A-Z Challenge blog postings

A-Z Challenge Postings

Earliest: April 1, 2016Latest: August 22, 2017Total: 51

April 25, 2016

Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid ride

If Disney was to ever change the Haunted Mansion to some more modern animatronic it would be something like the Under the Sea ride. The animatronic and special effects are very cool. Instead of riding in a Doom buggy, you ride in a clamshell vehicle.

The Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid ride is part of the New Fantasyland that officially opened on December 6, 2012. (Disney started previewing attractions on November 19.) Other attractions opened during the first phase of the New Fantasyland include Be Our Guest Restaurant, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Ariels Grotto, Gaston Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts.

The ride takes you through the journey of Arial from Mermaid to Wife. It's slightly different than the 1989 movie as it doesn't go through much of the struggle that Arial had an encounter with Ursula and her father. Basically, the ride keeps the story upbeat.

Total actual ride time: 6 minutes.

Underthe Sea

Some of my notes on this ride:

This is a very popular ride, with daytime wait times around 35-40 minutes. You should certainly include it as part of any early Fast Pass reservations.

The ride wait queue has some entertaining effects with an electronic crab. Basically, you wave you hand in front of a monitor when you want the crab to do something, such as fetch a hat. It's quick to learn and the crab will make people laugh. So when you hear laughter in line, you know it probably has to do with the crab.

Fast Pass users will miss this part of the electronic crab. The crab "wait queue" entertainment is worth checking out when the wait is at least 30 minutes. Shorter wait times means that you walk by the entertainment section and won't get to appreciate the humor the Imagineers put in the "wait queue."

There are shells strategically placed in the waiting queue. Look carefully there are several intentionally placed to form a hidden Mickey.

Arial animatronic is a bit weird looking when you experience the ride than in pictures. For some reason, all the pictures that I have taken of Arial have a weird scary look. (In particular the animatronic in the 'Part of Your World' room.)

The area where Arial sings 'Part of Your World' has some interesting gizmos and gadgets. Sebastian pops his head out from one of the treasure chests every once in a while.

There is a "Magdalene with the Smoking Flame" picture in Arial's collection. This is an oil-on-canvas depiction of Mary Magdalene by French Baroque painter Georges de La Tour, painted in 1640.

You may be able to see a book with the initials 'MM.' Perhaps for Mermaid or is it Mary Magdalene? Note that an oil lamp separates the frame picture from the book. (Similar to the painting.)

When you enter the "Under the Sea" song area check out the eyes on the lobsters, just below Sebastian. The fifth lobster eyes look different than the others. This is the only place where the lobster eyes don't match up. (Could it be a hint to look someplace else?)

Your half way through the ride when you see the green fish blowing the saxophone. This happens just as you leave the "Under the Sea" area.

The "Kiss the Girl" scene looks very familiar. I don't know if its to reference the Pirates of the Caribbean ride going by the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland.

April 23, 2016

Trash Day

This is a big spring cleaning weekend. With some coordination with our neighbors, we got a dumpster for the next couple of weeks. We got our 10 yard dumpster from Need One Dumpster Service. It's going to cost us about $100 each, we may have to pay more if we exceed the base weight.

Trash Day

We are going to use this opportunity to clean out some moldy furniture in the basement and some other things around the house.

There are some limits to what we can throw out, based on the prohibited Items list:

  • Hazardous
  • Toxic
  • Biohazard/medical waste
  • Asbestos
  • Solvents
  • Liquids
  • Liquid Paints
  • Chemicals

Some things that we learned:

They charged $35 for a Mattress, but we learned that the Framingham Recycle center will accept an infant mattress for no charge. So if you looking to dispose of an infant mattress, check your local dump to see you can throw it away for no cost.

They don't accept yard waste, which is too bad since we had some yard brush that we wanted to get rid of. You can get a separate dumpster that would accept yard waste, but we wouldn't have enough to justify getting a separate dumpster.

One of the walls of the 10 Yard Dumpster at Need One Dumpster Service opens, which allows you to walk into the dumpster. This makes loading a lot easier.

So Far, So Good

I would highly recommend teaming up with a neighbor or two and renting out a dumpster for a week. It might cost a bit of money in the short run, but a nice clean house helps everyone. Just make sure to know how much stuff you need to get rid of.

Remember, a lot of things can be donated for a tax write-off.

April 22, 2016

Serif vs Sans Serif

Today's blog posting is to help people select the best font type for the purpose. Do you know the difference between Serif and Sans Serif? I'll show you a cool trick to make it easier to pick the right font when you need it.

First let's go over the difference between the two major font types.

Serif Fonts

Serif fonts are widely used for body text because they are considered easier to read. Some common font families include Cochin, Palatino, Times and Times New Roman.

A Serif font has a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol.

Sans Serif Fonts

Sans-serif fonts are often used for headlines rather than for body text. Some well-known font families include Arial, Futura, Geneva, Lucida Grande, Monaco, Helvetica, and Verdana.

A Sans-serif font is one that does not have the small projecting features called "serifs" at the end of strokes.

Visual Reference (Cheat Sheet)

Here's a clear visual difference between a Times New Roman and Geneva Fonts in 24 points:

Precorrectness Nell Poisoning

Font Book

On the Macintosh computer all the fonts are stored in a central location and control by the Font Book app.

Font Book2

Did you know that you can create a Smart Collection of font classification? This would make life a lot easier when your looking for that perfect headline font.

  • Simple steps to create a Sans Serif Font
  • Type in Command - . and search for: Font Book
  • Under the File menu, select 'New Smart Collection' or 'Headline'
  • Under Collection Name, put in 'Sans-serif'
  • Change the 'Family Name' to 'Design Style' and select 'San-Serif'
  • Click 'Ok'

You should see the new Collection under the 'Smart Collection' group. When you select it you will only see the San-Serif font families. (You could make a Smart Collect for Serif)

Design Style

Now when your looking for a Headline font, you know which fonts are the best. By using 'Headline' as the Collection name, you don't have to remember which design style works best for headlines or body.

The good thing about using the Smart Collection is that I don't have to manage the folder. Fonts are automatically selected, even new ones that get added to the Font Book.

You can do some pretty cool things with fonts:

Skyline
This is a Skyline Font.

April 21, 2016

Rivalry (Boston and New York)

When you think of the Boston vs New York rivalry, what comes to your mind?

Red Sox vs Yankees? Patriots vs Jets?

Long before the Babe was traded to the Yankees, there was an engineering rivalry between the two cities. They were both in a race to see which one would be the first to build a successful underground subway system.

It all started after the great blizzard of 1888 hit the Northeast crippling all transportations for many weeks. Politicians in both cities wanted a solution similar to what London was implementing at the time. They wanted to put some of the current transportation structure underground.

Boston

After the legislative approves $5,000,000 for the project, construction began on March 28, 1895. Most of the early construction happened around Boston Commons. There were numerous delays including some issues with finding lots of unmarking graves around Central Burying Grounds. The tunnels were not as deep as the ones in London as the theory was that buildings would hold up better with tunnels not dug too deep. Boston Elevated Railway was the main company that undertook the main part of the project.

The first subway cars left Tremont Station at 8am on September 1st, 1897. Today the MBTA operates 4 Subway lines and 12 commuter rail lines covering 1,193 miles.

New York

While New York wasn't the first subway system, it would be the largest. The New York legislature approved $35,000,000 for initial construction. Once the final plans were in place, construction began on March 24, 1900.

Operation of the subway began at 2:37 pm on October 27, 1904, with the opening of all stations from City Hall to 145th Street on the West Side Branch. Today the has 26 lines and 468 stations in operation; the longest line, the 8th Avenue "A" Express train, stretches more than 32 miles, from the northern tip of Manhattan to the far southeast corner of Queens.

Read More

There's a lot more to talk about the original subway rivalry. Way too much for a weekly Blog posting.

You can read a lot more detail about all the drama that took place during the rush to be the first in The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway by Doug Most.

MBTA Sign

April 20, 2016

QR Codes

qrcode

QR codes are becoming more and more popular, you see them just about everywhere. QA Codes is short for Quick Response Codes. QR Code symbol is a 2D barcode that can be scanned by handy terminals such as a mobile phone with CCD. The capacity of QR Code is up to 7000 digits or 4000 characters, and has high robustness.

The most popular QR Code app on iOS is QR Scanner.

History of QR codes

QR codes was created in 1994. A Toyota subsidiary named Denso Wave developed the code in order to help speed up the manufacturing process. The original QR codes help with tracking vehicles and parts. Since QR codes are able more information than bar codes, it created fast decoding speeds, hence the name Quick Response code.

How QR codes work

People scan the code using the camera on their smartphone and the app takes some action based on the QR code data:

  • go to a particular website,
  • show a product at the app store
  • Email Template
  • VCard Contact Information
  • Images

QR Codes only reads data and doesn't transmit any activity or device data. For example, a QR code won't cause an instant sale, it will only bring you to a sales page where customers can enter in data.

QR Controversies

There is a bit of controversy over who owns the worldwide rights to the QR code as a Germany company had apparently come up with the concept a few years before Denson Wave.

Some street billboards have included some large QR codes which make people wonder how drivers would be able to scan the code. Consumer Safety groups have argued that such billboards are distractions and could be a driving hazard.

The nation's largest billboard company, Clear Channel, has publicly promised to only use QR codes on billboards targeting pedestrian traffic.

Super Easy to generate a QR code

If you need to stock up on some new business cards, why not add a QR code on the back. There are plenty of websites that will generate QR codes for whatever websites that you like people to visit.

Here are a couple of sites to generate your own and download an image for the backside of your business cards. Make sure to use a high resolution so the QR Code doesn't get pixelated.

  • QR Code Generator. - Choose from a variety of functions: from displaying an interactive Facebook Like button to encoding a price list in PDF format. You can set up an accounting track on how well your QR Code is doing!
  • QR Stuff - Create different foreground color QR Codes. Open an account to get a high resolution image.

Business Card Services

Vistaprint and Moo offer the ability to upload images on the backside of business cards.

April 19, 2016

Perfect Gluten Free Pizza

Bills Pizzeria Logo

The best place for good tasting gluten free pizza is Bills Pizzeria in Newton & Natick. They do an awesome job with making sure that you don't miss out on having a delicious pizza.

When you place your order, make sure to mention that you want the gluten free pizza. If it's for an allergy, make sure to mention that so they take extra care and prevent any cross contamination.

Recently we ordered a gluten free pizza at the Natick store and decided to eat it at the store. It was really good. As we enjoyed each bite we kept talking about how the pizza quality is above anything else that we have tasted. (We tasted a lot of gluten free pizza this past year.

The weird thing about Bills Pizzeria is they have lots of information about a yearly 5k race that they sponsor. Something you wouldn't see from a typical pizza shop. Then again, if your eating gluten free - you'll learn that it isn't a typical pizza shop.

Bill's Pizzeria is located on 135 in Natick (East Central Street), right next to the Dunkin Donuts. If you don't have a car be sure to stop by their Newton Centre location it a few blocks away from the MBTA Green Line "D" Branch.

Bills Pizzeria Gluten Free

April 18, 2016

One Man's Dream (Hollywood Studios)

Disney Desk 2015

One of my favorite things that I like see at Disney World Hollywood Studios is the "One Man, One Dream" in particular I like looking at the working office Walt Disney once used.

The office looks exactly the same way as he last left it. Visitors have a time capsule view of what a CEO office looked like in the 1960s. You can see all sorts of pictures and things that inspired the great imagineer.

The whole "One Man's Dream" came about as part of the "100 Years of Magic" which started on October 1st, 2001. It took guests on a journey through the life of Disney, who was born on December 5, 1901, and included rare artifacts.

Other exhibits at the One Man's Dream include:

  • Walt Disney's 2nd-grade school desk
  • Audio and film clips that contain previously unseen footage and interviews with Walt Disney
  • Vintage Disney toys and merchandise
  • "Granny Kincaid's Cabin," Walt's first attempt at a 3D miniature environment
  • "The Dancing Man," Walt's first animated figure and precursor to the Audio-Animatronics technology he would soon pioneer
  • The original Audio-Animatronics Abraham Lincoln figure from the 1964 New York World's Fair
  • Mickey Mouse Club props and costumes
  • The model of Main Street, U.S.A. from Disneyland Resort
  • Jungle Cruise and Spaceship Earth models
  • Mary Poppins costumes
  • Peter Pan's Flight ride vehicle models
  • The planning model for Disney's California Adventure theme park
  • Scaled replicas of Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris Resort
  • The Tree of Life model from Disney's Animal Kingdom park

Due to expansion at Hollywood Studios, the "One Man, One Dream" has been closed. This is make room for additional attractions for the Toy Story Land.

The desk has been moved to the Walk Disney family museum in San Francisco:

The Walt Disney Family Museum
104 Montgomery Street in the Presidio
San Francisco, CA 94129

I can't wait to go back to San Francisco to see the desk to see how well they put everything back in the same place.

"You never know where going until you know where you been. " - English Proverb/Old Saying

April 16, 2016

No More Plastic Bags - Coming to Framingham?

Framingham Parking

Framingham may soon be joining Newton, Brookline, and Cambridge in banning the use of plastic bags in all retail stores. Framingham resident Ken Weiss has filed a petition to have the town vote on that matter at the 2016 Town Meeting. The Town Meeting starts on April 26.

There are 49 warrents on the 2016 Annual Town Meeting, 8 of which are citizen petitions. Some other notable petitions:

  • Repeal Sex Offender ByLaw
  • Amend Handicapped Parking Rules
  • Reducing the number of "job searches" that a veteran receiving ch. 115 assistance must conduct in a week from 10 to 3.
  • Authorizing a research committee to review plans to establish a Women Veterans' Memorial.

Water Bottle Ban in 2014

In 2014, at a Framingham Special Town Meeting, residents were asked to vote on ban the sale of non-sparkling, single-use bottles of water made with the chemical PET. This petition was submitted by Framingham High School senior Matt D'Amico.

The Water Bottle ban petition lost with 40 in favor, and 60 opposed.

Town Meeting Proceedures

Any Framingham resident can sponsor an article for the yearly Town Meeting, they simply need the signature of 10 other residences. In a special Town Meeting, 100 signatures are required.

At the Town Meeting, the sponsor makes a presentation of up to 10 minutes, describing the purpose of the motion. After the presentation, the Moderator will ask for reports from the committees. Then the Moderator lets the public speak on the motion.

It can get a bit tricky because a Town Meeting Member may move that the article is referred back to a committee for more study or make a motion to "move the question." A "move the question" motion is voted upon immediately, and, if passed, the discussion terminates.

There are 68,300 residents that live in Framingham, the largest town population in Massachusetts.

April 15, 2016

Mission Control

Mission Control The Mission Control

Apple created Mission Control in OS X to give users a bird's-eye view of all your open windows, desktop spaces, full-screen apps, and Split View spaces, making it easy to switch between them. Mission Control was first introduced in 2003 as a new feature in Mac OS X 10.3 Panther.

The ultimate goal of using Mission Control is to declutter your main desktop from other Application that your not using now. You could set up a desktop for Mail, and another desktop for Graphics. If you need to do something else, you just switch to a different desktop space. Apple makes this easy with the Magic Mouse and swiping up using three or four fingers, pressing the Mission Control key, or pressing Control-Up Arrow.

Mission Control Keys

Why Would Anyone Use Mission Control?

Mission Control is great when you work in different server environments. You could setup Desktops for Production, Staging, and Development. Which unique desktop backgrounds so that you know which environment that your using. This isn't something that you would do every day, but on deployment days or when you're up late doing testing it can be handy. Also, I find that using multiple Desktop functionality works best when your dealing with a bunch of applications over a few hours.

It will take some time to get used to using multiple desktops, especially if you already have a couple of monitors set up. Try using it for a while, see if it helps you stay more focus at hand.

Some tips and tricks on using Mission Control

Here are some of the things that I have learned using Mission Control:

  • To open the Mission Control System Preferences, type Option-F3.
  • If you're not using the Dashboard, your should turn it off in the Mission Control Preferences. Dashboard widgets take up memory space, there's no reason to waste any memory.
  • If you have a Logitech MX MX518 USB Optical Mouse, you can assign some task to the buttons. For example, you could open Mission Control with the button closest to the thumb. This will make launching Mission Control faster than swiping up using three or four fingers on the Magic Mouse.
  • To move any window to a different desktop, simply click on the top window, hold and drag to the top of the screen. (I found that I had to 'bounce' to the top of the screen to enable the Mission Control.) Then move the window to any other screen.
  • To create a new Desktop in Misson Control, simply click on the '+' on the top left. Apple did put in a 16 Desktop limit, but I don't think you would need more than 5.
  • To remove a Desktop, in Mission Control, hold down the Option key, then click next to space in the Spaces Bar. Any windows in that space will get promoted to another open space. (So you're effectively closing out space, not the application.)

So if you're using Chrome, Firefox, Pixelmator, Evernote, iTerm, pgAdmin and other applications right now, you should think about how Mission Control could help make you more productive.

April 14, 2016

Leif Ericsson Statue

Leif Ericsson Side View

There are many monuments and statues around Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. Near the Charlesgate overpass stands a life size statue of Leif Erikson.

Many people believe that Leif Ericsson, a Norse explorer, was the first European to step on North American soil in the year 1000. This theory was made popular in 1838 when the accounts of the journey were translated into English. Once Americans learned about Leif's adventures Leif became popular.

In 1887, Boston philanthropist Eben N. Horsford commissioned the statue. According to various newspaper articles published at the time, the location was selected because that is where he believes where the keel of Erikson's ship grated on the shore of Boston's Back Bay. This was the first Leif Ericsson statue in America.

The statue was created by Anne Whitney, a notable Boston sculptor that also created a duplicate Leif Ericsson statue for Juneau Park, Milwaukee. If you look at Leif Erikson statue's left foot you can see Anne Whitney's name and date of work (1885) . Next to the name is SC - which stands for sculptor.

Statue Information

The statue has the following inscription on the front:

In runic letters, which were used to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet:

Leif, son of Erik the Red

On the back, which is slightly hard to read, says:

Leif Quotes3

On the right side of the statue is a bronze plaque showing the Ericsson crew landing on the rocky shore.

On the left side of the statue is bronze plaque showing the crew sharing the story of the discovery.

Location

You can find the statue on the Commonwealth Ave. Mall, near Charlesgate East. The best time to see the statue is late afternoon so you can get an unshaded picture of the statue.

Anne Whitney
Anne Whitney's name on the Leif Ericsson statue.