October 23, 2018

AMC Theater Popcorn is not Gluten Free

A M Cpopcorn

At a recent meeting at the Boston Children’s Hospital Celiac Group we were surprised to learn that the Popcorn at the local AMC Theater chain in the Boston area is not gluten free.

Wait. What? Popcorn not gluten free? We always thought it would be safe. Apparently not!

Members of the Boston Children’s Hospital Celiac Group took the time to call around all the movie theater chains and received information that the butter topping that they put on the popcorn contains gluten.

I checked various AMC websites and did not get the same information - all indications was that the popcorn is safe. However, we know that the Boston Children’s Hospital Celiac group is a reliable source and we trust their findings.

Now What?

The next time we’ll go to the movies, I’ll make a batch of popcorn for my daughter. If someone at the movie theater challenges bring outside food to the movies, I’ll let them know that my daughter had enjoyed the popcorn in the past but can no longer have some.

If you want full details about how celiac friendly that other Boston area movie theater's are, be sure to join the Boston Children’s Hospital Celiac Group and ask for the Popcorn report.

October 22, 2018

Slack Reminders

Slack is trending to be the most popular communication tool for companies. Knowing some basic commands can help make communicating information a lot easier. This can help getting the most out of Slack.

Slack Personal reminders are a practical way for QA to stay on top of communicating messages - such as Code Freeze Reminders, Stand-up or sending out the weekly release notes.

Frequent Future reminders are a good way for you to take a step back - such as a self performance reminder. Don’t wait for review time to put together your self review, set up a reminder so that you can record the excellence that you do now. Chances are you may forget them six months from now.

Setting up a Personal Performance Reminder

In your “Direct Message” slack channel, setup the following reminder:

/remind me “Take note on some personal excellence that you did in the past couple of weeks.” every other Thursday at 4:00pm
/remind me “Take note on some personal excellence that you did in the past month.” on November 1 at 4:00pm
/remind me “Take note on some personal excellence that you did in the past month.” on December 3 at 4:00pm
/remind me “Take note on some personal excellence that you did in the past month.” on February 1 at 4:00pm
/remind me “Take note on some personal excellence that you did in the past month.” on April 1 at 4:00pm

Some Fun Reminders:

/remind me “Today is World Quality Day - ‘Quality: A question of trust ' ” on November 8 at 9:00am
/remind me “Today is National Qa Engineer Appreciation Day ” on April 26 at 9:00am
/remind me “Today is the Day of the Programmer” on September 13 at 9:00am
/remind me “First Instance of Actual Computer Bug Being Found - September 9, 1947” on September 9 at 3:45am
/remind me “Selenium Day - Launched on October 22, 2004 ” on October 22 at 9:00am

October 21, 2018

Bitcoin Extortion Scam

Recently, I got this strange email to several unmonitored email address:

My nickname in darknet is ezechiel30. I'll begin by saying that I hacked this mailbox (please look on 'from' in your header) more than six months ago, through it I infected your operating system with a virus (trojan) created by me and have been monitoring you for a long time.

Even if you changed the password after that - it does not matter, my virus intercepted all the caching data on your computer and automatically saved access for me.

I have access to all your accounts, social networks, email, browsing history. Accordingly, I have the data of all your contacts, files from your computer, photos and videos.

I was most struck by the intimate content sites that you occasionally visit. You have a very wild imagination, I tell you!

During your pastime and entertainment there, I took screenshot through the camera of your device, synchronizing with what you are watching. Oh my god! You are so funny and excited!

I think that you do not want all your contacts to get these files, right? If you are of the same opinion, then I think that $500 is quite a fair price to destroy the dirt I created.

Send the above amount on my bitcoin wallet: 1MN7A7QqQaAVoxV4zdjdrnEHXmjhzcQ4Bq As soon as the above amount is received, I guarantee that the data will be deleted, I do not need it.

Otherwise, these files and history of visiting sites will get all your contacts from your device. Also, I'll send to everyone your contact access to your email and access logs, I have carefully saved it!

Since reading this letter you have 48 hours! After your reading this message, I'll receive an automatic notification that you have seen the letter.

I hope I taught you a good lesson. Do not be so nonchalant, please visit only to proven resources, and don't enter your passwords anywhere! Good luck!

Several Notes About this Email

I got many copies of this email and the name of the person has been different, ewen76, ezechiel30 and ashby06 are just some of the names.

The email is very vague to what content they have.

They want me to send $500 to a bitcoin account, but not identify where the amount came from. So how would they know my email address so that the "data will be deleted?"

There's no way for them to track when the email was read since there's no tracking pixel in the email.

The email addresses that the email were sent to were setup for spam bait for "facebook surveys." I think that they are related to these survey scams where you have a chance to win a $1,000 Walmart Gift Card.

October 20, 2018

Filmora Meme Generator

Earlier this week Filmora announced a new free product called Meme-Maker. Do we really need another Meme-Maker? Yes, Filmora does a good job making it easy to create custom Memes. If your looking to make a Meme from standard images your still better off using Imgflip.

Website Description

Upload or drag your image, GIF and video - You can either upload an image, GIF, or video from your computer OR you can paste in a link! Maximum file size: 50MB.

Add your text caption - Enter the text that you want to use in your image, GIF, or video meme. You can easily edit the text font, color, size and position.

Export & Download - Export your meme as a PNG, JPG, GIF, or MP4 file and enjoy! Go forth and be happy!

Filmora Meme Maker
https://filmora.wondershare.com/meme-maker/

Example Meme Created in Filmora

Filmora Meme

October 19, 2018

iTunes ArtWork

If your adding songs to iTunes, from outside the iTunes store, such as importing from CDs or something that you created in GarageBand, chances are that you'll need an Artwork.

The official way to add an artwork is to using the "Get ArtWork" functionality:

  • Select the Song
  • Go to File > Library > Get Album Artwork

That's great, but iTunes may not find an Artwork for your song, especially if it's a custom audio clip.

Itunes Album Covers
No album ArtWork really shows up when viewing albums in iTunes.

Google Images for ArtWork

The better way is to use Google Images to find the perfect artwork image.

This used to be a complex task, as I would have to search and then save the image to the desktop and then drag the image to the song. I then end up with a bunch of images on my desktop, where I would save them in a folder for "future" usage. In fact, I really don't use them again because it would be just as efficient to search for them image in Google.

I found a simple way.

Simple Tip on using Google to Add ArtWork

Here's what I do now:

  • Go to Google Images and search for a particular image.
  • Click on the Image.
  • Right Click on the larger image, and select 'Copy Image'
  • Go to ITunes, find the song I want.
  • Select the Image and do a Command-I
  • Then past the image in the box in the top left of the dialog box.

Doing this method, I can quickly get 10-15 songs added in minutes - especially with dual monitors.

Good tip on the image size of a Song ArtWork:

Here's an interesting tip from Apple on the size of the Artwork to use in iTunes. This advice is for Podcast, but it probably a standard convention for any iTunes artwork:

"Artwork must be in the JPEG or PNG file formats and in the RGB color space with a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels at 72 DPI."" - itunespartner.apple.com

This is good to know so that your artwork will look good today and for a while.

Example ArtWork

Based on the suggested size from Apple, here's a few links to popular searches that I perform:

Remember: Images searched for through Google Images may be subject to copyright. Just don't steal people images and take credit for them. The above tip is good for personal use.

October 18, 2018

Five Napkin Burger Closes in Boston

Last month 5 Napkin Burger at the Prudential Center closed it doors. It was a favorite location for my daughter as she loved the gluten free rolls. (Read the Blog post from October 4, 2016.)

While some people might be surprised that the restaurant closed, it really didn't come a surprise to me because it was never busy. When the wait time for the Cheesecake Factory would be 45-minutes, there would be no wait at 5-Napkin and they are just doors apart.

The last time I ate there was at lunch time - just days before closing. I was very surprised of the number of tables during a busy lunch hour.

When I started working the Back Bay, it was the place to go to after work. I can remember going and sitting at the busy bar and ordering one of their famous burger. It was a busy happening place.

Five Napkin Boston

Five Things I Learned about 5 Napkin in Boston

  • Opened at 105 Huntington Ave on April 9, 2011
  • Previous Tenant was Daily Grill, before that it was Applebee's
  • When it opened, there were nine burgers were on the menu. They were priced from $7.95-$12.95 (Last year I got a Five Napkin Burger for $14!)
  • Officially Closed on September 14, 2018
  • There are current 4 other locations - which are all in New York City. (Closest one is 209 Miles away)

October 17, 2018

Backup iPhone XS Max Photos to Google

The one thing nice about the iPhone X's Plus is that you'll be taking more pictures. Pretty soon you may find that you have way more pictures on your phone than ever before. Automatically backing up the pictures to a cloud service is helpful to manage space on the phone.

Google Photos

For years I have been using Google Photos for my photos and video backups. It's still an important part of my iPhone backup strategy. It's a good source to use to backup photos whenever the iPhone is charging. You don't have to think about it - just enable back up and let it run.

Enable Google Sync

  • Open the Google Photos app .
  • Sign in to your Google Account.
  • At the top, tap Menu .
  • Select Settings Back up & sync.

Compression Facts

Here's what you get if you use the High Quality option - otherwise known as free storage option:

  • Unlimited free storage.
  • Photos are compressed to save space. If a photo is larger than 16MP, it will be resized to 16MP. (Regular Photos taken on the iPhone XS Max are 7MP, so it won't be resized! The only photos that may get reduced are the Panoramic photos.)
  • Videos higher than 1080p will be resized to high-definition 1080p. This could be where you may encounter compression issues with videos on the iPhone XS Max. However keep in mind that compressed 4k Video will still look better than videos taken with 1080p.

Google Photos Pops
Press and hold the icon for the 3D Touch Menu

Google Photos 3D Touch

Did you know that there are some options when you hold down the icon for the 3D Touch? You can:

I'm feeling lucky - Perform a random search of your photo collection, such as a random location or object. Kind of fun way to check out your photo collection.

Free up space - Remove photos from your phone that has been back up to Google Photos. Useful when your on vacation and need the space.

Make Shared album - Quick way to launch Google Photos app and start selecting photos to share. Useful when you take a bunch of recent photos and want to share them.

Share Google Photos - Shares your love of Google Photos with another iPhone User. Make it easy for others to download the Google Photos application.

October 16, 2018

Switch Witch

In 2013, Audrey Kinsman created a new Halloween tradition - Switch Witch.

The concept is simple, after trick or treating kids would put unwanted candy in a cauldron and then put the Witch on top of it. The next morning, the candy would disappear and in place would be a wanted toy.

Switch Witch

Another Practal Use of the Switch Witch

The Boston Celiac group took it one step further and suggest that children put in candy they can't eat because the candy contains Gluten.

The next morning the unwanted candy is replaced with safe to eat candy. Making it a fun holiday.

Where to Find the Switch Witch

The Switch Witch is available in most bookstores, including switchwitches.com and Amazon.

This is yet another new tradition for today's families.

October 15, 2018

Firefox JavaScript Scratchpad

Firefox Scratchpad is a useful tool to test JavaScript code on any website. It's different than Chrome's web Console since you can have multiple lines of JavaScript and get good debugging feedback if the code fails to run.

To open Firefox's scratchpad window, simply type Shift-F4

You'll get a new window with the following commented text:

/*
 * This is a JavaScript Scratchpad.
 *
 * Enter some JavaScript, then Right Click or choose from the Execute Menu:
 * 1. Run to evaluate the selected text (Cmd-R),
 * 2. Inspect to bring up an Object Inspector on the result (Cmd-I), or,
 * 3. Display to insert the result in a comment after the selection. (Cmd-L)
 */

Fire Fox Scratchpad

JQuery QA Example

Here's are some example code that might be useful for QA to use in the FireFox's Scratchpad, these only work on websites that are using JQuery:

Check for External Links

This bit of code is useful when you want to highlight all external links on the page:

function link_is_external(link_element) {
  return (link_element.host !== window.location.host);
}
$('a').each(function () {
  if (link_is_external(this)) {
    $(this).css({
      color: 'pink'
    })
  }
});

Highlight a Particular Word

Quick way to see if a certain word appears on the page:

$("body").html($("body").html().replace(/Company Name/g,'Company Name'));

Show the links to all the images on the current page:

var pics = $$("img");
for (pic in pics) {
  console.log(pics[pic].src);
}

October 14, 2018

Fixing a Green Pool Quickly

This past weekend we closed our above ground pool. We haven't used it much since Labor Day, but have been too busy closing the pool. The problem was that the pool has turned green because we haven't added any chlorine in the chlorinator. Before closing the pool, we wanted it to be in decent condition.

Color Pool

Getting the Pool Back to Shape Quickly

Here's what we did to get the pool from bright green to near crystal clean in about 24 hours:

I backwashed the filter for about a minute and then ran the filter for about 30-seconds.

Ran the Filter/pump for an hour to get the pool circulation moving.

Added 4 bags of Chlor Brite Di-Chlor Chlorine Shock. I applied the shock directly into the pool near the out filter pool return so it would spread around the pool.

24-Hours later I added 2/3rds of a bottle of the "Pool Mate 2 Lb Super Algae Destroyer for Swimming Pools." This can be purchased from Ocean State Job Lot or Walmart. (Currently selling for $10.99 at Ocean State and $24.99 at Walmart)

I let the pool run non-stop for 24-hours. I disable the timer settings so that it wouldn't accidentally get turned off.

The pool looked in great shape after 24-hours. It would be better if I ran the automatic pool cleaner (Diver Dave). I decided not to as the intent was just to get it clear for the closing. When the pool opens in the spring, I'll run the automatic pool cleaner to get it better shape.

Just before the Pool Cover Went On

The key thing I learned was to let the pool run non-stop for 24-hours. That seemed to make a big difference in getting the pool back into great shape.

I'll post pictures of the pool in the spring - probably sometime in May 2019

October 13, 2018

Undertale Text Box Generator

The Undertale TextBox Generator is a creative way to display text in a graphics format. You simply type the phrase you want, design the box, and presto a creative graphic is ready to share on social media, blog or Slack.

You can have a character, or logo in the text box to add a bit of humor to your text.

Description from Website

An accurate, yet highly customizable, Undertale Text Box Generator. Choose any character from Undertale or a large variety of Alternate Universes. You can even use your own sprites!

Demirramon Hideout
https://www.demirramon.com/en/generators/undertale_text_box_generator

The generated text box are in PNG format and are 576w x 152h.

Example Text Boxes

Demirramon Example

October 12, 2018

LaunchBar Reminder Action

Using LaunchBar, you can easily set up all sorts of Location based reminders. Since they don't fire until you're near the location, feel free to add whatever you want!

It's very simple to use the 'Add to Reminders' action in LaunchBar. This is much easier to use than opening up the Reminder Application.

Launch Bar Reminders

Example of Location Reminders to Set

  • Did someone give you a gift from their vacation? Remind yourself now, so when you're on your vacation you get them something. You could use the departing airport as the location point.
  • If your driving down route 1 in Maine, remind yourself on where the best Lobster Roll is.
  • Like Popcorn? Remind yourself about which movie theater has the best popcorn. That way you'll be reminded as you pull into the parking lot.
  • Remind yourself to get things at stores you may not shop at frequently - such as getting a 100-foot outdoor cable at Ocean State Job Lot.
  • Need something at the mall but don't want to go now, set up a reminder so you don't forget the item next time you're there!
  • Set up a reminder when you get home to do certain tasks so you don't forget about them.

Couple Location Reminders to Set

Click on the title to download the .ics file that has the reminder set up for you!

LaunchBar Action is Very Handy

LaunchBar's 'Add to Reminders' action is very powerful. Just spending a few minutes with it now can save a lot of headaches in the future.

October 11, 2018

Land Parcel on Scotia St

Open land space in the Back Bay is getting very scarce - with the red-hot economy, developers are trying to grab as much open space as they can for building high rise luxury apartment.s

Just off of busy Boylston Street, there is a piece of open land that will soon have high rise development. This will be the new location for 1000 Boylston Street apartments.

1000 Boylston Street
This open Parcel land will soon be gone.

Ten Things I Learned about the Open Space Parcel

Official address of the land is Scotia St Boston Ma 02115. The City of Boston Parcel ID is 0401345000

The lot size is 11,109 sq ft.

The land was previously owned by the St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Church. In May 2008, the Archdiocese of Boston sold the land to ADG Scotia LLC for $13.85 million. ADG Scotia LLC is sometimes known as "Scotia Parcel."

ADG Scotia is a joint venture between John Fish's Suffolk Ventures and Weiner's Weiner Ventures.

While it was owned by St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Church the land was tax exempt. Since 2009, the City of Boston has collected $41,000 each year in additional tax revenue. The land is currently assessed at $3,301,600.

The St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Church used the funds from the sale to do a major interior renovation - new floors, pews, painting and a redesigned entrance.

ADG Scotia LLC has plans to build a new tower in the space. Ideas of the Hotel/Retail/Parking complex first came out in 2008 but was shelved because of the "great recession."

In January, ADG Scotia LLC paid $30,000 to Travaglini Eisenberg Kiley LLC to lobby so the Massachusetts General Laws 6C could be changed to allow air rights by sale or by lease.

The original Plans for 1000 Boylston Street have been changed a lot since 2008. Original plans had 2 towers - One 566 feet and 39 stories, the other 283 feet, and 24 stories. The new plan has a single high rise - 484 feet and 27 floors. The new tower would be just as high as the State Street Bank. It will be the 21st tallest building in Boston.

Plans for building 1000 Boylston Street are underway. Trees in the parcel have been taken down.

October 10, 2018

No More Headphone Jack

When people open the box of the iPhone XS Max, one of the things that were missing was a jack adapter for the headphone jack. Apple had removed the audio 3.5 mm port since the iPhone 8, but they included a jack adapter so people could connect their "legacy" headphones to the lighting port.

I say "legacy" because there's still a lot of manufactures that are producing quality headphones and accessories using the 3.5 mm port. Not everyone believes or trust bluetooth as a good audio source.

Included in the box is a charging cable, USB wall jack, earbuds which connect to the lighting port and the iPhone XS Max.

For some reason someone Apple feels they need to cut back on expenses especially when someone is spending $1,200 for their smartphone. If you want the jack adapter - that's extra. Just like a case, smartphone screen cover and extra cables for work and the car.

iPhone Collection
Personal Collection of iPhones showing the audio port in all the old iPhones.(Taken with my Olympus XZ-2)

Apple Headphone Jack Solution is Cheap

A Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack adapter will only set you back $9 at the Apple Store or $8.60 on Amazon with free shipping with Prime (Price may vary).

So getting one won't break the bank. But it's the principle of it. If someone is willing to spend $1,200 on a smartphone device, at least include it in the box.

There's plenty of space in the box for the jack adapter, so that's not a valid excuse.

Not the First Time Apple Done this

When the iMac and MacBook Pro came out without a DVD drive, Apple promoted that if users needed a drive, they could purchase a USB DVD drive for $99.

One More Thing

The EarPods with Lightning Connector that's in the box, cost $29 at the Apple Store. I am pretty sure that most people will use the Headphone Jack adapter than Apple's headphones.

October 9, 2018

Blue Dalia Restaurant and Tequila bar

This weekend we tried the Blue Dalia Restaurant and Tequila bar which is located in the Wegman's store inside the Natick Mall. We decided to visit since I got a $25 promotional gift card in the mail.

We did hear that they had a lot of Gluten Free options, so we decided to stop by for lunch.

Blue Dalia
Crispy Rolled Tacos is a good Gluten Free option.

Six Things We Learned

We arrived at noon time on a Sunday and was surprise that the restaurant was a bit empty. It was a holiday weekend, so we figured that most people are out and about and not spending time eating lunch at the Mall.

The chips and dips that the server puts on your table while you look are gluten free. (Margaritas has to special cook the chips to make them gluten free.)

There was no Gluten Free menu. When we placed our order, we asked the server if certain dishes were Gluten free, he didn't seem to confident that they were. He told us that he would check it out and let us know. He never came back, so my daughter's order must be good - She wanted the Crispy Rolled Tacos.

The dishes were a bit expensive for lunch - which could be the real reason why no one was there on a Sunday afternoon.

It took a long time to get our drinks and our order, which was surprising considering the place was empty. We didn't expect fast food, just that things took longer than we thought it would.

The food was very good. Everyone enjoyed their meals. We pretty much cleaned our plates. The portion size was reasonable.

Would We go Back?

While we liked our meal, we probably wouldn't go back any time soon. The meals were a bit expensive and the service was slow.

My daughter did like her meal giving it a 70 out of a 100, which is a good sign that she liked it enough to want to come back.

Finding Blue Dalia Restaurant

The Blue Dalia Restaurant and Tequila bar is located in the produce section of Wegmans in the Natick Mall in Natick Massachusetts.

October 8, 2018

Framed! Browser Extension

Doing testing in production is very risky, and there are times when you may not be aware that you're in production. There is a tool called "Framed!", that will let you know when you're in Production. Now you'll be aware when you're in Production with a simple frame around the website.

Developer Description

This tool grants you the power to add a custom border to visually separate different web hostsFrame your hosts, avoid mistakes!

As a web developer you are probably working with a bunch of different environments, all looking almost exactly the same. Keeping track of whether you are on a more safe-to-experiment development server, or if you accidentally stumbled in on the live server, isn't all that easy or obvious.

Laptop Framed

Four Things I Learns about Framed!

  • You can use a wildcard for the hostnames, so *.company.com will handle all sites under the domain.
  • Set a custom frame id name, so that it doesn't interfere with any existing property.
  • If you're using a Retina Display, use a larger border width so it's more visible. 8px worked well in my testing.
  • The nice thing about Framed! is that you just need to set it once. If you haven't used it in a while, you may wonder why certain sites have red frames around them.

Get Framed!

The Browser utility is available for Firefox and Chrome.

October 7, 2018

Framingham Commuter Rail Radio Station

At the Framingham MBTA Commuter Rail station there is a radio station that lets people know what's going on. Unfortunately, most people are busy with their smartphones to listen to a radio station. They get updated information from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Framingham1640
Framingham MBTA Station is 1640 AM

Strange Recording

On September 14th, I was in my car at the Framingham station waiting for the p508 train, 7:40 AM train, and had the radio running. I recorded the following clip:

I thought the clip was strange since the p508 is a very popular train. Shouldn't they at least have something useful on the radio? Maybe it will go away soon as an expense cut. Before it goes away, check it out the next time you're at the Framingham Station or any of the MBTA stations, and see what's on the radio.

October 6, 2018

Da Button Factory

Da Button Factory is an easy way to make all sorts of website buttons. It's a good site for bloggers or anyone that maintains a website. Need some button ideas? They have a page of examples, which you can use as a starting point.

Description from Website

Da Button Factory lets you create appealing buttons for websites, in no time and for free. Start with the model displayed above, or use one of the other buttons presets. Tweak the style to fit your needs, changes are applied in real time. When you are done, use the "Download" link to get the button image to your computer, or click "Embed" to directly integrate the button on a website (hotlink or CSS).

Da Button
https://dabuttonfactory.com/

Some Example Buttons

button_now-what

button_qa-fails

button_qa-passes

button_time-to-act

button_boston-massachusetts

October 5, 2018

Itsycal

Itycal is a cool desktop utility that displays the current date in the menu bar. You can customize what actually gets displayed in the menu bar. When you click on the date, you get a view of the current month.

Itycal Menu Bar

Five Things that Make Itsycal A Cool Tool

You can add Exchange and Calendar events to the calendar, the current day events also appear below the monthly calendar.

You can add a custom format, such as EEEE, MMMM d, y for Friday, October 5, 2018. Full details on the Unicode Locale Data Markup Language format support is available. You can hide the icon if you just want the full month to be displayed.

Using the Arrow keys you can navigate between months, making it easy to find dates in the future. For example, if you install this in October, click on the icon, then the arrow key twice, then the down key to see what days Christmas will appear in the future.

If you plan to reference the calendar a lot, you can set up a global shortcut to open up Itycal calendar. This is set in the General section application preferences. I have setup Shift-Command-0 as my shortcut on my computer

Once Itycal is open, type Command-N to quickly add an event on your calendar. This makes it easy to set a reminder when you on the phone and wants to add an entry right away.

Itycal is free, so there's no excuse on why you shouldn't get it.

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