Affinity blog postings

Affinity Postings

Earliest: March 20, 2009Latest: August 12, 2017Total: 35

January 28, 2016

Thinking Cup

Thinking Cup Store

Last week I suggested a unique lunch place in Boston to try, this week its about trying a classic coffee shop - Thinking Cup.

Boston has it's share of Dunkin Donuts (20) and Starbucks (19), but there's nothing like visiting a local coffee shop to enjoy something local. Plus it's good to try something different every once in a while.

This week I stopped in to try the French Hot Chocolate and their "Salted Chocolate" cookie:

A French Hot Chocolate is basically a very creamy Hot Chocolate. They actually don't make it anymore, but the guy running the drink section made an exception and made an extra creamy hot chocolate. How awesome is that! Try that a Dunkin or Starbucks. The drink was very good and very creamy. I still like LA Burdock, which is about a 1/2 block away. This hot chocolate was very similar in taste. I only ordered it because I was intrigued on what a french hot chocolate would taste like. The "large" cup size didn't really seem that large to me.

Thinking Cup Cookie

The "Salted Chocolate Cookie" was also good. It was nice and soft and lots of chunks of chocolate, it did remind me of the great cookies I got at Paradise Bakery. Unfortunately, it wasn't gluten free, so my daughter wouldn't be able to try it. But Thinking Cup did have a lot of snacks and meals that are gluten free that she would enjoy.

They had lots of great classic coffee shop foods - except donuts. I didn't see any in the display case, perhaps they only have enough for the morning rush?

The coffee shop is a bit small, I would expect it to be very busy in the morning. When I stopped in at lunch time it wasn't all that busy and I did see some empty tables. There was a bit of a line waiting to place my order, which was fine because I was able to look at the display case and see what snacks I wanted.

The people working at Thinking Cup were very friendly and helpful. When I placed my order, they repeated it back to me to confirm what I told them. That's something that I haven't encountered at Dunkin or Starbucks. Everyone there was smiling and very helpful to all the customers waiting and those that were seated.

Thinking Cup Display

I would suggest trying out Thinking Cup on Newbury Street. Can't make it there for a snack? They do have several locations around the city, such as Downtown...

If you should eat in at the Newbury Street location. Try to get one of the tables on the left as soon as you walk in. You'll be away from the line traffic and have a good location to watch people walking down Newbury Street.

January 22, 2016

Apple Dock

You can learn a lot about a Macintosh user by checkout what applications they have in the Dock. So here are the applications that I use all the time, my work MacBook Pro looks just about the same.

imacdock

A little more details about the icons in the doc. Simply click on the row to visit the website of that particular application.

FireFox - Usually my default browser. I have a bare minimum extensions installed so it loads quickly and takes less memory. Chrome - Works better for any Google apps; such as gmail and Google Drive. Safari - I don't use this all that much on the computer, I find that Chrome and Firefox development tools are a bit better than Safari. BBEdit - My favorite text editor. If I am doing any web work, chances are that BBEdit is being used. BBEdit is the only Application that I have installed on every Macintosh computer since my Centris 660av. Transmit - This is how I get files to and from my server. I have used many similar applications over the years and find the Transmit is the best of the best. EverNote - I use this to store my ideas and resources. If I want to know what printer cartridge, train schedule or anything that I would write down at my desk, I can store it in one place and have access to it anywhere Skitch - Great tool to do screen captures. I can add annotation and sketches. All the screen captures get stored in Evernote where I can easily search previous screen captures. iTunes - My music library. Photos - Since the summer of 2015, this is where I keep all my photo and videos. Due to disk space, I only store about two months worth of data. OmniGraffle - I was using this as an image layout tool. I have found a lot of the core functionality is available in Pixelmator. I should rethink having this in the dock. Pixelmator - This is my primary graphic editing tool. Whenever I have to edit/create/modify a graphic I am using Pixelmator. Adrium - I use to use this a lot for chat at work. The company has recently switch to Slack. I will be removing this from the dock. iTerm - A great Terminal replacement. I use this anytime that I need to SSH or run some unix commands. iMovie - All my YouTube movies are created using iMovie. I am looking to replace it, since I feel that I have moved on from the core fundaments that iMovie offers. Pages - I use this to write letters or documents. I have looked into Nisus Writer and other apps as a suitable replacement. TextExpander - My timesaver tool. I use this to save time whenever I type the same thing over and over again. I only have this in my Dock because I like to constantly make changes to snippets. Its just easier when its in the dock.

Dock Technical Tips

The dock works much better when you have spacers. That is blank space in the dock, so that you can group similar icons together and the dock doesn't look bloated. Here's and example of a spacer in my dock:

Dock Spacer

To get spacer in your Doc, simply open up Terminal or iTerm and type the following in:

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-apps -array-add '{"tile-type"="spacer-tile";}'; killall Dock

In your Dock you will see an empty space, simply move that to where ever you want. Run the above command to add more dock spacer.

So what's in your Dock?

January 8, 2016

Skitch and Evernote

If your looking for a productive Macintosh screen capture tool, I highly recommend checking at Skitch by Evernote. This is a free tool that works very well with your existing Evernote account. You don't need Evernote to use Skitch, but they work so well together, why wouldn't you?

About Skitch

Use an existing image or capture a new one, then add shapes, write on it, draw on it, annotate it any way you like, and save it to your Evernote account so that it is available everywhere Evernote is.

About Evernote

Evernote is a notes application designed to help you stay organized that goes far beyond what you'd typically think of as a notebook. You can add text, images, audio, scanned documents, files, and more to your notebook, synchronize everything across all of your devices in Evernote's beautiful, free apps, and then quickly find anything with powerful search that can even recognize text inside your files and images.

Your Screen Capture on Steroids

The key thing to remember is you can "quickly find anything with powerful search." This means that when you use Skitch and save the screenshot in your Evernote account, you can search for text that is in your screen shot.

That's the power of Evernote and Skitch.

Skitch has all the image annotation that you come to expect from a screen capture tool. You can add arrows, Text, Shapes, Highlights, predefine stamps, Pixelate, and crop images. You can easily export the image out of Skitch so that you can add it to a Jira issue.

Skitch_sm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

The good thing about Skitch is that it will create a notebook to store all the images, so the screenshots won't clutter up your default Evernote notebook. In addition, you can manage the notebook how you want, so if you don't want the files, simply delete them. You can tag the notes so that you can find them even easier.

EverNoteAccount.jpg
I have plenty of space in my Upload Allowance.

Feature Requests

I would like to have the ability to record video as I can do with other applications, such as MonoSnap and Snap Z Pro X. Sometimes it's a lot easier to describe a bug when you see it in action.

Image/Shape Library - This would be a personal library of shapes and images that users could add to the screenshot. Knowing the image was issue happen in Firefox or Chrome could add a lot of value to the screen shot.

December 30, 2015

Getting the Browser Version

Here's another awesome use of AppleScript within TextExpander.

In the past, whenever I create a detail bug report in Jira I would mention the browser that I tested with. So, what I used to do is open up the browser go to the About window and check the version. Then enter in the data in Jira.

The problem is that this is way too time consuming and not something worth doing with every bug report or ticket validation.

Things total changed with TextExpander. Now when I need to include the version of browser I am using, I simple type in chrome.version, safari.version or firefox.version. Having this set up, gives me the ability to add the browser version to every report.

Here's what my chrome.version snippet looks like in TextExpander:

tell application "Google Chrome"
set theVersion to "Chrome:" & version
end tell

Here's a screenshot of all three browser version snippets:

Browser Snippet

You can always modify the text to say "Google Chrome" or just "Chrome." Originally when I set this up I manually typed in the browser name, but I found I was typing the same thing over and over. That's why the name is part of the snippet.

The good thing about this is that I never have to worry about what version I am using, simply by typing in my abbreviation I am guaranteed to always get the latest installed version number. (I don't have to worry about if Chrome did a silent update when I last tracked the browser version.)

This is helpful when doing Google searches too. For example, if I want to know if there's any bugs in my version; I can type in firefox.version and "known bugs" to show me any reported bugs with the version I am using.

Bonus Snippet

What's really cool is that I can combine several of these snippets and get a good browser summary. This is useful for anyone asking what browser version I currently have on my computer. In addition, I can mention in my bug report what browsers I am testing with.

Multiple Browsers

If you use Jira, you can create another snippet so that the text outputs in a Jira table format.

By using today's TextExpander tip it's very easy to display your browser information any place you need it. The good thing too is that you don't need to open up the browser to see the version!

December 23, 2015

Displaying the Browser URL

The ability to run AppleScript from TextExpander is win win situation. Here's another cool snippet using AppleScript that I think you'll enjoy:

Let's say that I find a great article on Boston.com that mentions the company that I use to work at. I decide to share some of the content to a former co-worker. So, I cut and paste the relevant text from the browser and compose a new email message with that text. Now if I want to include the URL, I would have to go back to the browser and copy the URL and then paste it in the email.

With TextExpander and some very basic AppleScript I don't have to go back anymore! I created a snippet to get the URL of the browser. Since I have multiple browsers on my computer I have a couple of snippet setup.

TextExpander URL

Here's a sample code for Chrome, don't forget to set the Content to AppleScript:

tell application "Google Chrome"
 set theURL to URL of active tab of window 1
end tell

The abbreviation that I assigned the task is very easy to remember: chrome.url and safari.url

Now where ever I want to share the URL of the page I am looking at, I just need to remember what browser I used.

What about Firefox?

Apparently Firefox removed the ability to use AppleScript in the latest version due to some technical reasons.

You can read all about the latest Apple/Firefox drama in Bug 516502 "Re-add AppleScript support for getting the current URL" bug report.

December 9, 2015

JavaScript for OS X Automation in TextExpander

JavaScript for OS X Automation

This week's tip is a brief example of how to use JavaScript for OS X Automation in TextExpander. TextExpander started supporting JavaScript for OS X Automation or (JAX) in version 5.0.

JavaScript for OS X Automation is Apple ways of opening up key Applications to create tiny time-saving Applications. You don't need to be a programmer to appreciate the power of this new functionality in OS X Yosemite.

I'll show you how to set up a simple TextExpander Snippet to view a Jira ticket with whatever text is in the clipboard. This is a quick way to view a ticket if you don't have a link to click on.

Create the following JavaScript Snippet in TextExpander:

Browser = Application("Google Chrome");
window = Browser.windows[0];
window.name();
myclipboard = "https://company.atlassian.net/browse/" + "%clipboard";
tab = Browser.Tab({url:myclipboard});
window.tabs.push(tab);

Note: This particular snippet is using Google Chrome, you can change the browser type to 'Safari' or 'FireFox' if you would rather use those browser types.

Change the Atlassian URL to whatever the URL that your company is currently using for their Jira installation.

I assigned '.doit' as the abbreviation, so its unique and simple to remember.

Now when I get an inquiry about an issue via Slack, I just copy the issue number and type in the abbreviation. Google Chrome opens up a new tab and the Jira page is displayed.

This is a very simple implementation, but what's cool is that I can easily modify this to open up multiple tabs to do something else. For example, I can easily open up two tabs to handle the same query. So I could search for something in Jira in one tab and at the same time have another tab search Papertrail for the same clipboard data.

I am excited to see JAX implementation in TextExpander. I believe that there's a lot of opportunities to make me more productive.

November 27, 2015

Black Friday

AmazonFriday.jpg

Today is Black Friday. The day that most retailer hope to make or break there year. At least that what it use to be. That really isn't true any more. Today isn't the busiest shopping day of the year.

According to very useful Infographic on ShopperTrak, the busiest shopping day in 2014 was Super Saturday, which is the Saturday before Christmas. The second busy day was the Day after Christmas, while 'Black Friday' rounds out the top three. According to the report, 7 of the 10 busiest shopping days of 2014 fall in December.

No need to panic if you didn't find your deal today. There's always 'Cyber Monday' which isn't included in the latest ShopperTrak Infographic. It could be bigger numbers than some of the Saturdays in December.

CyberMonday also means unproductive Monday. Try not to schedule any important meeting around lunch time as most people might be using the time to check emails and their Twitter feed for deals. Hey if you did see one, make sure to spread the word!

I would recommend putting interesting things in your shopping cart in Amazon and check often to see if the prices go down over the next few days. I just used Evernote Web Clipper to get a snapshot of my cart. That way I know if I am really getting a good deal.

Another solution is to use Camel Camel Camel and it's Chrome Extension to track pricing trends on various products, such as game consoles, cameras and USB Flash Drives.

September 24, 2015

Google Alerts Thumbnail

I get a Google Alerts every day on different topics that I am interested in, such as '1080p Camera', 'Firefox', 'Chrome' and 'Huntington Ave Boston.' I have the Huntington Ave as an alert because it's the street where I work. I find it useful to know if there's anything interesting around my area.

In the past I learned about when Five Guys got their permit and when someone one famous was signing thier books at the Prudential Center Barnes and Noble.

Today I saw this piece of news with a thumbnail image that doesn't quite fit the story:

BostonGlobeStory

Check out the Google Alerts, and set up a daily notification of something interesting in your neck of the wood.

April 24, 2014

Portal icons

On any given day there are 5 core sites that I frequently visit for business. At any given time, I'll have three different browsers open. I switch between Chrome, Firefox and SeaMonkey.

To make going to my regualar sites super easy, I created a website portal page. On the top of the page are some graphics that have links to the various sites. I configure all my browsers settings so that it always opens to the portal page. Now I don't have to worry about setting up bookmarks, its very easy to add future sites that I may need to use.

PicMonkeyJiraTestlinkBrowserstackPapertrail

PicMonkey is one of the best online photo editing tools. The company was founded in April 2012 by two former Picnik engineers, Brian Terry and Justin Huff. PicMonkey has lots of really cool filters, frames and effects that will make any image stand out.

JIRA is the tracker for teams planning and building successful products. Thousands of teams choose JIRA to capture and organize issues, assign work, and follow team activity. At your desk or on the go with the new mobile interface, JIRA helps your team get the job done.

TestLink is a web-based test management system that facilitates software quality assurance. The platform offers support for test cases, test suites, test plans, test projects and user management, as well as various reports and statistics. This is a perfect solution for companies that can't afford HP Quality Center.

BrowserStack is a powerful platform for testing web sites against the most current and modern browsers. This is a great low cost solution when you need to test websites across multiple browsers and platforms.

Papertrail is a time-saving log tools, flexible system groups, team-wide access, long-term archives, charts and analytics exports, and alert monitoring. Great for when multiple members of an Engineering team needs to access server logs.

Feel free to take any of the above images and use them on your Internet or Intranet sites. If your looking for ideas for additional portal buttons or how to build a personal Intranet site, drop me a note.

April 10, 2014

Macintosh Spyware

Macintosh users should be aware of any file that from gophoto-it. This is a pretty bad hijacking software and will control Chrome, Safari and Firefox on your computer.

If you have been experiencing any strange behavior when your clicking on any websites, such as strange popups saying you should install an update utility software you may have a bad browser extension. You should see if you may have inadvertently installed the gophoto-it software.

Basically what 'GoPhoto.it' does is add an extra bit of code to every webpage you load in your browser and they can manipulate what you do. For example, you may want to go to product page on Amazon.com, but GoPhoto.it will send you to another page or product on Amazon.

Here's a sample of the code in the page: (Click for the full size version.)

Don't be fooled! You don't want to have this software on your computer. This is really bad spyware and should be removed. Here are the simple steps on removing the extension that get's installed:

In Firefox:


In the software installer is a credit.rtf file with the above contents. Satisfied now that this isn't legit software?
  1. Click Shift-Command-A to open Firefox Add-Ons.
  2. Click on the Extensions on the left side
  3. Look for anything that says, GoPhoto.it and then click Remove
  4. Restart Firefox

In Chrome:

  1. Under the Windows menu, select 'Extensions'
  2. Look for anything that says, GoPhoto.it and then click on the trash can
  3. Restart Chrome

In Safari:

  1. Under the Safari menu select Preferences
  2. Click on Extensions on the Top Bar
  3. Look for anything that says, GoPhoto.it and then click on the Uninstall button
  4. Restart Safari