A-Z Challenge blog postings

A-Z Challenge Postings - Page 11

Earliest: April 1, 2016Latest: May 2, 2021Total: 133
April 8, 2017

Generate HTML Image Tag Quickly

This is a neat piece of code that will create a image tag based on the most recent image on the desktop.

If your doing work in an editor and want a quick way to add the image tag in your code, this can come in handy. This snippet will create an HTML image tag complete with image dimensions and the Alt tag.

Tech Notes

  • You can change where the script looks for images by changing the $dir path.
  • If you upload images in a different directory, then change the path of $public
  • Currently the script only supports JPG, but if you do work with only PNG, change the file extensions that?s being assigned to the $files variable.
  • The splitByCaps function is useful because it will split the filename, if it?s in camelcase format, for the alt text field.

Image Shell Script

$dir = "~/Desktop/";
$public = "/images/";
$files=shell_exec("ls -t $dir/*.jpg");
$withoutExt = preg_replace('/\.[^.\s]{3,4}$/', '', $result[0]);
$afile = $result[0];
$myfile = trim(splitByCaps($withoutExt));
list($width, $height, $type, $attr) = getimagesize($result[0]);

echo "<p align="center"><img src="$public/$afile" width="$width" height="$height" alt="$myfile" /><br/></p>";

function splitByCaps($string){
  return preg_replace('/([a-z0-9])?([A-Z])/','$1 $2',$string);

I assigned abbreviation to be ?desk.image?. I believe this makes it easy to remember and reduces the changes that I?ll accidentally type the short cut.

Feel free to modify the above script to do anything that you want!

April 7, 2017

Firefox Developer Edition

FireFox Developer Edition

If you do any website development, you should consider installing Firefox Developer Edition. It's a very powerful browser that is "Built for those who build the Web."

Key Advantages FireFox Developer Edition

You may be used to other Developer tools in other browsers. However, FireFox Developer Edition is the only browser to help Developers and QA debug code better than anyone.

  • Visual Editing Tools - You can visually edit any page animation objects.
  • DevTools Challenger - Learn more about how the Visual Animation and CSS Editing works together with a fun game.
  • Extra Performance Tools - Check out Frame Rate, memory consumption and JS profile in the performance tools.
  • Page Inspector - Modify HTML & CSS structure live
  • JavaScript Debugger - Step through JavaScript code and easily debug issues.
  • Awesome Style Editor - Fix CSS issues on the fly.

AppleScript and FireFox

AppleScript was briefly removed from Firefox. You'll be happy to know that it's back! (Ok, It's been back for a while, I just noticed it now.)

Here's an example code to search Google using the contents of your clipboard:

Fire Fox Apple Script

set theData to (the clipboard as text)
set the clipboard to theData

tell application "FirefoxDeveloperEdition"
	open location "https://www.google.com?q=" & theData
end tell

Mousekey Assignment

I have this setup as one of my mouse buttons. You can assign AppleScripts to mouse buttons via USB Overdrive. I can now quickly search google with the #5 mouse button.

U S B Overdrive Firefox

BASH and Firefox

If you don't like AppleScript, you can always use BASH and perform the some actions. (I wasn't able to figure out the search query)

#! /bin/bash
/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -private-window http://www.cryan.com

Some sample command line actions

Opens a new website in Private Mode:

/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -private-window http://www.cryan.com

Opens a URL in a separate tab:

/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -new-tab http://www.cryan.com

Opens Firefox in safe mode, useful if you having problems with firefox. (Also useful to test a site with no plugins enabled)

/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -safe-mode

This isn't limited to the Developer version of Firefox. If you are using the standard Firefox version, replace FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app with Firefox.app.

You can learn all about the various command line options on Mozilla's developers website.

April 6, 2017

Ether Monument

The Ether Monument, is a statue and fountain near the northwest corner of Boston's Public Garden, near the intersection of Arlington Street and Marlborough Street. It commemorates the first use of Ether in anesthesia in 1846.

Ether Monument

Things that I learned about the Ether Monument

  • Created by John Quincy Adams Ward, in 1868, its the second sculpture that he worked on.
  • The only Statue/Fountain combination in the Public Gardens.
  • Monument is also known as the Good Samaritan Monument
  • The fountain water is turned on the same time as the Boston Public Garden Lagoon is turned on. The third Sunday of April.
  • The Monument is 40 feet (12 m) tall. Which is 2 feet taller than the Washington Equestrian statue. (The Equestrian statue is taller because its on a hill.)
  • Its the oldest monument in the public garden, the next monument installed was the Washington Equestrian statue which was put in a year later.
  • There is a lion on each side of the monument. The symbol of a lion means strength
  • The figures on the top of the monument are looking away from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)
  • MGH has the original room (Ether Dome) where the first anesthetic was performed. The Ether Dome is open to the public.
  • The distance between the Ether Monument and the Ether Dome is 0.9561 miles.

Monument Text

  • Around the monument four sides are the following sayings:
  • To commemorate that the inhaling of ether causes insensibility to pain. First proved to the world at the Mass. General Hospital in Boston, October A.D. MDCCCXLVI (1846)
  • This also cometh forth from the Lord of Hosts which is wonderful and excellent in working. Isaiah (28:29)
  • In gratitude for the relief of human suffering by the inhaling of ether a citizen of Boston has erected this monument A.D. MDCCCLXVII. (1867)
  • Neither shall there be any more pain.

Park Benches

  • Around the Monument are three park benches. Each of the benches has a remembrance plaque:
  • Gift of New England Life
  • Dedication in Loving Memory of Karl W. Johnson 1956 - 2008 We treasure the time that we had with you. With love from Ava, Erika and all of your family and friends.
  • Nadya and Alan Aisenberg - Lovingly Remembered

Preserving the Monument

At the base of the monument is a plaque on the ground that reads:

Preserved with support from local citizens, Save Outdoor sculpture!, Target Stores and The National Endowment for the Arts, SOS! is a Project of Project of Heritage preservation and Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Locating the Monument

The monument is located in the North-West corner of the Boston Public Gardens. It's located near the intersection of Arlington Street and Marlborough Street. If you're on the Lagoon Bridge, walk towards the Washington Statue and turn right. Follow the path along the lagoon.

April 5, 2017

Date - Unix Command Line

The Unix Date command is a very handy tool to do date displays and calculations.

The basic of displaying a date:


You can format the output by simply passing a few parameters:

date +"%B %d, %Y" April 05, 2017

Common Display Formats

Standard Date date +"%A, %B %d, %Y" Wednesday, April 05, 2017
Standard Time date +"%I:%M %p" 03:29 PM
MySQL Format date +"%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S" 2017-04-05 13:21:13
United States format date +"%m/%d/%Y" 04/05/2017
European date format date +"%d %B, %Y" 05 April, 2017
ISO 8601 date format date +"%Y-%m-%d" 2017-04-05
ISO 8601 Combined Format date +"%Y-%m-%dT%R:%S" 2017-04-05T13:3252

Find Non-Release Weeks

At my work we do release every Thursday. However, if the Thursday is within 2 days of the end of the month we skip doing a release that week.

It would be handy to know all the weeks that we will not be shipping and let people know in advance. I thought it would be a handy thing for a Bash script.

Here's a simple script that does that. This will loop through all the Thursdays in 2017 and see if it follows the business rule. If it's not a release week print out the date.

for (( start = 1; start <= $max; start++ )) do

# Get the Next Thursday
check=$(date -v+"$start"w -v+1d +"%e") 
check_fmt=$(date -v+"$start"w -v+1d +"%B %e, %Y")

# Get the last day of the Month
lastday=$(date -v+"$start"w -v1d -v+1m -v-1d +"%e")

# Check the number of days to the End of the Month
daystoendofmonth=$(($lastday - $check));

# Apply the 2 Day Business Rule and echo the no release weeks
if [ "$daystoendofmonth" -lt "2" ]
echo "Don't release on: " $check_fmt


The above script is written to be run on a Wednesday.

When I run this script, I discovered:

  • Don't release on: June 29, 2017
  • Don't release on: August 31, 2017
  • Don't release on: November 30, 2017

Looks like we'll have a pretty quiet summer this year.

April 4, 2017

Catholic Church's Holy Eucharist

OLHC Church

The Catholic Church is very strict in the Holy Eucharist that is used at Mass, and using a rice-based Eucharist will not work.

According to the Code of Canon Law, The Rites And Ceremonies Of The Eucharistic Celebration (Can 924):

  1. The holiest eucharistic sacrifice must be offered with bread and with wine in which a little water must be mixed.
  2. The bread must be only wheat and recently made so that there is no danger of spoiling.
  3. The wine must be natural from the fruit of the vine and not spoiled.

The Catholic Church is very strict that Communion is to be made of wheat and a small amount of gluten because of the belief that Jesus used wheaten bread at the Last Supper.

Viable Solution

Fortunately there is a valid solution by the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. They were able to manufacture a Communion Host that is not only approved by the Catholic Church but also approved by the Gluten Free Community.

The Communion that the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration manufacturer is made from wheat starch. This starch has most of the gluten removed. It was tested by the Office of the Secretariat and has been approved to be used at Mass in the dioceses of the United States with the appropriate permissions.

The Communion was also tested by the Center for Celiac Research, where they found that the .01% gluten content is well below the 10 milligrams safe number.

Ordering the Low-gluten Communion Bread

You can order the Low-gluten Communion Bread from the Alter Breads BSPA website. Currently it's $5.35 for a 30 wafers.

At Church

The best way to safely receive the Communion is to work with your church. It's important that there is no cross contamination. Several options:

  • You could receive the Communion Host from a dedicated Eucharistic Minister
  • You could be the first person to receive the Communion Host
  • You could always receive the Communion after the mass completed
April 3, 2017

Be Our Guest Restaurant

In Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, there is a very popular restaurant called "Be Our Guest." If you're planning a trip to the Magic Kingdom, this is one place that you should plan to stop at.

The main theme of the restaurant is based on the original "Beauty and the Beast" movie.

Fun Facts about the "Be Our Guest" Restaurant

  • Officially opened on November 19, 2012 - week's before the official opening of the New Fantasyland
  • Offers Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
  • License to serve 500 guests - one of the largest dining rooms in the Magic Kingdom!
  • Average cost per meal is $20
  • Accepts the Disney Dining plan and only counts as 1 meal point.
  • The only place in Disney where you can meet "the Beast" from "Beauty and the Beast"
  • You will need eat in the dining room to see the Beast. (Similar to other Character dining experiences.)
  • The Beast will not sign any autographs.
  • There is a known Hidden Mickey in each of the dining rooms.

Be Our Guest

Main Ballroom

The Main Ballroom is the large room you see when you walk into the restaurant. Disney does a great job to make it feel like your eating in a castle. As you walk in the Main Ballroom you can see a large window where snow is endlessly falling. It's a very cool effect, and you can almost feel the cold air blowing in.

The nice thing about eating in the Ballroom is that it's fairly quiet. While eating you don't hear a lot of people talking.

West Wing room

The thunderstorm erupts every time a rose petal falls to the ground. When the thunderstorm hits, immediately look at the Beast painting in the room, it changes very quickly. If you eat in the room, make sure to sit so that you can see the painting.

This room is darker than all the other dining rooms. A lot of people come into this room to see the rose and the picture. If your sitting near them then you may encounter people walking by your table.

Rose Gallery

This room contains various paintings from the movie. In the center of the room is a large chandelier with a stained glass center that carries out the rose motif from the film. The Beast will usually come out of this room before heading to the meet and greet area.

These room lights are the brightest of all the rooms.

Dinner is the Best Option

In our experience, we have found that the dinner service to be the best. We did eat at the lunch service and didn't really get a good feeling of the place. That is because lunch is quick service meals. You basically order your meal when you make reservations. It's a good way to get a fast meal in the park, but you miss out on what makes the "Be Our Guest" restaurant special.

There's no particular favorite meal that we have had, the choices are excellent and the food has always been very good. You certainly don't feel like you're at a theme park while you are in the restaurant.

As you leave, don't forget to take a group picture in front of the stain glass window. There's usually a cast member walking around that would be happy to take your group photo.

April 1, 2017

Acton's Discovery Museum

Tuck into a quiet neighborhood in Acton, Massachusetts is the Children's Discovery Museum. This very popular place is where kids can play. learn, and explore about various things.

Acton Discovery Museums

Changes are Coming

The original Children's Discovery Museum started from a 3-story Victorian house, built in 1880, that has 3,500 square feet of floor space in ten rooms. It opened in 1982.

In 1988, a new building was constructed in the backyard. The building, Science Discovery Museum, targets older kids where they could learn about science.

This winter the Victorian house part of the museum will be torn down. The Discovery Museum building will be expanded so that all museum exhibits will be under one roof.

Good Summer to visit!

If your kids had visited the Children's Discovery Museum in the past, this will be the last time they will get to go to the original museum. It's a good time to visit some of the favorite exhibits:

  • Play in the train room - How much is that trip to Boston?
  • Climb the wall and discover which ball track is faster. - Don't forgot to reset the dominos over the fireplace.
  • Try to make a life size bubble in the Water room
  • Swim up the stairs
  • Try to catch the foam falling out of the ceiling
  • Read a story by the pretend fire in the Backyard at Night room
  • Play in the Adventure Fort
  • Head up to the Attic and the Ship Room

Discovery Grid

Good News

According to the website, all the popular exhibits in the original museum will be in the new one:

Every experience in the current Children's Discovery Museum balls and ramps, water, air, Bessie's Diner, the Ship Room, trains, light & color, Backyard at Night will exist in the new building. Along with what will become new favorites!

While it's nice that they are keeping the exhibits, it won't be the same as it was in the old building. I would recommend at least stopping by and checking it out for the last time.

Bessie's the big, green dinosaur birthday is at the end of June. They might be having a celebration around June 24-25. It's a fun time to go since they have an Outdoor Dinosaur Dig, Dinosaur Egg hung, Face Painting and you can give Bessie a bath.

Good Bye House2

May 8, 2016

A to Z Reflections

A-Z Reflection

Here are my reflections on this years 'A to Z Challenge'.

I decided to keep the same topic format that I have been using. A different topic of interest every day. This made it a bit more challenging to find things that fit the letter of the day. I didn't want to just throw a letter or word, I wanted the content to be interesting.

My first challenge was to build a comment section, which was a bit challenging because I didn't want robots to spam the database. (This blog isn't built using any of the "standard" blogging platforms.)

Some letters were a bit challenging:

When I was stuck on the letter 'o', I actually went to the bookstore and got a Disney book and went straight to the index to get some ideas. This is something that I wouldn't have normally done. I did come up with a great posting about One Man's Dream in Hollywood Studios.
Other letters that were challenging to find topic were Q, X, and Z.

If I could write it over again, I would definitely come up with a better topic for the letter 'W'. I couldn't really come up with something in the Productive category that starts with 'W'. The Winner's Creed was the best I could do at the time.

My favorite was the Leif Ericsson Statue blog posting. I learned a lot about a simple statue. I thought about the topic far in advance and did some research about it.

Overall the traffic to the blog remained the same. I didn't do much promotion. I was more focus on the content and my day to day job. Next year, I'll plan better and come up with some graphics for social media.

Great Bloggers!

I really enjoyed visiting other blogs that we part of the challenge. I wouldn't have encountered these outside of the challenge. There are a lot of talented people posting things on the internet. Here are links to five Blogs that I enjoyed visiting during the challenge:

2017 Challenge

Next year I plan on putting together a better content schedule plan. There were a few instances where I was clueless on what to write about. Boston seems to be a lot easier to write about, Productivity and Disney's topics were a bit challenging.

The A to Z team did a great job promoting the Challenge. My only recommendation would be to add a 'random blog' functionality. Just another way for people to discover other people blogs.

April 30, 2016

Zaftigs Delicatessen

If you're doing some early morning errands around Natick, and happen to be near the Christmas Tree Shop and looking for a breakfast spot that has really good gluten free options. We know of a good place to go. It's Zaftigs Delicatessen, which is located a couple of doors away from the Christmas Tree Shop in the Sherwood Plaza.

Zaftigs Foods

On a recent Sunday morning we stopped at Zaftigs for a quick breakfast. We were very pleased with the service and quality and quantity of food. This is certainly a place we would go back again and again.

On Sundays, the restaurant is scheduled to be open at 8am. But when we arrived a few minutes before 8, we saw the door was open and a few people sitting down enjoying their morning coffee. We figured that it must be the regular Sunday breakfast crowd. By the time we left, most of the seats in the restaurant were taken.

When we placed our order, we told our waitress of our daughter's need to eat gluten free. The Waitress let us know what items they could safely be prepared gluten free. (They even had gluten free bread and bagels!) She told us that after she put in the order, the manager would come over and talk to us.

The manager came over to our table to explain how serious they take food allergies. They have a dedicated toaster, with a label letting everyone know what it's for. Before cooking any eggs, the cooks make sure the grill is completely clean. She answered all our questions and was very knowledgeable on the cross contamination issues.

The food was really good. Our daughter ate most her food; An extra cheese omelet with some side fruit and toast. Based on our taste experience, we think they use Udi's Gluten Free Bread. She really liked the food and loved the choices that they had.

The prices was reasonable, the kids omelet was $7.95, $1 more for the cheese and they did add a $1 surcharge for the Gluten Free white bread. We wouldn't eat here every Sunday, but it's a nice treat for special occasions.

Zaftigs Delicatessen is located in Natick at the Sherwood Plaza, where Joan & Ed's Deli use to be. They have another location in Brookline, a couple of blocks from the Coolidge Corner Theater.

April 29, 2016


Yandex Folder

Yandex is one of the largest internet companies in Europe, operating Russia's most popular search engine and its most visited website. According to LiveInternet, for the three months ended December 31, 2015, we generated 57.3% of all search traffic in Russia. We also operate in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Turkey.

Yandex Disk

Yandex.Disk is a free service that lets you store your photos, videos and documents online and access them from around the world on any device. Disk lets you keep your important files secure and effortlessly share them with your friends and colleagues.

Yandex.Disk is a good secondary backup option to DropBox. If you're dealing with a lot of very important files, it's a good idea to have another provider. Just in case something goes wrong with backing up your primary files.

You get 10 GB to start and can upgrade to three different package options:

Yandex Price List

Yandex Pricing is very similar to Dropbox and other cloud services. What makes Yandex unique is that it's a European based company and there's a cool screenshot tool.

The Yandex OS X application has a menu command that lets you take screenshots. Immediately after you take the screenshots an Edit dialog appears where you can add Arrow, Text, Shapes, Marker, Blur and Crop functionality. All screenshots are saved to the Yandex Disk.

Yandex Screen Shot

The screenshot does lack some of the functionality in Skitch and Monosnap. For example, the text tool doesn't have a color border around the text. The color border helps make the text stand out in graphic files.

Yandex.Disk seems like a good option if you're looking for another backup strategy. The screenshot tools seem like a good bonus. You could always use Skitch to take screenshots at work, and then use Yandex for screenshots for personal use. Or you can use Yandex for screenshots archives of the website or projects.

I think it's worth giving Yandex.Disk a shot. You get 10 GB to start to see if it's something that you might use.