back in January of 2020
Growl is a notification system for Mac that allow users to customize how to handle notifications.
The application was created in 2004 as a utility to be the central command to handle all system notifications. It allowed application developers to just send notifications and not have to worry about how to display the information to the user. For users, the notification could be delivered via speech, email, or ignored.
Users have the ability to have all sorts of styles to show the notifications.
Over the years it gained a lot of acceptance and a very impressive list of supported applications.
In November 2011, Growl became a paid application to help support the full-time developers.
Apple Changed the Game
When Apple released OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) in 2012 it included a new Notification Center which allowed users to configure how to handle notifications. Essentially doing most of the functionality being done with Growl.
So is Growl still a valid application?
Is Growl a Dead Application?
You can still buy Grown on the Apple Store for $3.99. In fact it's rated #199 in the Productivity sales - second to last "Clear - Tasks, Reminders & To-Do Lists" is the last application.
However, there are plenty of signs that Growl is a dead application:
The last update in the Apple Store (2.1.3) was on October 29, 2013 - 6 years ago. This was to fix issues with Growl support with OS X Mavericks.
In the App Store, there are a lot of negative review about Growl - it currently has 2.6 Rating (Out of 5).
All support is being handled in the Google Discussion List. Most of the comments are about installing issues and how to uninstall.
No major browser supports Growl. In September 2012, someone put in a request to remove Growl from Firefox. It was removed shortly after. Opera removed support for Growl in version 17 on October 10, 2013. FireFox and Opera are still listed as supported applications on the Growl site.
There many "old" applications listed in the supported apps section. It is actually a nice list of old apps.
The open source code repository on Google Code hasn't recieved any new commits since October 12, 2013.
The last Blog post on growl.info was on December 13, 2013.
The last Twitter Post from @GrowlMac was on May 1, 2015.
I think Apple should check out the Growl Application to see if it works in macOS Catalina. I don't want to waste $3.99 just to find out.
If Growl is still an active application, they should at least have more activity on their website. Let people know what's going on.
A. Philip Randolph Statue
In the Back Bay Station, near the ticket counter, is a larger than life-size statue of A. Philip Randolph.
Brief Background About A. Philip Randolph
Asa Philip Randolph (April 15, 1889 - May 16, 1979) was a civil rights organizer. In 1925, he organized several Harlem railroad sleeping car porters into the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. It became the first black union to be recognized by the American Federation of Labor.
He directed several marches on Washington, including the famous 1963 march with Martin Luther King Jr where he delivers the famous "I Have a dream speech."
You can learn a lot more about A. Philip Randolph life on the A. Philip Randolph Institute Website. There is also a short video of A. Philip Randolph on YouTube.
Fun Facts about the Statue
Here are some fun facts that I found about this statue:
Statue was Commissioned in 1986.
Statue was unveiled on Saturday, October 8, 1988 - as part of the redesign of the Back Bay station. In attendance was Transportation Secretary Frederick P. Salvucci, James F O'Leary general manager of the MBTA, Norman Hill president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Richard Womack director of the civil rights program of the AFL-CIO. Also present was John Dukakis the governor's son. At least 400 people were at the ceremony.
23 retired members of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters were also in attendance.
Governor Michael Dukakis wasn't able to attend the ceremony as he was running for President of the United States.
In October 1987, Governor Michael Dukakis dedicated a station on the Orange Line to A. Philip Randolph.
Back Bay station was select for the statue because many of the early members of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters settled in the area.
The entire waiting area is named after A. Philip Randolph. The purpose is to turn the space from a waiting room into an education room.
The statue was done by Tina Allen. This was her first project. You can see her signature on the pants fold on the shoe that is touching the ground.
Text at the Base of the Statue
At the base of the statue is the following text, this is a bit hard to read since over the years, people have been sitting on the words.
Salvation for a race, nation, or class must come from within. Freedom is never granted; it is won. Justice is never given; it is exacted. Freedom and justice must be struggled for by the oppressed of all lands and races, and the struggle must be continuous, for freedom is never a final fact, but a continuing evolving process to higher and higher levels of human, social, economic, political and religious relationships.
Tina Allen Signature on the Statue
LinkBack and OmniGraffle
I use OmniGraffle all the time to create simple charts and text styles. There's a nice hidden benefit of using OmniGraffle and Swift Publisher - objects pasted from OmniGraffle link back to Swift Publisher.
This means that after pasting something in Swift Publisher, I can double click on the graphic and it will open that content in OmniGraffle.
This works because both Swift Publisher and OmniGraffle supported the open source LinkBack framework.
What is LinkBack?
LinkBack is an open-source framework for Mac OS X that helps developers integrate content from other applications into their own. A user can paste content from any LinkBack-enabled application into another and reopen that content later for editing with just a double-click.
Sample of OmniGraffle graphics in Swift Publisher
Why Use OmniGraffle with Swift Publisher?
OmniGraffle is useful because it offers more flexibility with some design tools.
Couple of Examples:
The Fill tool in Swift Publisher is limited to just 3 options: Color Fill, Linear Gradient Fill, and Radial Gradient Fill. In OmniGraffle, you have more options: Solid Fill, Linear Gradent, Radial Gradient, Double Linear Gradient, Double Radial Gradient, Stipple, Marker, Squiggle, and Plastic.
Shape Tool with Center Text. It's so much easier to create text in the center of shape in OmniGraffle than in Swift Publisher. Swift Publisher has some cool smart shapes, but I find it difficult to add text in the center of the object. In OmniGraffle, the shape flows around the text as you resize it to look perfectly.
Saxonville Mills Coffee
At the corner of Concord Street and Central Street is a small family-owned coffee shop - Saxonville Mills Coffee. This shop is very popular with locals. It first opened in June of 2018.
You can order ahead via postmates.com
I was in the area recently and decided to pay a visit.
Six Things I Learned
There is limited parking near the entrance as the parking area is also shared by other businesses in the Mill. There is additional parking directly across Concord Street. Note: It is a bit tricky to pull into the driveway when your heading North on Concord Street - watch for the turning traffic!
There's plenty of breakfast sandwiches and pastries. Lots of good selections. I opted for a croissant and a large coffee. They did have fresh hot oatmeal available - which would be great to enjoy on a snowy morning. The Cheese bread (P-o de Queijo) is not Gluten Free, they did have an egg dish that was gluten-free.
The coffee and croissant were very good. The croissant was nice and fresh!
The coffee cream station was next to the door, which is a bit weird if your eating in - you have to walk far away from the counter to get cream and sugar.
They have plenty of seating - I counted chairs for 25 people - with 2 high tables. Free WiFi is available - login information is available at the Coffee Cream station. I had no issues using Verizon's Data while I was enjoying my coffee.
They were very busy on a Saturday morning, which was surprising as a Dunkin Donut chain was right down the street. Most people ordered their drinks and treat to eat in. Service was a bit slow at times - I think it was they were busy with various coffee orders.
Jira Board Shortcuts for QA
Atlassian Jira is being used by more and more Engineering teams. It's flexibility and standard tools help make it easy for teams to track tickets and sprint progress.
During Sprint planning, it's very helpful to know some shortcuts to help make navigation easier.
Four Shortcuts to Know
There are four Sprint Board shortcuts to know. Simply type in the number when you're on the sprint board.
|Active sprints/Kanban board:
|Dock/undock the filters panel:
The last feature, "Dock/undock the filters panel" hides the left gray bar - which is not being used while you're looking at a particular sprint board view. By undocking the filter panel, you get the valuable real estate back.
Many people know that I love popcorn. Good popcorn is hard to find.
This weekend I had the opportunity to try popcorn at 2-venues: AMC Theater in Framingham and Roller Kingdom in Hudson, Massachusetts.
AMC Theater in Framingham
We went to the dine-in section and saw the 8 pm showing of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." It was a sold-out showing - which was a surprise for a movie that has been out for a month.
I ordered the large bucket of popcorn moments before the movie started. By chance, the people next to me ordered 2 large buckets. This means that they would probably have to make a fresh batch of popcorn. (Given the late hour and demand.)
The popcorn was good. It was nice and warm too, which is a nice surprise. It wasn't warm like it was under a heat lamp, no it was warm because it was freshly cooked. I liked the popcorn - and it was hard not to eat it all as I wanted to save some for my daughter.
The popcorn didn't come with any butter/flavoring which might have made it better.
Total cost: $9.50 - a lot of money for popcorn.
Ok, I get it. Not everybody goes to a roller-skating rink to eat popcorn. They are there to have fun on the rink and do whatever it takes to not fall down.
The popcorn is really good here. They cook it just long enough so that it's nice and crispy. In addition, they add the right amount of salt. You get a nice popcorn crunch in every bite.
Total Cost $2 for a box or $4 for a bowl (The bowl is worth it!) The bowl is about 1/2 the amount of popcorn in an AMC Popcorn tub.
I would recommend going to the Roller Kingdom than going to AMC - if you want good popcorn.
Buzzfeed is famous for the attention grabbing headlines. They try to make any "typical" story into something that is worth reading.
Ravi Parikh figured out a pattern to how buzzfeed create titles and created a page that would generate a "fake" Buzzfeed headline.
There's a bunch of common patterns in Buzzfeed titles so it was fairly easy to identify these and create this title generator. I also had some fun by switching out the noun/verb/etc word banks with words that are "themed" so we can see fake Buzzfeed titles with a different flavor.
What's fun about this is that you can use this to create titles for testing and to come up with creative blog topics.
LiveQuartz Photo Edit
The application LiveQuartx Photo Edit ($7.99) is a "simple and powerful editor for the Mac." It is designed for people that need a simple image application that don't want to learn how to use a graphic application.
Features of LiveQuartz Lite
Some of the tools that are available in LiveQuartz
- Layer Moving Tool - Move objects around.
- Brush - Paint/Color tool
- Duplication Tool - Like a stamp tool in Photoshop. Select a reference point, then click where you want to duplicate it.
- Drawing Tools - Draw line, stroke rectangle, fill rectangle, stroke oval and a fill oval.
- Gradient Tools - linear and radial gradient
- Rich Text Tool - Add text to an image
- Eraser Tool - Erases part of the image using the brush size.
- Background Eraser - Removes the background color of an image.
LiveQuartz has a lot of very cool filters, you could spend hours playing around with all the different ways to alter an image. This list is a small set of the 124 filters that are available
Some Filters that are available in LiveQuartz:
- Geometry Adjustment - Flip Horizontally, Vertically, Perpective Correction
- Distortion Effect - Bump, Hole, Glass Pinch, Twirl, Vortex Distortions
- Blur - Bokeh, Box, Median, Motion Morphology, Disc Blur
- Sharpen - Sharpen and Unsharpen
- Color Adjustment - Color Controls, Hue Adjust, Vibrance, White Point Adjust
- Color Effect - Color Curves, Color Map, Thermal, X-Ray, Photo Effect Fade
- Stylize - Edges, Gloom, Mix, Shadow, Crystallize, Bloom
- Halftone Effect - Circular Screen, CMYK Halftone, Line Screen
- Title Effect - Affine Title, Op Title, Triangle Title, Kaleidoscope, Paralletogram Title
The Background eraser is pretty neat. Simply select the tool, then click on what you want to be removed, you can "drag" the mouse to increase the number of colors that get removed.
It's a quick way to remove the background of an image - such as a sky or solid color backgrounds.
Limitation of LiveQuartz Lite
The lite version of LiveQuartz allows you to export one image per day (export, share, cut, copy, drag and drop, print) If you love the application and plan to use it frequently, you should consider purchasing an Unlimited license for $7.99.
If you think you'll just use the application for a week, you can subscribe just for 7-days for $.99
LiveQuartz is pretty cool tool, but I think using PhotoScape X is better application. It cost more - $39.99 for the pro version - but you have more capabilities such as applying filters in batch mode, creating collages, stickers, frames, light effect and so much more.
PhotoScape X does have a bit of a learning curve. I think it worth spending a few hours to learn how to use the application to get more out of a graphics program.
If you're just going to do some basic photo editing every once in a while, then LiveQuartz is a good tool to have.
Henry Bradford Endicott tablet
At the Massachusetts State House, near the Executive Wing, is a commemorative plaque for Henry Bradford Endicott.
Henry B. Endicott was an entrepreneur that came from a poor family and built an empire to be one of the richest men in the world. He built his wealth through the Endicott Johnson Corporation - a shoe manufacturer.
Henry B. Endicott gave back to the community:
- He donated shoes from the Endicott Johnson Corporation to those in need
- He arranged a relief train to provide needed assistance to those impacted by the Halifax Explosion.
- He was appointed as a food administrator and the executive manager of the Massachusetts Committee on Public Safety during World War I.
You can learn a lot more about Henry Bradford Endicott in the book about him,
Henry B. Endicott: A Brief Memoir of His Life and His Services to the State and Nation which is in the public domain.
Six Fun Facts About the Plaque
Here some interesting things that I learned about this plaque:
This tablet was made by the T. F. McGann & Sons Founders, Boston Massachusetts. They also did the Marvin Goody Memorial in the Boston Public Gardens and the "Winged Victory" statue at the Boston's World War 2 Memorial to name a few of the local work. (T.F. McGann signature is on the bottom right on the plaque.)
Henry Hudson Kitson was the tablet sculptor - you can see the signature on the left side.
The tablet was unveiled by Massachusetts Governor Channing H. Cox on December 15, 1921 - 672 days after Henry B. Endicott died.
The Governor said at the ceremony, "It is then high privilege to accept on behalf of the Commonwealth this beautiful memorial tablet, authorized by law and made possible by devoted friends and coworkers-his fellow-citizens. It records a great service nobly rendered. It deserves its place on the walls of this historic hall."
In 1920, the Massachusetts Legislature pass an act to appropriate $400 for a memorial in the State House. ($5,189.58 in 2019) An additional $2,500 was raised by 53 private citizens.
The bronze tablet is 69" by 41" by 3"
Text of the Plaque
Henry Bradford Endicott
Humanitarian Loyal Citizen
State and Federal
Executive of the Massachusetts
Committee on Public Safety
February 10, 1917 - November 21, 1915
IN A TIME OF GREAT NATIONAL EMERGENCY AND CIVIC STRESS A LEADER OF THE HOME ARMY HE PLACED HIS EMINENT ABILITIES HIS ENERGIES HIS LIFE AT THE SERVICE OF THE STAT AND NATION INSPIRING HIS FELLOW MEN TO SUPREME EFFORT IN BEHALF OF COUNTRY OF PRINCIPLE OF RIGHT IN GRATEFUL AND LOVING TRIBUTE TO HIS MEMORY THIS TABLET IS DEDICATED BY THE CITIZENS OF THE COMMONWEALTH.
Born September 11, 1857 Died February 12, 1920.
On of the nice features of Swift Publisher is the ability to apply image masks. These masks add a nice effect to an otherwise boring image.
Masks are a way to hide an area of the screen to produce some type of effect.
To use a Mask in Swift Publisher, simply select an image then under the Inspector panel, select the appearance, and then choose Mask.
Sample Image with mask
Lots of Masks
Swift Publisher 5 offers a lot of mask designs, in fact there are 116 designs to choose from.
Here's a "snapshot" of all the image masks that are available in Swift Publisher 5:
Create Your Own Mask
If you don't find the mask design that you're looking for, you can create your own mask. Simply create a black/white image and import it as an image mask.
Tips on creating a Custom Mask.
- According to Swift Publisher, the ideal mask image size is 519 x 519.
- You can create an Image Mask with any program.
- The images can be JPG or PDF documents.
- The areas of black are removed when a Mask is applied.
- You can't add the custom mask to Swift Publisher. Save the file in a reference folder to be found later.
- You can learn how to create a Mask using this YouTube Tutorial.
- If you don't have any creativity time, you can always buy a mask collection on Creative Market.
Fluff and Fold
Fluff and Fold is a laundry service in Framingham. It's unique because, for a while, they had an active social media account. They currently have a Facebook and Instragram account.
Opened in 2004
Open everyday from 6am to 10:30pm.
They offer self-service and full-service laundry - including dry cleaning.
You can drop off your dry cleaning and they will deliver your clean clothes to your home.
According to Yelp, Fluff and Fold is rated #1 Best wash and fold in Framingham, MA
Things I Learned
- $4.50 Regular White Washers
- $6.75 Large Washers - perfect for doing comforters.
- It cost $.50 for 10 mins to use the dryer. $2 for the standard 40-minutes dryer.
- There are 22 Dryers and 16 Washers.
- There are wheel baskets that you can take out to your car to easily bring in laundry.
- All the machines have credit card swipes. Make sure to follow the instructions on the dryers: 'Press Enter on the Reader to set Dry Time / Price before Making Payment. '
- Fluff and Fold also accepts Apple Pay.
- The self laundry can get pretty busy, there are only 3 chairs to sit down. They don't have any TVs (The use to.) However, they do offer free wifi - so you can watch YouTube or learn something on Udemy.
- There are plenty of tables available to fold laundry. For $.50, you can buy large fabric bags to take your laundry home.
Finding Fluff and Fold
Fluff and Fold is located on 740 Waverly Street, directly across from Monnick Supply Company.
New QA Memes
Here are some original QA memes that I came up with. These are just common occurrences that happen in QA. In particular, QA responding to conversations in Slack.
All of these images are Slack "ready" and will show up embedded in chat conversations.
These will also work as Jira comments too.
Check out the Library
These and all QA images are in the QA Graphic Library.
Alexa Advertising Test
Is Alexa, Google Home or Apple Siri listening to your conversations? Some people are fearful of having a smart device with fears that "big brother" is listening.
Some people believe that internet Ads are showing up based on everyday conversations.
So we are going to try something. This week we are going to try an experiment to see if Alexa is listening.
We are going to pick a word/phrase and say it frequently. We'll use something that has nothing to do with regular conversations. We'll see if that influences Internet ads that we see.
We'll put the word on a Post-it Note near the Alexa as a reminder. This experiment should last for at least one day. We'll use the word in a sentence - just to make sure that Alexa knows it's something that we use frequently.
As a changeup, we'll use a different word in the car just to see if there's something unique with Amazon Alexa Echo Auto.
Sample Word Ideas
Some words to that we may consider - the actual phrase isn't listed so it doesn't impact our experient.
- Spiderman Pin
- Pencil Sharpener
- Dog Food - useful if you don't have a dog.
- NFL Hall of Fame Museum
- Winning at Blackjack
- USB cables
- Tap Shoes
- Motorcycle Rain Cover
Next Week Status Update
I'll report next week on the status of our experiment. We go in this test with no expectations.
What do you think? Are you paranoid about using a smart device at home?
Photo Effects can really help make the most out of a dull picture. Tuxpi.com has a lot of cool effects that can help brighten up a picture.
This is a good site to use since the effects are very simple to apply and you can mix effects up to add a more dramatic effect.
60 Photo Editing Tools
- Change colors, create montages and add text to pictures.
- Crop, rotate and resize pictures with ease.
- Edit photos with many different effects.
- Add picture frames and borders.
- Online photo editor - works directly in your web browser.
I added the "Photo to Painting" and Focus effect to a photo.
Simple Frame effect
MicroWave Express vs Fission
I decided to take the MicroWave Express version for a spin. I decided to try the freeware version which has some limitations - exporting is limited to 10 seconds. Otherwise, the features are the same as the paid version.
Screenshot of the MicroWave Express
The paid version of MicroWave cost $19.99 and is available on the Apple Store.
Screenshot of Fission version 2.5.0.
Rogue Amoeba Fission cost $29 from the Rogue Amoeba store. You can download a test version of Fission from Rogue Amoeba site.
Here are my notes on playing around with the application for a few hours:
One cool feature that you can create new audio files in MicroWave. You can't create content using Fission, you have to use Audio Hijack to import sound. While it's bad that you have to use another app, it does give you a lot more flexibility on digitalizing the audio file.
You can't just add another track, like you can with Garageband and Audacity. The only want I could get an additional track is to export the mono file as a stereo to add the second track. Note: Fission only displays a single waveform while editing, but it does edit stereo files as stereo.
You can select different Wavelength colors. This is a neat way to customize the look and feel to something that you may be familiar with. You can select from Classic, Midnight, Graphite, Fruity, Building Bricks and Orcish Green. I personally liked the wave colors in Midnight and Orcish Green.
MacroWave allows you to edit the Metadata when saving the document. It's a good way to remind you to add it before saving. You can add it anytime using the "Edit Metadata" option. The only value that you can't add/change is the Artwork. In Fission, you can add additional notes, lyrics and Podcast URL information.
MicoWave supports Flac Lossless (.flac), Apple Lossless (.m4a), PCM Wave (.wav), AIFF (.aiff), Core Audio Format (.caf). Fission supports all those with the addition of MP3. Both applications have the ability to select the audio quality (Maximum Bit Rate, Channels, Sample Rate)
I found it easier to split the audio in Fission than in MicroWave. Fission allows you to easily split the audio clip into multiple files - including the ability to "Smart Split" which splits the audio based on silence. MicroWave does offer a silent detector that allows you to drop a marker. Fission seems to work better in my testing.
MicroWave Express has a lot of cool sound effects, such as Delay, Distortion, Graphical Equalizer, High Shelf Filter, Matrix Reverb, Pitch and many more. Fission doesn't offer any effects.
MicroWave is a pretty cool application, but I don't think it replaces Fission and Audio Hijack. I couldn't see the value of buying another sound application that does a lot of the same things.
Jean Louis Lefebvre De Cheverus
Jean Louis Lefebvre De Cheverus was the first Bishop of Boston. He was Bishop from 1810 until 1823.
On the building at 110 Frankin Street is a tablet where his home was in the early 1800s.
Text On the Tablet
On this site stood the residence of
Jean Lefebvre DeCheverus
First Roman Catholic Bishop
Beloved by Protestant and Catholic AlikeBorn in France 1768
Made Bishop 1808
Recelled to France in 1823
Later made Cardinal Archbishop
of Bordeaux where he died in 1836
"His thoughts were as a pyramid upheld
on whose far top anget stood and smiled
yet in his heart he was a child"
This tablet places by the city of Boston 1925
This tablet restored by the George M. Henderson Foundation
Five Fun Facts
Interesting facts about Jean Louis Lefebvre De Cheverus
Born on January 28, 1768 in Meyaeene, France,
Exiled to England during the French Revolution and soon came to America in 1796 to do some missionary work.
He spent much of the time in Maine with Penobscot Indians (He managed to speak their language.)
In August 8, 1810, Pop Plus VII made Jean Louse Cheverus first bishop of Boston. (Official documents didn't arrive until November 1, 1810)
He was loved by everyone in New England, people would come from all over to listen to him speak.
He was a friend to President John Adams and a frequent advisor to the Massachusetts Legislature.
On September 26, 1823, he returned to France on a promise to his family. King Louis XVIII requested him to return because of Jean Louse Cheverus poor health.
Before leaving Boston, he donated all his possessions including several books that help start the Boston Athenaeum. (You can still see the collection today!)
While in France he became the Archbishop of Bordeau.
He died on July 19, 1836 in Bordeaux, France
Art Text in Swift Publisher
Swift Publisher has a lot of really cool built-in text effects. It's really easy to create cool looking headlines.
What's even better is that if you have Art Text 3 installed, there's a link to the application. Allowing you to create text using Art Text and then instantly use it in the Swift Publisher document.
Just some of the cool fonts that are available in Swift Publisher.
What Value does Art Text Bring?
Build into Swift Publisher are a subset of pre-defined text designs that are based on Art Text too. There aren't any configurations other than text and size.
50 - 2D Text
35 - 3D Text
Art Text 3 provides more basic tools:
7 - Basic Text
28 - 2D Text
22 - 3D Text
Art Text goes beyond the basic designs by giving you a lot more control over Material, Effect, Masks and Geometry.
These controls allow you to customize your design so that works to your message.
Some Example designs that could only be created in Art Text 3.
If you're considering buying Swift Publisher, I would recommend getting Art Text 3 at the same time. The applications work well together and BeLight usually has a package deal that includes both applications.
B. Sisters Cafe
B. Sisters Cafe is located at 680 Worcester Road in Framingham, in the Ski Market Plaza. The location was once owned by Panache Coffee.
B. Sisters offer Sandwiches and Coffee in a clean quiet setting. It's a perfect place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and relax from a crazy day ahead.
The nice thing about this place is that it makes you feel at home. While their menu and selection may seem overwhelming, they will help with getting what you want quickly.
Five Key Differences over Starbucks
Just across the street is Starbucks. Here are the key reasons why you should go to B. Sisters instead.
Free Wifi with available seats and tables - Working from the Coffee shop? B. Sisters Cafe has plenty of room. The cafe is nice and quiet and you won't smell like a coffee when you leave.
Coffee and Tea - Try something different. Their "ice tea" is just hot tea with ice. They have just as many coffee choices and the prices are similar to Starbucks. They have a nice tea selection - and they will suggest something different to try.
Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo) - The Pao de Queijo is a great snack. The best part is they are naturally gluten-free!
Lots of food options! - From fresh Omeletts to Crepes to Mozzarella Panini. If you're working on your laptop for a while, you won't have to leave to get a good bite to eat!
Drive Thru Window - They have a drive-up window where you can get your coffee to go. (The Window isn't open all year round.)
Lots of room to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.
Human Testing better than Automation
Recently Ministry of Testing asked:
From a testing perspective, what are humans really good at?
Based on many years of testing, here are my four things that humans testing is good at. Automation is a great tool, but for these items, they are no match.
Four Ways Human Testing is Better than Automation
Exploratory Testing - Looking for ways to break functionality is best done with human testing. People don't always use the conventional path when using a website. Exploratory testing by humans can find unique bugs.
Debugging the route cause of a bug. Humans can use all sorts of methods to discover why a bug might happen. Humans can use the Chrome Console, log files and visual logic to better understand the root cause of a bug.
New Product/Feature Testing - It's better to perform manual testing when a product/feature is new. The feature could go through numerous changes - so human testing would best to start before investing in automation time.
Third Party Tools Integration - Using third-party tools that require logins. There's a chance that third-party companies could make changes that will break the automation flow. (Such as changing ids or layouts) Human testing can help bypass any complexity that third party websites have.
Every once in a while, I encounter an App in Apple's iOS app store that makes me think twice...
PhotoSaver is today's... wait a minute.. I shouldn't download this...
PhotoSaver is an app that lets you protect your photos from unwanted eyes by locking them in a secret vault. We value the convenience of our users and offer them the most effective way to protect personal data.
Five Things Weird About this App
This App first arrived on the Apple Store on November 13, 2019, by AI Pro LTD.
There are already 79 reviews with most of them being 5-stars. (The first 5-star review occurred within days of being released.) Check out all the reviews, you'll see a common writing pattern.
AI Pro LTD. produces no other applications - which is amazing for a company with so many 5-star reviews. There is no website or software company called AI Pro LTD.
According to AppAnnie.com the application download ranking has been poor. The best rank has been 704 downloads for the Photo and Video category. Search Man shows that the PhotoSaver Vault App is trending higher.
The support website is https://photosaver.net/ and registered on September 9, 2019.
I would recommend avoiding the app. I suspect that they set up a bunch of fake users to write reviews to influence people to download their apps.
Check out this "top reviewer," Sounds like a "sales pitch" more than a review:
Griocithya Review on 12/28/2019
Amazing little app.
In short, this is a brilliant photo storage app. Your pictures are cleverly stored and can be transferred with ease into the hidden folder. The app is organised perfectly which makes it very simple to navigate. This also makes the app surprisingly quick. You can place multiple pictures into yhe secret gallery at the same time, so if you have a lot pictures that you would like to keep safe, away from anyones reach, you can do it very quickly by choosing which pictures to store in which album. There are two albums, which is a feature that I'm seeing for the first time in any apps of this kind and it really came to my liking. Other apps mask themselves as calculators which has gotten very pubic, so everyone knows that if you're using a calculator on your phone, you're probably scrolling through your secret photos. However, this app does something very original which makes the main function of the app endorsed by the fact that no one knows about it. Whats even better is that it doesn't show any kind of ads, which is a massive prompt to the makers. You can use it as many times as you like and not even once get interrupted by some weird crap game ad. Amazing value, slick design as well at it being very simple it makes it a walk in the park to figure out. Also, don't worry about having to buy more storage within the app as it uses the storage on our phone so as long as you have free space on your phone, you should mbe ready to go!
Sometimes a message stands out on an image with a sticky note. The Sticky-Notes Generator over at Webestools makes it easy to do that.
The Sticky Note Generator has 12 different styles and 59 fonts to make your style unique. It takes a bit to properly fit the image on the note. I found that I had to play around with the Horizontal and Vertical positions to make the text-align perfectly on the image.
This generator lets you create free sticky-notes online. First, you have to choose the text, the font, the size, the position, the text color and the background color(can be transparent). Finally, you have to choose the sticky-note style from the following sticky-notes gallery. When you will finish filling the form, you have to preview the result by clicking on the "Preview" button. If the result looks good, you can download the sticky-note by clicking on the "Download" button or you can create a permanent image by clicking on the "Get the URL" button.
Setting up a Better Display on your Retina Computer
One of the things that I noticed on my new iMac (Retina 5k, 27-inch, 2019) is that my screen resolution seems to be the same as my old Mac. I have a bigger monitor, but I am not seeing the difference in actual space.
Turns out that the issue is with the Display Resolution. I was using the "Default for display" which makes the display appear the same as before. I didn't know there's another option that can be set.
I saw a YouTube video which suggested to change the Resolution to Scaled and then select the "More Space" option. This set the contents of the display to be smaller - basically getting more use of the 5k Graphics card.
There is a disclaimer at the bottom of the Scaled section which says, "Using a scaled resolution may affect performance." I was wondering what type of performance degradation I would see.
In some instances you may see a slight delay after typing something before an action appears on the screen. This is a very small amount, we're talking milliseconds - but slightly noticeable.
It's good to know that changing the screen resolution doesn't impact the overall performance of the computer. So making the resolution change would be good to set up if your doing Movie or Sound Editing. Probably not good if you spend time writing a novel or email.
Works for Me
I like it because I can now edit personal websites and see them on the screen side-by-side.
Boston Landmark Map
Boston is a great historic city. It's known as the "birthplace of the American Revolution" because many historic events took place here.
There are hundreds of historical sites of the American Revolution for visitors to explore.
You can find all the "Official Historical Sites" on the Boston Landmark Commission Map.
This is a useful map to see all the important places to check out. Simply click on an object and get more information about that location.
You may notice that many "popular" spots are missing from this map, such as Paul Revere House, Old North Church, etc. Many of those sites were protected before the Boston Landmark Commission existed.
Boston Landmark Commission
Since 1977, The Boston Landmark Commission job is to help preserve important buildings and locations around the city. Its role is not just limited to century-old architecture but all historic structures.
You can get the download the status of petitions from the City of Boston.
Getting listed by the Boston Landmark Commission is an honor. This is their explanation of the difference between the National Register and the Boston Landmark Commission Landmarks:
Listings on the National Register of Historic Places is an honorary designation by the federal government. The listing recognizes the site is historically significant at the local, state, or national level. Projects involving federal or state funding are reviewed, but there is no protection against demolition.
Designated Boston Landmarks, including buildings in Historic Districts, have a higher level of protection. Commissioners must review and approve any changes. They base their decisions on guidelines developed through a public process.
Swift Publisher has a lot of built-in templates to generate the right canvas for your design. In fact, there are 761 Professional templates available. Some of these template designs are mixed in with other templates. For example, if you search for "Father and Daughter" design, you'll see the one design incorporates 5 different layouts
While not every design would work on a Blog or Social, You can create your own template for your own style of creativity. This is helpful when you want a good starting point. (There are some good social design ideas here!)
- Creating Your Custom Template
- Start with a blank template and define your document size.
- Add and text and styles you want in it.
- Once done, go under File -> "Save as Template" and give it a unique name
The new template will now appear under the "My Templates" section of the Template Gallery.
Kanji Wind Chime
If you ever drove down Union Street towards downtown Framingham you might have seen a strange object in front of a house. This might catch your eye, as it did mine, wondering what it is and why it's there.
Is it some important historial marker?
This is a Kanji Wind Chime that was put up by the neighbors who live at this address. It's not a historical marker or some symbol. It has nothing to do with Framingham.
There are four Kanji symbols on the base, I could only transcribe three of them: Cut Grass, Hanging Scroll and 9th Calendar sign. (Thanks to Ben Bullock's Handwritten Kanji Recognition to help transcribe it.)
It is an interesting garden art - I wasn't able to find a copy of the design any place else.
Finding the Wind Chime
The Wind chime is located on 132 Union Ave in Framingham Ma. Google Maps doesn't have a picture of it.
Apple Numbers (QA Fail)
Apple makes things easy - which is why I like using it as my computer platform. Just about everything is easier to do on Macintosh.
However, they seriously failed with making graphs in Numbers.
On Christmas Day, I was trying to create a chart of how early my daughter would wake up Christmas morning.
I was struggling with generating a chart from a bunch of data. Basically it was a spreadsheet that had years as one row and times in the second row.
Here's a sample shot of the data:
When I clicked on the "Insert Chart", this is what I got:
Looks like I'll have to do a lot of chart manipulation to make this to work. (I tried putting the data via column view and got the same results.)
I put in the exact same data in a Google SpreadSheet, select the fields and clicked "Insert Chart" and got a perfectly matched chart:
What I Learned
Apparently if I need to create a quick chart, the way to go is to use Google Spreadsheet (or Excel). Apple Numbers isn't all that user-friendly when it comes to creating charts.
Apple should make it simple to create charts - they do have some unique layouts/styles that aren't available in other applications. I shouldn't have to be a chart master to make it work - especially if the data is simple.
Downloading Quality 4k Videos
This weekend I was playing around with 4K videos and Apple Photos. I was testing various methods of getting videos onto my desktop without using Apple Photos to download videos from my iPhone XS Max.
When I AirDrop videos from my iPhone to my iMac, there was a bit of extra compression that happened.
The 4k video now uses the HD Color profile, when I download it from Photos it's using P3 D65 (12-1-1) - which is the same compression being used in Compressor 4.4.
I don't see any real difference of loss in video or audio quality with the new compression, I am sure it's done to save space.
It didn't save much space as the original size was 165.5 and the AirDrop version was 186.2.
Drag to Dashboard Test
My next test was to see what would happen if I took the download video from Photos to the Dashboard.
Turns out that the color profile also gets altered to use the HD (1-1-1) Color Profile.
Technical details on the differences of the types in my testing.
What I Learned Today
So here's what I Learned.
To get the absolute best quality video, your best to download it using the Photos App. Then to put it on the desktop - to get use in Final Cut Pro or any other application - select the video, Select Export then the "Export Unmodified Original." This will keep the video in the original format, which might be easier to work with.
Random Binary Number Generator
The Random Binary Number Generator is a fun way to generate numbers. You can use this as part of a background or design for a blog or social media post.
You can generate a very large set of random binary numbers so the image pattern looks unique.
5000 random binary digits. Reload the page (F5) to reset the numbers. Or try the other memory training scripts.
Sample Designs Generated
Here are a couple of sample designs that were generated using the Random Binary Number Generator and Affinity Photo and Photoscape X.
Last Fall, I purchased TextSoap 8.5 because it was on sale for a great price on BundleHunt - $5. It regularly sells for $44.99 - I thought it was too good of a deal to pass up!
This is an application that I have briefly looked at in the past but never convinced that it would be something that I would use on a regular base.
TextSoap is a text processing tool that automates the tediousness of removing extraneous characters, wrapping broken paragraphs, fixing quotation marks, finding and replacing common text, and so forth. It comes with more than 100 built-in 'cleaners' and also lets you create your own custom solutions.
What about BBEdit Text Factory?
Some of the features and functionality can be duplicated using BBEdit Text Factory. BBEdit Text factory capability is a bit superior because you can run Unix commands as part of the action. This allows you to integrate powerful UNIX tools to your text.
BBEdit Text Factory Screenshot
TextSoap's Custom Cleaner Screenshot
Key advantages of TextSoap
After Playing around with TextSoap for a while, I came up with several key features:
- TextSoap "Scrub" Cleaner does a great job of cleaning up the text. It's the one-stop tool to get the text looking in decent looking condition.
- The TextSoap menu option allows you to access TextSoap tools any time you have text selected - in any application, even Chrome text fields. Making it easy to fix up text where ever you are. Simply select the text, select the menu item, and the text gets replaced with the cleaned-up version. You can't do that using BBEdit!
- TextSoap Editor makes it easy to find the tools you need. The search capability gives you instant access to many valuable built-in tools.
Elephant Memorial at Fenway Park
Long before crowdsourcing became a thing - In 1914, the children of Boston help raise enough money to place three Elephants at the Franklin Park Zoo.
There is a marker at Fenway Park to remember the occasion when the Elephants first met the children of Boston. It was the largest gathering at Fenway Park. (Due to current fire rules - this looks to stand forever.)
Elephant Prints on the Ground in the Grandstand area
Things I Learned
- Boston Post's publisher Edwin A. Grozier came up with the idea of having children collect money for the city to buy the elephants.
- Only nickel and pennies were accepted in boxes that were put in stores all around the city.
- The city raised: $6,000. ($151,948.45 in 2018) If they were all pennies it would be weigh 38 lbs.
- 70,000 Children and Parents attended the event on June 6, 1914 - the gates were to open at 9am, but such a large crowd gathered that they opened it up early.
- The elephants spent the night at the park before they came out on the field.
- In 1914, the Average Baseball attendance at Fenway Park was 6,055!
History Fun Facts
- Babe Ruth would joined the Red Sox a month later - July 11, 1914
- Largest crowd for a Baseball game at Fenway Park was 49,000 on September 23, 1935.
- Largest Concert crowd for a Paul McCartney concert was 36,064 on July 10, 2013.
Remembering the Elephants
- Mollie died on April 22, 1921 of a heart attack- Harvard's Natural Museum has the skeleton. (Some media outlets called her Molly)
- Tony died on January 19, 1939 of cancer
- Waddy died November 5, 1940 - one of the longest elephants to live in captivity.
Sign at the Park
Swift Publisher as a Blogging Tool
Swift Publisher 5 is a great desktop publishing application. The application allows users to quickly put together a professional-looking brochure or business card.
Did you know that Swift Publisher is also a good program to create blog graphics. You can use it as a compliment Affinity Designer and PhotoScape. Over the next few weeks, I'll highlight some of the cool features of Swift Publisher.
Four Reasons I like Swift Publisher
- Text Tool Effect - Swift Publisher comes with 83 text styles - 49 2D text and 34 3D text. These are great for making eye catching text headlines. (Also great for social media posts.)
- Image Mask - Swift Publisher comes with 110 masks. These can easily applied to any image - making a "standard" picture stand out a bit more. It's nice to have a one click and done effect. Th
- Clipart Collection - There are 2,000 ClipArt collections included with purchase. Thees are pretty good by themselves. There's an Extra Pack where you can get a lot more. In addition, Swift Publisher makes it easy to use images from Google Images.
- Calendar Tool - I don't use this all the time, but this tool generates a monthly Calendar whenever you need it.
Check it Out
By no means will Swift Publisher replace the features in Affinity Designer. I have found that these applications work well together. There are times where I just want to put together a simple graphic with a cool text or image mask.
I think it's worth using Swift Publisher as a Social Media / Blogging tool. Check out the website and download a free trial today.