High Tech

8 Microsoft Visual Studio Keyboard Shortcuts You Need to Know Today

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Here are eight of my favorite keyboard shortcuts in Visual Studio. There’s a good chance at least one of them will be new to you.

1. Move Code Alt+Up/Down

This keyboard shortcut is new in Visual Studio 2013. If you put the cursor on a line of code and use the Alt+Up Arrow keys, the line of code you’ve selected moves up. If you use the Alt+Down Arrow keys, the line of code selected moves down.

2. Create Collapsible Region Ctrl+M+H/Ctrl+M+U

Chances are you’ve noticed the “+” and “-” symbols in the margins that let you collapse and expand your classes and functions. Did you know you can create your own collapsible regions? If you select a section of code and then use the key sequence Ctrl+M+H, you turn that region into a collapsible/expandable region. The key sequence Ctrl+M+U will remove the collapsible region. It doesn’t delete the code, it just removes the icon that lets you expand and collapse.

3. Comment Code Block Ctrl+K+C/Ctrl+K+U

Whether it’s because you’re trying to track down a “but,” or experimenting with code change, from time to time you’ll want to comment and uncomment blocks of code. If you select a block of code and use the key sequence Ctrl+K+C, you’ll comment out the section of code. Ctrl+K+U will uncomment the code.

4. Peek Definition Alt+F12

When you’re going through your code and you want to examine the code in the method you’re calling, many programmers will use the F12 key or the pop-up menu option Go To Definition. Go To Definition will navigate to the called method; however, many times you don’t need to navigate to the code. Sometimes, you just want a quick look at the method. If you’ve installed Visual Studio 2013, there’s a new keyboard shortcut — Alt+F12 — that will give you a preview of the method being called inline. You can use the Esc key to close the preview.

5. Navigate Forward/Backward Ctrl+–/Ctrl+Shift+–

When you have multiple files open at the same time, you might want a way to quickly move back and forth between two or three different locations in your code. If you’ve moved from one location to another you can use the keyboard sequence <Ctrl>+– to move to the previous location and then you can return using Ctrl+Shift+–.

6. Ctrl-Shift-S

Saves all documents and projects. Very useful when you have many items open and are too lazy to go to the top left “File->Save All.”

7. F7

Switches from the design view to the code view in the editor.

8. Shift-F7

Switches from the code view to the design view in the editor.

Credits:

https://vslive.com/Blogs/News-and-Tips/2015/04/5-VS-Keyboard-Shortcuts.aspx
http://www.dofactory.com/reference/visual-studio-shortcuts

Review: Sylvania 9″ Tablet PC and Portable DVD Combo (SLTDV9200)

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SLTDV9200Recently I came across a unique combination: an Android Tablet/DVD player combo by Curtis/Sylvania . DVDs nowadays are practically obsolete and that the ones I previously purchased from Walmart are gathering dust. I therefore saw this as a way to watch DVDs that aren’t available on Netflix, or anywhere else for that matter. In addition, when it comes to road trips this would be handy since we don’t utilize Wifi to stream shows and it would give enable my kids to watch videos while on the road. Intrigued, I purchased a copy since the price seemed right at $118 CAD.

So far I’ve been very happy with it, considering the price. Here are some of the specs :

Functionality

It’s a practical device that does what I need it to do. In addition to playing DVDs via an app on the device, it also allows for streaming via a Netflix app or an SD card (though no microSD).

Speed

At 1 GB RAM the speed is perfect for the version of Android running (5.1)

Audio

Audio works great. I was able to increase the volume enough to hear what I wanted.

Storage

At 8 GB storage, there aren’t too many apps that can be installed. An SD card can address that but don’t install too many apps on it with data pointing to the SD card. From experience, a) the core App files still remain on the tablet, and b) when Google Play issues an update to an app, sometimes the app data goes back to the tablet (instead of the SD card). The tablet is meant to play DVDs and videos moreso than being used for other purposes. As long as you’re aware of this you will be fine.

Screen quality

Screen quality also isn’t the greatest. At 800×480 resolution there is some pixilation. However, for the price of a budget tablet screen quality is expected to suffer.

Battery life

Battery life is a bummer. The DVD specs state that operation time is 2 hours fully charged and indeed, watching two DVDs back-to-back brought the tablet from 100% charge to 5%. This is worth noting when taking it “on the road” to make sure it stays charged during the way. Connecting it to a multi-USB car charger (see below) should address that .

 

Warranty

Warranty is only 90 days, as is in all budget brands.

Conclusion

Overall, what amazes me is that other manufacturers have not made a similar product. Samsung released a DVD player that connects to a tablet, but that’s not the same. For what you pay, you are getting a solid product.

Budget Tablet Rating: 9/10

sylvania sltdvd9200

Microsoft Excel: How to Count Number of Spaces in Cell String

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excel

B1: =LEN(A1)-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(A1,” “,””))

Notice the space there. You can replace that with any other letter to see how many instances of that character are present. It’s simple and genius.

Excel on Mac – How to Delete Contents of Multiple Cells

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excel_logo

fn+delete

Also, you can do control+B

I know, with Excel on Windows it’s easier 🙂

Kudos to ExcelJet for this gem.

10 Free OnePlus One Apps You Need Right Now

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Courtesy of oneplus.net

Without a doubt, the OnePlus One has taken over the world by storm. Based out of China, OnePlus devised an affordable, budget-friendly alternative to pricier smartphones, such as the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and recently the Nexus, which doubled in price once the Nexus 6 came out. Even with its upcoming price increase it’s still competitively priced considering you are getting the phone unlocked.

All that having been said, as awesome as the phone is, there are always apps that can be purchased to enhance your phones’ experience. Here are ten of my favourites:

1. Camera: CameraNext Mod

One massive complaint the phone had was in the camera quality: it produces photos that are too grainy, especially in low lighting. Looking into it, I realized that the issue must be software-related since OnePlus took the camera hardware from Sony, making the hardware component top-rate.

I was looking for different alternatives. Of them, the best one was the Cyanogen-modded CameraNext app. The pics and videos there are among the clearest I’ve seen. Here are the links:

Why are there two different apps? Because, when you upgrade to CM12, Panorama crashes the CM11 version of the app. Why the links? Because the apps were fan-modded by pro developers and aren’t available on Google Play. I still prefer this app over to what’s commercially available at the Play store.

Honorable mention goes to Google Camera, though my issue with it is in the video where it seems to auto-focus in and out.

2. Recording: Titanium Recorder

My issue with the stock recorder was that it would only record a message for a minute, then stop once the phone went to sleep. Titanium Recorder continues playing after the phone sleeps, and produces excellent audio quality.

The App is available on Google Play.

3. Messaging: GoSMS Pro

I personally find the stock Messaging app to freeze and crash too often. Apparently it cannot process/handle the contacts and messages. Enter GoSMS Pro. It’s free, gives a choice of six colors, and works amazingly well.

The App is available on Google Play.

4. Messaging: WhatsApp

Need I say more?

The App is available on Google Play.

5. Battery Management: Qualcomm Snapdragon BatteryGuru

One issue with OnePlus, which also goes for all Android devices, is battery management. Battery management especially became an issue once the Cyanogen Mod 12 (CM12) came out. BatteryGuru saves some of that juice.

The App is available on Google Play.

6. Contacts

I personally use Contacts+ to import my contacts from GMail, Facebook, and iCloud. To backup your contacts into a CSV file, SuperBackup does the trick.

These Apps are available on Google Play.

7. Readers

For readers, there are:

a. Pocket, which lets you locally download any web page into your account for future access in areas where no wifi/data is accessible

b. Amazon Kindle, for those eBooks requiring Kindle reading (and where I can download my purchases)

c. Aldiko, for other eBooks

The Apps are available on Google Play.

8. Skype

To communicate with other users with video for free across Wifi, there’s still nothing better out there.

The App is available on Google Play.

9. Social Media

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIN. Goes without saying.

The Apps are available on Google Play.

10. Coffee Shop Apps

I’m referring to Starbucks and Second Cup.

When you need a coffee and are in a bind without your card, you simply add your card number to an account that you tie in with an app on your phone. It simplifies the process greatly.

The Apps are available on Google Play.

 

Glad you enjoyed!

The Skinny On the OnePlus One Phone in Canada – How Much Does It Cost, and How Long Does it Take?

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Courtesy of oneplus.net

Courtesy of oneplus.net

I recently ordered and am looking forward to the OnePlus One phone, which has great reviews and can replace my semi-functional iPhone 5. The “hook” is that at $350 for a 64 GB model, the phone costs less than half the cost of a regular phone, and there’s no plan you need to be tied into. Sounds great, right? I’d like to think so.

The pricing in Canada, though, is a bit more than the $350 price tag would lead you to believe. In Canada I purchased the phone at $350 base price. In addition there’s the shipping. With shipping there are two options, one at $28 and one at $37. The one at $28 doesn’t provide tracking and is not Canada Post, therefore, the only real option is the $37 one. That brings it up to $387. Then there’s payment through Paypal. Paypal in my case converted $387 as $462. Fine, though we’re already at more than $100 over. Lastly, there’s the inevitable duties I will need to pay for it which is over $50. That brings the phone to over $500!

Also, there’s getting the necessary accessories such as the plastic screen protector, case, and backup charger, which amount to another $36.

Live and learn I guess. Hopefully though this phone will last me a good couple of years so I can justify the investment.

Internet Data Usage (Bell v.s. Rogers): Is That How They Calculate It On Your Bill?

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uptime-downtime

Photo courtesy of play.google.com

This is nothing new. Over the last 6-7 years big Canadian phone/data/ISP providers like Bell and Rogers have set a bandwidth cap for users paying for their internet service. They would charge a certain amount, and then have a cap. How accurate is this cap though?

A friend of mine that presently owns his own private ISP company recently informed me that it’s impossible for these ISP companies to accurately tell you how much data you’re using: it’s impossible. With Rogers, what they do is take a survey of all users around a block, then average this amount. With Bell, they take the username of your Modem and charge any bandwidth from that username, which is relatively more accurate.

How Rogers Does It

I found this out the hard way on two occasions. We originally started out with Rogers internet in 2007. Back then, Rogers didn’t have the bandwidth cap they have now. We ended up switching to a different internet provider once we saw that our overage charges ended up making our internet bill double what it should have been. We later found out that rhere’s a “black box” between what Rogers says one is using and what one actually is using. Bottom-line, Rogers takes an average of the whole block you are on and charges each person the same data. Apparently, one or more people were using too much bandwidth and we were getting hit with a way-too-high average for the block!

How Bell Does It

We later on switched to Bell’s internet service. A Bell salesman was going from apartment to apartment on our block selling plans at a very reduced rate for the first six months. We signed up, as did many others. After the six month deal ended, we saw that not only did our rates go up, but Bell upped the rates every so often. What caused us to end up switching providers was when we saw how much bandwidth we were “using” and knew ourselves that we could not have possibly have passed the bandwidth mark (which was capped at 265 GB). The fact that Bell was making such a claim that we were starting to go over made us suspicious.

We later on found out Bells’ methodology. Bell takes the username associated with the modem/router they give you and calculates data, which is a more accurate metric. The only problem there is in the modem Bell gives each customer. Bell gives a modem/wireless router combo that has a poor signal. Get this: the Wireless router portion of each modem is not very secure at all. Even if you set a secure password, there are still ways for one to hack it. And once its hacked, Bell charges your router indiscriminately. There’s no way for them to determine what was “invalid” data usage and what wasn’t. We ended up leaving Bell’s internet, but not before getting hit with an $80 overage charge on data. Never again.

Colosseum Internet

As far as I know, Colosseum Online is the only “truly unlimited” internet provider, charging nothing extra. I’ve been using them so far and am happy.

4 Must-Haves to Fully Benefit from Google Chromecasts’ Service

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Chromecast_dongleWhen Google came out with Chromecast in July 2013, many people likely did not know what to do with it. The whole idea seemed foreign: a cast a browser tab from Google Chrome and pay $40-50 for that.

After receiving it as a gift recently, I’ve since been using it and found it to be indispensable. Here are the items you need in order to get the most benefit from this device.

1. A Chromecast Device

This one is obvious. Without it there’s no point to this post.

2. TV with an HDMI port slot and USB

lg-tvIn order to view the Chromecast, you need a TV with HDMI capabilities. HDMI as a technology came out in 2002-2003, and only really started being mainstream in TVs since 2008. While that doesn’t seem so long ago, if your TV doesn’t have HDMI it’s likely at least 7-8 years old. At the low cost of HDMI flat-screen TVs, this is a must.

Even newer TV’s have a USB port. This isn’t necessary but is a huge help. Without the USB port, your Chromecast will need to be charged using an outlet, which can be a pain. The USB essentially “powers” the Chromecast while it’s doing its job.

3. Specific Devices with WiFi Capability

Courtesy: v3.co.uk

Courtesy: v3.co.uk

Once you have Chomecast set up on your TV, you need a device to “cast” it to. This can be done from a Mac/PC or a phone/tablet with iOS or Android utilizing WiFi capabilities. If you have a desktop that doesn’t have WiFi, it won’t work. Tried that. Alternatively if you’re a tech geek running Ubuntu with Chrome, it should work as Chrome apps like “Google Cast” should be installable regardless of the system.

If you have a tablet that’s not running iOS or specific Android systems, it won’t work. This is a shame as high-end devices like the Kindle Fire don’t have the capacity to have Chromecast installed where it can properly integrate with apps like Google Cast and place the option in its own version of Netflix and YouTube.

4. Netflix/YouTube

This is also a must for TV junkies. With Netflix/YouTube you can cast these videos from any tablet or phone. From a Mac/PC there are ways to cast a video straight from the Chrome Browser. For file types that are not MP4 or FLV there is an extension called “Videostream for Google Chromecast” which pretty much streams any filetype.

5. Wireless Gigabit Router with High-Speed Internet (optional)

While this is optional, if you want optimal viewing performance without hogging everyone else’s internet usage, invest in the Gigabit router over an ethernet router. Most Gigabit routers today are optimized for Netflix/YouTube streaming, though you should first check if this is specified. The WiFi difference between 54 MbPS and 300 MbPs is very significant.

The high-speed option is for the same reason. If you can find an internet provider that offers competitive flat rates without overage charges, go with that. It’s worth it as you don’t need to pay “through the roof” for a quality internet experience.

Getting a OnePlus One Phone – Addressing Site Navigation Issues

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Courtesy of oneplus.net

Courtesy of oneplus.net

I have been using an iPhone 5 for the last two years and noticed apparent issues with it since I needed to get a bloated lithium-ion battery and screen replaced, among other things. For one thing, the sensor on the top wasn’t always working when I placed the phone to my ear, causing my cheek to dial numbers to my chagrin, as well as to the chagrin of the person on the other line. It also caused my cheek to do things like mute the conversation or put it on speaker. In addition, the charger would only charge if positioned a specific way. It was very inconvenient. To make matters worse, the phone was under Apple Care warranty for the first year, so they would have charged an arm and a leg being that I was past the first year.

Since I am presently in my final year of a 3 year plan with Rogers, and Best Buy doesn’t have the deal for an iPhone under Rogers like it used to when an iPhone 5 64 GB could be had for $200 during X-mas/New Years, I found myself stuck with a defective iPhone for another year. Even if I were to trade in my iPhone 5 and pay the difference, I would still need to pay something like $160 for the remainder of my iPhone before I could get another one from Rogers (can one say #rogerssucks ?). What was there to do?

I thought of Android phones, but most of them, especially Samsung devices, have relatively poor battery life and are flimsy unless you get an extended battery with a casing that makes it feel insanely thick. There had to be a better way.

OnePlus One: A Better Solution

Enter the OnePlus. The new company from China has made a $350 USD Android phone with 64 GB storage (close to $500 CAD – bummer, but still) called the OnePlus One with oodles of features and great battery life by doing virtually no traditional advertising. Due to the overall positive reviews, I’ve wanted to get one for a while but to do so, you need an invite which can get very tricky. Once you get the invite, you have 24 hours to purchase the phone or else you need to start from the very beginning. I was recently lucky enough to get one invite after trolling the social media landscape (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, Google+, you name it). Each person gets that one invite to distribute on an odd day (I’m still waiting for mine) and it’s treated like gold.

Website Navigational Issues

Once I created an account, though, it was practically impossible to log in in order to get a phone. See the below screencast:

So what was I to do? No matter what I did I couldn’t log in, even to submit a support ticket. After pulling out a few hairs, I contacted the Facebook/OnePlus community and was advised on the stupidest thing on the planet which actually worked. To “log in” you need to first select a country. How does one do so? Visit this page (https://oneplus.net/choose-country) while logged in. Once the country gets selected, the country “session” gets logged and allows  you to proceed. I’m being serious here: without that you’re essentially a sitting duck!

Now that that hurdle has been passed, I have now ordered my phone and am eagerly awaiting a phone in the mail that has all the great features of a top-notch smartphone at a fraction of the cost, and without being tied into any cellphone agreement.

***UPDATE December 21, 2014***

It appears that the website issue for OnePlus has been fixed.

HostSo.com Web Hosting Services Review – Negative

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hostso-logo_bgRecently I was advised by a friend of mine to try switching my web hosting to HostSo. The pitch was that they operated a server that had 12 GB of RAM, and if one paid only $8.56/month for their ULTRA plan, one had unlimited space. I decided to give it a shot, which lasted a total of three days.

Here’s how it went: I went to the website and purchased the hosting plan. That setup was straightforward. One thing that gave off a red flag was the inability for them to enable Shell access on my own account for “security purposes.” That bothered me was that my website files, zipped, were too large to be unzipped on their server.

I had asked server support via Live Chat to unzip the files for me if possible. They did – to an extent. When they unzipped my website files they forgot to include all subdirectories and pointers. That left behind a huge mess of files all in the same directory for me to delete, as there was not much more I could do with them. I realized then and there that I would need to upload all website files the old-fashioned way.

After doing that (many hours later), setting up the necessary MySQL databases for my WordPress sites and pointing everything correctly, I noticed that my websites were all running slowly despite the claim that the server ran on 12 GB of RAM. My guess was there were already too many websites being hosted already on their server which was causing the sites to already run slowly. I set up WP-SuperCache (or W3-Total Cache, I forget which – they’re both good) to cache and speed up the sites. That helped a little. Then the unspeakable (in terms of customer service) happened.

The following day after my sites were launched I noticed that none of my WordPress sites, built on a Multisite configuration, were showing. I found that the “Permissions” to the required website directory were set to “000.” I reset the permissions of that and all subdirectories, then asked server support what happened. Their response? “Oh, we decided to disable that directory as it was causing too much of a load on our server.” Well duh! Websites do tend to do that. They also instructed me to optimize my databases and it won’t happen again. When I did, I replied that I had done so, but that what bothered me was that they took my sites down without my asking, and that concerned me from a business perspective. They replied that it won’t happen again before they warn me, and that I need to continue optimizing my databases. I decided then and there to leave their hosting in a flash.

When I asked to leave their hosting, they asked me why and I explained that their hosting didn’t meet my business requirements. It took a lot of back-and-forth with setting up a formal ticket, among other things, to finally get some sort of Credit Cart refund. Since they were using 2Checkout to process their payments, they returned the exact amount I paid them, but I received something like $8 less than they paid me due to 2Checkout’s insane processing fees. Whatever, at that point I decided to cut my losses.

I later learned from doing some Google searches that others had real complaints about HostSo’s Services. Among them were:

http://www.webhostingstuff.com/review/HostSocom.html

https://wordpress.org/support/topic/hostso-or-blue-host

https://forums.digitalpoint.com/threads/hostso-com-another-scam-company.1654806/

In short, never again. I had a terrible experience with them and don’t want to see others fall into the same trap.