February 27, 2017

the wonder of offset in Google Sheets and Excel

Every once in awhile, you want to grab every 3rd row of a set of data. After a bit of searching online and trial and error, I got it to work!

The formula turns out to be =OFFSET('sheet name'!$A2, 0, (Column()-2*n) where n stands for whatever number of columns you want to offset.

Here's what the formula means:

Make sure you include that (Column()-2 part; notice that in my case, I wanted every 3rd column.

January 20, 2017

reset the toner on your Brother printer!

This is brilliant and worked like a charm! I was tired of the Replace Toner message on my Brother HL2340DW printer. A little Google and this is what came up:
  1. Open the front cover and leave it open while completing the following steps.
  2. Turn the printer off.
  3. Hold the ‘go’ button while turning the printer on.
  4. After 3 seconds release the ‘go’ button.
  5. (USER MODE) will appear.
  6. Press the ‘go’ button NINE times.
  7. The Wifi led will flash once. (my wifi button flashed each time)
  8. Press the ‘go’ button 5 times.
  9. Close the cover. Your toner is now reset
  10. Press OK 3 times to print a status page and this will show that the toner has reset back to 100%
This solution came from the the good folks at easyink.

January 6, 2017

Blogger tweaks for new blogs

Here are some of the main tweaks I do for every Blogger blog.

- Create a TOC/Archives page
- Change the way search results are displayed (with only titles)
- Get rid of the "Showing all posts with labels message..."
- install a good search box
- create a Labels page
- remove Title of pages
center blog title (also listed immediately below)
- center page tabs

Here's the code for the centering the blog title and page tabs (put in the Advanced -> Add CSS section when customizing the template.
#header-inner {text-align:center !important;} #header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important;} 

.PageList {text-align:center !important;}
.PageList li {display:inline !important; float:none !important;}

Optional, but good ones:
- Create a landing page (well I don't really do this for all blogs)
- Add more than one page widget Blogger

December 28, 2016

a comfy reading chair

For about as long as I can remember, I've wanted a comfy, dedicated reading chair- a place where I could really snuggle in and read to my hearts content. I'm sure this desire comes from a longing to recapture some feeling that always seems to be just out of reach. There are memories and feelings that stay with you; over time, they morph into a deep aching, happiness, joy, sadness, and even physical sensations are intimately bound to something that's not quite a memory, more like an impression or the left-behind ghost of a memory-- Proust's famous madeleines. For me, it's a moment or series of moments from childhood. At that age, we lived in an apartment with west-facing windows and I'm reading by them; I've spent hours reading and the sunlight is fading, dusk is settling into the what's left of the day. If my mother was home, I was allowed to sit on the porch or under the tree to read and in those memories I can almost feel the warmth of the fading light on my arms and face; I see myself looking up from my book, staring at the train tracks that ran in front the apartment, the weakening light glinting off the tracks-- and I'm wondering where the tracks go; they must lead to some adventure. Then I return to my book, back to the warmth, the fading light; it's as if I know even at that age that this memory would be special.The picture above comes close to capturing these feelings and below are some additional artworks of reading by windows.

setting up a subdomain for blogger

Creating a subdomain redirect for blogger is slightly different from doing the same for Google Sites. This post is specific to eNom since I had so many problems figuring this out. First here's the deal. I have a domain name: www.MyDomain.com. But I created several Blogger blogs and I want to create subdomains for them. For example, I wanted:
  • www.blog1.MyDomain.com
  • www.blog2.MyDomain.com
  • www.blog3.MyDomain.com
But I also wanted the naked subdomains to point to the same blogs. For example if someone typed in "blog1.MyDomain.com", (without the www), it should still go to "www.blog1.MyDomain.com".

It was easy enough to create the correct subdomain redirect in Blogger using any number of tutorials including Google's own directions, but I had a devil of a time setting up the second address correctly. After tons of searching and trial and error, it turns out that the solution is relatively straightforward-- I actually need to do two things:
  1. set up a custom domain as per the tons of tutorials and then
  2. set up a url redirect. 
So here's how I did it with Blogger and eNom.

December 2, 2016

tmobile's Gold rewards

I can't believe I just realized this. I'm sure I knew at some point, but somehow forgot but here's this post to remind me. In order to get calls for 10 cents/min on tmobile's grandfathered prepaid plan, we have to refill with a $100 card each time. Otherwise, the cost is pretty high.

$10 refill = $10/35 = $0.29/min or txt
$25 refill = $25/150 = $0.17/min or txt
$50 refill = $50/460 = $0.11/min or txt
$100 refill = $100/1000 = $0.10/min or txt

In other words, Gold Rewards gives you two benefits: 1) ensures that the minutes won't expire for a year and 2) gives an extra 15% worth of mins, but it does not bring the cost down to $0.10 per min/txts.

So in future, remember to refill with $100 cards!

Spend $100 in refills, and get instant Gold Rewards status.
Refill valueWhenever Minutes® / Minutes Expire
$1030 min / 90 days35 min / 1 year
$25130 min / 90 days150 min / 1 year
$50400 min / 90 days460 min / 1 year
$1001000 min / 1 year*

November 28, 2016

adding Google Play Store to Fire HD 8

I wanted to make this post because the process wasn't as straightforward as I remembered. You see, about a year ago, I bought the very basic Amazon Fire 7" 8GB for about $30 when there was some kind of deal. It was a very mediocre tablet. This year, I'd read tons of good reviews about the Fire HD 8" 16GB and I had recently given my 8" tablet to my mom so I decided to buy it during Black Friday for about $59.

Last year, I was able to successfully install the Google Play Store on the Fire 7" so I was hoping to do the same on my new Fire HD 8", but as I said, I quickly realized that I didn't remember the steps and the online tutorials weren't all that straightforward. Basically you'll be doing 4 things: 1) installing a driver to correctly recognize the Fire tablet, 2) enabling the Fire tablet to allow debugging, 3) installing the Google Play Store, and 4) setting up the Google Play Store.

1) installing a driver to correctly recognize the Fire tablet

First go over to http://adbdriver.com/
= choose ADB Driver Installer (Universal)
== download ADB Driver Installer (9.22mb)
=== Unzip the ADB Driver Installer file
==== install the ADB Driver (you may get a message that it's unsigned, install it anyway)

2) enabling the Fire tablet to allow debugging

Next, prepare the Fire HD 8 by going into Settings -> Device Options
= scroll down to the Serial Number and tap on it seven times to enable Developer Options
== once Developer Options appears, tap on it and under Debugging, make sure you Enable ADB (you'll likely get some kind of message that it's for advanced use)

Note: if the ADB driver (from Step 1) is correctly installed, once you enable ADB on the Fire tablet (Step 2), you'll get a message that the Fire tablet recognizes the computer doing the debugging.

3) installing the Google Play Store

Next, go to http://rootjunkysdl.com/files/
= choose Amazon Fire 5th Gen
== download "Amazon-Fire-5th-Gen-Install-Play-Store.zip"
=== unzip the file
==== Find "1-Install-Play-Store" and run it.

Here's what the tool should look like:

Note: If the previous steps have been correctly done, the screen above will also recognize the tablet with the tablet ID.

The previous screen will turn into the following screen:

At this screen, type 2 and hit Enter to Install Google Play.
It will say that there are 4 files to install and will install each of them.
Restart the tablet and the Play Store should be installed.

4) Sign into the Google Play Store

Tap on the Google Play Store and log in. If you have 2-step verification enabled, you'll probably get an error message that says that you need to log into your account using a web page. Select ok, and you'll be taken to 2-step verification.

Adding more than one Google account:
I also ran into the problem of how to add more than one Google account.  The solution is to download the Gmail app from the Google Play Store and then add your other Gmail accounts. Once you add your extra Gmail accounts, you can choose which Google identity to use with which Google apps.

I am indebted to the following sites:

August 19, 2016

standalone html link for multiple Google calendars

I teach several classes and I create individual Google calendars for each class. Google makes it pretty easy to embed multiple calendars into a single webpage- in fact, there are tools right in Google calendar to generate the appropriate embed codes. But I also wanted a standalone url for that same embedded calendar and getting that takes a little tweaking. To be clear, it's easy enough embed multiple Google calendars into a single webpage (follow the link above or these instructions), but I'm interested in getting a a standalone url such as this one.

Step 1: 
Follow the steps for generating the embed code. Make sure that you give each calendar the colors you want, etc. You'll end up with an iframe code that looks something like this:

<iframe src="https://calendar.google.com/calendar/embed?height=600&amp;wkst=1&amp;bgcolor=%23FFFFFF&amp;src=professorpok%40gmail.com&amp;color=%23B1365F&amp;src=1saupj867uga40dguoscdpaqo8%40group.calendar.google.com&amp;color=%23BE6D00&amp;src=hpr4cabte8qfuvbq6q52cbh3sk%40group.calendar.google.com&amp;color=%231B887A&amp;ctz=America%2FNew_York" style="border-width:0" width="800" height="600" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>

Step 2: 
Copy the entire link within the " " (the highlighted portion)
src="https://calendar.google.com/calendar/embed?height=600&wkst=1&bgcolor=%23FFFFFF&src=professorpok%40gmail.com&color=%23B1365F&src=1saupj867uga40dguoscdpaqo8%40group.calendar.google.com&color=%23BE6D00&src=hpr4cabte8qfuvbq6q52cbh3sk%40group.calendar.google.com&color=%231B887A&ctz=America%2FNew_York" style="border-width:0" width="800" height="600" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"

Step 3: 
Delete from "height=600" to just before the first "src=" (delete the pink highlighted)

Step 4: 
From there, delete all the "amp;" (again, delete the pink highlighted).

The final link should look like this and you should be good to go:

I owe thanks to the discussion in this post for the pointing me in the right direction.

July 2, 2016

pens that accept Pilot G2 refills

12/16/2016 update! The G2 does NOT fit in the Pilot Axiom! A reader posted my mistake and when I went back and double-checked, the refill I hacked into the Axiom pen is an energel refill. I'm so sorry!

11/29/2016 UPDATE!!!
I've discovered that you can modify a G2 refill to fit the Pilot Axiom ballpoint (cost is about $20).
Usually, the Pilot Axiom takes Dr. Grip™ Center Of Gravity Ballpoint Pen Refills, but I realized that the G2 could be hacked to about the same length (see the images here- the G2 is the orange).
 As you can see in this picture, I did a quick hack-- but it can certainly be done more cleanly.
Once that's done, it fits into the all metal Pilot Axiom without a problem-- and voila, an all metal clickable G2 pen.

My favorite ink is Pilot's G2. I know that lots of people love this ink; there are also lots of people who don't...I happen to in the former camp. One of the reasons I like it so much is that it comes in so many colors:
Aren't they gorgeous? I want all the colors; I've tried the Teal, Burgundy, and Green and all three are just beautiful. In addition to the colors, many of them come in all of the following tip options:
  • Ultra Fine (0.38mm)
  • Extra Fine (0.5mm)
  • Fine (0.7mm)
  • Bold (1.0mm)
So what pens accept the G2 refills or hacked versions of the G2? Without further ado, here's a (non-definitive) list...

Karas Kustoms Retrakt Pen ($55, $80 (brass), $105 (copper)) depending on what material you choose). I am currently pining for the brass version of the pen. It looks beautiful and is basically a retractable G2! It's been noted as being rather weighty-- about 2.5 oz-- so I'm still debating it.
image is from The Well Appointed Desk
Karas Kustoms Bolt G2 ($65, $90, $115) A stunning pen with an absolutely amazing mechanism. I wanted to love this pen so much, but I found it a little too long for my small hands. I also found that it seemed a little top heavy for me. I ended up giving it to my husband who seems to love it.
from Karas Kustoms
Karas Kustoms Render K Another stunning pen from Kara Kustoms. It has a separate cap so it'll require posting.
Retro 1951 Tornado Rollerball (require a little modification, but works well). This pen comes in so many colors and is so relatively inexpensive that it seems like everyone should own at least one. The pen is all metal and has a nice weight.  

image is from ColoradoPen.com (I've ordered from them before and they're great)

Pilot Ageless gel (also requires a very easy modification (post coming)). There are several "collections" of this pen; the Present collection comes with resin barrels in Teal, Rose, and Carbon Grey for about $53 while the Future collection comes with metal barrels in Carbon Grey or Copper. The Future collection with metal barrels retail for about $67 but can be found for about $53 at Amazon. In short, the Present collection is colorful and resin, the Future collection is a bit more conservative and metal; so pay particular attention when you're buying them (I inadvertently bought the resin one because I didn't realize that the colorful ones were resin (but I still love it)). Also pay close attention to whether you're looking at the gel or the ballpoint pens since both types of pens are in both collections.

in copper
The Pilot Metropolitan CollectionPilot MR Pop Collection, and Pilot MR Animal Collection pens are some of my favorite pens. They have all-metal bodies and accept G2 refills and range from $13-$18). I have one from the Metropolitan collection and one from the MR collection. Aren't they beautiful? 
from JetPens
Waterman Hemisphere Rollerballs also accept G2 refills. I believe that most Waterman Rollerball pens will accept G2, but the Hemisphere line is probably one of the less expensive lines. The line ranges from $56-$70 while other Waterman lines can easily cost over $100. I have this one and it's a dream to use.

The following suggestions come from Pens and Planes and this Reddit discussion.
  • OHTO Rollerball (all-metal), 
  • Pilot Limited (all-metal body), 
  • Lamy 2000 rollerball (interesting material),
  • Lamy Studio rollerball (metal), 
  • Lamy Safari rollerball (plastic, about $20), 
  • Lamy Al Star rollerball (plastic, about $25) 
  • Lamy Tipo rollerball (plastic)
Truth be told, I already have a Retro 1951, the Pilot Ageless (in Teal), two of the Metropolitan pens, and the Waterman. They're all quite good and I enjoy using all of them, reaching for them fairly regularly. The only reason I'm looking for another pen is that I was hoping to find a pen that is 1) all-metal, 2) retractable (rules out the Pilot Metropolitan and the Waterman), and 3) requires no modifications to the refill (since the modifications to both the Retro 51 and the Pilot Ageless require shortening the standard G2 refills, they can be kind of a hassle, albeit an easy hassle). To be honest, I think Pilot is really missing out on a huge demographic here, adding a nice retractable all-metal pen to their affordable Metropolitan line would have a huge market!

So what do you think of the list so far? Do you have another favorite?

June 23, 2016

how to add code snippets to a blog post

I've been wanting to write this post about how to add code snippets to a blog post for awile, but to be honest, I think I was kinda out of my depth. Finally, I sat down and did some concerted googling and have some answers for newbies who aren't really coders (some day, I hope to actually get better at coding, but for now googling and reading will have to do).

There are times when you may want to share some code with readers-- the trick is to make sure the code you want to share doesn't get read as actual code and get executed. My previous attempts at doing this weren't always the best. It turns out that there are a number of ways to embed code snippets and I learned a lot from this stackflow conversation. If you don't want to read through the entire conversation, here are some of the main methods:
  1. You could use online services that allow you to copy and paste the code snippet you want to share and then they generate the full embed code for you to copy and paste into your blog post
  2. Store the code you want to share some place such as GitHubGist and then embed it using src code to point to where it's stored (like embedding a Google document). 
  3. You could modify your blogger template to recognize and format code snippets
Of the three methods, I found the tools in option #1 the easiest. Option #2 requires storing code snippets somewhere else and option #3 requires modifying the blog template. See below for examples of the same code snippet being shared using the different options listed under #1: