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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 June of 2021

Manual Of Style

Sometimes QA will encounter some wording that may look a bit off. They may need some clarity on the reading of the text.

One of the best solutions is the Manual of Style by Wikipedia. This is the writing style guide that is being used for millions of webpages.

This is a useful reference to have when you're looking for support to a better solution than being implemented.

Manualof Style Logo

Example Format

How should you display the date?

April 5th, 2021 - June 4th, 2021

According to the Manual of Style, the easy to read format would be:

April 5 - June 4, 2021.

Stlye for the Modern Era

The nice thing about this style guide is that there's a whole section on hyperlink format. Check out the link section to get an idea on what text to link to.

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

Apple Devices 1080p

This is my last weekly contribution to the Final Cut Pro blog post. I won't be doing that much video work as my volunteer video recording has come to an end. I am happy with the work that I did and got positive feedback from a lot of people.

I distributed my Final Cut Pro videos to YouTube. It seems to be the favorite way of distributing content for most people.

I was disappointed when Apple changed the export option and removed the ability to export directly to YouTube. It was supposed to be an easy way to get the video to YouTube. Starting with version 10.15.1 it would be gone.

F C P Export Selection

Apple put in a new option to export videos to Facebook and YouTube. It was designed to be an easy export option.

The thing was that it wasn't better. When you put in content in the description field, it didn't get carried over to YouTube. You would have to re-enter the description again. Wasn't really a good time saver.

My Option

I have played around with the YouTube and Facebook export option and hated it. The export video file was huge. It took a long time to render and then I would have to upload the large file onto YouTube and Facebook. This upload time would take a while and the larger file size means that it would take a while for YouTube to render it

I found that doing the simple export "Apple Devices 1080p..." worked perfectly well. The video saved quickly and I was able to distribute it quicker.

The quality of the video was fine. If your shooting 4K videos then using YouTube and Facebook might be better. Otherwise, I believe it's safe to go the standard route.

  Filed under the Final Cut Pro category. - Permalink

50 Ways to Get Hired

Today's Media Monday clip features a sound byte from the "50 Ways to Get Hired." by Harold Max Messmer (narrated by David Hartley) This was created in 1994.

At the time of the recording, Harold Max Messmer was the chairperson for Robert Half International. Robert Half International is a global human resource consulting firm. It is credited as being the world's first and largest accounting and finance staffing firm.

This audiotape was part of a series of recordings that were done to inform the general public on what good talent looks like for Robert Half.

Listen to some of the tips that Harold gives about writing a resume. Try to think if that information still applies 27-years later.

You can find the Audio Tapes on eBay by a variety of sellers.

  Filed under the Media category. - Permalink

How to Edit video: Guide to Film and Video Editing

Film and video editing seem to be a crucial thing these days. With the massive demand for video content all around the world, video editing has become a staple skill for many. Editing a video in the proper manner is a skill that is easy to implement but very difficult to learn and be knowledgeable about. It takes a lot of time before you can master the art of video editing.

If you are new to this field and finding it confusing to decide how you can be a good editor, then we can help you. We will share some essential tips that will guide you through the process of video editing in 2021.

1. Choose a Good Software

First things first, you have to choose good editing software before doing anything else. Throughout your career as a professional video editor, you will be working with various editing software. When it comes to selecting a good editor, several options are available to you.

You have to be careful while choosing the best one among all of them. The editor you are going to choose must have all the basic set of features that will help you tweak the video with simplicity.

If you are new to editing, you should not choose an online video editor with a complex UI and design interface with loads of advanced editing features. This will only make your task even more difficult in the longer run. Instead, you should be comfortable using the software, and it can only be possible if the editor has an easy-to-use UI.

Some of the best video editing software you can choose are InVideo, Avid Media, After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, and DaVinci Resolve. Each of these editors has a host of unique features that have a blend of all the basic and advanced features. Lightworks, Autodesk Smoke, and Sony Vegas are some more video editors you can try out if you want to keep things simple.

2. Use a Fast Computer

You don't need to spend $20,000 to get a fast PC. Absolutely not! You can build a fast computer even on a reasonable budget. You need to know which are the components that you have to focus on and which are the ones where you can be lenient.

When you are setting up an editing PC, you should have a computer that comes with quick rendering speed, good storage, and a display that shows you crystal clear results. If these are addressed, then you don't need to worry about anything else on the computer.

Choose an SSD as your primary storage to get faster speeds across your system. You can couple that with an HDD for secondary storage. A very high-quality SSD contributes to better rendering, loading, and export speeds.

Next, you should have at least 8GB of RAM for a smooth and lag-free editing experience. After that, you can get the processor and video card of your choice and according to your budget. Then, get yourself a good monitor that has an excellent refresh rate and possibly an AMOLED or OLED panel.

3. Watch Video Editing Tutorials

The best way in which you can become a good editor is by watching other videos and learning from them. Yes! Learning should never stop when you are into this business. In the world of editing, things are always changing and evolving to a whole new level.

That is why you have to keep yourself updated about everything around you. You should pick out some reliable and popular editors and watch all of their tutorial videos on the internet as a beginner. In addition, many websites offer free video editing courses to amateurs.

So, learn from them. The more you learn, the more you know, and the better you can implement them in real-time.

The best part about becoming a video editor is that several resources are available for free from where you can learn. They will help you to work on your skills and acquire the right set of skills and knowledge to work on more advanced projects in the coming days. Never give up on the process of learning in this field.

4. Practice Some Habits

In every profession, there are some habits that can completely change the way you work. The same goes for video editing as well. The first habit you should work on is never to forget to keep a backup of your work. Backing your files in the system or on a cloud server is of huge importance when you are a video editor.

A small mistake or error can erase hours of work. Next, you should never overuse any resources. Just because you have them doesn't mean you need to keep using them over and over again. This will ruin the original essence of a video.

Never ignore the quality of the audio that is coming out from the audio. This is a habit that a lot of people can't always stay committed to. They don't like spending hours correcting the audio in their projects. But, you should always focus on the audio, just like you do with the video.

Lastly, you have to learn how to be patient. If you are impatient in this field, then your career will soon be over. There will be many instances where you will spend days and still not get one edit right. So, be ready for it.

Final Words

Making films and videos has become the talk of the town in recent times. Almost 80% of the population has indulged in making some sorts of videos and posting them on social platforms. So, are you also willing to be a good video maker and editor?

Then these are some tips that you need to focus on in the coming days. In order to become a good editor, you have to pay attention to both the technical and psychological aspects of video editing.

So make sure to check them out and follow them in real life. Give it some time, and you will see that you are slowly becoming the editor you have always dreamt of becoming in the near future.

  Filed under the Business category. - Permalink

Mic Test

One of the worst thing that could happen on a Zoom call is the microphone to fail. The worst is if the video fails - but that's an obvious failure.

You can easily test your Microphone by using the Mic Test. This easy to use site allows you to visually see how well audio is coming through your microphone.

The nice thing about this test is that its browser-based, so if the microphone is working on this page, it should work on any website.

Website Description

This website provides a simple online mic test that allows you to check if the microphone is working properly. Since it's a browser microphone test, you don't have to download or install any third-party software. Moreover, even if it may seem too simple, MicTests.Com will test your microphone regardless of its type or the device and operating system you are using. And to surprise you, even more, this mic test will display a lot of useful information about your microphone (for example, its name, number of audio channels, latency, sample size, and sample rate, as well as if it supports echo cancellation or noise suppression). In addition, if the tester will detect any problems with your microphone, you will receive tips on how to fix them.

Mic Test
https://mictests.com/

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

Turn off Notifications

Have you ever gotten those Notifications when you are sharing the screen? Perhaps you are sharing your computer and don't want people to peek into your text message notifications.

There's a simple way to fix that in macOS Big Sur

Big Sur Notifications

Big Sur Notification

Turn Off Notifications

  1. Open up the System Preferences'
  2. Select Notification ( Located on the right side of the dialog under Family Sharing.)

Now you can turn off all notifications for a particular durations. Alternatively, you can turn off the notifications for particular apps.

Suggestion: turn off Notifications for Slack, Messages and Mail.

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

WD MyPassport Wireless drive

Not all tools are great' Sometimes you learn things the hard way.

On March 4, 2020, I was cleaning my home desk and discovered something with my WD MyPassport Wireless drive.

My Passport Wireless

What Happened?

I kept this plugged in too long. That isn't the intended function of this device. This is supposed to be a quick storage solution, not a long-term external hard drive.

Thankfully the drive itself doesn't appear to be damaged, only the power supply around the drive is broken.

Four Things I Learned

Always have alternative backups of critical data! In my case it was vacation photos. Prior to the drive catastrophic failure, I did encounter some slowness with the device. I back up the photos to the cloud - the only files that I didn't back up are the RAW images. This is because many cloud services didn't offer RAW storage.

Use Cloud Storage. Cloud storage is great because of the search capability. macOS doesn't offer any OCR image search. Google Photos and Amazon Photos will scan photos when you upload them. This makes it easily find photos by date or objects. So if I am looking for a hard drive photo, all I have to do is search for "hard drive" and all the photos that have a hard drive show up.

Know Your Important Files! Back in the day, we didn't take a lot of pictures. So the pictures we had were important. Nowadays we can take hundreds of pictures because there's no development cost. However, not all those pictures are important. Make sure to tag important photos so they are easy to find. I like to think that in any trip there are at least 100 photos that best describe the vacation.

In the case of videos, the whole vacation can be told in a 30-minute video.

When using external drives, make sure to disconnect the device when not using them. There's no value in having them connected to the computer and plugged in if I am not going to get files from them.

Take a screenshot of what's on the device. This will help identify what's on the device without having to connect it.

  Filed under the Tech Tools category. - Permalink

Chrome Requests Response Headers

Sometimes QA needs to debug the HTTPd request the browser is making. This is usually to make sure some conditions are met or to figure out why something isn't working.

In Google Chrome this is pretty simple task.

Chrome Header Help

Finding the HTTP Header

  1. Right click on the page and select Inspect (Or type in Option Command I)
  2. Select the Network tab on the top of the DevTools page and then reload the page (Command R)
  3. Select any Name (These are the various request that were made during the page load time.)
  4. On the right, select the Header tab

This is where you'll see the request and response between your browser and the server. There's a lot going on here!

You should be able to get a lot of data that may help troubleshoot any issues.

Why Should QA Know This?

QA should have the knowledge of all the tools in the browser toolbox. Debugging JavaScript, jQuery and Angular isn't enough. Sometimes, as part of validation, QA may need to read the HTTP Request Headers and verify that the browser is sending the correct information.

You can learn more about HTTP Requests Response Headers from DumbTutorials. It's a good place to catch up on everything HTTP.

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

Tips on Titles and Effects

There are lots of websites that offer various types of plug-ins. You can get plugins for Titles, Effects, Transitions and more.

A couple of popular package deals:

Multiple packs are fun. But they can be a bit overwhelming.

F C P Template Tip
The Ultimate Graphics Pack has lots of great titles.

Four Things I Have Learned

Over the past year I have purchased a few mega packs. I have learned a few things along the way.

  1. Spend time learning all that you get. Create a new project and play around with all the various effects and titles. You might be surprised what you do have! This learning will help you understand what you got. This may inspire some ideas when your working on a project.
  2. Install what you need. Having too many plugins can slow down the load time of Final Cut Pro. If you are not likely going to use some effects or titles, you should remove them - if possible. This will also make it easier to find things that you would likely need.
  3. Make Use of Search - When you want a good lower third title, select all the Titles and search for "third." You'll see all the various Lower Third Titles. Perhaps you'll discover an old title that would work best. This also applies to transitions and effects.
  4. Sound Effects are Universal - Titles, Transitions, and Effects have to be specific to Final Cut Pro and Motion. This is sometimes unfortunate as there are a lot of Premier plugins available. Sound is a whole different market. You can use any sound in Final Cut Pro.

  Filed under the Final Cut Pro category. - Permalink

Morton Downey Jr. Show

Morton Downey Jr. was a loudmouth talk show host. He was one of the extreme talk show hosts of the 1990s. He is most notably known for frequently yelling at his guests to "Zip It."

In December 1998, Morton Downey Jr. did a TV special with a focus on predictions for 1989. In this episode, there were many crazy predictions. The audience was very loud and very responsive to Morton Downey.

Watch the Show

Here's about 10-minutes of the 1989 New Years Eve episode. This clip features Linda Waldron, and Leroy Montana - both Trans Medium Clairvoyant.

The show was canceled 6-months later.

  Filed under the Media category. - Permalink

10 benefits of link building for your business

 A man and a woman high fiving in the office

If you're running your own business, you probably know that good SEO is essential for it. However, we're not talking just about picking the right keywords here. It goes far beyond that. If you want to do everything as you should, you need to focus on many more things, and getting backlinks is one of the most important among them. If you don't yet know much about it, when you look at all the benefits of link building for your business, you'll want to put it at the heart of your SEO strategy.

What is link building?

As you could guess from the name, it's a process of getting links to your site. However, there is a way how this is done. You can't post links to your website everywhere on the internet. Your link needs to be relevant and make sense for the place where it is.

If you ignore this and try to go for a scattergun approach, you won't boost your rank. On the contrary, you'll probably hurt it this way. You need a balanced strategy and plenty of connections to other authorities in your niche. If you want to get your home-based business off the ground, this is the only way to do it.

Now that you know what you should aim for let's get into the benefits.

When you build links, you make digital doorways to your site.

A man researching the benefits of link building for your business on a laptop

1. Links give you credibility

Links show how authoritative your website is. The more high-quality examples you have, the better you'll do. The goal here is to get users the information they're after when they need it. And if you can help Google do this, you'll do well.

When people mention you or use your link as a source, it shows that they trust you. And if they trust you, that's a good sign that your credibility factor should grow. At least that's how search engines look at it. However, your links need to come from other trusted sites. One good link is better than ten bad ones; remember that.

2. Google uses links to determine rank

If you don't build links, you're not accounting for more than half of Google's ranking considerations. And, if you don't have any links, it's almost impossible even to rank your site. This should make it clear how much Google cares for these.

We don't have to explain that if you have more backlinks, you'll rank better. Hence, you'll be in front of your competitors. If you believe that this is too much for you to handle at the beginning, it pays off to work with a company like linkdepartment.com. Professionals already know all the tricks in the book. In essence, they'll do the whole job for you.

3. You'll get more traffic

When your links are at the right places, they attract relevant audiences. You'll get visitors from industry authority sites, and these are the people you want to become your customers.

Now, with the right targeting, you'll improve traffic from external sources, that's clear. However, you'll boost your organic traffic as well. With time, your site becomes more relevant so that it will show on SERPs more often.

Among the biggest benefits of link building for your business is that more people will visit your site.

A Google search for analytics on the phone.

4. Your site metrics and SEO scores will be better

There are a few ranking metrics that all SEO savvies are interested in:

  • Domain Authority (DA)
  • Domain Rating (DR)
  • Page Rank (PR)
  • Alexa Rank

Seeing these metrics rise is always a good signal for the strength of your domain, and that's what will happen if you build links properly. So, this is one of the benefits of link building for your business. Your site health will increase, and it will be more visible and better exposed.

5. More sales and greater revenue opportunities

Understanding this one is easy. When your metrics and traffic rise, you get more chances to build strong revenue. As we already mentioned, your site will appear higher in search results, so more people will visit it.

All of them are your potential customers. You'll sell more products and earn more money. But, you might want to improve the visual aspect of your branding strategy at this time. If you want people to buy from you, they need to remember your brand.

6. Better relationships within your niche

To build relevant links, you'll have to be connected to authority players in your niche. On a competitive scene, that may sound a bit scary. However, it doesn't have to be. Look at it this way. You'll get to meet other like-minded people, so you'll probably like them. And you might even get a chance to collaborate with some of them. With these, you can up your game easily.

7. You'll stand out as an authority voice

We all want our businesses to be at the forefront of our industries. And this is where sustained link building can help. If you play your cards right, people will start seeing you as a trusted figure. So, you'll get higher revenues and better sales because of that.

Not only will your company benefit, but you will too. When you start dominating the conversations in your field, it'll be a lot easier to sell your product.

If you do it for long enough, you'll become the authoritative voice in your niche.

A man explaining something.

8. Non-stop referral traffic

Once you have a permanent link on an authority site, you'll see regular traffic coming from it. It's a new form of marketing that you should embrace. And when you compare it to the old one, it's easy to see why. When your ad stops, you don't get any traffic from it. However, referral links work for the long term.

9. Greater visibility and exposure

We already mentioned this, but it's a big thing, so we feel it deserves a spot on the list. Here, we want to explain how link building can help with lead generation. For instance, if you want to raise awareness for your brand in a particular location, this is a great way to do it.

Find a niche site popular in the area and reach out to them with some content. Writing a guest blog post is the easiest way to get a link. And if you run out of ideas, remember that your Google search is your blog topic ideas.

10. Lower bounce rates

If people visit one page on your website and then leave, you can consider them bounced. And that's what bounce rates are all about. To make them stick around for longer, add internal links into the mix.

Users will see more of your content, and Google will be able to navigate your site. So, you're winning on two sides. That's why this is the final of the benefits of link building for your business.

Meta description: Learn what are the 10 benefits of link building for your business, including what you will get if you start with it, and which way you should go.

  Filed under the Business category. - Permalink

Grabify

If you ever watched one of Pleasant Green YouTube videos, you'll see that he mentions Grabify. He uses this service to track down where people are.

Grabify adds some tracking to redirect URLs. When someone clicks on the link, they get redirected to some location, and you get information about that person. You can learn where they are and what technology they are using.

It's a good tool to use when dealing with scammers who say they are from a particular location but turns out to be 1000s of miles away.

Website Description

Grabify IP Logger URL & Shortener provides you with some of the most advanced and detailed statistical data and metadata for all clicks on your links. Your IP Logger link can access information about user's IP address, location tracker (country, city) and so on.

This IP Logger & Tracker tool is designed to be as simple as possible to use in a way to get you the most detailed and advanced analytic information on every click.

The URL Expander feature will check any URL you provide it to check for any URL for redirects and find out what is the final destination of any short link.

Grabify
https://grabify.link/

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

Keyboard Maestro Chrome Macro

w has a lot of functionalities that can be enabled from the command line. This is handy when you want to launch Chrome with certain functions.

Using Keyboard Maestro, I can set up a taskbar menu of various configurations. This makes it easy to launch Chrome with a particular setting whenever I want. I don't have to memorize commands and I don't have to launch a terminal editor to run these commands.

I simply select the chrome action that I want and instantly Chrome launches.

Keyboard Maestro Chrome Command

Sample Keyboard Maestro Action

Here is an example of one of the macros.

Google Keyboard Incognito

Bash Command:

#! /bin/bash
/Applications/Google Chrome.app/Contents/MacOS/Google Chrome --incognito

List of Chrome Command line Commands

You can get a list of all the Chrome Command options with some explanation on this site:

List of Chromium Command Line Switches - Peter Beverloo

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

Sony Wireless Microphone WCS-999

One of the tools that I sometimes use is the Sony Wireless Microphone System WCS-999. I purchase this nearly 20 years ago. It still works great today. I bought it for $150 - I think it's a really good investment.

I use this to put a microphone component next to a speaker and the receiver to a camera. This way I have excellent sound for the video transmission. I use this option when I don't have direct access to the main church receiver.

Sony Wireless WCS 999

Fun things

  • The manual says that transmission range up to 150 feet, depending on condition. I think for the most reliable connections go with 80-feet and under. That will be your best bet. ( Roughly 26 yards.)
  • 900 MHz FM transmission for high-quality sound. This is important as most wireless microphone systems are now in the 600 MHz range.
  • You can easily connect the wireless receiver to a computer or iPhone to record audio.
  • Make sure to purchase a mono to stereo adapter. This way the audio records on the left and right channel.
  • The Wired Lavalier Lapel Microphone works great with this system. The sound is much better than the microphone that came with the WCS-999.
  • If you're storing this for a long time, make sure to take the batteries out. If you forget the batteries will leak, a little cleaning with a wire brush should fix any effects of a battery leakage.

  Filed under the Tech Tools category. - Permalink

Cobra Effect

The cobra effect is when you provide a solution to a problem that results in the problem becoming worst.

How the effect got it's name:

Many years ago in India there were a lot of Cobras and they were dangerous. The British government thought it would be better to encourage locals to catch the cobras. They ran cash incentives for people to kill them. However, the locals saw this as a business opportunity and started cobra farming. Once the British caught on realized that the incentive wasn't solving the problem they stopped the bounty. The farmers were stuck with a lot of cobras and ended up setting them free. The net result was a lot more cobras than before the bounty.

Cobra Effect Logo

QA Example

Here is a real-world example where I have seen the Cobra Effect in QA.

The $1 Patch Jar

There was a point in time that we were having too many Production Patches. Many of these patches were a result of engineering not providing detailed descriptions of the risk of the changes being implemented.

Management implemented a "$1 Patch Jar" where those that were responsible for a patch had to put in money. This was to encourage developers to test their code.

The problem was that people were putting in a lot more than $1 just to cover any future mistakes. As a result, Developers were more relax about testing their code knowing that they already "paid" for the bug and the patch count didn't go down.

The jar was discontinued. Management instead implemented more responsibility for Dev and added that responsibility to their performance review.

I intended to post a couple of examples, but I could only think of the one. If I think of something in the future, I'll sure to post that.

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

Using Keywords for Organization

Using the Multicam Clips functionality can be tricky when working with multiple scenes.

There may be instances where one camera shot contains several scenes. If you use that same clip multiple times, it could cause some performance issues. This could delays when exporting the video - thus making the process take a long time.

One solution is to break up the long clip using keywords. When you assign a keyword to a super long video clip, Final Cut Pro treats the keyword clip as a separate clip. Now you can easily apply the "Multiple Clip" or "Synchronize Clip" functionality.

You can assign keywords to Video and Audio clips, making it easy to synchronize related scenes.

Final Cut Pro Keywords

Define Keywords to a Clip

Simple steps to assign keywords to any clip:

  • Select a clip and type the keyboard shortcut Command K
  • Type in a Keyword to use
  • Click Enter and you should see you keyword in the left tree.

Steps to select a part of the clip:

  • In the Final Cut Pro browser, select a range within a clip.
  • Type in the Keyboard Shortcut Command K
  • Enter in a new Keyword, or use one of the ones you already defined
  • Click Enter.

Remember

This works with audio and video. If you have an external mic, you can use the keyword to break up the clip into meaningful sections. This is much easier than using a third-party tool to split the clip.

I would recommend playing around with keywords, you may find that it will make putting together videos a bit easier.

You can learn more about Keywords on Apple Support page: Add keywords to clips in Final Cut Pro

  Filed under the Final Cut Pro category. - Permalink

1986 Boston Celtics

One of Boston's most memorable moments of the 1980s was when the Boston Celtics won the NBA championship in the Boston Gardens. They won in 1981, 1983 and in 1986. The 1986 season was their sweet sixteen-team championship and some say it was the sweetest one.

This would be the last championship for the big 3: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish.

If you weren't in the Boston Garden that afternoon, you likely listen to the play by play done by legendary Johnny Most.

Boston Celtics Desktop
Boston Celtics Mobile

Series Recap

In my audiotape collection, I found a tape where I recorded the start of the 1987 season on WRKO radio. In that broadcast, they did a recap of the challenges of the 1986 Playoffs. This clip features some amazing calls by Johnny Most.

The quality of the clip isn't all that great. I was living in Concord, Massachusetts at the time and the WRKO signal wasn't that strong. You can hear some static. It isn't that bad. I think it gives it a classic radio sound.

Listen to the final four minutes of the broadcast. Close your eyes and for a moment pretend you are back in 1986.

...

Listen to Glenn Ordway and Johnny Most recall the final moments of the 1986 season.

Full Recap

The full recap is nearly 14-minutes long and 18 MB.

If you're a diehard Celtics fan and have any interest in it, let me know via the feedback form.

  Filed under the Media category. - Permalink

The Digitalization Of Everyday Life

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The Digitalization Of Everyday Life: How Far We've Come And What We Can Expect

After years of predictions, the digital era is here. In fact, the last year has cemented that fact. It is now commonplace for employees to work completely remotely thanks to video conferencing technology, businesses use name generators for name ideas, and consumers turn to their mobiles for online research on a product before heading in-store. The progress made in digitalizing our everyday lives has been nothing but remarkable. In fact, from 2017 to 2024, spending on digital transformational technologies rose from $0.6 to $2.39 trillion. By 2025, the digital transformation market is expected to hit $3.3 trillion,according to predictions by Research and Markets. Yet, with such transformational changes, there have been both successes and failures. While the digitalization of everyday lives has mostly been welcomed, there are a few roadblocks it has created. However, there is no denying that it has transformed life as we know it - and will continue to in the coming years.

The Future: Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence And Robotics

According to a recent article in the Business Standard, businesses will prioritize digital transformation spending on augmented/virtual reality, robotics, and artificial intelligence this year. Rounding up the Top 6 will be the Internet of Things (IoT), BFSI, and retail consumerism. This makes sense since robotics process automation revenue is pegged to reach almost $2 billion in 2021.

This year has been dubbed the year of artificial intelligence and robotics. In the highly anticipated CES 2021, Samsung introduced two AI-powered companions that focus on Bot Care, and LG introduced its autonomous disinfecting robot-- fast-tracked to aid in the pandemic. Similarly, the payments and restaurant industries have accelerated their digitalization plans by using contactless payments and digital menus powered by scannable codes-in their bid to shift to touchless technology. This makes payment easier and reduces contact between staff and customers. However, with the rise of robotic technology, concerns have been growing over the rapid pace of digitalization and what it could mean for life.

The Bad: Isolation And The Increasing Decline Of Human Connectivity

On one hand, digitalization has both created and replaced jobs. With the advancements in robotic technology like logistics, cleaning, or the transport industry, many have feared that robots are taking their jobs. Also, millions of employees have found themselves having to retrain later on in their careers.

Digitalization has also created more instances of loneliness being reported. Loneliness and isolation affect one-fifth of the population in the U.S. With the continued growth of technology, human connection is becoming a thing of the past. Companies are using chatbots for customer service, and outsourcing their business processes to bump up profits. More recently, Amazon opened its fully automated supermarkets, giving a glimpse of what the future may look like.

The Good: More Chances To Create Cheaper, More Effective Business Services

On the bright side, digitalization has opened doors for better business management. Thanks to technology, businesses can now offer 24/7 customer service. Digitalization trends like robotics and artificial intelligence have also paved the way for lower operating costs, and allow businesses to better cater to customer needs. Using artificial intelligence and big data, businesses can now analyze customer behavior and plan for upcoming trends. Robotic technology has also meant that overheads (labor costs) have been reduced, and productivity is up in many industries.

While the digitalization of everyday life has its pros and cons, there is no denying that it has certainly changed lives. Everywhere you look - in your home, your workplace, and your shopping habits - life has been transformed by digital technology.

  Filed under the Business category. - Permalink

StatsCounter

In the testing world, it's very handy to know what browsers are popular. We all know that Chrome is leading the field. However, what about other browsers?

StatsCounter gives you the worldwide trends. It gives you the idea of what browsers that a percentage of users are likely to be using. It's a helpful resource to plan your testing strategy.

Ideally, you should look at your local stats. But getting the global market can be useful in the long run. Especially if your triaging bugs that only occur in certain browsers.

Website Description

Stats are based on aggregate data collected by Statcounter on a sample exceeding 10 billion page views per month collected from across the Statcounter network of more than 2 million websites. Stats are updated and made available every day, however are subject to quality assurance testing and revision for 45 days from publication.

statscounter
https://gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

Word Count LaunchBar Action

Sometimes I need a way to count a selected group of text. Usually, it's to see if it's long enough for a particular field.

If it was on a website, I would copy that text into BBEdit or another text editor. Then I would look at the status bar to see the number of words or length of the copied text.

There has to be a better way,

So I decided to create a LaunchBar action. It was really easy to do and a good task to brush up on my JavaScript skills.

Launch Bar Word Count

Using the Action

Now when I need to get the information, I just follow these steps.

  1. Select the text
  2. Use the 'Instant Send' keyboard short cut
  3. Click Tab
  4. Then type in 'Word' and then click return.

I get instant info on my selected text.

Download the Custom Action

I figured other people may want to use this so I am making it publicly available.

Word Count.lbaction
Click to Download

Download the action. After downloading, double-click on the zip file to uncompress it. Then double click on the file to install in LaunchBar

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

Keychain Charging Cable

You never know when you need to charge your phone. It might be practical to have an extra phone cable in your laptop bag or suitcase. However, things don't always work out that way.

You may leave the cord at work, or at home. Usually, this is because you couldn't find your regular cord. Then you forget to put the cord back.

A great solution is to get a mini cord and connect the cord to your backpack. It's small enough that you won't use it for everyday use but practical enough to use when you need it.

USB Keychain Mobile
USB Keychain Desktop

Simple Charge Series 2in1 Keychain Charging Cable

Charges MicroUSB and Lightning. You never know when you'll need a particular cable type it works with iOS and Android devices.

USB2 flexable cable. Charges fast and the cable is flexable for those tight spots.

Small enough to have available whenever you need it. (I forget that I have it sometimes.)

A cable that you won't want to use everyday. It won't get removed from your backpack/laptop bag. I have even forgotten that I have it.

Strong enough for the road. I had mine on the outside of my backpack in the rain and snow. Still works like a charm.

Really Short. If the charger is high off the floor/table, this may not work.

Finding the Cable

Apparently the particular cable I have is discontinued. There are plenty of similar type of devices on Amazon.com. I would personally recommend getting lightning and USB-C Keychain Charging Cable. The "Six-in-One Swiss Army Knife of Cables, Portable Keyring Compatible with Apple iPhone/USB/USB-C/Micro USB Cable for All of Your Devices" looks to be a good solution.

  Filed under the Tech Tools category. - Permalink

Automation

Automation Logo

Automation is not testing it's checking.

What is Automation?

Automation makes hunmans more efficient, not less essentials

Automation is not a silver bullet - it won't immediately increase productivity, but if approached correctly, it will eventually support increase releases, greater test coverage, and overall quality of the product.

The Great Debate?

There's this debate in the testing community on the purpose of automation.

There's one group that talks about how automation is testing. They argue that automation tests to make sure that the build is stable and any changes doesn't break existing functionality.

There's a different group that says automation is checking. They argue that automation is only checking predefined paths and not testing situations that may be unique to the change being made. While critical paths may be working, some other functionality may be broken.

Team Checking

I am with the team checking. I believe that the purpose of automation is to check the stability of the build. Once automation passes, QA can perform manual testing.

Automation can be limited to the scope of checking/validating. In my experience, it can be tricky to automation 3rd party integration. Manual testing can be more effective in validating functionality.

Automation Has Value

Saying "Automation is Checking" doesn't change the value of automation. Automation plays a valuable role in the testing process. Don't put your eggs in one basket and solely rely on automation as your testing tool. Automation complements manual testing.

Automation test cases should be designed so that the build/branch is stable for manual testing. It should be checking that the critical paths are working.

Automation Checking

Final Thoughts

There's no such thing as a manual or automated tester. Are you a manual or automated programmer?

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

Page Curl

Last week's Media Monday video featured a cool Page Curl effect. If you haven't seen the video, check it out.

I searched around to see if there were any generators and I didn't find anything that would only take the page curl to about 20% and then reverse. I decided to create my own generated effect using Apple Motion.

Page Curl is one of the built-in effects. However, it's a bit tricky to create a slight page curl and then retreat.

Page Curl

Four Things I Learned

If you want to customize how the page curl works, you should turn off the Animate feature in the Page Curl Filter Inspector. This allows you to use keyframes to control the Page Curl to the way you want.

The Page Curl backside is just a mirror image of the front side. There's no way to change the backside - at least I didn't see a way to do it..

When animate is enabled the selected object that has a Page Curl connected, will peel away for the duration of the timeline. There is no way to pause it and then reverse with the animate enabled.

Use Page Curl percent as the keyframe. Set the percent to 0 at the start then to a certain point in the timeline change to some value. In my case, it was 50%. Then you can keyframe it to 0 at the end to get the full effect. (That sounds complicated. Just look at the image to get an idea.)

Download A Sample Page Curl Generator

If you want to create your own page curl flip effect in Final Cut Pro or Apple Motions, you can download my version of the Page Curl effect. You can completely customize it using Apple Motion.

Download the Page Curl Generator

To install it, simply uncompress the download file and put it in:

~/Movies/Motion Templates/Generators

To use it, simply drag it to the timeline as you would any media file. Select the generated clip and in the Properties panel, add the image/movie for the front and back.

You can also edit it in Apple Motion and change the effect of the Page Curl.

  Filed under the Final Cut Pro category. - Permalink

1982 Commercial

This week's video features a couple of classic commercials that I found in my VHS collection. These are from the early 1980s. Some of the shows that were recorded were in 1982.

This Week's Commercials

Lite Beer - Mr. Butkis and Mr. Smith in this classic Lite Beer commercial

Miller High Life - A 1980s commercial with World Trade Center.

Atari - The game that everyone wanted to play in the 1980s.

Howard Johnsons - A classic Howard Johnsons commercial. Remember, "If it's not your mother, it must be Howard Johnson."

  Filed under the Media category. - Permalink

7 biggest benefits of CRM platforms

Two businessmen discussing the biggest benefits of CRM platforms

There are-numerous benefits of CRM platforms that can help you better organize your business operations. From increasing productivity to providing a better customer experience, many companies use these systems to improve daily workflow. It allows them to systematically organize data and numerous reports in one central hub and easily access all relevant information. On top of that, you can track innumerable metrics to see if additional aspects of your business require improvements.

What are the most significant benefits of CRM platforms?

CRM platforms are a-great option when you need solutions that can be used across several departments. To start with, CRM can collect a large amount of important information about your audience. With access to customers' preferences, demands, and activities, you will know precisely how to establish and maintain relationships and-improve your business. Also, CRM provides you with the correct data about your internal operations so you can analyze and improve them.

Even though the benefits may be different depending on the industry, there are seven major benefits of CRM platforms, in general:

  1. CRM improves efficiency
  2. Offers deep reporting and analytics
  3. Makes collaboration easy for team members
  4. More efficient data visualization
  5. Better customer segmentation
  6. Helps you personalize the outreach
  7. Improves customer relationships

1. CRM improves efficiency

One of the most significant advantages CRM platforms offer is automation.-Many tasks and daily routines can be automatized to create an easier and more efficient workflow. Of course, not every niche is the same, and some focus on different tasks more. For example, CRM solutions, like-MoversTech CRM, are specialized to improve the efficiency of moving businesses. They focus on providing a better customer experience and improvement of often complex day-to-day operations. On the other side, other companies may focus more on outreach improvements and require CRM specific for their industry. Regardless, CRM improves the handling of countless smaller tasks, otherwise conducted manually.

 An illustration of a man in a suit having problems with multitasking.
CRM is essential to make multitasking more efficient.

2. Offers deep reporting and analytics

Most businesses use numerous reports from different sources, like Google Analytics,-social media, and analytical software, on a regular basis. But, without a central hub of information like CRM, it's easy to lose touch with reports from all over the place. You need to-organize everything in one place-to make sense of it one way or another.

This is where using quality CRM solutions becomes crucial. Its most significant benefit, in this case, is to collect, sort out, and organize reports, collected data, and results of different metrics. An advantage that CRM platforms offer is that they go deeper from an analytical standpoint as well. You can later use these reports to check if there is a possibility to improve certain operations like customer service, lead acquisitions, sales, and more.

3. Makes collaboration easy for team members

Every business collects data like contact information, customer interaction, numerous instructions, and many more. However, sometimes it can be challenging for each team member to find the correct information at a given moment. Not to mention how it increases in difficulty when the entire team needs to collaborate. This is why a-CRM platform can be a perfect solution for serving relevant information when needed. With the current state of development, many platforms allow members to simultaneously work on the same documents. Simply put, this is essential for any business because it keeps all information in check, up-to-date, and accessible for everyone in your company with credentials.

Pictures of team members against a blue background where some of them are working remotely.
Collaboration will be much easier, especially for remote positions.

4. More efficient data visualization

Without CRM, it can be difficult to visualize all the data and records in your possession. You would have to manually process reports and find a way to create graphs and charts. Luckily, a CRM platform can complete most of the work for you. You can use the CRM dashboard without much effort and-configure how you want your data to be represented. It can do it separately for any metric or the conditions you set up. As a result, every team member will get what they need in an organized manner.

A man in a suit looking at graphs and charts on his tablet.
You can easily visualize any type of data with CRM platforms.

5. Better customer segmentation

In a customer-oriented world, much attention is directed toward the classification of customers. This is often regarded as customer segmentation. Companies often have thousands of contacts, and organizing everything in a meaningful way is time-consuming and overwhelming. This is another section where CRM is an irreplaceable solution. You can set different criteria, and-CRM will automatically complete the segmentations the way you want. Whether it's grouping contacts by name, age, preferences, or any given combination.

6. Helps you personalize the outreach

Another benefit of CRM platforms is that you can personalize the outreach for manual and automated campaigns. Without much effort, you can-set up countless automated tasks to target a specific audience. It will be conducted in a more personal way that triggers when criteria are matched. However, you can also use it to exclude some of your contacts from your campaign if it's not intended for them. In other words, depending on the tasks you want to accomplish, there are situations when it's-not good to automate.

7. Improves customer relationships

Without a doubt,-CRM platforms are great tools that can help you improve relationships with your customers. Besides making routine tasks easy, you can use it to provide a more personalized experience. CRM can help you analyze and connect customers with specific requirements and needs with the most suitable agents. Thanks to the excellent segmentation and quality reports, your team members will know exactly who needs to answer, how to approach the situation, and what solutions to offer. Giving this kind of attention to customers and making them feel like individuals will increase their satisfaction.

Call service agent talking to a client.
More personalized approach improves customers' satisfaction

CRM platforms have become an essential tool for any business.-From organization to automation, there are numerous benefits of CRM platforms. In general, they are a central hub of organized information available at any moment, which can help you establish better communication with your potential clients. Additionally, it can also improve communication and information flow for your teams. As a result, teams that utilize CRM demonstrate increased efficiency and help your business succeed.

Meta description: Read about the 7 biggest benefits of CRM platforms that can help your business operations and increase the number of satisfied clients.

  Filed under the Business category. - Permalink

Coolbackground.io

Sometimes you need a little inspiration for a background image. One place to check out is Coolbackground.io.

You can generate all sorts of creative background images for your computer or website posts. It's a great place to go to be inspired.

Website Description

After laboring over your latest piece of writing, one of the hardest steps before hitting publish is finding an exciting background image to really showcase and draw attention to your post.

Cool Backgrounds is a collection of tools to create compelling, colorful images for blogs, social media, and websites. Beyond backgrounds, the images generated can be used as '? desktop wallpapers or cropped for '? mobile wallpapers.

Cool Background
https://coolbackgrounds.io/

Sample

Sample implementation of the Cool Background

Cool Background Bedit

Yogi Berra- Cool Background

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

QuickTime Audio

Apple Quicktime has the ability to record video and audio files. This is a quick way to digitalize audio. For example, if you want to send an audio message in an email or a social media post.

There are two settings for audio:

Setting Description
High 44100 Hz AAC audio
Maximum 44100 Hz, uncompressed Linear PCM 24-bit AIFF-C audio

Quicktime Audio

Four Things I Learned

The output audio is off, by default. You have to adjust the volume to hear the recording.

Shortcut for creating a new audio recording is Shift Command N

The recording settings that Quicktime starts with are the same as the default sound input. This is defined in the System Preferences - select Sound.

When you have the QuickTime Inspector open, it shows you the current settings that you have set up.

Three Reasons to Use Quicktime

  1. Fast way to record audio. Pretty much hit record and you're on your way.
  2. Installed on all Macintosh computers. If the computer has Quicktime, you have the ability to record audio. (Seems like a tool that Mission's Impossible's Ethan Hunt might use to record a confession.)
  3. Apple Script Support! You can write Apple Script or Automator action to record audio based on an action - such as setting up a recording to listen to mystery sounds at the office at midnight.

Three Reasons Not to Use Quicktime

  1. Limited recording scope. You can't define recording by application. For example if you want to record audio from Safari. This can be done using Audio Hijack.
  2. No Menu Bar or Dock Record Option. You have to have the App open and then type the keyboard shortcut and then record. Too many steps to record something quickly. Best solution to this is Simple Recorder.
  3. Limited Audio Configuration - You can only record using two settings High and Maximum. Use apps like Audacity for more configuration options.

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

Desktop Power Station

One of the things that help me be productive at my desk is my Tower Surge Protector. This is a great way for me to plug things in without having to go under my desk.

This is a handy way to plug things in and charge devices.

Desltop Power Station

Four Things I Learned

The USB ports are just USB 1,1 - so they don't really have much juice for many devices that are used today. They work fine for charging some cameras - just take longer.

The power cable is nice and long- I think around 6-feet. Useful to move the Tower Surge Protector around.

I have some USB 2.1 AMPs plugged in. Other things I have plugged in are hard drives which have shorter cable lengths and plugging them under my desk will limit when I can place them on the desk.

I had a USB in desk charger that fits in the three-inch round opening. The problem with this is that I had to reach behind my computer to plug things in. It wasn't convenient. The tower just makes it easy to plug things in when I need to.

Next Time

If I had to do it over again, I would buy the Surge Protector that has a built-in Wireless Charger. It's a bit expensive for a desktop station - %35, but I think it would eliminate some of the power cables that I have.

I certainly recommend a Surge Protector that has 2.1 AMPs.

  Filed under the Tech Tools category. - Permalink

June QA Images

It's been a while since I added some images to the QA library. Here are some new ones to my growing collection.

Be sure to check out all the QA Images in the QA Image Reference Library

/ Quality Assurance Logo2021
http://www.cryan.com/qa/graphics/2021/QualityAssuranceLogo2021.jpg

/ Reuse Automation Code
http://www.cryan.com/qa/graphics/2021/ReuseAutomationCode.jpg

/ Modern Testing Chalk2021
http://www.cryan.com/qa/graphics/2021/ModernTestingChalk2021.jpg

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

Apple Motion Duration

When you create a new project in Apple Motion, there may be times when you want to change the duration. It's really easy to change the duration.

Apple Motion Timecode

Steps to change the Project Duration.

See the attached graphic for locations.

  1. Select the Project in the Layers Panel
  2. Click on the Inspector
  3. Select the Properties Tab
  4. Change the Duration value.

  Filed under the Final Cut Pro category. - Permalink

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