Tag Archives: IT tips

Missing wordpress posts? Can’t update old pages? Try this

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Yesterday I had the first and only WordPress crisis ever since I installed it several years ago. When I tried to update an old  post, the post would just revert to it’s previous state, losing the text that I’d added. I tried all kinds of things with plugins and cache etc., none of which solved it. Then last night, my front page said ‘You’re looking for something that isn’t there’, and displayed no data. This morning, I clicked on a link to a post, and it was ‘not found’.

I then decided to follow one of the hundreds of bits of advice I’d seen yesterday while searching for an answer. It seemed the most drastic, so I didn’t take it then, but today I effectively had no site any more, so I thought I might as well. I wish I could remember whose advice it was to thank them, but I can’t, but whoever you are, thank you.

The trick is this – obviously, it’s only relevant if you have a site hosted on a server that uses CPanel, but that covers a lot of people:

1. Log in to the place where your site is hosted, and go to your CPanel

2. Select SQL databases

3. Go to the bit that says ‘Repair database’ (I missed out the ‘check database’ step, though I guess I could have done that)

4. Select the database(s) that relate to your WP installation (they’ll have WP in the name probably)

5. Click ‘repair’

I did this, it took 2 seconds, and everything’s now back to normal. I don’t really want to know why, i”m just glad it worked.

 

Peachnote for all your classical ‘name-that-tune’ problems

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Here was today’s musical problem – what’s the tune that Deanna Durbin singing in this film? I need the score immediately for a recording.

I know it’s Strauss, but which of his hundred’s of waltzes? Where do you start? Well, I started at Musipedia, and typed the opening theme in, but had no luck, so I tried Peachnote instead. I entered the first five notes, and nothing came up. So I tried doing what the tune does exactly – which is to repeat those same five notes. In a matter of seconds, Peachnote had found it, and taken me directly to the violin part in the IMSLP library where it had found the melody. Answer? Zigeunerbaron. To see the search results, click here.

And the reason I blog is…

…because at times like this when I’ve forgotten my own good advice, I can search my own site for the answer. I’d forgotten what the name of the site was (Peachnote) that I needed, but I remembered  that a friend  had posted a query on one of my posts about finding tunes, and that I’d put a link to the site I wanted  on the comment thread. A bit of searching on my own blog found that post, and the link.  Using google to search sites is one of my favourite and most useful tips – type your search term followed by site:example.com (where ‘example.com’ is the name of the site you want to search – without the www etc.)

 

 

 

How to sync voice memos from your iPhone

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The Voice Memos app on the iPhone is one of its most useful features, but for maybe a year, it’s proved impossible to get voice recordings from my iPhone and onto my Mac so that I can do something with them.  I’m not the only one – the web is crammed with forums documenting the same problem, with all kinds of baroque fixes and suggestions, most of which I’ve tried without success, or with only temporary success until the next OS or iTunes update. That  such a basic and important feature of the iPhone/iTunes has been left to rot by Apple is appalling.

The quick and reliable (and free) fix for me has been iExplorer (formerly iPhone Explorer). It turns your phone into a drive so you can view the contents and drag and drop stuff from it to your computer.  If like me you’ve got hours of crucial interview data on a phone, iExplorer’s a life saver. Here’s how:

1. Download and install iExplorer

2. Plug in your phone

3. An icon representing your phone will appear in the iExplorer window

4. Click on this to collapse the folders inside the phone

5. Keep going till you get to Media>Recordings>Sync

6. There are all your voice memos, filenames in yyyy/mm/dd format

7. Either drag and drop the files you want, or copy and paste them across to whereever you want them

 

Update on 7th August 2012 : Suddenly today, iTunes decided to download 35 voice memos going back months (I’d already downloaded them with iExplorer).   In the post above I never said how to sync voice memos using iTunes because it didn’t work consistently. If you want to know, just in case it’s working again now, this is how:

  • in your iPhone sync preferences in iTunes, make sure that ‘include voice memos’ is ticked under ‘Music’
  • when you next plug your phone into our computer, the voice memos should be downloaded to a playlist called ‘Voice Memos’ in your library

I still prefer the iExplorer method myself, because it gives me greater control over what I’m doing, and at least I know it’s done it.

 

IT tips: how to stop Chrome opening your pdfs

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I love Chrome, but I hate the way it takes over your pdfs and opens them in the browser. I also hate the way this isn’t straightforwardly configurable on the preferences page. However, it’s easy, and this is how you do it:

Type this in the address bar.

about:plugins

You’ll get a list of plugins used in Chrome. Scroll down to ‘Chrome PDF viewer’ and click ‘disable’.

Done.

 

IT tips #25: Use a notebook for the big stuff in life

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Use  conventional tools if they’re better suited to the job at hand. Notebooks (real notebooks, not the electronic kind) are cheap, robust, durable, don’t need electricity, don’t require any special skills, offer  fast random access, and boot up immediately.  They are less distracting in a hundred ways than a computer, and much quicker to use. They’re light and portable, and can be tilted, folded, bent, torn, listened to, stroked and smelled.

A notebook hides nothing away in files, folders and applications. If it’s in there, you’ll find it. Handwritten notes bear the indelible marks of the day when you made them – the colour, weight and angle of the pen, the speed of your writing, minute irregularities of line and shape. A coffee or red wine stain may remind  you  where you were when you made it. These things are erased or never inscribed by a computer.

Many brilliant people I have met from fields as diverse as management, retail, choreography, design, writing, academia and  computer programming use notebooks for  the big stuff – planning, thinking, sketching, dealing with people. By contrast, I’ve watched hours of working life go by where technology has provided the appearance of serious activity but achieved nothing.

My personal favourites, for design and paper quality, are the B5 notebooks from Muji that come in packs of 5 for £4. What’s yours?

 

 

 

 

IT tips #24: How to make time-saving templates in Word

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A real template in Word is a thing of beauty and magic that can be used to save you a lot of time and make your computer do what it does best:  quickly and painlessly automate repetitive tasks.  I say real templates, because a lot of people use the word ‘template’ to mean nothing more than a Word document that just provides an example of what a document should look like. A real template ends in the file extension .dot, and when you click on it, will automatically create a new blank document based on the template.  so if someone says ‘I’m attaching a template’ and the file ends in .doc, it’s not a template. Here’s how to do it properly:

  1. Think of a document type that has that you use a lot, like a letter or invoice
  2. Start a new document in Word.
  3. Spend time creating all the fancy elements that are particular to you such as
    - Your name and address and other contact details
    - An automated field for today’s date (see instructions below)
    - Page numbers, footers, headers
    - A scan of your signature, with your name and title underneath it
    - Bank details (if it’s an invoice)
  4.  Now go to the file menu, and select ‘Save As’
  5. From the dialog box that appears, look down to the ‘Format’ field, and change the Format to one of the Template (.dot) options.  Choose Word 97-2004 Template if you’re sending it to someone else (just to be safe), Word Template (.dotx) if it’s only you that’s going to be using it.
  6. Give the template a memorable and useful name, and press OK to save the document (which is now not strictly a document anymore, but a template)

To use the template (these instructions are for Word for Mac 2008 – in Word for Windows, you go to File>New and then select ‘from template’ ).

1. Go to the File>Project Gallery

2. From the menu that appears, select ‘My Templates’ and the template you created will be there.

3. Click on the template. A new blank document will be created with all the features that you specified. If you inserted an automatic date field, today’s date will be inserted (see instructions below).

4. Save this new document as something meaningful on your computer.

NOTES

How to insert the date automatically every time you create a new document based on a template

1. Go to the Insert menu, and select Insert>Field 

2. Select ‘Date and Time’ and use the ‘Create Date’ option

3. Press’ Options’ and select the format that the date should have, and remember to press ‘Add to field’ and ‘OK’ afterwards

  • Templates can be very complex things: for example, I’ve got one that I use for creating units in module study guides that have to have a cover page with the company logo on, page numbering, particular heading and text styles, and so on. Clicking on ‘Template’ creates a whole new document with a cover page including all the graphics.
  • Used in conjunction with forms (see earlier post on forms), templates can be doubly powerful: you could for example create an invoice template with form  fields for all the variable data like the name of the job and the unit price and so on.
  • Another way to use templates is to drag a shortcut to the template to your desktop. That way, you click on the template shortcut and kerplang! Word starts up automatically with a shiny new document ready for you to type into. To do this, you need to know where the template it stored (see below).
  • If you need to edit the template, you need to know where templates are stored on your computer. Once you know, you then select File>Open and locate the template in question to edit it
  • To find out where your computer stores templates, on a Mac go to Preferences pane in Word and select File locations. (it’s under Tools>Options on a PC) Make a note of where the  ‘templates’ are stored. You can press ‘modify’ to put them somewhere else. Frankly, I wouldn’t though. 

 

 

 

IT tips #23: How to hide your Facebook posts from particular people

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Sometimes you want to share something on Facebook that you know might offend a person in your network because of their particular views or life circumstances. You can chose to hide your posts from that person or several people at once. You can do it before you post something, or retrospectively:

1. At the end of your post, click on the ‘Friends’ sign, and select ‘custom’

2. Underneath ‘Hide this from’ start typing the name of the person that you want to hide the post from. Their name will appear – select it.

From now on, anything you post will be hidden from this person or list of people (if you added more than one) until you revoke it, but they will not know that you’ve done it.