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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 July of 2021

3D Bay

3D Bay is a cool resource for unique 3D stock images. These would go great with a PowerPoint presentation.

These graphics can make your presentations stand out. There are currently 41 graphics available with more being added all the time. You can find graphics easily by their search engine or using one of the ten categories.

Website Description

Explore the extensive collection of 3D stock images brought to you by CloudDevs, now available free of charge.

Select from our wide range of image categories to get started on your new project with style & ease using the hundreds of high-quality royalty-free 3D images we have on offer.

3 D Bay
https://clouddevs.com/3dbay/

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

Keyboard Maestro Date Macro

Every now and again I need to figure out a simple date calculation. For example, I am writing up a wiki page and want to reference something next Thursday. I don't want to say next Thursday but I want to say the simple date format.

I encounter this enough times, that I decided to write a simple Keyboard Maestro macro. There are three types of date scripts that I wrote:

  • Simple Date - Display the date x days from now. Added built in for Tomorrow, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 30, 60, 90, 100, 180 days
  • Advanced Date - Put a number in the Clipboard and use that to display the date.
  • Days Until - Put a date in the Clipboard, and then display the number of Years, Months, days until the event. If its in the past, then show the number of days that has past.

Days Simple Date

Simple Date

This set of macros are built-in date calculations. Simply by using the generic hotkey: day* and some number I can display that date. So if I wanted tomorrow, I would type in day1. If I wanted 100 days from now I would type in day100.

This macro makes use of the ICUDateTimePlus functionality that is part of Keyboard Maestro.

Days Days Plus

Advance Date

This single macro makes it easy to put in any number of days. Simply type in a number, copy/paste, and then type in day++. This also makes use of the ICUDateTimePlus function. The return display shows the Month, Day, and Year.

Days Plue Plue Plue

Days Until

This macro is my date count down. If I want to know how many days until an event, I simply type in a date, copy/paste and then type in the trigger: day+++. The return value will show Years, Months, Days, Hours until the event. This also works for events in the past. So I can see how many days past since I graduated.

The PHP secondsToHumanReadable function, used in this example, can be found at stackoverflow.com.

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

Geocaching in Framingham

People love to visit Cushing Memorial Park in Framingham. It's a fun place to walk around and enjoy the great outdoors. For kids, there's a playground. fun places to ride their bikes, and lots of open space to run around or fly a kite.

Did you know there's a treasure in Cushing Memorial Park? No, not buried treasure.

The treasure is place by people participating in Geocaching - the world's larges treasure hunt.

Framingham Cushing Desktop
Framingham Cushing Mobile

What is Geocaching

If you're new to the concept of geocaching, think of it as a giant treasure hunt. Players stash goodies in publicly accessible outdoor locations, then post the GPS coordinates of these prizes on Geocaching.com. When other players find these hidden gems, they post their victory on the site's forums and then put the prize back for others to locate in turn.

Geocaching in Framingham

As of today, there are 26 geocaches in Framingham and 16 of those are places in the vicinity of Cushing Memorial Park. That's a lot is a lot considering one of the rules of placing geocache:

Geocache containers and physical stages of different geocaches must be at least 0.1 miles (528 feet or 161 meters) apart.

A physical stage is any object placed by the cache owner, such as a container or a tag.

Five Things We Learned

Some of the things we learned, without giving any clues to the location of the geocaches.

  • The geocaches are spread out through the park. It's fun to watch the kids try to find them based on vague hints and generic map locations.
  • None of the geocaches are buried - as per rule.
  • Some of the geocaches have places to jot down your name in a log. Bring a fine pen to write down your name.
  • A few of the geocaches have small trinkets. You can take one and leave small tchotchke for the next treasure hunter. Tchotchkes can be found at the dollar store.
  • Some of the geocaches are very well designed and really hard to find. Don't be discorage if you don't find it!

Fun Time at Cushing!

It will take about 45-minutes to find the geocache in the park. This is based on the complexity of the treasure hunt and the distance between the locations.

  Filed under the Framingham category. - Permalink

Gluten Free Oreos

One of the downsides of being a celiac is not trying some of the popular cookies. Sure there are alternatives - but it's not the same. It's kind of like being at a birthday party. You can only drink Walmart brand soda while everyone else is drinking Coke-Cola. It might be good, but its not the same. (Try the store brand challenge and see for yourself!)

This is how people with celiac feel. They do feel a bit left out. Earlier this year, there was some good news on the snack front.

In January 2021, Nabisco started shipping Gluten Free Oreos. Yes, the same Oreos that everyone loves, is now available Gluten Free.

Oreo 2021 Mobile
Oreo 2021 Desktop

Its a Hit!

My daughter tried it and it's a hit! She absolutely loves them. They are better than any of the gluten-free Oreo "knock-offs." (We stopped buying different brands because they weren't good.)

They were hard to find in January and February but now available in every supermarket that we visit - including Target and Walmart.

We typically buy a couple of packs just so that we have them available. She loved to snack on them.

I have tried the Gluten-Free Oreos and they are exactly like regular Oreos. There's no different taste or texture. I don't know how they did it. But it does taste great.

Five Things I Learned

  • Gluten Free Oreos were announced in November 2020 and came out in January 2021. We were able to get it on January 25.
  • They look exactly the same as regular Oreos, except they do say Gluten-Free on the cookie. (Its hard to see the words)
  • Most stores stock them with regular Oreos. They tend to stand out more because of the white packaging. I am guessing that they don't put them with other Gluten-Free foods because Nabisco comes in the store and stocks them.
  • The Gluten-Free Oreo costs about 20% more than the standard Oreo. I have noticed that they don't go on sale as frequently as regular Oreos. They were on sale early on as a promotion to get the word out.
  • Did you know that the Gluten-Free cookies segment accounted for the highest revenue share of more than 32% in 2020 (Among Baked Gluten-Free goods.) - according to the Gluten-free Baking Mixes Market Report.

  Filed under the Gluten Free category. - Permalink

QA Graphics

Here's some QA graphics that I found in various QA channels. Check out the QA Image Library for a huge selection of Quality Assurance graphics.

This month I focused more on quality graphics. I didn't want to throw up images just to have a blog post. In QA, it's about quality not quanity.

  • Testing in Production
  • Quality Testing Logo
  • Wahoo Time for Testing
  • (FireFly Design) - Don't Let the Bugs to Escape.

Testing In Production 2021
What Testing in Production Looks like.

Quality Testing 2021 logo
Quality Testing (Logo?)

Woo Hoo Testing Time
WooHoo Time For Testing

Dont Bugs Escape
Don't Let the Bugs Escape!

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

Student Loans Call and Voice Mail - Part 2

On July 12th, I blogged about the various phone calls for the Student Loan forgiveness program. These are obvious scams - I never applied for student loans. If these were legitimate organizations, they would know this.

Instead these are cold calls looking for people who are desperate enough to fall for their bait. Even the Federal Government has issued a warning about the scam in an article posted on the Federal Student Aid website.

The funny thing is, I get these calls around the same time I would get the Medical Services and the Final Expense Insurance calls.

More Calls

Here is a voice message and a call where I actually talk to a person.

  Filed under the Media category. - Permalink

Chlorine Tablets

This year there is a shortage of 3-inch chlorine tablets. Places around us only have small containers. They are limiting one container per customer. (I think the prices are a bit higher this year.)

Turns out the shortage is related to the Chlorine Plant that provided a large portion of the supply burned down in August 2020. Supply got worst early this year when the mainstream media started reporting on the shortage and people started stocking up.

We use the Hayward In-Line Chlorinator. We purchased it last year, and it survived being outside in the harsh New England winter. I think this Fall I'll move it to the basement just to protect it from the elements.

Hayward Chlorinator

Chlorine Tabs

I am able to fill eight tabs in the chlorinator container. I have found that that it lasts for 10-days when the setting is on high. I tested this a couple of times and can verify that it lasts 10-days when you fill the container up.

We have a 24-foot round pool that holds about 14,645 gallons.

The average pool season in Massachusetts is from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In 2021 that's 98-days. That means that we'll be using roughly 72 choline tabs.

The pool is looking great this year. The only issue is that the water has been too cold to swim in.

  Filed under the Pool category. - Permalink

SentenceCheckup.com

Having complex sentences can make or break a social media post's effectiveness. That's why sites like SentenceCheckup.com is around. Using AI, SentenceCheckup.com will proofread your sentence structure and help improve your writing styles.

I found the site to be easy to use. Simply visit the site, paste in your text and fix those errors! Now your social media post will make sense.

Website Description

Sentencecheckup is a Free online sentence checker, It can check for run on sentence and fragment check, correct grammatical errors, and improve your writing style, Spell check and punctuation checking is a bonus feature of its AI algorithm.

Sentence Checker
https://sentencecheckup.com/

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

BBEdit 14

This week Bare Bones released an update to BBEdit - bring the application to version 14.

It took 9 years to go from version 10 to version 14. So when BBEdit does a major update - it's a big deal. In this update, the big new feature is Notes.

New: Notes

One of the biggest features in this update is a Notes section.

For years BBEdit users would open up a blank document and just type away. When it came to saving the document, if they remembered, they would use the default name "untitled."

With BBEdit Notes, you can simply write away and don't have to worry about saving - it does it automatically! The name of the file is the first few words on the first line.

You can organize your notes into collections. (otherwise called folders) This makes it easy to view your data.

B B Edit13 Update

Seven Things I Learned about BBEdit Notes

Filename: While the name of the file displayed in the sidebar is the first few words of the first line. It's actually stored as a Globally Unique Identifier (GUID). The notes are not accessible in the Finder, they are in a package file in the finder in the BBEdit settings library. You can always use a simple trick to view the package file content - but why would you do that?

Emoji Filename - You can have Emojis in your filename! This is a creative way to make your notes stand out.

Dropbox Setup: If you are using BBEdit Dropbox sync configuration, you'll share the same Notes database between Macs. This is pretty useful. The problem is that notes created on a different Mac will show up in the Notes section using the GUID instead of the "friendly name." The workaround is to right-click on the note and select "Rename Note…" and assign a name. This name will carry over to the other Mac.

Collections: The Note collections works great on different Macs. You can nest collections. I setup up the notes to have two collections for the two computers that I use. This makes it easier to focus on the notes that may be important to me on a particular computer.

Search by Name: You can search for notes using the "Open File by Name." Only Noted created on the currently used computer will show up in the listing.

Search by Content: Use the new Notes check box in the Muti-file search dialog box to search through all your notes.

Opening Notes: You can open Notes in any BBEdit window. You don't need to use the Window->Notes feature to view a particular note. I find this useful as I have some reference documents and its great to have them available in the same window. The downside is that there's no indicator in the sidebar of what's a note file type and what's a plain file. I identify any filename that doesn't have an extension as a BBEdit note file.

Markdown: When you create a new Note it uses Markdown by default. If you are not familiar with the format, there is a Markdown Cheat Sheet in the Windows -> Palettes -> Markdown Cheat Sheet. This isn't new in 14, but useful to have when starting with Markdown.

Great Shortcuts to remember

Control - Option - Command - N -> Create a New Note (When you use this a few times, the keyboard combination makes sense.)

Shift - Command - F -> Multi-file search (Find Content in your Notes)

Lots of Other Changes

BBEdit 14 has a lot more changes other than Notes. Here are some other notable changes that I am excited about:

  • Remove Blank Lines: One simple menu item to quickly cleanup those blank lines.
  • Emmet Support: Simply install the Node.js and you can finally use Emmet within BBEdit.
  • Markdown Images: When you drag images to a Markdown document, BBEdit will insert the correct image tag format - like it does for HTML.
  • Text Factory: Replace All - Nice to see the history option. This makes it easy to implement a recent search/replace into a Text Factory action.
  • Application Icon - Bare Bones has a new icon for BBEdit, but you can change it back to the old style in the Preferences.
  • Pattern Playground - You can adjust the Search Pattern section. Now you can see more of crazy search pattern.

Go For the Upgrade!

BBEdit 14 is worth the upgrade. Still not sure? Why not try the the 30-day trial to explore how BBEdit can help you manage text easily.

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

Frederick P. Stearns

As you drive down Winter Street in Framingham, you'll see a large sign in front of the waterfall. This is the DCA sign letting people know that this is the Frederick Stearns Reservoir.

Mr. Frederick Stearns did valuable work in connection with securing a water supply from the Sudbury River and later as chief engineer, supervised the construction of a tunnel under Dorchester Bay and reservoir on Moon Island.

Under the leadership of Frederic Stearns, the Chief Engineer of the Metropolitan Water Board, it was decided that the new water source should be gravity-operated and not require filtratio

Frederick Stearns Reservoir

Some Fun Facts I Learned About Frederick Stearns

Born on November 11, 1851 in Calais, Maine and move to the Boston area with his parents when he was 18

Full name is Frederic Pike Stearns.

Married Addie C. Richardson of Framingham in 1872.

From 1865 to 1907 he was the chief engineer of the Massachusetts Water Works.

He was the consulting engineer for the Charles River Commission. (1903 - 1910)

In 1905, he was a member of the Board of Consulting Engineerings of the Panama Canal. He was one of three experts engineers to advise President-Elect Taft on the Canal problems.

He had two sons Herbert R Stearns and Ralph H. Stearns.

Frederic Pike Stearns Monday December 1, 1919 he was 68 years old.

  Filed under the Framingham category. - Permalink

Celiac Vaccine Update

Back in January, 2019, I wrote about how the Nexvax2 was in Stage 2 trials. This vaccine would help people with celiac disease to occasionally enjoy foods that may contain gluten.

I thought I would follow up on the update of the testing.

Celiac Vaccine Update

Nexvax2 Trial has been discontinued

Unfortunately testing didn't go well. Six Months into Phase 2, and the trial was stopped.

The results of the trial showed that the vaccine didn't provide any more protection from gluten when compared to the placebo.

The official statement from June 25, 2020:

The results from an interim analysis revealed Nexvax2 did not provide statistically meaningful protection from gluten exposure for celiac disease patients when compared with placebo.

ImmusanT, Inc is a biotechnology company focused on developing a treatment, and a set of diagnostic and monitoring tools to manage patients with Celiac disease.

Next Steps for ImmusanT

ImmusanT has closed its doors shortly after stopping the Nexvax2 trial. Any testing information is likely to be Vatera Healthcare Partners as they were the primary backers to ImmusanT.

While it's disappointing to hear that Nexvax2 didn't make it. There are plenty of other trials still in play.

Zedira Phase 2b Trial

Earlier this month, the New England Journal of Medicine featured a story about an experimental drug called ZED1227 that looks to be promising to those diagnosed with celiac disease. (A Randomized Trial of a Transglutaminase 2 Inhibitor for Celiac Disease)

According to early testing, patients on the drug showed fewer signs of intestinal damage when eating a biscuit with some gluten.

As part of the study, patients have to take a pill every morning and and once in a while they would eat a biscuit that contained a trace of gluten.

Zedira is still moving forward with the phase 2b study in Europe.

  Filed under the Gluten Free category. - Permalink

How to create great CTAs using A/B testing

A vector image that illustrates A/B testing.

If you've delved into Landing Page Optimization (LPO), chances are you've pondered over your Call to Action (CTA) buttons. Even if you haven't, you've likely given them their due time. CTAs are your literal calls to action, and thus serve as your final conversion step. That's what all your marketing, social media, and link-building efforts aim to push audiences to do. Where great CTAs can do them justice, underperforming CTAs can severely devalue your efforts. So, how can you fine-tune them for better conversion rates? Simply, by testing their relevant attributes one by one. In other words, you may create great CTAs using A/B testing ' and here is how.

What are CTAs?

But before we explore the main subject, let us briefly define those two terms, starting with CTAs.

In brief, CTAs are buttons on landing pages that encourage visitors to take the desired action. Examples may include:

  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Downloading a free copy of a report
  • Purchasing a product or service

Conversions and conversion rates

In turn, effective CTAS are invaluable to have a greater number of conversions on your landing pages. As CTAs are direct calls to action, they are at the forefront of LPO and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Put differently, they are the final arbiter of whether a visitor converts or leaves.

That said, there are different types of conversions, and each calls for a different approach to CTAs. Specifically, Google Analytics identifies two distinct conversion types:

  1. Micro conversions. These are conversions that push the visitor further into your sales funnel, such as newsletter signups.
  2. Macro conversions. Instead, these are completed transactions.

Then, it identifies four distinct conversion groups:

  1. Acquisition.
  2. Inquiry.
  3. Engagement.
  4. Revenue.

Among the four, only 'revenue' refers to macro conversions. The other three are likely earlier in your sales funnel, so they will require different CTA styles and copy.

What is A/B testing?

Now, to create great CTAs using A/B testing, we'll also need to define A/B testing equally briefly. A/B testing, as the name implies, is the process of testing two variations of a page against each other. Typically, the process relies on modifying a single page element, and then directing traffic to both the original (A) and the modified version (B).

Understandably, A/B testing can't succeed on a hunch. Instead, it typically requires such assets as CRM software and heat maps to inform which elements are modified and how.

Finally, A/B testing is one of 3 types of page testing:

  • A/B testing
  • Split testing
  • Multivariate testing

Granted, 'A/B testing' and 'split testing' see interchangeable use, but many do distinguish the two.

How to create great CTAs using A/B testing

With the above in mind, we may now discuss our main subject. To do so, we'll need to split it in two; the process itself, and the CTA modifications.

The A/B testing process

First and foremost, the process itself is crucial. Indiscriminately testing CTA elements, or testing many elements at once, will very rarely yield reliable results. Instead, you may take a more calculated, focused approach.

#1 Decide on your elements

Initially, you should decide which specific elements you will test. CTA elements to consider are:

  • Color
  • Font
  • Copy
  • Style
  • Placement
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Timers

With this many factors, you should understandably begin with a data-driven hypothesis. Thus, you may use CRM, heat maps, and any other analytics tools at your disposal to inform your choice.

#2 Create multiple variants

Then, you may test your hypotheses in action. To do so, you will need to create multiple 'B' variations and test them individually against your 'A'. Luckily, the digital age offers heat maps, so you may consider the following metrics they can provide:

  • How many visitors see your CTAs? Scroll maps will reveal how many visitors scroll to your CTAs.
  • How many visitors identify your CTAs and react to them? Move maps will provide these insights.
  • Do enough visitors click on your CTAs? Click and touch maps will reveal how many clicks and taps your CTAs get.

#3 Monitor your results

Finally, you should take the time to properly analyze your tests' findings. As you do, ensure you build the framework for more, and more conclusive tests. For this step, consider the following:

  • Ensure you have a decent sample size to draw conclusions from.
  • Let your tests run for long enough to ensure accuracy.
  • Identify which specific elements led to success or failure each time, and use them for further tests.

The CTAs

The process aside, creating great CTAs using A/B testing also hinges on CTAs themselves. While exact modifications should absolutely rely on your own analytics and tests, there are a few set practices to consider. In no particular order, these are the following.

#1 Refine your copy to encourage action

The very purpose of a CTA is to inspire action, so your copy must reflect this. Thus, lead with imperative verbs; 'sign up', 'get this', and 'click here' are CTA staples for a reason.

At the same time, visitors must know exactly what they're getting out of it. To do so, make your proposal clear; frame your CTA with clear information so that visitors know what you're offering.

#2 Keep it simple

However, clarity comes from simplicity; long CTAs are often visually unappealing. Thus, you should strive for copy simplicity:

  • Keep it between 2 to 5 words
  • Avoid jargon
  • Use adjacent page space for more information

Of course, simplicity is also relative to what your unique audience expects. Average audiences might dislike jargon, for example, but invested, savvy audiences might appreciate it in moderation.

#3 Keep your CTA visible and above the fold

On the subject of placement, CTA visibility is among the most common missteps. Here, consider such factors as the following:

  • Ensure your chosen font is highly readable
  • Use a contrasting CTA color in relation to the page
  • Place your CTA above the fold to ensure visibility
  • Avoid visual clutter around the CTA
  • Limit each page to one CTA to avoid decision fatigue

#4 Add a countdown timer to incite agency

Having ensured simplicity, clarity, and visibility, you may then consider countdown timers to incite urgency. The role of your CTAs is to inspire action, after all, and few things do so as successfully as urgency.

For reference, consider that Sleeknote found that popups with countdown timers outperformed ones without timers by 113%. In principle, the same applies to CTAs ' which should explain the common 'sign up now', 'hurry!', and similar copy choices.

#5 Make it stylish' where appropriate

Finally, you may attempt to spice up your CTAs. Most notably, you may employ humor; for example, OptinMonster's exit-intent popup cries 'that's abandonment!' as you leave. HootSuite's exclaims, 'well, this is awkward', before continuing that they 'could've SWORN you were someone' interested in their services.

These are evidently very effective, as their audiences find them charming. However, this kind of humor is in line with their branding, and resonates with their audiences. Yours may both differ, so when trying to create great CTAs using A/B testing, make sure to do your due research.

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

New England Commercials

Here's another great collection of commercials. This is from a couple of my VHS tape collections. The quality of audio on a couple of these commercial clips is pretty bad. I think it was something to do with the digitalization. I'll take a look and see if I can do a better job importing the audio.

New England Commercials

Feature in this video:

  • New England Telephone - "The Art Gallery"
  • New England Telephone - "The Operator"
  • Massachusetts Lottery - "Mega Million Mom"
  • Friendly's - "Free Ice Cream"
  • Lechmere - "This Week's Deals" (December 1988)

  Filed under the Media category. - Permalink

Digital Money for Seniors

Understanding money in the digital age is critical to managing your finances. There's no way you should be handling your money like it's the 1990s.

Recently CompareTheMarket.com put together a data-driven guide called 'Digital Money for Seniors.' The guide explores key facts and challenges faced by the elderly in a world increasingly accustomed to digital banking.

Digital Moneyfor Seniors
https://www.comparethemarket.com/credit-cards/content/digital-money-for-seniors

The guide shares important insights such as:

  • How the rapid move towards online banking and digital services-risks leaving older people behind.
  • The-importance of digital inclusion-and-age-friendly banking-to reliably meet the needs of the elderly.
  • Great examples of-industry initiatives-that help teach and support seniors to use digital services.
  • Useful tips and advice-to offer help to elderly relatives or friends when using smartphones and the internet.

Some interesting facts you'll find:

  • 42% of over 75s (nearly two million people in England) weren't using the internet and are still digitally excluded.
  • 49% of people aged 55 and over said they weren't confident using an app to apply for a credit card or loan.
  • Bank branches and cashpoints (ATMs), relied upon by many seniors, are disappearing at a rapid rate across the UK.

  Filed under the Business category. - Permalink

Artbreeder

Artbreeder is a website that uses the power of AI imaging to create some very unique images. You can have some control over how the final image looks look like.

There are lots of unique ways to play around with images, and you can certainly spend hours on the site looking at other designs to be inspired by the age-old question... what if..

Website Description

Artbreeder aims to be a new type of creative tool that empowers user's creativity by making it easier to collaborate and explore. Originally Ganbreeder, it started as an experiment in using breeding and collaboration as methods of exploring high complexity spaces. Artbreeder is named after the research of Picbreeder which investigated the role of exploration in the optimization process. It is also inspired by an earlier project of mine Facebook Graffiti which demonstrated the creative capacity of crowds.

Art Breeder
https://www.artbreeder.com/

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

"there isn't enough free space" error

Have you ever run into this kind of error message:

'There isn't enough free space'

Usually this occurs when trying to save a change. The weird thing is that when you look at the disk space there's plenty.

The lack of disk space can't be the reason.

What's Going On?

The other reason for the error is when the system clock is not set. Especially if the date is around 1970.

This may happen if your computer battery drained and it's not connected to the internet.

Quick Easy Solution

Simply fixing the clock will fix the error.

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

Framingham Recycle Center

Couple of notable things at the Framingham Recycling Center. It cost Framingham residents $20 a year to use the facilities - might as well get the most of your money!

Framingham Metal Collection

Metal Recycling

It costs nothing to dispose of any metal that you have. So if there's something in your basement or garage that might - and your not going to use it any time soon - recycle it. Here are just some of the things I saw at the recycling center:

  • Deck Chairs
  • Window frames
  • Grills
  • Beach Chairs
  • Trampoline
  • Lawn motor
  • Scott's Lawn spreader
  • Metal Shelves

Discoverbooks Framingham

Books Recycling

Last year we tried to donate a few shopping bags full of books. We couldn't find a place. I did notice that the center has a couple of bins to recycle books.

Note: before recycling any old books check eBay.com to see if they are valuable.

DiscoverBooks.com has a couple of drop off bins for books. This is the only place around Framingham where we could find a place to drop off books.

Books that are left in these bins may get sold on their website or they may get donated to local libraries.

You can read more about Discoverbooks.com services.

  Filed under the Framingham category. - Permalink

Kanes Donuts

Finding a place that makes good gluten-free donuts may seem like an impossible task. Not in the Boston area,

Kane's Donuts is the place to go for not only awesome donuts but a great selection.

Kanes Gluten Free Donuts

Five Things We Learned

This past Spring we stopped at the Kane's Donut shop in the Financial District in Boston. Here are some of the things we learned.

They had a large selection of Gluten Free donuts. We arrived moments after they open so we had a large selection to pick from.

Kane's keep the donuts on a separate track from the other donuts in the shop. They will move it so you can see what is available.

Gluten Free Donuts are expensive

They taste awesome! My daughter loved them so much that we went back a couple of days later to get more. To her, It was a real treat to get delicious donuts from a donut shop. She really liked the glazed donuts.

You can order the donuts online. Order online for early morning pickup to ensure the freshest selection and variety.

  Filed under the Gluten Free category. - Permalink

GoodHarts Law

Recently I was browsing around Sketchplanations collection and found this graphic around Goodheart's Law:

Googharts Law

GoodHeart's Law

When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

QA View

Understand GoodHarts Law is useful for QA because it helps understand that without a clear objective - specifically one that benefits the consumer- can cause a loss of focus. Thus all the work and effort may cause more harm than good.

Some questions to ask when working on a project. Don't wait for a retrospective to ask these questions. Think about these at the beginning of each sprint:

What are the goals of the project?

What solution are we trying to solve?

Will this solution actually fix the problem or will it cause more pain points to the customer.

Check out sketchplanations

Definitely check out other Sketchplanations drawings. They do a great job in explaining various topics.

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

Student Loan Messages

Once every few days, I get a message in my voicemail about my Student Loan. The thing is that I took out a student loan.

Clearly these people are phishing for people with student loans. Any legitimate business would do their research to know a bit more about the people they are talking to.

The other thing about these calls is that they always get to voicemail. They found a way to call a number and go directly to voicemail. There have been many times when I would get these calls and it would alert the iPhone that a call is coming. Before the caller ID clicked in, the call would get disconnected and minutes later I would be notified that I have a voice message.

Check out a couple of these calls:

  Filed under the Media category. - Permalink

GoPro Heat Issue

On June 30th, I. noticed that my GoPro Hero 9 was acting a bit weird.

The problem was that It wasn't recording. Basically, the recording would stop seconds after I hit the record button. I then looked at the front of my screen and notice something weird.

Bad Go Pro Mobile
Bad Go Pro Desktop

I took this picture using my iPhone thinking that something was going on with my camera - it worth noting the issue I saw on the front of the camera. There was no issue with the back display.

After a few minutes the "condensation" went away. I don't think it was real condensation.

What Happened?

I think my GoPro was suffering from being in the heat too much during the last recording. According to Dark Sky it was nearly 100-degrees during the last recording.

Prior to the failure, I had the GoPro doing some time-lapse recording on a very hot day. The camera was in the sun the whole time.

There was some rain in my last recording, but I don't think it was that as I had the GoPro do a lot of wet recordings - including snow and rain..

Optimal Enviroment

According to the GoPro Manual

The operating ambient temperature range of your HERO9 Black is 14- F ~ 95- F (10- C ~ 35- C). High temperatures will cause your camera to use more power and drain the battery faster.

What's happing now

Over the past few days the GoPro won't respond to the power button. When I put in a battery it stays on until I remove the battery.

The video recording stops after a few minutes. I have to put the battery and push it back in to record.

I am unable to connect the camera wirelessly or via USB.

While the camera still works, it is not that reliable.

Returning Device

I have to GoPro Subscription service. I will take advantage of the no question as a device replacement. I will return the device for a new one.

This isn't a free replacement as it will cost $99 to get a replacement.

  Filed under the GoPro category. - Permalink

Hashatit

Everyplace you look on social media, Hashtags have become a thing. The problem is that there's no real easy way to find them.

That's where HashTagIt comes in handy. You can easily search for hashtags across all the popular social media platforms.

Website Description

Everywhere on social media, content is being generated at unheard-of speeds. Hashtags help you navigate the ever-expanding internet, and HASHATIT keeps you on top of hashtags.

Since 2014, the Hashatit team has provided one of the internet's easiest and most powerful tools to search social media for the content you want. With Hashatit, you can easily track what interests you, keep those interests organized, and come back to them at any time.

In short, Hashatit helps you cut through the noise and find what you're looking for.

hashatit
https://www.hashatit.com/

Some Ideas

Some creative searches:

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

Quickly Put the Computer to Sleep

Sometimes you need to put the computer to sleep without using the mouse. This happens when you're charging the mouse - or the mouse battery died.

Did you know that there's a keyboard combination shortcut to quickly put your computer to sleep? This is a very useful combination to remember.

Computer To Sleep

Download this graphic and use it as a quick reference to putting your computer to sleep.

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

1872 Map

Last year when I was in the Boston Public Library I found a book on the history of Framingham.

Someone placed some maps inside the book. It doesn't look like that they were supposed to be included in the book.

The one map I thought was most interesting was the map of Framingham from 1872:

Framingham1872Map-sm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

The quality of the map isn't all that good. The next time I am at the Boston Public Library, I'll get a better copy.

  Filed under the Framingham category. - Permalink

Stuffed Puffs

One of the hot food products this year is the Stuffed Puffs. This is a marshmallow with some chocolate inside. Making this the perfect S'more marshmallow.

I was surprised to find some at a local Market Basket. So I picked up a couple of packages.

Stuffed Puffs

My daughter was delighted that I brought some home and couldn't wait to make s'mores.

She had a couple of them and thought they were just okay. I think she was expecting more chocolate inside.

We noticed that when we cooked them over the fire that the outside would sizzle as if it had a sugar coating.

That got me thinking - what is inside the marshmallow? So I checked the ingredients and was surprised to find its more than marshmallows and plain chocolate.

There is a bit of a surprise if you are a celiac- the marshmallow contains Wheat.

Stuffed Puffs Desktop
Stuffed Puffs Mobile

Facts from Stuffed Puffs

According to the Stuff Puffs frequently asked questions:

Stuffed Puffs- Classic Milk Chocolate and Chocolate-on-Chocolate flavors are inherently gluten-free, however, they are not a Certified Gluten-Free product. This is because while there is no wheat in the ingredient list they are made in a facility that processes wheat products.

Our Cookies &n Creme flavor does contain some wheat as it includes a cookie crumble filling.

Note: On their website, the ingredients don't list Wheat in the "Contained Ingredients".

My daughter didn't encounter any Gluten side effects from eating the marshmallows. She said that she felt fine the next morning.

We were happy that she didn't get sick and I felt bad that I didn't check to see if the marshmallows were safe.

Now What?

We probably won't use the rest of the marshmallows- out of caution. Instead, we may make our own stuff marshmallows

I think she likes making s'mores the old fashion way - with a recesses peanut butter cup instead of a Hershey bar.

  Filed under the Gluten Free category. - Permalink

Computer Change Up

Last week I got assigned a new laptop, and this week I'll be configuring all the various QA applications on it. One of the things that came to mind during this process is how many testing tools that I don't really use anymore.

This got me thinking that moving to a new laptop is a good time to do an assessment of the tools that I really need to have. Over the years, I tested various apps, but never uninstalled them.

Consider a Change

If you're using the same laptop/desktop for the past three years, you may want to consider changing a laptop/desktop before starting that next big project. It's a good way to start from fresh.

Five Things I Have Learned

  1. Getting the computer into a productive state takes time. It takes time to find the right software and licenses. Once you have the installation done, there some time needed to get the software configured to how you remember it - such as custom keyboard shortcuts and layouts.
  2. I used the opportunity to rearrange my physical desktop. The new MacBooks have USB-C ports and I can connect external monitors on either side. This allowed me to switch things around so I can have a more practical workspace.
  3. I have found that cloud services make migration so much easier. Dropbox and One Drive make moving files between the computers easier. Also, many of my apps settings are stored in DropBox, so they pick up various configurations when the applications are installed.
  4. Keep it simple. I am committed to not installing software on this computer that is also not essential to my work. My other computer had a lot of graphic apps that I really don't need.
  5. Document Everything. I used various sources to store software license keys. As I am installing apps. I am recording them in a single app - so I have a single source for next time. Including documenting what apps are being used for what functionality. Think of it as a Wiki page for essential apps.

  Filed under the QA category. - Permalink

Commercials from 2000

This week we are featuring 5 commercials from the year 2000. These were all recorded from California and were on in July 2000.

Commercials in this media feature:

  • Jewelry Exchange - Buy Factory Direct in Burlingame California
  • Sizzler - Promoting the $7.99 dishes
  • MSN Mobile - How phone were like before the iPhone
  • NBC 2000 Olympics Promo - Feature CJ Hunter and Marion Jones
  • US Mint - Promoting the Golden Dollar coin.

YouTube Video

  Filed under the Media category. - Permalink

How to Buy Quality T-shirts Online?

Buy A Shirt

If you think about your wardrobe essentials, the first thing that comes to mind is T-shirts. Nowadays, t-shirts are worn on every occasion whether it is at work, at home or going to the gym.

T-shirts have become more versatile in terms of when and where you can wear them, so finding the best quality t-shirts is more important than ever.

Finding a high-quality t-shirt can make a great difference for the planet, your skin, the way you feel, and your wallet. That's why we decided to highlight some of the things that you should consider when buying your next t-shirt.

What is A High-Quality T-Shirt?

There are many factors that you should consider to find a high-quality t-shirt. Some people prioritize the fabric and others say the thread count. Others are mainly focused on how it feels and the whole experience of wearing it.

few questions need to be answered to determine the quality of the t-shirt, such as:

  • What is the t-shirt made of?
  • How is it made?
  • Who made it?
  • How much does it cost per wear?
  • How is your experience buying it?

We would say that a high-quality T-shirt is more than just the physical product and the materials used in the process. The T-shirt must represent the company and its mission, so finding the perfect T-shirt is much deeper than you might think.

Online Reviews are Crucial

The best way to back up your purchase decision is through online reviews. Just because the apparel industry is shady and some brands talk a lot but they don't deliver, you should check out what other people have to say about the products. Tshirt Magazine Online is a good place to start.

Customers are always honest, so the first step in determining whether or not you are dealing with a legitimate brand selling high-quality t-shirts is to check out online reviews. It is important to scan the comments and look for the things that matter to you.

Thread Count

Thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch in a fabric. This is usually the best way to measure the t-shirt quality. Buying a t-shirt with a high thread count means that you are getting more tightly woven together with fabric that is softer and more durable.

People don't usually think about the cost per wear, and always go for cheaper t-shirts that in the end, are have a higher price per wear since they are not very durable.

Material

The most commonly used material for t-shirts is cotton, but there are different types of cotton that you need to be aware of. For example, clothing manufacturers can produce higher-quality pieces if they use organic cotton which is softer than inorganic cotton.

Most companies that use inorganic cotton add chemicals to soften the T-shirt, but they wash off and the t-shirt loses its quality.

Make sure you go for t-shirts that are made from 100% cotton that is breathable and comfortable to wear.

Find the Right Cut

There are many things to consider when finding the perfect t-shirt and choosing the right cut that will go along with your body is very important.

A high-quality t-shirt shouldn't make you feel limited in how you can combine it with other pieces. The t-shirt should be comfortable but versatile.

Go for Quality instead of Quantity

It is much better to buy one high-quality t-shirt than spend the same amount of money buying 3-4 low-quality t-shirts.

First of all, buying a low-quality t-shirt won't save you any money just because they only last so long before they get starchy and unflattering. On the other hand, high-quality t-shirts will last for a lifetime.

Nowadays, there are plenty of stores that specialize in selling high-quality t-shirts and your job is to find the brand that works best for you. T-shirts are the most worn clothing piece from our wardrobe, which is why subscription boxes are perfect for keeping your wardrobe updated.

You can check out the 20 Best T-Shirt Subscription Boxes by Fiveboxes.com. They provide great quality t-shirts, so you don't have to worry about going to your local clothing store.

  Filed under the Business category. - Permalink

Am I FLoCed

Google will soon be eliminating third-party cookies in their browsers. This will cause some issues with how some advertising works today - as companies can track you no matter where you are.

Google has announced that this isn't going to happen any time soon. Last week Google announced that they won't stop third-party cookies until 2023.

In the meantime, Google is testing a new concept called Federated Learning of Cohorts or FLoC. It uses your browser history to assign you to a group of similar users around the world. They assign your group a label. Then Google displays this label to websites you visit where they can profile you.

Use the "Am I FLoCed?" to see if your browser is in the trial run. If it is, you can learn how to opt-out of it.

Website Description

Google is testing FLoC on Chrome users worldwide. Find out if you're one of them.

Google is running a Chrome "origin trial" to test out an experimental new tracking feature called Federated Learning of Cohorts (aka "FLoC"). According to Google, the trial currently affects 0.5% of users in selected regions, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the United States. This page will try to detect whether you've been made a guinea pig in Google's ad-tech experiment.

F Lo Ced
https://amifloced.org/

  Filed under the Internet Tools category. - Permalink

Font Awesome Filter

Font Awesome is one of the popular online icon fonts. Web designers use it to make websites a little better.

You can easily search their collection for all sorts of creative icons. There are 7,865 icons in their collection - of that 1,609 are free.

One Bad Thing About Font Awesome Search

There is one downside to the Font Awesome search. When you find an icon, there's only one way to copy the HTML class - by clicking on the name. When you do this you get the whole style prefix not use the class name: Sample:.

<i class="fad fa-address-card"></i>

That's useful when you want to add it for the first time. What if you only wanted the font class name to replace an existing font awesome style? You would have to paste the content and then delete the remaining class info. This can be a pain if you're replacing a bunch of icons for a redesign.

Keyboard Maestro to the Rescue!

I decided to write a Keyboard Maestro Macro to fix this situation. It's basically a regular expression that filters out everything outside of the quotes.

Here's the Macro:

Font Awesome Macro

Regular Expression Used

"(.*)"

The nice thing about this Macro is that it can be executed by typing in the keyword: ".awesome " or using the filter menu in the Clipboard Switcher.

So now I can easily replace icons on a page with ones that I find on Font Awesome.

If there's a time when I am doing a lot of icon changes, I can change the macro to be easier to execute.

Not Using Font Awesome?

This is just a tip of how to use Keyboard Maestro for one instance. You may find another use of how this may help you have better copy/paste.

  Filed under the Macintosh category. - Permalink

COVID-19 Update

It's been a while since I posted about COVID-19. Things are much better and most restaurants are now fully open for indoor seating.

Just because the COVID-19 numbers are down, it doesn't mean that it's ok to go back to normal. People should stay vigilant against COVID-19.

Framingham Covid19

Interesting COVID-19 Facts

City of Framingham COVID Numbers: 8,352 Cases, 250 Deaths, & 83 Active Cases

Framingham currently has about 74,500 residents.

June 12 was the first time that Framingham reported zero COVI-19 cases.

April 2, 2021, was the last time Framingham was in the red (High-Risk Zone)

March 26, 2020 was the first reported COVID-19 fatality.

  Filed under the Framingham category. - Permalink

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