Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Clients can't open PDF attachments they're sent. Not supported file type or file has been damaged.

Attended a client who had an interesting problem. They use a Microsoft Access system and create a new email with the client's email address already filled in by clicking on a button. They then attach a PDF and send the email.

The problem was clients started reporting they couldn't open the PDF in the email. Clients would see the message "the file type wasn't supported or the file has been damaged".

The client was using Microsoft Office 2016 and Microsoft Access 2016. The copy of Microsoft Office 2016 came with the Dell computer and Microsoft Access 2016 was purchased separately from Microsoft's store.

After checking the raw email data I found the process of attaching the PDF to the email created from Microsoft Access indicated the file had been attached, but there was no actual data in the attachment. Thus you could save the PDF but it was empty with a file size of zero. There was no problem with the original PDF.

I decided to run the repair option for Microsoft Access 2016 and then Microsoft Office 2016. The local repair didn't fix the issue. I then ran the Microsoft Access 2016 online repair option which stated it would do a more thorough repair. What happened then was unexpected. I could see the full version of Office 2016 was being downloaded which I assumed would be used to do the repair, but instead Office 2016 was installed. Access 2016 still worked but now Office 2016 wasn't activated. A new product key was required for Office 2016. The repair had left Office 2016 now not activated and useless for the client.

I'd been in a similar situation before. The original Office 2016 licence from Dell preinstalled on the computer with the product key. Now a new version of Office 2016 from Microsoft. Previously for a copy of Windows 7 Microsoft had said the issue was with Dell. In this case however the problem was Microsoft's repair software had created the problem.

I decided to use the online chat for Microsoft support. After quite a lengthy chat conversation Microsoft's support staff offered a new licence for Office 2016. As the Office 2016 software was already loaded it only needed to be activated which I did.

The installation of the new copy of Office 2016 also fixed the issue with attachments not working so everything was back to normal for the client.

There's a good lesson in this story. The support to fix the client's issue was a total of around four hours. That's a considerable cost to the client. Office 2016 needed to be reinstalled to fix the issue but because Office 2016 was purchased from Dell and Access from Microsoft, you leave yourself exposed to a difficult support situation. Had both licences been purchased direct from Microsoft you don't leave yourself exposed to the potential situation where Microsoft can say you need to go back to Dell even though all the software is Microsoft software. This has happened previously as mentioned with a copy of Windows 7.

I'd suggest if you're buying a new computer buy the computer from the supplier such as Dell, but buy the software from Microsoft. That way you have control over the licence. You unfortunately don't have control over the operating system software licence as that still is from Dell and Microsoft has previously referred that back to Dell.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Facebook notifications appear even though nothing is open.

On an Apple Macbook Air Facebook notifications appear by popping out in the top right corner. At first this was a bit perplexing. Nothing was open and yet these notifications appear. These notifications appear because of the Google Chrome browser.

To stop the Facebook notifications appearing open Google Chrome.
Click on the three vertical dots at the top right.
Select Settings
Select Content Settings
Select Notifications
In the Allow section you'll find the Facebook address. Click on the three dots at the right.
Click Remove to remove the notification.
Alternately you could also click Block so you don't receive any requests to allow notifications.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Gmail Team - Update to Gmail app and get the most out of Gmail.

One person received the below email from The Gmail Team and asked if they should start using the Gmail app. The person was using an iPhone 6S.

Based on my experience using the Gmail app on a cheap Android mobile phone, and using and supporting Apple's email clients on iPhones and iPad, I'd suggest the Apple iOS email client is already a better email client in general than the Gmail app. If you have an Apple product their email client is better than Gmail's email client so there's no reason to switch.

Google are always promoting their products such as the Gmail app and Google Chrome browser to the users of their services, but often there's no reason to use their products when the existing products you use are as good or possibly better.

As an example, using the Gmail app on my Android mobile phone, even after I've deleted emails on my notebook, they still appear on my mobile and take quite a while before they disappear.  After deleting emails they reappear for no apparent reason and need to be deleted again. This behaviour of the Gmail app is confusing, annoying and a waste of time. I should add however this is using an IMAP service and not the Gmail service.

If the email client you are using does everything you need to do and works well, I'd suggest it may be best to continue to use the email client you already have. It can take a lot of time and effort to evaluate another email app, which could simply be a waste of time. If you know of a benefit a new email client will offer, then you have a reason to evaluate using the new email client. Just because Google suggests their app will "get the most out of Gmail" doesn't mean it will make any difference, and in some cases you may be worse off and simply waste valuable time and energy.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Can't open Instagram on iPad. Error "Safari cannot open the page because too many redirects occurred."

A person had a problem opening Instagram on their iPad. There had been no problem but then for the previous couple of days they couldn't open Instagram using Safari on their iPad. The error message they'd receive was, "Safari cannot open the page because too many redirects occurred."

If you receive this issue there's two solutions that will let you open Instagram on the iPad.

1. Install Google's Chrome browser. The Chrome browser had no problem opening Instagram when the Safari browser couldn't.

2. Close Safari and then go into Settings -> Safari. Click on Clear History and Website Data.

Both of these approaches fixed the problem and Instagram could again be opened using either the Safari or Chrome browser.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Gmail emails not appearing in inbox. Have to select All Mail to see the emails.

A couple of people have mentioned recently they've lost their emails in Gmail. On further investigation for one person it turned out their emails had been marked important and only appeared in the Important folder and not the Inbox. Totally confusing.

The problem appears to be that Gmail is deciding what is important or not to you and sometimes filtering out email so it doesn't appear in the Inbox but only under Important. This leads to considerable confusion as now people have to check Inbox, All Mail and Important. Add that some emails from people you've known for years ends up in Spam and Gmail is a bit of a mess.

The good news is you largely fix the issue (not the spam filtering) of emails not ending up in your Inbox. To do this you need to open Gmail using a desktop or notebook computer. Select Settings and Inbox.

Towards the bottom of this screen you'll see the options for Importance. The way I work is I simply want all emails to come into my Inbox (excluding any real spam that can go to the spam folder) and then I know I have all emails. If I want, I can then mark messages as important, star them, or add labels, although I'd rarely use those features if ever. I just want a simple easy to use email client.

The following is the settings I've enabled for the person having problems.

Show markers is turned off. Most emails come into the Inbox as important and this shows up on mobile phones as a yellow marker on every message. There's really not point unless you are really using the importance feature, and most people probably don't.

Don't use predictions. We've seen Gmail is really screwing up people's emails and they feel they can't find or have lost emails. This is a poor problematic feature so best turned off.

Override filters is selected as you don't want some emails to not appear in the Inbox for no apparent reason.

Google's Gmail automation in this case is creating confusion and additional work for Gmail users. Turning the importance features off for most people will make their email experience simpler and cause less confusion.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A useful table showing SD card speed classes. Utility to test card size and speed.

I recently purchased a very inexpensive 32 GB micro SD card from eBay. It was $6.99 which is possibly up to a fifth of the cost if purchased from an Australian retailer. I really had two concerns. The capacity being actually 32 GB and not faked. The second the speed is Class 10.

With the speed a bit of research on the internet enabled me to come up with a quick cheat that I could remember. There's a number of standards. There's C, U and now V. If an SD card has a C class followed by a number e.g. C4, the 4 directly relates to the megabytes per second. That is C4, C6, C10 are 4, 6 and 10 megabyte per second write speeds. With U there's typically U1 and U3. In this case we multiple the number by 10 so U1 and U3 are 10 and 30 megabytes per second write speed. The V class is similar to the U class where you multiply the number by 10, thus V6 and V9 are 60 and 90 megabytes per second.

The following link provides a chart which shows what you can use each of the classes for. In my case I wanted to record HD video so the C10 device was sufficient.


The second concern was to test the actual capacity of the micro SD card to what I thought I'd purchased. You can't just insert the card and read the capacity as it is possible for card to fake that information. The best way is to have a utility write to the card and then verify the data that has been written. I was able to find the following utility to test the micro SD card which also performs a speed test of the card.


The site is a German site but using Google translate it is easy to download the program. The program has an option to display information in English. For a 32 GB micro SD card you can expect the test will take around two or more hours for a 32GB memory card. Also before installing any software you're sure of it is best to use a site to run malware scans on the file. The site I use to test files I access by going to my search site https://www.advancedsearch.com.au/SearchBing/, type virus and then click Search. This site owned by Google tests the file for malware against dozens of well known software products.

After receiving the micro SD card I immediately ran the test software. The result below shows the micro SD card only had 112.8MB of 32GB memory that wasn't faulty and the speed did not meet the minimum Class 10 speed of 10MB/s. In other words I'd bought a dud

Test results

Warning: Only 31992 of 31993 MByte tested.
The media is likely to be defective.
112.8 MByte OK (231031 sectors)
31.1 GByte DATA LOST (65288585 sectors)
Details:4.5 KByte overwritten (9 sectors)
0 KByte slightly changed (< 8 bit/sector, 0 sectors)
31.1 GByte corrupted (65288576 sectors)
4.5 KByte aliased memory (9 sectors)
First error at offset: 0x00000000070cee00
Expected: 0x00000000070cee00
Found: 0x00eaacb0c0f30657
H2testw version 1.3
Writing speed: 7.59 MByte/s
Reading speed: 9.56 MByte/s
H2testw v1.4

This is a good lesson when it comes to buying cheap memory cards on eBay, or the internet in general. Make sure you test the memory cards when you receive them using test software. You can't just copy files to the card as the card will appear to work. It's only when you go to retrieve or use the files that you'll know the card is not what it should be. For example I copied a video file onto the card and no error was reported. I started to watch the video and after a short while the video froze. No error was reported.

Hopefully this experience will provide you with the knowledge and tools to check your memory cards.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Apple Store subscription for Magic Piano by Smule a fake

Today I received an email for an Apple Store subscription for Magic Paino by Smule. Since this is a scam variation I'd not seen before I thought I'd share.

The email is a scam designed to get you to cancel by clicking on the link. The email is not real. It isn't from Apple. It's a fake.

Remember, often the only thing that is protecting you from you from these scams is how willing you are to click on the link. Don't do it.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support.