Archive for the ‘Websites’ Category

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Centrelink ‘Something’s gone wrong’ document upload error message

October 10, 2022

This post is only relevant to Australians

I continued to get a ‘Something’s gone wrong. Please try again’ error every time I tried to upload a 1.6 MB PDF to Centrelink. The max size is 5 MB so it wasn’t that, and PDF is an acceptable format, so it wasn’t that either. As with errors like this, you follow the instructions to try again, but after about 10 tries I gave up and thought I’d have to take the document into my nearest Centrelink office, a 50 km round trip away. Not something I looked forward to, especially for something that should just work and for something that Centrelink INSISTS you send to them within 14 days of a change of circumstance.

Instead, I decided to Google for a solution and I found this webpage: https://leonswebsite906327562.wordpress.com/2020/11/27/how-to-upload-a-file-to-centrelink-when-somethings-gone-wrong/

I read the article and the comments and followed the instructions to ‘print’ the document to a file, but it ended up being about 10 MB, too big for Centrelink. Fortunately, I know how to use Adobe Acrobat, so I checked the file’s contents and realised that I could delete 23 of the 38 pages as that info was irrelevant for Centrelink. That reduced the file size to 2 MB, which I successfully uploaded to Centrelink on the next try.

Thanks very much, Leon, for your great instructions! I didn’t have to resort to sending the file to the PM :-)

[Link last checked October 2022]

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Family history resources I use

July 24, 2022

I had lunch with some old school friends last week. In our far-ranging discussions, we spent a bit of time talking about our family histories and trees and I mentioned some resources that I use to manage (and find) all the information (I have some 12,000 people in my extended family tree software). I thought others who are interested in searching and documenting their family trees might also be interested, so I’ve listed below the various tools and websites I use. Note: I’m Australian, with the two threads of my family extending back to the UK and Prussia/Germany/Poland on one side and to South Africa (and the Huguenots) on the other. Part of the UK branch went to Canada and the US. Therefore, I use resources that have records from around the world, as well as a lot of local (Australian and Western Australian [WA]) records to track more recent twigs on my family tree.

Software I use to manage it all: Family Tree Maker (FTM), from https://www.mackiev.com/ftm/. About AU$115 (one-off payment, NOT subscription). I’ve been using FTM since the late 1990s and am very happy with it. There are other family tree software programs available, but I haven’t used any of them as I’ve had no need to move to something else. With FTM, you can also upload your family tree to Ancestry.com, but I don’t use that function.

Global resources

  • Ancestry (paid subs): My main source for official records (birth, death and marriage [BDM] records, electoral rolls, census records, baptism records, grave records etc.) is https://www.ancestry.com.au. Originally I just paid for access to Australian and UK records, but with relatives in the US and further back to South Africa, Prussia etc., I now pay for an annual worldwide subs (about AU$470/yr I think; it’s cheaper if you only want to access records just from a specific region). Ancestry has BILLIONS of official records you can search and link to your tree. You can also create your tree in Ancestry (or upload it from FTM), though I’ve never done so. Note: the sites that let you create your own tree on them give you the option of keeping your tree private (i.e. not searchable) or making it public. If you choose to make it public, be aware that living people, typically those under 75 but could be older, are typically NOT listed by any identifiable information.
  • Find My Past (paid subs): Another annual subscription I pay for is https://www.findmypast.uk, which has millions of UK records (quite a bit of crossover with Ancestry, but enough different that I maintain my annual subs with them); also has some US and other records too. About GBP180 per year for full access to all records (thought not the recently released 1921 UK census). Again, you can create your tree directly with them and not use special software.
  • Family Search (free): https://www.familysearch.org/en/ (part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [aka Mormons]). In addition to official records, they have thousands of publicly available uploaded family histories from members, which can cover many other records (e.g. some of my South African links on this site go back to about the 900s in the Netherlands, France etc., but I haven’t verified these, so I take them with a very large grain of salt; actually I treat anything before about 1750 with a great deal of skepticism, unless I can view the actual record). You don’t need to be a Mormon to search on this site and I think you can create your own tree on it too.
  • Cemetery records (free for basic use): Gravestones also carry a lot of information, and the global cemetery site linked to Ancestry.com is https://www.findagrave.com/ (free); you don’t have to be an Ancestry member to use it. Another worldwide gravestone site is https://billiongraves.com/.

Australian and Western Australian (WA) resources

In addition to the global resources above, which have very extensive Australian records, I also use these resources:

  • Newspapers:
    • For Australian newspaper records before about 1980 (date depends on the archival rules for various newspapers and public domain use), you CANNOT go past Trove from the National Library of Australia (free): https://trove.nla.gov.au/search/advanced/category/newspapers?l-artType=newspapers&keyword= This link is for the start of the newspaper search and you can use the filters on the right to narrow your results (e.g. if you’re looking for your own birth notice, you could narrow down to Western Australia / Family Notices / [decade] / [year]). Back in the day most Australians would announce major life events in their state and/or local newspapers—BDM, of course, but also engagements, funeral notices, wedding anniversaries, etc. and these all give information. Trove includes lots of smaller country newspapers as well, and many of these have social columns that read like the Facebook of today (e.g. “Miss Susan Smith visited her sister Mrs Mabel Brown in Albany last Tuesday.” and from that you might find out that Mabel Smith’s married name is ‘Brown’ so now you’ve added another piece of information to the puzzle).
    • The West Australian newspaper has various BDM and funeral announcements online, though it’s a clunky interface. I’m not sure if you have to be a West subscriber or not (I am, so I don’t know if non-subscribers can see these announcements): https://www.westannouncements.com.au/ You can search back ‘all time’ but I don’t think the online records go back more than about 10 or so years.
  • Cemeteries (free):
  • Marriages (free): For WA marriages (up to about 1965?), the reverse marriage search is brilliant as you can search by either party and it tells you who the spouse is (not as easy in the official Australian marriage records on Ancestry where you only get one party and a reference number to try to match to the other): http://www.wamarriage.info/
  • Teachers (free): If your ancestor was a teacher in WA, then the old Education Department ‘stud books’ from 1900 to 1980 are available online here: https://www.carnamah.com.au/teachers These are great for verifying names and where people lived and worked in particular years.
  • Official WA BDM records (free): https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-justice/online-index-search-tool Has birth records only to 1932, marriages to 1936, and deaths to 1971 (there are laws about sharing information about people who are living and/or under a certain age). Other Australian states have similar websites, but the amount of information freely available can vary and some require payment to access details of individuals.
  • WA vehicle registrations (free): The busy Carnamah historical society has added a searchable database of some 80,000 records of vehicle registration data from 1915 to 1928 for Western Australia (metro and country): https://www.carnamah.com.au/ (direct link: https://www.carnamah.com.au/car-registrations)

See also: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/the-usability-of-gravestones-and-memorial-markers/

[Links last checked July 2022]

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Lost Facebook feed

May 3, 2022

A few days ago I lost my Facebook (FB) feed on my Chrome browser on my PC. I could see all the framework of the Facebook page, could see that notifications had come in, but when I opened those pages, they were blank too. This is what I saw for hours on end:

Neither rebooting the browser or my PC worked. I figured I’d wait for 24 hours to see if FB sorted itself out, as has happened before when FB goes awry. I knew that members of the various groups I’m in had complained the day or so before that their feeds had reverted to show quite old posts first, so I figured this may be related.

But then I opened FB on Chrome in my tablet (I do NOT use the FB app at all as I hate it), and it worked fine. Hmmm… something was different in Windows/Chrome compared to Android/Chrome. I have FB Purity and AdBlock Plus on my PC but there aren’t versions for Chrome on Android. I tried the easiest one first—I turned off AdBlock Plus for the FB page in Chrome on my PC and suddenly my feed came back!

I figured I’d wait a couple of days before trying AdBlock Plus on FB again to see if it still killed the feed, or if they’d fixed the incompatibility—it’s now fixed for the moment.

According to this blog post from AdBlock Plus, this back-and-forth between them and FB has been going on a while: https://blog.adblockplus.org/blog/ping-pong-with-facebook

 

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Delete specific browsing history in Chrome

February 9, 2022

Over our hot summer months, I’ve been staying inside in the cool doing family tree research and verifying source URLs in my family tree software. I’ve haunted the ancestry.com.au website and done thousands of searches looking for elusive family members and the official sources that verify their dates of birth, death, marriage etc. Today I decided to clear some of my browsing history, specifically for the Ancestry pages. But how to delete those I found? Well, there’s a trick, but it’s not obvious from the Chrome history page, which by default shows only 150 search results at a time, and seems to only allow you to click one checkbox at a time to select those to delete. Clicking one checkbox at a time was NOT a viable option for potentially thousands of pages.

Here’s how to bulk delete items from Chrome’s history:

  1. In Chrome, press Ctrl+h to open the history page.
  2. In the search box, type part of the URL and press Enter (in my case, I typed ancestry.com.au).
  3. If you’ve been to that particular domain a lot, you’ll get a list of just 150 results even if there are many more stored by Chrome.
  4. Use the scrollbar to scroll down the list, then keep on scrolling. What this does is expands the 150 results to 300, 900, 1200, 1800 results, etc. (i.e. multiples of 150 or 300 results).
  5. When you stop scrolling and click back into the Chrome window, the number of results will be listed at the top of the results.
  6. Press Ctrl+a. This selects ALL the checkboxes for the number of results listed.
  7. Press Delete to delete them all. Confirm the deletion.
  8. Repeat these steps if you still have more, or do another search if you want to delete the browsing history for another domain.
  9. Close the History tab when you’ve finished.
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Amazon pricing sucks

July 9, 2021

After the issues with an Amazon gift card earlier this week, I thought I’d try to buy a book for one of my nephews. The link from the author’s page went to Amazon’s US site, where the price of the book was about US$14. According to xe.com, at today’s exchange rate, that’s AU$18.85. Amazon.com's price for Whole Whale hardbaok book is US$13.59

But I couldn’t buy it! Instead of a ‘buy now’ button, there was a message to buy it from the Australian site:

Message reads: Shipping to Australia? Get FREE delivery on eligible international orders with AU Prime (Membership fee applied) and pay in AUD, with a button to buy it on Amazon's Australian site So I clicked on that button and found the same book available on Amazon .com.au at a price that was nearly DOUBLE the price on the US site—AU$31.98:

Amazon.com.au's webpage for Whole Whale, shwoing a price of $31.98 for the hardcover book And free shipping? Nope. You only get free shipping if you spend more than AU$49 in your order.

Message: Free delivery by [date] on Prie International orders over $49.00

Bottom line: I can’t buy this book from the US site even when logged into it using my Amazon .com credentials—they force me to the Australian site, where the price is nearly double (AU$32 compared to AU$18.85 on the US site, converted from USD). And then I can’t get free shipping unless I buy something else that takes my order over AU$49.

When I added it to my cart on the Australian site, the shipping was surprisingly low for an Amazon book at just AU$5, but that now takes the total price to AU$37, TWICE the price that US customers pay.

So, even with credentials to Amazon’s US site, I can’t buy something from there—instead, they force me to the Australian site where they then try to charge me double the US price!

*****

Just for giggles, I looked at some Australian booksellers’ websites, where I found the same book for $27.99 (no idea of postage as they wanted all my details before they’ll tell me this); $33.75 (+$7.95 postage); and $36.17 (free shipping; they state the Australian RRP is $46.18). I also found it on a UK bookseller’s site for AU$41.98 (+free shipping).

 

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Amazon gift cards are account- and/or country-specific

July 7, 2021

I had an interesting situation today that I wasn’t aware of and no doubt many others aren’t either. So here’s some info for future reference in case you ever give an Amazon gift card to someone in another country that also has a local Amazon site, though I’m not sure it would’ve helped me as I have the same credentials for both the Australian and US sites. NOTE: The terms listed in the gift card email clearly state that “Your gift card balance can’t be transferred to other accounts”, so that isn’t a way to get around this situation either.

Here’s what I wrote on Facebook, and a couple of the comments I got from those who’ve been in a similar situation:

***********

The things you learn the hard way. I recently helped someone in another country and they sent me an Amazon gift card as thanks. Nice! I applied it to my account (I only have ONE account with ONE set of login credentials, an account I set up in the mid-90s and that I rarely use). Today, I had a couple of things to order from the US via Amazon, and thought I’d apply the gift card to the order, but its details were nowhere to be found under my account info. I still had the original email for the gift card so tried to reapply the gift card but it said it had already been redeemed. What?

I emailed Amazon to see what was going on, and they said the gift card didn’t apply to amazon .com.au orders, only to amazon .com. NOTHING in the info email that came with the gift card told me this, and when I applied it to my account I used the only login details I have for Amazon and wasn’t given the option to apply it to .com or com.au purchases. I assumed Amazon is Amazon, but apparently not! Had I known this earlier, I’d have ordered those items from the .com site, not the .com.au site.

Who knows when I’ll get to use that gift card — as I said I rarely order from Amazon, and even more rarely from the US site. And in the process of doing all this, I discovered that my Prime membership only applies to orders from the .com.au site. So if I order something from the US site that I can’t get from the Australian site (the Australian site has a limited range), I can’t get free shipping via Prime. <grrr>

*********

Some of the comments:

Another Australian: Yup, it sucks, I’ve ended up with .com and .com.au accounts.

Me: Well, it seems I have two accounts too, but the same credentials!

Aussie: I think I have the same login but different passwords. So confusing!

***

American: I think when I was gifting Amazon cards for India, I did so on the Amazon.com.in site. For about a year after, I’d occasionally default not that site. I think the same thing happened in 2019 when I gifted someone who worked for me in the UK. I went to the UK site. But I did it because I knew about the different sites.

***

Another American: I give folks on my team Amazon cards and have to go through .ca and .uk

Me: Never thought about it from the donee’s end! That sucks too — do you have to have separate accounts/logins for each country? or can you specify that at the time you give the card?

Response: Same credentials, I just have to go through the different interfaces. The authentication is the same, the billing is different, though, so I have to manage credit card data for each interface.

*************

Seems a ‘global’ company like Amazon isn’t really global at all!

Update: I thought I’d be able to use the gift card on the US site to buy ebooks, but nope! They’ve blocked that avenue off as well—I get this message if I click on a Kindle edition: ‘Kindle titles are available for AU customers on Amazon .com.au.’ If I click on a printed edition, I get a price plus the exorbitant shipping charge, which is often more than the book!! I’ll look into seeing if I can re-gift the card to a US friend, but I don’t think that will be an option. If I can’t do that, then Amazon has the money paid to it, I can’t buy anything with it, and they rake in yet more $$$$s!!!! It’s possible the donor could request a refund, but I won’t go down that path yet.

Also, on the US site, they have this at the bottom of the page on gift cards: “Amazon .com Gift Cards can only be used to purchase eligible goods and services on Amazon .com and certain related sites as provided in the Amazon .com Gift Card Terms and Conditions. To purchase a gift card for Amazon’s website in another country, please visit: Amazon .ca, Amazon .cn, Amazon .fr, Amazon .de, Amazon .in, Amazon .it, Amazon .jp, Amazon. uk, or Amazon .es.” [I’ve added spaces in the URLs so they don’t become clickable links]

But the gift card page for the Australian site doesn’t have ANY of this info at all. Note: The Australian site is NOT listed above.

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How to get the parts of a YouTube video using JDownloader

March 12, 2021

I was testing out JDownloader2 (an open source download manager) the other day for a completely different purpose when I discovered that it can split a YouTube video into its component parts, which you can then download individually or as a group.

Depending on what was uploaded to YouTube, the component parts may include the audio only (M4A format), the video (MP4; includes audio), the title image (JPG), the description (TXT), and/or the subtitles (SRT file).

It’s certainly an easier way to do it than to use a conversion program—just open JDownloader, copy the YouTube URL to the clipboard, and it will automatically get added to JDownloader, ready for you to expand the entry and then download one or more, or all, parts.

 

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Finding high resolution artwork from Apple TV, iTunes etc.

February 24, 2021

My husband collects information about music, musicians, and songwriters, and one of the things he uses to find and confirm metadata is album covers. However, the default size of artwork on iTunes is quite small and low resolution. He has all sorts of workarounds he uses (e.g. view the page source, search the HTML code for JPGs, change the pixel size in the URL, etc.). It’s cumbersome at best and adds a lot of overhead in hours to his research.

Until now.

Someone on one of his forums alerted him to a very cool website from a UK developer, Ben Dodson, that extracts just the album art from iTunes (and artwork for Apple TV shows and Apple movies) and allows it be be viewed at various resolutions. It isn’t an app and only works in a browser, as far as I can tell.

For artwork from all sorts of Apple media, including iTunes, for a particular title, go to: https://bendodson.com/projects/itunes-artwork-finder/  Once there, select the type of media (1), enter the title you’re searching for (2), select the media’s country of origin (2), then click Get the artwork (4). Wait a few seconds and the artwork matching your search criteria will display. You have the options of Standard or High Resolution (it will take a few extra seconds to display the artwork at high resolution). If the album, for example, has various covers or the title has been used by various artists, then scroll down to see each.

If you want to search by the iTunes web address instead, go to: https://bendodson.com/projects/apple-music-artwork-finder/

If you want to search for artwork related to Apple TV shows or Apple movies, go to: https://bendodson.com/projects/apple-tv-movies-artwork-finder/ Once you’ve found what you want, click the resolution and artwork you want to see from the list on the right.

NOTE: Ben Dodson has made this website free but there are some caveats, so read those on each of the web pages above. The main one is that this ONLY works with media products available from Apple, and not any other source.

 

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Facebook and FB Purity

October 29, 2020

Facebook (FB) and FB Purity (FBP) are having a bit of a war at the moment. Since FB introduced the ‘new look’, which most people seem to hate, FBP has been trying to revert to the classic look via one of their options. It initially had some some success, and then not, and then again, and then not, as FB closed loopholes in its code.

One of the things I noticed when viewing FB via Chrome on a desktop was that if I had classic look turned on in FBP and even if it wasn’t displaying the classic look because of this skirmish, the screen would refresh and jump OFTEN, and I’d get duplicate posts from some people.

Then this morning when I deliberately refreshed FB in Chrome, FB redirected me to the mobile site (GRRR!) and told me I was using an unsupported browser!!

I figured all these issues might relate to the FBP skirmish, so I turned off the classic look option under the FBP toolbar icon in Chrome (it wasn’t working anyway), and all of a sudden I could get the usual FB desktop site, the auto refresh thing disappeared, and I don’t see duplicate posts.

I’ve still got that horrible new look—I can live with that for now, and hope that FBP can figure out how to get the classic look back.

Meantime, I hope this post helps someone else who has had the same issues.

(As an aside, you don’t want to ask me how much I HATE the new block editing stuff in WordPress.com—I just want to write a blog post, perhaps add a screenshot or two, not sell hipster dude coffee!)

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Word: Add a web link to a document — quickly

February 26, 2020

In the category of “I didn’t know I could do this (or if I did, I’ve forgotten!)” comes this tip that I spotted in a forum post (https://superuser.com/questions/1024583/copy-link-location-keyboard-shortcut-in-windows-10).

Did you know that you can drag a link displayed in a browser into your Word document? Or into other text editing software? (my quick tests indicate that it DOESN’T work with Notepad)

There are several ways:

  • Click and drag the linked text into an open document. If the link is abbreviated or hidden by explanatory text (e.g. a link for ‘how to xxxx’), it will resolve to the full URL.
  • Select the URL in the browser’s address bar then drag it into the open document.
  • Select anything in a text field of a form on a web page, then drag it into the open document.

[Link last checked February 2020]