TAG: Tips

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.

How to test email sending in Laravel 5.3 using artisan tinker

I’m building a Laravel app and ran into an error when trying to send mail but wasn’t getting an error back since the request was posted through ajax. If you’re trying to troubleshoot it, artisan tinker app is very useful to get more information on the error.

Fire up terminal/command line and run:

and then run the following snippet:

Change emails.test to point to a blade that works and populate the email you want to test.

You should either see a success/null message if everything was correct, or an error with details on what went wrong. The error I encountered required configuring 2FA in Gmail or setting the insecure app option up to send through Gmail for testing.

ReportCrash High CPU & How to Disable reportcrash in Mac OSX

For a while now, all of my MacBooks have run extremely hot and the fans have gone nuts. While troubleshooting the issue, Activity Monitor showed that an app named reportcrash has run very high on the CPU and has killed my battery life. Force quitting the app didn’t help as it would start right back up in a few seconds and climb back to 80-100% usage of the CPU.

What is CrashReporter?

CrashReporter runs in any time an application crashes and it’s designed to saves the application state to aid developers in working out why the app crashed. Basically a process is launching, crashing (and invoking CrashReporter) and then re-launching, repeating this cycle never ending.

How to Identify What’s Crashing

To show which process is triggering this cycle and stop it, CrashReporter is pretty verbose in its logging which makes finding the problem app somewhat easier. Open up the console.app (/Applications/Utilities/Console.app) and look towards the end of your system.log to see what app is crashing.

Unfortunately for me, the problem is a driver by some company called EFI and getting the latest drivers didn’t resolve the issue. The next obvious solution was to disable reportcrash.

How to Disable ReportCrash

Fire up terminal and run the following commands to disable reportcrash:

How to Enable ReportCrash

If you need to reenable crash report, run the following commands in terminal:

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!

How to repair permissions on Linux Apache /var/www/html folder

I recently ran into an issue where I could no longer FTP files to my Linux droplet when multiple users were uploading to the server. The server kept the user as the owner despite me setting them in the www-data group. This fix comes from my ex-boss, James Tomasino who was kind enough to provide some help since I was stumped. I’m sharing in case anyone else runs into the same issue and finds it useful.

You’ll need to fire up terminal, ssh to the server, and then execute these commands:

+s makes permissions sticky so that all files will inherit from the parent directory. This was the setting I was missing.

Open up /etc/ssh/sshd_config. I use nano so:

Hit CTRL+W and look for “subsystem” which is typically located near the bottom of the file. Change


If you already have files in the html folder, you’ll want to run these commands to reset the permissions:


Regex to parse date formats when unknown

I’m working on an app that will parse different file sources and aggregate it for a report. Of course, each format has a different date format and trying to parse it all has proved to be a pain. I wrote a regex that’ll parse out just about every datetime format I’ve run into that I am sharing in case someone else finds it useful. I’ve put it on a Github gist along with a sample of the various dates I’ve tested it against and confirmed to work. If you find a format not covered by the regex, post a comment and I’ll update the gist.

Just a note that I haven’t finished parsing the timestamp (e.g. 1997-07-16T19:20:30+01:00) format. The date portion does get extracted correctly so I left it in.

(98)Address already in use: AH00072: make_sock: could not bind to address [::]:80 – error

I recently got handed a new Ubuntu droplet at work to setup and work on. I was going through the typical configuration to lock down the server and go to installing Apache when I suddenly ran into the error

(98)Address already in use: AH00072: make_sock: could not bind to address [::]:80 – error

I was a little surprised considering I had only run 4 commands total on a brand new installation. If you’re getting this error like me, you’ll need to find out what’s being bound to port 80 and then stop it. Use this command to get a list of anything that’s running on port 80.

For me, it turned out nginx was running and bound to port 80. If you have the same problem, run this command to stop it:

Now you should be able to start apache.

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:

How to Copy and Paste into the Digital Ocean VNC Console

I recently signed up for Digital Ocean to test droplets for my development and linux management testing. I was securing the server and setup fail2ban, disabled the root login, and created a user account but forgot to change the user name from root to the user name I selected in my SSH client profile. I ended up locking myself out of the server and had to resort to logging into the admin panel on Digital Ocean’s website and use their browser embedded VNC client to restore my access. I quickly discovered that one of the downsides of using this panel is that you can’t copy and paste commands. Luckily there’s a workaround and you can use the browser console to do sendkeys through Javascript.

Bring up the console in the browser developer tools. Here’s a cheat sheet for keyboard shortcuts:

ChromeOpen Developer Tools and bring focus to the consoleCtrl + Shift + JCmd + Opt + J
FirefoxOpen ConsoleCtrl + Shift + KCmd + Opt + K
Internet ExplorerAfter hitting F12, you have to click the console tab.
There’s no direct shortcut to the console tab.

Paste this snippet into the textbox in the console window:

Chrome console


Update 9-21-16

Ruden and Sebastiaan’s pointed out there was a bug in the code above. This updated snippet has support for characters when using shift characters like !@#$%^&*()_+

You’ll receive a dialog prompt to enter the copy to paste in. Please note that you need to click on the VNC console and hit enter to execute the command.

Javascript Prompt






If you need to enter more than one command, just hit the up arrow on your keyboard in the console to get the script again for easy reuse.