Hello, Trello

When I came across the Japanese concept of kanban boards I was somewhat sceptical about their effectiveness. Project management shouldn’t be this simple! However, I was persuaded to try them out and I chose Trello, a service provided by Atlassian.

Although Trello is used by companies the world over, it has a free option.

First though, what is a kanban board?

A typical kanban board consists of three columns, labelled To Do, Doing, and Done. For example:

kanban boardYou’re not limited to three columns, and you can name them whatever you want. Trello also supports multiple boards.

Each column can have multiple cards. Cards can be added, amended, archived and deleted. They can be switched between columns. Multiple notes can be added to the cards, too, making for a comprehensive information system.

Trello is cloud-based, so it is accessible on any internet-connected device.

I’ve been using it for a few months now and it’s become one of my must-have pieces of software.


Locating the Gmail Spam Folder

When I couldn’t see certain mail sent to my Gmail account, I thought the sender had made a mistake with my Gmail address. When they assured me it had been correctly addressed, it dawned on me that it must have been treated as spam, but where was the Spam folder?

It appears the Spam folder is not shown by default and has to be enabled if you want to see it. Here’s how:

Hover the mouse over a folder name in the left column. This reveals all the possible folder options.

In this example, the highlighted folders are the ones I see by default and by choice. If Spam is not highlighted, click the name to see the folder contents.

If you decide that a mail item isn’t spam, click the check box next to the item. Then select the Not spam button. The item will move automatically to your Inbox.

If you want to have the Spam folder available permanently, you need to select the gear icon in the upper right corner. Click on Settings from the dropdown list, and then the Labels tab.

Choose show or show if unread.




Dark Reader

Do your eyes get tired reading predominantly white browser screens? Mine do, which is why I was attracted to this free add-on.

Dark Reader inverts the brightness of a screen, as these before and after images show:

Tektif screen before inversion
Tektif screen after inversion

The add-in is available for Chrome and Firefox. Not all screens are amenable to inversion, though most appear to be. You can choose which sites should be inverted or not, as well as adjust the criteria for brightness and contrast.

Dark Reader's interface is one of the best I've seen: intuitive, clear, and aesthetically pleasing.

“File Too Large for Destination File System”

This message came up today. I needed to transfer an 8GB file to a USB drive I’d just bought. The new drive had stacks of space, so it didn’t make sense to be told the drive wasn’t large enough.

A quick check of the USB drive’s properties supplied the explanation. It was using FAT32 rather than NTFS. FAT32 file sizes are limited to 4GB. (FAT = File Allocation Table; NTFS = New Technology File System.)

I’m surprised that manufacturers still use the old FAT32 file system for devices with today’s large capacities. However, it’s not difficult to convert them to NTFS. Microsoft provides a conversion utility for that purpose and it’s easy to use.

Go to the Start menu and in Search enter cmd.exe. This will bring up the Command window. Enter convert x: /fs:ntfs where x: is the drive letter of the target file.

In this example, drive J:  is to be converted:

Convert file system example
Convert file system example

The files are not affected by the conversion.

NordVPN Clash with GlassWire Resolved

GlassWire is a free background process that keeps tabs on network activity. Recently when I switched my VPN service to NordVPN, I ran into a problem where NordVPN could not connect to any of its servers. After an exhaustive search for the cause, NordVPN identified a setting in GlassWire that was preventing the connection.

GlassWire provides a personal firewall. This prevents malware from using my network for nefarious purposes. On this occasion, it thought that NordVPN was up to no good. To get around the problem, NordVPN suggested a change to GlassWire’s glasswire.conf file. Instead of hostname_enable_lookup = true, the setting should be false. This fixed the problem.

Can’t Read .webp Image Files?

Recently, I downloaded a file with the file extension .webp. However, WordPress didn’t recognise that format, so I needed to convert it to JPG or PNG.

Webp is a Google file format for images. It’s not widely adopted, so if you receive a file with a .webp extension and can’t open it, here are a few ideas.

I used Affinity Photo to export the file I received to the required format. My copy of Adobe Photoshop CS6 said it was an unsupported format, as did Corel PaintShop Pro 2018.  There is a plugin to handle .webp for Adobe Photoshop, but I don’t know if it applies to older versions.

Other programs that can read .webp files and allow you to save as JPG or other formats are:


Affinity Designer






Search Utilities

There are two programs I use for searching my system. One searches for files and folders, the other searches within files.


Voidtool’s Everything is a free program that has little effect on system resources. Its icon sits in the system tray. I use it everyday, sometimes repeatedly. What I like most about is its instantaneous response as I enter search text. Here’s a screenshot for a simple query:

Everything results
Everything results

It provides results that are progressively refined as the search text is typed in. If you want to find all files of a particular type, e.g. mp4, search for *.mp4. If you have multiple criteria, say all files named “john” and “mary”, just enter “john mary” (the search is case insensitive). There are other options, too.

It works by indexing all your files, including mapped network files, when it is first installed. It does this remarkably quickly.


Whereas Everything finds files and folders, Notepad++ finds text strings within files. It is free and the search function is quick and simple to use.

Start by selecting Search from the menu and clicking Find in Files…

Find in Files...
Find in Files…

Choose a search term and location. The search can include sub-directories, as shown here:

Notepad++ Search screen
Notepad++ Search screen

Click Find All.

Notepad++ search results
Notepad++ search results


Each file containing the search term is highlighted in green, with the individual entries listed below with line numbers to make it easier to locate them.

Click on any highlighted line to be shown that file.


Notes and To-do Programs

I use four programs to keep me organised. On my desktop and laptop it is Swift To-Do List; on the desktop : Hott Notes 4; on my desktop, laptop, and mobile phone: Google Keep; and mobile only: Color Notes. I know many others use Evernote or OneDrive, but I find them too cumbersome for my needs.

Swift To-Do List

I’m a long-time user of STDL. It’s a sophisticated repository of permanent data, reminders, and tasks I need to carry out. I use it to store all my personal data,  my software licences, passwords, and anything else I need at my fingertips. It sits in the Windows taskbar ready to be summoned whenever I need it.

Check out the website to get an appreciation of its many capabilities.

Hott Notes 4

This is a sticky notes program. It’s old. The last update I think was in 2017. However, it does a simple job very effectively. See the website for features.

Google Keep

If you have a Google account, this program is well worth considering as a notes program that synchronises desktop and mobile.

Color Notes

Using two programs on my phone to provide essentially the same purpose may seem overkill, but I have a tendency to stuff up my mobile. mainly as a result of forgetting to turn it off. My subsequent movements trigger all sorts of actions, including calls to unsuspecting people in my contacts list. More than a few times I’ve managed to corrupt the contents of Color Notes and Keep.

I tend to use Color Note for permanent data and Google Keep for transient information, like shopping lists.


A Backup Strategy

A repair shop manager I spoke to the other day told me that many machines they repair are infected. And not with just one virus. One PC had so many that the owner thought he must have a hardware problem because of the erratic performance. At least it still worked. He could so easily have fallen prey to a ransomware attack, in which case his entire system would have been locked down until the ransom was paid.


I have a four-step process for backing up.

  1. Make sure all software updates have been applied, especially anti-virus programs.
  2. Empty the Recycle Bin.
  3. Run an anti-virus deep scan (I don’t want to back up malware).
  4. Back up an image of the system disk.

Steps 2 and 3 aren’t needed for daily scheduled backups.


The first requirement is to select a good backup program or service. My preference is True Image 2018 by Acronis. I’ve used it for years and the latest version is stable and fast. I’ve had problems with previous versions, but the latest is holding up well so far. That said, I’ve heard of an issue with recovery times, but other factors could have been at play.

Though I have no experience of it, StorageCraft ShadowProtect is also highly regarded. I believe it is limited to disk image backups only. True Image, on the other hand, provides disk image, file, and folder backups. (A disk in this context is a partition, e.g. C:/.)

There are other programs, some free, but what you most need in a backup program is certainty of execution. It’s one thing to back up your sensitive data, quite another to find it won’t restore when you most need it.

Scheduled Backups

The starting point for a good backup practice is to identify what data and programs you can ill afford to lose. These should be backed up on a regular basis. In my case, I run a number of overnight backups because I work with clients’ data, and daren’t risk losing it. Same applies to work-in-progress and to personal information. In fact, anything that changes regularly and is needed.

Disk Images

As frequently as needed, take a complete disk image of your system drive. I work on the basis that if nothing much has happened in the meantime, I’ll do this every two or three weeks. However, if I’m about to make significant changes to my system, I’ll take a full backup first.

Backup Storage

Once you have backed up your system, you need to ensure the backup is available when needed. Because malware like ransomware can encrypt all attached devices, you should disconnect backup media. I have separate portable hard disks and USBs on which I store cloned disks.

Restore to Different Media

Acronis provides a feature that enables your cloned disk to be restored to another physical drive. It’s called Acronis Universal Restore. Download and run it to install the software on a portable medium (e.g. a USB). This is your key to ensuring you can restore a cloned disk should the original disk image ever be compromised.