Raspberry Pi

raspberry pi4 image
Raspberry Pi4

By Laserlicht / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

I wanted to buy myself a toy for Christmas. But, what to get? After much pondering I decided on that adorable little computer — the Raspberry Pi4.

It took quite a while to find a supplier who still had it in stock since I was looking just three days before Christmas. They promised delivery on December 29 but actually delivered it on Christmas eve!

I originally wanted to see if I could make some of the projects involving breadboards, wiring and the GPIO. Before I made that additional investment, I wanted to see if I could set up the Magic Mirror, not as a mirror but simply as a display on a monitor. Baby steps.

I should have bought the breadboards and wires. The programming for the Magic Mirror is not as straightforward as the numerous YouTube videos would have you believe. I got the basic weather, compliments, holiday calendar display pretty easily. I moved on to displaying my Google calendar. After many, many frustrating hours, I have given up for now.

I realized that I need to study the basics of Linux so that I can understand how to implement the directions for the Magic Mirror modules.

Enter time in Excel without a colon

At first I thought this would be a simple thing to configure Excel to allow me to input military time in a spreadsheet without having to type the colon. Nope!

I created an Excel spreadsheet to track my work hours and calculate total hours in a day minus my lunch break. That was easy enough but as I entered the times I quickly realized that typing the colon was slow and tedious. “:” is a very inconvenient keystroke when it comes to typing numbers.

I searched the Internet for a solution and quickly realized that this seemingly easy auto-format issue was complicated by the fact that it involves calculation of time. If the cells contained simple text, it would be have been easy. I searched for “Excel automatically add a colon in military time.” I found a few solutions but none of them were ideal. They required “helper cells” adjacent to the cells used for input or weren’t taking into consideration that the cells contained time values that required calculations. Eventually, I found a reference to a VBA macro solution by Chip Pearson.

Now, how do I implement it? I know almost nothing about macros and I am not a programmer. I found an easy way to open the VBA editor in Excel – hold down Alt and press F11. This opens a window where you can paste in the code from Chip Pearson. The code for the macro begins below his code for entering dates without typing “/” and just after his “rules for conversion” examples.

The macro didn’t seem to do anything. Hmmm, I must be missing something simple. Yep! You must “save” the macro. So simple, try to find that in any directions.

It works like a charm. Thank you, Chip! The only thing you must do that he does not mention is format the cells as time.

Understanding Search Results

I have noticed that my clients are getting “infected” by malware lately. They report that their computer is quite slow and they continually get “pop-ups.” These pop-ups are not in their browsers, they appear while they are simply using their computer.

I decided to try to figure out how my clients are downloading these nefarious programs. They all swear they did not download them but, of course, they did. I had one of my clients demonstrate how she had downloaded iTunes which she knew was the last thing she had tried to download (iTunes was not installed even though she had tried to download it). She typed “iTunes” into her browser search box. The first few results were NOT Apple.com websites. They were ads!
The link results of her search were similar to these:

The word “Download” was prominently displayed which drew her attention to the one she clicked on. I had my answer to how clients are installing these pesky programs. My client, and I suspect, the average computer user, did not understand the structure of a web address. And why would she?! Technology expects so much of the average user.

Her first mistake was to click on one of the “ad” links. Ads are displayed at the top of the search results. If you look closely, you will see “Ads related to: iTunes” and below that a few ads paid for by advertisers, of course. Below that will be the native search results.

The most important thing to pay close attention to in search results is the structure of the web address of the displayed links. The word just before “.com” should be “apple” (in this example). In her results it was “win-install” and “gufile” preceded by “itunes” or “itunes.apple.” These are NOT Apple websites. They are subdomains of win-install.com and gufile.com. These types of websites are not to be trusted. Their downloads will, at the very least, simultaneously download (and silently install) several programs which will start popping up every few minutes trying to get you to pay for them.

Other consequences of downloading from these types of websites are:
Search engine is changed to, for example: Conduit Search
PC Backup software pop-ups
Your Home page is changed