A-Z Challenge blog postings

A-Z Challenge Postings - Page 6

Earliest: April 1, 2016Latest: May 2, 2021Total: 133
April 3, 2019

Camera Lens Info

A few years ago I purchased the [Olympus XZ-2](https://www.dpreview.com/products/olympus/compacts/oly_xz2) camera to use as my primary video camera for low-light pictures. Since I got the iPhone XS Max, I haven't used the Olympus XZ-2 as much. I was thinking for my next trip, is it still worth packing the Olympus XZ-2?

A look at the specs between the two cameras. These are taken from the official spec documents from each manufacturer. (For the iPhone XS Max I am only focusing on the back lens.)

Olympus XZ-2

Product Type 1.7" CMOS sensor
Aspect ratio 1.33 (4:3)
Lens Olympus lens 6 to 24 mm, f1.8 to 2.5 (Equivalent to 28 to 112 mm on a 35 mm film)
Shutter Speed 1/2000-60 sec., Bulb shooting (Maximum 16 minutes at ISO 100)
Shooting Range 0.05 m (2 inch) to (W), 0.2 m (8 inch) to (T) (Normal/Macro) 0.01 m (0.4 inch) to 0.6 m (2 ft.) (super macro mode)
ISO sensitivity100-12800 (1/3 EV step)
Aperture ?/1.8 -?/F2.5

iPhone XS Max

TypeBack-illuminated Sensor (1.4m)
Aspect ratio4,032 x 3,024 (4:3)
Resolution7 MP Front Camera
Wide Lens12 MP, f/1.8, 4.25 mm, 1/2.55", 1.4m, OIS, PDAF
Telephoto Lens12 MP, f/2.4, 6 mm, 1/3.4", 1.0m, OIS, PDAF, 2x optical zoom
Lens Equivalent26 to 55 mm on a 35 mm film
ApertureWide-angle: ?/1.8 and Telephoto: ?/2.4
Shutter Speed1/22000 (Wide) 1/45000 (Telephoto)
Shooting Range2.87 mm to infinity (There are additional third-party kits to purchase micro mode.)
IOS sensitivity24-2304
Battery3174 mAh

Low Light Tip

The best night photos require the lowest aperture. So, while the iPhone XS Max may take great pictures, if I am taking night shots, I might be better packing the Olympus XZ-2 for better quality night photos. This is especially true for low light video photography.

The Olympus XZ-2 is just slightly better in low light conditions.

Any Surprises?

The Olympus XZ-2 was announced on September 17, 2012. The iPhone XS Max looks to be a good camera replacement. I think the nice thing about the Olympus XZ-2 is how the back screen can detach making it easy to see the screen when it is high or low.

April 2, 2019

Battery - GoPro 7 Silver

The GoPro 7 Silver has a non-removable battery. So it's important to keep an eye on battery usage when using the GoPro on a project.

Go Pro Framingham

Six Things I have Learned about the GoPro Battery

It will take about 2-hour to fully charge the battery.

Turn off Wireless Connection if you don't plan on connecting the Camera to an iPhone.

If the Camera should run out of battery, the camera will save any video before shutting down.

High temperatures will cause the camera to use more power and drain the battery faster.

When you record with a USB Power source it won't charge up the GoPro. Instead, it will use the power from the USB source.

To turn off the Camera - and save battery time, hold down the Mode Button.

April 1, 2019

Add Link Check - JQuery

There's a cool jQuery trick to check to see if all the hyperlinks on the current page are going to a certain URL. This is useful if you want a quick way to make sure that links are pointing to a Dev environment.

Enable jQuery

if the site isn't using jquery, you'll need to add it, if you don't know it doesn't hurt to run this as it won't break the site (Unless the site is using some bleeding edge jQuery code.)

Open up the Chrome Console and paste the following:

var script = document.createElement("script");
script.setAttribute("src", "[https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.6.4/jquery.min.js](https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.6.4/jquery.min.js)");
script.addEventListener('load', function() {
var script = document.createElement("script");
}, false);

You should get back the following:

<script src="[https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.6.4/jquery.min.js](https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.6.4/jquery.min.js)"></script>

Now run this:

$("a[href*='[company.com](http://company.com/)']").css("color", "orange");

This will highlight any link going to [company.com](http://company.com) to orange. You probably won't see any changes on your site, so change it to something reasonable.

If something did get changed, you should see how many links got changed:

March 31, 2019

A-Z Challenge - 2019

This is the third year in a row that I am participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. It's a good challenge to come up with creative content.

This year I didn't signup on the form because there are so many contributors that it's not worth the time and overhead. So I'll be doing this year's challenge in stealth mode.

Check out the past A-Z Challenge posts.

A Z2019 Blog

Blog Plan

Here's the plan for this year's challenge:

  • Sunday - Edit Previous Post, and open content. I'll use the time to touch up some old blog posts and add something interesting.
  • Monday - jQuery from a QA Perspective (New for April)
  • Tueday - GoPro 7 Silver Content
  • Wednesday - Cool features of the iPhone XS Max
  • Thursday - Sights and Sounds of Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Friday - Anything Macintosh
  • Saturday - Cool Internet tool/functionality.

Four Powerful Goals for 2019

  • Plan out the month Post. Done! I have planned out all the content for the month of April.
  • Be more creative with Graphics and Content. Don't just post to post, and put more effort into any images associated with the Blog content.
  • Learn from past years challenge - I'll reach out to other people to help with content ideas and material.
  • Focus more on quality content rather than have a large blog post.
May 6, 2018

A-Z Challenge - 2018 - Reflection

This is my third year as part of the A to Z challenge. It was a lot of fun coming up with practical content with a unique letter every day. Obviously, I didn't want to repost old content.


Things I learned new this year

  • Advanced content planning helped a lot. There were a few last minute content changes that had to be made due to the lack of information (or the chosen topic wasn?t interesting.) I started planning in early March.
  • The alphabetic letters for Thursday were the same as last year. It was a bit challenging since Thursday is Boston day and this is the third year that I have been doing this.
  • I learned a lot about Quaker Ave, and would not have learned anything about it had it not been for the A-Z challenge.
  • It was hard to come up with topics for the letters ?G' and ?V? and I had to get a bit creative to blog something interesting. I didn't want to throw up a page just because.
  • I certainly wouldn?t do Evernote as a blog topic again. It's not a good topic with a lot of different alphabetic words.
  • There were 697 participants this year. Which is a good turnout.

What to do differently in 2019

  • Come up with better graphics
  • Work with other people to come up with useful topics
  • Post early as possible. It was a lot easier to chunk multiple topics than to spend time writing one topic.
  • Plan the topics a head of time. Make sure to pick something that has lots of choices.
  • Challenge yourself to do something that you wouldn't normally do. For example: Talk to an expert about a topic/idea.

Interesting Facts

Here's the break down of the number of words by first letter in the Unix dictionary (/etc/dict) by number of words:

a 14,537 m 10,709
b 9,675 n 6,098
c 17,406 o 7,219
d 9,946 p 2,2171
e 7,818 q 1,075
f 6,382 r 8,955
g 5,843 s 22,759
h 7,889 t 11,389
i 8,303 u 16,179
j 1,158 v 3,079
k 1,735 w 3,607
l 5,211 x 293
m 10,709 y 532
n 6,098 z 719

Its interesting to see which words have the fewest letters.

What do you think? Did the content in April meet expectations? Any ideas about what topics to write about for next year?

April 30, 2018

Zero Downtime in QA

When people think of Zero Downtime, they usually think about servers and networks. They don't want their websites to go down. Something along this quote:

Data Never Down

Zero Downtime in QA

In QA, there's always something to do. There never is a "downtime." Sure when there's no ticket to test, or in between release cycles, it can seem like downtime. Truth be told there's always something to do in QA.

It's important to keep busy, even when there's nothing new to test.

Nine Things to do in a QA Downtime

This is a general "what to do" when engineering has completed a sprint and there's nothing new in the queue for QA.

  1. Update Manual Testcases - Every release brings new changes to the application. Make sure the test cases are always kept up to date.
  2. Update Manual Testcases Execution - What test cases are being run every release? Do they still need to be run? Check out the priority of weekly regression test cases to see if they are still relivent.
  3. Writing Automation - Automation writing is a continuous process. Where it's to fix application changes, or support new browser features - its a never ending process. In addition, its good to find ways to make the automation process go faster.
  4. Update Wiki - Make sure that online documentation is updated based on the latest release. (Deployment Cycle, Lessons learned from the testing)
  5. Review Tests - Was there hiccups during the last test cycle? What could have been done better to prevent the issues from occurring in the future?
  6. Review Documentation on upcoming projects - Get a jump start on the next project by reviewing the product/technical specs.
  7. Usability Testing - Go through the application and see if there's any bugs/issues that aren't being reported by customers. Sometimes features/functionaries that were deployed in the past are not working today and missed by manual testing because people are testing for functionality rather than seeing from a customer prospective. (QA Should watch some Usability testing to get an idea how customers really use the application.)
  8. Application Testing - Learn more about the Developer tools in Chrome and/or FireFox. Some techniques that you learn today may help with a future project - such as how to capture screenshots in the Developer tools.
  9. Continuous Learning - When was the last time you touch up on JQuery, SQL or HTML5? Check out some of the training on UDemy or lynda.com.

QA Word Cloud

I ran the above items in a word cloud generator and came up with the following.

Q A Word Cloud

April 28, 2018


YouiDraw is a cool online vector tool. There's plenty of template designs to inspire you and get you started. The food thing is that its HTML5 base - not Flash. So you can use Chrome or Chromebook to create your designs.

Website Description

Online Vector Graphic Design by html5 and SVG effects! It's like Illustrator but works on the cloud with google drive.

Create stunning vector graphic design with YouiDraw. It's like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw but it works in the cloud with Google Drive. So there's no software to download and you can access your work anytime, anywhere. Suddenly, your creativity is unleashed!

Whether you're getting started or an experienced designer, Drawing tool is a powerful graphic design solution on the web. With vector graphic design in various environment, you have everything you need to express your style and creativity.

draw Mockup

Free for Basic Use

The basic plan allows you to create your own graphics and save the graphic to your computer or in the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive etc..)

There is a Monthly Plan which cost $9.99/mo and gives you SVG / PDF File Export, No Watermark, and allows you to use the graphics for Commercial use.

Good Place to Learn Vectors

I think this is a great tool for people learning about vector graphics- especially kids. This is better than having them play with Affinity Designer or Illustrator because they won't mess up any application settings.

Affinity Designer

I think, in the long run, your better off buying Affinity Designer. YouiDraw is good for those times when you need a graphic design but doesn't have any tools installed on the computer. (Internet Cafe or Sharing a computer. )

Certainly worth checking out YouiDraw, doesn't cost anything to see how it works.

Sample Designs done in YouiDraw

Youi Draw Example

Youi Draw Example2

April 27, 2018


XMenu is a neat utility that put allows you to put up to six addition menu items in the menu bar.

xmenu Promo

Six Menu Possibilities with xMenu

There is the type of menus that you can add, each category has their own unique menu icon.


This menu item displays all the applications that you have in your Application Folder. This is an alternative approach to using the LaunchPad.

The downside is that if you have a lot of applications, it can take a while to find it. There's no searching and the applications are displayed by there name.


This menu item displays all the applications that you have in the Xcode Applications folder.

If your not a hardcore developer, you get Accessibility Inspector, Application Loader, FileMerger, and Instruments.

Tip: Probably not very useful menu item if your not a Developer.


All your Home Folders at your fingertips!

This is a great way to access common folders you use every day. Files in your Dropbox, Photos, Music, and Desktop can be accessed very easily.


This is just you user Document folder, which is located at ~/Documents

Most files that you save are kept in the Documents folder.


Create your own set of application/files that you want in the menu bar. This a very cool feature since you can put anything you want and it will be displayed in the drop-down menu.

Personally I think this is the best feature of xMenu.

This is a great way to declutter your System Dock, simply put "rarely" used applications in here. You'll still have quick access via the menu bar instead of the System Dock. You can create folders of like items so they might be easier to find.


Access common text snippets from the menu bar. However, with tools like LaunchBar and Keyboard Maestro, this doesn't really seem very useful. There's no scripting capability - you only display raw text.

This is neat to have feature, but for better productivity use Keyboard Maestro or TextExpander.

Description from Devon Technology Website

XMenu adds one or more global menus to the right side of the menu bar. They give you access to your preferred applications, folders, documents, files, and text snippets. Launch any application with a single menu choice or insert text snippets into your documents. XMenu is a real app, no hack, no extension. And it's free.

Getting xMenu

You can download XMenu from the Mac Apple Store. Devon Technologies has provided the software free of charge.

April 26, 2018

World War II Memorial in Boston

Many people may not know that Boston has a rather large memorial for Bostonians that fought and died in World War II. The memorial is located in the Fenway area and called the George Robert White Veterans Memorial Park.

Did you Know: Massachusetts has 8 Memorials/Monuments to those that died in World War II and 20 Memorials/Monuments for those that died in World War I. (Source: MassVacations.com)

The Boston memorial is a large eclipse formed by granite structures, and include a winged figure in the center. Around the monument are seats which can accommodate an audience size of 500 people.

W W2 Memorial2

Thirteen Things interesting things I learned about the World War II Memorial

  1. Dedicated on October 30, 1949 (1,520 days after the official end of World War II)
  2. The memorial was Sculptor by John Francis Paramino and Tito Cascieri was the primary Architect
  3. The memorial was funded by a grant from the George Robert White Fund. (George Robert White was Boston's primary philanthropists.)
  4. In the center of the memorial is a "Winged Victory" statue that is 12-feet high. The statue was done by T.F. McGann & Sons Co. FDY of Somerville, Mass. You can see the artist inscription/signature on the bottom left of the statue.
  5. Behind the "Winged Victory" statue is a granite diamond-shape shaft of 22-feet and contain 48 stars. (Hawaii and Alaska didn't become a state yet)
  6. The names of 3,000 war dead are mounted in bronze behind the diamond-shape shaft.
  7. In The Memorial is named for U.S. Sergeant Charles A. MacGillivary - He was honored with a bronze plaque on the lectern which was added during a special dedication ceremony.
  8. Sergeant Charles Andrew MacGillivary was the only Medal of Honor, the only World War II vet from Boston to return alive with one. He died in 2000.
  9. The Korea and Vietnam Memorials were added in 1989 which were paid from a grant from the George Robert White Fund ($650,000)
  10. Above the names of the those that died it reads, "In memory of the men and women of Boston who lost their lives in World War II"
  11. Around the lectern stage is the phrase, "1949 From the Income of the George Robert White Fund"
  12. James W Sugden and Stanton H. Kelly are the only names added to the memorial since it was created in 1949.
  13. In 1946, James Michael Curley suggest that planting 2,400 trees in the Fenway would be a good tribute to the fallen. He suggested a shrine in the middle for religious services.

U.S. Sergeant Charles A. MacGillivary

Apparently there is a slight misprint on the bronze plaque on the lectern. I notice that U.S. Sergeant Charles A. MacGillivary is misspelled.

Check out the difference between his gravestone and the plaque on the memorial:

Mac Gillivary

What do you think? Is MacGillivary spelled correctly?

Finding the World War II Memorial

To find George Robert White Veterans Memorial Park, you can enter the Back Bay Fens from the south at the intersection of the Fenway and Forsyth Way just east of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Cross over the Agassiz Bridge and bear right when the path forks. A path leads to it on the right. (You'll see the memorial when you cross Fenway Parkway.)

April 25, 2018

Vamanos, Aruba!

If you're leaving Aruba and heading back to the United States, make sure to arrive at the airport really early - especially on a Weekend. Everyone will tell you that getting through Queen Beatrix International Airport is an experience.

Aruba US Departures

Here's a walkthrough of our experience and some tips we learned along the way. On our trip, we traveled using JetBlue.

Getting Boarding Pass and Checking In

As soon as you walk into the airport, you need to check-in. JetBlue allows you to do it in advance, but you still need to check your luggage.


  • This took about 20 mins. We could have saved some time by checking in before arriving but I don't think much time.
  • Obviously, make sure everyone's Passports are available before getting to the counter.
  • Be aware of what's not allowed in checked baggage. The attendant will ask you a couple of questions about it.

Aruba Emigration (Stop #1) - Checking Tickets/Passport

After check-in you move to the left of the building and wait outside in the Aruba Emigration line.


  • There were two lines and they both appeared to move at the same pace.
  • This will be the last time you'll be outside of the airport.
  • There are restrooms available if needed.
  • You'll get to a counter and the person will verify your boarding pass with your ticket.
  • Some people were dumping juice boxes at this point. They could have kept it.

Aruba Emigration (Stop #2) - Checking Passport

After the person checks to make sure you have the right paperwork, you move inside to meet another Aruba Emigration official.


  • There were two people checking passports and four self-passport stations.
  • They both moved at the same speed, this is probably because of the long line for the General Airport Security Check-in
  • We weren't asked any questions they just took our passport and scanned it.
  • The room was air conditioned so it was nice and cool.

General Airport Security Checking

After they verify that you're allowed to leave the country. You now wait in the Airport Security line.


  • This was the longest line/wait during our departure
  • There are two lines leaving the Aruba Emigration, and the left line was moving faster.
  • You could still hold a drink during this period.
  • As you get closer, you'll see another line merging at the security counter. These are people that are not taking International flights.
  • When you get to the scanners, tablets didn't need to be taken out of the carry-ons.
  • You didn't need to show Passport going through.
  • After you go through the general security - Don't stop - unless you're thirsty! Continue all the way through to the baggage claim area to pick up your bags for American Immigration. This is a large room with suitcases everywhere.
  • There are plenty of food and drinks upstairs - which is where your departure gate will be.
  • Avoid any Duty-Free Shopping, you can get the same products upstairs. If you do purchase something here, they put it aside and you get to claim it after the American Immigration check-in.

Picking up Bags

After you go through the general airport, you have to pick up your luggage and see US Customs.


  • You will need to show your Passport and Ticket to enter the baggage claim area.
  • If you haven't marked your bag you'll be spending time searching for yours.
  • Pick up your bag and head over to the opposite corner from where you enter the room.

American Immigration Checking

Customs will be quick - make sure to declare anything that you have!


  • The line for American Immigration wasn't all that bad, we waited maybe 10 mins here.
  • There were plenty of officials checking passports - I believe all stations were open.
  • They will ask you a few basic security questions - such as "Did you purchase anything over $1,000?"
  • As part of the Preclearance Memorandum of Cooperation, your face will be quickly scanned by the Immigration official.
  • Once you get past the agent you get in a line to drop off the bag. The end of the line might be all the way to the right.

Dropping off Bags

Make sure you can lift your bag. You will have to place the bag on the belt which is about a foot and a half off the floor.


  • At this point, we have been at the airport for an hour and a half.
  • Make sure to drop off the bag at the correct belt! Delta and JetBlue is the second belt.
  • The agent at the door will tell you which belt to place your bags.
  • After you drop the bag, you now wait in line for the International Security Check-in

International Security Checking

We're not exactly sure why we have to do this again. Seems that they could have placed the bags in a secure area so you don't have to leave and then get rechecked.


  • The security bins are small, they barely fit a 15" laptop monitor - compared to Logan Airport where you can put a laptop and a tablet in the same bin.
  • They didn't say anything about taking out the tablet, I kept mine in the bag and didn't have any issues.
  • There are two lines before going to the Security Checking station. There's actually a person letting people know there are two lines.
  • Your Passport and ticket will be checked before going through security. This will be the last time you need your passport for the trip.

Some Additional Notes

  • Pay attention to your departure gate. It probably will change.
  • You can get a drink after the "General Airport Checking." You'll have time to drink it, there are trash containers right in the security area. (Including a place to dump liquid from a water bottle.)
  • We didn't see a lot of places to purchase bottled water or soda. You can get fountain drinks at most of the restaurants.
  • If you are leaving Aruba on a Saturday or Sunday (busiest flight days) you should give yourself at least three hours to get through the whole check-in process. This will also give you time to grab a bite to eat, a drink or those last minute souvenirs.