January 1, 2017

Breaking News App Alternative

Breaking News Icon

One of the cool things about having a smartphone is that you are never out of the loop of what is going on in the world. When something major happens you can be instantly alerted to events that may concern you.

Apple has set up a couple of Government Alerts to help spread notification of important information:

  • AMBER Alerts - Alerts you when a child goes missing near your area.
  • Emergency Alerts - Alerts you when to seek shelter because of weather or police activity.

The Breaking News app sent you alerts when something major happens. Which is good, because you never feel like your missing out on what's going on in the world.

According to the description, "Discover when news breaks 14 minutes ahead of other news apps on average." The app all-time customer rating was 4 stars by 2,238 subscribers.

Breaking News services no longer in service. From the Breaking News App/Website:

This is breaking news we hoped we'd never have to report. Our parent company, NBC News, has decided to shut down the Breaking News service at the end of the year. BreakingNews.com and the Breaking News app will stop providing updates and alerts on Dec. 31.

Our mission at Breaking News has been to help people and companies make smarter and safer decisions. For the last six years, we've been honored to serve you around the clock, and we thank you for your incredible loyalty.

There are lots of people not happy with NBC decision:

Tuttemarie review concludes with:

Of all the crappy things that have happened in 2016, this app shutting down is in my top 5!

Breaking News Alternative - Twitter Notifications

Breaking News was great because you would get an alert when something big happened, such as when celebrities died or when something significant happened locally. You can get this same instant notification via Twitter Notifications. (In some cases, they broke the news before the Breaking News App)

Simple steps to setup up a Twitter Notification that works similar to Breaking News alerts.

  • On your iOS device, Open up Twitter and search for 'CNN Breaking News,' or 'BBC Breaking News'
  • Click on the Follow icon
  • Next to the Follow icon, click on the bell+ (Notifications)
  • Under Notifications, select "All Tweets"
  • That's it!

Twitter Tips

CNN Breaking News does report more "Breaking News Stories" than was produced by the "Breaking News" app, so you may get notified a bit more often. You can search Twitter for different media outlets that may only report major stories that you might be interested in.

January 2, 2017

Popular Disney Ride Height Requirements

My daughter just turned 6 and is now 44" tall. Looks like there are only a few rides that she can't go on:

Magic Number 44

Magic Kingdom(R) Park

  • The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm - 35"
  • Splash Mountain(R) - 40"
  • Big Thunder Mountain - 40"
  • Stitch's Great Escape - 40"
  • Space Mountain(R) - 44"
  • Tomorrowland Indy Speedway - 52" to ride alone


  • Test Track - 40"
  • Soarin' - 40"
  • Mission: SPACE(R) - 44"

Disney's Hollywood Studios(TM)

  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror(TM) - 40"
  • Star Tours - 40"
  • Rock-n-Roller Coaster(R) Starring Aerosmith - 48"

Animal Kingdom(R) Theme Park

  • Kali River Rapids(R) - 38"
  • DINOSAUR - 40"
  • Expedition Everest(TM) - 44"
  • Primeval Whirl(R) - 48"

Interesting trivia from Livestrong.com:

Average Heights of Girls by Age. Like weight, heights vary by age. The average -- or 50th percentile -- height for a 3-year-old girl is 37 inches, while the average for a 4-year-old is 40 inches, and a 5-year-old is 42 inches. The average for a 6-year-old girl just 45 inches.

January 3, 2017

Chrome Keyboard Shortcuts

Google Chrome is the most popular Internet browser, and this past summer it became the #1 browsers. Chances are you have it on your desktop. If not, download it from their official website.

Google Keyboards

Five Chrome Browser Shortcuts that everyone should know:

  • Command + Shift + N - Opens a new Incognito Window.
  • Command + Click on a URL will open that URL in a separate tab.
  • Command + Click + Shift on a URL will open the URL in a separate tab and focus on the new tab
  • Command + L will highlight the Location bar, so that you can quickly type a URL
  • Command + Option + I - Open the Developer Toolbar

Learn the above five shortcuts and everyone will think you're a Pro with Google's Chrome browser.

If you have Chrome open, try them out now. Do it a couple of times just to get the basic idea behind using the shortcut. It will take a while to get used to using them. That's why just learning the basic five is a good starting point.

There's a lot more to learn! Once you master the above, check out the Chrome keyboard shortcuts. By using shortcuts, you can improve your productive use of Chrome.

January 4, 2017

Puzzle Template for Affinity Designer

Puzzles are a great effect to spice up any image. You can remove parts of the puzzle to add a special effect.

I put together an Affinity Designer Template using an old puzzle image that I had in my collection.

Puzzle Layer
Click to download the Puzzle Layer file.

How to Use this

Simply use the puzzle image as the top layer and add your image below it.

If the puzzle image is too small, it's a 512px image, simply duplicate the puzzle layer (Command + J) and then combine the corners. The puzzle pattern is seamless. So you can duplicate and expand any side.

You can change the Layer blending to produce different puzzle effect.

January 5, 2017

Map of Back Bay at the Back Bay MBTA Station

While waiting for the commuter rail at any of the seven tracks you will see a map of Boston's Back bay. While some of the maps are showing 'Old Boston Town," there are a few modern maps. I am guessing that the maps are there to help people located various points in the Back Bay.

Back Bay Station

Maps are Outdated

Commuters waiting for the Framingham/Worcester trains may not pay much attention to the maps in the terminal. They are located in various places along the train tracks. The maps may seem fine, but if you take a close look at the map and you may discover something doesn't look quite right.

Map Oddity

Example of some of the Oddity that you may see on the map: (This is the top left section)

Prudential Map

  • Red Arrow - Part of the the Prudential Mall is missing? Where is Barnes & Noble?
  • Green Arrow - Boylston Street doesn't have a road divider.
  • Blue Arrow - What about the pedestrian bridge over Huntington Ave?

Looks like the maps are from the Dukakis Administration.

The outdated maps are somewhat useful to get a rough idea where they are to other points in the Back Bay such as Boston Public Gardens and Newbury Street.

However, the maps are outdated. The MBTA can take three courses of action:

  • Update all the maps, which may cost a lot of money but are useful for tourists.
  • Add a sign to let people know the maps are outdated. (Historic Back Bay in the 1980s)
  • Do nothing as nobody really pays attention to the maps.

Finding the Map

You can see the old Boston map between Track 7 and 5 at the Back Bay Commuter rail station.

When you walk into the station from the Dartmouth Street entrance, enter the doors with "South End" and walk by the Dunkin Donuts stand.

Turn left after Dunkin Donuts and go down the stairs where you see "Tracks 5 & 7."

Take a right at the bottom and then another right. Take a short walk along the train tracks.

Walk to the overhead digital clock look to the right and you'll see the classic map.

January 6, 2017

iMac Hard Drive Crash

This week my iMac internal hard drive crashed.

I believe that this happens because my computer was doing some read/write activity and the power went out. As a result, I couldn't boot up my internal hard drive.

When I first attempted to boot the computer the startup process appeared to be normal but then would just shut down right when the startup progress bar was about 2/3 completed.

Making a bootable Drive

Lucky for me that I got a couple of flash drives for Christmas. I took one of them and installed the latest Mac OS on it.

The key thing to remember about creating a bootable drive its that it has to be formatted correctly:


Booting Up

I was able to boot up the computer using the flash drive by using the keyboard shortcut 'C' when the computer booted up.

I wasn't getting this to work with my Bluetooth keyboard and had to connect a USB keyboard to get it to work.

After the computer booted up, I saw the following message on my screen:

Repair Disk
"You can still open or copy files on the disk, but you can't save changes to files on the disk. Back up the disk and reformat it as soon as you can."

Lucky for me that the drive is accessible and that I have an opportunity to recover my files.

Manual Back Up Tips

If your manually backing up a computer, you should back up the following Directories:

  • /Users - This will get all your critical files: Music, Documents, Photos and Mail.
  • /Library/fonts - This will get any and all of your computer fonts, especially any that you might have installed.
  • /var/log - Useful if you want to research the startup issues.

Disk First Aid

Apple has a Disk First Aid which tries to fix hardware issues. I ran the program several times to see if it would fix it. However, it keeps failing

Disk First Aid

This isn't my first computer crash, but it's been a long time since I have had to deal with one.

Ten Things I learned

  • Back up your photos and documents frequently. Once they are backed up by various sources, remove them from the computer.
  • Remove things you don't need on the computer. I haven't used some of my virtual machines in a long time, there's no need to have it on the computer.
  • Create a bootable USB drive in case your main hard drive fails. 32 GB is plenty. It's a good $30 insurance policy.
  • Learn the MacOS startup keys, Apple Support Page has a useful list of keys to hold at startup.
  • One thing that I learn is the value of Amazon Prime Photos. I found their upload application easy to upload my photos to their server.
  • Always backup photos! Store the files in the cloud. Flickr, Google Photos, and Amazon photos are my go to choices.
  • Helps to tag or put photos in events. This way I am l not looking every place for a Boston picture.
  • YouTube is a good solution for those large video files that you don't know what to do with.
  • Amazon offers an Unlimited upload plan for $59 a year for Prime users. This is a good solution if you're looking for temporary storage.
  • The fastest way to move files from an iMac is via Thunderbolt.

Data Transfer Speeds

A quick chart that I put together showing how fast the four most common ways to transfer data off of an iMac.

Transfer Speed2

January 7, 2017

Big Mistakes in Business

What were the biggest mistakes high-tech leaders made in the past year? Here's what they said at Silicon Summit II:

  • Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos: "Investing in Living.com, which isn't, and Pets.com, which is a dog."
  • Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: "Not always taking the patience we need on certain innovations."
  • Michael Bloomberg: "We didn't hire enough people."
  • Darien Dash, DME Interactive Holdings CEO: "We were impatient last year and we didn't just focus on getting our products out."
  • Sony CEO Howard Stringer: "We should have had 2 million more PlayStation 2's available before Christmas."
  • AOL Time Warner VP Bob Pittman: "Speed. ... We don't move quickly enough."
  • Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang: "Focus on the long term. I think people got reactive in this marketplace trying to see too much that wasn't there."
  • Gateway CEO Ted Waitt: "Trying to do too many different things and losing sight of the core basics it takes to make our customers happy."
  • Nancy Peretsman, Allen & Co.: "Not acting on what we knew to be true."
  • USA Networks CEO Barry Diller: "Not selling all the companies short represented here today, other than our own."

Silicon Summit II was held on March 11, 2001.

January 8, 2017

Disney/Amazon Shopping Ideas

Here's a quick list of eight things to stock up on for the trip to Disney World. So if you're on Amazon.com and looking for ideas on what to get before your trip, here's some things to think about.

I have found these to be useful things to purchase before a trip:

  • USB External Battery Charger - If you plan on using your phone for taking pictures and video, you'll need to charge up your device at some point during the day. Having a USB External Battery charger will extend your smartphone battery life. Note: many DLSR cameras can also get recharged using a USB device.
  • Microfiber Cleaner - Clean up your phone and DSLR screen. Makes sense to have a nice clean cloth for your trip.
  • SD Card Reader - If you have a DSLR camera, it's a good idea to backup your card at night. You can use a WD My Passport or an RAVPower Filehub. Download and backup the data on the SD card. An RAVPower Filehub useful when you want to post some of your quality photos to your favorite social media.
  • PURELL Hand Sanitizer - Travel Sized Jelly Wrap Portable Sanitizer Bottles are a great thing to add to any travel bag. The Jelly Wrap makes it easy to attach to any bag.
  • Portable Universal Wrap Electronics Accessories Travel Organizer - Keep all your cables and power chargers in one place. Sure you could use a ziplock bag, but with the travel organizer, you can label the cables so you know exactly what your bring. In addition, you'll know if you're missing any cables when you're packing up.
  • Portable Poncho - Buy a nice looking travel poncho just in case you need it.
  • Nylon Laundry Bag - You may have to do some laundry while on vacation. Don't be caught short going to the laundry area without a laundry bag! (Wash the bag with the laundry so you can bring the clean clothes to the room.)

What about a Wide Angle Lens?

One of the things I was considering purchasing was a Wide Angle lens for my iPhone so that I could take nice wide angle photos.

I decided not to get a lens because I found that Affinity Photo does a great job in stitching pictures. I simply take 3 or 4 pictures simultaneously and then stitch them together when I get back home.

In addition, I could always just use a Pano shot if I want to capture more of the photo. (Note: You don’t need to do a full range in a Pano shot. You can stop it at any point. The image won’t end up in the Pano folder on your phone, but you’ll still get a nice picture.

Winter Snow
Example of stitching multiple photos.

Apple iPhone 6s Plus Pano photo size is 11,668 x 3,884. My example created a 11,277 x 2,498, slightly smaller than a Pano, but the quality is very good compare to a typical Pano rendering.

I didn't want to have to carry around the extra lens and connect it whenever I wanted to use it. It's one less thing that I wanted to carry, and one less thing that I could lose.

January 9, 2017

Disney Park Folder icons

We are getting things ready for our next big Disney adventure to the Disney World. I was backing up some of the photos that I have in my collection and started sorting things out by date.

I noticed that it was a bit hard to figure out what park we visited per day. I could have just named the folders by the park, but on this trip, we actually visited a couple of parks more than once.

So I decided to make some custom icons to make it easy to figure out which park we went to:

Click on image to download the Icons.

Macintosh users, please feel free to download and use these for your own folder collection.

Folder Icons Makes all the Difference

Having a good fold icon can make a huge difference, see the before and after:

New  Disney Icons2

The folders that didn't have icons are the off days when we didn't go in the park. On this particular trip my daughter was sick for a couple of days and we didn't go to the park.

January 10, 2017

Chrome Screen Capture Tools

Firefox has a built-in screenshot tool, and while Google didn't include one, there are many plugins that get the job done.

Why Use a Web Brower Tool?

One of the key advantages of a web browser screen capture tool is the ability to capture the entire page. Not all OS screen capture tools have that ability.

Over the years, I have used a couple if tools:

  • Awesome Screenshot
  • Full Page Screen Capture

The good news is that both of these are free. You can figure out which one works the best for your needs. You can download both of these from the Chrome store.

Full Page Capture2

Full Page Screen Capture

When I need to quickly capture the full page that I am viewing, I find it easier to use Full Page Screen Capture. There's no fancy tools here, just a full page capture. I just click, view a preview and then save it to the desktop.

The nice thing is that it saves previous captures and I could look back at the history of my screen captures.

Awesome Screenshot

Awesome Screenshot is a great screen capture tool to capture any area of the screen and then add all sorts of annotation tools.

Key Features:

  • Permanently store and organize your images by project
  • Get point specific feedback on your screenshots and designs
  • Share and collaborate with friends and colleagues

One thing that I like about Awesome Screenshot vs other tools is that you can use keyboard shortcuts. Note: Awesome Screenshot does take up 172 MB of memory. So if Chrome appears to be running slow, you may want to disable that extension.

Two Tools?

Do you need both tools? Probably not, Awesome Screenshot is probably good enough for most uses. But if you just want to do a quick full-screen capture every once in a while, then Full Page Screen Capture is good. It doesn't hurt to install Full Page Screen Capture as it doesn't have any memory overhead!

January 11, 2017

Folder Icon Maker

Having custom folder icons makes searching for content a bit easier. I find it very useful as a top-level folder, so that in a quick glance you know the contents inside of the folder.

There are plenty of tools for Macintosh users to create custom folder icons. A popular custom icon application is Image2icon by Shiny Frog.

I thought it would be useful to have a template for Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. I would have the ability to use all the cool tools in Affinity to make awesome icons.

Affinity Icon Maker

Download the Folder Icon Maker Template

I created a template for Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo:

Using the Template

The key thing to remember when using this template is to place your working image/graphic in the same group as the folder icon. In the attached file, there is a picture of 'Bates Hall' in the Boston Public Library. You can see that it in the Folder icon group:

Folder Group

If it's not in the proper group, then the layer clipping will not work properly and the image will take up the entire workspace.

January 12, 2017

Martin Luther King Lived Here

In the early 1950s, Martin Luther King lived in Boston while he was attending school at Boston University of Theology.

He lived at two locations:

Freshman Year

Saint Botolph
Apartment at 170 Saint Botolph Street, Boston Mass.

Martin Luther King lived on St. Botolph Street for his first semester at Boston University of Divinity. He lived between Albemarle and Blackwood Street. (170 Saint Botolph Street)

Remaining Years

Mass Ave Apartment
397 Massachusetts Ave, Boston Mass.

Next Semester he and a student at Tuffs moved to an apartment nearby on Massachusetts Ave, just beyond the Mass Ave Orange Line station. While living there met his wife Coretta Scott of Alabama. ( 397 Massachusetts Ave)

He received his Ph.D. degree on June 5, 1955.

Note: Both locations are priviate residences.

January 13, 2017


image Snap

ImageSnap is a Public Domain command-line tool that lets you capture still images from an iSight or other video source. You can use scripting tools to automate when to take pictures.

Someone wrote a BASH scripts to take a picture of someone that has stolen their laptop computer. Pretty cool way to use the tool.

Example Script

This is an example BASH script I wrote to send a picture of me when I log into the computer every morning:

#! /bin/bash
imagesnap -q -w 2 ~/Desktop/$(date +%y%m%d%H%M%S).png
PHP Example
$files=shell_exec("imagesnap -q -w 2 ~/Desktop/$(date +%y%m%d%H%M%S).png");

By default the picture will use the laptop camera, so if I hook up an external display with a camera it won't use that. I added the 2 seconds warm up because without the warm up the picture appears to be dark.

I have an action in Keyboard Maestro to enable the script to run within a minute after I log into the computer.

Cron Job

You can easily set up a file, using either of the above examples and run a cron job:

31 17 * * * user /path/to/file.sh

I can see if I am in the same mood in the morning as in the evening.

Here's a quick guide to what each item on cron line means:

Cron Sheet

January 14, 2017

Above the Grain Pizza Crust

We enjoy making our homemade pizza from home and using the Above the Grain pizza crust makes it easy.

You can find the crust for about $8 at most stores in New England including Whole Foods and Stop & Shop.

We usually make a spinach pizza and a pepperoni pizza. Instead of using a typical pizza sauce, we like using the Francesco Rinaldi Hearty Sweet & Tasty Tomato Pasta Sauce. A 24oz single jar is perfect for two pizzas.

The crust is really good and guests that have tried it can't tell that it's gluten-free. In fact, some have suggested the crust is better than anything that they have tried. Certainly doesn't taste like frozen pizza.

Above the Grain Pizza

Cooking Tips

  • Oven Temp: 400 degrees - This is 15 degrees more than what the packaging suggest. The higher temp will produce a crispy crust.
  • Cheese: 3.5 Cups of Mozzarella Cheese
  • Cooking Time: 20 mins

Since we cook a lot of pizza at home, we find having a couple of perforated pizza pans is worth the investment. The pizza comes out nice and crispy and the pans are very easy to clean.

January 15, 2017

Backing Up Video/Movie Files

If you take a lot of video with your iPhone or DSLR camera you know that they take up a lot of disk space. There aren’t that many good cloud solutions since they take up a lot of space, it could get costly to save the media files.

Consider DVDs

One way to back up the files is to burn them to a DVD. Burning to DVD is a great way to store those large video files. Consider burning as a DVD-Video instead of DVD-File. You'll get more space for the buck. Since you own the DVD, it's very easy to rip the media off the DVD for later use.

Did you know that A DVD will hold up to 120 minutes of video. Complex menus and additional features will reduce this time. (If you're using it for storage, you don’t really need to waste space for menus and other graphics.)

An MP4 video file that is 3.02 GB that is a 44-minute clip will take about less than 1/2 of a DVD video space, where if I saved it as a RAW media file it would take up at least 80% of the disk space.

Toast D V D Image
A screenshot of Toast Titanium about to burn a Video DVD for archive purposes.

It doesn't matter if you're a PC or a Mac user, in the long run, you are better off storing video files as DVD-Video format.

Why do you have those large files?

I highly recommend reading "Shoot Video that doesn't Suck" by Steve Stockman. The book has a lot of useful tips. I particularly like their advice on taking shorter clips. The author recommends to keep the video clips as short as possible.

The book gives you a good perspective on taking videos that people will want to watch. This book works for any video capture type - Point and Shoot Camera to DSLR. The book focus on strategy and not any technical advantage of using any equipment.

January 16, 2017

The Walt Disney World Photo Challenge

A few years ago the "This Disney Life" posted a list of photo opportunities to take a Disney World. The list contained the must-have photos for any trip.

Kyra include a point system as to indicate the difficulty of taking some of the shots.

I transcribed the list to an easy to use PDF document. In addition, I added a new "Expert Only" category where taking certain shots may involve some additional photographic expertise.

Disney Photo Challenge
Click on image to download PDF document.

Some of the "Expert Only" shots include:

  • Panoramic view of the 21 Century Room
  • Fireworks from the Main Street Train Station
  • Night Photo of the Partners Statue with the Castle out of Focus
  • Chip and Dale Statue with the Castle blurred in the Background (Central Plaza)
  • Mickey Mouse opening up the park

Let me know what shots you think are the most challenging to take at Disney World.

January 17, 2017

Chrome Bookmarklets

Bookmarklets are an easy way to create Interactive Bookmarks. You can do something with the page that you're currently viewing or enter in data to be used on soon to be open URL.

Here are some of my popular Bookmarklets:

PaperTrial Search

Search the entire Papertrial archive for an error. (Works only if you have a Papertrial account.)

javascript:var prof=prompt('Query?','');if(prof&&prof!=''){location.href='https://papertrailapp.com/groups/2442/events?q='+prof};

Atlassian Jira Issue Search

Search Jira for a particular Ticket Number. This is a fast way to get to a particular ticket.

javascript:var%20bug=prompt('Ticket#?','');if(isFinite(bug)){location.href='https://dev.company.com/trac/ticket/'%20+%20bug}else{location.href='http://company.atlassian.net/browse/'+bug}; Show Link Images Opens a window showing all images linked to from the current page. javascript:(function(){function%20I(u){var%20t=u.split('.'),e=t[t.length-1].toLowerCase();return%20{gif:1,jpg:1,jpeg:1,png:1,mng:1}[e]}function%20hE(s){return%20s.replace(/&/g,'&').replace(/>/g,'>').replace(/</g,'<').replace(/"/g,'"');}var%20q,h,i,z=open().document;z.write('<p>Images%20linked%20to%20by%20'+hE(location.href)+':</p><hr>');for(i=0;q=document.links[i];++i){h=q.href;if(h&&I(h))z.write('<p>'+q.innerHTML+'%20('+hE(h)+') <img%20src="'+hE(h)+'">');}z.close();})()

Remove All Images on the Page

This is useful if you want to see what the page looks like for people that don't have images enabled.

javascript:(function(){var imgs=document.getElementsByTagName("img");for(var i=0;i<imgs.length;i++)imgs[i].style.visibility="hidden"}());

View Current Page in Any Browser

Useful way to test a public page in various browser screenshots.


Installing Bookmarklets

  • In Chrome, click Bookmarks->Bookmark Manager.
  • You should see a new tab with the bookmarks and folders listed.
  • Select the "Bookmarks Tab" folder on the left.
  • Click the "Organize" link, then "Add Page" in the drop down.
  • You should see two input fields. ...
  • Paste the javascript code above into the second field.
  • Add a simple name
  • Once done, click away to save

Popular Bookmarklets

You can find some creative uses of Bookmarketlets over on howtogeek.com website.

January 18, 2017

Pat Snyder Font Collection

In the early 1990's Pat Snyder created some cool Postscript Type 1 Fonts.

SnyderSpeed is a Type 1 Postscript font that offers a bold (all caps) typeface duplicating the spontaneous, hand-lettered, brush-stroke used by commercial artists and sign painters to create eye-catching copy for signs, banners, posters, window display cards etc.

OregonWet is a special effects Type 1 PostScript typeface combining the graphic effect of water/raindrops/tears surrounding or splashing near each character. It's a full font containing upper and lower case letters, numbers, most shifted-number symbols and punctuation.

If you have OregonWet (a graphic Type 1 Postscript typeface with the effect of water/raindrops/tears surrounding or splashing near each character), OregonDry is the identical font without the splash effect. It's also a full font with upper and lower case letters, numbers, most shifted-number symbols and punctuation. The fonts can be combined for creative effects for before and after messages. Each stands on its own for display or ad copy.

MarkerFeltThin gives messages urging immediacy a casual, personal touch by looking as if the copy was handwritten with a fine point, felt-tip marker. Use for eye-catching notices, ad display or to convey spontaneous, impulsive expression.

A Type 1 laser printer, upper and lower case font, MarkerFeltWide makes typed copy look like it's been spontaneously hand lettered. MarkerFeltWide gives messages urging immediacy a casual, personal touch by looking like it was made with a wide, felt-tip marker. Similar to MarkerFeltThin, but offering wider stroked letters.

These are the original fonts files:

These fonts might be useful in your Font collection to use when creating flyers or Web graphics in Affinity Designer.

Snyder Font Collection
Pat Snyder Font Collection from the 1990s.

You may find some other variations of these fonts online. The links above are the original PostScript Type 1 outline fonts and can still be installed on MacOS Sierra.

I like the MarkerFeltThin and MarkerFeltWide font types, they are a good substitute for Poetsen One and Bluberry Regular fonts.

Other Font's Copied Pat's Style

Someone posted on fontspace.com:

jimtealiii June 24, 2011 - Fun fact: this is House Industries' Sign Painter font at 118%.
AVPerth October 12, 2014 - Also quite famously used in Mario Kart 64. Sign Painter - House Brush is also different in many areas, particularly P, R, U, and F. They share the same sign painter's brush DNA but other than that are independent designs.

Pat Snyder Today

Pat Snyder isn't working on font's anymore. He is a local artist in Coos Bay, Oregon. You can see some of his latest work on his website: http://www.patsnyderartist.com

Note: These fonts are still considered shareware, I couldn't find any information that they have been made available in the public domain. Registration Information is included in the Zip file of each of the font packages.

Shareware Fees Helped!

Here's a quote from the MarketFelt package:

Since creating my first font SnyderSpeed Brush (11/91 v.1 upper case only), the encouragement of shareware fees and/or input from users, allowed me to update SnyderSpeed by adding lower case (1/92), plus create OregonWet (which made AOL's top November 91 download's list), OregonDry, MarkerFeltThin 2/92, and now MarkerFeltWide (4/92)

Little Bit Worse Quote
Creative use of the OrgonDry and OregonWet

January 19, 2017

Certificate of Occupancy

At the 177 Huntington Ave Office Building you can still see signs of the old building owner. On the back stairs, at each floor landing is a "Certificate of Occupancy." This is a copy of one of the documents:

Click on image for a larger version.

This particular Certificate of Occupancy defines the max load for all floors in the building as 50 lbs per square foot.

Some information about the Building Code in the City of Boston:

Chapter 479 of the Acts of 1938 as amended, “An Act for the Codification, Revision and Amendment of the Laws Relative to the Construction, Alterations and Maintenance of Buildings and other Structures in the City of Boston” was passed by the Legislature on June 27, 1938, with the provision that it take effect upon its acceptance by the Boston City Council, whereupon the Council proceeded to hold a series of public hearings on proposed amendments submitted by architects, builders, property owners and various civic organizations.

The act was changed a few years later:

On January 1, 1975, the Massachusetts State Building Code, Chapter 802 of the Acts of 1972, as amended, went into effect in the City of Boston and superseded all previous codes. The Building Department and the Housing Inspection Department were abolished and all powers and duties transferred to the Inspectional Services Department by Chapter 19 of the Ordinances of 1981.

In older building, built before 1975, you will find in one of the stairwells, most likely not a heavy traffic one, a Certificate of Occupancy.

January 20, 2017

Super Vectorizer 2

Super Vectorizer is a professional vector-tracing app that automatically converts bitmap image like JPEG, GIF, and PNG to clean, scalable vector graphics such as AI, SVG, DXF, and PDF. It supports tracing of color and grayscale, black-and-white, skeletonization, and line, as well. Super Vectorizer uses a totally new image-quantization algorithm that produces more natural color after vectorization. (Whew! That's a long complex description.)

Basically Super Vectorizer will take an image and convert it to be a scalable graphic file. This is useful if you want to make a low-quality image to display awesome in a high-resolution environment.

This is a very useful application where you want to convert a trace that you made with a pen/pencil into a vector object so that you can scale it to fit in any environment. If you don't convert it, when you take a scan file to a higher resolution image, the image may have jagged edges.

Converting a file to a vector format, helps make your graphic file look good in any situation.

Exports to four different format type:

  • SVG - Scalable Vector Graphics is an XML-based vector image format for two-dimensional graphics with support for interactivity and animation.
  • PDF - Portable Document Format
  • AI - Adobe Illustrator Format
  • dxf - AutoCAD format

Tip: Affinity Designer users should save files in the AI format.

I found the application to be somewhat useful to convert graphic files into vector objects. The more colors an object has the more blurry the final results may look. It takes a while to figure out all the different adjustment that makes your final image look good. The preview helps you figure out which combo works best for your particular image needs.

Super Vectorizer
Converting Donald's Trump hat to a vector format.

Check out the "Make America Great Again" vectorized hat that was done using Super Vectorizer 2

Purchase Super Vectorizer 2

You can buy Super Vectorizer on the App Store. It's currently on sale for $9.99 (Regularly $29.99). It's a good deal for anyone that likes to convert images into vector format for some are work.

January 21, 2017

5 Ways You Can Help the Homeless Today

As millions of Americans are rushing off to work in a hurry after dropping the kids off at school, others are seeking an opportunity for warmth or how to find their next meal. Homelessness is a major issue in the United States and people are looking to help.

For those who are looking to lend a helping hand, but aren't sure where to start to consider the following options to help those in desperate need:

Educate Yourself

Often we are reluctant to help the person with a cardboard sign asking for money. A negative stereotype of someone who is a drug addict or an alcoholic crosses your mind which keeps you from giving them money, but this negative connotation couldn't be further from the truth.

Many people are homeless due to suffering from a mental illness, losing their job, or even from a disability. Many people don't realize that there is a great number of veterans that are being forced to live on the streets. According to this homeless veterans resource, the rate of homelessness found in veterans increase by over 14 percent from 2013 to 2015. An alarming rate that has been contributed by ranging disabilities. Take the time to understand these contributions to the rate of homelessness and see where your help is needed.


There are many ways in which you can donate. If you're unlikely to provide a homeless individual with money, consider contributing to an organization that specifically deals with the homeless population. By contributing monetary gifts to the organization you're directly supporting an organization to continue assisting this population.

If you're strapped for money, consider donating other things. Donating new or used items is always a great idea. It would be a good idea to discover their needs after educating yourself on what it's like to be homeless. Donate gifts such as clothing you don't wear, prepaid bus passes, hygiene products, food, linens, and first aid items. Although it might be out of the standard monetary donation, these items can be used and help someone in need.


If you're someone who is looking to make a positive impact in your community, there are numerous opportunities to lend a hand to others. Volunteers are the backbone of many organizations such as food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters.

Consider your skills and abilities and seek an opportunity within these non-profit organizations to see how you can help. Whether you're great at organization, heavy lifting, cooking, or just a friendly face to talk to, your help will be valued.

Become an Advocate

If you're strapped for time and money, consider reaching out to resources in the community. Take the opportunity to support organizations that help the homeless by promoting their cause on social media and throughout your community. You might consider reaching out to a local representative to discusses current legislation and what can be improved.

Another way to advocate awareness is to communicate the demand for help in local organizations that you can relay to friends, family, and co-workers. Getting your network involved can result in a larger impact.

Seek Help

If you've noticed someone suffering on the streets and can see their struggle, don't hesitate to call for local help. Too often people who are on the streets are unaware of the help that they are entitled to use. Without knowing that there is assistance available, they may never get the help they need. Be a part of their road to recovery by helping them with services provided in your area.

Although there are numerous ways to help someone suffering from homelessness, these options are sure to get you started today. Whether you plan to purge through your closet, pantry, or write a check; you have an opportunity to do something good for someone else. Be the reason that your community is a better place.

What are some other opportunities to help those who are homeless?

January 22, 2017

Credit Card Charges

Here's a recent post on Reddit on why it's very important to keep an eye on your finances:

Reddit Billing

This is not an isolated story. Many people don't pay attention to their credit card bills.

I know first hand because I used to work in the billing department at an online customer support center. I would get calls from very angry customers complaining about a charge appearing on their credit cards. They usually would request refunds for many months back.

Unfortunately we could not credit back charges that were more than 6 months old. We would tell customers that it's their responsibility to monitor their credit cards. At the time, Credit Cards companies agreed with this policy and would not credit back charges of more than 6 months. They would remind cardholders that they are responsible for their charges.

The key lesson here is to monitor your credit card, especially the debit card - where small re-occurring charges could be hidden between typical charges.

You may think your finances are in control, but the lesson of MPTPWz1026 father cost him $3,600.

January 23, 2017

Cinderella's Horse at the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

There are two special horses on the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel ride at the Magic Kingdom. These two horses are:

  • Cinderella’s Horse
  • Prince Charming Horse

Finding Cinderella’s Horse

When you get on the Regal Carousel you want to look for the horse with a golden ribbon on the tail. That’s the easiest way to find the horse. You’ll find it just in front of one of the seating areas.

There are a couple of other distinctions about the horse. Such as the horse face and flowers, but the easiest way to find the horse is to look for the golden ribbon on the tail, as it’s the only horse that has one. Tip: It’s not any of the horses on the outside of the carousel. The horse is in the second row.

Since most people want to sit on the horses on the outside, you may have a shot at sitting on Cinderella’s horse.

I couldn’t find the special horse from any of the videos from the last time we went to Disney World. I was able to get a front view:

Cinderella Horse Disney
Notice how the flowers goes down the horse neck.

Prince Charming Horse

Once you find Cinderella’s, Prince Charming's horse is right next to it!

January 24, 2017

Rapidly Open Multiple Pages at Once

Simple Instructions on opening multiple Tabs at one time.

Each week during Code Freeze, I need to verify the database changes that we are planning on shipping out. We maintain a GIT repository where database files are stored. There are many components to our application, and thus it requires me to verify different URLs.

Thankfully, using AppleScript and TextExpander, it's very easy to open up multiple sites in different tabs at once.

Quickly Opening up Multiple URLs

Here’s a sample AppleScript to open up three sites, each URL will open in its own tab. So when I need to open up 9 different URLs, I type in my TextExpander shortcut: show.sites

tell application "Google Chrome"
set websiteList to {"http://www.cryan.com", "http://www.boston.com", "http://www.yahoo.com"}
repeat with theURL in websiteList
   set myVar to theURL
   set myTab to make new tab at end of tabs of window 1
  set URL of myTab to myVar
end repeat
end tell

Sample Code in TextExpander

Apple Script Chrome

January 25, 2017

Affinity Designer Stamps

I created 9 different Stamp graphics to use with Affinity Designer. Whenever you need to Approve/Reject something you simply drag the graphic from the Asset panel to your image. These are 100% vector objects so you can resize, change the color and alignment to make it look good.

Download the Stamp Asset Group

Affinity Stamps

8 Easy Stamps included

  • Production
  • Development
  • Stable
  • QA Approve
  • Pass
  • Fail
  • Rejected
  • Awesome

Let me know if there any other stamp type that you would like to see. I’ll update the collection based on suggestions by the Internet community.

January 26, 2017

Boston Logan International Airport

Logan Airport

Boston Logan International Airport (IATA Code BOS) is the largest airport in New England. Most New Englanders call the airport, simply "Logan."

Since we are going to be flying out of the airport soon, I thought it would be interesting to learn a bit about the airport. Here are some things that I have learned about the airport.

Airport History

  • The original airfield was created by the United States Army
  • First airplane to land on the field was on June 13, 1923.
  • That's 19 years, 5 months, 27 days after the Wright Brothers first flight.
  • Commercial Aircraft started flying out in 1927.
  • In 1927, Charles Lindbergh and the "Spirit of St. Louis" landed in Boston after a solo flight across the Atlantic
  • Official Name is the General Edward Lawrence Logan Airport. (June 12, 1943)
  • Previous Name was the Commonwealth Airport, some people may refer to it as the "East Boston Airport"
  • In 1947, the airport became International with passenger flights to Canada, Bermuda, Lisbon and London.
  • In 1959, Massport took over the airport
  • In 1973, Massport built a 22-story airport control tower. (The largest in the world.)
  • Today the Airport covers 2,384 acres and six runways.
  • Currently rank 17th busiest airport in the United States.
  • The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger aircraft to ever have landed at the airport.
  • Private Planes can land at Logan Airport. Departure Fees start at $10 daytime. Nighttime field use starts at $59. - Massport Aircraft Operating & Parking Fees

General Edward Lawrence Logan

  • Born in South Boston and Graduated from Boston Latin
  • Served in the 9th Massachusetts Regiment in 1897
  • Commanded the 101st Regiment in World War I
  • Justice of the South Boston Court in 1914
  • Died July 6, 1939 and buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery
  • A statue of General Logan by Joseph Coletti was unveiled at the entrance to the former Boston Airport when it was officially renamed the General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport in a public ceremony in 1956.
  • The statue has been moved with each major airport expansion.
  • The statue is currently located on Porter Street. You will see it on your left as you get on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The joke around the city is that the airport is named after an infrequent flier. The question is: Why did Boston name an airport after General Edward Lawrence Logan? For all of his many accomplishments, Lieutenant General Logan never flew in an airplane.

January 27, 2017

Kant Generator Pro

kangt Icon

Kant Generator Pro is a text application written by Mark Pilgrim for the 68k Macintosh. The application had the ability to create some very creative random text using various modules.

The application hasn't been updated to work on Mac OS X environment. There was some development work done about 10 years ago to port this over to Carbon code, but the developer ran into all sorts of difficulties and gave up on the project.

What is Kant Generator Pro?

The best way to understand the application is from the author. This is the description of Kant Generator Pro from the "About Menu" in the application:

Kant Generator Pro was originally designed to generate text that vaguely resembles Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, a brilliant and revolutionary piece of philosophical writing which, for some time now, has been serving as the fourth leg of my wobbly refrigerator. It has since been expanded to allow you to generate anything you like. Several modules are included with this program which can create anything from thank you notes to excuses for being late to work. You can also design your own modules with the full-featured module editor.

As Kant Generator Pro once said (and may say again some day): "Philosophy teaches us nothing whatsoever about philosophy." Words to live by.

I found Kant to be an amusing application. It's fun to see what creative sentences that would be generated. The text content would be good when you need a placeholder text and don't like using Lorem Ipsum text.

Examples of The Excuse Module

Three example runs of the Excuse Module:

I stupidly plunged a leather punch through my son's leg, and when I was waiting for the repairman to get to my house there was this unspeakable fire, and then while I was scraping the strewn debris from my teeth, there was this explosion. Then I suffered a bout of severe paranoia, then there was this terrible hail storm, and then while I was scraping the bone chips from the floor, I suffered a petite mal seizure

Skip, this is Craig Michaels. It's sometime around 2:45 in the morning and I'll be a little late today. There was this fire, and when I was waiting for the insurance adjustor to arrive our dog contracted AIDS, and then while I was picking the broken glass out of my mouth, there was this cyclone, then there was this traffic jam, and when I was waiting for the towing company to show up our dog caught pneumonia...

"Excuses, Excuses" is based on the remarkable reasons a former coworker of mine would come up with for why he couldn't come in to work. The names have been changed to protect the guilty, but some of the instantiations are pretty darn close to reality. - Mike W. Miller

January 28, 2017

Logan Airport - Terminal C

Practical Gluten Free Breakfast Options at Logan International Airport.

If you're taking an early morning flight, there are some options for those that need to eat Gluten Free. However, your best safe bet is to bring along a morning snack. The last thing you want is to encounter cross contamination on a long flight.

One thing to keep in mind that if you're taking the first flights out in the morning, not all dining places will have all menu items. We have found that people will wait in line for Wolfgang Puck and PotBelly.

Gluten Free breakfast options at Terminal C

All restaurants are open at 5am and close 30 minutes before last flight.

  • Green Express - Fruit Cups and Yogurt [Post-security, gate C36]
  • GoGo Stop - Lots of Gluten Free Options, focus on healthy foods [Post-security, gate C33]
  • Currito - None of the breakfast burritos are gluten free [Pre-security, departures]
  • Au Bon Pain - No breakfast items [Post-security, gate C12]
  • Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express - See restaurant for current offerings [Post-security, gate C28]
  • PotBelly - Hard Boiled Eggs, Seasonal Fruit, Yogurt. (No Gluten Free Bread) [Post-security, gate C11]

Play it Safe and Keep it Simple

We have learned that it’s best to bring our own snack, and just get a fresh cup of coffee at Dunkin or Starbucks. The lines are both coffee shops will be long, but they do move pretty fast compared to a typical coffee shop.

Our daughter enjoys getting a fresh fruit snack in the morning and Green Express and GoGo Stop at the Jet Blue Terminal is a good place to go as we wait for boarding.

January 29, 2017

RavPower and Rav FileHub

The nice thing about the RavPower is moving Photo/Movies to/from your phone. In addition, it acts as an additional power source for your phone when you may need it.

Plus its really cool that you can access your USB devices.

Rav Power

RAV FileHub Limitations

There are some limitations to what your moving, for example, you can't move a music file from a USB Flash drive to your iPhone iTuned library. You can still play the music and video files on your phone. You have to do it within the RAV FileHub application.

Sharing DSLR Photos

The nice thing is that you can move photos into your photo library to share on your social network. So you can take pictures with your DSLR, and then use the RavPower to move the photos to your phone to share.

If you plan on moving a lot of files from an SD card, you might be better off using a Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader. This is because in order to use the RavPower you need to change your iPhone wireless network to access the card, which I can see can be annoying after a while.

Power Up Your Phone

I have the RavPower Model: RP-WD01 which has a battery with a capacity of 3000mAh. An iPhone 6s Plus has the capacity of 2915mAh, so the RavPower will basically just extend the life of the phone by a little bit. It's nice and light to have and could be useful for those time where I just need a quick charge.

My Joby power charger has a 6000mAh battery. This will charge up the iPhone 6s Plus at least a couple of times and perfect when I am taking a lot of pictures or video. (Like on a Field Trip or a day at the park in Disney World.)

RAV FileHub App

It takes a bit to learn how to navigate around the RAV FileHub. The top menus are in the background of the iPhone Plus menu bar. Because of that, I found its hard to click on the top navigation.

File Hum Screenshot

The App was last updated on January 30, 2015.

In Summary

The RavPower is a great tool to have when I want to share photos that I take with my bridge camera.

The device and application work fine together. I would recommend sitting down and playing with it for about 20 mins. Just so you get comfortable about how it all works.

Important Wireless Info

Default information on accessing the RavPower from your phone:

Wireless Access Point is: FileHub-2DFA
Wireless Password is: 11111111 (That's 8 ones)

January 30, 2017

Mississippi River in the Magic Kingdom

As you walk from Liberty Square, into Frontierland, just before the Diamond Horseshoe, there is a metal plate that goes across the entire width of the walkway. Under that plate, water runs to the lake.

Mississippi River Map
Google Map view of the Mississippi Bridge.

This stream represents the Mississippi River. To the east is Liberty Square symbolizing the eastern part of the United States with its colonial architecture and early American theme.

To the west is the early American frontier of Frontierland. If you look at the pavement, it changes on either side of the "Mississippi" following the Magic Kingdom's design of changing the walkways as you move from one land to another.

January 31, 2017

Sample Google Chrome Console Code

The neat thing about Google Chrome Console in the Developer Tools section, is that you can apply any JavaScript so that it would impact the page that your viewing.

For example, you could change the background color of the page to:

document.body.style.backgroundColor = "red";

Google has a Command Line API which gives you some additional functions to help modify the page.

Useful Chrome Command Line Code2

Here's some useful commands to see the power of Google's Command Line:

List Cookies that the site is using

This generates a list of the Cookies that your browser is using for this site. You can use it to verify the currect active cookies.

function listCookies() {
    var theCookies = document.cookie.split(';');
    var aString = '';
    for (var i = 1 ; i <= theCookies.length; i++) {
        aString += i + ' ' + theCookies[i-1] + "n";
    return aString;

List all Anchors on the Page

Listing all the Anchors on a page is a great way to verify that the anchor tags are displaying the correct values.

  var links = $$('a');
    for (each in links) {

Change Certain Links to Red

If the page is using jQuery. You can use a simple command to change some links to 'red.' This is useful if you want to verify external/internal links.