An alternative to Microsoft Office

Libre Office website with announcement of version 24.2 and fountain pen as background
Libre Office
So for some in the corporate world, your defacto computing suite is Office. And for students in college, most institutions with 365 email, also push Office 365. The problem here, is that when you graduate or leave a company, you need to own Office. And for Mac or Windows, this can be a costly subscription.

Here is where a “donate-ware” office program that is a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, formulas and database come to mind as Libre-Office!

I use this for my mac and windows computers at home. While I am entitled to a Windows 365 access from my work, I like to keep all work separate. Thus the solution for me, is Libre Office. Now, others I know, have express similar use of another free office application called appropriately, Open Office. I’m not familiar with Apache’s Open Office and not used it. But its likely I will download a version to try, and compare.
In the meantime, Libre Office was somewhat of a lucky use for me. A emeritus lost some files and had only backed up to floppy disk (yes, floppy) of these waaaayyy back in the days of Word Perfect. And his texts were in German. The accomplishment of being able to read the floppies via a working USB drive was encouraging but even more, Libre office not only opened but imported and saved as later Word files, keeping the German text intact! A life saver and I encouraged donating for this alone!

Currently Libre Office (for Mac) is as version 7.6.4 with newest version at 24.2
I used it for documentation and opening older files I come across like Excel, that I used to keep items I sold on ebay on. Looking back is… interesting.

Libre Office downloads

Recovery Mode on a Mac Studio Pro

Apple Mac Studio Pro computer
Mac Studio Pro

Problem: to boot a Mac Studio into Recovery mode to run terminal command and disable SIPS (csrutil disable and csrutil enable).
Solution that didn’t work: Power off the Mac Studio, then hold the power button in…keep and even after startup chime look for display to show Recovery icons (one is gears as Options).
Didn’t get this…held for more than 30 seconds.

Resolution: Recovery mode doesn’t work with LG display and USB-C ! Instead, use HDMI out of the Mac Stupido and hopefully your display has more than one input. Repeat above and should get into Recovery screen options. Then select Utilities from menu and Terminal…

Mac OS Sonoma…50 things I didn’t know I needed…and don’t.

round colored thing indicating Mac OS

Widget Colors
System Settings still like Ventura but with way back. So much better now?
Facetime reactions. Um. ok. Thumbs up?
Browser Profiles (Safari lets you clutter up more from work, or school, or home) Who uses Safari anymore? I prefer other.
Typing with keyboard and voice. Well I stopped typing and … well? Oh, I don’t have microphone on!
Overlay in Facetime. You know, Wanna know more? Like Starship troopers…
Web Dock Apps! Ok, THIS I think should have been from the start. You take a URL you visit often, and now put it in your dock! One Click! So original!

There is more on MacRumors… I want to atleast give them credit for listing FIFTY new features of Sonoma (Mac OS 14)

Xerox Versalink Bricked from flawed firmware update design…and Unbricked!

Please note: Mod Security doesn’t like some links or images I used and have to rename. Visit Xerox Support for your model and firmware…and remember AT YOUR Own Risk…

Laser printer with color lcd display
Xerox Versalink B400 Mono Laser Printer – discontinued

In the process of troubleshooting why a user’s Xerox B400 printer was set to paper size 8.5″ x 13″, I also checked the firmware version which needed updating.
The paper size issue was likely because the user can accidentally change the paper feed lever, which one can push up to the back and sides of the paper in the tray. This tells the printer its size, and after one returns the tray into the printer, the display will prompt to confirm. Well, the user must have confirmed it was this size. Thus the call for why it refused to print unless correct paper was selected (user knows its supposed to be US LETTER so…).

Meanwhile I was remote into the printer admin console, to check tray setting, along with firmware update. After 60 mins waiting from start of the update, I physically went to the printer and found it had a blue screen with ERR: Booter Failed! So I restarted the printer (power off, unplug, wait, replug, power on, Power start). Same error after 10-15mins of just no status.

error screen
Xerox B400 Err boot screen – she a brick now!

This was frustrating in design: After a call to Xerox support, some questions on why this seems common, and links received to attempt (remove toner, replace? Really??) and estimated rates for having an onsite tech show…since no extended warranty and a product that is discontinued…I followed the best advice the support person gave: visit the forums.

On a search for B400, ERR: BOOTER FAILED, I didn’t find the specific message I needed. But I did come across a suggestion that till this day, aggravates: the menu screen has hardware menu to initialize the boot mode, storage init mode, etc.

To get to this menu, called the AltBoot, you need to power off the printer, then turn on while also pressing the Home and Power buttons on the display. Then you should get a SPECIAL BOOT … display and if you hold the Home button in AND press finger on the AL BO of the SpeciAL BOot line, it will take you to a menu with numerical pad. Makes no sense. UNLESS you take the advice from the support forum:

NOTE: I did an initialize boot first. This is important. It does not indicate when done, and can take 30 mins.

menu screen for init boot
This is the screen when you have selected Storage initialization…

Updating Firmware on VersaLink B and C Series Printers using AltBoot

Download the latest firmware for your printer model from Xerox Support.
Locate an empty FAT32 formatted USB thumb drive.

Prepare the USB Drive

Create a folder named DWLD in the root of the USB drive.
Extract the firmware files from the *.zip file you downloaded from Xerox Support.
Copy the *.bin file into the DWLD folder on your USB drive.
Safely Remove the USB drive.

Boot the Printer using the AltBoot Procedure to Update Firmware

If the printer is powered on, press and hold the power button until the printer shuts down completely.
Insert the USB drive into the USB slot on the front of the printer.
Press and Hold the Home button and Power simultaneously and continue holding until the printer displays Special Boot Menu.
Tap and hold Special Boot Menu on the screen and press the Home button simultaneously until a dial screen appears.
On the dial screen, enter 6789# and the printer will display Special Boot Menu 1/3.
Tap Download Mode and then tap Yes on the confirmation screen to reboot the printer.
The printer will reboot and install the firmware file from the USB drive. This process may take several minutes and the printer may reboot several times. You MUST allow this process to finish completely without interrupting it.
The printer will print a Software Upgrade report when the firmware update is complete.
You may remove the USB drive and use your printer.

This worked! It came back to the Xerox logo screen. I was able to connect my laptop via USB cable, and then use the Versalink Firmware Install Utility and updated firmware on the (US English) support page.

There is confusion as Xerox’s support page as a tiny URL link in red,that one should immediately follow and update to.

Using the laptop, I launched the Versalink Firmware Utility, then find the recently downloaded BIN file, in this case firmware version 37.71.21 BUT there is a newer one in the Service Pack to 37.81.11 which I usually will do last.

Xerox support is hit and miss. Their labor cost for ONSITE in the US is $299 for the first 30 mins for this model, and then $69 per 15minutes thereafter! You realize that you can get a new printer for that labor of an hour or more.
Finally, I did order a new printer because this is the second Xerox Versalink that has bricked on me. First one was right out of the box with a C400 color! And I never deployed it, just prepped and was updating. I HIGHLY recommend that you use the VFI Versalink Firmware Install Utility and via USB cable and windows laptop, install updates this way. Not simple, not easy and painful if you have many printers deployed. Does Xerox have a remote printer management console/web app to maintain fleet of networked printers? that would really be ideal…

Apple release Mac OS 13.5.1 Update to Ventura…fix for Location issues

Wavy flower like image on blue background

Per Apple and Update info: MacOS Ventura 13.5.1 fixes an issue in System Settings that prevents location permissions from appearing.

Direct download of Ventura

Latest updates information previous to 13.5.1

Latest updates information previous versions to 13.5.1 for Enterprise users

Update files size for the Delta (via Software Update) is 1.21GB while the Full update version is 11.49GB, and System Firmware version still same at 8422.141.2

I haven’t noticed anything other than taking 15mins from download, verify, reboot, install, reboot, more install, then reboot.

Its a new M2 Mac Studio for home!

Apple Mac Studio Pro computer
Mac Studio Pro

Well, thanks to a new Apple Card, I was able to finance a 2023 M2 Mac Studio Pro (Max, not the Ultra). I didn’t go crazy and with a educational discount, all said came to $2600 + Tax. This mac has 64 GB of Unified memory and 2TB of SSD storage, along with the SD card reader and up to 10Gb networking. When I priced a M2 Mac Mini (Pro), it was $300 less but didn’t have card reader or 10Gb interface. Sure, a CalDigit T4 dock would take care of more ports and card reader and yet, would be same price as the Studio.

For now, I migrated, and I did find some issues:

  • Intel apps didn’t come over or if they did, no longer work (Quickbooks, VMware Fusion, …)
  • I migrated from a mac to 2012 Mac Mini to this 2023 M2 studio and there is much junk files, prefs, linger apps and legacy extension that will no longer work or take up space.
  • My VMware ISOs, turns out, were totalling 200GB…It wasn’t until I migrated that I found out… THAT is why I didn’t go with a 1TB SSD but 2TB for the growth. I can’t run those VM’s anymore. 🙁
  • – was able to get a Parallels to download (see 9to5Mac How to install Win11 ARM ) Win11 ARM and then use a version of Fusion (13.x) trial that let me make a Win11 VM. I really only need this for Intuit Quickbooks but trying to figure how to get my QBfile to this new Mac… glad I still have the MacMini and might sneakernet the file over…once I get Quickbooks up on the Win11ARM if there is a version for ARM..
  • .

    All in all, the M2 Mac Studio was worth it. Now, I still need to get FinalCutPro and video cam/DLSR to create videos. I am using a Thunderbolt OWC Thunderbay 4-DRIVE for storage and every so often, a HDD will spin up like something is looking for it. Internet is NOT happy with OWC and the Thunderbay so I may spend $$$$ in the future for a NAS and move my files there. But I need a Thunderbolt array for edit/storage so…that is another article to blog about.

    My only fistpump at Apple is the ram upgrade price greed… from 32GB to 64GB is a $200 jump. Same with storage from 1TB to 2TB is massive cost increase. Lesson learned: get what you think you’ll need, not what you have now, because with Apple, you can’t upgrade later…unless your replace with new computer (cha-ching!).

    ASUS BIOS Updating error “selected file is not a UEFI Bios” – FIX!

    I don’t just do macs, I do Windows. And moving to Windows 11, I needed to replace my Intel 7th generation logicboard. I decided to go with ROG ASUS

    ASUS Motherboard for computer- AMD
    ROG-Strix-X670E-E-Gaming Logicboard for AMD
    , having a previous ASRock TaiChi that was only 4 years old…but unsupporting Window 11.
    Reading ASUS forums on the webs, and watching some youtubers, I found that ASUS has a clunky, annoying Updating application called Armory Crate. Logic says to avoid it, but one will need to visit Asus for drivers and updates to perform manually. Since my MLB (main logicboard) is a ROG (republic of gamers) STRIX X670E-E, I am linking to the support page.

    Wouldn’t you know it, that on 2nd update to the BIOS (version 1602, 8/18/2023, 9/24MB). I received “selected file is not a UEFI Bios”. WTF? It IS TOO! After researching, aka googling/duckduckgo, I found that the best option that worked for me was to make a USB flash drive formatted in FAT32, then extract the file with 7-ZIP since others noted better success than Windows Extract. That file would be a long name with a .CAP extension. Along with that file is a BIOSRenamer app. Run that app as Administrator in the same folder the files were extracted to, and it will rename it to a short nnnnnn.CAB file. (nnnnnn will be a name of the board e.g. SX670EE where my StrixX670E-E is the model).

    Boot into Bios (F2 or Del key at restart as ROG logo appears, select Advanced in the lower right (yes, the cursor is WONKY) and then Tools. Select the Asus Bios Utility, navigate to the USB flash drive (remember its size incase you have more than one volume) and select the .CAP file. It will prompt about making sure Bitlocker is disabled. IF you aren’t sure, exit out to restart and check your Windows setting of Bitlocker. For my gaming home machine, I don’t have it bitlockered. If Bitlocker didn’t matter to you, as it didn’t to me, proceed with the BIOS update. Mine took about 10 minutes and then a restart. Then to a bios “do not power off” screen … good practice is to have your PC on a UPS. Once done, it restarted to ASUS bios updated, press F1. Then it takes you into BIOS. Don’t exit just yet! Every UEFI BIOS, ASUS turns on Armory Crate download to ENABLED. Find that in Advanced/Tools and set to DISABLE. Then Save and Exit. On that, another restart and I was in to the Windows 11 login. SUCCESS!

    Thanks to others for this tip. Hope it helps!
    ( I recommend a 16-32GB USB 3.0 flash drive, formatted to FAT32 for ASUS bios updates.)

    2023 M2 Macmini Wifi issues already?

    M2 Mac Mini front with apple logo on top near middle rear of image- no features on front
    Apple M2 Mac Mini 2023 front with no more infrared or indicator

    Apple’s new M2 Mac Mini and Mac Mini Pro aren’t even out a month, and Apple’s support forum are showing over 70 posts to complain of wifi dropping or none, when using Wifi 6E or Comcast Wifi.

    Apple released two versions of the M2 Mac Mini: the cheaper M2 Mac Mini with only 2 USB-C/Tbolt 4 ports and max 24GB RAM/2 TBStorage, or the M2 MacMini Pro version with maximum 32GB Ram and 8TB storage.

    M2 Mac Mini Pro rear with ports and cooling showing.
    M2 Mac Mini Pro 2023

    Clearly, Apple is aiming for the tween of Desktop user but not the workstation user that a Mac Studio would fill. I’m not even going to compare the Mac Pro since that niche is costly and quiet on the newsfront. Notice in the image of the back of the M2 MacMini Pro that it has 4 USB-C/Tbolt-4 ports. The lower-priced M2 Macmini (non-Pro) has only 2 USB-C/Tbolt-4 ports. Both are configurable to optional 10Gb Ethernet (Nbase-T Ethernet with support for 1Gb, 2.5Gb, 5Gb, and 10Gb Ethernet using RJ-45 connector).

    But both also have Wifi6E (802.11ax). I’m wondering if any of these Xfinity users are on the XB8 newest gateway that does Wifi6E?

    2023 – RIP DarkSky

    Dark Sky app icon

    RIP Dark Sky, I knew you well.
    Well, until Apple bought it in 2020.
    Then it was nothing but sadness. About 4 months ago, after an iOS update, I noticed a 1/2023 warning on the app on my phone. It was a subtle reminder that I should be using Apple’s Weather app instead.

    Weather has improved with iOS 15 and now iOS 16. You can have lock screen widgets showing precipitation and temp. You could with Dark Sky but it was hit or miss depending on your phone and iOS level.

    weather app with sun right, behind a cloud

    The new Weather app has some nice features, as the lock screen will change with the weather… moody grey, or morning clouds or dusk. Even 10pm at night shows a cloud with dark sky. If you open Weather and touch the hourly forecast, you will see a visual chart of the temp. Touch the tiny thermometer and you now have choices such as wind and precipitation with measurements every 6hours. Close that (hit the X ) and you return to main screen. There, if you scroll down past the clutter of a map (See, this is where Dark Sky shined… the local map gave radar and not a clutter of state names, cities and towns).
    And below that map, are a section of the same chart choices, but in sections that you can access as well as via the hourly section.

    I can’t blame the creators of Dark Sky for “selling out”. I mean, afterall, Apple was their market and they were a dev for them. I just hope they run into a weather situation that the new Weather app, well, missed. Because money can’t buy happiness. But it can buy a roof that doesn’t leak or blow away.