Here's a brief sample of what users would see:

 -Baseball Scores       finger jtchern@ocf.berkeley.edu for scores/standings OR
                        mail jtchern@ocf.berkeley.edu  w/Subject: MLB
   offers: The latter will subscribe you to receive Major League scores daily!
 +Backgammon Servers    telnet ouzo.rog.rwth-aachen.de 8765 / 8765
   offers: Play Backgammon! (Login: guest)
 -Billboard Charts      finger buckmr@rpi.edu
   offers: U.S. Top Pop singles for the week.
 +CancerNet             mail cancernet@icicb.nci.nih.gov / gopher gopher.nih.gov
    offers: Cancer info. statements thru email. Body-of-letter: help or Spanish
 -CARL                  telnet pac.carl.org or
   offers: Online database, book reviews, magazine fax delivery service.

You can see a complete Yanoff list from April 1, 1993. (Hard to believe that I kept internet files from 23 years ago.)

Chances are none of the sites are working anymore, and the email addresses listed have long been discontinued.

January 15, 2017

Backing Up Video/Movie Files

If you take a lot of video with your iPhone or DSLR camera you know that they take up a lot of disk space. There aren't that many good cloud solutions since they take up a lot of space, it could get costly to save the media files.

Consider DVDs

One way to back up the files is to burn them to a DVD. Burning to DVD is a great way to store those large video files. Consider burning as a DVD-Video instead of DVD-File. You'll get more space for the buck. Since you own the DVD, it's very easy to rip the media off the DVD for later use.

Did you know that A DVD will hold up to 120 minutes of video. Complex menus and additional features will reduce this time. (If you're using it for storage, you don't really need to waste space for menus and other graphics.)

An MP4 video file that is 3.02 GB that is a 44-minute clip will take about less than 1/2 of a DVD video space, where if I saved it as a RAW media file it would take up at least 80% of the disk space.

Toast D V D Image
A screenshot of Toast Titanium about to burn a Video DVD for archive purposes.

It doesn't matter if you're a PC or a Mac user, in the long run, you are better off storing video files as DVD-Video format.

Why do you have those large files?

I highly recommend reading "Shoot Video that doesn't Suck" by Steve Stockman. The book has a lot of useful tips. I particularly like their advice on taking shorter clips. The author recommends to keep the video clips as short as possible.

The book gives you a good perspective on taking videos that people will want to watch. This book works for any video capture type - Point and Shoot Camera to DSLR. The book focus on strategy and not any technical advantage of using any equipment.

September 4, 2016

Identify USB 1 and USB 2 Cables

Here's an easy way to identify the difference between a USB 1 and a USB 2 cable:


Look at the 'B' part of the cable, it's the end that usually connects to the computer. The end casing for the USB 2 is a bit bigger. The end casing for USB 1.1 is 4.5 MM, where as the end casing for USB 2.0 is 5.2 MM.

A quick check would be to compare the end of an unknown USB cable with a USB mouse or keyboard.

Newer USB devices have color distinctions, so it's much easier to tell the newer highspeed types. Its just difficult to tell the difference between the 1.1 and 2.0 series.

How I encounter the Problem

If you're having problems with some of your USB devices. You may want to check the type of cable that you are using.

I was having problems scanning and printing with my Epson Stylus CX7800. The computer could not find the printer. What made it frustrating is that some times it would work.

I checked several settings on multiple computers and could only get the scanning to work on my old Powerbook G4. For some reason, the scanner wasn't being recognized on some of the newer computers.

The problem was that I was using an old USB 1.1 cable, where I should have been using a USB 2 cable.

Once I tried a different cable everything worked fine. I notice an immediate difference when I plugged the cable into the computer, the scanner would acknowledge that a computer was connected, where it didn't do that before.

Lession Learned

If you're having problems with your USB device, you may want to double check the cable that you're having. Save time in the future and label old USB 1.1 cables, so it doesn't happen again.

July 31, 2016

Vocabulary Definitions

I found the following document in my "High School" bin in the attic. This is a document that I got from a computer science department class in school. Here are some computer vocabulary definitions in the late 1980s:

Click on image for a larger version.

Vocabulary Definitions

  • Keyboard -- typewriter with letter, number, and symbol keys; people tell the computer what they want it to do by typing characters on the keyboard.
  • characters -- the letters, numbers, and symbols you can type on the keyboard.
  • monitor -- a screen, like a TV set, where people can see information that they type into the computer and see the information that the computer gives back to them.
  • disk -- a thin circle of magnetic tape in a plastic cover that holds information for the computer to use; it's similar to a cassette tape.
  • disk drive -- a rectangular unit that you put the disk into; it reads information from and writes information onto the disk.
  • printer -- a machine that types information from the computer onto paper.
  • hard copy -- the printed text that comes out of the printer.
  • hardware -- the computer and all its attachments (disk drives, monitor, and printer).
  • software -- the programs used with the computer, and stored on the disks, that give the computer directions.
  • cursor -- the small flashing rectangle on the screen that shows you where you are.
  • text -- the words you write and read on the computer.
  • SHIFT -- key on the keyboard to get capital letters.
  • CONTROL (or CTRL) -- key on the keyboard to change commands.
  • boot -- to load a program into the computer
July 9, 2016

802.11n vs 802.11ac

i Mac Mid2011

The iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011) only supports-802.11 a/b/g/n. This is useful to know since many newer WiFi Routers are now supporting 802.11ac and there's a big difference between the-802.11n and-802.11ac. The latest routers from Comcast, as part of xFinity X1 upgrades now support 802.11ac speeds.

  • 802.11n - Was approved in 2009 and can handle speeds of at least 600 Mbit/s
  • 802.11ac - Was approved in January 2014 and can handled speeds of at lease 1 gigabit her second.

User's of older iMac's can take advantage of the higher speed by getting an adapter.

Your best bet is the-NETGEAR WiFi USB 2.0 Adapter - AC Dual Band (A6200), which sells for about $24.99 on Amazon.-

Mono price has a-Dual-Band 802.11AC 600Mbps USB 2.0 Wi-Fi- Adapter for $12, but your just getting-speed of up to 433Mbps. So you are basically getting the 802.11n speeds.

March 30, 2016

Five Web Productivity Tools to Maximize Your Productivity

Here are the five online productivity tools that I use just about every day. picmonkey


PicMonkey makes creative tools for photo editing and graphic design because we want you to rock the universe. We want your images to show your creativity, your style, your spot-on brilliance.

I currently have the Royale Membership ($33 a year) This is simply an awesome tool to touch up images and create Collages. I use this tool to create my photo collages where I email my daughter's photo of the day. The good thing about PicMonkey is that it's 100% web based - which means that it works the same no matter what platform I am using.

Here are the key features of the Royal Membership - Advanced touch up tools, 1,100+ graphic overlays, 2x more effects and filters, Premium fonts, Edit from Collage and No Ads.



This online service says that they are "The World's Most Accurate Online Grammar Checker." - probably true. Grammarly's writing app finds and corrects hundreds of complex writing errors -- so you don't have to. Millions of users worldwide trust Grammarly's free and premium products, which are also licensed by more than 600 leading universities and corporations.

This is a great tool to have! It's almost like someone double checking my writing. I find this very handy when I have to send company-wide emails. Grammarly doesn't catch everything, but it forces me to proofread what I am writing. This works with any HTML page that has a text area.

I purchased Hemingway, but I find Grammarly to be more accurate and a lot easier to use.

I currently on the Free version, and don't have any immediate plans to use the Premium plans, although it's very tempting!

Google Alerts

Google Alerts

By creating a Google Alert, you can get email notifications any time Google finds new results on a topic that interests you. For example, you could get updates about a product you like, find out when people post something about you on the web, or keep up with news stories.

Stay on top of news that you care about! Google Alerts will send you daily email summary of whatever you choose. Interested in what Donald Trump said last night? How about a product review of camera you're thinking of buying? Google Alerts is a powerful tool that lets you focus on what you want and not get distracted by a lot of news clutter.

Here are some suggested Alerts to set up:

  • Your hometown
  • The car brand that you are thinking about buying: BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz
  • Favorite Vacation Spot: Disney World, Sint Maarten...etc
  • Famous Person to You: Phil Schiller, Carl Yastrzemski, Peter N Lewis

This is a free service provided by Google. Why not let the power of Google work for you!


MBTA trains

We're building the next generation commuting app focused on your commute and the information you need to make it better. Data-driven transit, designed and built for Boston. Tools for Commuter Rail riders.

Every morning I need to know the status of the train that I need to catch. As soon as I park my car, the first thing I do is bring up the MBTAtrains.com website. I then quickly figure out the current location of my train. That determines if I need to run or sprint to catch the train. The other commuters heading to the platform may look at me weird, but thanks to MBTAtrains.com, I know how much time I have.

I have found that the MBTAtrains.com site to be accurate and reliable. They use the train GPS locations and predict when the train will arrive at the next station.

MBTAtrains.com is currently a free service.

Evernote Plus


Evernote is a cross-platform, freemium app designed for note taking, organizing, and archiving. As one workspace that lives across your phone, tablet, and computer, Evernote is the place you write free from distraction, collect information, find what you need, and present your ideas to the world.

I use Evernote on my Kindle Tablet for reading and writing. I also have it on my iPhone 6s Plus, but I find my Kindle HD 7 to be the perfect size for reading and writing.

I upgraded to Evernote Plus ($24.99 per year) so that I can read notebooks offline. While other people on the train are playing Candy Crush, I am reading the latest technical information on the just announced iPhone. This is the advantage of using EverNote Web Clipper.

December 12, 2015

Nothing but Net quote

This is a great quote from the early days of the Internet. Every once in a while, I'll run into the need to send out this quote and for some reason there's no graphic for it:

Out the 100Base-T,
through the router, 
down the T3,
over the leased line,
off the bridge,
past the firewall...nothing but Net.

Here's a graphic version:

Nothing but Net

I am not exactly sure who wrote it, I saw it on many bill boards such as Delphi Internet and on AOL. I thought I post it here so other's can use it.

September 1, 2015

Thunderbird Mail Application

In my last post, I wrote about some challenges that I was facing performing image alignment in emails. If you missed it; I couldn't get embedded photos to align right and have text wrap. I tried Apple Mail, Outlook and Google's gmail.

The search is over!

I was able to get the formatting I needed by using Thunderbird email client by Mozilla. Thunderbird is a free email application that's easy to set up and customize - and it's loaded with great features! One of the features is the ability to have more control with images in emails.

The formatting capabilities in Thunderbird allows me to format the emails exactly like I did in Windows Outlook. I am still a lost at why Apple didn't include any image alignment functionalities. I did a test run and verified that the sent emails look great in Windows Outlook and in Apple Mail.

Thunderbird has built in chat functionality - supporting Jabber chat. While most of my company is using another chat client, part of the company is on the legacy chat. For now, I have found a replacement for my new hardware configuration.

During my research, I discovered a practical email application called Mail Designer Pro 2.3. The application makes it easy to create professional looking emails. The emails will look good regardless of what platform or device you use - even on the iWatch. This might be a solution that I may use down the road when I may want to send emails.

August 28, 2015

Image Text Wrapping in Emails

outlook layout

Part of my job responsibilities is to sent out weekly release notes. In that email, I like to include a picture of some of screen shot of some major functionality change being implemented. Using Outlook for Windows, I am able to align the image to the right in the email and have text wrap around the image.

Yesterday, I discovered that this is only available in Outlook in Windows. I think it has to do with Microsoft Word being connected to Outlook.

It turns out that Apple mail doesn't have any functionality around aligning embedded images. I just happen to have the latest version of Office and decided to check to see if was possible in Microsoft Outlook for Macintosh and it turns out that it also has absolutely no image alignment capability. I then decided to check gmail and discovered they don't have any way to align an embedded email.

Wait, what?

I really don't know what the big deal is, why is it so hard to add an image wrap and alignment functionality to embedded images in emails?

I'll have to keep investigating on ways to including images in release note emails. I did read that Apple mail supports HTML format emails and that if I cut and paste rendering HTML that it should work.

If there's a will there is a way to make this work.