Category Archives: tips&tricks

iPhone tip: disable the extra click needed to unlock your phone

iphone-touchid-pexels-400In a recent iOS update, Apple started requiring an extra click of the home button to unlock your iPhone, instead of just allowing a “click with finger resting on Touch ID” to unlock the phone.  It’s not a big change, but just different enough to be frustrating.

To go back to the original behavior, go to Settings – General – Accessibility – Home Button and enable “Rest Finger to Open”.

Ultimate Guide to Google Sheets

zapier-sheets-guideZapier has published a free ebook called The Ultimate Guide to Google Sheets, and it mentions my “Insert and Delete Cells” Sheets Add-on!

The book takes readers first through a detailed Google Sheets tutorial, then dives into deeper features that help readers build their own custom tools and apps using Google Sheets’ most powerful features.

Here are links to the book:

– Zapier Learning Center:
– Kindle store:
– iBooks store:

SNI with Rackspace Load Balancers: script

CLBThe Rackspace web dashboard allows you to attach a certificate and private key to a cloud load balancer for ssl offloading.  But even though the load balancers support SNI and multiple certificates, neither the web console nor the “rack” command line scripts expose this functionality.

If you want to attach additional certificates to a load balancer from the command line, check out at  The script doesn’t do a lot yet, but does the two things that I miss most from the web console:

  1. Expose the private (ServiceNet) address of a load balancer
  2. Manipulate the certificate mappings

To get started with it, clone the repo and check out the readme and “ -h”

Thanks to Adam Bull at for the inspiration and sed magic in this script!

Solved: How to Map a Drive from Windows 10 to OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite Server

local-security-policyWe have an increasing number of Windows 10 machines in our office, and realized that we couldn’t get them to connect to shares on our OS X 10.10.5 (Yosemite) server.  We have a bunch of Local Network Users, and had no problem connecting as them from Windows 7 machines.  But Windows 10 machines would just pop up the authentication dialog again with the message “The specified network password is not correct”.

I tried all of the Local Security Policy changes that people have mentioned on the ‘net, and nothing worked.  I finally came across somebody mentioning that you have to put the server NetBIOS Name in ALL CAPS when you authenticate.  So, in our case, we needed to make one Local Security Policy change on the Windows 10 clients and put the server name in all caps when authenticating.

Details below:
Continue reading

Solved: “ORA-28001: the password has expired” on Windows 8.1

odbc-errorWhile working with the development version of a document library that uses Oracle for storage on a Windows 8.1 laptop, we ran into the error “ODBC error: [Oracle][ODBC][Ora]ORA-28001: the password has expired”.

It turns out that up until Oracle 10, the default password policy was no password expiration.  Starting with Oracle 11, there is a default password lifetime of 180 days.

Here are the steps we took to fix it:

1. Get DBA privileges

Assuming you’re logged into Windows as “joe”, check if you’re in the “ora_dba” group by running cmd.exe and issuing the command “net user joe”.  You’ll see a list of local groups that you belong to near the end of the output.  If you don’t know who you’re logged in as, try “whoami”.

If you’re not in the ora_dba group, you can add yourself with the Local Users and Groups tool in Computer Management.  Except that tool is gone in Windows 8.1.  Very frustrating!  In that case, issue the command “net localgroup ora_dba joe /add”.

2. Set the password lifetime to unlimited

Now you can change the password lifetime with this series of commands:

sqlplus /nolog
connect / as sysdba

3. Change Oracle user passwords

You may or may not need to change the password of Oracle users on your system.

From the sqlplus prompt, use the following command (use double quotes around the new password and replace the username “system” as needed):

ALTER USER system IDENTIFIED BY “new_password”;

Hope this helps some people!

Solved: How to recreate the recovery partition on OSX Mavericks after a time machine restore to a blank drive

filevault partition errorMy Macbook Pro (mid-2009) hard drive crashed a few weeks ago.  Since I had a current Time Machine backup, I figured that it would be super-simple to install a new hard drive and do a restore.  Well, it wasn’t as simple as I’d hoped.

Continue reading

Temporarily use a blog page as your front page

I wanted to temporarily redirect people who browse to to the page  Since this is a WordPress site, I should have been able to easily do this by logging into the dashboard and going to Settings – Reading and changing the static front page to the Donate page.  For some reason, the Donate page wasn’t rendering properly, even though the page looked fine when it wasn’t set as the front page.

Rather than take the time to figure out what is going on in the WordPress processing, I added the following line to the .htaccess file after “RewriteBase /”:

RewriteRule ^$ [L]

This matches any browser requests that don’t have anything after the hostname and redirects them to /donate. It seems to be working well so far.

Communicate your message through a custom 404 error page

Mars Hill 404

I love the idea of using a custom  error page to communicate the gospel — I wish I were that creative!  Above is the 404 page that you used to get from Mars Hill Church.

Think about ways that you can use your 404 page to educate, encourage, or entertain.  Hopefully your site is organized well enough that people won’t see the page often, but they will eventually — it might as well be a positive experience!

Depending on how you’re hosting your web site, there are different ways to customize your error pages.  If you’re using WordPress, your theme might have a custom 404 page template as described here.  If you’ve coded your site manually, your web host might have a control panel to edit error pages, or you can point to custom error pages via your .htaccess file.  The web host 1and1 shows how to use the .htaccess file here.


1and1 upload_max_filesize problem

This is one of those frustrating stories for a tech, where you bang your head against a problem for a few hours, finally fix it, then try to break it again to document it and it doesn’t behave the way you expect.  But it’s still working, so maybe it will still help someone else…

I was trying to upload a 4 MB photo to my WordPress 3.4.2 site hosted at 1&1, and the uploader told me that it was too big — that the maximum upload file size was set to 2 MB in php.ini.  It doesn’t appear that 1&1 gives me access to the main php.ini, so I tried to add one to the root folder and/or the wp-admin folder of my WordPress installation.  Neither seemed to work, but I eventually figured out that I needed the file in the wp-admin folder and I needed to log out and back into the WordPress dashboard.  Here’s the simple php.ini that I added to the wp-admin folder:

upload_max_filesize = 10M
post_max_size = 10M

What was extra frustrating was what happened when I removed the php.ini to document this: instead of going back to 2 MB, the maximum upload size went to 8 MB.  That’s bigger than I needed, and if it had started that way I wouldn’t have had to go through all of this.  I can’t explain it!

Outlook 2010 Out of Office and Free/Busy Problems

Someone in our office was getting the error “the server is currently unavailable” when trying to change Out of Office settings, and also when trying to see other people’s free/busy information.

I have fixed this problem in the past by making sure that the dns zone for the primary email address has an SRV record that points to our client access servers (I think that’s the right term — I use the same hostname that we use for Outlook Web Access).  Here’s an overview of what goes into the SRV record.  If you have a user with the primary email address of, but your email server is, the SRV record goes into the zone and contains the following info:

   service: _autodiscover
   protocol: _tcp
   priority: 0
   weight: 0
   port: 443
   ttl: 14400

The situation in this case had an extra complication:  I did not have access to the dns server for  In this case, I used a quick and dirty workaround and set up an instance of dnsmasq on a linux server.  Dnsmasq is one of the few services where you can say “return a certain record for one host in, but forward all other requests to the real dns server for that domain”. I think you can also configure PowerDNS to do this. I put the following statement in the dnsmasq.conf and pointed the user’s laptop to the dnsmasq machine:,,443

It’s a kludge that only works when he’s in the office, but hopefully Outlook doesn’t need to reconfigure very often.