Attention Email Subscribers

Google have decided to stop their ‘Subscribe by email’ service using Feedburner. If you wish to continue to follow my blog by email, please visit the blog and resubscribe by email to the new service I have added in the side bar.

Thank you.

Using Your RSS Reader For You Tube

If you like RSS you tend to want to have all your content in one place—your RSS reader.

But if you also follow some channels on YouTube this is a problem, since Google doesn’t publish RSS feeds for channels. They want you to start and stop on YouTube, basically.

So here’s how to create an RSS feed from any YouTube channel.

Steps

  1. Go to the YouTube channel you want to track
  2. View the channel address
  3. It will look something like: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC39ZfoNWe5zYFD1D0hTRRsQ
  4. Get the value for that element (it’ll look something like UC39ZfoNWe5zYFD1D0hTRRsQ
  5. Replace that value into this URL:
https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UC39ZfoNWe5zYFD1D0hTRRsQ

Now you can paste that into any RSS reader and you’ll be able to track when new content is posted.

If you don’t see the Channel ID in the address of the channel.

  1. Go to the YouTube channel you want to track
  2. View the page’s source code
  3. Look for the following text: channel-external-id
  4. Get the value for that element (it’ll look something like UCBcRF18a7Qf58cDRy5xuWdE
  5. Replace that value into this URL:
https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCBcRF18a7Qf58cDRy5xuWdE

Now you can paste that into any RSS reader and you’ll be able to track when new content is posted.

With some channels if you go to their videos it will just show the channel name like this:

https://www.youtube.com/user/dpreviewcom/videos

Just copy and paste that in to your RSS reader, it might work and it will save you from having to dive through the page source code to find the channel ID

I use Protopage as my RSS reader and home for all my bookmarks, I monitor hundreds of channels and blogs using this site.

Sharing Flipboard Magazine Articles on Twitter Automatically

You can easily share posts on Twitter or other social media networks from within the Flipboard app. However, if you want it to share posts automatically then it is actually quite easy to do with the use of an external service.

Each magazine on Flipboard has an rss feed already. So each time you add an article to a magazine that RSS feed gets updated. The rss feed address is the web address of your magazine with .rss added on the end of it. You can test this out by putting the address with .rss on the end in to your own RSS feed reader, in my case I use Protopage.

Having an RSS feed means we can easily direct new entries to a Twitter account using a free service called IFTTT or ‘If This Then That’ You create a simple ‘recipe’ within the app/site to do what ever you want.

In this case you take the RSS feed and send it to Twitter. Within the ‘recipe’ you can add things like ‘Via Flipboard [Magazine address] or similar and also add appropriate HashTags on each tweet.

I’m assuming you already have set up an IFTTT account and that you have given IFTTT access to a Twitter account.

So log in to your IFTTT account and click on My Applets and then ‘New Applet’ and you should see the following screen.

Then click on the + This and you will go through to the Choose a service.

Click on RSS feed and you will get the ‘Choose Trigger’ screen, click on New Feed Item.

You then need to add in the address of the RSS feed of your magazine. To get the address go to: https://flipboard.com/profile, then click on your magazine so you are viewing it in the browser. Then select the address from the address field of the browser and paste it in to the Feed URL field on IFTTT, and then add .rss at the end of the address. Then click Create Trigger.

We then have to tell what IFTTT should do every time it finds a new item in your rss feed. Click on +that

In this example we are going to output the new item to Twitter, so click on Twitter in the Choose action service screen, but you could also post to a Facebook page, your blog, email or a host of other services!.

Click on Post a tweet in the Choose action screen.

Left as it is IFTTT will post a tweet with just the Title and the link to the post.

But you can add hashtags to your tweet and may be a link back to your magazine or your website. Be aware of the character limit on Twitter (280 characters) so you might need to experiment with this field. Click on Create action.

This screen lets you review the whole applet. Click Finish to finalise the applet.

 

You can test your applet by flipping a new article in to your magazine and then check your Twitter feed to see the result.

I’ve been using this method experimentally with a few of my magazines for a few month and it has generated a bit more traffic to the magazines as well as to the sites the articles were from, including my own blog.

Blogger/Blogspot emails

If you use Blogger/Blogspot for your blog you will have noticed that since 25 May you will not have received emails containing the comments.

Also missing are emails about comments that need moderating or emails of new posts on your blog.

This was all connected to the new GDPR regulations and permission to send emails. Even though you had put these email addresses in yourself years ago!

There is now a simple fix, starting with emailing new comments:

  1. Go to your blogger dashboard.
  2. Select Settings (it’s in a left hand menu).
  3. Select Email.
  4. In the box for comment notification email, remove all email addresses and selected “save settings” so that no email address was in the box.
  5. Then typed in your email address and hit “save settings”.
  6. You will then receive an email from blogger asking you to “subscribe” to comments on your blog.

Each emailed comment then has an unsubscribe link/option at the foot of the email, therefore they now comply with GDPR.

You can do the same trick for Comment Moderation. Comment Moderation is also in Settings in Posts, comments and sharing, Comment moderation.

Again do the same, remove the email address, save settings, put in the email address then save settings.

You will get another email asking you to confirm with a link.

‘Email posts to’ is in Settings, Email just below Comment Notification.

I hope that solves the issues for you. I have been missing getting the emails when new comments arrive on the blog!

 

Apple Time Machine

Do you use an Apple Mac? If you do then Time Machine is a great way of backing up your files from your machine to an external drive on a frequent basis.

So some quick tips about Time Machine:

  • Dedicate at least one external hard drive to Time Machine, don’t be tempted to use it for other files as well. It reduces the capacity. If you need an external drive for other files buy another drive.
  • Leave the drive connected all the time. If you are using a Macbook (Laptop) then an external drive that connects to your network or your router (Western Digital MyCloud) is a good alternative to one hard-wired to your machine.
  • Buy a large drive, the bigger the drive the longer Time Machine can keep backups for before it starts deleting old back ups.
  • If you buy a larger drive at a later date, it is possible to transfer your previous backups to the newdrive, see this article for details. I’ve done this a few times and it’s fairly involved but follow the steps shown and you should retain all your previous backups.

Time Machine keeps:

  • Hourly backups for the past 24 hours
  • Daily backups for the past month
  • Weekly backups for all previous months

The oldest backups are deleted when your drive becomes full.

How useful is Time Machine?

  • If your Mac has a hard drive failure and you have to replace the internal drive, when you turn the machine back on having installed OSX then the machine will offer the opportunity to restore the machine from the most recent Time Machine back up.
    • This back up will restore all your data, settings, passwords, desktop files, photos, music, in summary everything.
    • Occasionally you will find you will have to put in product codes to activate software.
  • The restore process can take a few hours, I ran mine over night the couple of times I’ve had to do this.
  • You can restore individual files, say you had a file on your desktop some weeks ago. Then you can enter Time Machine and track back and find the file again by literally going back in time. You can then restore that file. If a later version exists then you can opt to replace or keep both versions of the file, which is useful with changing files.
  • You can split your Time Machine back ups across more than one drive, Time Machine then just uses each drive in turn. This helps to increase the overall security of your back ups in the case of an external drive failure.
  • Running Time Machine will not slow down your machine, it all happens comfortably in the background and you will hardly notice it happening.

Problems with Time Machine?

Occasionally you might get an error message that says that Time Machine hasn’t been able to verify the latest back up. There seems to be very little you can do about this about from starting the process off again. Time Machine will start a new back up and delete the old one. This is a good reason for using more than one external drive for Time Machine back ups.

In my case I use a locally connected USB external drive as one Time Machine drive and a network connected MyCloud drive as the other one.

On rebooting the external drive will not always be picked up. Let me explain.

The external Time Machine drive icon is normally shown on your desktop on your Mac and it will look like this:

A normal non-Time Machine drive will look like this:

 

On start up or rebooting if your Time Machine drive looks likes the ‘Yellow/Orange’ drive above it might be functioning ok as your Time Machine back up drive, but just to be certain there are a few simple things you can try to ensure it turns to ‘Green’

  1. Starting with the simple test. Hover your cursor over the Finder icon on the dock (normally at the left) press the ‘Alt’ key on the keyboard then ‘Right Click’ the mouse and then left click on ‘Relaunch’ Finder will relaunch and then check to see if your drive icon has changed to ‘Green’

If it hasn’t then go to the next step.

2. Go in to System Preferences, Time Machine. Click on Add or Remove Back Up Disk and then click on your external drive again, then ‘Use Disk’

You can then close System Preferences. If the Time Machine Icon hasn’t turned ‘Green’ try relaunching Finder again using the Alt, Right Click, Relaunch routine again. It should then turn ‘Green’ and all should be working as it should.

As reboots of Macs is normally fairly infrequent, you will not be doing this that often.

Every so often you can check in Time Machine System Preferences, this is will show the latest and oldest back up dates, how much drive space you have.

If you disconnect your Time Machine drive from your computer, Time Machine will politely remind you that you haven’t backed up for n weeks with an on-screen message after about 10 days. Hence why it is always best to keep the drive connected when ever possible.

Finally.

This has been a lightning tour of what Time Machine can offer, but it really is a useful feature built-in to OSX that you should be using. External drives are not expensive these days. So get one and get using Time Machine… And remove the drive to a safe place if you are going away for any length of time.

Cabin Zero Bags and Packing Cubes

I have been living here in rural France for coming up to six years now. I frequently travel back to UK and other European cities by air or train and occasionally by car.

Travelling can be a joy if you have the right luggage. You don’t have those moments at the airport wondering if your bag is going to fit within the restrictions imposed by the budget air carriers or that you will not have any spare capacity for a little bit of shopping from where ever you are travelling to. You also want something that is hard wearing and comfortable to carry, those gates at the airport can be some distance from the train station and I’ve not mastered using a skate board quite yet!

My Cabin Zero bags satisfy all of these requirements and more. I’ve had the two bags now for some time (the blue one below and a grey one), on some trips I’ve used both bags, it has been easier to use two of these bags than one larger suitcase. Traversing the Paris Metro can be a nightmare with a wheeled suitcase, there are lots of steps and rough surfaces in places. Also the Cabin Zero bags fit in to the overhead rack of the TGV trains easily. No contest really.

Naturally I only use one of them on airline flights, but the Cabin Zero bag was designed around the size limitations for such flights. I’ve developed a packing list that lets me have everything I need for a weekend away and as a bonus it all fits neatly in to the Cabin Zero backpack.

Cabin Zero bags come in two different styles and a large range of colours, it’s best to see the current range on their website than for me to try and describe it. Here is the description from the website:

The ‘Classic’ ultra-light cabin and travel bag in features a large 44 litre capacity, side compression straps, top and side handles, a front zipped pocket with inside zipped and mesh pockets.

Additional standard features include:

  • Built in Global Luggage Tracker, powered by Okoban
  • Lockable Zippers on main compartment (lock not included)
  • 10 years warranty (upgradable to 25 years free of charge if you ‘like’ us on FaceBook)
  • Thick padded shoulder straps
  • Fully Lined

Volume: 44L 
Weight: 760 grams (approx)
Dimensions: Fits 55 x 40 x 20 cm
Composition, Outer: Waterproof polyester, Lining: Polyester

Cabin Zero Ultra Light Cabin Bag Cabin Zero Bag reverse side

One issue I had the first time I used my Cabin Zero backpack was trying to keep the contents in order. Making the journey through security easier and without the contents spilling out everywhere. I solved the problem with some cheap packing cubes (small nylon zip bags) these help me organise the contents in to logical order and things stay where they should when you carry the bag and when you have to open it and retrieve things.

The ones I originally bought in London where ‘ok’, but I wasn’t 100% happy with them. I commented on the Cabin Zero Facebook page that I thought the whole experience and utility of using the bag would be improved with the addition of some packing cubes to the range of accessories. They acknowledged my message and thanked me for the idea and they said they were working on exactly what I had suggested.

It is always nice dealing with companies that listen to their customers and then exceed their expectations when they deliver a new product. Cabin Zero offered to send me a set of their new packing cubes as a thank you for being a loyal customer, naturally I said yes and I looked forward to receiving them in the post.

I received a set of three Cabin Zero Classic Packing Cubes promptly in the post and unpacked them and inspected them. Compared to the ones I bought from a store in Oxford Street store in London, they are a huge improvement on the ones I have been using. They are made from top quality materials and the icing on the cake is that they are fitted with YKK zips, this brand of zips are also used on the Cabin Zero backpacks as well and they are extremely tough and well made. They are acknowledged as being the best zips made. Therefore they should last for years of service.

The Cabin Zero packing cubes currently come in two sizes of Medium (25 x 17.5 x 8cm) and Large (25x35x8cm)   They are made with a nylon outer and polyester interior lining. Each bag has a carrying handle so you could use it easily on its own outside of your bag.

Medium Packing Cube

Large Packing Cube

In common with the Cabin Zero cabin size bags the packing cubes are also equipped with a luggage tracking tag, which lets you register your bags and packing cubes with Okoban which operate a notification service should your luggage go missing somewhere on your travels anywhere in the world.

The packing cubes are a very practical size, not too big and their dimensions mean they fit in to the overall dimensions of the Cabin Zero back packs perfectly, a set of three (2 medium and 1 large) also don’t take up all of the capacity in your bag, there is still plenty of room for a jacket, laptop and other things like your toiletries, or another set of packing cubes even.

Filled Packing Cubes

Filled bag Large packing cube below the medium size

I’m very pleased with this addition to the Cabin Zero range and I can’t wait to use them on my next trip, sadly that isn’t until early May… but my wife has been eyeing them up and she has offered to ‘test’ them out for me in a couple of weeks time. She is a published author and has already tried the packing cubes out for size for her books, it looks like I will have order her a set as well.

Thank you to Cabin Zero for supplying the samples.

 

Afternoon walk – Photo challenge

I went for my/our usual afternoon walk, in fact I did it twice although not intentionally, but that is another story.

Today I was on my own and decided to take my old DSLR camera a Canon EOS20D, it’s about 11 years old, but it still all works.

Although I replaced it with a much more modern (and lighter) Canon EOS 100D at the beginning of this year, I still love the way I can find my way around the simplicity of the 20D without having to look at it really.

The 20D has been superseded many times over by the 30D, 40D, 50D, 60D and 70D and I suspect the 80D is just around the corner, quite what they are going to do when they get to 100 I don’t know… my current camera takes up that slot!

So why use the 20D when I have a much lighter and higher spec 100D in my other camera bag? Good question, I came across this blog post a few weeks ago.

I liked the idea behind it of using your digital camera like a film camera. I still have a Canon film SLR but I rarely use it because of the cost of film processing. So this digital equivalent appealed to me.

So the basic rules:

  1. Limit the number of photos to 12, 26 or 36 exposures, the same as the popular 35 mm format.
  2. Lock your ISO speed to one speed and don’t change it.
  3. Turn off the LCD so you can’t review your pictures afterwards, it’s so small on the 20D anyway!
  4. Wait 3 days before you download the pictures off your memory card.

So why use the 20D… well in amongst my collection of Compact Flash cards (CF) that the 20D uses I discovered some quite small sizes, 128 MB, 256 MB, as well as my usual 2GB and 8GB cards. In the highest resolution the 128 MB CF card would let me take 26 pictures or about 12 in RAW format… perfect for this challenge! Also with it’s limited specification (8 Megapixels, lower high ISO performance) the 20D is closer I feel to my film camera than anything else, oh and the weight.. about 1.5 kg with the zoom lens!

So suitably equipped and with the batteries charged I set off on our usual circuit of along and down in to the small hamlet of Fertevault, then along beside the river Thouet to the hamlet of Chambre, then back up the hill to Croix de Chambre. It’s about 3.2 km and normally takes me about 40 minutes. We generally do this same walk either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

I took some photographs and just enjoyed the scenery as always. The photos are nothing exceptional, I’ve taken similar shots before but it is nice to go around with a camera to hand and look for something different to photograph in this familiar landscape.

And here are the photos.

I will do this challenge from time to time, I quite enjoyed it. It was also nice to get familiar again with my old camera.

And why did I do the walk twice… somewhere on my walk I lost my reading glasses, so I went around again, I didn’t find them although, we will look out of them next time around, in the mean time I’m using an old pair!

Turn your iPad in to a second display for your Mac or Windows machine

I’m used to using my large 27 inch iMac at home, I rarely use applications full screen though, you start to suffer from moving your head from left to right, like you are watching a tennis match on Centre Court!! So I tend to divide the screen between two apps at a time. Mail and Skype, or Safari and Twitter etc.

Quite often I will drag a tab out of Safari and sit it next to the other Safari window, so I have the two side by side. I can see both that way. I can place the mouse cursor in one Safari window, whilst the flashing on-screen cursor is in the other and happily copy links from one window with the mouse and paste them in the other with a key stroke without having to change the active window, it just works brilliantly for that simple function.

I’m writing this post whilst away from home on my Macbook Pro, the same resolution screen as I have at home, but smaller screen size. Resizing windows to fit two side by side isn’t so practical on a 13 inch screen, but with a simple app I have gained a second display using my iPad.

My iPad isn’t particularly new, it’s the 3rd generation one, but with the Duet App loaded it functions as a second display when connected via the USB cable to the Macbook Pro.

IMG_1934

 

The app lets you configure the screen resolution to use on the iPad separately to your main display, which side of your main display the iPad is stood on and a few other features.

Even on my old iPad there is no detectable lag or delay in the cursor movement, the second display acts just like it is the main display. If you press the home key on the iPad to come out of the app, any windows or apps you had placed on the iPad screen are moved back on to the main screen without having to close them or reopen them.

It apparently works with Windows machines as well, although I’ve not been able to test it with one as I don’t have any Windows machines these days.

So if you have a spare iPad you aren’t sure what to do with it… turn it in to a second display for your laptop or even your Mac or PC at home.

How to kill your home Internet Connection with Apple iCloud Photo.

I love most things Apple, I take a bit of convincing some times. However, I recently saw the benefit of iCloud Photos, the ability to have all your photos in the cloud and on smaller capacity devices it will only download on demand the photos you want to view etc.

Upload all your photos from a weekend trip whilst you are away and they will be on your main machine when you get back etc. It holds a lot of advantages….

Sadly there is a downside to this.. I’ve been using digital photography for over 10 years, my photo library is over 25,000 photos about 90Gb in total. I didn’t think this would be a big problem. We use CrashPlan on all our machines, my iMac has uploaded over 400 Gb, yes it took several weeks, but it got there in the end.

iCloud Photo though isn’t quite as clever as other Cloud storage applications, it just grabs all the bandwidth available and tries to use it all ignoring the fact you might want to look at a website or down an email or two. The only control you have over it is to pause it. Even closing the application doesn’t stop it unless you have paused it. So you end up pausing it during the day and then having to remembering to resume the upload last thing in the day.

PhotosPerferences copy

Crashplan

By comparison CrashPlan as you can see has a much smarter approach to controlling how much bandwidth it uses when you are using the machine or you are away from the machine.

Crashplan copy

 

I’m not the only one complaining about this, I’ve come across several other blog posts on the topic in the past few weeks. Short of taking my iMac to somewhere that has super high speed fibre internet to upload all the remaining photos, I shall just have to continue to upload a couple of hundred photos each day, pathetic really.

 

[2017 Update: Apple seem to have tamed iCloud uploads so that they are a bit more slow connection friendly. They no longer kill your connection. It backs off until the connection is available.]