Powerbook in SFO
March 29, 2020

Corona Virus Update

Here’s a recap of the events that happened this past week, in the world of COVID-19.

Massachusetts Numbers

Massachusetts started the week with 646 confirmed cases. By Saturday there were 4,257 confirmed cases. On Friday, the state started publishing the number of people being tested. Interesting enough only 8% of those that got tested were positive.

It will be interesting to see if that percentage goes up by the end of this week.

Massachusetts has a population of 6.902 Million. Which means that .06 % of the population of Massachusetts has the Corona Virus.

Empty Stop Shop 2020
Empty Shelves show that Paper Products are still high demand.

View from the Front Lines

This afternoon I ventured out to Stop & Shop in Framingham. I was surprised that their meat department was well stocked. However, Eggs and Paper good (Paper Towels and Napkins) were empty. The pasta aisle was also hard hit.

I did find a 5-gallon bottle of Poland Spring water and some yummy ice cream.

How Long will it Go?

President Donald Trump extended federal guidelines recommending people to stay home for another 30 days until the end of April to prevent the spread of the virus. This is an extension of the original 15-day guideline that was issued a couple of weeks ago.

Massachusetts currently has a "Stay-At-Home Advisory." Maine is the only New England state to not have a Stay at Home Statewide order. Portland, Maine is the only city with a Stay at home advisor.

At least 229 million people in at least 26 states, 66 counties, 14 cities are being advised to stay home. This represents about 70% of the approximately 327.2 million people in the United States.

Schools in Massachusetts will be closed through May 4th. There are rumors that schools in Connecticut will not open this school season. Massachusetts Governor would like to see the schools in Massachusetts to open before the summer sessions.

Palm Sunday San Francisco
Palms at St. Dominic's Catholic Church

Palm Sunday

Most churches around the country will be closed for Palm Sunday next week. I really enjoyed how the St. Dominic's Catholic Church in San Francisco displays their Palms. They have four large palms in the middle of the church as a bridge as people walk in.

The above picture is from 2000.

March 28, 2020

Coronavirus COVID-19 Dashboard

The "official" dashboard that the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization uses is the one at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU). It's a simple one-page view of how fast the virus is spreading throughout the world.

You can view the World View or select a particular country to monitor the numbers. As soon as local officials report update the page automatically gets updated.

Website Description

In response to this ongoing public health emergency, we developed an interactive web-based dashboard (static snapshot shown above) hosted by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University, to visualize and track reported cases in real-time. The dashboard first shared publicly on January 22, illustrates the location and number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, deaths, and recoveries for all affected countries. It was developed to provide researchers, public health authorities and the general public with a user-friendly tool to track the outbreak as it unfolds. Further, all the data collected and displayed is made freely available, initially as google sheets, now in a GitHub repository, along with the feature layers of the dashboard, which are now included in the ESRI Living Atlas.

Coronavirus Dashboard J H U
https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html

March 27, 2020

Path Finder 9

On October 1st, 2019 Cocoatech release a major update to their file management application - Path Finder 9. This is the first major update since Path Finder was released in May 20th, 2018.

This is the third time I written up about Path Fincder. You can read my reviews on Path Finder 7 and Path Finder 8. Check out those post to learn about the capabilies of Path Finder.

Path Finder9

Four Major Features

Path Finder 9 brings back collapsible module shelves - which were missing in Path Finder 8. There are 17 modules - basically utility and info based on the selection. For example, you can have the "trash" module at the bottom of the window making it easy to delete files. You can now collapse these so they are out of the way when you don't need them.

More Robust and Stable Functionality - The big part of this release is to fix a lot of code for future enhancements. If you're a long time user of Path Finder, you should see some speed improvements when performing some transactions. Specifically, it shouldn't crash as much.

Improved compatibility with macOS 10.15 Catalina

Other small features, which hasn't been identified even in the release note.

Path Finder Search

Search Feature

While playing around with the Path Finder 9, I found a few features that I didn't see before. One cool thing is the search feature. You can search in specific volumes - even multi-volumes.

This means that I can select all the external USB thumb drives for files and move them to my main computer. For example, I can search for all EPS files, and simply copy the ones I want to my main computer.

This isn't something you can do with the regular finder. You can even save the searches so that you can find the files in the future.

March 26, 2020

Edward Everett Hale Statue

As you walk from the Boston Public Commons and enter the Boston Public Gardens, you'll see a life-size statue of Edward Everett Hale.

Edward Everett Hale (April 3, 1822 " June 10, 1909) was an American author, historian, and a Unitarian minister. He is best known for "The Man Without a Country" to help the Union during the Civil War.

Edward Everett Hale

Eight Things I Learned about the Statue

  • The bronze statue was made by Bela Lyon Pratt - approved by the Hale family and closest friends. Those that knew him said that the statue was an excellent resemblance of the preacher.
  • The statue is a heroic size (just slightly larger than real life.) show Dr. Hale in a long frock coat, walk with one foot slightly advanced, a large cane in his right hand and a hat in the left hand.
  • He is on top of a stone base that is three feet high. On one side of the base is an inscription that reads, "Edward Everett Hale, Man of Letters, Preacher of the Gospel, Prophet of Peace Patriot. 11822-1909" on the other side is "Look up and Not Down, Look Forward and Not Back, Lookout and Not in, Lend a hand"
  • Fundraising started in June 1910 and was done through the Edward Everett Hale Fund which was manage by Kidder, Peabody & Company.
  • A total of $30,000 ($833,606.68 in 2019) was successfully raised in 12-months. This was done by using circular letters mailed to various members of the Arlington Street Church.
  • During fundraising no specific location was set for the statue. The Edward Everett Hale Committee did ask the city for a place in Copley Square, but that was rejected as other designs were being considered for the area.
  • It was unveiled on May 23, 1913 - at least 3,000 people attended the ceremony which started at the Arlington Street Church. The statue was draped in an American flag and was removed by Edward Everett Hale Jr - the 7-year old grandson of the preacher.
  • Other people in attendance include Bela Pratt - the designer of the statue, Dr. Hales Widow who was 83 years old and many members of the Hale family.
March 25, 2020

Import Contacts into Documents

Swift Publisher has the ability to do mail merge in the documents. This is when you put in placeholders and when you print the document, the place holders get replaced with the content of a database.

Swift Publisher uses the macOS Contact database, which is nice since you don't have to go out of the way to create a whole new mail merge database.

Swift Publisher Contacts

Five Things That I learned

The placeholder text has been selected from the Insert > Address Field > Field Name menu option. You can't simply type in the field name.

The placeholder field name is not supported in the 2D Text or the 3D Text styles.

When printing the document you'll be asked which contacts you wish to use for the document. Within Contact App, you can set up groups for different segments such as Family, Christmas Card, etc. This makes it easier to find the contacts.

There is a small preview of the document in the print dialog. The problem is that the preview is too small to see your text in the document. The best option is to click on the PDF option on the lower left of the dialog and select "Open in Preview." You'll get a nice full-size preview of the document.

When you add Contacts in the Contact App there's a Note field. This could be a good place to add a personal note to the person. (Such as a Thank You Note.) You can add the Note using the Insert > Address Field > Other > Notes option.

March 24, 2020

The Framingham F

Driving around town, fou may have seen this 'F' painted on some driveways around Framingham, such as this one on Crest Road:

Framingham F

Fun Facts About this Design

  • In 2018, the Framingham Youth Basketball sponsored the citywide campaign as a Community Pride Fundraiser.
  • A donation of $25 would get the painted F on the driveway or any location that you choose.
  • The 2-color "F" is 3-feet tall.
  • The logo was supposed to last about 6-months, however, they are still visible 2-years later.
March 23, 2020

Test Better When Working From Home

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, many QA Engineers are now working from home. This may cause some issues with trying to stay focus while still delivering quality testing.

Here are some ways that can help stay focus and be a successful QA Engineer.

Keep a Daily Journal

During this social distancing period, track your home progress with a daily journal. A journal is one way to measure your daily productivity. It's a good way to show that you're being a productive

Writing Prompts are a good way to get your day started in the right directions. Here are seven suggested writing prompts:

  • What challenges did you face yesterday?
  • What testing technique would you like to learn today?
  • What areas of testing could you use work to learn more about?
  • What QA blog post topic would be interesting to read?
  • What's something new you can learn today that can help you test better?
  • Learn some new SQL trick and share with the team.
  • If you had to re-do yesterday again, what would you do better?

Set Daily Goals and Expectations

At the start of the day, write down what you plan to accomplish today. Challenge yourself to get more done than you think is possible.

Writing down your goals helps focus on what you need to accomplish for the day. Simply spend five minutes each day and write down the things that you want to accomplish for the day.

Sample Daily Goals:

  • Make sure that the testing queue is clear for the latest code freeze
  • Update two automation test cases for the next release
  • Learn something new with text formating in Jira
  • Bonus: Update the QA Wiki page with SQL tips done with date sorting.

Manage Distractions

Working from home can be challenging when the kids are also at home. It can be hard to stay focus when everyone wants your attention.

One way around this is to chunk your QA tasks so that you're in the work zone for a set amount of time.

Also it's helpful to publish your daily schedule so that everyone knows when your in meeting and more importantly when deadlines happen - such as code freeze or release day.

March 22, 2020

Scammer Blaster

Today I got a strange automation call from Scammer Blaster. I can't tell if this is a legitimate call or if someone is just waiting 800 number minutes while people are listening to this message.

This is the message that was left on my voicemail. This message repeats itself until the voicemail system disconnects due to length:

Transcript

This is the transcript of the message from Apple's transcript service:

This is an important public service announcement.

There was a rise in scam calls impacting people around the world. Many of these scammers are directly funding terrorist organizations and in 2017 $16 billion were scammed from Americans. Much of this money is used to fund terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and ISS to further hurt our neighbors around the world.

It is critical to report any phone calls from the scammers to the FCC or to the phone company of the scammer. You can use free carrier lookup tools to identify the carrier and then call or email the carrier so that the scammer's phone system is shut down. Most importantly if someone with a foreign accent claims to be the IRS, Social Security Administration office, Microsoft, Amazon, cash app or any other questionable source that generally doesn't call you immediately hang up the call and reported on our websites Scammer Blaster dot Com again that Scammer Blaster dot Com.

Knowledge is power, if everyone refuses to fall victim to these scams the scammer's revenue source will dry up and together we can get this problem significantly reduced.

Is it Real?

Scammer Blaster is a real site and they do good work to eliminate scam calls.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

March 21, 2020

Corona Virus in Numbers

Corona Virus is big news. There are all sorts of places that are giving the latest numbers. One good place that I found was WorldoMeter.

The website offers a page-at-a-glance view of the important Corona Virus numbers. You can see the detail Confirmed Cases and Deaths by Country, Territory, or Conveyance.

It's a useful site to see where the tough spots and see if the social distancing is helping to flat the curve in certain areas.

Website Description

Worldometer is run by an international team of developers, researchers, and volunteers with the goal of making world statistics available in a thought-provoking and time relevant format to a wide audience around the world. Worldometer is owned by Dadax, an independent company. We have no political, governmental, or corporate affiliation.

World Meter
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

March 20, 2020

Broadcast to AppleTV

Did you know that you can broadcast anything on your computer to an Apple TV? This means that you can play DVDs and show them on your large screen TVs.

This is all possible via Apple's Airplay Mirroring. You can enable this in the System Preferences > Display and check the box next to "Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available."

i Mac Apple TV

Five Things I Learned

In order for this to work properly the computer and AppleTV have to be on the same WiFi network. So if you have multiple WiFi networks both devices have to be the same network.

It doesn't matter where in the house the two devices are. So you can play a movie from wherever your devices are.

To enable the Airplay, click on the status icon and select the Apple TV. When you're sharing the screen contains the icon in the toolbar turns blue.

You can set it up so that only music to the Apple TV. This is done via System Preferences > Sound. Select the Output and you should see the Apple TV there. Note: This applies to all audio from your computer, so the Slack notifications would play on the Apple TV

In the Safari app on your Mac, navigate to the web video you want to play. Compatible web videos have an AirPlay icon. Click the AirPlay icon, then select your Apple TV.

March 19, 2020

Woodrow Bench

The park along Commonwealth Ave is a beautiful place to take a walk any time of the year. There are lights in the trees in the Winter and in the Spring you can appreciate all the flowers and tree buds.

There are benches along the trail on the Commonwealth Ave, which allows Bostonians to sit and enjoy the beautiful day.

Next to one of the benches is a white pale with a picture of a Dog. Seems out of place, but it's a special tribute to a dog, Woodrow, that once enjoyed sitting next to the bench and enjoying the day.

Dog Treats

Interesting Things About the Bucket

  • Woodrow was born in 2004 and died on December 7th, 2019.
  • The bucket contains some of Woodrow favorite treats and bacon.
  • The note outside the bucket says, “Please help yourself, courtesy of Woodrow.”
  • The Bucket has been out there since December - someone dig around the bucket.
  • The metal bucket is tied to the bench so no one takes it.
  • Woodrow has his own Facebook Page - Woodrow the George Clooney of Dogs.

Finding Woodrow's Treats

The bucket treat is located next to a bench on Commonwealth Ave. It's between Berkeley Street and Clarendon Street - near the General John Glover Statue.

Interesting Find

Woodrow2017

You can see Woodrow sitting by the bench on Google's Picasaweb.

March 18, 2020

Random Image Generator

Swift Publisher has a feature where you can add Random Image patterns. This can be useful as a background or as a special effect in your document.

You can find the tool by going to Insert > Image > Generate Random...

Swift Publisher Random
Sample of some of the images generated by the Random Image Generator in Swift Publisher.

Four Things I Learned

The effects are a small subset that is available in the Image Tricks Pro application, which is a separate application by Belight that cost $9.99.

There are effects in four different categories: Science, Lines & Fields, Gradient and Laying. A total of 20 effects available in Swift Publisher. In Image Tricks, there are 110 Core Image filters and 35 Quartz Compositions.

The default size is 400 by 400. You can define the size of the generated image by clicking on the Size button. In my test, I found that even if you pick the size of the document, it still shows up about 50% of the document size when you click the 'Ok' button. You can easily resize the generated image to fit your document.

Each Image generated selection has a unique set of parameters.

Random Image Dialog

Random Swift Publisher Dialog

Screenshot of some of the options of the Random Image function in Swift Publisher.

March 17, 2020

CoronaVirus in Framingham

Note: All week long we are covering the impact of the CoronoVirus. It's the biggest story of March, and has a lot of Framingham residents in their homes participating in the Social Distancing.

Today in Massachusetts there are 218 Confirmed cases of the CoronaVirus. There are 1,083 people that are subject to quarantine.

Framingham1700 Sign

Of the 19 counties in Massachusetts, Middlesex County has the most reported: 89.

In Framingham there are now four reported cases. According to Sam Song, the Framingham Director of Public Health, all reported cases are under self-quarantine

The city of Framingham Board of Health now limits the in-person meetings. This means that City Council members will be conducting remote meetings. As of today, March 17, 2020, the City Hall Building and related Public Buildings are now closed to the public.

You can find the latest information on the status of the CoronaVirus on the Framingham.gov website.

The city will continue to monitor the situation and reevaluate the need to close the public buildings - Trash Pickup and access to the parks are not impacted

March 16, 2020

Never Under Estimate the Value of Testing

Software QA is all testing and validation. We want to make sure things work as the product team planned and as customers expect it to work.

However, every once in a while the meaning of test changes. Such as this tweet from the World Health Organization:

World Health Organization Tweet

Health Care Testing

Health Care testing is very important. Tearing down barriers and restrictions are important to make sure people are properly diagnosed.

COVID-19 Content

For the next eight weeks many people in the United States will be inconvenient because of the COVID-19 outbreaks.

Next week we’ll talk about ways QA can be just as productive working remotely as they can in the office.

March 15, 2020

Social Distancing Tip

Many people in the United States are now facing Social Distancing. That is, they are told to avoid social interaction to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Here's some great advice that Shane Landrum, PhD offerend on Twitter:

Advice from a historian in the Boston area: Start keeping a journal today, ideally a handwritten one if that’s within your ability. Write about what you’re seeing in the news, how yr friends are responding, what is closed in yr neighborhood or city or state or country. Save it.

I worked at a news organization on 9/11/2001, & I recognize the ways that my very online professional networks communicate in a time of global crisis. What’s going on this week is like that. The feeling in my gut about historical importance is nearly the same.

Sometimes you know you’re living through an event that will be in the history books very large. I study the history of public health and information technology and law and politics. There’s so much going on that touches all of those things this week.

We’ll be able to know what happened this week/month/year after the story rolls forward another 10 or 20 years. But personal stories don’t make it into the history books unless people are writing them down in the first place. Keep a journal if you can.

Write your stories down about what’s happening now, and tomorrow, and Monday. Do it by hand, on paper. The hand-writing will adjust your brain. It will take you offline and out of the swirl of news and hopefully, for a moment, into a little bit of peace in the midst of crisis.

March 14, 2020

World Time Buddy

Recently the United States has the start of Daylight Savings Time. This caused some issues with Outlook as some of my weekly meetings that were set up in other parts of the world were now off. I need a way to let people know the current time in Boston.

I used worldtimebuddy.com to let people know what the current time in Boston was - relative to GMT. It's so much easier for other countries to figure out the time when its compared to the GMT.

worldtimebuddy.com is easy to use and make figuring out the whole GMT time so much easier. I just used the slider to figure out the meeting time and how it relates to GMT.

Website Description

World Time Buddy (WTB) is a convenient world clock, a time zone converter, and an online meeting scheduler. It's one of the best online productivity tools for those often finding themselves traveling, in flights, in online meetings or just calling friends and family abroad.

Carefully thought out design lets it effortlessly compares multiple time zones at a glance, plans conference calls, webinars, international phone calls, and web meetings. It also aids with business travel & tracking of market hours.

WTB was born out of frustration with existing world clock apps, online meetings, and time conversion tools. Most of them have given up on providing quality business tools and on delighting their users.

.

World Time Buddy
https://www.worldtimebuddy.com/

March 13, 2020

Disk Inventory X

Do you have a bunch of USB thumb drive around? Ever wanted to get a glimpse of what on the device? How about finding out what files are taking up the most space?

Disk Inventory X makes it all possible. It's a good way to get a snapshot on what's on your device and what's taking up the most space using a nice color layout.

Diisk Inventory X
Sample Output from one of my thumb drives.

Five Things I learned

It takes a while to do a scan on a thumb drive. Some of my tests took upwards of 10-minutes. I found that Mac OS Extended formatted thumb drives scanned faster than MS0DOS (FAT32)

You can not save/print the scan results. So you have to generate a scan the directory every time you want a breakdown of your device.

Disk Inventory is very useful to figure out what's on the device and to plan backup. I can see that I have a lot of videos and can offload some to the cloud as they don't need to be taking up space on my thumb drives.

If you right-click on the toolbar you can add some cool tools, such as "Reveal in Finder" where you go directly to the file/folder or "Move to Trash" to delete files you don't want.

The application gets frequently updated with the latest update on December 8, 2019. The application is not signed, so you will get a warning when you first open it. Simply use the "Open" menu command to proceed forward.

Disk Inventory X

The nice thing is that Disk Inventory X is free. If you find the application useful, you can make a donation on the website.

March 12, 2020

Top of the Hub and SkyWalk Closing

On April 18, 2020, the top three floors of the Prudential Tower in Boston will close. This is your last chance, for a few years, to get one of the best views of Boston.

The Skywalk Observatory is located on the 50th floor, while Top of the Hub Restaurant & Lounge is located on the 52nd floor and has been in operation for nearly 55 years.

The 50th-floor observation deck is the highest observation deck in New England open to the public.

The good news is that the owner is upgrading the property, the bad news is that it will take some time before you can get a Skyview of the city.

Sky Walk2020
You can buy tickets in the Prudential Mall next to the Prudential Tower.

Six Fun Facts

The restaurant closure announcement was made on January 15, 2020, by Select Restaurants, Inc., owner and operator of the Restaurant and Observatory.

They made every attempt to keep ownership of the property- including promising to invest $1 million into the Top of the Hub.

Boston Properties, who manages the top three floors, will be investing $125 million to renovate and upgrade the top three floors.

The renovation should take about 2 years to complete and is expected to open in the summer of 2022.

The SkyWalk Observatory cost $21 for Adults, and $15 and children. In 1980, a ticket cost $1.75. Had the price been adjusted with inflation going to the top would cost $5.50 today.

The SkyWalk first opened on April 19, 1965, and will close on April 18, 2020. That's 20,089 days of operations, or 55 years or 660 months.

View of The City

Boston View Sky Walk2016
Best View of Boston will soon be unavailable.

March 11, 2020

QR Codes in Swift Publisher

One of the cool tools that include with Swift Publisher is the ability to add your own QR Codes.

What are QR Codes?

QR Codes are machine-readable code containing a specific array of black and white squares. Most consumers are familiar with them as they appear in print and Mall Billboard ads. They are used to make it easy for people to visit websites or download documents.

QR Code Graphic

Adding QR Code to Swift Documents

To add a QR Code to any Swift Publisher document, simply select the 'Insert' menu, then 'Barcode' then 'QR Code.'

You can resize the code to whatever you want.

To make modifications to the QR Code, double click on it and a dialog box will pop up above the QR Code.

There are three "input types:"

Value - This is the one to use for URL or Phone Number. Most QR Codes uses this type.

File - File is useful when you're doing a mail-merge type of document and you want a different QR Code for each output. For example, you could set this up so that customer data is displayed on a page.

Counter - When printing a mail merge document, this QR Code will increment by 1 value. Useful if you're doing inventory tracking.

Cool Tricks with QR Code

Using the "Value" input type:

Website: https://www.cryan.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gusodog/

To have a person call you, simply put your number: (800) 424-9090