A-Z Challenge blog postings
A-Z Challenge Postings
|Earliest: April 1, 2016||Latest: November 4, 2018||Total: 80|
|April 18, 2017|
OatMeal - Straw Propeller Brand
If your looking for some delicious gluten free oatmeal I would highly recommend the Straw Propeller brand.
My daughter recently had some when she visited my office. They were in the Leanbox refrigerator that we have at work. Not only did she appreciate the convenience of the instant oatmeal, but she really enjoyed the taste.
In fact, as soon as she was done with the Blueberry Blitz one, she asked for the Apple Crisp one. This is something she never does for a snack as she usually satisfied with a small snack.
It cost $2.68 (including tax) via LeanBox. They keep it in the refrigerator, but I don't think it needs refrigeration.
Clearly this is a hit and she'll have it again when she comes back to visit my office.
LeanBox is an awesome office supply food service. They installed a customized LeanBox refrigerator stocked with all sorts of healthy goods. Simply swipe your credit card and then scan your items.
About Straw Propeller
Straw Propeller Gourmet Foods uses only real food ingredients, with no additives or preservatives. They are located in Redmond, Oregon.
They currently have 15 different flavors including Apple Crisp, Banana Bread, Blueberry Blitz, Cherry & Chia, Hemp N' Oats, Man!, Maple Oats, Oh My Pumpkin Pie, Orange Cranberry, Patrioats, PB & J, Peaches & Berry Bramble, Pineapple Cocon-Oats, Indian Curry, Moroccan Spice and Tuscan Herb.
You can order a 12-pack of Straw Propeller for $39, which comes out to $3.25 a meal.
|April 17, 2017|
The week?s Disney Blog is about the Norway Pavilion at Epcot.
Did you know that the Norway Pavilion is the newest country to the showcase. It was added in 1988, six years after Epcot opened.
There are three reasons that you should visit the Norway Pavilion:
- Frozen ever after ride
- Royal Sommerhus - Only place in Disney where you can Meet Anna and Elsa
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Where you can meet several princesses)
Frozen Ever After Ride
On June 21, 2016, one of the most anticipated rides to open in Disney was the Frozen Ever After Ride. On this ride, you get to experience some of the music from the Frozen movie.
Wait times on this ride can be from 30 - 45 minutes. Disney did a good job of decorating the waiting area to entertain the guests. You certainly feel that your in Norway in the Winter by the time you get on the ride.
The water-type ride is fun, you get to see many of the famous characters of the Frozen movie. The ride does have a drop and you may get a little wet, but this is Disney - so you won?t get soaked. It?s a fun ride to see all the latest special animatronics technology.
My six-year-old daughter loves it. She was very excited to go on the ride and wanted to ride it multiple times afterward. Which we did when we saw that the wait time was shorter.
Fast Pass is a must for this ride!
Next to the Frozen Ever After Ride is the Royal Sommerhus where you can meet Anna and Elsa. You can get pictures with them and even interact with the characters.
The wait time was a bit long here. The is some decoration around the Royal Sommerhus Cabin which showcases some family pictures in the cabin.
Once you get to meet the characters, you see Anna first and then Elsa. They are both in the same room. There is a Disney Photographer that is available to take your Disney Memory Maker photos. They will also help take group pictures with a regular camera.
Unfortunately you can?t get a picture of the two of them together.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
At the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall you can enjoy Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner with many Disney Storybook Princesses.
The following princesses are available in the hall
- Snow White
- Princess Aurora
There is some dancing that happens every once in a while, where the children can dance along with their favorite princess.
Lunch and Dinner is served as a Family style. Reservations are recommended.
|April 15, 2017|
Memes in Affinity Designer
If your looking to create MEME in Affinity Designer or Affinity Photo here's some useful information.
Example of a typical MEME
If you have Affinity Designer or Photo you already have a powerful tool to create MEMEs.
The ideal Font font to use is Impact, with some black border. The font size varies on the length of the text.
To make life easier, download the Memes Asset that I created.
Download Memes Assets for Affinity Designer.
Ideal MEME size
The ideal MEME size is 604 by 506, depending on the graphic and the source. But it can be any size that you want. I created this useful graphic to help you create a typical Meme:
There's a template in the Memes Asset too. I'll update the Asset as I think of other things that seem appropriate.
Have fun making cool Memes.
|April 14, 2017|
Meet the world's first photo editor that adapts to your style & skill level. Luminar is the supercharged photo software that makes complex editing easy & enjoyable. And it is as responsive and beautiful as your Mac.
Luminar is a great application when you want to touch up photos. If you need to touch up and enhance photos, Luminar is certainly the app that will make it easy.
The nice thing about Luminar is that there are a lot of built-in Presets to make it easier to get the photo to look exactly the way that you want it to. Macphun says, "Luminar presets are your secret weapon to instantly fantastic photos. You can get a new look in a single click, or use presets as a starting point for your own creative explorations."
Luminar comes with Presets in six different categories: Basic, Outdoor, Street, Portrait, Travel and Dramatic. In each of the categories, you have a bunch of custom settings to enhance your photos. For example, the Basic set has 13 filters. Luminar website has a few more that your can download or purchase.
Presets Preview functionality is a nice feature that Luminar brings to the table. Before using any of the Presets, you get a "sneak" thumbnail peak of what the effect will have on the image that your working with.
Along with the Presets are various tools to help touch up the images. The Denoise Tool is a really cool way to clean up a photo that may have some noise. When you use this tool, you get a nice before/after slider so you can see what a difference the tool makes.
The Eraser tool seems to do a great job of removing some unwanted object in a couple of pictures that I tested. It works very similar to functionality found in Pixelmator and Affinity Photo.
Luminar has a Batch capability mode, which isn't available during the trial period. This would be perfect when you have a bunch of iPhone photos taken in the same situation, and putting together a collage. This is actually a pretty cool time-saving feature to have.
Luminar vs Affinity Photo
There is some missing functionality that's hard for me to justify buying Luminar. There is no Text or Shape tool and there are not a lot of options on brush sizes for masking.
In addition, I found it hard to apply specific effects that I may want. For example in my test, I wanted to apply a blur effect to a certain part of the image and I couldn't figure a way to do that.
Try it Out Yourself
I think Luminar would be great for someone that doesn't want to play around with post-production filter settings. If you just want to quickly touch up a photo to enhance it more, than Luminar might be the application you need.
You can download a trial from MacPhun's website, and if you like it, it's only $69 which includes a 1 month membership to KelbyOne. It's the best photography education platform. (Monthly membership to KelbyOne is $19.99)
|April 13, 2017|
Kirstein Business Branch
In 2009, I wrote about how the Kirstein Business Branch was closing and being relocated to the main library.
After a few year of being in limbo, the Kirstein Business branch is in its new permanent home the basement of the Boston Public Library. The library had a grand reopening on July 9, 2016.
Old Kirstein Kirstein Business Branch at 20 City Hall Ave, Boston MA
Remembering the Past
The old library felt like your in a 19th Century reading room. The floors would creak as you walk around the library. The rooms were dark. There wasn't color, white walls with a dark frame.
The library was on multiple floors, so you would have to change seats if you were looking for something on a different floor. It also made it challenging to find someone to help you.
Despite its old look and feel it was nice because it was separated from the regular library. You knew everyone else that was there was business oriented.
Focus on the Future
This week, I decided to check out the Kirstein Business section at the main library.
The area in the basement looks very nice and modern compared to the old branch. You don't feel that your in a basement of an old building.
The whole place is bright, despite having no outside windows. You certainly get a nice warm feeling as you walk around the area.
There are plenty of tables to sit down and read all sorts of books and magazines. Each table has a plug and USB stations so you can charge up your laptop or any electronic device while your doing research.
Why Visit the Kirstein Business Library?
If you have any dream of starting a business, this is the place to go to jump start your vision.
The new location has meeting rooms which the old location lacked. As I recall, when there were meetings they held them on one of the floors.
There are plenty of books separated into eight sections. There are books for Careers, Business Management, legal and so much more.
Opposite of the book shelves is numerous trade magazines and journals. You can read the current issue or lift the shelf cover and pick out an old one.
Great Place to Research Your Business Idea
When you come in, walk over to the information desk and they will help you get started.Did you know
- KBLIC has 8 workstations with the Adobe Creative Cloud
- We can help you research funding sources for your nonprofit
- KBLIS has resources to find old stock prices
- You can reserve 1 hour blocks on the Bloomberg Workstation
In the Innovation Center
The Macintosh machines in the Innovation Center has much popular application. You are free to use the computers in a two-hour session per day. The following software applications are available on each machine:
- Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master
- Blender: An open source 3D creation suite
- Comic Life 3: Turns your images into a comic
- Balsamiq: Used to easily create interfaces, websites, software and mobile apps using wireframing
- Final Cut Pro: Professional Video editing software
- Office for Mac
- XMind: The Most Popular Mind Mapping Tool on the Planet
3D Printing is Available
The Kirstein Business Center has a 3D Printer for public use! To use it, submit designs in STL format to get printed.
Checkout the website for more information.
Stop by and Say Hello
The next time your in Copley Square stop by the Boston Public Library and check out the Kirstein Business Center.
To access the KBC, enter through the main doors on Boylston Street. Walk straight in and where you see a staircase, go down.
|April 11, 2017|
Ice Cream Maker (Soft Serve)
No trip to Disney can be complete without a taste of everyone's pineapple treat - Dole Whip. It's a delicious pineapple soft serve treat - perfect anytime.
Luckily you don't have to wait to go back to Disney. You can enjoy the exact same treat at home! All you need is a Soft Serve Ice Cream maker and the Dole Whip mix. Both of these are available on Amazon.com. (Not really a surprise!)
Ice Cream Maker
We have a Cuisinart Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker. It works really well, the key thing to remember is that the main container needs to be frozen for at least 12 hours before you use it. We kept ours in the Freeze at all times, that way when we need to make ice cream, we can do it and not have to think 12 hours ahead of time.
We recommend getting an additional ice cream maker freezer bowl. That way you don't have to wait an additional 12 hours if you want a different treat on a hot day.
Each batch of Soft Serve ice cream makes 1.5 quarts of delicious soft serve ice cream.
The Cuisinart Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker can make all sorts of delicious treats. We made a chocolate soft serve ice cream for our neighbor and he told us that it was the best he ever tasted. It should be since there are no added chemicals to preserve the ice cream.
Dole Soft Serve Mix
A 4.4-pound bag of Dole Pineapple Soft Serve mix cost $24.59 and will make about 89 1/2 cup serving.
In the parks you get at least a full cup serving. That means each bag will make 45 delicious pineapple treat.
In the parks, the treat cost $4.95. Which means the single bag will produce about $225 worth of treats.
Each Dole Whip serving is Fat-Free, Lactose-Free, Dairy Free, Cholesterol Free, and Gluten Free.
Just like the Park
We made a batch shortly after coming back from Disney and can verify that, as long as you follow the instructions, it will taste exactly like the one in the park.
Perfect for any small kids party - that has a Disney theme.
The good thing is that you don't need any extra ingredients.
If you keep the Ice Maker in the freezer, you can make your favorite Dole Whip whenever you want.
|April 10, 2017|
Gravestones at the Haunted Mansion
Just before you enter the Haunted Mansion in DisneyWorld, you will see a fictional graveyard.
In the graveyard are 13 regular headstones. (How appropriate!) There are two honorable mention gravestones.
The graveyard starts over by the interactive waiting queue and finishes right up to you get inside the Mansion. The best view of the graveyard is to be on the left of the line.
Here's a list of all the epithets that you can see, in the order that they appear:
- Dear Departed Brother Dave - He Chased a Bear into a Cave
- In Memorium Uncle Myall - Here you'll lie for quite a while
- Good Friend Gordon - Now you've cross the river Jordon
- The Lady of the Opera Our Haunting Harriet - Searched for a tune but never could carry it
- Here Lies a Man Names Martin - The lights went out on this old spartan
- Dearest Dorothea
- Master Gracy Laid to Rest - No mourning Please at his request - Farewell
- Rest in Peace Cousin Huet - We all know you didn't do it
- Here rests Wathel R. Bender - He rode to glory on a fender Peaceful rest
- Here Lies Good Old Fred - A great big rock fell on his head R.I.P
- At Peaceful Rest Lies Bother Claude - Planted here beneath this sod
- RIP Mister Swell - The Victim of a dirty duel Peaceful Rest
- Dear Sweet Leota. Beloved by all in regions beyond now, but having a ball
Many of the original tombstones we a tribute to some of the architect and designers of the Haunted Manions. Check out WDWRadio.com for additional details.
The "Dear Sweet Leota" gravestone has some motion. About every sixty seconds the head will slightly pop out and the eyes will open for five seconds and then close and the head goes back to normal position.
This happens rain or shine. I have stood in line during some serious downpour and have seen the motion from the tombstone.
If you were a major contributor to the Haunted Mansion creation, you may get your own gravestone. Kind of like a Hall of Fame:
- In Memory of Our Patriarch Dear Departed Grandpa Marc
- Requiescat Francis Xavier - No Time off for good behavior R.I.P.
Wikipedia description of Marc Davis - "as a prominent American artist and animator for Walt Disney Studios. He was one of Disney's Nine Old Men, the famed core animators of Disney animated films, and was revered for his knowledge and understanding of visual aesthetics." He did a lot of the design work for the Haunted Manion. Marc Died January 12, 2000.
Legendary Imagineer Francis Xavier "X" Atencio helped develop the Haunted Mansion story line, wrote the theme song's lyrics, and helped come up with the tombstone inscriptions. Still alive!
The "Dear Old Fred" is easy to remember because it's an easy rhyme. It's also the grave you most likely see while waiting for the doors to open.
The "Sweet Leota" is memorable because it's the only headstone that has any interaction.
Maynard at the Haunted Mansion in 2000.
Will Maynard be memorialized with gravestones at the Haunted Mansion?
Many fans at Haunted Mansion in Disneyland feel Maynard makes the ride special. In the early days of the Internet, many Haunted Mansion sites talked about him and some sites posted his working schedule.
I wasn't able to find any new information about the whereabouts of Maynard the famous Ghost Host of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland.
Also surprised that there isn't anything for Thurl Ravenscroft, who's voice you hear as you travel along the Haunted Mansion ride.
|April 8, 2017|
Generate HTML Image Tag Quickly
This is a neat piece of code that will create a image tag based on the most recent image on the desktop.
If your doing work in an editor and want a quick way to add the image tag in your code, this can come in handy. This snippet will create an HTML image tag complete with image dimensions and the Alt tag.
- You can change where the script looks for images by changing the $dir path.
- If you upload images in a different directory, then change the path of $public
- Currently the script only supports JPG, but if you do work with only PNG, change the file extensions that?s being assigned to the $files variable.
- The splitByCaps function is useful because it will split the filename, if it?s in camelcase format, for the alt text field.
I assigned abbreviation to be ?desk.image?. I believe this makes it easy to remember and reduces the changes that I?ll accidentally type the short cut.
Feel free to modify the above script to do anything that you want!
|April 7, 2017|
Firefox Developer Edition
FireFox Developer Edition
If you do any website development, you should consider installing Firefox Developer Edition. It's a very powerful browser that is "Built for those who build the Web."
Key Advantages FireFox Developer Edition
You may be used to other Developer tools in other browsers. However, FireFox Developer Edition is the only browser to help Developers and QA debug code better than anyone.
- Visual Editing Tools - You can visually edit any page animation objects.
- DevTools Challenger - Learn more about how the Visual Animation and CSS Editing works together with a fun game.
- Extra Performance Tools - Check out Frame Rate, memory consumption and JS profile in the performance tools.
- Page Inspector - Modify HTML & CSS structure live
- Awesome Style Editor - Fix CSS issues on the fly.
AppleScript and FireFox
AppleScript was briefly removed from Firefox. You'll be happy to know that it's back! (Ok, It's been back for a while, I just noticed it now.)
Here's an example code to search Google using the contents of your clipboard:
I have this setup as one of my mouse buttons. You can assign AppleScripts to mouse buttons via USB Overdrive. I can now quickly search google with the #5 mouse button.
BASH and Firefox
If you don't like AppleScript, you can always use BASH and perform the some actions. (I wasn't able to figure out the search query)
Some sample command line actions
Opens a new website in Private Mode:
/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -private-window http://www.cryan.com
Opens a URL in a separate tab:
/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -new-tab http://www.cryan.com
Opens Firefox in safe mode, useful if you having problems with firefox. (Also useful to test a site with no plugins enabled)
This isn't limited to the Developer version of Firefox. If you are using the standard Firefox version, replace FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app with Firefox.app.
You can learn all about the various command line options on Mozilla's developers website.
|April 6, 2017|
The Ether Monument, is a statue and fountain near the northwest corner of Boston's Public Garden, near the intersection of Arlington Street and Marlborough Street. It commemorates the first use of Ether in anesthesia in 1846.
Things that I learned about the Ether Monument
- Created by John Quincy Adams Ward, in 1868, its the second sculpture that he worked on.
- The only Statue/Fountain combination in the Public Gardens.
- Monument is also known as the Good Samaritan Monument
- The fountain water is turned on the same time as the Boston Public Garden Lagoon is turned on. The third Sunday of April.
- The Monument is 40 feet (12 m) tall. Which is 2 feet taller than the Washington Equestrian statue. (The Equestrian statue is taller because its on a hill.)
- Its the oldest monument in the public garden, the next monument installed was the Washington Equestrian statue which was put in a year later.
- There is a lion on each side of the monument. The symbol of a lion means strength
- The figures on the top of the monument are looking away from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)
- MGH has the original room (Ether Dome) where the first anesthetic was performed. The Ether Dome is open to the public.
- The distance between the Ether Monument and the Ether Dome is 0.9561 miles.
- Around the monument four sides are the following sayings:
- To commemorate that the inhaling of ether causes insensibility to pain. First proved to the world at the Mass. General Hospital in Boston, October A.D. MDCCCXLVI (1846)
- This also cometh forth from the Lord of Hosts which is wonderful and excellent in working. Isaiah (28:29)
- In gratitude for the relief of human suffering by the inhaling of ether a citizen of Boston has erected this monument A.D. MDCCCLXVII. (1867)
- Neither shall there be any more pain.
- Around the Monument are three park benches. Each of the benches has a remembrance plaque:
- Gift of New England Life
- Dedication in Loving Memory of Karl W. Johnson 1956 - 2008 We treasure the time that we had with you. With love from Ava, Erika and all of your family and friends.
- Nadya and Alan Aisenberg - Lovingly Remembered
Preserving the Monument
At the base of the monument is a plaque on the ground that reads:
Preserved with support from local citizens, Save Outdoor sculpture!, Target Stores and The National Endowment for the Arts, SOS! is a Project of Project of Heritage preservation and Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Locating the Monument
The monument is located in the North-West corner of the Boston Public Gardens. It's located near the intersection of Arlington Street and Marlborough Street. If you're on the Lagoon Bridge, walk towards the Washington Statue and turn right. Follow the path along the lagoon.