A-Z Challenge blog postings

A-Z Challenge Postings

Earliest: April 1, 2016Latest: April 12, 2019Total: 91

April 12, 2019

Keychain Secure Notes

If your looking for a safe place a store sensitive piece of information - your best bet may be Apple's Keychain Secure Notes. The data will be accessible via computer or any iOS device.

This is a good option since third party applications don't have access to this. In addition, it's a bit complex to view a secure note, so you know people won't accidentally find/delete the note if they are playing around with your computer.

Note: Name and Content will not appear in Spotlight Searches. It's a good hiding spot.

Keychain Secure Notes

Adding a New Secure Note

The only way to add a new secure note is via the Keychain Access application. Using LaunchBar simply type KeyChain and return.

Open up the application. In the Window, select a Keychain to store your note. I recommend using iCloud. Then Shift Command N to create a new note.

I wasn't able to find any limit to how big the note can be, so this might be a good place to store the top secret book that your working on.

You can't store image files in the Keychain.

Viewing a Secure Note

To view any note, simply double click on the note and then type in your computer password.

Need More Power?

If you want more than just basic notes, you might want to check out 1Password. (I haven't used them, so I can't attest to how easy it is to use.) One nice thing is that they have 1 GB of encrypted storage for all your documents.

This is a good way to secure and backup all your work documents!

April 11, 2019

Japanese Temple Bell

In Boston's Fen area, near the World War 2 memorial, is an old Japanese Bell. I have discovered that there is a bit of history on how this 343-year old bell ended up in Boston. (You won't find this on the sign at the Bell.)

Japanese Temple Bell

Ten Things I Learned About the Japanese Temple Bell

The Bell weights 450-pounds and is four foot tall.

The Bell Came from crew members of the USS Boston from Japan after the Second World War.

The Bell was discovered by US Navy crew members in a scrap yard in Yokosuka, Japan.

After the war, the USS Boston docked at San Francisco and the Bell was shipped to Boston - cost $42.80 in transportation charges. ($557.94 in 2019 value)

The Bell was given to the City of Boston by Captain Marion R. Kelly - who had retired after the War after nearly 29-years of service.

Originally installed on the Boston Commons on April 25th, 1946. It was moved to the Back Bay Fens in 1953.

There is a small plaque that says the bell was cast in 1675 - Making the Japanese Temple Bell the oldest man made object on display in Boston. (The only this possibly older is the MillStone by Haymarket)

Shortly after the Bell was moved to the Fenway to a permanent location. Some Bostonians wanted the Navy Department to take another look on how the Bell was obtained after the war. Some people thought it was looted from a Buddhist or Shinto Temple in Japan.

The Navy department did an investigation and determined that Boston is the rightful owner of the Temple Bell.

The Bell sits near the World War 2 Memorial, and has face some tough times over the years. The surface is badly corroded. The base has been painted to cover graffiti. The bell is also cracked in several locations.

Plaque beneath the Bell

Temple Bell from Japan
Cast in 1675
Brought to the City of Boston by the Officers and Men of the United States Ship Boston
With the Blessing of the Manpukuji Temple-Sendai as a Symbol of Friendship and a Bond of Peace

Interesting to note how the plaque downplays how the Bell was found after World War 2.

April 10, 2019

Image Quality

To reduce file size, capture photos and videos in the high-efficiencyHEIF/HEVC format. The "Most Compatible" option will always use JPEG H.264 format. However, you'll miss out on using 4k at 60 fps and 1080p at 240 fps because that require using the High-Efficiency settings. The main downside to selecting "High Efficiency" is that it may not be compatible with older computers.

Raw is the highest quality possible image but takes the most space. It's not part of the default Camera settings.

There are three popular apps that have additional photo image quality settings: Camera+ 2, ProCamera, and ProCam.

Image Quality

Camera+ 2

Camera+ offers HEIF, JPEG and TIFF formats. You can select the quality based on three criteria:

  • Downscale - Smaller size photos - great for sending via messenger
  • Normal Quality - Regular pictures.
  • High Quality - Low Compression and the largest possible size.

Camera+ keeps the options simple so that users aren't overwhelmed with various configurations. Yet it's way more powerful than Apple's Camera app.

One downside to Camera+2 is that there's no video support.

ProCamera

ProCamera offers four different file formats: Jpeg, HEIF, Tiff and Raw + JPG.

In addition, if you know your image quality you can change the compression settings for JPEG, HEIF. The default compression setting is 90%.

To enable Raw format, or any of the options:

  • Open ProCamera
  • Click on the icon on the bottom right
  • Click on Format (Should be just above the Settings on the left)
  • Select your format (Try to use HEIF!)

One downside to ProCamera is the night shot configurations is hard to learn.

ProCam

ProCam supports HEIF, JPEG, and RAW formats. There are no additional settings to change compression settings.

The nice thing about ProCam is that if you select to shoot Raw it does it automatically, there are no additional steps as there is in the other apps.

One downside to ProCam is that's complex and will take some time to learn. Once you learn how to use it, you'll be amaze at all the shots you make so much better.

Why Have Multiple Camera Apps?

Having more than one camera app is a good way to manage your photo quality. Simply use Apple's default Camera app for everyday photos and use the third-party apps to take higher quality pictures that you plan to edit later.

You should install these in advance to learn how to use them. Don't install these while waiting in line at Disney's Haunted Mansion. It will take time to learn how to use these apps and to get familiar with the different configurations.

This is a good use of "downtime" on an airplane or a train ride.

April 9, 2019

HEVC - GoPro Videos

Video files are recorded using the h.264 codec and the MP4 file type, the exception being some resolution/frame rate combinations on the HERO6 and HERO7 Black.

Go Pro Fenway Park

HEVC Format

The GoPro uses High Efficiency Video Coding (H.265) to capture videos - especially at hight frame rates for 4k at 60fps and 1080p at 240 fps. This is the latest video coding, and not supported by older computer systems - thankfully this has been around for a while

The HEVC standard allows the ability to store high quality video without using a lot of disk space. In fact videos compressed with H.265 standard uses up to 40 percent less space without sacrificing quality.

GoPro started using HEVC in the GoPro Hero 5 series.

Apple Users

If your computer is not running MacOS 10.13+ (MacOS High Sierra or macOS Mojave), your not able to view the videos on your computer. The H.265 standard requires at least the A10 chip. If your computer isn't eligible for the High Sierra, then your computer doesn't have the A10 chip.

iPhone 7+ users have support for the HEVC standard.

Windows Computers

If your computer is running Windows 10, then you have the proper hardware to view the GoPro videos.

Older Systems

If you don't have the hardware to support the videos, you can always upload them to Google Photos and have the videos be translated. Google Photos has supported HEVC video since September 2017.

April 8, 2019

Get Image Size (Using JQuery)

Sometimes the Quality Assurance team needs to get the size of an image that is rendered on a page. Usually, this is to validate that the rendered image meets the specifications.

This will show you what the image actually rendered on the page:

$imageCheck = "Height: " + $('#facebook').height() + " Width: " + $('#facebook').width() ;

If you want to know the actual physical dimensions of the image:

$NaturalCheck = "Natural Height: " + $('#facebook').naturalHeight() + " Natural Width: " + $('#facebook').naturalWidth() ;

Sample Output

Natural Height Check

April 6, 2019

Facebook Design — Devices

There are a lot of services/solutions to creating mock-up and a quick Google search for "iPhone Mockups" produce about 50,800,000 results. Yikes! How can one find good quality Mockups to use in Photoshop, Sketch or Affinity Photo?

Facebook!

Facebook? Yes, that Facebook. They have a developer area where you can download all sorts of device design ideas which you can download and use as mockups.

Website description

Facebook supports a diverse audience around the world and an equally diverse set of devices. To emphasize that in our design mocks, we redrew a range of devices to show the global diversity of the people using our products. Each device comes with a bitmap of the device (with and without shadows) and the original Sketch file for that device.

We?ve incorporated many of these devices into Origami and worked with the Framer Team to add them to Framer as well.

While Facebook has redrawn and shares these assets for the benefit of the design community, Facebook does not own any of the underlying product or user interface designs. Please do not repackage and redistribute these as your own.

Facebook Devices
https://facebook.design/devices

Sample Design

Using the iPhone XS Max, and Dell XPS design I created the sample layout in Affinity Designer:

Fun Facebook Design

April 5, 2019

Export Photos Notification

When exporting a large number of image files from Apple?s Photo application, it?s pretty scary to see this:

Export Complete
142,311 (of 14,201) files have been exported to: 2015 Photos.

There is no indication of why more files got exported. It made me wonder where the additional files come from. Did I copy some hidden files? Do I have a virus?

It turns out that, in my case, the additional files were ?burst? mode files. Apple treat these as special files, as they are a special collection of images.

Create a Smart Album

Here's the Smart Album that I created, so that I know about Burst files in the future. This is good idea so that I can figure out which of the burst mode images are worth keeping:

Smart Burst Album

Simple steps to creating a Smart Album for Burst Mode.

  • Type in Option Command N to create a new Smart Album.
  • Use Burst Mode Photos as the Name (Or anything you want)
  • Then in the condition, use 'Photos' 'is' 'burst'

Pay Attention to the Export

What?s scary is that most people won?t notice this message, as it's a simple banner alert. You may not realized that there are some additional images copied over. I just happen to look at the notification and saw the number difference.

Key lesson here is to check the Notification area after doing an export to see if there were any issues with the export. This is essential if your exporting the photos into a online photo album and may not want the burst mode photos to be exported.

The Notification Center is located in the top left of the menu bar.

April 4, 2019

Duck Tours in Boston

If your a first time visitor to Boston, one way to get a quick history of the city is to take one of the famous Duck Boat tours. They are a great way to get some high level understand of what makes the city special and for tourist its a good way to understand the layout of the city.

The Duck Boats are a great way to get pictures of the city skyline from the Charles River.

Old Description from their Website

You've never toured Boston in anything that comes close to Boston Duck Tours. The fun begins as soon as you board your "DUCK", an authentic, renovated World War II amphibious landing vehicle, at the Prudential Center in Boston's historic Back Bay. First, you'll be greeted by one of our legendary tour ConDUCKtors, who'll be narrating your tour. Then you're off on a journey like you've never had before. You'll cruise by all the places that make Boston the birthplace of freedom and a city of firsts, from the golden domed State House to the Boston Common, the Old North Church to fashionable Newbury Street, Quincy Market to the Prudential Tower, and more. And, as the best of Boston unfolds before your eyes, your ConDUCKtor will be giving you lots of little known facts and interesting insights on our unique and wonderful city.

Duck Tours Boston

Twelve Fun Facts

  • The first Boston Duck Tour was founded on October 5, 1994.
  • Each year 600,000 passengers take the tour - making it the most popular tour in Boston.
  • All the duck boats run on bio diesel.
  • The Boston Duck Tours depart from the Prudential Center, New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science.
  • The tours that depart from the Prudential Center and the Museum of Science have the same route.
  • You see the same sites on both tours. (The Prudential/Museum of Science tours shows more Copley Square, where as the Museum of Science take you through the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the Financial District.)
  • In 2001, it cost $22 to take a tour, in 2019 it cost $42.99.
  • Tour tickets do sell out early - usually by noon. To avoid disappointment and running around - buy your tickets in advance.
  • You can purchase a Discounted Family pack from tours leaving the Museum of Science.
  • If you take the Duck Tour from the Museum of Science you can get discounts on Museum attractions such as $10 off the Exhibit Hall and 10% at the Museum Store.
  • You can buy tickets at the Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium, Boston Commons and the Prudential Center.
  • Tours last 80 minutes.

Tour Tips

  • Make sure to talk to the driver about your interest in Boston - Colonial History, Sports etc. The tour guide will be sure to mention the topic during the tour.
  • Arrive at the Duck Tour waiting area early for the best seating.
  • Before you board the Duck Boat, you'll be given an opportunity for a group picture. (A better picture opportunity is on the boat or in Front of the vehicle where you can get the name.)
  • When your on the water, the driver may ask kids if they want to drive the Duck Boat for a bit. (Great Photo opportunity!)
  • The Boats were used in the 2018 Red Sox Parade and the 2019 New England Patriots parade.
  • Be sure to look at the inside roof for player autographs!

Which Tour is Better?

So... Which tour is better? The Prudential Center and the Museum of Science route or the New England Aquarium route?

I would recommend taking the Tour from the Museum of Science, as you'll see more Back Bay History and you get better discounts at the Museum - especially if you plan on visiting the Museum.

Is the Tour Worth it?

I believe anyone visiting Boston for the first time should go on the Duck Tour. It's a great way to see the city and get an understand of the lay of the land.

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.