20 reasons why you’ll hate switching to Mac (and a few reasons why you’ll love it)

In 2011, I switched from PC to Mac. I used a MacBook Air 15″ for about a year until it got stolen. I then rushed back to a PC. It was for a simple reason: I couldn’t get work done as easily on a Mac. It’s interesting how little marketing Microsoft has done to point out MacOS’s shortcomings. There are at least a dozen reasons why moving to a Mac would drive you nuts. Each of these could have been a great retaliatory “PC vs. Mac” TV advert. Here’s my top list of things you’ll hate about moving to a Mac, and a few things you’d absolutely love.

Disclaimer: I wrote this list before trying the abysmal OS that is Windows 8. Anything is better than Windows 8. Even Windows ME.  And please excuse the preponderance of ‘WTF’ below, I couldn’t find a more appropriate expletive.

What you’ll hate

  • Stupidest ever shortcuts with Control, Option (aka Alt), Fn, Shift, and Command. No consistency. Very hard to recall what to press and when. It’s maybe perfect if you’re a pianist, less so if you just want to get work done.
  • No home, end, page up or page down buttons in the keyboard.
  • No delete button. You have to Ctrl + Backspace. WTF.
  • Maximise doesn’t maximise (they did fix it in the last OS).
  • Close doesn’t close.
  • Enter doesn’t open files. It renames them. WTF.
  • Folders are sorted alongside files, instead of being displayed on top.
  • To install programs, you download a .dmg file (WTF?) and then drag it to drive (WTF?). Then you unmount the downloaded file. WTF.
  • Excel shortcuts.  E.g. F2 becomes Alt + U.  WTF.
  • Office sucks.
  • Office crashes.
  • You’ll have to zoom in, in every Word and Excel doc, which will just drive your PC colleagues nuts (they’ll zoom out, you’ll zoom in).
  • Apps do crash. Don’t believe the hype.
  • To switch to another window you use Cmd+Tab unless it’s another window of the app you’re in and then it’s Cmd+`.  WTF.
  • You have to empty the entire trash – you can’t permanently delete just specific files (something took the metaphor of a trash can a bit too far). WTF.
  • Apple fanboys who tell you can fix all of the above with some geeky hack or 3rd party software.
What you’ll love
  • Hardware is beautiful.
  • Hardware just works.
  • Hardware doesn’t come with ugly stickers by Intel, Microsoft and the OEM that you’ll have to remove.
  • Hardware doesn’t come pre-installed with crapware.
  • Standby just works.
  • Even a slow Macbook just works.  Not like a PC where you have to launch Task Manager every hour to kill apps.
  • Font rendering is just beautiful.
  • You’ll be the coolest kid in town and you’ll wake up to double rainbows every morning.

How to redirect your domain to Launchrock.com, but keep a blog as a sub-folder?

Say you are launching a new website.  You create a launch webpage (aka sign-up, beta or pre-registation webpage) for your new domain, e.g. via http://www.launchrock.com.  Now, how do you redirect traffic to that launch page, without redirecting all sub-folders, too? In our case we wanted people who visit http://www.timeforequity.co or timeforequity.co to get redirected to our Launchrock.com page. But, we wanted timeforequity.co/blog to still point to our blog. Sounds simple, but it took me ages to find a relatively simple solution for our domain. Here’s how I finally did it.

Summary

Redirect from -> to:

http://www.mydomain.com  ->  host.launchrock.com

mydomain.com -> host.launchrock.com

mydomain.com/blog -> www.mydomain.com/blog [basically, to not redirect it]

 

How to do it

  • Create the sub-domains you need. In our case: beta.timeforequity.co for your launch page and blog.timeforequity.co for your blog.
  • Point the signup sub-domain to your launchpage domain using a CNAME DNS setting. We pointed it to host.launchrock.com.
  • Then, to redirect also the traffic of people browsing to your website, create an empty Index.html file with the following contents, and upload it to your server.    Replace the text ‘beta.mydomain.com’ with your signup domain.
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"
 "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">
<html>
<head>
 <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
 <META HTTP-EQUIV="refresh" CONTENT="0;URL=http://beta.mydomain.com">
 <title>Time For Equity</title>
</head>
<body>
</body>
</html>
  • Lastly, simply place your blog (e.g. WordPress) in a sub-folder of your choice, e.g. timeforequity.co/blog.

 

How to unfollow ALL your Twitter followers at once, in bulk, in one click (almost)

Twitter makes it very hard to unfollow all your Twitter followers.  3rd party services had to withdraw this feature because they got letters from Twitter “asking” them to remove that option.  “Asking” in quotes, because otherwise Twitter would have likely removed their permissions which would shut their business.Image

So here is a workaround for unfollowing all your Twitter followers quickly, in the shortest number of clicks.  If you find an easier way, please tell me in the comments.

Disclaimers:
– If you don’t know your way around Twitter, installing programs, or using a PC, please follow these steps carefully, or not at all.
– These steps require registering to Tweepi‘s Silver plan, which costs $7.95 for one month.  It’s well worth it, in my opinion.
– These instructions are useful for PC users only.  If you have a Mac, you can probably afford paying someone to do this for you.  (I’m just kidding.  If you spent all your money on buying the Mac, you may not.)

Step by step instructions to un-following all your Twitter followers

  1. Sign up with Tweepi for their $7.45 Silver subscription.  Nope, I am not affiliated with them or getting any cuts.  You can pay with PayPal.
  2. Click on their Cleanup page.
  3. At the bottom of the page, choose the option to show 100 users (which is the maximum).
  4. This page is where you’re supposed to manually click ‘Unfollow’ on each of the users you want to un-follow.   They try to make it easy by letting you simply click your mouse button hundred time in succession.  But if you have thousands of people, you’ll get tired very, very quickly.  I gave up after 1,000.
  5. So now we need a way to easily click 100 times on the mouse, without really doing so.  In geek parlance we need a macro.
  6. Go to Autokey and download their free open-source macro tool.  Install it.  When installation is done, click on ‘Run AutoHotkey’.
  7. Notepad will open up, showing you the default macro script.  Don’t worry about it.   Simply delete it all.  Then copy and paste this text instead.  Note the first line starts with a # character and ends with a double colon – ::
    #space::
    click
    click
    click
    click
    [and so one – copy and paste a total of 100 times the word ‘click’ in a new line]
  8. Click Save (in Notepad) to save the script.  Then in your taskbar (that’s the bottom status bar in your Windows machine), find the AutoHotKey icon (looks like a green H), right mouse click and choose ‘Reload This Script’.
  9. Navigate back to the Chrome (or whatever browser) window which is open still in Tweepi.
  10. Position your mouse cursor over the top ‘Unfollow’ button.
  11. Ready?  Click the Windows keyboard button (the one near the Alt and Ctrl) plus Space key (the long one…)
  12. Voila!  Depending on your internet connection, you no longer have to click hundred times on the mouse button.  If you internet connection is slow, you may need to tap Windows+Space again.  Careful: wait a few seconds till all 100 clicks are performed, otherwise you’ll find your mouse cursor misbehaving a bit.
  13. When you’re done, you can cancel your Tweepi subscription so you don’t get charged the following month.   You can uninstall AutoHotKey by running the AutoHotKey Setup and choosing the option ‘Uninstall’.

Guest post by Freud

Freud RanHi everyone

I just wanted to say hi. My name is Freud. I’m now 10 weeks old and live in London with my keepers, the Rans (one of them writes this blog, I think).

I like to fetch things, jump and hop, wee a bit outside the house and a bit inside the house. I’m told that I’m really cute, pretty and smart, but that I’m not the bravest of them all. That’s fine with me.

I’m a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever but if you hold me upside down I look a bit like a fox.

Here are a couple of videos of me jumping around. I hope you enjoy them.

Jumping around – take 1

Jumping around – take 2

These videos were taken using an app called Vine, now owned by Twitter.  The guy who writes this blog thinks Vine is awesome.  He says it’s the best way to document the early life of pets and kids.

That’s it for now.  I hope I’ll be invited to write another guest post soon.

Woof woof,

Freud

Why doesn’t Dropbox support dd-mm-yy non-US date format? [Update: now resolved.]

mm-dd-yyyyThere’s one thing about Dropbox that drives me nuts.  The date format.  If you use their website, all files are listed using the US format of mm-dd-yyyy (e.g. 06-16-2012).  According to this, only Americans and Belizans use the month-day-year format.  Most of the world, over 3 billion people, use day-month-year and over 1.5 billion (mainly in China, Japan and Korea) use year-month-day.   For anyone else, seeing a date like 10-01-2012 is hugely confusing (it’s October 1st rather than January 10th).

Quite a few blog posts, bug reports, and change requests call for Dropbox to let customers choose the right date format. Over 500 people even votes for it.  The strangest bit? only 32% of Dropbox users are American, so the majority of Dropbox customers would actually benefit from this change.  So how strange that this is still deprioritised.  It’s not like British users are asking Dropbox to change all Z back to S or something like that.

Anyone else finds this annoying?  If you’ve found a solution let me know in the comments.

Update:  Dropbox finally added the option to set the date format.   It’s here: https://www.dropbox.com/account.

Algorithms work better than doctors

I came across this fantastic paper after reading about Meehl‘s 1954 book, “Clinical vs. Statistical Prediction: A Theoretical Analysis and a Review of the Evidence”.  It’s a meta-analysis (review of studies) of the evidence that mechanical prediction techniques like fixed questionnaires or algorithm generate superior predictions compared with those made by clinicians, regardless of their level of expertise.

In plain words, it suggests that simple questionnaires and algorithms arrive in more accurate predictions compared with clinicians, doctors or psychologists.  I can’t believe this is not mandatory reading in every university.

The abstract:

The process of making judgments and decisions requires a method for combining data. To compare the accuracy of clinical and mechanical (formal, statistical) data-combination techniques, we performed a meta-analysis on studies of human health and behavior. On average, mechanical-prediction techniques were about 10% more accurate than clinical predictions. Depending on the specific analysis, mechanical prediction substantially outperformed clinical prediction in 33%-47% of studies examined. Although clinical predictions were often as accurate as mechanical predictions, in only a few studies (6%-16%) were they substantially more accurate. Superiority for mechanical-prediction techniques was consistent, regardless of the judgment task, type of judges, judges’ amounts of experience, or the types of data being combined. Clinical predictions performed relatively less well when predictors included clinical interview data. These data indicate that mechanical predictions of human behaviors are equal or superior to clinical prediction methods for a wide range of circumstances.

The full article is available here:

http://www.psych.umn.edu/faculty/grove/096clinicalversusmechanicalprediction.pdf

How to find a lost Word / Excel / PowerPoint document, opened from email (Hotmail or Outlook Web Access), that was edited and saved – but is now gone?

This is a long post that I hope will help a few desperate souls out there: how to find your lost Word, Excel or PowerPoint files?

Google “lost file opened from email attachment”, “rescue lost word doc” or “word document that I opened from my email did not save on my copmuter” and you can witness the misery of dozens (thousands? millions?) of poor computer users who lost their dissertations, school papers or theses after they emailed it to themselves, opened the document, and saved it – just to discover they can’t find the files they spent hours working on.

I want to smash my computerIt happened to me at least a few times and to my wife a few more.  Worst of all, none of the explanations on the web seem to actually work!  So for the sake of all you who accidentally ran into the same problem, read on (and if it helped, tell me in the comments).


I lost my Word / Excel /  other file after opening it from email

The scenario is always the same.  You:

  1. Opened a file from your webmail, typically using Internet Explorer.
  2. Made lots of changes and saved at least a few times.
  3. Closed Word or Excel.
  4. Tried to reopen the file but couldn’t find it.


Why it happens

This typically happens to users of Hotmail or Outlook Web Access (OWA), usually when you use Internet Explorer (especially versions earlier than IE9).  Google Chrome is built differently (and better in this case, in my opinion).

In Internet Explorer, when you click on an attachment you have two options: “open” and “save”.  If you clicked “save”, you’d be fine.  You will be able to save the file somewhere (e.g. on the desktop) and continue working.  The only way to lose the file is if you delete it or forgot where you saved it.  In any case you can just search for it.   In Chrome, any file you open is automatically downloaded and saved, too.

If you clicked, “open”, however, you’re entering zombie land.  Word will show you the document (maybe after a warning that you opened a downloaded file).  You will be able to edit and save the document regularly.  But little do you know that you’re saving the file in a “safe zone” (technically, a system folder) used for files downloaded from the web.   I call it zombie land because you have no idea that the files you’re saving will disappear the second you shut down Word.  Worst of all, because files are saved in this zombie land, you won’t be able to find these files when you search for them.


How to rescue the file you opened, saved and is now gone?

Luckily, there’s a way to rescue these files, especially if only a short time passed since you’ve opened and closed them.  Here are the instructions for Windows 7 or Windows Vista users, English version.

<disclaimer>  Please be careful and follow the instructions closely, as you can cause damage, too.  If you’re not sure what you’re doing, ask a friend to help. I’m just trying to help you but I can’t assume responsibility if something goes wrong… </disclaimer>

  1. Most importantly, do not try to re-open the file from your email.  If you have done so already, you may have overwritten your file.  You’ll know soon enough.
  2. Click Start (bottom left icon on your desktop) or on your keyboard’s Windows key.  If you don’t have a Start menu (e.g. if you’re using Windows 8), tap Windows logo key Picture of the Windows logo key+R.
  3. Your cursor should blink in the search bar.  Just copy and paste this line
    %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5
    and tap Enter.   If this happened to you when using Firefox, please use this line instead: %userprofile%\AppData\Local\temp (Thanks to Paul who commented below for this tip!)This will open the special folder where temporary downloaded files are saved.  Annoyingly, Windows doesn’t show you this folder unless you manually type it.
  4. We now need to show the hidden system files where Windows saved your files.   Click Alt+T to show the Tools menu.  Click the fourth option, “Folders options”.
  5. You should now see the Folder Options dialog box.  At the top, choose the ‘View’ tab to see the Advanced Settings.  Under ‘Hidden files and folders’, choose the option ‘Show hidden files, folders and drives’.
  6. Underneath, uncheck the box of the option ‘Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)’.  Approve the warning message by clicking ‘Yes’.  Don’t worry, we’ll put everything back to place later.  Click OK to close the dialog box.
  7. You should now see many more folders and icons.  Some will appear a bit transparent – that means they’re hidden files.
  8. The folder will contains many folders that have strange names like ANH4N2W1, etc.  Your files will be in one of them.  The easiest way to find the file is by sorting the list by ‘Date modified’ and opening each folder at a time.   Just click Alt+V to show the View menu, then choose Sort by, and ‘Date Modified’ and ‘Descending’ to show the latest files first.
  9. Double click to open each folder.  You’ll get an annoying warning message each time you do so, just approve it.
  10. When you open a folder, again sort it by ‘Date Modified’.  You can also sort by ‘Type’ to show your Microsoft Word files first.
  11. If you’re lucky, you’ll find your missing file in no time.  Just notice the file size – if it’s 1 KB you are probably looking at a temporary file created by Word and not at the file you saved.  Just copy the files you found to your desktop or to your My Documents folder.
  12. Check each folder until you find your file.  Jump up in the air and thank God if you have found what you’re looking for.  My sincerest sympathies if you couldn’t find it.
  13. When you’re done, you should return Windows to its normal state by hiding again the hidden folders.  In Explorer (the file browser window), just click again Alt+T, Folder Options, View tab, and check the box ‘Hide protected operation system files’ and choose the option ‘Don’t show hidden files, folders or drives’.

If it all worked for you, scroll to the bottom of this page and add your comment.  I’m so glad I could help.  Just remember to never, ever, click ‘open’.  Always save documents to the right folder before opening and editing them.   It’s safer and would save you trouble.   Or consider switching to Google Chrome or the latest version of Internet Explorer.   That’ll save you at least this sort of trouble.

27-7-2012 update: Cool! This post has been featured in Wired UK  magazine.

11-4-2013 update: Thanks for all the offers for a free drink!  I plan a worldwide tour after the 1,000th comment.

09-10-2014 update: 1,000 comments! Wow! Apparently more than 140,000 people viewed this post. Let’s see how quickly can we get to 10,000.

12-02-2014 update:  If this post saved you a ton of time and money, please consider visiting this page: https://www.justgiving.com/odedran . I’m cycling 160km (100 miles) this August to raise funds for UK’s largest children’s charity. I hope to get to £1,000 – every little helps.

Personal blog of Oded Ran

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