I had this strange problem in that my laptop with Windows 10 Home was unable to sync with my Microsoft account no matter what I tried. The Settings screen under  Accounts / Sync your settings had the message “Some settings are managed by your organisation” in red, right on top of it.

Now, I’m not on any domain, nor part of any organisation so it was confusing to say the least. I searched the internet for quite some time last night but most of the solutions were pointing in a few directions:

  • Edit the Local Group Policy, (gpedit.msc) – which Windows 10 Home doesn’t have
  • Change the Diagnostic and usage data under Privacy to the highest level, and
  • Disable or un-install various anti-virus and anti-malware software,

However,  none of this has helped, so I had to put on my brave hat and dig into the registry. I only had to have a look in a few key areas and it was right there under:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\SettingSync

All you need to do is change DisableSettingSync value from (2) to (0). Reboot the computer and the sync works just fine.

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Another problem that I managed to address in a similar way was that I was unable to change the Lock Screen picture. The same message Some settings are managed by your organisation was displayed and all options were disabled (greyed-out). 

All I have to do is change the NoChangingLockScreen registry key from (1) to (0) under HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\SettingSync

Reboot and it’s all good.

SmugMug is a photo-sharing website and image hosting service which allows users to upload both photos and videos to their SmugMug websites. The site is designed with both individuals and professionals in mind, it’s beautiful and very flexible at the same time. As Trey Ratcliff likes to say “It’s like dating a hot yoga instructor“.

SmugMug is very affordable and at only $40 per year for unlimited data storage it offers an incredible value. Not only that, but it offers awesome website building tools that make your online galleries even more amazing. Look at my photography website here.

By using the link below you will save 20% of your first year subscription, so the first year is only $32 for the basic plan. As always, there is a 14 day trial, so you have every chance to try it before you buy.

So head over to SmugMug and register now.  You will love it!

Sony Alpha cameras (and NEX as well) have two very nice features that make manual focusing a pretty effortless exercise. The first one is focus peeking, where the areas in focus are highlighted in a selected colour, and the other one is MF assist.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 22.48.31The way MF assist works is that when the camera is in MF mode, the preview screen on the LCD display or EVF is magnified, making it very easy to see when the subject is in focus. Once the MF assist is enabled, all you need to do is to turn the manual focus ring on your lens and the magnification kicks in.

However, if you are using third party lenses with the lens adapter in manual focus mode, the screen magnification doesn’t work. You can turn the focusing ring all day long, you will only have the benefit of focus peeking but not the MF assist.

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Sony SEL1018 F/4 10-18mm Wide-Angle Zoom Lens was made for the E-mount APS-C range of cameras, e.g. NEX-6,  Alpha 6000 (A6000) etc. Normally, using this type of a lens on the full frame cameras, such as A7, would cause a very heavy vignetting where the image, unless seriously cropped, would be pretty much useless.

Here is an example of using Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 Prime Fixed Lens on the full frame camera.

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The E-mount APS-C lenses work fine with the full frame E-mount cameras when the camera runs in the crop-mode, but at cost of a reduced resolution.

However, the Sony SEL1018 f/4 full frame sensor coverage is surprisingly good, with the vignetting being a real issue only at the ends of the range. When using the lens between 12 – 16mm, the vignetting can be very easily addressed in post processing.

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After admiring my Sony NEX-6 and its replacement Sony A6000 for some time, I have finally given in and bought the Sony A7 II last week. I didn’t have much of a chance to use the camera during the week but this weekend I gave it a bit of a run for its money.

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There are a few things that I’m really impressed and some others that I’m somewhat disappointed.

The image quality is amazing, the IS (OSS) is doing a brilliant job, the camera feels nicely in hands and the controls layout is pretty good. Having said that, the front and rear dials are a bit out of place, or rather awkward to reach when shooting, but I guess it may be a matter of getting used to twisting my hands a bit.  The exposure compensation dial is also something I didn’t quite like, but I was able to program the rear control wheel to do that task for me. The battery life time is even worse than on A6000, much worse in fact. But it has its reasons.

Good news is that I was able to use my Yongnuo remote triggers and flashes with the A7 II and that all my E-mount (APS-C) lenses can be used as well, with some compromises, though. I’ll write about these topics shortly.

For now, here is one portrait I took today. Wait until I tell you what lens I used, you’ll be impressed…

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This article was originally written in 2006, but the solution below still (in 2015) applies to Mac computers with optical drive.

Earlier this evening I inserted a blank DVD into my MacBook Pro wanting to burn some files. However, OS X never recognised the disc, nothing on the desktop, nothing in the Finder, not even in the Disk Utility. I pressed the Eject button, pressed and held F12 for a few seconds, but the disk was stuck.

I had a DVD stuck once before, even though recognised by the system, and I got it out after tilting the computer 45 degrees forward. But this time, whatever I did there was no eject mechanism sound at all, just a very quiet sound of the disk spinning up and slowing down every few seconds.

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So I decided to use good old trick of holding down the mouse button while booting the computer up. Rebooted, held the trackpad button down – but nothing. Even more interesting is that the computer wouldn’t start up at all.

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I bought the Wacom Intuos Manga  – Creative Pen & Touch tablet the other day and had quite some fun learning how to use it when editing my photos. However, last week I had to do a complete wipe and reinstall OS on my Mac and couldn’t get the tablet to work no matter what I did.

First of all, why did I reinstall the OSX? The computer I’m using came with OSX10.6, which I eventually upgraded to 10.7,  then to 10.8 and finally to 10.9 as they came out. None of these were clean installs, but rather straight upgrades. Every time it worked perfectly fine, but since upgrading to 10.9 things started slowing down. It came to the point where I had to do something so I did a clean 10.8 install and left it there. No 10.9 for now.

After installing all applications and enjoying my computer flying again, the Wacom tablet driver game me some grief, displaying “A supported tablet was not found on this system” error message when trying to configure it. I searched through number of forums and help files, but the general advice to remove and reinstall the driver, as well as repairing permissions didn’t work.

I’ve basically done all of the following:

  • Removed preferences,
  • Removed driver,
  • Removed Wacom software,
  • Repaired permissions,
  • Installed latest driver,
  • Repaired permissions again,
  • Rebooted after each step…

…but still got the same error message. Argh!

Considering I ‘downgraded’ to 10.8 I thought I’d downgrade the driver, too. I even went one step further (back) and downloaded the driver 6.20-W4, which the site states is for OS-X 10.7 and older, but it worked perfectly fine in my case.

The old driver was downloaded from the Wacom Europe website.

It’s disappointing that one needs to go through this much trouble to get the tablet working, but in the end the result is just sweeeeet.

Oh, by the way, the tablet comes with some software, one of which is Adobe Photoshop Elements 10, so if you are after PSE and were thinking of using the tablet, this might be quite a handy purchase.

If you miss the beautiful colour icons in the Finder sidebar, it’s time to get them back. Simon Barnett has developed SideEffects, a small application that does exactly that – replaces the boring grey sidebar icons in your Finder sidebar with a beautiful set of colour icons.

SideEffects works on both OSX Lion 10.7 and Mountain Lion 10.8.

The application is free, but there is a link on Simon’s site to PayPal page that helps you in showing your appreciation for his work.

Color Efex Pro 4 by NIK software is a plugin that provides an excellent set of enhancements for color correction, retouching, and creative effects. The plug in works with Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements,  Lightroom and Apple Aperture. Color Efex Pro 4 is available in Complete edition with 55 filters, or Select edition with 26 filters.

The interface is pretty simple, yet very intuitive. On the left side is the Filter / Recipe panel and on the right is the  adjustment panel, both of which can be toggled with the Tab key.  Once the image is “exported” from Photoshop/Lightroom/Aperture the default filter is applied – Professional Contrast.

Applying a filter to your image is fairly simple, select the filter from the list and it’s immediately applied to the image. You can preview the image in three ways; single image view (after), split preview with slider and side by side view (which can be viewed either side by side or above and below).

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Once the filter is applied you can make your own adjustments in the adjustment panel on the right. Each filter has different options, ranging from the intensity, tonal range, area, shape, to the filter opacity.

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If you would like to add application to the Dock in OS X you can do it in three ways:

  • Open Finder and navigate to your Applications folder. Now select the application you wish to add and click and drag the icon to the Dock. You can place it anywhere, the other  icons will nicely move out of the way and make room for the new one.
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  • Open Finder and navigate to your Applications folder. Double-click the application you wish to add to the dock. This will open the application and add it to the Dock temporarily, until it’s closed. Select the application icon in the Dock and move it to a different location, anywhere will do. Once you move it the application will stay in the Dock even after you close it.
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  • Open Finder and navigate to your Applications folder. Double-click the application you wish to add to the dock. This will open the application and add it to the Dock temporarily, until it’s closed. Right-click on the application icon in the Dock and select Options > Keep in Dock.  If you are not running Lion (10.7) then right-click and select Keep in Dock.
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If you wish to remove the application from the dock simply click and drag its icon off the Dock and it will disappear in a puff of smoke. Note: This will only remove the application from the Dock, it will not remove it from your Applications folder.

 

The best thing about Microsoft are their mice (mouses), I love them. The tracking acceleration seems so natural while Apple’s is rubbish, for me at least. That’s why I use the Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500. Cheap as chips and works perfectly in every way … but one. Scrolling is way too fast.

No matter how much adjustment I did it’s still way too fast. I set the Vertical Scrolling Speed in System Preferences (under Microsoft Mouse) to a minimum but it still scrolls like 15 lines with one wheel click (those little clicks while scrolling the mouse wheel).

Lucky I had a spare wired MS mouse to compare them. The wireless mouse USB dongle is plugged in one USB port on my external monitor (Dell U-2410), the Apple wired aluminium keyboard into another one while third one is free for my camera’s cable when needed. The monitor’s internal USB hub is then connected to the computer (MBP) via another USB cable.

I plugged the wired USB mouse into the USB port on my keyboard and the scroll on that mouse worked fine, slow as. I took it out and plugged into the spare USB port on the monitor and the scroll went crazy. I thought it might be conflicting with the dongle, so I took the wireless mouse dongle out, but the wired one still acted crazy. The last option was to plug in the dongle into the keyboard’s USB port and guess what – it works perfectly fine.

So if I plug the dongle into the USB port on the monitor – the scrolling is super-fast. If I plug it into the keyboard, which is connected through the monitor anyway, the scrolling is perfectly fine. I have no idea why, but it works.

You already know how to use the QuickView in OS X, select the document or image and either click the QuickView icon in Finder or press the space bar.

However, once the file is displayed you can either view it in the default size (fit to window) or in full screen view.

There is another way to zoom the view, though. Once the file is displayed hold the Option key on your keyboard to display magnifier pointer and click somewhere on the displayed file. The file will zoom-in to where you just clicked.

You can click 10 times to zoom in 10% increments to a maximum 200% magnification. At any stage you can let go off the Option key and move the image around within the window.

To zoom out simply hold Option+Shift and click on the file, again in 10 steps.

One of the very frustrating things in Mac OS X is that you cannot click a button and show Desktop. Well, you can … sort of. You have three options:

  • Press F11, this will engage expose and move all windows to the edge of your screen,
  • Click anywhere on your desktop while holding Cmnd-Option on your keyboard – this will hide all programs, except Finder if open, or
  • You can use ShowDesktop, a free application by Everyday Software that sits in your dock or your menu bar and shows desktop by simply clicking on it.

Here is a very handy tip for all of you who like to have a messy and crowded desktop, with hundreds many windows open at the same time.

You are writing an article and referencing at the same time from another source, say the web browser. Now you need to move that browser window in the background, but it really annoys you that every time you do that, you lose the focus of your main window, or even a group of windows. Photoshop, anyone?

Don’t worry, doesn’t need to happen. Simply hold the Command key down, then click on the window in the background and move it.

The window will move in the background, without affecting the harmony of your desktop mess. You can even move it ‘through’ the foreground window, it will just keep going like there’s nothing in its way.

If you are one of a numerous victims of MacBook and MacBook Pro hard drive failures, there is a glimpse of hope that you can still have your data recovered. It involves removing the hard drive from its enclosure, from the computer in this case.

Removing the hard drive from a MacBook is a breeze, it takes good part of a few minutes.  However, MacBook Pro owners will need some bravery, surgical precision and, of course, lots of time. Be aware that opening the MacBook Pro will definitely void your warranty.

Sometimes the drive heads get stuck in a parking bay and consequently your hard drive fails to read or boot. There is no clear indication that would help distinguish between this and the genuinely dead hard drive, but since it’s not working anyway, you can still give it a try. Often this fixes the issue.

Remove the hard drive from your computer and hold it on the palm of one hand. Give it one flat-handed brisk slap on the top of the drive. Just one. Then place it back into your computer and see if it worked.

If it’s still dead then it’s bad news. If it works – you have a decision to make; leave it as it is, and continue with your life like nothing ever happened, or get the data off the drive as soon as possible and get a replacement drive. It’s really up to you.

You’ve also learned about the benefits of backing up, so go on and get that external drive, they’re cheap as chips now, and back-up, back-up, back-up …