Managing your holiday e-mail

letters
Image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay

I really like this presentation from Zak Mensah about how to deal with e-mail when going away.

Email is like the daily newspaper – every day past its print day its usefulness fades until two weeks later nobody cares.

I agree very much of what Zak says in his presentation. I certainly put in an informative out of the office and put all e-mail received whilst on holiday to a folder to be dealt with as and when.

Solving the Sorry PowerPoint can’t read ^0 error

So there I was opening a PowerPoint file from my OneDrive folder when I got this error message: Sorry, PowerPoint can’t read ^0.

What was happening? Well first some background.

My iMac’s fusion drive had failed, I had it replaced and then reinstalled OS X before using the migration assistant to restore my iMac files, applications and preferences.

Well there I was thinking everything had gone so well. I had virtually no data loss, so was pleased I had managed to get things sorted. However I was annoyed when opening a PowerPoint file from my OneDrive folder I got an error message.

I got this error message: PowerPoint found a problem with content in <file name>. PowerPoint can attempt to repair the presentation. If you trust the source of this presentation, click Repair.

The word trust made me think that this was a permissions issue rather than corruption.

I clicked Repair and then this message appeared: Sorry, PowerPoint can’t read ^0.

I wasn’t sure what was going on.

As part of my back up back in April I had backed up the files from the OneDrive folder onto my external hard drive. I hadn’t updated it since, as far as I was concerned I didn’t need to back up the OneDrive folder as it was already backed up in the cloud.

Going through the OneDrive files I realised that virtually all the files I had created or edited since the back up weren’t working and “needed repair”. I was as you might imagine rather annoyed. What was worse was the files had also synced across the cloud and my laptop.

I did some Google searching for a solution, and to be honest it wasn’t too much help. I did try and reset OneDrive but this didn’t work.

I was convinced that this was a permissions issue rather than file corruption or data loss. The file sizes looked fine for example.

In the end though I did come up with a solution.

In Finder right click the file and select Version History.

Note that this option is only available for files on OneDrive.

As you can see I had two versions of the file with the same date and timestamp.

This reinforced my opinion that this was a permissions issue.

Right click the three dots.

Then select Restore (or Download).

This then creates a new version, which will open.

The file can now be opened normally.

I’ve not worked out how to do this for multiple files, so am having to do it for each file that doesn’t open.

This process also works on Windows computers as well.

This has demonstrated that despite having an online cloud and a physical backup there was still the potential for data loss after a hard drive failure.

 

Where’s my fusion drive?

A week ago my iMac’s fusion drive failed. Despite trying to fix it myself through software the reality was that it was looking very much like a hardware failure. I booked it into the Apple Store for a repair.

Less than a week later I got a call from the Apple Store saying it was fixed and I could come and pick it up. Having driven up to the store and come home, I got my iMac out of the car and set it up. I switched on my iMac. 

The Apple Store had replaced the failing hard drive, but that was it. They had left it pretty much, from an OS X perspective as I had left it with them. The SSD was still visible, but at least now I could see the 3TB physical drive. I had to reset the fusion drive. Luckily I knew how to do this via Terminal and the diskutil resetfusion command.

I did think that this was poor, as the last time the drive failed they had reset the fusion drive and installed OS X onto the iMac. 

Having reset the fusion drive, I then set about formatting the drive and installing OS X. Decided to bite the bullet and install Big Sur, knowing full well that I had applications that I liked that I wouldn’t be able to use. Key for me was Fireworks, but I did have Photoshop which I could use instead..

Installing Big Sur didn’t take long.

Then I used the migration assistant to start moving files from the external hard drive to the iMac. This took much longer than I thought it would.

Finally after many hours it looked like my iMac was back. iMac

Getting it repaired

Well after the failure (again) of the Fusion Drive in my iMac I took it to the Genius Bar of my local Apple Store. They confirmed my diagnosis that the Fusion Drive had failed.

I had a few options.

I could replace the SATA HDD myself with another SATA HDD, which I did consider. I could replace the broken SATA HDD with a new SDD drive.

I could get someone else to do that.

However upon consideration, taking a 2014 iMac apart isn’t a simple job and would require replacing the adhesive for the glass LCD panel. So wasn’t sure I wanted to go down the road. Also the cost of a 2TB or 3TB SDD was quite expensive, though buying a 3TB HDD myself would be cheaper than what Apple was proposing to charge.

I did consider before taking it to Apple to get someone else to do this, but they would charge £84 first just to diagnose the problem, so would then charge (like Apple) for labour on top, as well as the replacement HDD cost.

What the Apple Store was proposing wasn’t excessive and so decided to go down that road.

So now they have my iMac for a week, well hopefully less time than that.

Fusion drive fails again

Back in April I had a few problems with the Fusion Drive on my 2014 iMac. So much so that I had to copy the data off the iMac onto an external drive and then reformat the drive and reinstall OS X.

Having got back to where I had been before the drive failed I was happy with going back to work on the iMac. However I was suspicious that the drive might fail again. I kept regular backups of files and photos, but I did have an expectation that the drive might fail again.

On Saturday it did just that. I was using the iMac to sort out some train tickets and other tickets when it just froze. Nothing was working, so I switched it off at the back and when I switched it back on I was rather downhearted, but not really surprised, to see the prohibitory symbol.

I booted into Recovery mode (hold down the Command and R keys when turning on and release once you see the Apple logo or a spinning globe). I ran disk utility which confirmed the Fusion Drive had failed. The SDD was working fine, but the (mechanical) hard drive had failed. A Fusion Drive us made up of an SDD drive and a standard hard disk drive combined to look like a single drive under OS X.

Luckily I hadn’t lost any data, but wasn’t sure what to do next.

I did reformat the SDD and installed OS X onto that (and even upgraded to Big Sur). The speed was very impressive and to be honest part of me did think about leaving it like this. However this wasn’t a practical long term solution as the iMac would just randomly reboot for no reason. Certainly couldn’t use the iMac for anything productive.

I did look into fixing the iMac myself, but in the end booked it into the Cribbs Causeway Apple Store Genius Bar for an appointment. The 2014 iMac counts as vintage technology (as it is just under their seven year limit) and isn’t quite obsolete, yet!

Ten years of Snapseed

Can’t quite get my head around I have been using Snapseed for over ten years now…

This was my first use of Snapseed back in 2011 of Gloucestershire College.

Here is my most recent use of Snapseed in 2021. This is the old Grosvenor Hotel in Bristol.

I have written about Snapseed before. In 2018 I spoke about the app and showed of some of my photographs I had edited in Snapseed. There was an earlier post in 2012.

I was particularly pleased with the way this image of the Matthew at the Bristol Harbour Festival turned our, almost like an oil painting with the shadows and textures.

Matthew at Bristol Harbour Festival

My original thoughts from ten years ago were in this post.

Over the last few days I have been playing around with the Snapseed app for the iPad. 

This is a wonderful photograph editing app that I was told about by Mark Power on the Twitter, here is a live link to his image.

So now we have flying cars… well nearly!

flyinf car

A prototype flying car has completed a 35-minute flight between international airports in Nitra and Bratislava, Slovakia reports the BBC.

The flying car has been a vision of the future for decades, along with the jetpack. Could this be the turning point and we start to see flying cars on our roads (and in the air) in the same way that we are now seeing electric vehicles?

Dr Stephen Wright, senior research fellow in avionics and aircraft, at the University of the West of England, described the AirCar as “the lovechild of a Bugatti Veyron and a Cesna 172”. Dr Wright said.

“Anyone can make an aeroplane but the trick is making one that flies and flies and flies for the thick end of a million hours, with a person on board, without having an incident.

I had forgotten…

Having spent virtually all of the last eighteen months working from home, I have had the luxury of my FTTP connection, with 1Gb/s download speed and an upload speed of 100Mb/s.

However for a few weeks now I have been venturing to the office in Bristol. The connection in the office is usually fine, however I had forgotten what the experience was like using internet and 4G in a coffee shop was like. Having ventured to Coffee #1 near Queen’s Square in Bristol I was struggling with my 4G personal hotspot, so much so I had to switch to The Cloud free wifi.

I had forgotten how bad and unreliable 4G can be in an urban environment. I had been spoilt with my home broadband reliability and speed.

Having said that, the coffee was great and it was really nice to have a change of scenery and routine.

Digging up the streets

Long time followers of this blog may recall the long and winding story of my journey to a full fibre connection here in Weston Village in Weston-super-Mare.

Having moved from dial-up to an ADSL connection I was well pleased in 2010 when our local exchange was upgraded to FTTC and we could get a fibre connection.

Having moved house in 2012, literally just down the road, we lost FTTC and had to return to ADSL as the (different) cabinet we had been connected to wasn’t enabled for FTTC.

Five long years later we finally saw cabinet 25 getting the upgrade it needed and I could finally return to the fast speeds of FTTC.

Jump forward three years and following further work by BT Openreach I was able to upgrade to FTTP or as it was called Full Fibre resulting in a download speed of 1Gb/s, which was faster than the 30Mb/s I had with FTTC and significantly faster than the 1.3Mb/s ADSL connection we had when we first moved in.

I did think that was the end of the saga, well it was the end of the saga for me, the reality for Weston Village is that there is now a bundle of companies putting in fibre and cable connection. As a result there is a huge amount of roadworks and cable laying across the village. 

This is as you might imagine making a mess of the roads and pavements. 

So I am now also getting bombarded with pamphlets and advertising new fibre and television services.

Will I change, no, happy with the reliability and speed of my current connection.

So long and thanks for all the fish

Well six months ago I subscribed to Britbox. I had BT Broadband for just under a month and got an e-mail from BT saying I could have six months free of Britbox.

Well it was bit of a no brainer, six months free for a service I quite liked the look of, so I clicked yes.

I did say in my post.

Will I renew in six months time? I think that depends on what content we’ve watched and whether they refresh the content over the next few months.

Well, here we are six months later and the answer is, will I renew, the answer is sorry no.

The main reason I am saying no is that I am not watching enough of the content to justify the subscription. It’s not that the content isn’t any good, on the contrary there is a bundle of great stuff in the service. The reality was that though I was interested in watching some of the old series, no one else in the household was interested. I don’t really have a lot of time to watch television on my own, so never got round to watching very much of the series or films on the service. In the end when it came down to it, I decided that I would not renew my subscription.

I don’t think the fact that we subscribed to Disney+ back in December has helped, as there are only so many subscription services you can afford. We also have Netflix, so in the end a service had to go, and as the only person watching anything on Britbox, that was the one that needed to go.

I might renew at some later time, but for the moment it’s goodbye Britbox, so long and thanks for all the fish.