A-Z Challenge blog postings

A-Z Challenge Postings

Earliest: April 1, 2016Latest: May 6, 2018Total: 79

May 6, 2018

A-Z Challenge - 2018 - Reflection

This is my third year as part of the A to Z challenge. It was a lot of fun coming up with practical content with a unique letter every day. Obviously, I didn't want to repost old content.

a2z-reflection
http://www.cryan.com/az/

Things I learned new this year

  • Advanced content planning helped a lot. There were a few last minute content changes that had to be made due to the lack of information (or the chosen topic wasn?t interesting.) I started planning in early March.
  • The alphabetic letters for Thursday were the same as last year. It was a bit challenging since Thursday is Boston day and this is the third year that I have been doing this.
  • I learned a lot about Quaker Ave, and would not have learned anything about it had it not been for the A-Z challenge.
  • It was hard to come up with topics for the letters ?G' and ?V? and I had to get a bit creative to blog something interesting. I didn't want to throw up a page just because.
  • I certainly wouldn?t do Evernote as a blog topic again. It's not a good topic with a lot of different alphabetic words.
  • There were 697 participants this year. Which is a good turnout.

What to do differently in 2019

  • Come up with better graphics
  • Work with other people to come up with useful topics
  • Post early as possible. It was a lot easier to chunk multiple topics than to spend time writing one topic.
  • Plan the topics a head of time. Make sure to pick something that has lots of choices.
  • Challenge yourself to do something that you wouldn't normally do. For example: Talk to an expert about a topic/idea.

Interesting Facts

Here's the break down of the number of words by first letter in the Unix dictionary (/etc/dict) by number of words:

a 14,537 m 10,709
b 9,675 n 6,098
c 17,406 o 7,219
d 9,946 p 2,2171
e 7,818 q 1,075
f 6,382 r 8,955
g 5,843 s 22,759
h 7,889 t 11,389
i 8,303 u 16,179
j 1,158 v 3,079
k 1,735 w 3,607
l 5,211 x 293
m 10,709 y 532
n 6,098 z 719

Its interesting to see which words have the fewest letters.

What do you think? Did the content in April meet expectations? Any ideas about what topics to write about for next year?

April 30, 2018

Zero Downtime in QA

When people think of Zero Downtime, they usually think about servers and networks. They don't want their websites to go down. Something along this quote:

Data Never Down

Zero Downtime in QA

In QA, there's always something to do. There never is a "downtime." Sure when there's no ticket to test, or in between release cycles, it can seem like downtime. Truth be told there's always something to do in QA.

It's important to keep busy, even when there's nothing new to test.

Nine Things to do in a QA Downtime

This is a general "what to do" when engineering has completed a sprint and there's nothing new in the queue for QA.

  1. Update Manual Testcases - Every release brings new changes to the application. Make sure the test cases are always kept up to date.
  2. Update Manual Testcases Execution - What test cases are being run every release? Do they still need to be run? Check out the priority of weekly regression test cases to see if they are still relivent.
  3. Writing Automation - Automation writing is a continuous process. Where it's to fix application changes, or support new browser features - its a never ending process. In addition, its good to find ways to make the automation process go faster.
  4. Update Wiki - Make sure that online documentation is updated based on the latest release. (Deployment Cycle, Lessons learned from the testing)
  5. Review Tests - Was there hiccups during the last test cycle? What could have been done better to prevent the issues from occurring in the future?
  6. Review Documentation on upcoming projects - Get a jump start on the next project by reviewing the product/technical specs.
  7. Usability Testing - Go through the application and see if there's any bugs/issues that aren't being reported by customers. Sometimes features/functionaries that were deployed in the past are not working today and missed by manual testing because people are testing for functionality rather than seeing from a customer prospective. (QA Should watch some Usability testing to get an idea how customers really use the application.)
  8. Application Testing - Learn more about the Developer tools in Chrome and/or FireFox. Some techniques that you learn today may help with a future project - such as how to capture screenshots in the Developer tools.
  9. Continuous Learning - When was the last time you touch up on JQuery, SQL or HTML5? Check out some of the training on UDemy or lynda.com.

QA Word Cloud

I ran the above items in a word cloud generator and came up with the following.

Q A Word Cloud

April 28, 2018

YouiDraw

YouiDraw is a cool online vector tool. There's plenty of template designs to inspire you and get you started. The food thing is that its HTML5 base - not Flash. So you can use Chrome or Chromebook to create your designs.

Website Description

Online Vector Graphic Design by html5 and SVG effects! It's like Illustrator but works on the cloud with google drive.

Create stunning vector graphic design with YouiDraw. It's like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw but it works in the cloud with Google Drive. So there's no software to download and you can access your work anytime, anywhere. Suddenly, your creativity is unleashed!

Whether you're getting started or an experienced designer, Drawing tool is a powerful graphic design solution on the web. With vector graphic design in various environment, you have everything you need to express your style and creativity.

draw Mockup
https://www.youidraw.com/

Free for Basic Use

The basic plan allows you to create your own graphics and save the graphic to your computer or in the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive etc..)

There is a Monthly Plan which cost $9.99/mo and gives you SVG / PDF File Export, No Watermark, and allows you to use the graphics for Commercial use.

Good Place to Learn Vectors

I think this is a great tool for people learning about vector graphics- especially kids. This is better than having them play with Affinity Designer or Illustrator because they won't mess up any application settings.

Affinity Designer

I think, in the long run, your better off buying Affinity Designer. YouiDraw is good for those times when you need a graphic design but doesn't have any tools installed on the computer. (Internet Cafe or Sharing a computer. )

Certainly worth checking out YouiDraw, doesn't cost anything to see how it works.

Sample Designs done in YouiDraw

Youi Draw Example

Youi Draw Example2

April 27, 2018

XMenu

XMenu is a neat utility that put allows you to put up to six addition menu items in the menu bar.

xmenu Promo

Six Menu Possibilities with xMenu

There is the type of menus that you can add, each category has their own unique menu icon.

Applications

This menu item displays all the applications that you have in your Application Folder. This is an alternative approach to using the LaunchPad.

The downside is that if you have a lot of applications, it can take a while to find it. There's no searching and the applications are displayed by there name.

Developer

This menu item displays all the applications that you have in the Xcode Applications folder.

If your not a hardcore developer, you get Accessibility Inspector, Application Loader, FileMerger, and Instruments.

Tip: Probably not very useful menu item if your not a Developer.

Home

All your Home Folders at your fingertips!

This is a great way to access common folders you use every day. Files in your Dropbox, Photos, Music, and Desktop can be accessed very easily.

Documents

This is just you user Document folder, which is located at ~/Documents

Most files that you save are kept in the Documents folder.

User-Defined

Create your own set of application/files that you want in the menu bar. This a very cool feature since you can put anything you want and it will be displayed in the drop-down menu.

Personally I think this is the best feature of xMenu.

This is a great way to declutter your System Dock, simply put "rarely" used applications in here. You'll still have quick access via the menu bar instead of the System Dock. You can create folders of like items so they might be easier to find.

Snippets

Access common text snippets from the menu bar. However, with tools like LaunchBar and Keyboard Maestro, this doesn't really seem very useful. There's no scripting capability - you only display raw text.

This is neat to have feature, but for better productivity use Keyboard Maestro or TextExpander.

Description from Devon Technology Website

XMenu adds one or more global menus to the right side of the menu bar. They give you access to your preferred applications, folders, documents, files, and text snippets. Launch any application with a single menu choice or insert text snippets into your documents. XMenu is a real app, no hack, no extension. And it's free.

Getting xMenu

You can download XMenu from the Mac Apple Store. Devon Technologies has provided the software free of charge.

April 26, 2018

World War II Memorial in Boston

Many people may not know that Boston has a rather large memorial for Bostonians that fought and died in World War II. The memorial is located in the Fenway area and called the George Robert White Veterans Memorial Park.

Did you Know: Massachusetts has 8 Memorials/Monuments to those that died in World War II and 20 Memorials/Monuments for those that died in World War I. (Source: MassVacations.com)

The Boston memorial is a large eclipse formed by granite structures, and include a winged figure in the center. Around the monument are seats which can accommodate an audience size of 500 people.

W W2 Memorial2

Thirteen Things interesting things I learned about the World War II Memorial

  1. Dedicated on October 30, 1949 (1,520 days after the official end of World War II)
  2. The memorial was Sculptor by John Francis Paramino and Tito Cascieri was the primary Architect
  3. The memorial was funded by a grant from the George Robert White Fund. (George Robert White was Boston's primary philanthropists.)
  4. In the center of the memorial is a "Winged Victory" statue that is 12-feet high. The statue was done by T.F. McGann & Sons Co. FDY of Somerville, Mass. You can see the artist inscription/signature on the bottom left of the statue.
  5. Behind the "Winged Victory" statue is a granite diamond-shape shaft of 22-feet and contain 48 stars. (Hawaii and Alaska didn't become a state yet)
  6. The names of 3,000 war dead are mounted in bronze behind the diamond-shape shaft.
  7. In The Memorial is named for U.S. Sergeant Charles A. MacGillivary - He was honored with a bronze plaque on the lectern which was added during a special dedication ceremony.
  8. Sergeant Charles Andrew MacGillivary was the only Medal of Honor, the only World War II vet from Boston to return alive with one. He died in 2000.
  9. The Korea and Vietnam Memorials were added in 1989 which were paid from a grant from the George Robert White Fund ($650,000)
  10. Above the names of the those that died it reads, "In memory of the men and women of Boston who lost their lives in World War II"
  11. Around the lectern stage is the phrase, "1949 From the Income of the George Robert White Fund"
  12. James W Sugden and Stanton H. Kelly are the only names added to the memorial since it was created in 1949.
  13. In 1946, James Michael Curley suggest that planting 2,400 trees in the Fenway would be a good tribute to the fallen. He suggested a shrine in the middle for religious services.

U.S. Sergeant Charles A. MacGillivary

Apparently there is a slight misprint on the bronze plaque on the lectern. I notice that U.S. Sergeant Charles A. MacGillivary is misspelled.

Check out the difference between his gravestone and the plaque on the memorial:

Mac Gillivary

What do you think? Is MacGillivary spelled correctly?

Finding the World War II Memorial

To find George Robert White Veterans Memorial Park, you can enter the Back Bay Fens from the south at the intersection of the Fenway and Forsyth Way just east of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Cross over the Agassiz Bridge and bear right when the path forks. A path leads to it on the right. (You'll see the memorial when you cross Fenway Parkway.)

April 25, 2018

Vamanos, Aruba!

If you're leaving Aruba and heading back to the United States, make sure to arrive at the airport really early - especially on a Weekend. Everyone will tell you that getting through Queen Beatrix International Airport is an experience.

Aruba US Departures

Here's a walkthrough of our experience and some tips we learned along the way. On our trip, we traveled using JetBlue.

Getting Boarding Pass and Checking In

As soon as you walk into the airport, you need to check-in. JetBlue allows you to do it in advance, but you still need to check your luggage.

Tips

  • This took about 20 mins. We could have saved some time by checking in before arriving but I don't think much time.
  • Obviously, make sure everyone's Passports are available before getting to the counter.
  • Be aware of what's not allowed in checked baggage. The attendant will ask you a couple of questions about it.

Aruba Emigration (Stop #1) - Checking Tickets/Passport

After check-in you move to the left of the building and wait outside in the Aruba Emigration line.

Tips

  • There were two lines and they both appeared to move at the same pace.
  • This will be the last time you'll be outside of the airport.
  • There are restrooms available if needed.
  • You'll get to a counter and the person will verify your boarding pass with your ticket.
  • Some people were dumping juice boxes at this point. They could have kept it.

Aruba Emigration (Stop #2) - Checking Passport

After the person checks to make sure you have the right paperwork, you move inside to meet another Aruba Emigration official.

Tips

  • There were two people checking passports and four self-passport stations.
  • They both moved at the same speed, this is probably because of the long line for the General Airport Security Check-in
  • We weren't asked any questions they just took our passport and scanned it.
  • The room was air conditioned so it was nice and cool.

General Airport Security Checking

After they verify that you're allowed to leave the country. You now wait in the Airport Security line.

Tips

  • This was the longest line/wait during our departure
  • There are two lines leaving the Aruba Emigration, and the left line was moving faster.
  • You could still hold a drink during this period.
  • As you get closer, you'll see another line merging at the security counter. These are people that are not taking International flights.
  • When you get to the scanners, tablets didn't need to be taken out of the carry-ons.
  • You didn't need to show Passport going through.
  • After you go through the general security - Don't stop - unless you're thirsty! Continue all the way through to the baggage claim area to pick up your bags for American Immigration. This is a large room with suitcases everywhere.
  • There are plenty of food and drinks upstairs - which is where your departure gate will be.
  • Avoid any Duty-Free Shopping, you can get the same products upstairs. If you do purchase something here, they put it aside and you get to claim it after the American Immigration check-in.

Picking up Bags

After you go through the general airport, you have to pick up your luggage and see US Customs.

Tips

  • You will need to show your Passport and Ticket to enter the baggage claim area.
  • If you haven't marked your bag you'll be spending time searching for yours.
  • Pick up your bag and head over to the opposite corner from where you enter the room.

American Immigration Checking

Customs will be quick - make sure to declare anything that you have!

Tips

  • The line for American Immigration wasn't all that bad, we waited maybe 10 mins here.
  • There were plenty of officials checking passports - I believe all stations were open.
  • They will ask you a few basic security questions - such as "Did you purchase anything over $1,000?"
  • As part of the Preclearance Memorandum of Cooperation, your face will be quickly scanned by the Immigration official.
  • Once you get past the agent you get in a line to drop off the bag. The end of the line might be all the way to the right.

Dropping off Bags

Make sure you can lift your bag. You will have to place the bag on the belt which is about a foot and a half off the floor.

Tips

  • At this point, we have been at the airport for an hour and a half.
  • Make sure to drop off the bag at the correct belt! Delta and JetBlue is the second belt.
  • The agent at the door will tell you which belt to place your bags.
  • After you drop the bag, you now wait in line for the International Security Check-in

International Security Checking

We're not exactly sure why we have to do this again. Seems that they could have placed the bags in a secure area so you don't have to leave and then get rechecked.

Tips

  • The security bins are small, they barely fit a 15" laptop monitor - compared to Logan Airport where you can put a laptop and a tablet in the same bin.
  • They didn't say anything about taking out the tablet, I kept mine in the bag and didn't have any issues.
  • There are two lines before going to the Security Checking station. There's actually a person letting people know there are two lines.
  • Your Passport and ticket will be checked before going through security. This will be the last time you need your passport for the trip.

Some Additional Notes

  • Pay attention to your departure gate. It probably will change.
  • You can get a drink after the "General Airport Checking." You'll have time to drink it, there are trash containers right in the security area. (Including a place to dump liquid from a water bottle.)
  • We didn't see a lot of places to purchase bottled water or soda. You can get fountain drinks at most of the restaurants.
  • If you are leaving Aruba on a Saturday or Sunday (busiest flight days) you should give yourself at least three hours to get through the whole check-in process. This will also give you time to grab a bite to eat, a drink or those last minute souvenirs.

April 24, 2018

Using Cell Background for Task List Status

Evernote is a great tool for managing Blogging content. The Tables feature allows you to break down the content and identify what task needs to be done in order for a post to go out.

Basic To-Do List

Here?s a sample table layout using To-Do list checkboxes. When a task is completed, simply click the checkbox. That way you know what tasks needs to be completed.

Evernote Basic Tables

Now with Better Table Styles

Last August Evernote made some style changes that make it even easier to manage a status list in a table. Here?s the same table using the Cell Background color in Evernote.

Evernote Cell Background Color

Table Design: Items that are light green are in progress, whereas the dark green is completed.

Using Cell Background color makes it really easy to manage the status of the task. It?s much easier to figure out what content is in progress and which ones that I should be working on.

Sample Task Status Guide

Here?s my task Color guide. It?s simple so that I can look at a chart and instantly know where I stand with projects:

Evernote Color Guide

Try it Out

If your managing task with Evernote, try using the background cell colors to manage your tasks.

April 23, 2018

Test Case Repository

A Test Case repository is where QA keeps test cases use for various test situations. You should be able to find tests for Weekly Regression, Performance Testing, Security Testing and Acceptance Testing.

Test- Case- Repository-is-1

Seven Things I Learned About Using A Test Case Repository

  1. Always Update! Systems Change, Browsers change. If a test case hasn?t been updated in 3 months something is clearly wrong with it. (If it?s a manual test case, then it might be a good candidate for automation.)
  2. Negative Tests are Good! QA can learn a lot about negative test cases in a separate part of the project. Helps come up with ideas on
  3. Focus on the 80/20 rule. Don?t clutter the Test Case Repository with useless tests that people would not execute because they were relevant during the development stage of a project.
  4. Prioritize Tests. There should be more High Priority / Critical Tests in the Test Case Repository than low-level ones. Chances are the low-level ones won?t get executed very often, try combining the tests so QA isn?t overwhelmed by the number of tests to run.
  5. Product Managers Should be in the Know. Share access to the Test Case Repository to Product Managers so they are aware of what tests are run on a weekly bases. They may offer feedback on an additional test that should be run - or change the priority on existing test cases.
  6. Write Good Practical Test Cases. Test Cases should be easily understood and executed. There should never be a need to contact the original author. It?s a good place for new QA Engineers on a project to start. In addition, QA Managers should point out well-written test cases to inspire everyone to write well.
  7. Audit Often. Take a good look at the Test Case Repository often. During downtime, check to see if the test cases are relevant. If it?s not be executed, find out why and decide if it?s a relevant test.

Remember

It?s not the quanity of the test cases that matter it?s the quality of the tests.

April 21, 2018

Snappa

YouTube is all the rage right now. If you own a YouTube Channel you know how important it is to have an updated graphic header. It's critical to have a cool looking header so that people will know that your serious about the videos that you have on your channel.

Fortunately you don't need to be an expert in graphic design, Snappa helps make YouTube headers in a snap!

Website Description

Create YouTube channel art on the fly with Snappa

  • Save time by starting with the ideal image dimensions for YouTube channels
  • Start with one of many professionally designed templates to throw together eye catching YouTube channel art in seconds
  • Customize templates, graphics, and text to create on-brand channel art
  • Access 500,000+ of high-res, totally not cheesy, 100% royalty-free stock photos from our library
  • Add the polish typically reserved for professional graphic designers with customizable graphics, shapes, and text
  • Download your channel art as a web optimized JPG, high-res PNG, Retina JPG, or Retina PNG
  • Repurpose YouTube channel art for your other social media profiles and vice versa in a couple of clicks

Snappa
https://snappa.com/create/youtube-channel-art

Snappa isn't just for YouTube, you can use it to create designs for all your favorite social media networks. The good thing about using Snappa is that you don't have to worry about the current design standards. They are up to date on the latest sizes - no more second guessing if it's the right size..

Snappa Editor

April 20, 2018

Resize-Image vs PhotoScape X

Resize-image is an application that most people might have seen in a Bundle Hunt bundle. On the service it looks to be a good practical application that will help batch process a bunch of images.

Description from the Website

Macsoft's Image Resizer for Mac is specially designed Mac image editor software for Mac users to combine, resize and revolve photos, add watermarks to them freely. And it allows you to change the image format from one to another without any difficulty.

General Overview

The application allows you to do multiple image actions at once, you can resize, add text and add text and image watermarks.

It's a good basic application for the functionality. However, there are a few drawbacks:

  • You can't drag drop images to get added to the collection
  • Your limited to only Scale, Rotate and adding Watermark
  • You can't add any special styles to Text Watermark, such as drop shadow

Should you invest in Resize-Image?

If there's a current Bundle Hunt bundle going on, you can pick it up for a good deal. At least if you ocassionaly need an image batch program.

It does what it says - I think you're limiting yourself to features and functionality. It certainly not worth the $19.99 price.

Otherwise it's $19.99 on their website - not sure if it's really worth the price.

Resize Photo Scape

PhotoScape is Better

The Batch functionality in Photoscape X goes well beyond the capabilities of Resize-image. You can add a lot more effects and have more flexibility with existing tools in Resize-image.

While Photoscape X cost a bit more, it's certainly worth the extra cost because you get more than an app that does batch processing. You get a nice image toolbox.

Which means that you'll be using the application more often and at the end of the day get more value for your money.

Photoscape X Batch Features

Five things that make Photoscape X a much better application:

  1. You can click on the images to see how the batch changes will impact that particular image. For Example, You'll be able to tell if the text is aligned correctly.
  2. Add Frame effect to the batch set of images.
  3. Change the Color Mode. Perhaps the images will look better in black or white or Sepia
  4. Resize the image based on a particular Long/Short Edge size.
  5. Add multiple Text Fields or Image objects with different formating.