iTunes in other countries?

February 4, 2013

How do I get access to an app that is not yet available in our country? It always takes ages before an app is offered in our region, is there a workaround? How do you get all the latest (free) apps?
This blog will provide an answer to these frequently asked questions.

Sometimes certain apps are not available in certain territories. Your iTunes account is setup in 1 country, normally the one you live in.  For paid apps, it might be challenging to set it up in different countries, because you need a local bankcard or credit card. What a lot of people don’t know, is that you can easily setup an account, even without payment options. Really cool if you are interested in free apps (for now)! 😉

How to set it up in 10 steps?

  1. Open iTunes and go to the App Store.iTunes-UK-flag
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the flag (right hand corner).
  3. Select the country you want (e.g. USA) by clicking on the right flag.usa-iTunes
  4. You are now in the right iTunes Store. If you were signed in, you will notice you automatically are logged out.
  5. Now search for the App you are looking for (e.g. CardMunch).
  6. Click on the “Free” button to download it. A popup box appears and asks for your Apple ID.  Choose the “Create Apple ID” button.
  7. Click “Continue” and Accept the Terms & Conditions by clicking the “Agree” button.
  8. Provide the Apple ID details in the form.
  9. Provide a Payment Method, choose “None” and fill in an address. How do you find an address? I rent one using Of course, you can also Google one, but that might not be the best way forward.
  10. Wait for the confirmation email to arrive, confirm it and download your app straightaway!

Now you can enjoy a truckload of apps from this extra iTunes Store in the country of your choice. It goes without saying that this is probably the easiest way, but limited to free apps.  Start with the free ones, I might share the next steps later for paid apps.

Enjoy Every Day,
Bert Verdonck

Draw on top of your laptop with DrawTop

May 3, 2012

What happens if your computer battery dies on you? Do you still carry a pen and paper? What if you could write on your laptop? No, really, write on it, like on a whiteboard!

To be honest, I am using a Genius Shortcut called TheDrawTop on mine. It is like having a mini-whiteboard on your laptop computer (iPad, iPhone, etc. too!), where you can make notes. But is that the only thing?

Of course not!

So, how do I use it (properly)? Here are 5 ways to make the best of TheDrawTop:

1. When your battery runs out of power, but you still want to take notes. Start writing on your personal whiteboard.
2. When you want to mindmap or draw something quickly (and you don’t want to wait for the right app(lication) to load. Just write on top of your device.
3. When participating in a meeting, write your name on it, so people know who you are. At conferences I also write my Twitterhandle (@BertVerdonck) on it.
4. When you are giving a presentation, welcome all participants and invite them to ask questions. I also draw our customers’ logo on it, but granted not everyone does that. You could also draw a graph on it if there is not a flipover or other whiteboard available.
5. When you want to focus and isolate yourself, you can write a message or sign to let people know you don’t want to be disturbed (and scaring people away might be too much 😉 )

Now, I hear you say: All nice and well, but how am I going to keep what I’ve written down? Aha! Here are 3 easy steps to take it to the next level:

1. You take out your smartphone and you take a (clear) picture of your drawing, mindmap or whatever you wrote.
2. You wipe your whiteboard clean and can start all over again 😉
3. You synchronize your smartphone with your laptop later on (when you have power again). This way you have digitized your notes and drawings!

I admit, for the advanced lifehackers, there are a couple of next steps too:
1. Upload it to Evernote
2. OCR your drawing
3. Download it again as text or in whatever format you want it!

By the way, if you want to go cheap (TheDrawTop starts at 12 $) and do it yourself, you can also buy the adhesive whiteboard material at your office supplier. Of course, you still need to cut it at the exact dimensions of your laptop. As you know, I always choose the easy way. TheDrawTop asks you for the type of your laptop (or other device) and delivers it made to order for your computer. That’s the way I like it!

Tip: As an extra TheDrawTop also includes a set of 4 markers and a microfiber eraser cloth.

Enjoy drawing on your laptop,


How to import your Mac Address Book contacts in Hotmail?

September 23, 2011

“How can I import my Mac Address Book in It seems they don’t sync.”

I have received this question a couple of times. That’s why I decided to share the 4 simple steps on how to do it (in true lifehacking-style ;-)).

If you are using the Mac Address Book and Hotmail, you may want to be able to share your contacts between both services.
Unfortunately, a direct or true sync of your Mac Address Book with your Windows Live Hotmail Contacts is currently not possible.

What can you do? A one-time synchronization.

How? Follow these simple steps:

  1. Export your contacts to vcards: File > Export > Export vCard…
  2. Import in Gmail: Contacts > Import Contacts
    Tip: when importing in Gmail, you should check the box “Also add these imported contacts to New group…” and name it (e.g. Mac Contacts).
  3. Export in Gmail to Outlook CSV: Contact > More > Export > Outlook CSV format
  4. Import in Hotmail: Manage > Import
    Tip: make sure the option for Microsoft Outlook (using CSV) option selected

Congratulations and enjoy your Mac Address Book contacts in your Hotmail!

PS : if you are using Hotmail and don’t have a Gmail account (yet), create one first! It’s easy and free as well…

Twitter Shortcuts

July 29, 2011

There is no way around it, so let’s face it: Twitter is one of the top social media in the world! If you don’t have a clue what tweeps or hashtags are, then this article is NOT for you. However, if you have been using Twitter for a while and you want to improve your way of working with its interface, you’ll find several Twitter Shortcuts right here!

The Genius Shortcut to remember them all is “?”. When you have logged yourself into Twitter, regardless of on which page you are, just press ? See what happens…you will get the overview I am providing you below 🙂

To be honest, I am not using this interface myself, because I was not a fan of the Twitter interface before. A lot has changed in the last 12 months and I might reconsider if I hadn’t discovered HootSuite. If you want to know more about HootSuite, read this. Back to Twitter now. A lot of people have been asking me to tell them these Twitter Shortcuts, so time to share the Twitter Shortcuts with you. There are 3 categories : Actions, Navigation and Timelines. Of course, I’ll share a couple of extra hidden Twitter Shortcuts too 🙂

f : favorite
r : reply
t : retweet
m : direct message
n : new Tweet
enter : toggle details pane

? : overview of the Twitter Shortcuts
j : next Tweet
k : previous Tweet
space : page down
/ : search
. : refresh Tweets and back to top

g h : home
g r : replies / mentions
g p : profile
g f : favorites
g m : messages
g u : go to user

Hidden (= not mentioned on the overview)

Enter : to drill down into or close a selected tweet
Escape : to cancel a compose window, dismiss the help window
Shift+Space : to page up
. : to go to the top of the page

Have fun with Twitter! And if you need another hand, just find me and dare to ask : @bertverdonck


June 1, 2011

When I heard the word “obsolescence” for the first time I liked it immediately.

What does it mean? According to Wikipedia : Obsolescence is the state of a being which occurs when an object, service or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order. Obsolescence frequently occurs because a replacement has become available that is superior in one or more aspects. Obsolete refers to something that is already disused or discarded, or antiquated.”

Now why would I write about this? Well, a number of obsolete products are on the way back. Want an example? The USB Record Player

Ok, I have to admit. I still have a number of records. Sure enough, I hardly play them…in this era of MP3 and iTunes.

Now, I discovered something else. A USB Typewriter. That’s right! Lovers of the look, feel, and quality of old fashioned manual typewriters can now use them as keyboards for any USB-capable computer, such as a PC, Mac, or even iPad! You can either buy a refurbished one or Do-It-Yourself. Personally, I find it cool to have a classic typewriter as a keyboard for an iPad2 🙂 I haven’t tried it yet, but it seems great, don’t you think?

Here is a video, because pictures don’t always tell the full story:

Save on Fonts

May 24, 2011

Everyone is looking for savings, right? Some go really far to achieve it, while others are looking for a Genius Shortcut to get similar results. When it comes to printing, which savings did you try so far?

I discovered the EcoFont (Dutch indeed :-)), you know a font with holes in it to save on ink. Personally, I see that you make a statement with it, but frankly I don’t like it! With my background in communication, I support building your brand in a consistent way. And the EcoFont does not fit mine.

So, I did some research on fonts and discovered a great experiment by Matt Robinson. A selection of the most commonly used typefaces were compared for how economical they are with the amount of ink which they use at the same point size. Large scale renditions of the typefaces were drawn out with ballpoint pens, allowing the remaining ink levels to display the ink efficiency of each typeface.

Here are the results for a number of common fonts:

Now you actually see the difference! Impressive, right? I know, we can now start a discussion on our preference of Garamond over Times New Roman 🙂

Of course, the most effective way to save on ink is to print less! Do you really have to print everything? Isn’t it time to learn how to read and process info on the screen? We have come a long way and I can safely state that the Digital Era is here already, just in case you weren’t aware of it yet 😉

Elevator Express

May 16, 2011

Let’s assume you are running late for your meeting and you enter
a crowded elevator. You need to go to the 14th floor ASAP. You dream of going directly to your floor instead of stopping for everyone else’s. Wouldn’t that be just great? Impolite, but great, right?

Well, there is a Genius Shortcut that you can use in most elevators.
Yes, I know! How come so few people actually know about this?

Anyway, the trick is to push the button to close the doors at the same time as the floor you directly want to go to. So, in this example, it is the 14th floor. Just look at the picture if you are a more visual type 🙂

Why does it work? While some elevators require a key, others are configured to get into “Express Mode” when the “close doors”-button and one of the floor-buttons are pressed simultaneously. Most paramedics know this (or should!), so they get faster to the right floor in case of an emergency.

It is a great lifehack that I discovered many years ago at Darknet, but it amazes me that still only a few people know about it…

So, I invite you to give it a try!

Bottle of Beer Opener

April 26, 2011

It’s kind of funny how some of the Genius Shortcuts are starting a life of their own. After publishing the lifehack on how to open a bottle of wine without a corksrew, people kept on asking me how to open a bottle of beer without a bottle opener. Do you know how? Of course, most people would use a spoon or a lighter, but what if you are stuck in a hotelroom without any gear?

Would a piece of paper do? Sure, it does! Have a look at this video and see how simple it really is to open a bottle of beer with a piece of paper!

Of course, it’s always a matter of leverage. So, it simply doesn’t matter much what kind of material you are using to open the bottle! Just to be safe : Never open a bottle with your teeth 🙂

Enjoy your beer(s),


(Video via Instructables)

Forge new habits!

January 25, 2011

Do you also find it difficult to create a new habit? Is it a challenge to stay disciplined? Of course, you are motivated, but we are living in a hectic world and you (sometimes) forget about your great New Year’s intentions?

I used to be like this. Not any more! I found a Genius Shortcut to solve it the easy way :

It takes 21 days to forge a habit. Some say it takes 30 days or more. Others say change happens in a heartbeat. Anyway, it takes quite some discipline to keep up and to stick to your plan.

How does help you? What do you need to do?

Step 1 : You enroll and share a goal or desire. If you could do one thing every day that would change your life for the better, what would it be?

Step 2 : Habitforge will send you a daily email. They’ll ask you if you were successful the day before at doing that one thing. From within the email, just click “yes” or “no” and Habitforge will do the rest.

Step 3 : Succeed for 21 days in a row. Do that one thing you’ve committed to doing. Skip a day before succeeding for 21 days straight, and Habitforge will start you back at day one (oh yes!). Succeed for 21 days in a row, and you can enter monitoring mode. But by that point the action should seem second nature, right?

Did I mention Habitforge is FREE?

Wishing you all the best with changing you life for the better and forge a new habit that makes you happy!

Upside Down?

December 26, 2010

If the world were upside down, what would it look like? Ever wondered what would happen if you start to write “upside down”?

˙˙˙uǝǝɹɔs ǝɥʇ pǝuɹnʇ ɹo pɐǝɥ ɹnoʎ uo ƃuıpuɐʇs ɹǝɥʇıǝ ǝɹɐ noʎ ‘sıɥʇ pɐǝɹ uɐɔ noʎ ɟı”

Isn’t that great? I like it!

Screenshot websiteNow, how did I do it? Well, there is a Genius Shortcut for writing upside down. is an easy website with 2 textboxes. You fill out the first one with your message. Simultaneously it will create your text upside down in the second box. Now you can easily copy and paste the upside down text to other applications and have fun with it!

What can you use it for? Fun! Ok, I admit, I haven’t found a serious application for it yet. I use it to update my LinkedIn-status, Twitter or on Facebook. I even put it in my LinkedIn Profile and  I sure some people will want to know more about it 🙂

Have fun too, always,