TAG: Applications

How to Fix ‘Converter Failed to Save File’ with Excel 2016

I recently upgraded to Office 2016 on my Windows 10 desktop and was getting the error “Converter failed to save file” when double clicking on the file along with an “There was a problem sending the command to the program error” every time. I finally had enough with the annoyance to troubleshoot it and figured out a solve.

If you have the same issue, here’s how to fix it:

  1. Open your Default Programs configuration from the Control Panel. On Windows 10, you can hit start, type Default Programs, and it’ll open the app.
  2. Scroll down the list until you get to the Excel formats (XLS):
    Default Programs
  3. If you see anything other than Excel as the default, you’ll need to change the default to Excel. For me, the issue was the Open XML Converter not being installed anymore after upgrading to 2016. To change the default, select the format, click the “Change Program” button and select Excel 2016 from the list of apps that pops up and click OK to set the association:
    App Select
  4. You’ll need to do this for each format in the list to correct it. The most common formats you’ll use are XLS, XLSX, & XLT.

Cheap Macbook Pro Docking Solution for about $30

I typically prefer developing on my desktop and large dual screen monitor setup as opposed to my Macbook. Recently, I’ve gotten into more PHP development and developing on the Mac is proving to be a more enjoyable experience only because Windows is still a second class citizen for most PHP libraries/tools. I still wanted a larger screen setup, so I considered buying a docking station to hook up to a larger monitor but I soon learned they feature the ‘Mac Penalty’ in that they cost more than they should just because it’s for Apple products.

I already have two large monitors and figured my Macbook could serve as third screen. Then I did some thinking and realized I could use one of the monitors for both computers. Assuming you have two HDMI screens already hooked up to your desktop, this would save you $150+ and still allow you to be more productive.

  1. Get a copy of Synergy (http://symless.com/) for $10. It’s open source and can be built if you have the time, but a one time fee of $10 saves me the hassle of doing so. With this, you can share your desktop keyboard across all your computers with the one license and it’s cross platform so Linux support is included too.
  2. Purchase an auto HDMI switcher. I purchased the PORTTA PET0301S 3×1 Port HDMI Switch/Switcher for about $9.
  3. Be sure to get 2 HDMI cables if you don’t already have them on hand. I don’t like the Amazon Basic brand for these as I’ve had problems with the Mac and those cables hooking up to larger screens.
  4. Install Synergy on the desktop as a server. Install on the Macbook as a client and it should autoconnect.
  5. Plug the HDMI cable from the computer into the HDMI switcher, and plug the spare into the Macbook pro. Plug the “Out” end into the monitor.

When you plug your HDMI cable into the Macbook, the HDMI switcher will automatically switch to it and project the Macbook. Synergy will auto-connect as long as it’s running on both and you can share the mouse and keyboard between both and work seamlessly.

If you have an iPad and want to turn that into an additional screen, grab a copy of Duet Display on your desktop/Macbook and install on your iPad for $15.99, and viola, instant portable second screen!

Copy File Context to Clipboard via Command Line, Git Bash (Mingw64), or Terminal

I’ve been spending more time switching from SVN to Git and learning the command line options. I’m finding a lot of the Mac Git terminal commands I run aren’t the same in Git Bash (Mingw64). One of the commands I use is the pbcopy command to copy the ssh key to the clipboard to paste into Github and Bitbucket accounts. I’m starting to use it more as I am learning managing Linux servers and adding my key to login. I’m adding it here as a cheatsheet for myself but I thought others may find it useful.

On Windows, you can run this command to copy your ssh key to the clipboard:

On Mac:

or if you want to view it in the terminal window:

When updating Office 2011 for Mac, you are prompted that you must close “Microsoft Database Daemon” and “SyncServicesAgent”

If you’re trying to update your install of Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac, you may get the following message:

“These applications must be closed before the software can be installed:

Microsoft Database Daemon

Close these applications and try again”

If you try to kill the apps using activity monitor, you’ll find they keep getting restarted. The only way I found that worked to stop them is by following the instructions below.

  1. Open a terminal window and enter the following command:
    launchctl unload ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.microsoft.LaunchAgent.SyncServicesAgent.plist

This will unload the SyncServicesAgent. Unfortunately the Daemon kept running for me after the latest update. To stop that, do the following:

  1. Open activity monitor
  2. Scroll down until you find Microsoft Database Daemon in the list of active applications.
  3. Click on Microsoft Database Daemon and click on the Quit Process button in the toolbar

Go back to the install utility and you should now be able to proceed with the install. Once the install is finished, you’ll want to restart the Sync Services Agent, so do the following:

  1. Go back to the terminal window and enter this command:
    launchctl load ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.microsoft.LaunchAgent.SyncServicesAgent.plist

Now you should be all set with updates and can close terminal.


Visual Studio 2013 package did not load correctly

Visual Studio Error MessageToday I loaded up Visual Studio to continue work on a project and created by a random bunch of errors. All were complaints that various packages could not be loaded. The one I captured was:

The ‘JavascriptWebExtensionsPackage’ did not load correctly.’ The problem may have been caused by a configuration change or by the installation of another extension.

I had just installed SyncFusion’s Essential Studio which apparently screwed something up. I tried doing a repair on Visual Studio which unfortunately did not work.

I was able to fix it by following these steps:

  1. Close Visual Studio Open the *Users*\AppData\Local\Microsoft\VisualStudio\12.0\ folder
  2. Rename the ComponentModelCache folder
  3. Restart Visual Studio.

Visual Studio should now rebuild the cache and no longer display the error messages.

ESET AntiTheft Causes Dell Machines to Lose Permissions on C:

Eset Logo

I just spent the past two days complaining about Windows 8 to everyone I know because of how awful the experience is. I installed Windows updates, rebooted, and the system stops working.

It turns out it wasn’t Windows causing the problem but ESET AntiTheft on Dell laptops. It turns out there’s a permission bug specific to Dell machines when ESET creates it’s ghost account and instead of giving it restricted access, the system essentially copies the permissions and then changes everything on the C: drive to a state where the permissions are no longer accessible.

Unfortunately, the only known fix at this point is to contact ESET support. I called their support line in North America and the tech knew about the issue right away. You’ll have to reboot into safe mode, and then get them to remote in to install a utility that runs a script that resets the permissions.

Contact Info here: http://www.eset.com/us/about/contact/

The tech assured me they are working with Dell to get this issue resolved so until they do, make sure you don’t activate ESET’s AntiTheft on the Dell machine.

What’s the Problem?

Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition Logo

A few years ago, I started at a company as a help desk tech. After establishing myself, I’d often get put on all the…interesting issues. When nobody else could figure out the problem, I’d get called in to figure out the issue. During my early days as a new tech there, the manager of the team passed me a ticket and stopped by to give me background on the situation. This particular client would call in every week because one computer couldn’t talk to the server and at one point, every tech on the team had worked on the problem and nobody had been able to figure it out. My manager told me not to stress about it because it was definitely something on their side but he treats the situation as a rite of passage for all new hires.

I give the doctor a call back and he gets me connected to his PC and begins to elaborate on the problem and all the things everyone has had him do. He explains how his tech knows the problem is with our software since everything on the network side works. He clicks on the Windows XP start menu and by sheer luck, the tech had set the menu back to classic which meant the banner along the left showed which version of Windows was running. As the doctor continued on with his explanation, I noticed the banner on the start menu said “Windows XP Home Edition”.

I politely interrupted the doctor and informed him that I had figured out the problem. He went quiet for a few seconds and said “You haven’t done anything yet and I haven’t finished explaining everything. How could you possibly have figured out the problem?” I informed him that he’s running Windows XP Home Edition which doesn’t support business networking and explains why he couldn’t connect to the server. He insisted that all his computers are running Windows XP Pro and besides, how could I possibly know that without having even done anything?

I asked him to click on the start menu and then he went quiet. I asked if he was there and he apologized and said he was going to call his tech to get the OS fixed. He asked if it would be alright for him to call and request my help if there are any problems from there.

I closed the ticket with “Problem solved. Issue was Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition”.

Kill Multiple Processes at Once Via Command Line with Taskkill

Ever have a program or process that doesn’t end properly and runs in the background continuously?

I recently encountered this issue with VLC on one Windows 7 machine where it keeps the process never terminates. Since I never reboot the machine for other than Windows Updates, this amounted to 633 copies of VLC running in memory. Each process only used about 633k so it wasn’t an astronomical memory hog but multiply that by 633, you begin to feel the machine slowing down. Task Manager doesn’t let you kill multiple processes in bulk and I didn’t want to go through killing them one by one or rebooting.

The solution? Good old command line. Open up command prompt (start -> run -> cmd.exe). This snippet will kill all processes that start with the taskname:

To kill all VLC processes, you’d use:

All running VLC processes will be terminated automatically.

Did you know…?

Windows 7 sports tons of new features and surprises that have gotten little to no fanfare.

Did Windows 7 Calculatoryou know that Microsoft has updated the Windows Calculator with Windows 7 with some really new and useful features? Previously, most of these features often required you to open Excel or use some website to solve the problems they address. The calculator sports new features including Unit Conversion, Date Calculation, Mortgage, Vehicle Lease, Fuel Economy (in both MPG and KM no less!) You can find the different options under the View menu after opening the calculator up. See screenshots below for examples of what the calculator can do.

Standard Mode Calculator HistoryUnit CalculatorWindows 7 Date CalculatorLease CalculatorFuel CalculatorMortgage Calculator

Firefox Plumber Eliminates Memory Leaks

If you’re a power user like me, you’ll find Firefox will often balloon to about 1 gig of RAM usage after some time. Often times it’ll hit that point and then just crash.

I’m probably in the minority but my surfing habits tend to be open a mess of tabs and then come back and read later. I never go back to bookmarks (even though I do have a delicious account and actually tag stuff). At any time, I may 25-100 tabs open in my browser.

I’ve had to install add-ons like session manager just to ensure I don’t lose my tabs when working because Firefox’s built-in tools wouldn’t restore my tab session when it crashed.

I recently stumbled upon Firefox Plumber (http://www.rizone3.com/2011/firefox-plumber/). I’ve been testing it for a few days now and I have to say I’m completely blown away by how well the utility works.

firefox plumberCurrently I have 32 tabs open in Firefox. Under normal loads, the browser would utilize between 800MB-1GB of memory. With Firefox Plumber running, which is only utilizing about 708k in memory usage, Firefox is currently fluctuating between 4 and 7 MB of memory usage.

The only caveat is that Firefox Plumber does utilize about ~5% of the CPU to keep Firefox tamed.

After some sleuthing, I found it accomplishes this by offloading the memory to the swap file which could present it’s own issues. I’m going to stick with it for now since Firefox appears to be more stable and see how things work.

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