SolidWorks 2014 review on CAD-Reviews.com

SW2014-eDrawings-augmented-reality

We resurrected an old site this week at the instigation of one of my business clients: CAD-Reviews.com was originally set up to host an archive of CAD software reviews done by my old friend Colin Mathews, and the site has generated a substantial number of readers over the years. But we hadn’t added anything to it since about 2008 …until now. The site returns with Colin’s in-depth review of SolidWorks 2014, the market leading 3D CAD application which he first reviewed back in 1996. It’s good to be back!

A workaround for the Google Docs “cannot transfer ownership” problem

_Sorry-cannot-transfer-ownership

So, if you’ve just arrived here from a web search, it’s probably because you’ve just come across the Google Docs/Google Drive error message “Sorry, cannot transfer ownership to xxxx. Ownership can only be transferred to another user in the same domain as the current owner.” Although I haven’t found a direct solution to this, I have found a just-about-acceptable workaround, so read on.

Please note: as with all software-related issues more than a few months old, things have moved on, so do read all comments at the end of this post thoroughly.

I guess this restriction in Google Docs is a security feature of some sort. However, reading the forums, it’s a real frustration for a number of organisations who are moving from a single Google account to a full-blown Google Apps For Business setup. When they do this, the first thing they want to do is to migrate their documents over to the new account. But they can’t, because of the restriction above. In some cases, the “domain” may look the same, but as far as Google’s concerned, it isn’t.

The workaround to the problem is to copy the documents over to the new Google account(s). There they will be owned by the new account, and once you’ve checked they’re all in place, you can safely delete them from the old account.

Here’s how you do it – I found the answer here on the Google Product Forums.

Firstly, find all the docs in the old Google Account which are actually owned by that account, and give the new account access to them. To do this, just go to “All Items”, click the tiny down arrow in the search box at the top, and select “owned by me”; select all, and put all the files in a new folder you create. If there are a lot of files, you might want to test this out with one or two, and perhaps do the migration in batches.

Select the new folder, and click the sharing button (the one with the people and the + symbol), and invite the new account (if you’re using Gmail on the new account, send an email). Click on the folder and make a copy of the folder’s URL, which you’ll need in a minute, or you’ll also be able to find the link in the email which will be waiting in the new account.

Now, go to the new Google Account and paste this into the browser:
https://script.google.com/macros/s/AKfycbzjS8m5Cg6OTcnGaBi1IevR8FkJRI5ZdlUWFsLnSFw5S0s0X9E/exec

It’s a script which will copy over a folder to which the account has access, in this case the folder of documents to be transferred, in the old account. You’ll be asked to paste in the folder URL, which you just made a note of. There’s then a load of crunching (it can take a few minutes), after which you’ll get an email saying everything’s been copied over …although you’ll be able to see that.

Check the documents have indeed been copied over. Don’t forget these are *new, separate copies*. You can, if you wish, now go back to the old account and delete the old versions. If you don’t, I would recommend at least removing all sharing from the documents which have been copied, so that nobody ever looks at the redundant archive copies again, other than the original account owner.

iOS7: text too light? How to make it more bold

I caught a member of my family griping about Apple’s iOS7 operating system yesterday, saying the new font used system-wide was too light to read easily. “What about people with seriously impaired vision?”, she said. “Surely they make allowance for that?”

Which of course set me thinking. Of course they do. So there must be a setting to improve the legibility of the type for those without the sight of a 12-year-old. It didn’t take long to find. Launch the Settings app, click General and then Accessibility. Here you’ll find all of these things to play with:

Change type to bold in iOS7

You’ll see “Bold Text” as an option. This doesn’t seem to have an impact in every app, but it certainly does in most places. You can also try “Larger Type” and “Increase Contrast”.

How to Reduce Motion in iOS7

There’s also an option under Accessibility to “Reduce Motion”. This turns off the “parallax” effect which most people find cool, but others find a little nauseous. However, the bouncing message bubbles and the “app zooming” you’re going to have to live with, for now. I imagine there’ll be an update soon to address the issue, as I suspect Apple didn’t see the movement being such a problem to so many people.

Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app: hands-on user review

Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app - TV Guide screen

Disclosure: The nice people at Virgin Media sent me a working copy of what looks like the final version of their TV Anywhere iPad app at the end of October 2012, shortly before the public launch date. In return, I was encouraged to review and discuss the app online, which I am happy to do.

So, what is the Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app?

This new iPad app is part of Virgin Media’s “TV Anywhere” service, which will eventually (I believe) be a comprehensive integration of services and devices, enabling Virgin Media subscribers to watch TV on a range of platforms, and for the devices to interact with each other. At launch, a few pieces of the jigsaw will be in place. For PCs, there will be a list of live channels available to watch, along with a library of “on demand” content; for the iPad there will be a more limited set of channels, and a feature to control home TiVo boxes. I’ll be looking at the iPad app here.

The elephant in the room

Thanks to the BBC iPlayer, and corresponding apps from the other terrestrial channels, we’re all used to watching live and archived content on the iPad. Sky TV subscribers have just about every other channel the important sports and movie channels available to them through the Sky Go app. So does the Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app do the same for Virgin subscribers? No, it doesn’t. Not at launch, anyway. There are 30 live streamed channels available, but that’s it they’re not the big ones which we sports and movie fans would have wished for. Despite what the name of the app suggests, a Sky Go equivalent for iPad users it isn’t. Yet.

What is the Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app good for then?

As the screenshot above shows, the main feature is as a substitute for controlling the Virgin TiVo box on your main TV screen. Yes, the Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app enables your iPad to become a TV remote control.

Is that it?

Yes, it is really – for now at least. But bear with me, because it’s beautifully done, and after using it for a day or two, you’ll wonder how you ever controlled your TiVo box using a handheld remote. You’ll also get really irritated when you realise someone’s taken the iPad to another room and you’re stuck with the old-school remote control. Just taking the TiVo menus “off screen” is a big advantage. Browse the TV guide, see what you’ve got recorded in “My Shows”, check out programme synopses and all the other stuff the TiVo guide gives you, all without affecting what’s on your TV screen. All that stuff about the cast and crew, or the “if you like this?” links – all become so much more attractive to use on the iPad screen. Searching for stuff is even more of a win, thanks to the iPad’s keyboard. No more arduously trying to type words using numeric buttons.

What’s the implementation like?

Visually and ergonomically, it’s been done very well indeed. The iPad’s crisp display adds to the quality feel. Technically, it’s excellent – the response of the system is almost instantaneous. It’s really quite hard to suggest improvements: maybe it’d be nice if the button top right which accesses the forward, reverse and other remote control buttons was a little larger. There are also gesture-based controls, which could be a cool feature, but I haven’t had time to explore this yet. The iPad app can replace the existing Virgin TV Guide app (which was never written properly for the iPad anyway) for programming recordings on the TiVo box. This capability is available even when you’re away from your home network.

I’m having more thoughts all the time about the Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app, so check back for updates. I’ll attempt to respond to any of your questions or comments below, or contact me on Twitter at @cherryhintonblu.

Installing Windows 8 over XP on a MacBook Pro

Windows 8 installed on a MacBook Pro

I’ve just successfully (from what I can see) installed Windows 8 on my MacBook Pro, upgrading from the previous Windows XP installation. If you’ve found this page looking for troubleshooting tips, I’m sorry to disappoint you, because I had no troubles whatsoever. But if you’re looking for reassurance that it can be done without any heartache, I can only say that we had no problems here.

My setup was as follows: 2010 MacBook Pro, running Windows XP SP3 on a Boot Camp partition of 150Gb. We’d never upgraded past XP because the Windows installation was almost exclusively used for games, and there’d been nothing to date which had tempted us to drop over £100 on Windows Vista or Windows 7. However, the somewhat keener pricing of Windows 8 made it a different proposition – thank you to Apple, Google and Linux for lowering the bar on the price of operating systems. I always believe in “clean installs” of operating systems (making the PC seem like a brand new one), so I carefully backed up what little data we had on the Windows partition before starting (there was very little, fortunately).

Then I went to Microsoft’s UK store on the Windows XP installation, and downloaded Windows 8 Pro for a very reasonable £24.99. It took quite a while to download, as you’d expect, but almost the only thing I was asked during the process was whether or not this was a “clean install” or whether I wanted to migrate the data from XP. There was a procedure which went through assessing what, on my existing setup, might not be compatible with Windows 8, but the only item on the list which gave me cause for concern was the graphics driver. I didn’t really want to find that Windows 8 would give me a blank screen or something like that; however, I took a chance and decided it didn’t matter. Then it was just a question of following the setup prompts, and that was it; a couple of hours later, I have the nice fresh Windows 8 setup you see above running on my MacBook Pro. I’m quite keen to see how Windows has evolved in the last 11 years.

Update: sorry, completely forgot to mention I had to install the latest drivers too. Go to the Boot Camp Assistant in OS X and create a CD or flash drive with the drivers on. Eject the CD, fire up Windows 8, insert the CD and it will auto-run the installation.

32 brilliant WordPress Plugins I couldn’t live without

Wordpress Plugins - here are some good ones!

WordPress has some incredible plugins. I will concede that this is really a list for my future reference, as I seem to set up a WordPress site for friends and colleagues (or me!) every few weeks, and I really need a checklist to which I can refer. Is this a definitive list of the very best plugins in their fields? No. Is it a list of ones which have served me well, over the years? You bet.

The plugins are presented in alphabetical order, but if you asked me to choose the first three I’d install, they’d be Online Backup for WordPress, WordPress SEO and Akismet.

I haven’t provided links to the plugins, as the easiest way to install them is to visit the Plugins screen in your WordPress admin, click “Add New”, and paste in the name shown.

Admin Commenters Comments Count

Displays a count of each commenter’s total number of comments (linked to those comments) next to their name on any admin page.

Akismet

Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam. It keeps your site protected from spam even while you sleep. To get started: 1) Click the “Activate” link to the left of this description, 2) Sign up for an Akismet API key, and 3) Go to your Akismet configuration page, and save your API key.

Better WordPress Recent Comments

This plugin displays recent comment lists at assigned locations. It does not add any significant load to your website. The comment list is updated on the fly when a visitor adds a comment or when you moderate one. No additional queries are needed for end-users. Some Icons by Yusuke Kamiyamane.

Broken Link Checker

Checks your blog for broken links and missing images and notifies you on the dashboard if any are found.

Comment Approved Notifier

Send an e-mail to your commenters when you approve their comments.

Comment Count

Counts the total number of comments.

Comment Word Count

Outputs the total number of words in all comments.

Cookie Control

This plugin supplies a mechanism to enable you to comply with UK and EU law on cookies. WordPress plugin by sherred, JavaScript by Civic UK

Do Follow

Removes the evil nofollow attribute that WordPress adds in comments.

Duplicate Post

Clone posts and pages.

FeedBurner FeedSmith

Originally authored by Steve Smith, this plugin detects all ways to access your original WordPress feeds and redirects them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber.

Gravity Forms

Easily create web forms and manage form entries within the WordPress admin.

Health Check

Checks the health of your WordPress install

Most Commented Widget

Widget to display posts/pages with the most comments.

Move Comments

Allows you to move comments between posts or pages. Adds a section under Comments -> Move.

No Self Pings

Keeps WordPress from sending pings to your own site.

Online Backup for WordPress

Online Backup for WordPress can automatically backup your WordPress database and filesystem on a configurable schedule and can incrementally send the backup compressed (and optionally encrypted using DES or AES) to our online vault where you can later retrieve it. Backups can also be emailed to you or produced on-demand and downloaded straight to your computer. You can view the current status and change settings at “Tools -> Online Backup”, or by clicking the “View Status” link next to the plugin name in the Plugins list.

Post Count

Outputs the total number of posts.

Random Redirect

Allows you to create a link to yourblog.example.com/?random which will redirect someone to a random post on your blog, in a StumbleUpon-like fashion. You can also specific in the URL `random_post_type` or `random_cat_id`.

RSS Includes Pages

Include pages (not just posts) in RSS feeds. Particularly useful to those that use WordPress as a CMS.

Search & Replace

A simple search for find strings in your database and replace the string.

SEO Slugs

Removes common words like ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘in’ from post slugs to improve SEO.

Show Top Commentators

Encourage more feedback and discussion from readers, by rewarding them every time they post a comment! Readers with the most comments are displayed on your WordPress blog, with their names (linked to their website if they provided one).

Skimlinks

Skimlinks helps you easily monetize content by converting product links in your post into their equivalent affiliate links on-the-fly. Install the plugin and add a new revenue stream to your blog, including monetising the links in your RSS feed, without affecting your users’ experience.

Top Contributors

Display your top commenters/authors in a widget.

Tweet This

Popular Twitter plugin inserts “Tweet This” links so your readers can share posts with one click. Automatically tweets new posts via OAuth.

Unfancy Quote

Removes WordPress fancy quotes, which is very useful if you post code snippets to your site.

WordPress Mobile Edition

Show your mobile visitors a site presentation designed just for them. Rich experience for iPhone, Android, etc. and clean simple formatting for less capable mobile browsers. Cache-friendly with a Carrington-based theme, and progressive enhancement for advanced mobile browsers.

WordPress SEO

The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.

WP Minify

This plugin uses the Minify engine to combine and compress JS and CSS files to improve page load time.

WP Super Cache

Very fast caching plugin for WordPress.

WP to Twitter

Posts a Tweet when you update your WordPress blog or post to your blogroll, using your chosen URL shortening service. Rich in features for customizing and promoting your Tweets.