Using facebook lists to control what you see

Posted on by Richard

Quick tip – if you’re not already aware, Facebook uses an algorithm to  decide what it thinks you want to see.  So if you haven’t interacted with your great Uncle Quebert in some time, it will probably auto-decide that you no longer like him, and choose to filter anything he does from your timeline.


This takes about 10 mins to set up, so it depends on how much you actually care as to whether or not you want to do it.  What you need to do is create a list. On the website version create a new custom list:

  1. From your home page, scroll down to the Friends section and click More
  2. Click Create List
  3. Write in the list’s name
  4. Enter the names of friends you want to add to this list in the Members section
  5. Click Create

Once the list is created, add everyone to it that you want to see (I have one called ‘everyone’).

Then go back to the left bar and hover over the list, you’ll see a little pencil icon appear. Click it and choose ‘add to favourites’ which causes it to appear with the news feed shortcuts at the top left.

Final step, click the list itself then at the top right click manage list then choose what you want to see (I chose status updates & photos).

One caveat is that Facebook are likely to change everything at some point so this process may get a sudden irrevocable makeover.

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Make your iPhone battery last longer

Posted on by Richard

Lots of complaints from people saying their battery doesn’t last well on iOS, here are 4 tips that should help it last more than a day.

1. Be selective about your push notifications

They run in the background all the time, and seem to be added by some apps despite you saying no.

Here’s how:

Turn notifications off in Settings > Notifications – press Edit (top right) then drag apps you don’t want to hear from to the ‘not in notification center’ section.

2. Turn down your screen brightness

This is big battery saver, for obvious reasons.

Here’s how:

Settings > Brightness & Wallpaper – adjust the slider to a level where it’s as low as you can handle.

3. Turn off location services

Here’s how:

Turning off location services in apps that don’t require it.  Lots of apps use location services and I can only assume it’s for some sort of marketing information (I’m looking at you facebook).

Here’s how:

To turn off location services, Settings > Privacy > Location Services – change any apps to off if you wish to disable them.

4. Turn off your push data

If you’re relaxed about your mail, then you don’t need to read every e-mail  the very moment it’s sent, you can turn off push.  For me this has been a great battery life saver.  You can set your phone to ‘Fetch’ email periodically, the less frequently it checks for mail then the less battery your phone will use.  You will always have the option to manually go to your mail and pull down to refresh.

Here’s how:

Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Fetch New Data – slide push to Off,

If you really want a phone with an epic battery, you can always change to a Nokia 3310 which, along with cockroaches, will survive the nuclear apocalypse, become self aware and one day rule the planet.

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Google tips for more effective searches

Posted on by Richard

Google is capable of lots more than standard searches.  You can use operators to great effect which will give you more accurate results and help you in your mission to syphon through the dirge.

Here are some of the most useful:

Search a specific website hello

Adding site: followed by a website (without the www. or http://) will give you search results from that particular site.

Using a minus sign to exclude results


Using a – (hypen, minus sign, dash) will exclude a particular key word from the google result.

Quote marks to search for an exact phrase

For example, “the quick brown fox”.  This is apparently a handy one for cheating in pub quizzes…someone told me.

Other Tips

There are lots of handy google uses.  For example, google can do maths 5*7/34 (5 x 7 divided by 34).  Or unit conversion, by typing 100 kilograms in pounds you’ll discover the answer is 220.462262.

You can search for specific file types by typing filetype:pdf (returns PDF documents only) or filetype:doc blackdog tab will return word documents with blackdog tab from the Led Zeppelin song (no relation to the name of my company).

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Backup Strategies

Posted on by Richard

They say (whoever ‘they’ are) there are two types of people when it comes to backing up.  There are those that have lost data and backup ferociously, and there are those that don’t back up who will lose their data, or at very best will come close.  Hard drives are incredibly fragile bits of hardware, and once the platter is scratched it’s basically impossible to recover the data unless you have a cool £10-£20K you want to spend on the recovery process.

Personally having had a BAD experience once in my life with data loss which resulted in a veeeerrry unhappy wife, I’m now a paranoid uber backer upper (PUBU).  Here’s the solution I came up with, which might be useful for you.  I would thoroughly recommend it!

At home I’ve a QNAP TS-210 NAS.  Which is a hard drive attached to my network. As soon as I turn on any of the laptops at home, they start backing up via time machine. You can also use this box to backup your PC laptop (it supports SMB or AFP).

Why not use time capsule?  I hear a lot of complaints about unreliability so avoided that solution.  Also, the QNAP box came with lots of other stuff, for example I can set it to download movies in my absence and my TV can play movies directly from it (no need for an apple TV).  It also has a built in web server, iTunes media streaming, surveillance system, full RAID (multiple instances of same drive just in case one fails).

So what if the house explodes, burns down, gets washed away by the flood or struck by lightening?  Hopefully this will not happen, but if it does I’ve also got a cloud based backup happening as well.  I went with backblaze, although there are lots of different cloud backups available.  Backblaze costs $5 a month, so it’s not exactly a bank breaker.  It backs up everything except your operating system and applications.

Once all that’s set up, you can simply forget about it (but test it every once in a while).

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Mac OSX handy keyboard shortcuts

Posted on by Richard


Making the move from Windows to OSX isn’t as scary as you might think. If you’re like me and you prefer keyboard shortcuts to hunting through menu options, then this list should be helpful.

Command key icon (Command key) – On some Apple keyboards, this key also has an Apple logo (apple
Control key icon (Control key)
Option or Alt key icon (Option key) – “Alt” may also appear on this key
Shift icon (Shift key)
Caps lock icon (Caps Lock) – Toggles Caps Lock on or off
fn (Function key)

Essential General Shortcuts

Text Editing

These are all similar to windows shortcuts, but use CMD instead of Ctrl.

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How to use the Twitter #hashtag

Posted on by Richard


Twitter… maybe you have it? Maybe you’re thinking about it? Perhaps you use it for your business, to connect with friends, to follow celebrities, to show off your crazy skills, or to stalk your ex-lover.  It can be an incredibly useful tool, not just as a networking tool but to promote and communicate nearly anything. Still in their relative infancy, twitter and facebook have become the voice of communities in countries that have collectively removed governments from power, sparked protest and brought truth to the surface where it has been covered up. Twitter may well be the fastest and most accurate source of news on the planet today.

As a newbie, or perhaps even as a user who has been on twitter for a while you may be wondering if you’re getting the best from it. Perhaps you use it for your company, events, services or to promote a product. Maybe you simply use it to connect with your facebook.

If so, read on…

What is a hashtag?

A hash tag is simply any word preceded by the # (hash, number, pound sign, alt 3 on an UK mac).  It’s purpose is so that a specific word of phrase can be indexed by twitter and collectively searched and viewed by everyone else. For example, as I tweet my rage at how rude Simon Cowell was to little Percy on tonights X Factor, I may end my tweet with #xf11 or #xfactor.

Using the hashtag in your Organisation

You may like to choose a hashtag for a specific event, product or service for your company. Just remember that twitter has millions of users, and so you should check your hashtag of choice before you decide broadcast it. After all, you don’t want to discover you’re linked to something completely inappropriate, irrelevant, or a competitors company. Here is a handy tool to check out hashtag stats HERE before making the leap.

Also remember you can’t ever have exclusive rights to a hashtag – this would defeat the purpose.

How not to use the Hashtag

There are no real rules here, although I’ve observed some pointless uses of hash tags, such as a running phrase at the end of a tweet:


The likelihood of someone searching for that phrase, or that it would start to trend, are nearly non existent. So there’s not much point in doing it unless you think it’s #absolutelyhilariouslyfunny.

Twitter Updating Facebook

You may want to use your twitter to update your facebook (or vice-versa), but lately I’ve realised this is no longer a good idea. Facebook in their ever changing wisdom have hidden status updates from twitter by default. So if you’re promoting something on both platforms, the way to get the most visibility is to do it the hard way and update both twitter and facebook manually (aw come on, copy and paste, it’s not that hard).

Also remember if you are using twitter to update your facebook status, the hashtag may not make any sense to those friends. It is also of no use to them.

Good uses

A great example I’ve seen is a local trend from people here in N. Ireland in response to recent resurgence of violence. People tagged their frustrations and disgust with #notinmyname. This is where the collective volume of the voice of sensible people in this world is raised.

If one hashtag is not enough to encapsulate your tweet, then work away with as many as you want.  However 1 or 2 key words are probably going to be more effective that twenty.

So in short, here are my top tips:

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