Unable to sync Microsoft account

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:

HKLMSOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindowsSettingSync

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

 

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 HKLMSOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindowsSettingSync

Reboot and it’s all good.

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Sony A7 II – using MF assist with the lens adapters

Sony Alpha and NEX cameras 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 manual focus assist (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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Using Sony SEL1018 lens on the full-frame Sony A7

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.

DSC04713

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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Sony A7 II – first impressions

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.

_DSC4604-2

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, however in crop mode.

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

peter

DVD stuck in MacBook Pro

This article was originally written in 2006, but the solution below still (in 2017) 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.

cardboard_sm.jpg

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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Wacom tablet driver issue

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.

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Mouse scrolling too fast

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.

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Show Desktop on Mac

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.

How to revive a dead hard drive

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 …

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Ten tips for every new Mac user

This is the summary of some tips for new Mac users I have posted in my blog over the past 18 months. If you are new to Mac, I would recommend you read them, you may find some of them very handy, a few maybe quite fascinating.

Installing applications on Mac is somewhat different to the installation you may have experienced on Windows. While some new users struggle to get it at first, it is incredibly simple and easy. [details]

The Dock provides easy access to some of the applications on your Mac, displays which applications are currently running, and holds windows in their minimized state. But if you see it only as a pretty strip of cool bouncing icons, then you’re dead wrong. There is so much more to Dock then you could imagine. [details]

What’s the jelly bean’s job in OS X – We all know about that jellybean on the top right corner of OS X windows. And we also know that clicking it will toggle the toolbar on and off. But what if we wanted to customise the toolbar even further. [details]

Shortcut to Desktop – Sometimes, when saving the file, we’d like to have it saved directly to the Desktop, but the option provided by OSX points somewhere else. This explains how to save the file to desktop in one keystroke. [details]

Accessing menus – If you come from Windows world and are used to using menus, you may feel a little strange that you can’t do it on Mac. Actually … you can. [details]

Zooming the screen – One of the great features of OS X (10.4) is that you can zoom in the screen, perfect when viewing small images. [details]

Slideshows in Finder – Imagine you have 80 photos on a CD and you’d like to preview them all. You can either double-click on each one to open them in Preview, import them all to iPhoto, or simply use Slideshow in Finder. [details]

Changing icons in OS X – There are trillions of beautiful icons for Mac out there, so why not use them, you can replace your default icon in a few simple step. [details]

Screen capture and text clipping – One thing I couldn’t live without is the screen capture, lets you select an area, window or full screen. And capturing text is even easier, just select and drag away. [details]

Switching windows and applications – Many new Mac users are slightly disappointed that Cmnd+Tab (Ctrl+Tab on Windows) is actually switching between applications and not between the windows, as they used to do in the Microsoft world. But there is something else that works even better. [details]

Other things you may find useful are Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts and Most popular Mac applications, as well as few handy tricks such as invert screen and slow motion.