Blog Posts in Category "How Stuff Works"

Reclaim Your Contacts, Calendars, and Tasks

Baikal LogoMany people entrust their data (emails, contacts, calendars, todos) to service providers like Google, Yahoo!, Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s Office 365, and many others. There are also a considerable number of services which “hide” behind an app. Install it, and the first thing you’re force to do is to “sign in with your X account”, where “X” is the name of the app or company. All these options are utterly convenient because most of them are free, and easy to set up. The downsides are equally obvious: (more…)

Remotely Connecting to your FritzBox using Jitsi

telephone pictogramThere are many complaints about VoIP service being offered to you as the primary voice service by your telco. It usually means that the Ethernet hub on the DSL router becomes the handover point (i.e. you don’t fully control your router), the service availability is often only 98.9% (i.e. 4 days of no service per year) or even worse. For ye olde analogue phone, the usual service availability was 99.99% (53 minutes of no service per year). But, there is one clear advantage: you can install a SIP softphone and register your laptop or smartphone as a phone and place and receive calls via your home phone wherever you have WiFi or mobile data service. I have a FritzBox 7360 from my ISP glowing along, and hence the instructions how to set this up are for this model. If you have another FritzBox model with telephony function, the setup will be quite similar. For any other DSL router makes, you’ll have to check out the instructions for your device to find the corresponding settings. Without further ado, here are the instructions.  (more…)

Using Cisco WebEx with Opera 26 on Your Mac

January 21st, 2015 by

After Opera has become a Chrome offspring, one might think that all Chrome tricks would work out of the box. Well, most of them do. But as Murphy’s law predicts, those that don’t have a contender or two among those you need most. Recently, Cisco WebEx meetings stopped working in Opera. I got it working again, and here’s how. (more…)

How to get those foreign use charges (into your accounting)

August 12th, 2014 by

Miles and More Credit CardThis post is a bout a specific problem you might have when importing transactions from your Miles & More credit card. When you import the transactions from their Website (e.g. as a CSV file) – which is utterly convenient – there is one, small drawback however. The surcharges for foreign use do not show up as transactions of their own. If you don’t do anything else, your bank account will never match up with your accounting. Here is a simple solution how to fix this. (more…)

Help! I sound like a robot!

August 7th, 2014 by

image of a robotAs our IPS connection was force-upgraded to fibre optics, we are now enjoying the beauties of VoIP phone service. This includes missing calls, temporal inability to make calls, and all the other enjoyments of Internet telephony. Glad I kept the scabby old DECT phone and connected it to the router. That’s the only one that works reliably. I then installed a SIP client software and made my first call. But I sounded like a robot from outer space; nobody understood me. But don’t despair, I figured out the solution. (more…)

Shock and Awe! My Emails are… – Gone! (sort of)

February 24th, 2014 by

No Mail HereOn Friday I received my new Retina MacBook Pro (13-inch). I love the “More Space” display resolution setting. Gives me the extra real estate I have sometime been missing so badly on the MacBook Air. Still looks stunning. Fired the new machine up with the Time Machine backup disk from the old machine attached, and had all my data transferred. Ready to go on the new system in less than two hours. Thank you Apple! After wasting some time with finding a new and cool desktop backdrop – the shock! All the smart mailboxes in were — empty.


Creating To Do Items for Email Messages

September 5th, 2013 by

Automator_IconDuring the OS X Lion days, there was a subtle difference in how To Do items would be handled compared to how they were handled before, and how they are handled now. In Lion, To Do items started appearing in This created some confusion (see here and here) since the two UIs would behave subtly differently. All of this is gone again since Mountain Lion, as To Do items have disappeared from since.

There is however one aspect that I missed about Lion: it was possible to just highlight some text in an email, and hit the “To Do” button, fix a deadline and you’re done creating a To Do item that would be linked to the email message. So for full details, you could just click on “show in email” in the To Do item, and it would open the email message for you. Unfortunately this convenience feature disappeared together with Lion.

So I have set down for an afternoon, and made an automator workflow that provides a system service to do just that: highlight some text in an email, right click it, and choose “ToDo for Email” from the Services menu. It will let you edit the text, choose a ToDo list, and finally open the To Do item in so you can fix a due date or location. It will auto insert a link to the original email message to give you the “show in mail” link.

To install, just download the ToDo for Email workflow, unzip it, and double click it. If you have any suggestions for improvements, please feel free to drop us a note. If you like it, please tweet about it.

Title Case in Pages

September 4th, 2013 by

If you are using Pages as your text document creator (note we didn’t say “word processor”), you have probably bounced your head against some of its limitations (e.g. no auto-numbering of figures and tables, no auto-insertion of bookmark text when creating cross references). One of the things that can be fixed relatively easily, is the lack of a text transformation to adjust upper/lower case to Title Case as needed for headings. To achieve this, just use this little shell script, and wrap it into an automator service that receives the selected text from Pages.

lowerwords=$(echo -n $* | tr '[[:upper:]]' '[[:lower:]]')
numwords=$(echo -n $* | wc -w) # in Automator $# is always 1
for word in $lowerwords ; do
   wordcount=$(( $wordcount + 1 ))
   if [ $wordcount -gt 1 -a $wordcount -lt $numwords ] ; then
      case $word in
         a|an|the|and|but|or|for|nor|in|on|of|upon|to|as|at|by) echo -n "$word "; continue; ;;
   firstletter=$(echo -n $word | cut -c1 | tr '[[:lower:]]' '[[:upper:]]')
   otherletters=$(echo -n $word | cut -c2-)
   echo -n "$firstletter$otherletters"
   if [ $wordcount -lt $numwords ] ; then
      echo -n " "

Of course this is easily adapted to convert to all lower and all upper case, and can also be saved as an Automator service under a calling name.

Opera and Java on OS X

November 23rd, 2012 by

opera_javaMany say it doesn’t work. But it does. All you need is a 64-bit version of Opera, because Java comes as 64-bit only on the Mac. The 64-bit Java plug-in will just silently fail in a 32-bit version of Opera. But Opera does offer a 64-bit version for Mac. Why Opera don’t distribute the 64-bit version by default, or query the client platform to find out which version to offer? I guess, we just don’t know. Here’s how to install the 64-bit version. (more…)