Category: Applications

Tips, Tricks, Howtos And Information About Some Useful Software Applications

This section contains tips and tricks, howtos and help about useful Windows and Linux software applications.

How to log into an SSH Server Using PuTTY

PuTTY is a free telnet and SSH client for Windows and UNIX. This article covers how to log into an SSH server using PuTTY on Windows and also covers how to use private rsa and dsa keys when logging into an SSH server using PuTTY.

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Installing VMWare on Gentoo

This article covers how to install VMWare on Gento Linux if you are getting errors like the "/etc/init.d/vmware: line 919: [: -: integer expression expected" error when trying to configure the VMWare options.

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How to set the Gmail notification ringtone on Android

On an Android phone there is a notification ringtone which will be used by default for all notifications. The Gmail app allows you to specify a different notification ringtone which can be quite useful for having the default for SMS messages and something else for new emails, but the option is buried quite deep and I can never remember where it is, so this post will help to remind me in the future.

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Count rows and columns with Excel

Want to count rows and/or columns in a range with Excel no matter what content they contain? This post shows you how.

Count rows in Excel

Use this formula, where you want the number of rows selected from e.g. A1 to A10


This example will show 10 in the cell where the formula is.

Count cells in Excel

Use this formula, where you want the number of columns selected from e.g. A1 to E1


This example will show 5 in the cell where the formula is.

What happens when running the formulas against a block?

Note that the formulas will count the number of rows or columns, no matter what the selection. If we ran both rows() and columns() on the range A1 to E10, it would show 10 rows and 5 columns.


ouputs 10


outputs 5


Yes, selecting 5 cells from A to E is obviously 5 columns, but I personally manage a very basic ad booking system using a spreadsheet that is very very wide and I need to know numbers of days an ad is booked for. Using these functions makes it a lot easier, especially when it’s running across cells FB17 to GS17. No, it’s not the best ad booking system, but it works ??

And I’m sure you have your own reasons for needing to use these formulas, otherwise you wouldn’t have been looking for this post.

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Keyboard shortcuts for Excel for Mac

I have Microsoft Excel for Mac 2011 and have found somewhat annoyingly at least a couple of the shortcut keys aren’t the same on Mac as they are for the Windows edition. This post covers a couple of them and I will add to it as I find alternatives for common functions. Feel free to add a comment below the post if you have a shortcut key you know about that is different between the Windows and Mac editions.

Edit in cell: F2 on Windows = Control+U on Mac

F2 is a nice and easy shortcut key to edit a formula in the cell without having to double click the mouse. For whatever reason, Microsoft have decided to make F2 be “cut” in the Mac edition of Excel instead and there doesn’t appear to be any way to change the shortcut key in any of the settings.

Instead, use Control+U on a Mac to edit in cell. This is an awkward keyboard combination and not at all easy to do with one hand; I usually have to use two hands.

It is also possible to use a 3rd party app to remap F2 to Control+U for Excel. I haven’t used any of these (they’re all pay software) but apparantly it can be done with these: iKey, Keyboard Maestro, QuicKeys, and Butler

New line in cell: Alt+Enter on Windows = Control+Option+Return on Mac

If you want to create a new line in a cell use another awkward keyboard combo on a Mac: Control+Option+Return.

It’s not as awkward as Control+U but it would be nicer if it was simply Option/Alt+Return so it was the same as Windows. Incidentally, Option+Return is just the same as pressing Return so there’s no reason I can see that it shouldn’t be the shortcut for new line in cell.

Other shortcut key combinations that are different

Add any useful keyboard combos in the comments below that are different between the Windows and Mac versions of Excel.

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Searching Gmail by date

This is a quick post for my own reference to show how to search Gmail by date range. I often write little tips like this for myself so I have somewhere easy to reference them as I forget this sort of stuff all the time ??

Server emails and purging the old ones

I get a lot of emails from servers addressed to a specific email address sending reports and all sorts of other stuff. I have filters in Gmail to put them into a specific folder automatically, skipping the inbox and I never actually see them. Emails reporting errors don’t get filtered in the same way so those always hit my inbox.

So these error emails are pretty much just there in case I need to look at them for some reason. Every now and then I like to purge out older server emails and the easiest way is to search for them by date range and then delete.

Searching by label and date range

These server emails get filtered into a label called “Servers”. To search for them prior to e.g. May 1st 2011 (so all emails from April 30th and earlier) do a search like this: 

label:servers before:2011/05/01

If you wanted to search for any email between say May 23rd and May 29th 2011, do this:

after:2011/05/23 before:2011/05/30

Note that the “after” date needs to be the date searching from (it includes that date) but “before” needs to be the day after you want to search to.

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Web Developer Form Filler plugin for Google Chrome

I need to test web forms a fair bit, and there’s also a particular online registration website that I can’t get all the information I need until I’ve submitted an initial form, and got tired of always filling these forms in. So enter the search for a decent automated form filler plugin for Google Chrome.

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Notepad++ fails to update

Notepad++ is a feature rich Windows Notepad replacement. It contains an automatic package update feature in more recent versions but if you are using an older version you will be prompted to download an update package and then apparantly nothing happens.

The prompt

After starting Notepad++, if there is a package update available it will show the following prompt:

an update package is available

This says “An update package is available, do you want to download it?”.

If you click “Yes” then it downloads the update and displays another dialog “Notepad++ is opened. Updater will close it in oreer ot process the installation. Continue?” Clicking “Yes” then appears to do nothing. Starting up Notepad++ again shows the first update prompt shown above again.

Version requirement

The updater only works for Notepad++ versions 5.6.4 and higher. If you have an older version then it will not work, so you have to download an up to date version of Notepad++ from Sourceforge.

Which version

To check which version you are running click the ? menu item in the main menu then “About Notepad++” as shown in the screenshot below.

select about notepad++

This will then show the about dialog with the version number, which I have highlighted with a red box in the final screenshot below.

about notepad++ dialog

After installing and running, Notepad++ will again check for updates and prompt to download and install with the improved updater. This time when prompted to install and restart it actually does.

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BootStrapDotNetAsssitantExtension error in Firefox

Microsoft Windows installs a .NET Framework Assistant for Firefox which cannot be removed from the Firefox add-ons menu and throws errors in the error console. This post shows the error message and how to remove this unecessary add-on.

The Error Message

The error message from the error console looks like this:

Error: uncaught exception: [Exception… “Component returned failure code: 0x8000ffff (NS_ERROR_UNEXPECTED) [nsIPrefBranch.clearUserPref]”  nsresult: “0x8000ffff (NS_ERROR_UNEXPECTED)”  location: “JS frame :: chrome://dotnetassistant/content/bootstrap.js :: BootStrapDotNetAsssitantExtension :: line 52”  data: no]

When I’m looking for coding errors in the Firefox error console I find this one pops up all the time but it’s nothing to do with anything on any website, but some issue with the Microsoft plugin.

How to remove the plugin

The Microsoft Knowledge Base article “How to remove the .NET Framework Assistant for Firefox” contains everything needed to remove the plugin and I can confirm that it works.

Note that this plugin does not appear in the add-ons preferences anywhere in Firefox because, as noted at the above page:

“The .NET Framework Assistant is added at the computer level so that its functionality can be used by all users at the computer level instead of at the user level. As a result, the Uninstall button is unavailable in the Firefox Add-ons menu because standard users are not permitted to uninstall machine-level components.”

To remove it, click through to the knowledge base article using the above link. This requires downloading an update or making some modifications to the registry and Firefox’s preferences.

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