June 28, 2017

Evernote Helper

Have you ever worked on a document and then an idea came up for something completely unrelated to what your working on?

Ya, it happens to everyone.

The problem is if you completely stop what you're doing - you'll loose focus on the task at hand.

EverNote Helper (Menu Item) can be a real life saver. When you encounter a distraction thought, such as "I should really check out that Tom Cruise - Tom Gun Music Video" you can just make a quick note without closing the program you're in. This is possible because EverNote Helper is a Macintosh/Windows system-wide utility.

Evernote Helper Graphic

I have found that EverNote helper is good way to remember things when you don't want to interupt your current task.

Screen Capture

As an added bonus, you can take a quick screenshot with your quick note. You don't need to take a full-screen shot - you can just take a picture of a selected area of the screen or any window.

Audio Recordings

Macintosh users can add a voice recording but I don't see any use for that. At my office it's pretty quiet - I don't think I would ever use this.

Some real world examples

Don't think it's something you need to use? Check out some real world tasks that have happen to me:

  • Thought of a cool gift idea while browsing Amazon? Take a screen shot and make a note.
  • See a cool graphic design on social media that you would like to duplicate? Take a screenshot of it and comment on why you like it.
  • Need to bring some supplies to work tomorrow? Take a note.
  • Found a bug but don't have time to file a report? Take a screenshot and jot down some notes.
  • Wouldn't it be great if.. Take a quick note.
  • On a call, need to jot a phone number or address?
  • Discovered a cool Alexa saying? Take a note.

At first I thought having another menu item didn't make any sense. However, I discovered that it makes perfect sense for just a quick note.

Once you remember the keyboard commands you'll be using this feature all the time.

Evernote Menu Help
Quick Cheat Sheet Guide.

One last Thought

Think about it - when was the last time your desktop sticky note had a screenshot?

June 27, 2017

American Girl

My daughter is a huge fan of America Girl and fortunately, we live near the one at the Natick Mall. It's a great place to shop and the cafe is a nice treat.

The American Girl store at the Natick Mall has two stories, the Bistro takes up half of the second floor.

Reservations are highly recommended during peak lunch and dinner times. We know from experience that they do close early on New Year's Eve.

American Girl Bistro is Celiac Friendy

The Boston's Children's Hospital Celiac Support Group has held lunch events here several times in the past. That alone should tell you that this place takes gluten free very seriously.

They have delicious gluten free options.

We have eaten here several times in the past couple of years and have never encountered a problem. In fact, my daughter has requested going here for lunch every year for her birthday.

She likes to bring her American Girl doll. They have special seats for the dolls so they can sit at the table. If you forgot yours, or don't have one, you can borrow one for the duration of your meal. (They even get their own place settings)

We usually do a bit of shopping afterward. So it's a fun experience for her.

This year we might be going to xxx as she likes going there.

American Girl Cafe

Tips on Eating in the Bistro

Don't forget to mention that you need to eat gluten free. The servers have been excellent about catering to the needs of Celiac. They will explain all the items on the menu that can be prepared Gluten Fee.

There's a single price per meal for a starter and a Main Course, currently it cost $16.50 for adults. So all the meals are a single price, which makes it easy to just focus on what you want to eat.

Starter Choices

There's not a lot of options for the appetizers. My daughter usually gets the Fancy Fruit Fondue option. I recall that the Mediterranean Hummus and the Warm Artichoke-Spinach Dip are other Starters that can be made Gluten Free.

Main Course

On our last visit, my daughter had the butterfly pasta with butter and oil. She ate most of it, and we brought some home so that she could enjoy as a small snack.

In the past she would have the Butterfly pasta with Alfredo sauce. It's her version of Mac & Cheese since they don't have any gluten-free mac and cheese. She also tried the Bistro Burger with the gluten free bun.

Gluten-free Birthday Cake

If you're celebrating a birthday, call ahead a few days early and they will have a specially prepared gluten-free birthday cake. The Natick American Girl Bistro don't make the cake they get it from Something Sweet Without Wheat a bakery that specializes in Gluten free cakes.

The cake is actually really good.

What's really nice is that if you have a large party they will serve noncelicas guests a regular cake. That way the birthday girl gets more cake to take home.

Fun Experience

Overall it's a fun dining experience. If you should encounter an issue with the server, make sure to let the manager know.

One time when we visited, the server didn't appear to know much about Celiac. We were concerned that things wouldn't go well and did ask for a different server.

That was the only time we ever had an issue. That was several meals ago and we still go back for the delicious food and fun shopping experience.

June 26, 2017

Distance to Disney

Here's something fun to do while on your next trip: Take a picture of your favorite spot and then use the GPS information to get the distance to your home. Use that information to make a custom sign for your room or playground space.

Example Sign:

Etsy Disney Sign

The whole purpose of doing this task is to have an accurate sign.

Step 1: Taking a Picture

Find a location that you want to mark, here are a few suggestions:

  • The Entrance to the Magic Kingdom - (Latitude: 28*24'58.32"N, Longitude: 81*34'51.96"W)
  • Middle of Main Street USA - (28.4176, -81.5813)
  • Cinderella Castle (Latitude: 28* 25' 10.17" N, Longitude: 81* 34' 52.482" W)
  • Haunted Mansion Entrance - (Latitude: 28* 25' 11.94" N, Longitude: 81* 34' 58.092" W)
  • Spaceship Earth at Epcot - (Latitude: 28* 22' 33.882" N, Longitude: 81* 32' 57.57" W)
  • The American Experience - (28.369651,-81.5488103)
  • By your Favorite Celebrity at the Mann's Theater at Disney Studios (28.3571, -81.5605)

Using your smartphone take a picture of the spot. That's all you need to do while you're there, the rest can be done when you get home.

When you're at home, make sure to take a picture where the sign will be hung. You can use the GPS from that photo as the destination point.

Understanding GPS Basics

What's the difference between 28.376, -81.549 and "Latitude: 28* 22' 33.882" N, Longitude: 81* 32' 57.57" W"?

Compass Direction with Degree/Min/Sec Latitude: 28* 22' 33.882" N, Longitude: 81* 32' 57.57" W
Signed Decimal degrees without compass direction, where negative indicates west/south 28.376, -81.549

You can find more on Geographic coordinate conversion - Wikipedia page.

Step 2: Getting the Location from your Play space to Disney

Here's how to find the GPS location of a photo on the iPhone.

You will need to download the photo from the iPhone, as there isn't a way to get the GPS coordinates numbers that you need for this project. You can download the photo to Apple's Photo App, or use Google Photos.

Getting the GPS information on a photo in Photos

You can't get the detail GPS numbers in Apple Photos. Apple will only show you the map where the picture was taken. That doesn't help us. So we need to export the picture and use the View Info from the Finder.

  • Open up Photos App
  • Find the Image that you took in Step #1
  • Export the Image to the Desktop (Note: Drag and Drop doesn't copy the location information!)
  • Make sure to select the Location Information on the Export
  • Select the image and then Command-I to open up the Image Info
  • Expand the 'More Info' in the Info dialog and you should see the Latitude and Longitude information.
  • Copy that information down.

Note: To get the Compass Direction, open up the image in Preview and the type Command-I

Repeat the above steps with your destination image. (You should have a couple of points)

Getting the GPS information on a photo in Google Photos

  • Open up Google Photos.
  • Find the Image that you took in Step #1
  • Click on the Photo
  • Click on the 'i' on the top right of the page. (or press the 'i' key)
  • You should see some coordinates on the right panel, such as " 28.42, -81.583"

Repeat the above steps with your destination image. (You should have a couple of points)

Step 3: Calculating the distance

You do have choices when it comes to calculating the distance. These should all give you the same results:

The Coordinate Distance Calculator on Jeff Boulter's site is a good place to calculate the distance between two points.

Another good site is the Calculate distance and bearing between two Latitude/Longitude points using haversine formula in JavaScript at Movable Type Scripts. The cool thing about this site is that you can see the midway point.

The National Hurricane Center Latitude/Longitude Distance Calculator is another good source.

Step 4: Get your sign!

You have a lot of choices. Check out the various sellers on Etsy.

Etsy Shops

June 25, 2017

Red Bear on David Ortiz Bridge

This summer, as you walk to Fenway Park from Kenmore Square, if you look down on the sidewalk you may see a strange red character:

Red Dancing Bear

This has nothing to do with the Boston Red Sox, it’s actually the Grateful Dead Dancing Bear. Apparently, a fan painted it on the sidewalk.

The Dancing Bear is as much a part of the Grateful Dead experience as the Steal Your Face logo or the Skull and Roses design. Artist Bob Thomas' Dancing Bear is on just about every Grateful Dead T-Shirt.

Fenway Park Summer Concert Series

Fenway Park has a very busy summer, aside from the usual baseball fun.

  • June 17,18 Dead & Company
  • July 8 - New Kids On The Block With Paula Abdul & Boyz II Men
  • August 11 - James Taylor with with special guest Bonnie Raitt
  • August 30 - Billy Joel
  • September 1, 2 - Lady Gaga

June 24, 2017

How to Report and Seek Change for Dangerous Road Conditions

The Interstate System throughout the U.S. is over 46,000 miles long. With millions of cars traveling our roadways each day, through all types of weather, it’s no surprise that our roads need upkeep from time to time.

The Interstate System is not the only collection of roads that need work, look around your community, and there are probably many neighborhood streets with potholes and even bridges that need repair.

Problematic Road

Car Hubcap

Every year, drivers hit giant potholes on the road, despite trying to avoid them. In some cases, when trying to swerve away from a pothole, a collision may occur with another motorist. Potholes and other issues in the road are not only an eyesore but cost drivers money every year. U.S. drivers, on average, spend a total of $3 billion on car repairs due to potholes and poor road conditions.

In addition to potholes, many roads have cracks, no clear lane and shoulder markings, and inadequate guardrails on overpasses and curves in the road. All of these things are potential contributors to fatal accidents.

Reporting Bad Roads

During your daily commute, it’s easy to forget about every bump you hit along the way and over time you probably pay less attention to the condition of the road. Think of our roadways as a community. If there were something wrong going on in your neighborhood, you’d report it, right?

A pothole, a visual obstruction, and even debris left on the road are worth reporting, not only for your safety but for fellow motorists. If you come across some damage, make a mental note or pull over safely to write down information or make a phone call. Don’t call anyone about the damage as you’re driving.

If you’re in an area with little to no traffic, take a picture if you can do so without interrupting traffic or compromising your safety. Take note of where the damage is, the date and time, and any other helpful details. If it’s on a city street, contact your city offices. If you’re on a highway, contact your state’s Department of Transportation (DOT).

Seek Change

Even if you report a road that’s in poor condition, it may take awhile to see any changes. Don’t be afraid to be persistent, especially after a few months have passed. It’s important to note that when you come across some road damage, don’t be silent. Don’t assume that another driver reported the issue already.

So, why are the roads in such bad shape and why does it seem to take forever to see change? Budget is a big factor. Some states, like Rhode Island, have set aside billions of dollars for a budget to fix roads and bridges. Other states don’t have the same kind of funding.

Unfortunately, lack of funding is an all too common problem across the U.S. Regardless of which state you live in, voice your concerns about road conditions. Talk and write to your state legislators. Attend meetings and events that talk about expansion and road construction in your area.

Get involved as much as you can. Even if you can’t foot the multi-million dollar bill for fixing the roads, your concerns can spark action.

June 23, 2017

3 Quick Preview App Tips

Preview App IconMost people use Preview App as the go-to app to open up PDF files and Images. There are a few hidden features that you make not know about. Here are three cool things that you can do with Preview App.

Sort the Order of Photos in the Sidebar

When you open up a bunch of pictures in Preview, by default the pictures appear in alphabetical order. If you right click on any of the images, you can change the sort order to be by Name, Path, Date, Size or Kind.

After you change the sort order the text under each of the images will show additional information, such as the size of the photo or the date it was taken.

Sort the Order of the Contact Sheet

Did you know you can create a Contact Sheet in Preview. Simply drag a drop photos or folder on the Preview App. Select all the images in the sidebar, using Command - A, then type in Command - Option - 6 to open the images in the Contact Sheet.

Just the tip above, simply right click on any image and you can change the sorting order.

In the Contact Sheet you can change the orientation of multiple images, simply select the image that needs to be rotated Right or Left, then type in Command - R to adjust the image right or Command - L to adjust the image to the left.

Combine PDF Documents

You can easily combine several PDF documents into one document. This is useful when you may create a bunch of documents in Pages, for example, envelopes in a mail merge.

Simply open up the document to be on the first page. Then type in Command - Option - 2 to open up the Thumbnails sidebar. Now you simply Drag and Drop the PDF files you want to add to the PDF document. So from the Finder (or Desktop), drag the file to the sidebar of the open Preview window.

You don't need to worry about the order because after you complete, you can reorder the thumbnail images in the PDF document.

Once your done Save.

I find this useful when I need to print a bunch of documents at FexEx Office or Staples. I simply combine the printable documents into one and send it off. It makes it simple when there's only one document that you have to deal with.

Lots more to Explore

Apple packed a lot of features in Preview, including a simple Annotate tool, Adding Keywords to Images, Magnification, Bookmark and more.

A good place to learn is the Apple support section:

If there's any cool tips/tricks you like to do in Preview, please share!

June 22, 2017

Elm Trees at the Shaw Memorial

Have you ever walked around in the Boston Commons near the Park Street station and looked over at the State House building. Have you wondered why you can't see the State House building? In the summer you can only see the top of the gold dome.

What are those ugly trees there? Why don't they just cut them down and let everyone see the beautiful State House building?

State House Trees

Oldest Elms Trees on the Commons

Those ugly trees are confirmed to be the Oldest Elms trees in the Northeast.

In 1780 John Hancock sought permission to plant trees in the park across his residence on Beacon Hill. The city of Boston agreed with his request

Yes, that John Hancock. The first person to sign the Declaration of Independence and who later became the first governor of Massachusetts. Not to mention that he played a critical role in the revolutionary war. He planted those trees that you see at the Shaw Memorial.

Tree experts estimated that they were planted sometime between 1772 and 1812. I believe that the trees were planted someplace else and then transported to the Boston Gardens in 1780.

This year the set of trees will be at least 237 years old.

Elm Shaw

Great Elm of the Boston Commons vs The Elm at the Shaw Memorial

Last year I wrote about the famous Great Elms of the Boston Gardens. Nobody knows exactly when that tree was planted, and by whom. (Some say it was planted by Capt. Daniel Henchman in 1670)

When the Great Elm of the Boston Commons came down in 1875 it was estimated to be about 206 years old.

The Shaws Memorial Elms is currently at least 237 years old. (Based on being planted on 1780 ) This makes it the oldest Elm on the Boston Commons.

This means that the Oldest tree in the Boston Commons is the set of Elm Trees around the Shaw Memorial.

While researching about the trees in the Commons and Gardens, I did learn that there is another tree that is older in the Public Gardens. Public Gardens officials have not disclosed which tree it is so that no harm will come to that tree.

Elm Trees are in a Music Sheet from 1830

In a Illustrated music sheet cover from 1830, you can see the three Elm Trees right in front of the State House. This was done about 50 years after the trees were planted.

You can see the small trees growing up in front of the State House.

1830 Music Sheet

Special Care

Since the 1970s these trees have received the VIP treatment. The special tree experts check out the trees every couple of weeks and make sure that they are doing well.

Bricks were placed in one of the trees to keep the tree stable and to prevent any damage to the inside of the tree.

There was concern about the trees when the Shaw Memorial was built in xxx. The memorial has actually helped prolong the tree's life by protecting the tree from tree diseases that have killed many Elm trees in the Public Gardens.

Check Out the Trees

Summer Winter
View of the trees from Park Street Station in the Winter and the Summer.

The trees are located on Beacon Street directly across the Massachusetts State House.

June 21, 2017


Do you have a list of tasks?

Do you have a hard time managing it?

Consider using Trello to help you accomplish more with a lot less effort. It works because you can easily see the status and set deadlines when things need to get done.

Trello is free and I think it's worth checking out.

What is Trello?

As described by Trello, on their website:

A Trello board is a list of lists, filled with cards, used by you and your team. It’s a lot more than that, though. Trello has everything you need to organize projects of any size.

Open a card and you can add comments, upload file attachments, create checklists, add labels and due dates, and more.

There are plenty of examples of how people are using Trello. Trello customers are creating boards to plan their weekly meals to managing a large company all with ease.

Trello Designs

Trello is free for the basics including one power-up. Power-ups are add-ons to enhance your Trillo experience. You can connect a calendar, DropBox, Google Drive

Want more than the single add-on? Simply purchase a subscription. Rates start at xxx

Got a Blog? Get Trello!

Prior to Trello, I manage my blog content idealist as a single note in Evernote. It was a bit difficult to manage as it was just a bullet point list.

Now Powered by Trello

For the past couple of weeks, I have been managing the content on the blog via Trello. I have found that It makes content management so much easier.

Today, I have a ‘Blog Content’ board setup in Trello. Each Blog topic is a list, so I have Disney, Gluten, Productivity, Boston, and Macintosh. I then add cards as a blog topic that I want to cover in that list.

Then I can schedule things out. I can decide what topics that I want to cover over the next few weeks. I never really planned content that far out before.

Each card I can add comments and attachments about the topic. There is a 10 MB file limit on file uploads. I couldn't find any comment limit.

This will help me produce better content because I can plan the blog content well ahead of time.

Once the blog content is completed and ready, I then archive the card and move on to the next topic.

Try it Out

Check out this YouTube video on how Embolden uses Trello to be more productive.

Best way to learn Trello is to check it out. Visit the website and sign up today.

June 20, 2017

Jen Review Website

Jen Miller at Jenreviews.com covers a variety of different topics, much like this blog. You can find reviews on the Health Benefits of Juicing to the Best Office Furniture.

Earlier this year the site featured a comprehensive post about the Celiac Disease. It's a well-written guide for anyone that was just diagnosed with Celiac. Perhaps your entertaining a friend that mentioned that they are eating gluten this guide will point you in the right direction.

Jen Review Website

There are four delicious recipes to try. (Isn't it fun to try something new?)

  • "Best Ever" Gluten Free Bread
  • Avacado Tuna Salad
  • Garlic Spinach Dip
  • Pasta with Beets, Ricotta and Pistachios

If you want a simple to read artcle about eating Gluten Free, I would suggest checking out the Celiac Disease Diet Guide (Plus 4 Delicious Recipes) at jenreviews.com.

June 19, 2017

Leave a Legacy at Epcot

The Leave a Legacy program allowed more than 550,000 Guests to purchase personalized tiles on the monoliths outside Epcot between 1999 and 2007. The entire program was discontinued in June 2007.

People would pay $35 for one person or $38 for two people to be on the tile. This means that Disney made between $19,250,000 and $20,900,000 from the tiles.

Ugly Stones

Everyone has to walk by the stones when they enter the park. The stones are located between the entrance and Spaceship Earth.

Large Stones

Every SpaceShip Earth picture taken from the entrance shows pictures of the Leave a Legacy tiles:

Legacy Space Ship Earth

Sample Picture

This is what the tiles look like up close:

Leave A Legacy

Ten More 10 Years

Disney has guaranteed that the titles will be up for 20 years. Since the last photo was sold in 2007, it means that the tiles will not be coming down until June 2027.

A thought..

Since there are still plenty of spots open, should Disney reopen the program with only a ten-year guarantee? Would you sign up for the program if they announced one last shot at getting on the tiles?

June 18, 2017

Sacagawea dollar

In 2000, the United States Mint came out with a new one dollar coin called the Sacagawea dollar. This coin was unique because it was in a different color and size of the previous version. In addition, for the first time, an American coin featured a native Indian.

Golden Money

Lots of Hype

When the coin was announced, there was a lot of hype. Coin collectors went crazy grabbing the first editions.

Money Chart
Sacagawea dollar Mintage figures in Millions

Cost Per Mint

According to the Federal Reserve, it cost 5.4 cents to produce one paper dollar bill that lasts about 18 months.

It cost the US Mint 12 cents to make the Sacagawea dollar coin that last approximately 30 years.

In 2008, Congress required by law that all vending machines must accept the $1 Sacagawea dollar coin.

Vending Machines Usage by Law

48 CFR 52.237-11 - Accepting and Dispensing of $1 Coin.

This clause applies to service contracts that involve business operations conducted in U.S. coin and currency, including vending machines, on any premises owned by the United States or under the control of any agency or instrumentality of the United States. All such business operations must be compliant with the requirements in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this clause on and after January 1, 2008.

(b) All business operations conducted under this contract that involve coins or currency, including vending machines, shall be fully capable of -

(1) Accepting $1 coins in connection with such operations; and

(2) Dispensing $1 coins in connection with such operations, unless the vending machine does not receive currency denominations greater than $1.

(c) The Contractor shall ensure that signs and notices are displayed denoting the capability of accepting and dispensing $1 coins with business operations on all premises where coins or currency are accepted or dispensed, including on each vending machine.

Interesting to note that there is no specific penalty if the contractor doesn't comply with the rules.

What's your experience with the Sacagawea dollar? Have you gotten it from any purchases recently?

June 17, 2017

Headphones Ban at the 5k

This year a new rule was implemented at the Boston Corporate Challenge - no headphones. Yup runners were not allowed to wear headphones while they were running.

This was a bit of a surprise for some runners as many use headphones as motivation to keep on running.

J P Morgan Waiver
Part of the waver that runners approved when they signed up.

Why would race organizers ban headphones?

Apparently the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge is now following the competition rules of the USA Track and Field Association (USATF). According to the USATF 2017 Rules of Competition, audio devices are seen as an assistance to athletes:

Rule 144 - Assistance to Athletes

(b) The visible possession or use by athletes of video, audio, or communications devices in the competition area. The Games Committee for an LDR event may allow the use of portable listening devices not capable of receiving communication; however, those competing in Championships for awards, medals, or prize money may not use such devices.

(c) The use of any technology or appliance that provides the user with an unfair advantage which would not have been obtainable using equipment complying with the Rules.

Game Day

While the no-headphone ban was communicated several times before race day, runners still arrived with their headphones and portable electronic devices.

Runners Headphone
Arrows highlighting some runners that have audio devices.

Personal 5k Playlist

This is the playlist that I listen to while getting ready for the 5k.

All I do is WinDJ KhaledEvery race that I run starts off with this song.
This is How We Do itMontell Jordan
This is my Fight SongRachel Platten"This is my running song"
7 YearsLukas Graham
The Morning AfterMaureen McGovernThis run isn't all that painful.
Lord KnowsMeek Mills
Days of ElijahRobin Mark
Ireland CallCeltic Thunder"Together standing tall" Good mid run pump up song.
Dance Like Nobody's WatchingLaura MaranoRun as if nobody is watching
Ray of LightMadonnaAnd I feel like I just got home - a good way finish the race.

June 16, 2017

GraphicConverter 10

Graphic Converter Icon_sm

There is a reason why the Swiss Army knife is in the icon of Graphic Converter. Graphic Converter is your go to application when you need to open up a file created in a different format.

Thorsten Lemke created GraphicConverter in 1992 out of a need to open graphic files created on his Atari. He just switched from Atari to Macintosh and found it frustrating that there wasn't a single app that could handle simple image conversions.

Over the years, customers requested support for additional graphic formats. In version 10, the application can open files in over 200 graphic formats. Users have the option to save images in at least 80 different format types.

Thorsten Lemke has looked for new ways to improve the functionality of GraphicConverter to be more than just a basic image converter application. The application can now touch up and enhance files.

Today the application is one of the most popular shareware applications with a very loyal subscriber base.

Yet Another Graphic Application?

You may be wondering if you have Affinity Photo, Pixelmator, Artboard, do you really need another Graphic Application?

Simple Answer: Yes.

Graphic Converter has the ability to open graphic files that were created in other applications. It will be there when you need it.

For example, I recently downloaded a file with a .xps file extension I tried all my usual graphic applications and couldn't open the file. Graphic Converter opened the file without a problem. I was able to save it in a different format so that I could use it later.

Cost just as much as a Swiss Army Knife

Just like that Swiss army knife that people carry around, It will be there when you need it. Incidentally GraphicConverter cost the same as a Victorinox Swiss Army knife.

Swiss Price

GraphicConverter might be the better long-term investment, at least you won't have to worry about losing it at the airport.

Toolbar Views

Here's a look at the toolbars in various applications that I have on my computer:

Graphic Tools

Opening Apple QuickDraw

If you used a Macintosh before OS X, chances are opening up some graphic files can be challenging. I was disappointed that Quickdraw images are still distorted when I open them in GraphicConverter.

Check out my previous post on how to fix images in Apple QuickDraw format.

Collage Functionality

New in version 10 is the ability to create collages from images. You don't have as many layout options as you would in TurboCollage. However, it's a nice feature when you have a few images and want to make a quick collage

Graphic Collage

You can find the collage button in the top of the folder browser window. Simply drag and drop a folder to the GraphicConverter icon and select the images that you want.

TurboCollage cost

Getting GraphicConverter

As noted earlier, GraphicConverter cost $39.99. You can download and purchase GraphicConverter 10 from their website.

There's a lot of cool things that you can do with GraphicConverter, check out their full list of features.

June 15, 2017

Fan Pier Park

Fan Pier

Boston Fan Pier Park

One of the most popular photo spots in Boston is the buildings along the waterfront with the harbor in front. People take this photo from Boston Fan Pier in the Seaport District. It's a nice place to get a harbor side view of the city skyline.

The Boston Harbor Association describes Fan Pier:

From the HarborWalk on the Fan Pier, visitors can enjoy one of the best panoramas of the city, with unobstructed views of downtown to East Boston and the Harbor Islands.

Things I Learned about the Boston Fan Pier Park Area

  • Fan Pier first earn its name in 1903 - That's when the New York, New Haven rail lines "fan out" at the end of the line. (There were multiple tracks at the end of the line that was spread out like a fan.)
  • By the 1930s the tracks were removed as fishing became more important use of the land.
  • More land in the South Boston was filled in the 1950s.
  • The United States Courthouse was built here in 1998. It was built so that the rotunda would look like a lighthouse.
  • The original estimated construction cost was $184 million (1991). By 1993, the Court House construction project was estimated to be $223 million. It actually cost $170 million upon completion. (Unsure how that happened)
  • There is silhouette cut out of ships that use to be in the harbor. These make great photo opportunities. (Try to take a picture so that it looks like the ships are still in the harbor.)
  • As you continue to walk down the Fan Pier Park you'll encounter a sign on the sidewalk to inform you where the Edge of Pier 1 was in 1878. (18 78 Historic Edge of Pier 1)

Things I learned about the HarborWalk

Harborwalk, the area in front of Fan Pier Park, was inaugurated on July 4, 1982.

  • The goal of Harborwalk was to illustrate all the things that you can do along the Harbor.
  • The Harborwalk is highlighted with a dotted blue line. (It's modeled after the Freedom Trail.)
  • Harborwalk starts at the Old State House where you can get a guide for free.
  • You can also pick up the self-guide walking guide at the Bostix, Boston Common Information booth.
  • The Harborwalk is a fifty miles of waterfront - from Boston to Milton.

Directions to Fan Pier

The easiest way to get to the Fan Pier is to take the Silver Line to the Courthouse stop.

Once you get up to the street level, head towards Boston (walk with the direction of the car traffic). You will see a lot of tall buildings in the distance.

At the first light take a left towards a brick building (That's John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse)

At the end of the road, take a left towards a couple of old bridges, this is the Old Northern Ave Bridge.

Then take a right and walk along the Boston Harbor. This is the Harborwalk.

As you continue to walk, you'll see a sign that welcomes you to the Fan Pier Park.

June 14, 2017


Having a handy reference guide at your desktop can make you more productive. You can quickly look up information and after awhile it becomes committed to memory. You are more likely to remember the information if it's next to you than if you constantly search for the information.

The author of VisiBone explains very well what they do:

I make stuff to help you remember and use what you've learned about making websites. Or if you're just a little adventurous, clues to what to try just beyond what you've learned. Memory joggers. Facts you keep looking up. The most common word for them is cheatsheets.

There are 12 different cheat sheet available in very well printed cards:

  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • PHP
  • MySQL


Browser Book

In 2006, I purchased the laminated Browser Book. This is still something that i use today - more than 10 year later!

The color page is pretty handy to have as a desktop reference. Some of the tags and the JavaScript information is a bit out of date. When I first got it I found it to be a handy desktop reference.

Sure you could Google the information, or have a PDF Cheat Sheet on your desktop. But I have found a printed copy is a good way to remember something. So that when I am on the phone or waiting for some computer process to happen, I can just glance at a page and be remember of a function or style format.

Getting the VisiBone

You can only get the VisiBone guides from their website. I would highly recommend spending the extra to get the laminated version. I am pretty sure that mine has lasted 10+ years because of the lamination.

Oh and if you want to mark up the guide, use a wax pen. It works well!

June 13, 2017

How And Why to Go Gluten-Free, Fast!

Gluten Free Graphic

Gluten-free eating may seem like a trend, but it is a serious lifestyle choice for many people who are affected by a number of symptoms caused by gluten sensitivities. If you feel at all different after eating gluten-heavy foods, such as having a headache or feeling less energetic, you may want to examine whether or not you are gluten intolerant.

Luckily, there are many ways to change your diet to exclude gluten. The food market today is becoming increasingly aware of customer’s gluten-free needs, and making the choice to eat food free from gluten is quite simple.

There are a number of perks for your health and body if you decide to cut out gluten, including:

  • A boost to your immune system
  • Weight loss
  • Heightened energy levels
  • Clearer, smoother skin

If you are looking for a fast solution to cutting out all gluten, you can try something like a raw juice cleanse to infuse your body with proper nutrients to help you begin feeling healthier in a short amount of time!

Tons of Information

Check out the The Gluten Free Diet Plan: What You Need To Know for a lot of useful information:

  • 10 Signs You're Gluten Intolerant
  • Celiac Disease at a Glance
  • What To Avoid In A Gluten-Free Diet

June 12, 2017

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel 2.0

Back in January I blogged about the Cinderella's Horse at the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. At the time of the post, I didn't have good pictures of Cinderella's horse.

After that post, I got an opportunity to ride Cinderella's Horse at the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. This is pretty tricky to do since you have to be one of the first people in line and know exactly where the horse is.

Cinderella's Horse

This is a side picture of Cinderella's Horse:

Click on image for a larger version.

What to look for:

  • Cinderella's Horse is in the second row of horses
  • The horse on the outside appears to have a shield, perhaps a guard horse?
  • Cinderella's Horse is the only horse with a row of flowers in the front. (See original Blog entry)
  • There are jewels on the side of the horse.
  • The saddle is dark red with a blue middle
  • The horse has a bow in the tail

Prince Charming Horse

Near a Cinderella's horse is Prince Charming's horse.

Prince Charming Horse

What to look for

  • Red Saddle with a green middle
  • There is a horse that is closer, but that might also be a guard's horse.

June 11, 2017

Infield Lot

Tomorrow the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) will be soft opening the new parking lot at the Framingham MBTA station. Only a few spaces will be open in the new lot.

David Perry, @FramWorMBTA, has been naming the new lot, "Infield Lot." I like the name a lot and I think that the MWRTA should adopt it. It a good play on words since the lot is located between the Banana Lot and the MBTA Station. In addition, the train does make a stop near Fenway Park.

Infield Lot
I created a mock sign of the lot name.

The original lot, so called "Banana Lot" isn't an official name of the parking lot. On the MBTA site, it's still referred to its location: "Additional parking located near 2 FranklinStreet, Framingham Ma, 01702. "

David Perry is an expert in all things going on with the Worcester/Framingham MBTA line. Check out the Framingham Station: Soft Opening for new Parking Lot post that he wrote about this weekend.

Here's my contribution, couple of photos taken of the area before the lot has officially opened.

Station View 2014 vs 2017

Side By Side
Same view from the Framingham Station pedestrian overpath.

Parking Lot View - 2017

Click on image for a larger version.

June 10, 2017

Self-driving Cars

If you've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of a self-driving car or have been dreading seeing more on the roads, other than test cars, you will see them sooner than later. There's no specific date for a mass release, but many automakers are confident that we'll see an autonomous car on the road by 2020; you may not be able to own one, though.

Unlike the standard vehicles we know so well, self-driving cars are far more complicated and must be completely road ready before the everyday driver can buy one. Here are some of the reasons that self-driving cars are the car of the future, but why it may take awhile:

Super Drive Car

Self-Driving Cars Need to Learn How to Be Better Drivers

In order for an autonomous vehicle to be deemed completely road worthy and safe, it should have enough knowledge to handle any kind of situation on the road. Self-driving cars "learn" how to drive by constantly collecting data while on the road.

Remember, self-driving cars are replacing human drivers, so the objective to build a car that is safer than the average driver. Why must a self-driving car be better than the average driver? One of the main reasons behind building a self-driving car is to help eliminate accidents, and most of the accidents are a result of human error.

Gathering data and learning how to be a better and safer driver takes time. You wouldn't want to share the road with a bunch of drivers who haven't had training, would you?

Operating in All Types of Conditions

In addition to learning how to be the safest driver, self-driving cars need to learn how to operate in all kinds of weather and road conditions. Ideally, we would all live in a part of the country where road infrastructure was flawless, lanes were clearly marked, and wintry conditions didn't happen, but we don't; therefore, self-driving cars need to learn how to read the road, regardless.

Don't expect to see a wide release of autonomous cars until they can prove they've passed every safety check.

The Cost

Even if the self-driving car was perfected and ready to be manufactured by every major automaker, depending on the cost, you might never get to own one. Depending on the source, the estimated cost of an autonomous car may be between $75,000 to 250,000; that's pretty prohibitive for the average consumer.

If you consider all of the features that go into making a self-driving car, such as the software and safety technology, the price seems reasonable, relatively speaking.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that we won't see mass amounts of autonomous cars on the market until they are completely safe and have the ability to operate as if a driver was operating the car. If you think about the rigorous testing that today's standard vehicles must go through, wouldn't you want to know that your self-driving car would be just as safe if not safer?