What to do with Mail from Previous Occupant with no Forwarding Address?

I found this outdated article from 2017 that claims that:

The easiest way to deal with mail from former tenants with no forwarding address is to write “Return to Sender,” “No Longer At This Address” or “Moved” on the outside of each envelope.

Of course, the easiest way to deal with such mail is not to do free work for the Direct Mail Marketers and Postal Service.  The easiest way is to get the Postmaster to do their job!

According to a 2020 document from the United States Postal Service (USPS) detailing how to refuse unwanted mail and remove name from mailing lists:

An addressee may request the postmaster, in writing, to withhold from delivery (for a period not to exceed 2 years) any foreign letter or publication material with a specified name or address on the outside.

So there you have it.  Instead of wasting your time writing “Not at this address” on everything (the only legal course of action once delivered to you) you can get delivery blocked (but only for 2 years at a time – as if the person might come back?) and stop the flow at the source!

Surface Mouse Left-click Quick Fix

My Surface Mouse was annoying me with unreliable left-clicking so I decided to try something that had helped with Nintendo Joy-Con stick drift and clean the contacts with alcohol.

To my surprise, even though the mouse is 5 years old at this point (launched in 2016 with the Surface Studio), I couldn’t find any teardown videos or iFixit content on this particular mouse.

Here’s how I fixed it:

  1. Remove the batteries (you don’t want to be clicking everything while you’re prying at the mouse body).
  2. Use an iFixit plastic or nylon pry tool to get between the shell at the palm end of the mouse under the Windows logo.
  3. Going up the middle will get you between two tabs – pry them to each side to release them from the pegs molded into the mouse body.
  4. Lift the rear of the shell off and slide the shell toward the front (buttons) end of the mouse body and it will release from the front latch hooks.
  5. Use a cotton swab dipped in 70% or higher isopropyl alcohol to scrub the contact buttons and click them with the tip of the cotton swab ten or so times.
  6. Replace shell by sliding the buttons onto the latch hooks, then wiggle the back tabs gently over the retention pegs.
  7. Replace the batteries and test out your rejuvenated mouse, ready for another 5 years of clicking.

Minecraft: You are almost out of data storage space!

I kept getting the following error in Minecraft for Nintendo Switch when trying to open a world:

You are almost out of data storage space! Minecraft has restricted access to this feature until you clear up additional storage space.

We tried deleting data, screenshots and video recordings, but our Switch had plenty of memory left on the MicroSD card.

The fix turned out to be a corrupted “Miscellaneous” item in the cache. This had nothing to do with the amount of storage available on the device itself.  Here’s how we fixed it.

  1. Start Minecraft.
  2. Go to Settings.
  3. Storage.
  4. Multiselect.
  5. Expand the Cached Data section.
  6. Select the “Miscellaneous” item (in my case, it had a black square instead of a thumbnail like all of the othered cached data items).
  7. Select Delete.

That’s it.  I just backed out of the menu and was able to load my worlds as I had before I encountered this issue.

I’ve seen people have this issue on other versions of Minecraft too – like the Microsoft Xbox edition, so you could try it there as well.

Below, I’ll share some links to some of the posts I checked before I found the solution hiding in this Reddit post.

Update: NextGen TV (ATSC 3.0) Coming Soon to Central Ohio

Unlike the FCC mandated conversion from analog television to DTV and HDTV back in 2009, broadcasters have been quietly updating TV infrastructure to offer enhancements made possible by Internet video innovations.  This is marketed under the name NEXTGEN TV, also known as ATSC 3.0 (tech overview video).

The first advantage is that it’s a free over-the-air (OTA) broadcast (TANSAAFL), just earlier analog TV, DTV, and HDTV.  No need for cable, satellite, or streaming service bills – everyone near the transmitter can see the same content.

Another benefit is that it’s wireless.  This makes it a great compliment to wired streaming services.  If your cable or internet service is down due to a storm, you’ll still be able to access live news and entertainment – with no buffering, even during peak viewing hours, and in any weather.

One of the most noticeable benefits to consumers will be the increased picture quality with 4K UHD resolution (supporting HDR) and theater quality sound.

As time passes, we’ll see more and more TVs and devices shipping with ATSC 3.0 support built-in. As long as your TV is 4K and you already have an antenna capable of receiving the DTV signals in your area (typically UHF), you can simply purchase a NextGen TV tuner like the HDHomeRun Connect 4K (which can also stream received content to a wide variety of devices) and be ready to receive these broadcasts as soon as they’re available in your area.

I’ve seen a variety of deployment maps and timelines. Most suggest that ATSC 3.0 will become available in the Columbus market starting in 2020, but I’ve reached out to local stations and here are their planned NextGen TV conversion dates:

WCMH – No response.

WSYXJanuary 7, 2021 @ 10:00 AM EST (as of 2020-12-03).

WBNS – No response.

WTTE – Estimated in January 2021.

WOSU – No response.

WWHO – No response.

I plan to update the info above as I receive more info.

Ohio Cities Extorting Non-Resident Non-Workers

As covered extensively in the paywalled Columbus Dispatch article “Should you pay commuter taxes while working from home? Republicans say no, cities say yes” (where by “Cities” they mean Democrats), with the advent of COVID-19 the Ohio State Legislature is aiding and abetting a money-grab for unionized workers of large cities.

Ordinarily, Cities claim that a person working within the imaginary lines that define their corporation gives them the authority to seize a portion of any income earned within that city to fund “services” the city offers in return – whether they are used or not.

Under COVID rules though, many employees have been re-assigned to work locations outside of these cities.  They do not enter the City’s imaginary corporate boundaries, so they place no burden on Police, Fire, or other resources.

To maintain political power, politicians in control of Cities wish to keep their politically influential City employee unions senselessly staffed at pre-COVID levels – lack of demand for services be damned.

Their solution to this is to pretend that COVID never happened.  They’ll just keep tax-extorting people who haven’t worked within their fiefdom for months.  Meanwhile, the victims of their extortion racket are unable to benefit from access to their hard earned money for COVID-related expenses that can’t be imagined away.

As the Dispatch article mentions, The Buckeye Institute is going to bat for affected Ohioans in Franklin County Court case 20 CV 004301 (you’ll need to agree to the courts terms before visiting the link to see the content).

As Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) said in the dispatch article “What’s to stop Akron from taxing you or Youngstown? It’s unconstitutional, I believe, to tax someone who does not work or reside in their territory.”

Otherwise Eligible Votes?

Woke up this morning to the following news story from a Columbus Dispatch news podcast:

“Nearly 23,000 ballots could be discarded in Ohio, a USA TODAY, Columbia Journalism Investigations, and Frontline investigation found.  In this unprecedented election, seemingly minor problems, such as mismatched signatures, inaccurate birth dates, and other paperwork mistakes could disqualify otherwise eligible votes.” – Jonathan Smith, Columbus Headline News Express 10/19/2020 7:15 AM (00:01:03 into the podcast)

The comment seems to be in reference to the article Ohio election winner could turn on absentee votes declared ineligible (dispatch.com) by Darrel Rowland (@darreldrowland) / Twitter.  This article also contains the phrase “otherwise-eligible votes” – but what does that even mean?

Imagine a fairly low-security task such as signing into a website or calling a business on the phone for account information.

You identify yourself, and as part of that they ask you for your birth date, address, or other information to make sure you are really you?

Surely you’ve screwed this up at some point in your life – and rightfully been rejected access to meddle in your own affairs.

But we don’t call these “otherwise eligible logins” – because that’s what we only want eligible logins, not “otherwise eligible”.

Eligible means “Having the right to do or obtain something; satisfying the appropriate conditions.”  When you fail to satisfy the appropriate conditions you are “NOT eligible” not “otherwise eligible” or “differently eligible” or “alternatively eligible”, you’re either eligible; or you’re not.

This is yet another example of newspeak in “news speak” that ultimately amounts to propaganda.

Just like not knowing the correct passwords and challenge questions makes one ineligible to log-in to a computer or interact with an organization by phone, not answering the security questions for voting (a much higher security action) should make one “ineligible to vote” until they answer the questions correctly.

Words mean things, and neither the Dispatch editors nor anyone else get to re-define them to bolster their baseless positions. Editors should know how to use dictionaries and resist the temptation to make up terms (no matter how absurd) to suit their personal or organizational political agenda.

Teams Quoted Text Shortcut

Here’s a handy Microsoft Teams shortcut I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Let me start with the way most people quote text in Teams.

After highlighting the text and copying it (Ctrl + C).

1) Click the Format icon (Screenshot 2020-10-16 174154).
Screenshot 2020-10-16 174130
2) Click the Quote icon.

Now you can paste from your clipboard (be sure to use Windows + V!).

Here’s the shortcut though.  Instead of all of that clicking, just type “> “ (the space at the end is key!) and the Quote field will appear.

This saves quite a few steps – especially over the course of a day, and it makes your messages much more readable by providing context to the exact comment you’re replying to.

As of this writing, I hadn’t found a shortcut for a code block (tell me if you know!) – but Teams should add one of those too IMHO.

Also, if you’re using Teams on a mobile device, you can swipe right on a message to quote the message you swiped.

So there you have it, 3 ways to quote text in MS Teams!

How to save up to 60% off up to 3 years of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (in 2 easy steps)

My Gamertag is almost old enough to vote, but regardless of the age of your account – there’s an awesome deal on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate out there (as of July 2020) and I’ll tell you how to get it below.

Before you start, log into your Microsoft account and see how much time you have remaining on your Xbox Live Gold subscription here: https://account.microsoft.com/services/

Step 1: Even though Microsoft *just* put an end to the 12-month subscription, you can still get 12-month subscription codes online from various retailers (though when I did it with Amazon, they suspected fraud and locked out my account – so be careful).

The easiest way for me ended up being to use the Get Help app that’s built into Windows (just click Start and type Get Help) to chat with MS support staff and place an order to get me up to 36 months of Xbox Live Gold credit at the $59.99/12-month price.

Step 2: Once your account is showing that you’re covered for service for the next 36 months you should see an offer to upgrade to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for only $1.  That’s 93% off the purchase price for one month!

So, in summary:

  1. Pre-pay for the next 36 months of Xbox Live Gold.
  2. Convert your subscription to Microsoft Game Pass Ultimate.
  3. Profit

In fact, Microsoft even has a detailed (now year old) blog post that explains how to do it.  If you couldn’t figure out from my post, maybe check out theirs.

Anyway, by my rough math on a lunch break at work, 36 months (3 years) of Xbox Live Gold at $59.99 amounts to $179.97.

At $14.99/mo, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (which offers a lot more in the way of services) would cost $539.64 for the same 36 months.

So by maxing out your account to the 36 month pre-paid limit before upgrading, you can save a maximum of about 60%.

Do it. Do it now!

Since this deal has been around for about a year, I’d imagine it will end soon.  Microsoft has a big Xbox press conference slated for next week… so that’d be an opportune time to communicate new deals, offers, and pricing structures that will probably not be anywhere near as generous.

Edit PDFs in Microsoft Word

Today someone was asking if software was available to edit a PDF and I pointed out that MS Word has had this feature for a while now.

There is the possibility that the conversion might not be perfect, so for some professional-level edits to PDF documents it might not meet your needs, but since most PDFs I see appear to have originated in Word in the first place, it’s a handy tool for editing most documents.

This helps improve collaboration because the converted Word document can be shared and edited via SharePoint, Teams, or a file share.

When you open a PDF with Word, you’ll initially see this message:

People who have been saving items in PDF format in an attempt to prevent others from making changes to the document should instead use the “Restrict permission” features of Word to prevent unauthorized users from editing or altering documents without the document creator’s approval.

How to Set-up Minecraft for Cross-platform Multiplayer

After poking around a bit, I was able to get my kids set-up with Minecraft cross-platform multiplayer.

See the link in the previous paragraph for details.

Once you set it up, and add your kids and their friends, they’ll be able to join each other’s games through the Xbox Live service for free (though accessing it via Nintendo Switch requires their paid online service “Nintendo Switch Online” for access).

Once everything is configured according to the details of that article, you’ll need to be able to easily share links to the relevant Xbox Live accounts.

Here’s an example:

https://account.xbox.com/en-us/profile?gamertag=Sample%20Gamertag

You can just modify it by deleting “Sample%20Gamertag” and adding whatever gamertag you wish.  Be sure to replace any spaces in the gamertag with “%20” to ensure that the link is URL encoded and stays intact when pasted into emails and various messaging apps.

Asking friends to add your Xbox Live account via a link allows them to do it from any device and also coaches them to get logged in with their own account first before they can add yours – which is a great way to help them figure out what their own XBL account is since not everyone knows off the top of their head (especially when it comes to parents setting up accounts for their kids).