Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category


Save a WebP file as another image file format

February 9, 2020

Back in 2010, Google introduced an image file type called WebP that has a smaller file size and is optimised for viewing online. However, not all image software opens WebP files, and older browsers may have trouble too. If you can’t open such a file, there’s a simple way to save the image (in Windows), then convert it to a file type (e.g. PNG, JPG) your image software can understand.

Here’s how:

  1. Right-click on the image in the browser, and select the option to Save image as (different browsers will use different wording—you’re looking for the option that lets you save the image).
  2. Save the file to a location on your computer.
  3. Go to that location, right-click on the file you just saved, then select Open with.
  4. Select Paint. (Yes, Paint—the program that’s been in Windows since forever!)
  5. In Paint, go to File > Save As.
  6. Select the image file type you want to use (e.g. PNG or JPEG).
  7. Give the file a name (or use the original), navigate to where you want to save it, then click Save.
  8. You’ll get a message that any transparency will be lost. Click OK.
  9. You can now open your newly saved file in image software that supports the file type you chose at Step 6.

More information on the WebP format and browser and software support for it:

[Links last checked February 2020]


Telstra to T-Mobile settings on phone

March 21, 2013

This post is for me, in case I ever lose the notebook in which this information is jotted down! And for anyone else in Australia who has a Telstra HTC Sensation phone who is going to the US and wants to purchase a US SIM card from T-Mobile so they can use their own phone while away.

For the past two years, I have purchased a ‘pay per day’ SIM from T-Mobile for the short trips I’ve made to the US (see for these plans). For just $2 or $3 per day, I get unlimited calls, texts, and internet while in the US. A 14-day US trip at $3 per day costs me less than $50, compared to potentially $1000 or more if I use my Telstra SIM and global roaming in the US. (See this horror story of a $12,000 Telstra global roaming bill for 13 days in Thailand:

The biggest disadvantage is that I ‘lose’ my own phone number for the time I’m away (I get allocated a new US number each visit), and I have to find a T-Mobile store. Finding a T-Mobile store is not difficult as there are many of them. I believe you can get the ‘pay per day’ SIM activation kit from other locations, such as supermarkets, but I choose to get it direct from a T-Mobile store so that the store person can set everything up and test it all before I leave the store. A supermarket is unlikely to give you that sort of assistance.

Here’s what will happen in the T-Mobile store

After you’ve purchased the ‘pay per day’ kit (just ask for it — it’s not a box on the shelf), the store assistant will take out your HTC battery and Telstra SIM (DO NOT LOSE YOUR SIM!!! You’ll need it when you get back to Australia, so store it in a safe place, such as in a little zip lock bag placed near your passport or in your wallet). They will then insert the T-Mobile SIM and replace your battery and turn on the phone. They may also have to call a T-Mobile head office number and give/get a code to activate the phone.

Test that your phone can call out by calling the store’s landline number from your phone, then get the assistant to use the landline to call your new number. That’s all pretty straightforward and should work straight away. Likewise, you should get a text message or two from T-Mobile within minutes, welcoming you to their service and telling you how much balance you have on your plan. To test that you can send texts, SMS a US friend or the T-Mobile assistant who is serving you. Your phone and SMS are now working — so far, so good…

The final test is to see if you can get internet connection, so open the browser on your phone and do a search. However, if my experience is anything to go by, it’s unlikely you’ll connect as there are a couple of things you/the assistant may still have to do (see below), and because it can take a couple of hours for the internet connection to work properly (or so I’ve been told at two different T-Mobile locations in two different states in two different years; my experience has been that after the settings are entered, I can usually get internet connection within a minute or so).

If you can get a connection straight away, you’re done and don’t need to read any further. Enjoy your cheap US phone/text/internet time in the US, and don’t forget you can now use your ‘US’ HTC/Android phone as a tethered modem to avoid exorbitant hotel charges for internet access (these only seem to occur in the expensive hotels — most mid-range hotels in the US have free internet/WiFi).

If you can’t get internet connection, make sure the assistant enters the information below into your phone (or do it yourself if you’ve already left the store).

HTC/Android settings for internet connection via T-Mobile

  1. Turn off WiFi for now (Settings > WiFi > Off).
  2. Go to: Settings > Mobile Network > Access Point Names.
  3. Tap the menu icon on the APNs screen then tap New APN. Complete the following details:
  4. Name: tmobile (NO hyphen) (see notes below if this doesn’t work)
  5. APN: (see notes below if this doesn’t work)
  6. Proxy:
  7. Port: 8080
  8. MMSC:
  9. MMSC proxy (you may not need this one):
  10. MMS port (you may not need this one either): 8080
  11. Save the settings. Your internet connection should now work (though it may take a few minutes or up to an hour to do so, according to T-Mobile)

NOTE: If these settings don’t work, try changing:

  • the APN to and removing the proxy and port numbers
  • the name to T-Mobile US LTE
  • If you can’t get it to work, call 611 in the US to speak to a T-Mobile support person.

Changing back to your Telstra settings

  1. Before the plane takes off for Australia, switch your phone to Airplane mode, then turn it off as required by the FAA. By putting it into Airplane mode before you leave, when you turn it back on it won’t try to make any sort of connection to T-Mobile (or to Telstra once you’ve got their SIM back in).
  2. Once you’re in the air (or on the ground when you arrive if you forgot to put your Telstra SIM into your carry-on luggage!), remove the cover from your phone and flip out the battery.
  3. Remove the T-Mobile SIM and replace it with your Telstra SIM. (You can throw the T-Mobile SIM away when you get home as it’s useless unless activated and you’ve probably only purchased and activated enough days for your trip.)
  4. When you arrive back in Australia, turn the phone back on and switch off Airplane mode. It should all work as normal, as the Telstra APN settings are the default and should reset automatically once your phone picks up that you’re in Australia. At least, that’s how it’s been for me for the past two years — even though I wrote down all the Telstra APN settings, I’ve never had to change them back as they’ve automatically reset themselves.

Happy travelling!

See also:

[Links last checked April 2013]


Quick way to capture screens to show problems

July 26, 2012

This is for Windows 7 users only (and presumably later versions of Windows).

There’s a handy little tool in Windows 7 that records — in text and single images — each mouse click. It’s called the Problem Steps Recorder and it is very very basic, but it could be very handy if you’re trying to troubleshoot a problem someone is having with their computer when they don’t have the knowledge or the software to capture screen shots or set up screen sharing with you.

  1. In Windows 7, click the Start button.
  2. Type psr.exe in the search box and open it. This displays the small Problem Steps Recorder toolbar.
  3. Click Start Record.
  4. Your entire screen will be captured as will every mouse click you do.
  5. Once you’ve finished clicking to emulate the problem, click Stop Record on the Problem Steps Recorder toolbar.
  6. You are asked to save the resulting file as a ZIP file. Give it a file name and save it.
  7. Before sending the file to someone else, check that you captured everything you needed to capture by opening the zip file, then double-clicking the MHT file inside it to show it. If you’re using WinZip, you’ll get a warning about this being a potentially unsafe file. As you’ve just recorded it, it’s safe, so click Yes open it.
  8. Internet Explorer opens with a single page that displays all your screen shots in the order you captured them, with green outlines around the areas you clicked. You can view this as a slide show too. Internet Explorer also warns you about making sure you only captured what you needed to, and, at the end of the web page, lists in text the application(s) you were using under ‘Additional Details’.
  9. If you’re happy with the result, you can now email the zip file to the person who needs to troubleshoot your problem.

Other information:

  • If you have two monitors, both monitors are captured in the one screen shot.
  • If the details are hard to read, you can click on an image to see it larger, then click on it again to zoom in. Text on the image may be a little fuzzy but it’s readable for troubleshooting purposes.
  • By default, up to 25 screens captures are recorded, but you can change this setting by clicking the drop-down arrow next to the Help button and selecting Settings — the maximum number is 100.

This tip is an expansion of the tip in the July 2012 issue of Australian Personal Computer magazine (p83).


Neat trick to minimise windows

July 25, 2012

This tip comes from the July 2012 issue of Australian Personal Computer magazine (p83):

Click and shake the title bar of the window you want to keep open. All others windows will minimize to the taskbar.

This works in Windows 7, but not in earlier Windows versions.


Print a file poster size

August 5, 2011

Did you know that most modern printers allow you to print a photo or other file in poster size? Assuming you don’t have a large plot/plan printer or an A3 paper drawer, you can still do this on your ordinary printer — you’ll just have to tape or glue the resulting printouts together (memories of desktop publishing on an electric typewriter!).

Somewhere in your printer’s properties you should find a setting like the one below (of course, each printer’s properties are different, and a very cheap printer may not have this capability at all, so there are no guarantees that you can do this on YOUR printer):

The 3×3 option shown above would give you a printout that’s three pages tall and three pages wide — a total of nine printed pages. Before printing something this size, lay out nine pieces of your standard printer paper in a 3×3 grid to see if that’s what you really want — it’s pretty big, so you might want to try 2×2 instead.


Google Reader tips

February 2, 2010

I spend some of my non working hours doing crafty things with fabric. As such, I love the internet for helping me find new techniques, quick tips, helpful hints etc.

Then sometimes my two worlds collide, as in this terrific 7 minute video from Diane Gilleland on using Google Reader to organize your feeds. Her focus is on organizing her craft feeds, but the hints apply to any feeds.

If you want to view the video in the context of the author’s blog, go here:

[Links last checked January 2010]


Wow! Great advice for new college/uni students

December 18, 2009

If you have a son or daughter about to start college or university, point them in the direction of Derek Sivers’ advice to newly enrolled Berklee College of Music students. His blog post details his speech, and he includes a 10-minute video of his ‘6 things I wish I knew the day I started at Berklee’.

In summary, his advice is to:

  • Be one of the few that is clever enough to make money making music instead of pretending it doesn’t matter.
  • Be one of the few that has the guts to do something shocking.
  • Be one of the few that takes your lessons here as a starting point, and pushes yourself to do more with what you learn.
  • Be one of the few that knows how to help yourself, instead of expecting for others to do it for you.
  • Be one of the few that does much more than is required.
  • And most importantly, be one of the few that stays in the shed to practice, while everyone else is surfing the net, flirting on MySpace, and watching TV.

[Link last checked December 2009; thanks to @KathySierra whose Tweet led me to this article]


Capturing your inspirational moments

October 23, 2009

My creative and inspirational moments typically happen when I’m falling asleep or when I’m in the shower.

But wherever, whenever and however your inspiration comes, you need to capture those little ‘Aha!’ moments. Pen and notepaper work very well; you might just be able to keep those thoughts going if you can decipher your midnight scribblings done in the dark first thing next morning! But pen and paper don’t work so well in the shower… Or do they?

Jonathan Follett, in his A Practical Guide to Capturing Creativity for UX published by UX Matters covers various low-tech methods of capturing your inspirational moments, such as pen and paper, note books, sketch books, and even waterproof paper for the shower! Then he moves into the more high-tech stuff like converting paper scribblings to digital, recording your voice, creating an electronic scrapbook of ideas, taking digital photos and videos.

[Links last checked October 2009]


Pre-populating email links

October 8, 2009

A client wanted to have an email link, which would open Outlook and populate some of the email with boilerplate text. This was for an intranet, so email address security wasn’t an issue — I knew I could use a simple mailto link. Easy.

Except that I wanted some line breaks between parts of the message body. A bit of Googling and I found a solution that works! Here’s the syntax…

  • Link to email address: (where you substitute ‘’ with the real email address)
  • Subject line: ?subject=Subject line (substitute ‘Subject line’ with the real subject)
  • Message: &body=Message (substitute ‘Message’ with the real message)
  • Line breaks in the message body: %0A (that’s a zero, not an ‘O for orange’); use %0A%0A for two line breaks, %0A%0A%0A for three line breaks etc.)

Here’s an example:

Mailto syntax example

Mailto syntax example

And here’s how it looks in Outlook:

How it looks in Outlook

How it looks in Outlook

Please note: You can only have one ? in the string, so if you need to pre-populate the CC field, the Subject field, and the message body then do it like this: line&body=Message

Also, populating the Message Body will overwrite any automatic signature you have in Outlook. You will have to re-insert your signature manually.


Quick currency conversions using Google

October 7, 2009

I’ve used for a long time to convert Australian dollars to and from US dollars, and it’s a great little website.

I must’ve been hiding under a rock ‘cos I only recently discovered that Google search does currency conversions on the fly from the Google search box. It’s probably been around for ages, but it was new to me!

Here’s what to do:

In the Google search box, enter the value and currency code you want to convert from (e.g. 39.95 USD), followed by the word ‘in‘ and the currency code you want to convert to (e.g. in AUD). Press Enter to see the result. Done. No need to go to another website to find it out.

google_currency_converter[Links last checked August 2009]