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Boston

Mather Tomb

Oct 31, 2019

Copp's Hill Burying Ground is said to be haunted by Increase Mather, according to Bostonians.

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Mather Tomb
Internet

ShortPixel

Sept 22, 2018

If you want to reduce the size of your images, ShortPixel is an awesome tool to use.

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Short Pixel Feature

Hot off the Press... back in February of 2020

Snow Day Calculator

The weather in New England has been too bad for schools. Boston Public Schools has had only one school day calculation during this 2019-2020 season.

The season isn't over yet.

Use this calculator to predict if your school is going to be closed tomorrow because of snow. We have found it to be pretty accurate before any major announcement is made.

Snow Day Calculator
https://www.snowdaycalculator.com/calculator.php

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

Fix GoPro FishEye on a Mac

Using GoPro as a photo camera is cool because you can get a lot more in the shot. The downside is that you have a FishEye effect. Just about every graphic program has some solution to fix the problem.

Here are the useful solutions that I have found for PhotoScapeX, Affinity Photo and Graphic Converter.

I did a test against a photo taken of Copley Square in Boston. I used my GoPro Silver 7 camera.

PhotoScapeX

Photoscape X Go Pro

Use Lens Profile Correction.

Under the Transformation section is the "Lens Profile Correction."

Select "GoPro" and then HERO5 Black - as that's the latest model available. It works pretty well.

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo Go Pro

Use the Lens Correction Preset.

Use the Develop Persona. On the right, you should see a Lens tab. (If it's not there, enable it by going under the View menu, select Studio and then Lens.) Select the Lens Correction checkbox. Under Lens profile search for GoPro. I like the "GoPro Hero 3+ black & compatibles".

The nice thing is that you can make it a favorite by clicking on the heart. So in the future, you can just go to the Favorites section without having to search for GoPro.

Graphic Converter

Graphic Converter Go Pro

Inverse FishEye Effect

Under the Effect Menu, select "Lens Geometry"", then "Inverse Fish Eye." I found that the "Method 4" produced the best look for my photo.

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

Sacco and Vanzetti Plaster Sculptor Mold

In 1920, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are two Italian immigrants who were charged with murdering a payroll clerk and a guard.

Many people felt that they did not receive a fair trial. There were charges that the prosecution suppressed evidence and the judge might have some bias to their anarchist views.

Dispite large protests and request from around the world, the pair were executed on August 23, 1927, in the state prison in Charlestown.

In the Boston Public Library, there is a large plaster sculptor to remember the two men.

Gutzon Borglum Plaster Work

Things I Learned about the Plaster Sculptor Mold

President Calvin Coolidge denied a stay of execution for Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti on the same day that he dedicated the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota.

Gutzon Borglum, who it is most associated with the creation of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, was not happy with President Calvin Coolidge's decision not to stay the execution. He volunteered his time and services to create a special plaster sculptor to remember the two Italian immigrants.

A special committee tried to present the Plaster Sculptor and bronze sculpture to several Massachusetts officials in 1937, 1947 and 1957. Each time they were turned down. The politicians didn't want to be part of the Sacco-Vanzetti story.

At the 1947 request, Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein made public statements that the state display the sculpture.

Sometime after the last attempt both the plaster cast and the original bronze sculpture went missing. The plaster mold turned up mysteriously in 1960 at the home of Aldino Felicani, a Defense Committee treasurer. He donated the cast to the Community Church in Copley Square. The original bronze sculpture whereabouts are still not known.

In 1977, Michael Dukakis issued an official proclamation indicating that Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti did not get a fair trial.

In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of the executions, Boston Mayor Tom Menino and then-acting governor Paul Cellucci formally accepted the sculpture at the Boston Public Library.

The plaster sculptor is now located next to the Wiggin Gallery and the Rare Book Room of the Boston Public Library at Copley Square.

The area of the Wiggin Gallery and Rare Bookroom is currently under construction. I have been told that the public won't have access to see the Plaster Sculptor Mold until sometime in 2021.

Three aluminum copies were made from the Plaster mold. One now hangs in the Community Church in Copley Square, another one is at the Gardner Jackson Library at Brandeis University, and a bronze can be found at the Gutzon Borglum Historical Center near Mount Rushmore.

Text on the Plaster Sculptor

The paster mold is seven feet long and three and a half feet high, it showed the men in profile next to a quote from Vanzetti's final prison letter.

What I wish more than all in this last hour of agony is that our case and our fate may be understood in their real being and serve as a tremendous lesson to the force of freedom so that our suffering and death will not have been in vain.

Trial of Sacco and Vanzetti

More informaiton about the trial and it's impact in Boston's History will be in a future blog post.

  Filed under the Boston category. - Permalink

Tables in Swift Publisher

Swift Publisher can add tables for your projects. They are simple to use and offer some flexibility in laying out content.

Application Description

Tables are commonly used to organize text and numeric data. Sometimes, tables are used to arrange text or images on the page, such tables are usually made invisible.

Moving, resizing and other common operations work with tables just like with other objects.

Swift Publisher Table

Six Things I Learned

- The only way to create a table is to use the Table menu from the Insert Menu. In other words, you can't convert a text into a table format, you have to start with the table then add content.

- You can add columns and rows on any table by right clicking on the table and selecting the appropriate action.

  A quick way to add a lot of Rows or Columns: Select any Table, right click, select "Edit Table" and then you have the option to Add/Remove Rows and Columns.

- You can easily tab through the cells, when you tab at the end of a row the first cell in the next row is selected. If you are at the last row, a new row gets created.

- If you want to clear the table content, select the row/column, right click and select "Clear Cells." There is no option under the Edit menu.

- Copy and Past text from Numbers or Excel just paste in the cell values and not a table format with the values.

Take Some Time To Use the Tables

As I was playing around with the functionality of the table in Swift Publisher, I found it to be a very useful feature. It took some time to understand how tables work.

Its worth spending some time with the application to get the most out of the tables functionality.

It would be nice to have a conversation functionality to "jump-start" a table in a document. For example, if you had some data from a spreadsheet that you would like to display in a flyer.

  Filed under the Swift Publisher category. - Permalink

Melting Pot (Framingham)

The Melting Pot is a Fondue restaurant chain that offered heated pots of cheese, chocolate for dipping and cooking. Gues could pick out their own broth or chocolate treats.

Once really nice thing about the Melting Pot is that they offer good gluten-free options - even for dessert! They had delicious gluten-free brownies that could be dipped into various chocolate sauces.

On February 18, 2020, the Melting Pot in Framingham closed its door. This was a surprise move as most people found out about it via social media and local news reporting.

The Melting Pot Framingham

Five Things I Have Learned

  • - The popular restaurant first opened in early December, 2006. It was the first Melting Pot location in Massachusetts.
  • - The Melting Pot had a lot of great choices and was a popular place to eat on a weekend night. For most consumers it would be a two-hour experience.
  • - They not only offered fine food, but they had a fine wine and mix drink selection. Everytime that we went we would be impressed with the wine selection that the waiter offered.
  • - Today the is only Massachusetts location and it's located in Bedford, Massachusetts. (At the corner of Route 62 and the Massachusetts Turnpike.)
  • - A restaurant called the Melting Pot opened on January, 14, 2020 in Cambridge. However, a month later the owners put in a request to change the name of the restaurant to Base Crave. This is probably because it was not affiliated with the national chain. Base Craze serves Nepalese food, not Fondue.

  Filed under the Framingham category. - Permalink

Jira - Show Recent Comment issues

Sometimes you may want to track comments you made in Jira Issues. This might be needed for a variety of reasons:

  • Track issues that you worked on to record testing hours.
  • Hold Engineering accountable for responding to issues you listed.
  • Track team members comments on projects

Currently there's no "easy" JQL query to search for specific information related to the comment field. The only way to search Jira for comments is to use the Dashboard Activity Filter search tool.

Tip: You can set up multiple gadgets on a Dashboard to perform different searches.

Jira Activity Stream
Options with the Activity Filter in Jira

Setting up the Tracking Comments on Specific Projects

Instructions on setting up the dashboard to view recent commented issues.

  1. Go to the Dashboard, and create a new personal Dashboard
  2. Click "Add a New Gadget"
  3. Search for "Activity Stream" - You'll need to click "Load all gadgets" to see it.
  4. Click "Add gadget" to the right, then click Close.
  5. Click "Add a filter" define the project.
  6. Click the '+' and then use the selector to use "Username"
  7. Enter in a login, such as yours.
  8. Then click the '+' and then use the selector to select "Activity"
  9. Enter in Comment in the text box.
  10. Set "limit to 99 items"
  11. Click the Save Button.

Assuming everything is right, You should now have a Dashboard view of your activity stream.

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

How to Improve the Visual Aspect of Your Branding Strategy

When it comes to building a brand, a large proportion of the strategy lies in creating great visual characteristics that people can easily remember. Your branding strategy is one of the things that can launch your brand high in the real world, and you cannot build a successful company without a good brand awareness strategy.

When it comes to the visual characteristics of your brand, things get a bit complicated just because sometimes people are confused about what is a good idea. Since your visuals like logo, color, slogan and etc. are the first thing that people interact with, you need to make them so they will enhance the 'wow' factor when someone sees it.

In this article, we will go through some of the ways you can improve the visual aspect of your branding strategy.

Visual Aspect of Your Branding Strategy Logo

Consistency

Consistency is very important when it comes to the visuals of your brand. The biggest mistake from new company owners is that they spend too much time building their brand visuals like a logo or slogan, and then they remain inactive which means there is nowhere to show those visuals.

You must be active with your visuals and present them in a good way so people can interact with your brand. No matter how good are your brand visuals, if people can't see them, it will be all for nothing. So make sure you establish a good network of promoting your company and always stay consistent when it comes to sharing brand awareness posts.

The job is not finished by designing your logo

People spend so much time and money on designing the perfect logo and often stop with the branding visuals. It is important to note that your job is not done by creating a logo. You need to incorporate that brand identity in practice. For example, you can move on to employee uniforms, store design, social media post design, and etc. Remember, building a brand is just like telling a story. The more visuals you incorporate about your brand, the better understanding people will have about your company.

Understand your target market

Before you start creating any kind of visuals for your brand, it is very important that you understand your target market. In other words, you need to know to whom you are speaking with your brand and what are their characteristics, desires, and requirements.

If you miss your target audience, it may result in catastrophic for your brand. Once you know your target market, you need to create visuals that will be appealing to them and still illustrate what your company is about. This will massively increase the chance that customers will choose your brand over your competitors.

Don't focus only on social media

Yes, social media is probably the best way to build your global branding strategy. However, as we mentioned before, you need to tell a story about your company, and social media has its limits. You need to focus on all visual aspects of your brand, from in-store promotions to outdoor advertising or email marketing.

Evoke emotions

Nowadays, people choose their brands over what they feel about them, and the visual aspect is essential for evoking emotions. The best way to create a popular brand is by establishing connections with customers. All big brands use this kind of strategy for provoking a strong emotional reaction. Remember, visuals are a much better representation of your company than words, and you can increase customer willingness to make a purchase.

These are some of the tips for improving the visual characteristics of your brand. It is a long-term process that needs to be done just right in order to have a positive result. Following these tips will launch your brand as fast as a horse launching on the Kentucky Derby. The key is to go for a business that you feel passionate about. That way you will improve your storytelling, and you will know what your customers expect from you.

  Filed under the Business category. - Permalink

Chmod Calculator tool

Setting UNIX permissions on file and folders are important. If it's not part of your everyday job you're likely to forget the difference between chmod 777 and chmod 755.

Thankfully the Chmod Calculator tool is available. The site provides an easy way to properly write the syntax of the permission that you want to set.

Website Description

Chmod calculator allows you to quickly generate permissions in numerical and symbolic formats. All extra options are included (recursive, sticky, etc). You'll be ready to copy paste your chmod command into your terminal in seconds.

C Hmod Calculator
https://chmodcommand.com/

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

DropZone 4

Three years ago I wrote a short blog post about a cool utility that I found called DropZone. It menu utility that makes it easy to perform some operations on the Mac.

On January 29th, DropZone 4 was officially released. According to the Developer's Blog post, the biggest change is that DropZone is now a subscription-based application. To use the App premium features it will now cost $1.99 a month or $24 a year.

Dropzone34
DropZone 4 vs DropZone 4

5 Things I Have Learned about DropZone

  •   I use the application to transfer images to this Blog. It's very easy to simple drag an image up to the menu bar and drop it to the right location on my server via SFTP.
  •   As much of the application is useful to everyday tasks, I don't think I'll upgrade to version 4. There's nothing special that prompt me to upgrade at this time. I am not happy about the subscription service.
  •   At somepoint, I'll have to upgrade to use the latest features. I did see that SetApp service has DropZone 4. It costs $8.99 per month (annual). This has support for more applications. This might be a better way to go.
  •   The Applications that I have in DropZone are handy to have when I need them. They are miscellaneous apps that don't merit always being in the system dock, but having them in DropZone makes it easy to access.
  •   I started writing an Anchor Tag action. DropZone scripts are written in Python - which isn't a programing language that I am familiar with. DropZone provides a reference teaching at CodeCademy where you can learn more. I just haven't had much time to work on the script.

Error in DropZone 3

If your running DropZone 3 and running into the following error, let me know. There'a an easy fix to get this working again.

/System/Library/Frameworks/Ruby.framework/Versions/2.6/usr/lib/ruby/2.6.0/rubygems/core_ext/kernel_require.rb:54:in `require': cannot load such file -- net/scp (LoadError)

Leave a comment below or send me an email: Webmaster@cryan.com. I'll help you out.

New Videos Coming!

I have gotten several requests to add video examples to the Macintosh Posts. Starting next week, I'll add a 5-minute YouTube clip for the Macintosh Posts.

Thanks for the feedback!

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

Early Signs of Spring

Boston has had a mild winter this year. While, February 5th is the official the middle of Winter. Many Bostonians feel that its usually not until the end of February when you get a sense of the kind of winter it will be.

Yesterday I saw an early sign of Spring in Boston's Back Bay:

Back Bay02192020
Yes, those are early Spring flowers popping out of the ground.

This was taken on St. Botolph Street, which is located next to Coply Place mall.

How Much snow accumulate in Boston?

According to Current Results Boston tends to get very little snow in March and April.

Fun Facts About Snow and Boston

- Fun Fact: in the 123 year history of the Boston Marathon there has never ever been a cancelation because of the amount of snow that was on the ground.

-Fun Fact: According to the Farmers' Almanac's Extended Forecast 2020 the Northeast is expected to more than the average amount of snow fall for the remainer of the season.

-Fun Fact: The most snow that has fallen in Boston was during the 2014-2015 Winter season when 108.6-inches of snow fell. It was also one of the most challenging times for the MBTA Commuter rail as there were numerous train delays and cancelations.

-Fun Fact: One of the worst days was February 17th, 2015, where trains were experiecing more than 60-minute delays.

  Filed under the Boston category. - Permalink

Master Pages

Swift Publisher has the ability to use Master Pages - the ability to create similar functionality throughout the document.

For example, if you want the company logo to appear on the same page or have a similar background watermark.

Swift Publisher Master
Showing how to add a Master Page to a Content Page.

Five Things I learned Using Master Pages

  • When you create a new page a Master page isn't applied right away. You have to assign a Master page to your Content Page.
  • To access master pages you can select "Master Pages" from the view menu. In addition, you can select Master Pages from the Page Panel Window. (Use the Option-Command-P shortcut to toggle the Pages Panel Window.)
  • Each Master page is identified by the letter in the alphabet. Every time you add a page it increments to the next letter in the alphabet. If you delete a master page, the pages after it names will reset to the previous letter in the alphabet. There is no way to change the Master Page name.
  • To apply a Master page design, right-click on any content page in the Page Panel window and select the "Apply Master Page" menu item, then select the Master page you want to apply. (Note: This is where custom page naming would be handy, especially if you have a lot of master pages.)
  • When you apply a Master Page to a page, the name of the applied Master page will appear to the right in the Pages Panel. This makes it easy to identify which Content pages are using which Master pages.

  Filed under the Swift Publisher category. - Permalink

Massachusetts State Troopers Monument

The Massachusetts State Police General Headquarters campus (GHQ) is located just off of Route 9 in Framingham. At the Police Headquarters is a small memorial to the Massachusetts State Troopers who have fallen in the line of duty.

State Memorial

Four Things I Learned

  • Memorial was placed in 1960. They have been 21 Massachusetts State Troopers who have died since 1960.
  • I wasn't able to find any information about the memorial or why it was placed at the location. There don't appear to be any special ceremony around the memorial.
  • There are no names around the memorial, the memorial in Boston has the Trooper's names.
  • Sergeant James H. Marshal was the only trooper to die in 1960. Prior to that, it was Patrolman Wallace E. Mathews who died on April 23, 1953.

Memorial Text

Text of Memorial

Here's the text on the memorial:

In memory of those state troopers who have completed their last patrol and have gone before us. May they Rest in Peace in the Company of God.
Donated By
Former Mass. State Troopers
1960

  Filed under the Framingham category. - Permalink

QA Time Constraint

There are only so many hours in a test cycle. Any given company there's always more test than there is time to complete them. Obviously every product manager wants their test to be run at every release.

Yes QA Testing time is Finite.

Q A Time Constraint

Five Things I Have Learned about QA Time Constraints

Here are some of the things I have learned over the years that have made managing short test cycles. Not all of these strategies apply to every situation - many of these are from different companies with different test cycles - but they can at least help QA move testing forward.

  • Propoer Planning prevents Poor Performance - QA Project leads should have an understanding of major changes that are being done in the upcoming release to decide what areas the team should focus more on. For example, if many changes were don't to support mobile, then probably less testing should be done with print actions.
  • Acceptance Testing - Have a checklist of key functionality that should be working and tested in every release. These should always be working.
  • Automation Rocks- We all know the value of automation testing - it can certainly help QA test more in a short amount of time. The downside is that QA needs to monitor the results for False Positives and False Negatives. Manual testing may miss some "obvious" bugs because testers are rushing through a test to find obvious bugs. Automation is great because it can run tests a 1,000 times the same way. It's not going to miss something because the tester is rushing through to find the most obvious bugs.
  • Find Bugs Early as Possible - Use Critical Path testing to find bugs early in the test cycle. Work with the Product and Marketing team to identify all the critical paths with various products and services. The earlier you find blocker/critical bugs the better it is for everyone.
  • Check List - Having a physical checklist helps to make sure that the product is well tested. This helps identify when you have to balance testing with offshore teams and make sure that everything has been touched. I have found a checklist is a way to track that testing is being done.

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

Cost of Movies in Theaters

Recently I went to the AMC theater in Framingham to see the newest Stars Wars - about 6 weeks after it was released. I was a bit surprised by how much it cost for two to go to the movies.

This just shows you why fewer people are going to the movie theaters:

Star Wars Ticket

However buying or renting movies can be a cheaper option:

Movie Rental Tickets2020

Obviously you don't get to see the movie on a large screen, However, it's a cheap way for a family to see a movie that they don't have to see in theaters.

Today's home theaters are much better than those from the 80s and 90s. Movie Graphics and sound are pretty good - still no match for the large theater - but certainly a good reason why people avoid seeing some shows on the big screen.

  Filed under the Business category. - Permalink

Aspect Ratio Calculator

Aspect Ratio is critical to making sure that your image looks good no matter how it displays. The 16:9 format is the most common format for images on the web.

One way to know that your using the right ratio size is the Aspect Calculator. It's a simple tool that can help make sure that your blog or social media post will look good.

Website Description

This little tool will help you calculate aspect ratios and dimensions for your videos or images. This can also be used to check if you are working at the correct resolution.

Aspect Ratio of 16:9 ("Sixteen-by-Nine" and "Sixteen-to-Nine") which is also known as High Definition (HD) became a leading aspect ratio since the start of the 21st century. It is the international standard format of HDTV, non-HD digital television and analog widescreen television PALplus. Today many digital video cameras have the capability to record in High Definition format, and it is the only widescreen aspect ratio natively supported by the DVD standard.

Aspect Ratio Calculator
https://aspectratiocalculator.com/16-9.html

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

Graphic Converter Collage Tool

Graphic Converter is a popular graphic program. It's been around for a year, and has a very strong user base. The application keeps getting a better and great application for anyone doing graphics - even if you have PhotoShop, Affinity Photo or PhotoScape.

Inside Graphic Converter are some cool graphics utilities - one of them is the ability to create photo collages. It's a neat feature that some regular users may not know exist.

Since I use PhotoScape Collage tool every day, I thought I look into Graphic Converter to see if it's something that I should use instead.

Graphic Converter Collage Blog

Five Things to Know

  • You can find the Collage feature under the File > New > Collage...
  • Three different layout types: Freestyle, Mosaic, and Grid. Use the Shuffle layout to see more layout options.
  • Custom Canvas Size doesn't save previous use - there's no way to save settings. Which is a problem for me since I send out a Collage photo every day using a particular size.
  • There are three different ways to add borders; In the Layout: Space and Margin and in the Effect, there's Frame Width. So if you reduce the Space and Margin and don't see a change, it's probably the frame width.
  • There are 111 Frame Image effects. These are the exact same that's available in the Effect > Frame > Edge and Frame. You apply the effect to all the images in the Collage. It's not possible to select an effect per image in the Collage. To do this you would have to apply it to the image before setting up the collage.

My Take-away

While it was very cool to use Graphic Converter Collage tool, I didn't like how I would have to manually insert the page size every time.

I liked the graphic effects - that's pretty neat. It was neat to play around with the application to see all the capabilities.

So, for me, I'll stick with PhotoScape Collage tool for my "Photo of the Day" Collage work. Maybe if I am doing a special collage for print or for social media, I'll use Graphic Converter.

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

Poems of the Southwest Corridor Path

As you walk from the Back Bay Station to the Copley Mall, you may notice some stone markers with words on them. No this isn't a graveyard, and these aren't a monument to soldiers. These are the poems and stories of Southwest Corridor Path.

Southwest Corridor Poems

Five Things

  • There are 18 poems and stories along with the 4.1 mile-long parks Southwest Corridor Path. The trail begins at the south entrance of the Back Bay station and ends at the Forest Hills T-station.
  • The poems and stores were selected by community groups that selected the best ones for that area. Winners not only got their work engraved in stone but they also were given $1,000.
  • The stones were put up in the early days of October in 1987, (There doesn't appear to be an official ceremony.)
  • Orginally Funded by the Department of Transportation's Urban Mass Transportation Administration ( now called the Federal Transit Administration) as part of the Arts in Transit - The Southwest Corridor. (Comrehensive pubic art program manages by UrbanArts, Inc. for the MBTA.)
  • The poem "If My Boundary Stops Here" was written by Ruth Whitman. She wrote this poem as she imagined the journey of Tamsen Donner (Donner Party) to California in 1846. The Donner party attempted to travel to California but ended up snowed in the for six months in the Sierra Nevada.

If My Boundary Stops Here

Poem By Ruth Whitman

If my boundary stops here
I have daughters to draw new maps on the world.
They will draw the lines of my face.
They will draw with my gestures my voice.
They will speak my words thinking they have invented them.

They will invent them.
They will invent me.
I will be planted again and again.
I will wake in the eyes of their children's children.
They will speak my words.

Counterpoint by Jane Barnes

This is part of the "Counterpoint" story on several of the stones:

Tom and Kate were walking home and Kate, the more responsible one, was scowling Tom for not having paid their rent on time. They argued walking down First Street going up the stairs to their apartment building and inside while they took off their coats.

"But Karie," he said, "I wanted to make sure it had cleared first."

"But you had four clear business days, Tom count them!"

Kate flung her coat on a hook in the vestibule and went to the piano. She opened the music to Bach's First Interception which she was working on. She began to plan the opening as she said, "And anyway, that'll be the second time we been a few days late. It's embarrassing."

Tom was walking around the living room turning on the lights while she played. "To who?" he said. "The super? The accounts are done by some old guy in a skyscraper. It's not like we rent from a real person."

  Filed under the Boston category. - Permalink

Dual Page Spread

Swift Publisher supports 2-page spread - the ability to see two pages at once. It's handy when you want to make sure that page elements look the same across pages.

Swift Publisher Page Spread

Using Templates Gallery

The Blank Facing Pages is the only template that I found that has a 2-page spread enabled. It's the fourth item that in the Blank Desktop Publishing category.

When you select this template you default to 4-pages with Page 2 and Page 3 facing each other. If you delete page one, the page spread will break.

You can't have a 2-page spread as you can do in Pages or Adobe Indesign.

Using the Blank Document Format

You can bypass the Template Gallery in the Swift Publisher General Preferences. Simply select the "Create blank Document" under the "For New Document" heading.

When you select the blank document, then the customize button becomes enabled. Click on the Customize button and you'll see an option for "Page Spread Mode." When you select the 2-Page spread the Number of Pages will increase to 4.

Now when you create a document, instead of the template gallery, you get the blank page with the page-spread enabled.

From the manual:

In the page spread mode, documents must have even number of pages. The first and last pages have no facing pages. Users cannot add, delete or reorder individual pages, but only page spreads.

Five Things I Learned

  •   You can't have single page It would be useful if you could have a side-by-side layout. Sometimes when I am creating documents, I want to make sure that the backside of a page is aligned with the front side.
  •   You can create custom blank documents that have 2-page spread enabled and save them as tempates - so they are accessable in the template gallery.
  •   If you have the "Create blank document" enabled so that you always create a document using the page size your familiar with if you use the short cut Option - Command N it will open the Template Gallery instead of a new blank document. A handy shortcut to know.
  •   The template "Half-Fold" is useful when you want to create two pages on a standard 8.5x11 document - such as a Church music flyer.
  •   You can not spilt pages of a spread, that is you can't add other pages between them.

  Filed under the Swift Publisher category. - Permalink

Golden Triangle

Framingham/Natick Golden Triangle is the largest shopping district in New England. The 3-mile+ area is located between the Natick Mall and Shopper's World.

Golden Triangle2020 Photo
Aerial Photo of the Golden Triangle area - Natick DPW

Five Things to Know

The Golden Triangle was created in 1951 with the opening of Shopper's World. The Natick Mall opened in 1966.

The Golden Triangle was originally was 3-miles. In 1993, it expanded to include Bjs just north of Shopper's World. In the 2000s it expanded further west to Concord Street, and more north on Speen Street and Old Connecticut Path.

There are eight hotels and two major car dealerships located in the Golden Triangle. TJX and Mathworks headquarters are within the Golden Triangle area.

The Golden Triangle has the fewest number of people within the 1/2 mile radius - yet it has the second-highest median household income. The area has the most employees by area (According to Framingham Study Data)

In 2018 A joint study by Natick and Framingham was done to stop the decline of retail property in the Golden Triangle. The study recommends making the area more open space with a new Greenway to be similar to areas like Assembly Row in Somerville, MA, and Storrs, CT. - Read the Joint Study.

  Filed under the Framingham category. - Permalink

Testing Complexity

Sometimes bugs are missed by QA because they are unique. They can be hard to find during normal regression testing.

Here are a couple of examples of bugs making it to Production due to complexity of testing:

France Translation

There was a bug that only occurred for French users of a website that I was testing. The bug occurred because the translated text was too long and as a result, a dialog action button was not visible.

QA missed this in testing because the focus on testing was on English. QA wasn't notified that a particular dialog box was being translated to French - which wasn't an issue at the time since text content wasn't part of QA testing.

JBoss Installation Instructions

At another company that I worked at, I was responsible for software QA while at the same time doing some installs and training for customers. The company developers put together some documentation on how customers can install the product. The problem was that the document only handled a particular set of customers and several customers started complaining about the inaccuracy of the documentation.

QA missed this because the document was working for many customers. There were no major changes in the application that would have resulted in needing to test the installation process with the customer instructions. What happened was the sales team was selling the product to a different set of customers that required QA to check the documentation.

I then walked through the installation with a couple of customers while at the same time updating the document to make sure that it was clear for particular environments and make sure the terminology matched the audience that was doing the install.

Five Things I Learned to Handled Future situations

While the above is very specific examples, there are many more similar bug patterns that I have seen over my many years of QA testing. Here are some things that I have learned:

  •   It doesn't hurt to every once in a while to take a step back and manually go through the sales flow of the application. Are things working as they should be? How does the product look to new customers.
  •   Work with Developers to get some QA tools to help with testing. The French problem was being solved by having a special URL query for QA to force the page to load with a particular translation. This tool makes it easy to test the key languages when major changes happen in the application. Also, it makes it easy for automation to test the button visibility against various languages.
  •   Review the code changes. It doesn't hurt to check out the code review to see what has been changed. Many times I have found that a code change was made without thinking of other consequences - for example, what happens if customers use non triditional UTF-8 characters.
  •   Learn from the Bugs that Excape QA. One of my weekly tasks is to review the causes of customer reported issues and to see how it was missed.
  •   Learn new QA tools. There's always something new to learn in QA. There's always some new Chrome Extension, JQuery tip, database query and security lock down.

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

How to Come Up With Great Ideas for Blog Posts Constantly

This is an issue that almost every blogger struggles with. After a while of writing blog posts, you start to exhaust your topics and cannot come up with something new and creative to keep the spark alive. Coming up with new and trending content is very important if you want to create a successful blog. It is something that will keep your audience engaged at all times, and at the same time, attract new people to visit your website.

Fortunately, there are different ways you can make sure you come up with great ideas for blog posts, and we will cover some of them in this article.

Cool Blog Idea

Create an idea file

Creativity cannot be controlled, and you don't know when a new and interesting idea is going to strike. That is why you need to be prepared to write it down. Since the idea might come and go, it is very important that you write it down and keep it safe for future submission. You can create a document or spreadsheet, where you will write down all of the ideas that pop into your head. However, that file must be accessible at all times (like an app on your phone), since you don't know when the ideas are going to strike.

Ask your audience

In order to receive an honest answer about what kind of topic to write about, you should ask your audience. Creating a positive relationship with your audience is crucial for success, and it will become helpful as they will give you valuable data to optimize your blog.

It is no shame to ask the readers what kind of content they prefer to read and optimize your blog to suit their needs. It is a win-win situation, as you will make your audience happy, and at the same time, they will provide topics for you to write about. Even though it is a simple method, only a few people are actually doing it.

Identify Trends

The hunt for the next big trend never stops when you are running a blog. This means that you are on a constant search for the topic that most people are interested in at the moment. However, identifying the next trend is a bit complicated since you need to establish thorough research. Fortunately, there are few tools that can help you with that.

  • Google Trends - Is the most commonly used tool for searching trending topics over a specific timeframe.
  • AnswerThePublic - is a website where you can enter any term and get a massive list of synonyms and related terms that people search for.
  • BuzzSumo - You can find out ranks for topics and what are people are writing about by entering a keyword.

Watch Your competitors

Obviously, sometimes you need to focus on your competitors in order to get the right idea for writing engaging content. It is not stealing if you are simply looking at what topics they cover and how they perform with the audience. If you decide to steal an idea for a topic, try to infuse it with your own brand flavor and transform it to suit your blog.

Expand your existing content

Sometimes if your existing content works, you just need to dig deeper into the subject. You should search for the best performing content on your blog and write an in-depth analysis of that subject covering other areas.

By covering some of the existing content, the process might lead you to new ideas for a topic that you've never published on your blog.

These are some of the ways you can keep your content fresh at all times. Remember, since this is a creative process, you cannot expect that the ideas will come to you as fast as a running quarterback on the SuperBowl. There is a saying that states: "Foolish bloggers go out in search of ideas, efficient bloggers allow ideas to come to them." So, keep finding new methods to inspire yourself, and you'll be laughing.

  Filed under the Business category. - Permalink

SVG Calendar Templates

This time of the year people are updating calendars for events and holidays. It's hard to find a decent calendar to use as a template.

Mensch Mesch put together a website that generates a calendar in three formats - Block, Horizontal and Vertical. These are available in Scalable Vector Graphics format, which means these can be created and edited with any text editor, they are scalable and can be printed with high quality at any resolution.

Website Description

With my free SVG Calendar Tool you can create different types of SVG Calendar Templates (Scalable Vector Graphic) for all Affinity products.

SVG Calendar Generator
https://svg-tools.mensch-mesch.com/calendar/

I like the block format as it's a good starting point for recurring event format.

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

BCS 13 Font Collection

FontDoc was updated last October to work with the latest MacOS.

The application is now a 64-bit application that also supports Dark Mode. There are some additional fixes with how fonts were printing out.

Boston Computer Society PD CD

In the 1990s the Boston Computer Society would produce yearly CDs of Public Domain software. This CD would be packed with all the best shareware and freeware applications.

For many people it was the only way to check out the latest and greatest apps for the Macintosh.

The CD was broken down into many categories - Developer, Graphics, Games, Business and Fonts.

BCS 13 Fonts

Fonts

Could Fonts that were on that CD still be able to be used today? Could Fonts that were made for System 8 be useable in MacOS 10.15?

There best way to find out is to open up FontDoc and point it to the Font folder on the BCS Font Disk. (In this case, I used BCS v13 disk)

After a few minutes of waiting, FontDoc was able to successfully preview 313 fonts! Wow!

I am impressed that many fonts were available to me. Many of these are Shareware Fonts, but I don't think the developers still live in the same location - or have the same Compuserve address.

Example of one of the Read-Me file:

This font, Townsend, is based on Tuscan Egyptian, a wood type font collected by Rob Roy Kelly in his book "Wood Type Alphabets" (Dover Pictorial Archive Series,1977). The font dates from the Hamilton Co. in the 1880s. No attempt has been made to remedy small defects in the letters, to preserve the feel of wood type. Punctuation symbols have been improvised since they were missing from the font as collected.

This font is shareware. If used, it must be registered by the payment of $5 to the address below. Registering the font brings a disk containing ten Tuscan wood type fonts, also registered.

This program is copyright - 1992 by Sidney Bowhill, 555 Annursnac Hill Road, Concord MA 01742. It may not be modified or translated into another format without the permission of the copyright owner. It may be freely distributed or published, provided this notice is attached.

Try it YourSelf

If you have an old Font CDs around, use FontDoc to quickly see what fonts are still usable in the latest MacOS.

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

Massachusetts Enters the Union

It was on this date in 1788 that Massachusetts officially ratified the Constitution of the United States and became part of the Union.

Massachusetts Map

Five Fun Facts About Massachusetts Entering the Union

  • The Constitution was ratified in the Old State House. Every year on July 4th, at 10am the Constitution is read from the balcony.
  • The Massachusetts Constitution was adopted in 1780.
  • John Hancock was elected as the first governor on October 25th, 1780 and was the sitting governor when Massachusetts ratified the Constitution.
  • Population in Massachusetts was 378,787 in 1790 (The first census)
  • Boston was the third largest city in America - New York was number one and Philadelphia was number 2. Today Greater Boston is the 21st largest city in America.

Massachusetts Compromise

Today is also when the Bill of Rights became a requirement of the United States Constitution.

Many people may not know that Massachusetts didn't easily adopt the Constitution. Anti-Federalists felt that the Constitution didn't give many individual rights. It took a lot of convincing by notable Federalists John Hancock and Samuel Adams to get the members of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention to accept the United States Constitution.

The Massachusetts Compromise was to amend the Constitution with the "Bill of Rights." A set of rights that ensured that the Constitution didn't give powers to the elite and remove the individual ideas that so many people fought for.

The compromise help ratify the Constitution on this day in 1788 by a vote of 187 to 168.

Five other States soon passed the Constitution with four of them using the Massachusetts model of recommending amendments along with the ratification.

The Constitution was officially ratified on June 21st, 1788. George Washington inauguration was on April 30, 1789.

  Filed under the Boston category. - Permalink

Image Bundle Pack

When you purchase Swift Publisher, you have the opportunity to also purchase a Extra Bundle pack. This bundle pack contains 400,000 clip arts and 100 open type fonts.

Swift Publisher comes with 2,000 images. Is it worth getting the extra images and fonts?

There's no real answer to that, as it all depends on if the included images are something that you would actually use. Fortunately, Belight Software allows you to check out all the images included:

Checkout the 400,000 Images

Swift Images Bundle
https://www.swiftpublisher.com/useful-articles/additional-clipart-images

Checkout all 100 fonts

Swift Font Bundle
https://text.design/text-design-resources/additional-fonts

I think the image pack is worth it - if you are doing a lot of newsletters or reports. It's so easy to use the image search within the application.

Just keep in mind that this database contains 4-GB of data - so if you're short on disk space you may not want to install everything.

Other Solutions Available

Thanks to sites like depositphoto.com, Creative Market and ShutterStock, you can search for graphic files that you really need. At the end of the day, your buying images that you'll actually need.

Deposit Photo is a good option because there's a link right in the applications.

Some of these solutions might be more expensive, but if you are likely to use them more - then it may be worth the additional costs.

  Filed under the Swift Publisher category. - Permalink

AMC Framingham 16 Theater

The only major theater in the Framingham/Natick area is the AMC Framingham-16 theater. It's located at 22 Flutie Pass, Framingham Massachusetts.

A M C Theater Framingham

Interesting Timeline

  • December 16, 1994 - Open as "General Cinemas 14". The movie theater was previously located at Shopper's World as Shoppers World Cinema. It featured 14 theaters. Immortal Beloved, Legends of the Fall and Dumb and Dumber were all released that weekend.
  • March 21, 2000 - General Cinemas Theater upgraded the theater to a Premium Cinema. It also expanded to 16 theaters. The Premium Cinema served food before the show. The dine-in theaters offered alcohol and no one under 21 were allowed
  • April 18, 2015 - Grand reopening with new fully reclining leather seats, dine-in auditoriums and a separate bar and lounge. The over-21 restrictions were removed during this remodeling. This is the first time that Fork and Screen has been introduced.

Things I have Learned

During the first year of the 2000 opening, it was the top-grossing theater for AMC on the East Coast.

The theater was designed by Robert Luchetti Associates. Other designs they worked on include The Basketball Hall of Fame, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, St. Michaels School and many more.

The premium theater cost more than a regular theater - even if you don't order any food from your seat. In 2003, the premium seats cost $17.50 per person. Today it cost $12.99. (If you order online or via the AMC app there is a $3.79 convenience Fee.)

You can save money by purchasing discounted gift cards at BJs or AAA.

The Dine-In theaters are on the left side of the building, as your driving in. If you are seeing a show in a Dine-In theater you should park on the left side of the building - so that you're not walking that far after the movie gets out.

Most theaters allow people in at least a 1/2 hour before the scheduled showtime.

People that order popcorn in the Dine-In gets a large popcorn tub. Regular concession users will only get popcorn bags.

  Filed under the Framingham category. - Permalink

How Bugs Escape

There are many reasons why bugs are missed by QA and eventually make it to Production. Here are some of the reasons that I have encountered over the years in various QA roles.

How Bugs Escape

Complexity

Sometimes bugs occur because the bug occurs during a complex situation. These are hard for QA to detect or identify.

For example: If you have 99 items in your cart and your language is French, the shopping cart page crashes.

Realistically these aren't going to be found by QA. With a little help from Devs, QA can formulate test strategies based on code changes. Such as learning more about a 3rd Party library or support for Unicode.

Time Constraint

QA Tasing time is finite. There's always too little time to test every possible situation.

This is why test strategies are so important. During off time, the QA team should get together and audit regression testing. The team should focus on what risk areas should QA be a focus on.

This is why developers' testing steps are important. QA should get a "heads up" on what to test.

Stale Test Case Repository

Bugs may escape QA because the manual test case repository tests might be state. How often are you looking at manual regression tickets? Are they update with the latest design changes? Are QA Testers actually following through the steps?

At previous companies that I have worked with, we review the manual regression steps with key stakeholders on a regular base. How often? Usually when there's a big design or code change. It's a good way to get some input in how QA is testing their product.

Don't take manual testing for granted. Make sure to review manual test cases on a regular base - especially if there's a lot of bugs making it in production.

A good QA Manager once told me, "that if an automation test case passes several releases, it should be audited. The test may not be challenging the code enough to be useful as part of regression."

Learn More

In the month of February, I'll explore more into how Bugs escape QA testing. I'll talk about various strategies that I have found to work well to combat these bugs.

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

Playstation Vue Alternative

Starting February 1st, Playstation has discontinued using the Playstion Vue Live TV service. In a recent blog post, John Kodera, Deputy President, SIE said the following:

Today we are announcing that we will shut down the PlayStation Vue service on January 30, 2020. Unfortunately, the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected. Because of this, we have decided to remain focused on our core gaming business.

Comparitech

This is the first Live TV Streaming Service to be canceled. Which leads to viewers that have cut the cord to scramble to find an alternative solution to replace the service.

Comparitech Has a Solution

In November 2019, Mark Gill, wrote an article that provides practical alternative solutions to PlayStation Vue. It's well written and has an unbiased look at all of the available solutions.

Comparitech
https://comparite.ch/playstation-vue-alternatives

Five Key Take-a-Ways

  • The article goes over 12-alternatives - yes really there's that many viable alternatives available!
  • There is no "go-to" solution. As none of the alternatives offer the exact same channel line up as Playstation Vue. You'll have to figure out what stations are important to your needs.
  • You get screen shots of each service.
  • THe article talks about VPN solutions to get around geographic restrictions. There's different VPN solutions for each alternative solution.
  • The article doesn't end with the solution to buy. It's up to you, the reader, to find the one that works best for you.

Great Read

THe nice thing about the article

I highly recommend reading this as a lot of work was done in putting together the report and it is very well researched.

  Filed under the Business category. - Permalink

WhatTheFont

Have you ever encountered a font and wondered what it was? Wouldn't it be great to use it in your design?

WhatTheFont takes the guesswork out of figuring out the font. Simply upload an image with the font and in a few seconds, you'll get the best matching font. You can then buy the font right away.

Website Description

How it works: WhatTheFont uses deep learning to search our collection of over 133,000 font styles and find the best match for the fonts in your photo. It even works with connected scripts and when there's more than one font in an image. Just upload an image, click the font you want to identify, then check out the results.

For best results, upload a good quality image, and make sure the text is horizontal. We'll detect the text in the image automatically, then you can click the font you want. You can draw a manual crop box if you want, but be sure that you only draw it around one line of text.

Happy font hunting!

What The Font
https://www.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/

Some Tips

For the best results, use a high-quality scan of the font.

If you don't want to buy the font, you can always Google the font family name and see if anyone may have a free version available.

However, If you're going to use the font for business, you should purchase it.

There are other websites that offer similar services, but what WhatTheFont better is that they have a very large database to select from.

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

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