February 24, 2017

Private File

Private File Splash

In 1996, Aladdin Systems came out with a cool piece of security software called "Private File." This software allowed users to encrypt any file and send it securely.

From their documentation:

Why is the product called Private File?

That's just our way of letting you know that when you make your files private (by way of a simple drag and drop action), they will be protected with strong encryption as well as bring compressed -- using the award-winning Stuffit compression technology. The private files you create can be sent anywhere in the world, thanks to our cross-platform versions for Mac and Windows and because we also have a legally exportable (outside the US) version!

Private File used industry standard algorithm called MD5. The International version would use 40-bit encryption while the domestic version used 128-bit encryption.

Private File was available for Macintosh System 7.0.1 and Windows 95 and NT 4.0.

Private File Folder

Easy to Encrypt and Decrypt

Private File works by Drag-Drop. You take any file or folder, drop it on the "PF Encrypt" icon, type in a secure password, and it will compress and encrypt very quickly.

Encrypted StuffIt archives created with the Private File utility will have .pf extensions.

To Decrypt, simply drag the file with the .pf extension to the "PF Decrypt" application, enter the password and it will decrypt the file.

Private File was discontinued sometime in 1999. Smith Micro Software acquired Aladdin Systems in 2005. (Note Aladdin Systems had to change the company name in 2004 as part of a trademark settlement from Aladdin Knowledge Systems.)

Today's Solution

If you're looking for the same functionality in Macintosh OS X world, Stuffit 16 is a good solution. You have the same drag-drop flexibility as Private File with today's compression technology. Stuffit 16 offers 512-bit encryption.

We come a long way in software. When Private File came out it cost $49.95. Today a digital copy of Stuffit 16 only cost $9.99

February 23, 2017

Oliver Ames Jr. Square

Oliver Ames Square Sign

At the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Charlesgate West, near Kenmore Square, is a sign indicating that it's Oliver Ames Jr Square. Did you know, that Boston had two famous Oliver Ames Jr?

  • Oliver Ames Jr (1807 - 1877) - President of the Union Pacific Railroad
    Key Accomplishment: Instrumental with completion of the first transcontinental Railroad in North America.
  • Oliver Ames Jr (1895 - 1918) - United States Army Officer
    Key Accomplishment: A courteous kindly gentleman and a true soldier

The square is named for Lieutenant Oliver Ames Jr. who served in the 165th United States Infantry Regiment, part of the 42nd Infantry Division in World War One. On July 29th, 1918, he gave his life at the Second Battle of the Marne.

Oliver Ames Jr (1807 - 1877) is the father of Oliver Ames Jr (1895 - 1918)

Some interesting thing that I learned about Oliver Ames Jr:

  • Born in Boston on April 8, 1885
  • Married Caroline Lee Fessenden before the World War I
  • Served in the 165th United States Infantry Regiment, part of the 42nd Infantry Division
  • The 42nd Infantry Division was mostly made up of National Guard units.
  • Served under Major "Wild Bill" Donovan
  • Was killed by a German sniper who was hiding behind a dead horse at the Battle of the Ourcq River during the second battle of the Marne.
  • He received the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously with the following text: "He fought gallantly until on the last day he was killed while going forward voluntarily through machine-gun and snipers' fire to the assistance of his battalion commander."
  • In 1922, a book about him called "OLIVER AMES, J R - 1895-1918" by Mark Antony De Wolfe Howe published by Harvard Press
  • The book contains actual letters that he wrote home from the frontline.

The Square View
You can see the new "Boston Strong" sign from the square. The square is between the cars and the "Boston Strong" sign.

Burial Location

Oliver Ames Jr buried at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial in Picarde, France. His grave reads:

Oliver Ames, Jr. 2nd Lt. Inf. U. S. R. Killed in action, July 29th, 1918 Act. Adjutant 1st Btn. 65th Inf.

February 22, 2017

OmniGraphic Margin Functionality

When you export a graphic in OmniGraphic, you can optionally add a margin to the image. This adds a small transparent margin around the image. This is useful if you include the graphic in an email and would like a small margin so the text doesn't cram up to the image.

Web Developers can always add a style class so that image floats on the page, but you don't always have that control in some applications.

Omni Export Dialog
OmniGraffle Export Dialog box

What about Affinity?

In Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo there is no option in the Export Persona or File->Export mode.

You can easily achieve this functionality in Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. You simply create a style to add a transparent border around your object.

Create a Outer Shadow Effect:

  • Color: Black (Doesn’t really matter)
  • Opacity: 0%
  • Radius: 10 px (Or whatever size you want)
  • Offset: 0 px
Affinity Padding

You won't see anything when you apply this to an object, but when you switch to the Export Persona, you will see an extra border around the image. This is to show you that the extra space that you added.

Affinity Margin
In Export Persona mode there is an indicator that there's more to the image than meets the eye.

Designer Tip

Created a couple of Styles with different radius to make it easier when you want different size margins around your image.

February 21, 2017

Chrome Extensions

You can enhance your Chrome experience with extensions. There are thousands of Chrome extensions to make your web browsing even better. Here are my the Chrome Extensions that I currently have enabled:

WhatFont?

The easiest way to identify fonts on web pages.

Useful when you encounter a graphic and wonder what font was use to deliver the message.

Simple select the icon in the toolbar and then click on the image that you would like to identify the font.

Download WhatFont from the Chrome Extension Store. If you want to learn more about this cool extension, be sure to visit Chengyin Liu website.

The Camelizer

Easily view historical pricing data from Amazon camelcamelcamel.com.

Very useful when your looking at a product and wondering if it's a good time to buy. Just for fun visit Amazon.com and see how Flash drives have fluctuated in price.

Download the Camelizer from the Chrome Web Store.

Awesome Screenshot

Screen capture for all or part of any web page. Add annotations, comments, blur sensitive info and share with one-click uploads.

The fastest and reliable way of getting a full page screen capture.

Download the Awesome Screenshot extension from the WebStore. The extension is free. You can always upgrade to the Premium version to get access to unlimited projects and upload an unlimited number of photos to the Awesomescreen Shot cloud.

PicMonkey Extension

Instantly edit web page images and screenshots with PicMonkey

I don't use this extension that much, but it's a great way to extract Web page images and do some modification, for example, if you want to put overlays on the browser or environment used for testing.

If you're a fan of all the cool things that you can do with PicMonkey, then add the Chrome Extension today. Note: It hasn't been updated in almost 3 years, but still works flawlessly.

Evernote Web Clipper

Use the Evernote extension to save things you see on the web into your Evernote account.

One of the most popular extensions that I use on daily bases. Whenever I encounter a long article, I'll download it to Evernote and read it on the train on my home commute.

Download Evernote Web Clipper from the Chrome Web Store. Upgrade Evernote to the Plus tier so that you can read the notes offline.

Grammarly

Check your spelling and grammar as you type. Boost your credibility everywhere you write!

This is essential to making sure your writing looks good online. Grammarly catches a lot of common writing mistakes and helps everyone writes better in their browser.

Download Grammarly from the Chrome Web Store. You can upgrade to the Premium version for a lot more detail review of your writing. Highly recommended if you do it for a living.

Cellect

Select data in tables the same way you select cells in a spreadsheet.

If you like how Firefox selects table cells and rows, this brings that same functionality to Chrome.

Cellect is free, download it from the Chrome Extension Store.

Momentum

Replace new tab page with a personal dashboard featuring to do, weather, and inspiration.

This is useful when you need a little sunshine in your day at work.

Momentum Dash is a very active project. The basic version is free and can be installed from the Chrome Store. You can upgrade to the Plus to sync external tools, control the images that is displayed in the tab, customize colors and see your favorite quotes.

Web Developer

Adds a toolbar button with various web developer tools. The official port of the Web Developer extension for Firefox.

There are lots of great tools for any web developer who needs to debug a live website. There are tools that allow you to find broken images & links, disable javascript and cookies, and so much more. Quality Assurance engineers will find the tools useful for debugging and finding problems with CSS/HTML code.

Chris Pederick is the developer of the Web Developer toolbar. You can download the extension from the Chrome Extension Store. There is a version for FireFox and Opera, which gives you the ability to use the same functionality across browsers.

February 20, 2017

Disney Engraved Hats

The Magic Kingdom isn't the only place to get your Mickey Mouse ears, you can get them in Disney Springs.

Getting customize Mickey Mouse ears is a great way to start a fun family trip. Traditionally we would get our ears on Main Street on the first day at the Magic Kingdom. The problem was that it took time from enjoying the park.

Get your Mouse Ears at Disney Springs

Did you know that you can get the same customized hat engraving in Disney Springs?

In the Disney's Wonderful World of Memories store is the same hat selection that is available on Main Street. After purchasing your hat, you can them engrave your name to the hat.

Creative Memories
A large wall of Disney Hats to select from.

Looking for Activity on Arrival Day?

Traditional the day of our arrival we spend some time in Disney Springs and do some shopping. Now we can order our hats and pick it up after shopping.

Now we don't have to wait for our hats and can start our Magic Kingdom adventure on some rides.

February 19, 2017

Are Truck Inspections Enough?

White Truck

As a motorist, you probably take multiple commutes across your city or town each and every day. In fact, most individuals spend nearly eighteen thousand minutes per year commuting within their cars. This equates to twelve straight days that Americans average each year in their cars! With all of this time spent on the roads, it becomes more than important to make sure that we are remaining safe while traveling to our destinations.

We can discuss some of the most typical areas- like distracted driving and drunk driving. However, there are particular areas that should be evaluated more thoroughly that may be overlooked by the average driver. These areas include other larger-scale automobiles and trucks. Commuting with, beside, and around them can always become an obstacle even for the most seasoned driver. But, what are truck drivers and the local government officials doing to keep us safe while traveling with larger big rigs?

A typical truck inspection

Truck inspection stations can be seen along highways and roadways across the United States. For drivers, inspection stations may be a burden to commonly travel through and stop. It puts a halt on the driver's time progress being made while commuting, however enforcing these stops and ensuring they are enforced to all truck drivers is essential for every motorist on the roads.

Typical truck inspections include tire pressure checks, engine visual checks, brake inspections, and any overall areas that appear as a potential threat to other motorists. It's up to the truck companies to ensure these inspections are enforced and that all drivers are abiding by the processes set forth by the government.

Weigh Stations

Weigh stations are most important in areas where the elevation increases, like mountainous areas. Traveling down steep inclines can put a lot of strain on the brake systems of trucks, so ensuring trucks are following proper weight guidelines can help prevent brake malfunction in the event of an emergency.

Furthermore, weigh stations are enforced to reduce overloading of trucks, which can damage our roadways and infrastructure systems. Excessive amounts of weight not only cause potholes and damaged asphalt, but they also can raise concerns for other motorists traveling around trucks. In the event a truck needs to make a quick turn, or dodge another motorist, trucks carrying a lot of weight can cause a detrimental outcome when involved in an accident. As a result, weigh stations are heavily enforced among truck drivers, and can provide hefty fines if they are broken.

What motorists should watch for

When traveling down a busy street or highway, it's important to remember the obstacles that truck drivers face while commuting. It's difficult for them to see other vehicles passing or around them because of the numerous blind spots that are a result of their height above ground. Additionally, they are carrying a lot of weight, so maneuvering quickly can easily become difficult in comparison to a typical driver in a smaller car. Furthermore, cars should give ample space to truckers as it may be more difficult to make turns and fit into roadways or bridges that are tighter in space. As much time as the typical American spends motoring the roadways, remaining safe as well as helping a truck driver to make a more successful, safer route to their destination can make all the difference.

February 18, 2017

Gluten Free Pasta at the Boston's Eataly

Eataly Boston is a vibrant Italian marketplace that features an array of cafes, counters, restaurants, and a cooking school. Eat, shop, and learn.

The marketplace opened in December 2016 and has been doing very well with the lunch and dinner crowds. At lunch time, I have seen lots of people buying things for dinner - wine, cheese, and various other things.

Eataly Has Gluten Free Pasta!

Did you know that Eataly has a good size Gluten Free pasta selection? Near the center, court restaurant are several shelves of quality gluten free pasta:

  • Garofalo Spaghetti
  • Garofalo Quinoa
  • Schar Yellow Lentil
  • Schar Red Lentil
  • Aurora Natural Pasta
  • Banza Shells
  • Banza Pene
  • Banza Rotini
  • Banza Elbows

Eataly Boston Gluten Free

Also located on one of the shelves are some gluten free flour used for baking or making pancakes.

Eataly doesn't have any “fresh” gluten free pasta, but just as well, since there could be cross contamination issues. They do carry gluten free pasta sauce!

Try the Gluten Free Mario Batalo Alfredo with Banza Elbows and fresh Parmesan Cravero grated cheese. Makes for a delicious dinner!

Eataly Marketplace

You can find the gluten free near the Il Pesce restaurant.

February 17, 2017

Art Director's Toolkit

Art Director Logo4

The Art Director's Toolkit 4 came bundled with my Powerbook G4 computer. The application is a toolbox of useful mini-apps for graphic designers.

The current product description:

Art Directors Toolkit (ADT) is the "Designer's On-screen Toolset" for Artists and Designers working with digital media. Always a one-click-away companion dedicated to speeding up the design process, ADT works almost by stealth whether using Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, QuarkXpress, Dreamweaver or any tool to create digital media and websites. No more cluttering your desk or desktop with stickies, swatch books, calculators and google searches. ADT provides all of the obscure calculations and information designers need on a daily basis.

I haven't used the application that much when I got my Powerbook. I thought it was worth looking into and seeing if there were many changes in version 5.5.

The only change that I can see between the two versions is that version 5 included a new Launcher. The Launcher allows you to store your commonly used applications, folders, and files. It's a useful tool to organize and open documents.

Useful Art Director's Toolkit Functionality

There are a couple of useful things that I found in Art Director, after no opening the application for a couple of years. My Powerbook G4 is not collecting dust in the basement, it's on my home desk. I just don't open every single application on my computer.

Symbol Tool

The Symbol Tool allows you to see every single character of a selected font. This is useful when you have special fonts that have some extras. For example, the Ravenscroft Font includes some Disney Logos.

Using Art Director's Toolkit, I can see that if I type Option and, I can get the Haunted Mansion logo.

Art Symbol Tool

Blend Tool

The Blend Tool gives you the ability to mix different colors to see what the results would look like. It's a neat way to play around with colors and to see how they interact with each other.

Art Blend Tool

Other tools in the toolkit include, Ruler, Number, RGB, Swatch, Symbol, Text, Scale, Layout, Palette and Launcher.

Getting Art Director's Toolkit

You can download Art Director's Toolkit from code-line.com website. There is a 15-day trial, after that it cost $24.95.

If you're a graphic designer and like to play around with colors and sizes, I would suggest checking out the software. At least download the trial and see if the tools can make your life easier.

February 16, 2017

Mario Susi & Sons Marker

On Court Street, near the Washington Street intersection, if you look around the sidewalk you will see the following:

Susi Side Walk Boston

You can see these sidewalk markers in various places around the city of Boston. Mario Susi & Sons is an excavating contractor that has performed construction projects for the city of Boston.

What is an Excavating Contractor?

Excavation Contractors perform site preparation, grading, trenching and other various soil-related tasks. They basically get to drive around very large pieces of heavy equipment to get the job done.

Things I learned about Mario Susi & Sons

I wasn't able to find a lot about the company, which is surprising since they do a good job with streetside advertising.

  • Company was founded in 1955
  • Founded by Mario Susi and his sons Raymond Phillip Susi and Joseph Susi
  • Approximately 20 full time employees
  • $4.1 million in annual revenue
  • Bids on various construction projects for Boston, Cambridge, Braintree and Milton
  • In 1983, they did work around Medford Square - another place where you may find the marker on the sidewalk
  • In 2007 they did some work Central Avenue/Eliot Street intersection in Milton where you may also find the above marker.
  • Mario Susi died October 27 2005
  • Raymond Phillip Susi died on March 20, 2014
  • Joseph Susi died on February 26, 2016
  • Website: msusi.com
  • According to various posts, the are "one of the most well known and respected contractors in the Boston area"

February 15, 2017

Affinity Designer Calendar Template

I was putting together some calendar design in Affinity Designer for project planning. I couldn't find an easy way to create a grid calendar. I checked various Affinity Designer template sites and didn't see any 2017 Calendars that allowed customizations.

So, I decided to use some of the functionality in OmniGraffle Professional and design March and April 2017. I then imported the table into Affinity Designer and added some styles and grouping:

Affinity Calendar
Download the Affinity Designer Calendar Template.

If you have Affinity Designer, feel free to download my template file and customize it for any type of planning that you want to do.

February 14, 2017

Quick Browser Open

TE Chrome Puzzle

TextExpander and Chrome really integrate well together.

I have a TextExpander snippet that allows me to take clipboard of a Jira ticket and open up the page in Chrome.

This is very easy to implement and saves me a lot of time.

Before:

  • Copy the text.
  • Open a new browser tab
  • Navigate to my company Jira page
  • Paste the clipboard content in the search box
  • Click the 'Search' button
  • Read the ticket description

Now:

  • Copy the text
  • Type my keyboard short cut, for me its: qy
  • Read the ticket description

Clearly you can see how valuable TextExpander is saving in productivity.

TextExpander Script

This is the simple AppleScript to make it happen:

Chrome Apple Script

tell application "Chrome"
     activate
     open location "https://company.atlassian.net/browse/%clipboard"
end tell

Additional Benefits

There are a lot of other users that you can implement by using TextExpander and Chrome.

Cool Example:

You can do a search in Google, Bing, and Duck-Duck-Go at the same time using the content of your clipboard. Each search engine would open it its new tab. Now you can see which search engine is really better for you.

This tip is building off of a technique that I posted about last month:

tell application "Google Chrome"
set searchWord to "%clipboard"
set websiteList to {"https://www.google.com?q=", "http://www.bing.com?q=", "http://www.duckduckgo.com?q="}
repeat with theURL in websiteList
   set myVar to theURL & searchWord
   set myTab to make new tab at end of tabs of window 1
  set URL of myTab to myVar
end repeat
end tell

Implementing TextExpander

To use these tips, you need TextExpander. They can be done in other tools, but I have found TextExpander to be a faster way to implement Apple Scripts.

February 13, 2017

Tracking Rides in the Park

Swarm

On a recent trip to Disney World, I found a really simple way to track what rides we go on. Using a combination of Slack and IFTTT, was able to create a Google Sheet of rides on our trip.

This information will come in handy when we want to scrapbook the vacation. We like to track what rides we went on, and which one was our favorite. (It's nice to see how children change their view as they get older.)

About IFTTT

IFTTT stands for If This then That. The application acts as service between different Apps. You can use it to do all sorts of fancy things with internet enabled services. For example, if you have a Philip Hue light system, you can have it flash every time your baseball team hits a Home Run.

About Swarm

Swarm is a check in service by Foursquare. You can use it to check into most popular places. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, you can keep your check-in private. This way you personally track where you visited without letting everyone know where you are.

Swarm does integrate nicely with all the social networks, so you can post photos and comments with your check in. You can post to Facebook and Twitter at the same time. They will appear as check-ins in the respectable social networks.

Foursquare users can post tips/tricks on the check-in, so when you check in you may learn something about the ride. For example, what to look for in the Small World ride.

Setting it up

If you never used Swarm and IFTTT then download it on your phone and get it set up:

Download Swarm and configure it. Test it out by checking into a place where you live. Get familiar with it, and put it on your home screen so you can access it.

Download 'IFTTT' from the App Store or Google Play. Look for a recipe for 'Add your Foursquare check-ins (w/maps) to a spreadsheet)' You will then need to approve the apps to IFTTT. (This is all done via the IFTTT app, very simple to do.)

In the Parks

Before you get on the ride, simply open up your phone and check in! You can leave a note for later - it will show up in the Google Sheet. You may reference how long the wait is or something else notable that you can reference later.

While waiting in line, I found the Swarm App to be 90% accurate on my location when I opened it. There were a couple of times where I had to switch to a different location. (Dumbo ride was one such place.)

This is better than writing it down since you can jot a note and you get a time stamp of the ride. Now you'll know how many rides you did in the morning and in the evening.

Final Results

This is what your Google Sheet will look like. You'll get times and locations:

Disney Ride Tracker

February 12, 2017

Talking To Teens

The Dreaded Drunk Driving Discussion

Driving

Talking to your young ones and teens can sometimes be a challenge. Initiating conversations related to things like drunk driving, distracted driving, and even the typical talks about growing up through puberty can sometimes be obstacles that we drag out. It's never a topic anyone wants to discuss, but in order to parent our young ones into successful, positive thinking individuals, we have to have these types of conversations.

Drunk driving can be one of the hardest to talk about because it's a gray area where some teens don't seriously think about. Most of the time, the teenage mindset automatically thinks it's is invincible. It's easy for them to think that a drunk driving accident could never, and will never affect them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. That's why it's extremely important that parents take the proper steps to talk about the dangers early on.

There are a few ways that parents can start the conversation and make strides to develop a meaningful lesson.

Give Them Examples

Depending on where your live might determine how many examples you can actually provide. For families in more urban areas, it's nearly impossible that a news story has not taken the headlines of your local network, covering a story on distracted driving. Share these stories with your teens, and every time an accident makes the headlines, make sure you are reinforcing this with your teen.

Another great way would be to share personal stories or eyewitness accounts you have had with drunk driving. Share an experience you may have had growing up, or explain any accidents you may have witnessed. Provide details and locations for the occurrences.

Give Them Statistics

There are plenty of resources online that can help with this approach to the conversation. For example, Kraft Law has developed a heat map that outlines some of the locations throughout Texas where drunk and drugged driving accidents have to take place. Additionally, the guide provides the number of drugged driving accidents that have taken place throughout the state over the past several years, in comparison to drunk driving accidents. There are many other resources developed by local and state governments that help to outline some of the drunk driving statistics that may be experienced in your region as well.

Give Them Support

One of the most overlooked areas that parents forget about when it comes to drunk driving is offering support. In the event that your teen has had a drink or two when they were not supposed to, offer them support. Don't allow your teen to feel as though they cannot call home if a mistake has been made. Offer them support and ensure they are aware that they can call and ask for a ride home if they need to. The same concept goes for a friend who may be in charge of driving your son or daughter home. Make sure they know that they can give you a ring before they get in the car with someone who has been consuming any alcoholic beverages.

Your Duties As A Parent

As a parent, you have a moral and emotional obligation to keep your teens safe in all aspects of life. Drunk driving is not an area that should be taken lightly, or looked over. Make sure you are setting up a plan and taking one of the approaches outlined above to show your teens how dangerous drunk driving can be. Most importantly, let them know that you are available if they need to talk to you, or need to make a phone call home if they are stuck in a dangerous situation.

February 11, 2017

Goofy Candy Company in Disney Springs

In Disney Spring, is the Goofy Candy Store. A fun place to get all sorts of delicious goodies.

If you're eating Gluten Free you should be aware that not all of the Goofy Glaciers are gluten free. These slurpy like drinks are delicious but you should know that some of them may contain gluten.

There are eight regular flavors:

  • Coca-Cola Cooler
  • Razzle Dazzle Pink
  • Orange You Happy Orange
  • Goofy's Glacier Apple
  • Brrr-Banana
  • Gawrshly Berry Blue
  • Rootin'-Tootin' Red
  • Pucker Purple.

We were told that the Gawrshly Berry Blue was Gluten Free. Before you try a sample, simply let them know that you want the gluten free Goofy Glacier.

Refresh Your Knowledge

It's helpful to re-learn more about eating gluten-free. There are plenty of resources online. If you want more information on the Celiac Disease, check out the blog post over on jenreviews.com.

Jen posted some useful information about What foods to Stay Away from and she has some Delicious Celiac Disease Diet Recipes.

February 10, 2017

FontDoc

Its good to have a lot of fonts available in your Font Catalog. However, it can be tricky to decide on the perfect font for a headline or graphic.

Having a single page reference can be useful to figure a practical font that expresses your message the best.

Font Book

Apple Font Book allows you install fonts and to view Font designs. You can't see different typefaces side-by-side to see which one looks best for the design.

The Font Book does include a print functionality. Basically, you select the fonts, then select Print and you can see they various typefaces. You can print to PDF to use this later.

Font Book Preview

It's nice but there's not much configurations.

FontDoc to the Rescue

With FontDoc, you can apply a customize text and determine the preview font size. This makes it really easy to pinpoint the best font to use.

Checkout this preview for "Recongeal Retinophore":

Font Doc Preview

The neat thing is that I can create an RTF document that I can reference at a later date.

FontDoc is free. I find it to be a useful Utility application to have. You can download FontDoc from Allen Smith website.

February 9, 2017

"Then & Now" MOS Exhibit

Did you know that the Boston Museum of Science has an exhibit that looks back at some of the histories of the museum? You can take a step in time and look back at some of the famous exhibits at the museum.

You can read all about how the museum transformed from the Boston Society of Natural History in 1860 to what it is today.

M O S The Now

Some of the features in this Exhibit

  • Pictures of the Boston Society of Natural History
  • Birds that were on display at the "Boston Society of Natural History"
  • Pictures of some old Exhibits, remember the Hatch Egg?
  • Pictures of the original Dinosaur and why they changed it.
  • Pictures of Spooky - The Museums Great Horned Owl
  • Turbidity Column Exhibit
  • Interact with The Tooth Exhibit
  • Interact with the first Interactive Exhibit, the Ermine.
  • Watch a classic 1980s commercial of the Museum - Where its fun to find out"

This is a cool place to walk through if you visited the museum when you were a kid. You can see many familiar things from the museum past.

Finding the Exhibit

The "Then & Now" exhibit is on Level 2 in the Blue Wing, just beyond the Science in the Park in the Theater of Electricity.

Thanks to the Sponsors!

The exhibit was made possible through the generosity of Joan and Herman Suit, and the George Willard Smith Endowment Fund.

February 8, 2017

Stitching Panoramas in Affinity Photo

One of the really nice things I like about Affinity Photo is how easy it to create Panoramas from a set of photos.

Take a look at a couple of photos that were generated from Affinity Photo:

Epcot Ball
Spaceship Earth at night

Crazy Parade
Patriot's Parade in Copley Square.

Creating Panoramas

The first thing to learn about making awesome Panoramic Photos is taking the proper photos. If you don't have a good selection, then your results won't be good.

Four things that I have learned:

  1. Make sure to take enough pictures that you want to use.
  2. Have a good overlap between shots
  3. Keep your camera steady with the horizon.
  4. Keep the light balance the same between shots.
  5. Avoid having moving objects such as cars and people in the shots.

Using Panoramic Functionality in Affinity Photo

It's super simple to generate Panoramic pictures:

Prep:
Figure out which photos that you want to use in your Panoramic. I find it easier to create a folder on the desktop and put the photos that I want to use in there.

  • Open up Affinity Photo
  • Select “New Panorama..." from the file menu
  • Click 'Add' and navigate to the Desktop and select all the photos that you want to use.
  • Render the image by clicking on 'Stitch Panorama'
  • Do a quick check and make sure the finish product looks good in the preview.
  • Click on the Crop icon, and in the top toolbar look for 'Crop to Opaque.' (It's on the far right of the toolbar.) This will give you the best crop for your image.
  • Use the Inpainting Brush to fix any gaps.

If you find that your cropping large areas of your photo, you need to learn the fundamental of taking good panoramic photos: keeping the horizon the same in all your shots.

Affinity Photo recommends to use a tripod to take panoramas, but that's not always easy to do. Once you learn how easy to create Panoramas in Affinity Photo you'll be thinking twice when taking pictures on your next vacation.

Why not just use iPhone Pano?

The key reason of using Affinity Photo over the built in Pano on the iPhone is that you have a lot more flexibility. You can modify the pictures before stitching them together, fix the horizon and much more.

February 7, 2017

Chrome Task Manager

Chrome has a Task Manager that makes it easy to see what part of the application might be using too much of your computer resources. This is useful for Developers to decide on what functionality they should enable/disable based on memory or processing power.

Chrome Task Manager

To stop a process, simply click on the row, and then the ‘End Process’ button. If you don’t use some of the extensions, you can always permanently disable them by going under Chrome and then Preferences, select the Extensions menu and then uncheck anything that you don’t want. Hold down the Command key to select more than one item.

It’s a good idea to check on the Task Manager every once in a while. You might have inadvertently enabled an extension that once served it purposes and now might be slowing down your internet browsing.

Task Manager Location

The Task Manager is located in the Window Menu. Select “Task Manager" which is just after the Extensions choice.

There is no keyboard shortcut to open the Task Manager.

February 6, 2017

Transporting the Hans Lightsaber Home

lightsaber

Last week we visited at Disney Studios and we arrived early enough to sign up my daughter up for the Jedi training. She had a lot of fun learning to be a Jedi and interacting with Darth Vader

Immediately after her performance she saw a cart that had the same Lightsaber that she used against Darth Vader. We let her buy it since she did a good job on stage.

Slight Problem

We didn't think about it at the time, but a while later it dawned on us. How are we going to get the Lightsaber home? It's a big plastic piece that seemed vulnerable to breakage.

Unfortunately, there is no way to take it apart.

We weren't sure we could carry it on the plane. Where would we put it? What if security wouldn't allow it? There's some post I read about how TSA agents in Orlando were very strict.

Lightsaber Suitcase

Packing it Up

The life saver is pretty big and fortunately, it was able to fit diagonally in the suitcase.

I was worried that any slight pressure on the two corners and the Lightsaber would be crushed. We packed clothes all around the Lightsaber trying to minimize the stress on it.

Note: My suitcase is bigger than a typical suitcase.

Arrived Home

When we got home, I couldn't wait to see the condition of the Lightsaber. I was very surprised to find it together all in one piece. (I thought a simple suitcase drop would have been enough stress to break it.)

Lesson Learned

If your son/daughter is tempted to get the Hans Solo Lightsaber, don't get it! It's a cool device and my daughter loves it - but there's an even cooler Lightsaber available.

In the Star Tours store, at the end of the Star Tours ride, there is a station where you can build your own Life Saver. What's nice about this option is that it comes completely apart.

My daughter was disappointed that she couldn't make her own but is happy to get the one she used in training.