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Tips and instructions

Windows 8.1 Tiled “Metro” Apps Stopped Working! Here’s a Fix

I own both Macs and PCs. I try not to be too much of a fan-boy and stay religiously neutral.  Both operating systems start to feel their age after being subjected to accumulation of apps and use.  I can run both for weeks on end without rebooting. But I have only been running Windows 8.1 for less than 2 months and I already ran into a severe quirk for which there was no obvious solution, none of the new, “Metro”, tiled applications would run. Trying to untangle this led to frustrating dead-end after dead-end. This kind of bad behavior is what gives Windows a bad reputation.

Jump down to the solution if you don’t care about the back-story. Continue reading Windows 8.1 Tiled “Metro” Apps Stopped Working! Here’s a Fix

Bring the Quick Launch Back (no need for “pinned” TaskBar Items)

Quick Launch Win8.1When I get a new product, I like trying out new features long enough to be able to evaluate whether they might be useful. Windows 7 introduced the “Pin to Taskbar” feature to replace the Quick Launch toolbar of prior versions of Windows. I found that the “Pin” feature provides no advantages over the Quick Launch toolbar and some disadvantages. If you have not used this feature before—in some XP installations, Quick Launch was not activated by default—you might try this out to see if it improves your efficiency in using Windows. Windows 7 and 8 have made this more difficult, so you’ll need to follow the instructions, following the break, to bring it back. Continue reading Bring the Quick Launch Back (no need for “pinned” TaskBar Items)

Resell My iPad

I’m really bad about replacing my gadgets while they still have value (anyone want a top-of-the-line Sony 36″ Trinitron XBR TV?). The issue is, the existing one still works well, so I don’t need to upgrade. But the downside of holding onto devices for too long is that they become completely worthless to anyone else.

So, while I don’t need to replace my 3rd Gen iPad, it’d be nice to resell it to subsidize the cost of the new iPads… with that I looked around to see what I could get for it.  I thought it might be worth enumerating the places where you can sell easily; so with that, I excluded eBay and CraigsList. The following shows a point-in-time (18.Oct 2014) anecdotal example of the variation in price offerings:

Source Offer
Apple $115 credit
Gazelle $120 30-day price-lock
BestBuy $185 credit
NextWorth $125 30-day price-lock
Glyde $187.54
Amazon $182.65 credit
SellYourMac $140 30-day offer-lock
BuyMyTronics $135
SellYourCell $120
iSellMyiPhone $144  14-day offer-lock
uSell $136.80
CashforiPhones iPhones only

How it Works

All the sites, listed here work, more or less, the same:

  1. Rate your device (“like new” means, would you give it as a gift?)
  2. Print out a pre-paid shipping label or wait for shipping materials.
  3. Send the device in.
  4. Receive payment (assuming your description was accurate).


Apple uses the services of Brightstar to handle its buy-back program. You pack your device with your own or packaging sent; they pay the shipping in either case. Once they receive the device you’ll receive an Apple store credit.


This is the most advertised of the buy-back sites. Gazelle allows you to submit and accept an offer, after-which they send you a self-addressed, postage paid box for you to ship the device to them. You normally have 30-days with the offer price locked in, to do that. Once they receive the device they send you the money in various forms, PayPal or check. You can also elect to receive an Amazon credit and get an extra 5%. Or you can have the amount donated to charity.


You have the convenience (or inconvenience) of bringing your device to a BestBuy for a credit. You can also send your device for credit that will be emailed back, after they receive the device.


NextWorth is similar to Gazelle, with a 30-day offer price lockin and free shipping. Payment distributed via PayPal, a Discover prepaid card, check, or Target gift-card. They partner with Target to allow you to bring your device into a local store for immediate payment.


Glyde provides an easy way to sell your device—an easy alternative to eBay or Craigslist. They present a recommended price that you can adjust higher or lower. After setting your price, they provide you with a shipping kit to send them the device and they sell at your price and keep >10%. The $187.54, shown above, is based on their $212 recommended selling price. You can use your payment to purchase other items from Glyde, transfer to your bank account or, for $2., have a paper check sent.


In addition the eBay-like way that Amazon allows you to sell goods, they are providing a specific way to sell your device directly to Amazon for credit. You’ll need to pack the device but they provide free shipping.


Despite their name, SellYourMac buys all sorts of Apple devices. They lock their offer price for 30-days within which you print the shipping label they provide and package your device. They pay via PayPal, check, or credit.


Pays via PayPal or check once they receive the device, with theirs or your own packaging—paid by BuyMyTronics.


SellYourCell is a simple site. Pack your device, slap on their pre-paid shipping label and they send you a check or credit your PayPal account.


After submitting your offer, you’ll be required to submit photos of the device to confirm its condition after which iSellMyiPhone will send a FedEx label to cover shipping. They will lock their offer price for 14-days to allow time for them to receive the device—short, but their offer is higher than  those offering 30-day lock-in. Once they test the device, they send payment via check or, for a 3% fee an instant PayPal credit.


uSell coordinates the selling of your device to commercial buyers. You are shown the offering price for your device. Once you accept, they will send pre-paid packaging. Payment is via check or PayPal, upon receipt.




Making a Modern Business Card

Business cards are still relevant todayBill Lee Photographer Business card tests, in the age of electronic address-books. Decades ago, it was a hassle to print up your own business cards. Today, you can print them at home or bring them to a myriad of printers. I wrote about what to include on a business card in my blog, focused on photography, and the business of photography, so I’ll simply reference it from here.

Be a Little More Dashing in Your Text Communiqués

Again, I am off on a tangent. This is actually a tangent of a tangent (so I am way off course!).  If you care about typefaces and the look of your text communications on your computers and smart-phones, as I do, then you probably feel constrained by the limited typewriter character set in your electronic communication. Finding the exact character to look and act like you want can distinguish and beautify your communiqués. It turns out that things have evolved a bit since the typewriter days and, though keyboards doesn’t show this, there are a bunch of other standard characters that are available; double-quotes (“ and ” vs. "), single-quotes (‘ and ’ vs. '), ellipsis (… vs. ... —which saves also save you two characters in limited-length messages such as tweets and text-messages), and the topic of today’s post, dashes: hyphens (-), en-dashes (–), and em-dashes (—). I simply want to be able to enter these characters to make my messages look better, without a lot of tedium.

As tangents go, this led to more tangents; but here, I will try to distill these meanderings to something digestible and useful. So, first, a little about dashes then some howtos to enter the one you want on computers, tablets, and smart-phones you’re using

Dash, Dashes, and More Dashes

It turns out that dash/hyphen, en-, and em-dashes not only look different, they have different meanings. Reading through the Wikipedia’s “Dashes” entry reminds me of one of my peeves: when composing a document’s formatting, apply semantic formatting independent of how you want it to look (and address the look of the elements separately)—do not format content based on how you want it to look. (But I digress again…). Continue reading Be a Little More Dashing in Your Text Communiqués

“Unhack” Your Facebook Account

If you are lounging around at a café, Facebooking using their public wifi, note that a hacker with the right software can grab your login information and do you the favor of Facebooking for you, without your help. Realistically, his kind of hack is not very prolific, but it is easy to block, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Since Facebook makes this simple setting unduly difficult, the following is a quick step-by-step (as of July 4, 2011).

  1. Go to the “Account” drop-down menu in the upper right of your Facebook page.
    Facebook Account Continue reading “Unhack” Your Facebook Account

Gmail “Anonymizer”: Using Gmail without others knowing about it

Free email is always popular. With Gmail having been out for a while and all those nifty Google services which require a Gmail ID as a prerequisite, Gmail is more popular than ever. Couple with that its great Spam filtering and it’s no wonder why so many people use it. Even if you have your own domain or other email mailbox, the Spam protection, alone, might be a reason to switch to Gmail. Other reasons: almost unlimited mailbox size, fast searching of all your email, a single place to organize all your email, a single view to your mail organization from any email client (via IMAP), and versatile mail management via labels.

So, if you are going to use Gmail, here’s some advice on how to use it right. Continue reading Gmail “Anonymizer”: Using Gmail without others knowing about it

Transferring iTunes Content

To retain all the playlist, podcast status, apps, and media organization in your iTunes setup do the following:

  1. Install iTunes.
  2. Make sure iTunes is not running.
  3. Copy all the media files from your old machine to the new. If all the media is in the standard iTunes location, copy to the entire iTunes directory.
    C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\My Music\iTunes

    In Finder, navigate to Home Directory, Music, iTunes.

  4. Copy any media outside the iTunes area to their same paths on the new machine.
  5. Start iTunes and let it rebuild its database.

If you are using iTunes to sync your contacts and other personal information with your iPod’s or iPhone’s, then be sure that the application that holds the personal data is installed and up to date before syncing the device.

Upgrading Windows 7, In-place

One cool, little mentioned feature of Windows 7 is that it can be updated to a grander version, as quickly and easily as installing an security update. You can simply enter the license key for the version of Windows 7 that you want to update to and let the system upgrade itself—an Anytime Update license, which can be purchased for an incremental price (compared to paying the full price), can be used as well.

  1. Right-click on Computer to bring up its context menu and select Properties or open the System settings from the Control Panel.
  2. Unless you already have Windows 7 Ultimate installed, the section at the top, “Windows edition” should have a link that says “Get more features with a new edition of Windows 7.” Click on that link.
  3. After entering the license key for the new Windows version, After inputing a valid key the upgrade files will be downloaded and installed on the machine. The machine may reboot a couple of times.

Migrating Skype Chat History

After installing Skype on a new machine, make sure it is not running. Then, the chat history from an old installation can be moved to the new installation. The Skype user directories in the new installation need to be replaced with the ones from the prior installation, adding them, if necessary.

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Skype\skypeuser
Win 7:

Username is the windows login name under which the given Skype installation will run. Skypeuser is one or more Skype user ids that will log into Skype under the given windows login. If you are using Windows’ Explorer, make sure that “protected operating system files” are shown. (I replaced the entire Skype directory and that also worked).

See Move Skype History From Windows XP To Windows 7, but realize that it says that only the “chatsync” directories need to be copied over… that will not work, however, the entire parent directory (skypeuser) must be copied.