August 22, 2019

Encore Boston Harbor

Yesterday I spent six hours at the new Encore Boston Harbor . It was a fun day in Massachusetts newest casino. The Hotel/Casino officially opened on June 23, 2019.

Here’s some notes on my experience.

Encore Hotel Building

General Notes

  • Nothing for kids - no game room, pool or activity area. Really nothing for kids to do while the adults gamble - Definitely not a place for anyone under 21.
  • There is a Dunkin Donuts on site which offers the complete Dunkin menu. (A large hot coffee cost $3.99. )
  • You have to pay for self-parking unless you use the Membership card which gives you free weekday parking.
  • The casino is easy to get to from Boston. Getting back to Boston was a bit tricky during rush hour. If you're not familiar with the area, you might want to use water transportation.

Buffet Notes

  • Lots of great options in the Buffet - Seafood, American Fare, Chinese, and Salads.
  • The Clam Chowder was really good - highly recommend.
  • The line moves pretty fast. Don’t be discouraged if you see a long line when the buffet opens. We noticed that at 1pm the line was much smaller.
  • Buffet is in the main casino- so kids are allowed.

Encore Hotel Casino

Casino Notes

  • There are supposed to be drink servers around the casino - but I rarely saw them. This could be that we were there at an off time.
  • We arrived at 9 and noticed it was very quiet around the casino. It started getting busy around 11.
  • Lots of Slot machines- many of them are penny slots.
  • Blackjack minimum started at $5, but by 2pm most tables were $25 or $50.
  • They do not sell "used" cards. You can buy souvenir dice ($14 for a pair) at the DrugStore - near the main Casino entrance.
  • There are lots of ATM machines around the casino floor.
  • You can buy Massachusetts Lottery Scratch tickets at some Lottery machines.
  • Most of the slot machines were electrons - like playing on a computer. I didn't see my favorite - Haywire.

Overall it's a fun casino. Certainly a fun way to spend an afternoon.

August 21, 2019

iPhone Purchase History

One of the nice things about the DayOne App is the ability to add entries from the past. This is a good way to record entries to show up in the daily timeline.

With Apple’s new iPhone just a few weeks away, I thought it would be a good idea to record when I got my past iPhones. Each entry contains the device first photo and the location where purchased.

This is what I was able to gather:

Listing

Some of the information came from memory. Others cane from receipts from Apple or Verizon on when the devices were activated.

I was able to find the photos using Google Photos. I just needed to know the date of purchase.

DayOne Journal Entries

DayOne is a great application to record memories. It’s a great way to recall important dates in the past. You can tag old entries to help remember when the event occurred.

August 20, 2019

Trader Joes Pancakes

Finding a good Gluten Free that an Eighth Year Old will eat is tricky. You can just pick out any cereal on the shelf.

Trader Joe’s has a great frozen pancakes that my daughter loves. Which is great because over the years we have tried various frozen pancakes and waffles. They are certainly worth the try if you have tried some of the popular Gluten Free brands.

Trader Pancakes

Five Things We Learned about the HomeStyle Pancakes

  1. Available at Trader Joe’s. They are located with the regular frozen pancakes. Trader Joe’s doesn’t have a separate freezer for Gluten Free goods.
  2. The pancakes comes individually wrapped in a pack of three. There are four packs. We have to buy 2 boxes for the week.
  3. Takes about 1:25 seconds to cook. I usually split the pancakes and spread them on a plate.
  4. Great with chocolate drizzle, cut up strawberries and whip cream topping. (Part of a complete breakfast)
  5. Pancakes are small dollar size - perfect for kids.
August 19, 2019

Location Guard

Testing software may involve testing certain locations. Chrome uses various means to track your location and pass that information to websites. Some of the data is based on Wifi and browser settings.

Location Guard allows you to fake your location. This makes it easy to test the functionality of the site against various locales around the world. For example, Canada has rules about requesting email on websites.

Product Description

Location Guard is a browser extension that allows to protect your location while using location-aware websites, by adding controlled noise to it.

Latest updates to Chrome might have made this extension non-working. According to many reviews, the extensions are not working 100% of the time.

I'll test it against Google Maps and other sites to see if it still not working.

August 18, 2019

Camera Collection

I thought I spend a few minutes today looking at the video capabilities of the cameras that I have access to:

Cameras
Various Old Cameras on a shelf in Natick, Massachusetts.

Camera Collection

Model Video Size File Type Frames per Second
iPhone XS Max 3840 x 2160 HEVC 24fps
Olympus XZ-2 iHS 1080 x 1920 H.264 29.99 fps
Flip Video 720 x 1280 H.264 30 fps
iPhone 5s 1080 x 1920 H.264 29.99 fps
Sony DSC-HX200V 1080 x 1920 H.264 29.97 fps
FinePix e900 640 x 480 M.JPEG 30 fps

The iPhone XS Max has six options, with different frame rates:

4k 3840 x 2160
1080p 1920 x 1080
720p 1280 x 720 px
August 17, 2019

Markdown Guide

Markdown is getting to be popular and most editors are now accepting the basic Markdown syntax. It's a good idea to get some fundamentals on how Markdown works. Soon you'll discover why more and more people are using it.

Matt Cone has put together an excellent Markdown Guide which makes it easy to understand the basic syntax . There's a section about the extended syntax which isn't supported in all platforms - but good to know the possibilities.

Website Description

The Markdown Guide is a comprehensive Markdown reference designed for novice and intermediate users. It was born out of frustration with existing Markdown references that are incomplete, inadequate, or both.

Markdown Help
https://www.markdownguide.org/

Popular Playgrounds

If you want to play around with Markdown try https://dillinger.io/, it's a great way to get a real time view of how Markdown works.

August 16, 2019

BBEdit Shortcuts

BBEdit is one of my favorite applications. I have tried other applications, but more often I come back to the power and flexibility that BBEdit provides.

I have a lot of shortcuts set up to make it easy to use. This is the list of the most popular shortcuts that I use every day.

B B Edit Desktop

Top Ten Keyboard Shortcuts

ShortcutActionDescription
Save Current Selection as a ClippingThis quickly creates a BBEdit Clipping. BBEdit Clippings are snippets that appear as I am typing words. These save a lot of time typing the same thing over and over. I can go into the Clipping Folder to remove them if I don't think I'll use it again. This comes in handy when I am working on a short term project and need to type a name or phrase over and over.
Preview in BBEditBy default, Command-P is Print. I find that in BBEdit I don't print that often. However, I do preview a lot, so I changed the default Print option to Preview, as I am more likely want to preview a page than Print. This is very helpful when previewing
ScratchPadSometimes I just need to jot something quick down.
Live SearchQuickly find something on the page. Note the search matches are highlighted on the right of the window, making it easy to scroll to find similar matches. Simply type the shortcut and then search.
Backup FileI created an AppleScript which basically sends the the contents of the current window to Evernote. This is a super quick way to back up files. No more backup files cluttering the desktop.
Zap GremlinsRemove any unwanted characters that may cause problems. For example the curly brackets that Microsoft Word creates. The text is replaced with ASCII equivalent.
Show/Hide SideBarBBEdit automatically opens the sidebar when you have more than one file open - such as working on a project. Sometimes the sidebar can be distracting.
Hide/Show Line NumberUsually I have line numbers on by default, but when I am writing Markdown, line numbers don't cut it. So this is useful when I don't want to see them.
Hide/Show GutterSometimes having a gutter is useful, sometimes it's not. Usually I combine the Gutter/Line numbers actions. That's why I have the shortcuts setup with one off numbers.
Process Lines ContainingGreat way to filter out a log file. I can extract the lines that I care about into another file.
August 15, 2019

Claritin Street Mass Pike On-ramp

On September 3, 2019, the Mass Pike On-Ramp from Claritin Street will permanently close. Full details are available on the blog post: Boston: I-90 Westbound Clarendon Street on-ramp Closing Permanently on the MassDOT Blog, which was posted on August 6, 2019.

Basically it comes down to safety:

This on-ramp has limited sight distance for drivers, meaning they have little visibility of other vehicles when they are merging onto the highway, and it is too short for vehicles to accelerate to the appropriate speed at the access point. The crash rate at this on-ramp is also higher than the rates at other on-ramps in the local area.

Turn Pike West

Alternative Mass Pike Entrances

The next closest entrance to the Mass Pike from Claritin Street is the entrance by the corner of Huntington Ave and Blagden Street. (Next to the Boston Public Library at Copley Square.)

To get their from the Claritin Street Garage: Take a Right on to Start Street, and then a right on to Dartmouth Street and then take the next left.

Another Mass Pike entrance is off of Massachusetts Ave, near Newbury Street. While this exit is a bit further away, the on-ramp to merge into traffic is slightly longer. This isn't a good solution after a Red Sox game as traffic tends to back up on Massachusetts Ave.

Claritin Street Garage

The Garage at 100 Clarendon Street promotes itself as "The only garage in the city with Mass Pike Access."

Looks like they will have to come up with another slogan. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • "Closest Garage to Copley Square"
  • "That Garage Formerly known as the easy way to the Mass Pike"
  • "Best Garage Deal in Boston"
  • "2,000 parking spaces can't be wrong"
August 14, 2019

Mystery Green Dot

On some of your pictures you may notice a small green dot. This appears at random locations in pictures - that is in some pictures it's on the bottom right and other pictures you may see it on the top left.

Example Issue

Blue Dot
It might be hard to see, but after seeing in a number of photos, it can stand out.

Whats Going On

This is not a defect of the camera or a scratch on the camera lens.

The green dot occurs because of the angle of the light coming into the camera. This usually occurs when taking pictures of light such as sunrise, sunset or a street light that occurs in the picture.

Apparently this has occurred in every iPhone. I have noticed that this has occurred more often using the iPhone XS Max.

I have also encountered this problem on videos too. It's more visible since the blue dot moves around.

How to Avoid the Dot

I usually don't notice the green dot until I look at the picture long after it was taken. Well too late to make adjustments.

Now that I know how/when the dot occurs - the presence of bright light shining directly in the camera, I can tilt the camera so the dot doesn't appear.

In addition, I'll be sure to look out for the presence of the dot on the screen when I am taking pictures in certain situations.

Fixing the Issue Post Production

It's easy to remove the dot in Affinity Photo using the Inpainting Brush Tool, or using PhotoScape's Spot Healing Brush - located in the Tools section.

August 13, 2019

Catalina Italian

Boston’s North End is well known for their Italian cooking and shopping. There are lots of great restaurants to pick from.

If your a celiac, and need to eat gluten-free it might be a bit frustrating to want to go to the North End. There are some great places to go and be able to enjoy a fine Italian meal.

Recently we discovered Catalina Italian on Hanover Street, and thought we give it a try since it got good reviews on the "Find Me gluten free" App.

Boston Cantina Italian

Six Things We Learned About Catalina Italian

  1. There’s no gluten-free menu or indicator on the menu of dishes that are allergy-friendly.
  2. The host told us said they could make any dish Gluten Free. We were surprised by the various pasta that they had available for gluten-free.
  3. We ordered our daughters an Alfredo Pasta dish. Which for her is like a Mac and Cheese dish.
  4. After we placed our order, they put regular rolls on our table. I asked if they had Gluten Free tools and they said they didn’t.
  5. When the order was delivered it was brought with the rest of the dishes and not by the manager as we have seen in other restaurants.
  6. The Alfredo was delicious. My daughter loved it. I tried a bite and it was good. She ate most of it leaving a little amount on her plate.

We would likely go back to this restaurant as they did have good gluten-free options and the service was good.

An interesting side note that the regular pasta dishes didn’t taste that fresh. It could be that lunch hour meals are quick and dinner meals are more prepared with fresh pasta.

Finding Catalina Italian

The restaurant is located on Hanover Street, not too far from the Paul Revere Statue. It's located on 346 Hanover St. in Boston, MA. It's between the St. Leonard's Church and the Paul Revere Mall.

August 12, 2019

QA is not Medical Science

In a job interview that I had many years ago at a popular software company, my future boss told me this:

"If bugs happen that's ok, this isn't Medical Science. No one will die because a big made it into Production. "

I was surprised by her comment and took it as the wrong attitude towards excellence in testing. Isn't your goal to make sure bugs don't make it into production?

Medical Science

QA Realistic Goals

However, over the years I have learned she was right. In a fast pace environment, QA can't always deliver 100% bug-free releases. When bugs do make it to production - it's important to avoid the blame game.

QA should focus on how to respond to fixing bugs in production. Once the issue is fixed, QA then needs to find out how it missed the bug - so that it doesn't happen again.

Bugs will happen, but it how you respond to getting the bug fix determines how good of a QA you are.

August 11, 2019

Boards & Commissions Workshop

The City of Framingham Massachusetts will have a Boards & Commissions Workshop on Tuesday, August 13, This is a chance for ordinary citizens to learn how to participate in city government.

There are many open positions on different city commissions and committees. This is a chance to learn more about the positions and how to get involved.

Sample Openings

Some sample of Commission openings:

Framingham Meetings

Event Description

The City of Framingham values the input and contributions of its community members. One way the City engages civic participation is through Boards, Commissions, and Committees. Framingham utilizes the strengths of engaged residents in areas of respective passions to provide guidance and input into matters that affect the quality of life for all Framingham residents and visitors.

City of Framingham Boards and Commissions cover topics and issues ranging from agriculture, land use, human services, and so much more, providing an opportunity for civic engagement and a chance to enrich the lives of all community members.

Please join the Office of the Mayor at the Boards, Commissions, and Committees workshop to learn how to how to use your skills to make a difference.

Boards & Commissions Workshop

The Workshop will be on Tuesday, August 13, 6-7 p.m. in the Ablondi Room of Framingham City Hall. Registration is required!

August 10, 2019

BBC Sound Effects

Having sound effects can go a long way to spice up a video. There are lots of places where you can get them, but many places lack quality sound effects.

The BBC Sound Effect is a great resource to for profession sound effects for your YouTube videos or Powerpoint slides.

Website Description

These 16,000 BBC Sound Effects are made available by the BBC in WAV format to download for use under the terms of the RemArc Licence. The Sound Effects are BBC copyright, but they may be used for personal, educational or research purposes, as detailed in the license.

For commercial use, you can license sound effects.

Access dataset metadata by visiting our dedicated LOD site. If you have any queries regarding usage, please contact jake.berger at bbc.co.uk

B B C Sound Effects
http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/

Now you can have an awesome howling dog for the Halloween video, or the laugh track when you want people to laugh.

August 9, 2019

Haunted Mansion Wallpaper

In celebrating Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion 50th Anniversary today, here’s a couple of Personal Haunted Mansion Wallpaper images for your Macintosh.

Disneyland_ Birthday Blog
http://www.cryan.com/dialy/Disneyland_BirthdayBlog.jpg

This was taken on September 2009, when the Haunted Mansion was closed. It’s a rare opportunity to get a picture of the Mansion with nobody in it.

Walt Disney World Blog
http://www.cryan.com/dialy/WaltDisneyWorldBlog.jpg

This is one many image that I took at Disney World's Haunted Mansion. It's a very simple image to use as a background as it's not a distraction. I have other dark photos that I will upload at a later time.

How to Install the Wallpaper

Simple instructions to get this Wallpaper image on your computer.

  • Click on the above image to download the image to your computer
  • Right click on the dashboard and select "Change Desktop Background..."
  • Drag and Drop the downloaded image to the box in the top left.

You can use the drop-down to adjust how the image appears. The "Fit to Screen" option works best for me on my 2560 by 1440 monitor.

Enjoy!

August 8, 2019

Disney World Tribute to Boston History

In Disney World, there are two tributes to the city of Boston in America History. These are sites are located in Liberty Square - not too far from the Haunted Mansion.

Liberty Tree2019

Liberty Tree

Back in 2016, I blogged about the Liberty Tree in Liberty Square.

The Liberty Tree in Boston is where colonials would gather to talk about the future of America. In particular, they talked about how it would be much better apart from the British rule.

I'll blog more about the historical significance of the tree in Boston - later this month.

Columbia House2019

Columbia Harbor House

The Columbia Harbor House would feel right at home in the port city of Boston in the mid-1700s. It's the typical Bostonian style house that you would see along the Boston shore.

This is a great "fast food" restaurant where you can get a quick bite to eat. You might be lucky to score a seat on the second floor overlooking the Haunted Mansion.

This is one of the few places in the park where you can order a Boston Cream Pie. Bostonians will tell you that it's good, but you should try the original. When in Boston, head over to the Omni Parker House on Boylston Street and try some fresh Boston Cream Pie.

August 7, 2019

Haunted Mansion Camera Case

Dress up your iPhone XS Max with a Haunted Mansion look for the 50th birthday.

Four Places to find Haunted Mansion iPhone XS Max Cases

Amazon
Amazon

Amazon has a lot of great design choices from various vendors. Pay attention to the shipping time as some may come from cheap outlets from overseas.

Etsy
Etsy

There are some creative design options on Etsy. I like some of the styles and layouts - clearly some haunted mansion fans here.

Red Bubble
Red Bubble

This site has the most selection from one vendor. Great designs and styles to choose from.

Shop Disney
Shop Disney

Disney doesn't offer than many design choices. But these are the official designs - so if you want to stay "official" this is the shop for you.

Three Reasons Why You Should Not Get them At the Parks

  • Cost - If you buy it at the parks you'll be paying a premium than if you get it online. Everything is expensive at the parks.
  • Selection - they have a very limited selection at the various locations around the park. Buying online will give you a lot of design options to pick from.
  • Opportunity - Do you really want to spend time at Disney looking for something that you could get online? Aren't you better off enjoying the park or getting something that can't be purchased online - such as items in the Crystal Arts store on Main Street USA.
August 6, 2019

Gluten Free Cakes

Back in 2007, my wife got me this birthday cake fromThe Icing on the Cake in Newton, Massachusetts.

Haunted Mansion Cake

This cake was long before we found that our daughter needed to eat Gluten Free. While The Icing on The Cake doesn't make any Gluten-Free cakes, we did find a bakery that makes some of the best gluten-free cakes in New England:

Gerardo Cake

Gerardo's European Bakery in Westborough, MA makes amazing Gluten Free cakes. We have had nothing but success with all types of Gluten-Free cakes. They have a great flavor selection and they help out to make sure that you get the best looking cake as possible.

August 5, 2019

False Positive

In testing, a False positive happens when a particular test passed when in fact that it should have failed. This usually happens when tests are not clearly written to catch errors.

Having a lot of failures missed by automation will certainly question the overall value automation brings to the team.

While most people think of False Positive in software automation or medical tests. Here’s a unique perspective to False Positive.

Haunted Mansion Rides

Haunted Mansion Ride Example

At Disneyland Haunted Mansion, Disney has a lot of sensors all over the ride. They are set up to make sure foreign objects are not thrown from the doom buggy. When an object is detected the ride stops to alert security.

Every once in a while, someone manages to throw something into the graveyard without the sensors going off.

The false positive in this situation is that the motion sensors indicate everything is fine and the ride should continue.

The situation is usually fixed within 24-hours but the person responsible got away with it.

Audit Tests that pass

If tests are consistently passing you may want to audit them. Perhaps the test is too specific and may need some additional validation statements to help make the test more efficient.

August 4, 2019

Home screen view

It's almost been a year since I got my iPhone XS Max. I thought it would be interesting to have a look back on how the iPhone home screen changed from my iPhone 6s Plus:

iPhone View 2019

Six Key Differences

I am now using 5-rows on the iPhone XS Max. Trying to keep the last row empty so the apps don't appear to clutter the home screen.

On the iPhone XS Max, I have several Camera apps, ProCamera, Camera, Camera+ 2, and ProCam. This is because I am doing some investigation for a future blog post. (Interesting note: The 3rd party camera apps appear in the order of popularity.)

Social Media is still important enough to appear on the home screen. Instagram has certainly taken off in the past year.

I was using Trello to manage blog content, but have now manage content using Day One .

Voice memos is now on the home screen because I like the quality of recordings from the iPhone XS Max.

I am using Apple Maps instead of Google Maps because Apple Maps seemed to have improved a lot. In addition, Apple Maps will let you know which business accept the ApplePay method.

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