Free Software

How to Sync your iPhone to a new Mac without Erasing your Data (a complete step-by-step guide)

My Macbook Pro hard-drive failed recently.  It was only about a year and a half old and it just went down without warning.  No slowing of the system, no problems, no crashes.  It just died suddenly. 

Anyway, I had Apple Care so I got it fixed for free with a shiny new HD.  However, I lost all my settings including the data relating to my iPhone to iTunes sync.  I spent the last 3 months trying to get my iPhone and the new HD to talk to each other.  But every single thing I tried didn’t stop me getting the unbelievably irritating message:

iphone erase and restore

But my persistence has finally paid off and I have actually successfully synced my iPhone to my new HD.  And, I have of course beaten (and beaten deep into the ground) the stupid stupid annoying irritating erase and sync message. This fills me with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

While I was trying and failing to fix the problem I read many many different solutions and also many different ideas about which software to use and so on.  I also read countless times that it was not fixable and that I had to erase my iPhone.  Or that I had to jailbreak it.  In any case I did not find one clear cohesive step by step to solving this problem.

So I would like to share my solution in the hope that it will help other people get themselves out of this ridiculous situation.  This is my own complete and extremely detailed step by step guide to syncing an iPhone with a second/new Mac without losing/deleting/erasing any data. 

This solution does not require jailbreaking or anything of that nature, nor does it require you to erase anything from your iPhone.

And yes, this is EXACTLY what I did to get my iPhone to sync with my new HD and iTunes. Continue reading

Categories: Free Software, iPhone, Mac, Mac & OS X, Macbook Pro | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

A Solution to Problems with Skype Video Calling

This is just a quick post about some problems I had with video calling on Skype recently.

If you arent sure how to make a video call on the new Skype (version 6) please read the walk through on the Skype website here

So my problem was that, although I had previously tested my built-in Macbook camera was working (but not running in the background) and I could even see myself under the Audio/Video tab in Skype Preferences, every time I pressed the video call button it tried its best to switch to video and then reverted back to voice call. 

Screen shot 2013-05-18

I really didnt understand what was going wrong.  As usual I turned to the internet for help, but in the end I managed to solve it myself with a few pointers to the reasons causing the problems.  Continue reading

Categories: Free Software, Mac & OS X | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Essential Free Software for Mac OS X: My Personal Top 10 Indispensables (plus a few handy extras)

I realised when I was getting my system back to normal (HD faliure – probably post on this at some point) that I have not written any posts about any of the really great freeware I use on my Mac.

scream

Crazy!!!

I realise that a lot of people do these top ten lists for interesting software or fun software for Macs.  And a lot of them list programs you have to pay for.

My list is for USEFUL SOFTWARE I USE ALL THE TIME. 

And of course all software listed here is 100% FREE SOFTWARE.  

There is NO payware or shareware included.

So here’s my up to date list of all the software I consider indispensable for my happy Mac life.  These are vaguely in order of how often I use them. Continue reading

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How to downgrade from iTunes 11 to iTunes 10.7 + Solutions to Error (-42408) and iPhone Syncing Issues

After using iTunes 11 for about a month, to give it a chance after my initial disgust (see this post), I couldn’t stand it any longer.

And, after weighing up various options, including various alternative players, I decided to downgrade to iTunes 10.7. iTunes 10.7 supports iOS 6 so I would still be able to sync my iPhone while enjoying all the features and aesthetics which are sadly (and annoyingly) lacking in iTunes 11.

I can confirm that by using this method my iPhone, which is currently running iOS 6, does not get the “restore factory settings” error and has no problems syncing and accessing all the apps I downloaded using iTunes 11.

I also did not get the dreaded error message (-42408).

I had both these problems when I tried to downgrade previously.  So this guide also provides a solution to these errors.

I would also like to add that my iPhone is not jailbroken (just FYI).

Continue reading

Categories: Free Software, Mac & OS X, Macbook Pro | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Working Around the Regressions of iTunes 11

I decided I wanted to upgrade to the newest version iTunes as I had just bought an iPhone. I would have quite happily carried on using my old iTunes 10.2.1 which had never let me down but I wanted the iTunes setup option for the iPhone ready just in case of emergencies.  And it said I should get the latest one.  So I updated to the newest iTunes (at the time of this post 11.0.1).

I have to say, if you don’t have to update, don’t do it! The new iTunes is hideous and also really annoying in so many ways. It was probably marketed as “sleek and simplistic”, or some other rubbish, which just means it has less features, looks more boring, and is less user friendly.

Anyway.

There are several things you can do to make using the new and regressed iTunes more bearable.

Continue reading

Categories: Free Software, Mac & OS X, Macbook Pro | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Decent Colour Wheel for Adobe Photoshop

Thought I’d post this up quickly as I had to do it for someone recently.

I have been told that Photoshop does actually have a colour wheel somewhere but I couldn’t find it.  In any case, the general online consensus is that it is not worth the time it takes to find it, being completely and utterly deficient on so many levels.  And the fact that there are so many payware programs available which provide a colour wheel suggest that I am not the only one who has tried to remedy this.

So I had a quick surf around and came up with this:

Screen shot 2012-12-17 at 22.02.34 Continue reading

Categories: Art & Design, Free Software | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free eReader Software: Calibre

My Kobo Touch did come with the designated Kobo software – Kobo Desktop. It wasn’t particularly bad software, but I prefer to use something which has a few more features.  Plus a few of the free ebooks I downloaded from non Kobo sites like Gutenberg were rejected by it.  So I use an excellent free alternative – Calibre.

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Calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books.

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Calibre is a bit like a library for your e-Books.  You can enter various information about them, including, author, title, rating, your description, etc. and sort accordingly.  You can move your e-books to and from your e-Reader to your computer.  I prefer to edit all the information about my eBooks using Caibre rather than editing them on my Kobo.  It is also much faster to edit in bulk , for example, as you can see below, some Sherlock Holmes eBooks list the author as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and some as just Arthur Conan Doyle.  Calibre allows you to edit them all to have the same author name which makes them easier to locate on your Kobo. Continue reading

Categories: Calibre (eReader software), e-Books & e-Readers, e-Readers, e-Reading Software, Free Software, Kobo Touch | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Art and Design Software for OS X

I am a firm believer in not paying ridiculous amounts of money for programs. I don’t think that any program, even for graphic design, is worth over 600 pounds.  I mean, you should just buy a new computer or something for that sort of money.  Not mentioning any names of course…. *cough*Photoshop*cough* …. There are countless downloads and hacks for programs like Adobe Photoshop but I don’t believe that resolves anything.  So I use freeware and opensource programs.  There are far fewer free programs available for OS X than for Windows.  However, here are few art and graphics programs which I think are worth considering. Continue reading

Categories: Art & Design, Free Software, Linux and Ubuntu, Mac & OS X | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Having a few problems after a Firefox upgrade…

Just wanted to dash out a quick post about problems I had with a recent Firefox upgrade.  I would like to add that I am a loyal Mozilla Firefox user and although I do have Safari (it came with my Macbook Pro) I never use it except when needs must.

Foxkeh – the official Japanese mascot of Firefox

Anyway I upgraded to Firefox 14.0.1 after being prompted by the usual message about security and stability and so on.  And after restarting and all that jazz, I found that half the sites I usually use (e.g. youtube.com) at wouldn’t load and the rest (e.g. Google) were so slow that you could go away and make a cup of tea between each new page.

So clearly something was amiss.  I have actually never had this sort of problem with Firefox, even back on old Windoze.  At first I thought it might be my network running slowly or the website servers being down, but when fired up Safari everything worked fine.  So clearly it was a Firefox problem.

After reading various posts (which didn’t really help) I decided to just try a few things and see if I could fix it myself.  I tried deleting all my cookies and history, rebooting the system etc but nothing changed.  So I decided to uninstall and reinstall a previous version.  For the record I installed Firefox 13.0.1 and it is working like a charm (so far anyway).

For those who want to install a previous version of Firefox you can find one here.  A few words about installing a previous version of Firefox:

1.)  Mozilla will try to dissuade you from installing a previous version as it is not as secure as the most recent version.  However, I have not had any problems.

2.)  “b” means beta, these are often unstable so it’s best to go with the most recent of the previous stable versions e.g. in my case I downgraded to 13.0.1.

3.)  Make sure you uninstall your current Firefox before installing an older version.  If you are using a Mac just drag the Firefox icon from the Applications folder to the Trash.  You’ll probably have to authenticate this unless you’re Admin.

4.)  It’s best to back up your bookmarks just in case of accidents.  I didn’t have any problems but it’s not rocket science to create a backup just in case.  Just go to Bookmarks > Show All Bookmarks

Then from the Star button you can either Backup or Export Bookmarks to HTML.  I usually do both just in case.

 Although this may all seem obvious, I’ll just run through the uninstall/install process quickly.

1.)  To uninstall Firefox (in OS X) simply open your Applications folder and drag Firefox to the Trash.  You should empty your Trash before installing a previous version to avoid potential problems.

2.)  Download the version you wish to install from this page.

3.)  Open the .dmg and drag Firefox into your Applications folder.  You will need to authenticate this if you are not Admin.

A Quick Note:

I have turned off my Firefox updates to stop it returning to the problem version.  It will do this if you leave your Firefox updates to default.  To stop this automatic update happening go to Firefox > Preferences and then from the menu choose Advanced > Update.  Then you have two options, either:

  • Check for updates, but let me choose whether to install them (which can be a pain in the neck as it helpfully checks for you at least once every time you use Firefox)

or,

  • Never check for updates (this is fine as long as you check manually once in a while)

To update Firefox manually simply go to Firefox > About Firefox > Check for Updates.

Categories: Firefox, Free Software, Mac & OS X | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ubuntu 10.10 – General Software

Depending on whether you do a custom or a default install you may or may not have the following programs.  After using Ubuntu for the last 6 months I recommend the following programs.  Remember, these are all FREE so if you don’t use them you can just uninstall them and it hasn’t cost you anything.  I actually think a lot of these are better than the programs you pay for.  Especially Video LAN Player.  I haven’t yet found a single video file type it can’t open.

To install these programs I usually use Synaptic Package Manager.  If you prefer to use the Terminal or the Ubuntu Software Centre that’s fine too.  I like using Synaptic Package Manager because it recommends you all the extra bits you might need for compatibility and such.  However, the Terminal is the quickest way so I will give the Terminal command for each one, and a detailed Ubuntu Software Centre/Synaptic Package Manager example at the end.

NOTE:  To install a program using the Terminal, open a Terminal window, copy and paste the command line into your window and hit enter.  Enter your Administrator password when asked and it should install it for you.

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  • Firefox – a really good web browser and far more secure than IE (and apparently Safari at the moment).  To install using the Terminal use the command

sudo apt-get install firefox

  • Open Office – similar to Microsoft Office except it’s completely FREE!  This should be included by default but if it isn’t install it using Synaptic Package Manager or Ubuntu Software Centre.

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  • VLC Player – a really good multimedia player which can handle most file formats.  AVI, WMV, DIVX, OGM, FLV, etc.  To install using the Terminal use the command

sudo apt-get install vlc vlc-plugin-pulse mozilla-plugin-vlc

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After that there are several optional odds and ends I recommend:

  • Audacity – a good sound file recorder and editor.  To install using the Terminal use the command

sudo apt-get install audacity

  • GIMP – the GNU Image Manipulation Program.  Similar to Adobe Photoshop… WAIT!  No…  GIMP is FREE not £650 which is the current price of Photoshop!  Seriously, who would pay that?  There are probably a few things it can’t do that Photoshop can but it’s a decent program that can do most things, and yes, it does them for free.  To install using the Terminal use the command

sudo apt-get install gimp

(if you like GIMP you can install some extras for it using sudo apt-get install gimp-data-extras)

  • Five or More – this used to be called Glines and is a bit like connect 4 but oh so much better.  Install this game at your peril, it is very addictive.  Install this using Synaptic Package Manager or Ubuntu Software Centre.

  • Inkscape – a vector graphics editor.  It’s good for people who would like to play around with Adobe Illustrator but refuse to pay the price tag.  To install using the Terminal use the command

sudo apt-get install inkscape

  • SM Player – another media player.  I find this player gets on better with some DVDs than VLC.  It’s a good alternative if you find you have problems.  To install using the Terminal use the command

sudo apt-get install smplayer

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You can install any of these programs using Synaptic Package Manager or Ubuntu Software Centre.  I will give an example for each method using VLC media player.

Using Synaptic Package Manager:

1.)  Make sure you have administrative privileges and your password.

2.)  Go to System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager

3.)  Enter your password when asked.

4.) When looking for a program you have to options – you can either browse the list or use the Quick Search.  Either is fine.

5.)  So if I wanted to install VLC Media Player I would search for it in the Quick Search and then right click and choose Mark for Installation.

Of course as I already have it installed it already has a green mark next to it.

6.)  Click Apply and it should be installed.  If it asks whether you want to install the recommended extras, choose yes.  VLC should now be successfully installed.

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Using Ubuntu Software Centre:

1.)  Go to Applications > Ubuntu Software Centre

2.)  In the search type VLC media player and select it from the list.   You can click on more info if you would like to read about it before installing.

3.)  When you are ready click the install button.  The installation may take a little while but at the end VLC should be successfully installed.

Categories: Free Software, Linux and Ubuntu, Ubuntu 10.10 - Maveric Meerkat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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