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Force a Table Recalculation

Longtime Excel users have another reason to need it: some multi-worksheet files are so complexly intertwined that the automatic recalculation of connected formulas every time you enter new data can slow things down. So, they turn off the automatic calculation feature and trigger it when they want the sheet refreshed.

But, back to Numbers. It’s unlikely your spreadsheets will be so complex that recalculation will slow things down; and, in any case, there’s no way to turn off the automatic recalculation that occurs when you enter data. But you can’t specifically trigger a recalc of cells, so those containing random numbers (from the RAND or RANDBETWEEN function) are quite static. Whether you’ve set up a bunch of random-number cells to test what will happen when real data is entered, or intend to keep the random-number formula in place to interact with data you input later, it’s important to test the results of various possibilities in your random range.

Why? What would happen if, coincidentally, all the randomly generated numbers are even, or there’s nothing under 10 or over 99, or perhaps there are no multiples of 5, and you’ve set up something where an odd number, a low or high number, or a multiple of 5 will result in flawed output? (Even if “flawed output” is nothing more than a column that’s not wide enough to display three digits.) You won’t realize there’s a problem because the random numbers are static until something else you enter forces a recalculation.

The solution I proposed in the book was to go to any cell adjacent a block of cells that include RAND or RANDBETWEEN cells and use Command-X to force Numbers to recalculate the entire table, resulting in newly generated random numbers. If there was nothing in the cell, nothing gets cut, and if there was, you can paste it right back.

Well, as of Numbers 3.6.1—and perhaps before, because this was only recently brought to my attention—this no longer works. Command-V in any cell works, but that runs the risk of accidentally pasting something that could overwrite nearby cells and really make a mess of your table. So, let me recommend the trick that everybody in the know has used all along for recalculating Numbers spreadsheets; I had ignored it because it requires using a cell specifically for the recalc trigger.

Simply format any cell to hold a checkbox: select the cell and go to the Format Inspector’s Cell tab, and then choose Checkbox from the Data Format menu. When you check or uncheck the checkbox, every formula in the document—in every cell of every table on every sheet—will be recalculated. The fact that the recalc is global in the document, really takes care of my objection to setting aside a cell in one of your tables for this purpose. You could, of course, stick it in the usually unused cell A1 where it’s easy to get at, and you could easily just delete it and set it up again if you don’t need it in the interim. But since the recalc works globally, you don’t have to keep the checkbox in any of your working tables. Make a table specifically for the checkbox—it can even be alone on its own tab. And, you can delete all but its first row and first column, making it a single-cell table (yes, an amoeba table!) and duplicate it on every tab for convenience.

Posted by Sharon Zardetto (Permalink)

Talking about Apple Watch Book Update at MacVoices

The ever-gracious Chuck Joiner and Jeff sat down on MacVoices to talk about the latest update to Jeff’s book, a discussion that covered topics such as the strengths and weaknesses of the Apple Watch almost a year in, which important changes are in watchOS 2, and why Jeff updated the book.

Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

Joe and Chuck Discuss the Latest 1Password Features

1Password is new and improved in version 6, giving Joe and Chuck Joiner (of MacVoices) a perfect opportunity to tell you what’s new and improved not only in the app but also in Joe’s Second Edition of his book, which covers it. Best of all, you don’t need a password to watch the interview!

Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

CrashPlan Discontinues Seeding and Restore-to-Door

For many years, CrashPlan offered its customers two optional (and extra-fee) services that were particularly useful for those with limited bandwidth. Seeding enabled users to load up an external hard drive with an initial full backup and send it to the company so that it would be unnecessary to wait weeks or months to have all of one’s data backed up to the cloud. Restore-to-Door was the opposite—a service whereby users could have files returned to them overnight on an external hard drive rather than wait for them to download.

I’m sorry to say that CrashPlan discontinued seeding in late 2015, and discontinued Restore-to-Door in January 2016. In both cases, a company rep told me the reason was that too few people used the services, and the company wanted to shift the responsible technician to working on other support tasks. This is bad news for people with limited bandwidth and a need for ultra-fast backup or restoration. Options for such people include switching to a competing service (such as Backblaze) or maintaining local backups in addition to cloud backups.

Posted by Joe Kissell (Permalink)

Dropbox to Close Carousel and Mailbox

Dropbox has announced that it is closing its Carousel photo sharing app and service, and its Mailbox mobile email service. If you have used or have planned to use either of these services, read the Dropbox’s blog post that explains these closings and provides links for more information for users of either service.

Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

Disable Password Requests for Free iBooks Store Downloads

It makes sense that Apple requires a password when you purchase a book from the iBooks Store using iBooks on your Mac, because it is, after all, your credit card’s balance that is at stake. But it doesn’t make as much sense if you want to download one of the store’s many free books. To skip the “Enter your Apple ID password” prompt on your Mac when you get a free book, a post by Christian Zibreg at iDownloadBlog tells you how.

Among the many free books Apple’s iBooks Store offers, you can find such titles as Apple’s official iPad User Guide for iOS 9.2, the issue of Detective Comics that features Batman’s first appearance, and some story about a guy named Scrooge and his personal issues with the holiday season.

Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

Notable Interview with Jason Snell is Notable

Following the release of Jason’s update to his Crash Course book, he sat down with Chuck Joiner of MacVoices to discuss what’s new in the update. Such interviews are no new thing for Jason: he has conversed with Chuck many times in the past as, among other things, a guest on Chuck’s long-lived MacNotables podcast. MacNotables is now ten years old (an eon in podcast time), so it should come as no surprise that their conversation veered into a discussion of the venerable podcast’s decade-long run. So kick back, relax, and get the picture of what’s new in Photos and then enjoy a stroll down memory lane with Jason and Chuck.

Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

About Wi-Fi Assist in iOS 9

In iOS 9, Apple introduced a new feature called Wi-Fi Assist, which is available on any cellular-capable device and is enabled by default. The idea behind it is that if the device’s Wi-Fi signal is unreliable, then it automatically switches to a cellular data connection, instead of trying to work with the wonky Wi-Fi connection. There are some limits on Wi-Fi Assist in order to prevent it from using too much data: audio and video won’t stream, background downloads are paused, and email attachments will not download.

Despite those limits, many users have experienced high cellular data usage with Wi-Fi Assist enabled. If you have a problem with chewing through too much cellular data—or worry that you might—unless you have a specific need for Wi-Fi Assist, I highly recommend disabling it in Settings > Cellular. You’ll find the Wi-Fi Assist switch way at the bottom of the Cellular screen.

Posted by Josh Centers (Permalink)

Jeff Provides a Closeup of the 2nd Edition on MacVoices

Jeff talks about the new edition of his book with Chuck Joiner of MacVoices, framing the discussion with a portrait of how the digital photo landscape has changed following the replacement of Apple’s Aperture and iPhoto apps with its new Photos app. He then focuses on issues of mobile access to photos, competing online services, data privacy, and long-term storage solutions for digital photographers.

Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)