I'm always so pleased when I find a way round some exasperating computer problem that I thought I'd share my moments of triumph ...

Saturday 29 December 2012

BT broadband - sending non-BT account email - solved

Whew! what a struggle!

In spite of bad past experiences with BT broadband, I was tempted by their current offer.

Their website support for email settings etc is the absolute pits. It is unbelievably poor. I spent a whole day and more struggling to set up my non-BT outgoing email. Judging from their discussion forums this is quite common, http://bit.ly/Tpv9uj.

Another user describes the problem:

I switched to BT Infinity earlier this month, but want to retain my existing non-BT email account. I'm continuing to receive emails, but cannot configure the outgoing server. I've searched the forum postings ... with no success. 
I'm using Mozilla Thunderbird.
I myself found that: 
BT's standard help page is absolutely useless. It only gives partial information and quickly dumps you into BT's misnamed 'technical help'; beware, it costs you £15 a call and the help don't even know what you are asking them.
Two steps into the help sequence meant to tell you how to set up your non-bt email account, BT provides the curt message, "Sorry, but we can't help with email accounts that we don't provide." Love it.
A forum expert explained that BT uses Yahoo! email to provide its email service. To use a non-BT email address for sending, you have to register the extra email address with Yahoo!. Yahoo! says this reduces spam etc.  http://www.btyahoo.com/verify  
It is complicated but just follow the instructions.

Once you've registered your non-BT email address(es) with Yahoo!, you need the settings for the outgoing email server. Here are the settings I used, in Thunderbird, but most email clients need the same stuff:

Outgoing server (SMTP): I called it "bt outgoing"
Server Name:  mail.btinternet.com
Port: 465
Connection security: SSL/TLS
Authentication method: Normal password
User name: just your user name, for instance, fluffypaws

[the first time you send you will be asked to input your bt internet account password, which in my case is the same as my bt internet Yahoo! password]

Whoo! finally I can send email, with my normal non-bt email address.

Friday 16 November 2012

Unlocking an iPhone

Oh dear, a sad dead iPhone after a day under water. Drying out by burying in rice etc has failed to revive it. So options are:

a) get a cheap basic phone and make do with that for 2 months til my contract runs out. Trying that, but I so miss my iPhone.
b) buy a new iPhone - but need to fill up piggy bank for that, better wait for contract end.
c) take it to an Appple store, the kiss of life from the geniuses may succeed. It didn't, but they offer a refurb replacement for £119. Probably the best option, as it can eventually be sold on for a good price.
d) buy a second hand iPhone on eBay.

Guess which option I chose ... yes, you're right, not the best: option d). So now I find myself getting to grips with 'unlocking' your phone.

A mobile is 'locked' when it's been bought as part of a contract with an operator, so it will only work on that network. You can get it 'unlocked' in one of those dodgy looking stalls and shops, or by the operator, often they charge about £20.

My nearly-new acquisition had been unlocked from Virgin, but caution:

I reset the contents (go round with something called "Mum's iphone"? No thanks!) and whoops, it revealed a lock on O2.

To get it unlocked I have to borrow or buy an O2 sim card and put that in it. Request O2 to unlock it and leave it in for about a day, voila, it should then be 'unlocked'. I hope.

Free if I can borrow an O2 sim, or I have to get a pay-as-you-go sim and put £15 worth of calls on it.

Friday 2 November 2012

Mac - 2 useful applications

If you can remember way back on Macs, they used to show a little icon top R. on the screen to show what application you were in at the time. Well handy, doubtless why Apple abolished this useful feature a long time ago.

However, thanks to Eerko Vissering for developing the little application called Focus, which does the same thing. I've used it with Leopard / Snow Leopard for ages. Eerko has updated it to run on Lion / Mountain Lion. Thanks Eerko!


Another application I use all the time is QuickApps. This puts a little icon in your menu bar - click on it to show a dropdown list of all your applications.


Thursday 1 November 2012

Preview / Mountain Lion - print selected pages solved

Huh! after much whinging - Yes! one can print just selected pages in Preview. So simple:
  • Open a pdf file, or several pdf files, in Preview
  • Set it to display thumbnails of the pages in the Sidebar (under View)
  • Select the thumbnails of the pages you'd like to print, in the usual ways. You can select pages in several different pdfs, or indeed all the pages in different pdfs. A way to combine images into one pdf file.
  • Tell it to Print - either cmd-P or File > Print
There! in the print dialogue box, you'll see an option: Selected pages in sidebar.

Then you can either print just the pages you want, or save them as a new pdf.

If you're still in Snow Leopard (OS 10.6) then to print selected pages, select as above, and the command is in the File menu below Print.

Friday 5 October 2012

Mac OS Mountain Lion and Preview functions

I was pretty annoyed when I discovered that lots of useful things that one could do with Preview under Snow Leopard (OS 10.6.8) had been obliterated under Lion. Some have been restored under Mountain Lion, though less conveniently, and I have now found tedious workarounds for some others.

There was quite an outcry about this. It does seem to me that Apple is very arrogant about its software. I don't know how they could have left out these basic functions. They absolutely can't have done any research or testing with real life users. I wonder in fact if this is an indication that Apple is reaching its peak. Just thinking.

If you want to tell Apple where you think it's made a mistake, go here:

In my next post I'll explain how to do some of the things we used to do so easily with Preview.

Monday 25 June 2012

MacBook Air drops WiFi connection - solved

We had to change the wifi security to WEP to accommodate a primitive PC laptop. After that I had to re-log in to the wifi network every time it woke up. Absolutely maddening.

Lots of internet searching and different solutions later, eg delete network and re-add it, etc. Finally a sensible suggestion from someone: Run Repair Permissions from disk utility.

Problem solved, connection drops no more. So simple!

A few weeks later ...

This is from me! I really was doubtful that the solution could be that simple, but my MacBook Air was dropping the connection again, this time to a brand new BT HomeHub router.

So I ran Permissions Repair and guess what, it's fixed again! Hope it lasts.

And subsequently ...

Dropped again - this time I just did "turn WiFi off" from the top menu bar, and then on again, and it picked up again.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Convert ebooks for any reader - Kindle etc

As ever we have to run to keep up with the shifting download urls. As I post, here are the latest DeDRM tools, v5.1, the vital component for ebook conversion:


To use:
- Install Calibre and open it
- Go to Calibre's Preferences (under Calibre in the top menu)
- Under Advanced, click Plugins
- Select Load plugin from file
- Navigate to the folder of Tools
- In the sub folder inside that, Calibre plugins, click and load each of the zip files in turn
- Click the green Apply tick, top left

Well, this setup works for me - Mac OS Lion, Kobo ereader, ebook purchased from let's say a large river site. Although I have to admit it is quite an elaborate to-do.

Monday 16 April 2012

Read Kindle books on Kobo (or other reader)

Yes you can! it may take a bit of fiddling but although I would love to resist Amazon's world domination project,  I find Amazon format books are both cheaper and also better formatted for reading.

Apprentice Alf is the leader in this dark art, in his blog, http://apprenticealf.wordpress.com/ (see his comment on this post, below). You will find useful discussion and links to the up to date conversion tools there.

The current tools are here: http://www.datafilehost.com/download-a28d695b.html: download and unzip the folder. Don't be daunted by the technical chat, just follow the instructions in the ReadMe files.

To free up Amazon e-books (this is on a Mac, there are similar facilites for a Windows pc) - move the zip file DeDRM_5.0.app.zip onto your desktop (or other convenient folder), click it to unpack to a curly icon DeDRM 5.0.app.

Your Kindle book files are in My Kindle Content. They don't have helpful titles, but sort them by date, and it's the .azw file that is the book. Drag this onto the curly icon and it will save a freed up copy of the book for you. You should be able to upload that to your reader, via the free Calibre software or even via your normal reader software.

Calibre is very handy, search to download it for free (be fair, do donate). Once Calibre is installed, you can install the DeDRM plugins:

Open Calibre preferences > Plugins > button at the bottom, Install plugin from file > Navigate to the DeDRM folder with the Calibre plugins > click on one to install it

Repeat until all are installed. Restart Calibre.

Then, you can just add the book file to the Calibre library and upload it to your device - select Autoconvert and it will do the conversion as part of the process.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

iPhone - delete apps from both computer and iPhone

Quite a few queries online about this.

Refers to a Mac.
Assumes iTunes is open and your iPhone is plugged into your computer.

I must just have a quick rant: I HATE the way that "synch" works - one cannot tell which set of data are being synched to what, which data are being synched ... I could go on ... clearly Steve never had much to do with the software aspects of his desirable kit.

Anyway, look at the top of the iTunes menu under Library and you'll see Apps. Click that and you have 2 views of your apps, either Apps (all of them) or Genres (inconvenient in my opinion).

Left click on an app and one option is Delete. Also you can Show in finder, and I suppose delete it from the list of files as well.

You also need to delete it from the iPhone or else it will simply copy it back to your computer next time you "synch". To do this, hold your finger on the app on the iPhone screen and then press the little cross in the corner of the icon.