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Earliest: Latest: April 1, 2018Total: 49

April 1, 2018

A-Z Challenge - 2018

It's April, and that means that it's time for this years A-Z Challenge.

This is the third year that I have participated in the challenge. Check out all the past A-Z posts on a special page that I have set up.

What is the A-Z Blogging Challenge

The A-Z Blogging Challenge is to have bloggers post something related to the letter of the day. Most bloggers don't post every day so this can hard to balance life and quality blog posts.

In addition, it can be tricky to come up with topics for certain letters - q, x, y, and z.

Topics This Year

Here is the weekly topic schedule:

Monday QA MondayPractical Tips/Information with Quality Assurance Testing.
Tuesday EvernoteTips and Tricks with the popular Evernote productivity tool
Wednesday ArubaWe'll be vacationing in Aruba soon, thought it would be good to learn about the country before our trip.
Thursday BostonLearn some detail information about sites in Boston, Massachusetts.
Friday MacintoshVarious tips and tricks that I have learned related to Macintosh Hardware or Software.
Saturday Internet ToolsProfile of some useful Internet tools to make your job easier.
Weekends Anything GoesOpen topic! I usually find something interesting to post.

My Personal Challenge

Here's what I am committed to delivering this month:

  • Orginal Content - Most of the content is already exclusive to this site. I will continue to seek to have orginal content and also focus on finding challenging topics that people have written about.
  • On Time Delivery - All post should be live by 3pm EST.
  • Creative Graphics - Come up with some cool graphics that engages people into the topic.

I already have much of the month content mapped out - something different that I haven't done in the past.

Getting Topic Ideas by Letters

Some of the resources where I got topic ideas:

  • Boston Public Library - great books on whats going on in Boston.
  • Tumblr Search - Easy to search for topics.
  • Twitter Posts - people asking questions
  • Google Autocomplete - Type in a topic in the search bar and a letter to find interesting ideas.
  • Personal Collection - lots of ideas that I gathered over the year.

July 9, 2017

Geographic Center of the Nation

In 1996, I drove across the country from Concord, Massachusetts to San Jose, California. I accepted a new job and needed to relocate. So I packed the car and headed west.

Before heading on my journey, I did some research about unique places to visit. Driving across the country isn't something that people do all the time, and I figured that I should educate places on my journey.

In my research, I discovered that I was going to be within a few miles of the Geographic Center of the United States of America. I thought it would be neat to discover that place and added it to my list of places to go and see.

Logging My Journey

Center Nationi Mac

It turns out that where I thought the Geographic Center of the Nation was located was abandoned. It wasn't anywhere near the experience

In October 1996, I put together a website of my journey. The page was never completed, and I took down the link many years ago. I recently found the pages on some CDs and thought it would be neat to put the site up again.

I fixed up some of the HTML and combine the pages into a single page. I think I had multiple pages back in 1996 because of bandwidth issues of loading a lot of graphics. FYI: The pages were done using Adobe PageMill 2.0 on my Quadra 66AV.

Silly Graphics I created to navigate users through my journey.

Where is the Geographic Center of the United States?

The location that I found might not have been the real Geographic Center of the United States that I thought it was. Turns out that there is an American flag someplace along Old Highway 85.

From a description by wharfrat3 on Road

We didn't go here, instead, we went to the real center of the country. Go north out of Belle Fourche about 15 miles on US 85. Turn left onto Old Hwy 85 and go about 7.5-8 miles.

On the right, in a file, you'll see an American flag. And 2 USGS markers, one from 1959, the other from 1962, marking the spot. If you're traveling on US 85, it's a nice detour.

May 6, 2017

A to Z Reflections (2017)

This years A-Z Challenge was a lot easier because I planned my post well in advance. Many posts were ready to go live a few days before the scheduled date.

The A-Z Challenge is the tough challenge because I have a different topic every day. Many sites simply stick to a single topic and post something unique every day.

Some sites I visited this year

Lessons learned this year

  • Plan ahead
  • Always think of creative topics around the letter of the day
  • There are plenty of good books in the library with helpful ideas
  • Don't be afraid to go out for a walk. You may discover something interesting. (That's how I found the Kristen Business Branch topic)
  • Challenge yourself! Don't go for the easy topics.
  • Learn something new with every post.

Stuck figuring out a topic?

One of the things that help was Google's auto-complete functionality. Simply type your topic in the search and the autocomplete will give you some ideas!

For example, if I was looking for a 'q' word for Boston I would type in:

Boton Q

Full Listening

You can see all the A-Z Challenge posts on a special page that I created.

See You Next Year!

I had a lot of fun with the A-Z Challenge this year. I am looking forward to next year. I'll also check around to see if there are any other Blog Challenges.

December 25, 2016

January 2017 Blog Schedule

Merry Christmas 2016!

There will be a slight change up to the Blogging schedule in January. Here?s my proposed January 2017 line up:

MondayDisneyTips and tricks about various rides and attractions around Walt Disney World
TuesdayGoogle Chrome TipsSome practical tips and tricks with the Chrome browser.
WednesdayAffinity TemplatesCreative design ideas for Affinity Designer or Affinity Photo.
ThursdayBostonBoston is a historical city, learn some background information on unique sites to visit.
FridayMacintoshVarious tips and tricks that I have learned about using the Macintosh. Every once in a while I'll profile some productive software or hardware that is very cool.
SaturdayGluten FreePersonal experiences of eating gluten free with a 5-year-old in New England.
SundayAnything GoesOpen topic! I usually find something interesting to post which, I believe, my audience would enjoy.

Framingham on Hiatus

I have decided to retire the Framingham content for a bit as I would like to do some additional research before posting any content. I would expect that regular Framingham posting to resume sometime in February.

April 12, 2016

100th Day of Blogging

Today marks the 100th day of Blogging in 2016!

It's hard to believe with a very busy schedule that I have, that I still found time to blog everyday. Which, lof course, leads to this quote:

Blogging Now2
"Someone Busier Than You, Is Blogging Right Now"

The fun continues! There's still lots of cool things to talk about. The Disney section is generating lots of traffic and lots of readers are learning about Boston.

Hope you are enjoying the new upcoming content.

April 9, 2016

Homepage - 18 years later!

On April 9, 1998, I purchase this domain: I would have never guessed that I would still own the domain name 18 years later.

At lot has changed on the internet during that time. When I started, sites like AltaVista and Excite were the most popular search engines. Nobody did any search optimization to get on the front page.

A special thanks to Hurricane Electric, my exclusive hosting provider during the past 18 years. They have done a great job making sure the site has always was accessible. I don't think they are accepting any new hosting accounts, but I certainly do recommend them.

Looking Ahead

This year has been a busy blogging year, I am approaching 100 days of non-stop blogging. I have noticed a slight pickup in Traffic during this time too.

I was going to go all fancy and look for some cool birthday widgets from fiverr or creatativemarket, but I have been really busy focusing on content during the A-Z blogging challenge.

Remembering the Past

Here are a couple of screen shots of what the homepage looked like back in 1997 and 2013, I'll look for more screen shots and share them when I find them.

Website 1996a
This is what the site looked like in 1996.

cryan 2000
The is the homepage back in 2013.

March 26, 2016

Getting Ready for the A-Z Challenge

The A-Z Blogging Challenge is just about to begin. If your not aware of the challenge, here's the scoop: Can you post every day except Sundays during April? And to up the bar, can you blog thematically from A to Z?


A-Z Content Challenge Topic

Last Wednesday was the "Name the Theme" day. It was an opportunity to publicly announce the blog theme during the challenged. I missed the deadline, so here's my theme for April 2016:

There is no theme change.

Yes, the current daily blogging content will still go on. I'll continue to blog about the different topics each day but the twist will be that the daily blog content will be around the letter of the day. It's a bit of an extra challenge on my part to come up with something creative.

Now with Comments!

Part of the requirements of the A-Z Challenge is to have comments enable on participating blogs. Late last week, I finally implement the comment functionality to my blogs. I am officially in compliance with the A-Z challenge rules!

New Audio Clip

For those that don't care about the challenge, here's today's added value:

Here is another sound bite from my audio collection. This weekends audio clip is part of John Edwards speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston:

March 12, 2016

SoundCloud Audio

Audio Tapes Collection

Over the next few weeks I plan on adding some audio to this blog. I think this will be a cool feature to add because I have a fairly large audio collection.

For many years, when I wanted to add streaming audio I would add it to my Real Audio page using Real Audio format by RealNetworks. The Real Audio format has seemed to die, so I decided to seek an alternative solution. Looks like SoundCloud is the best choice for hosting audio files.

The problem that I found with SoundCloud is understanding their subscription plan. What exact do you get for the Free plan? Is the Pro plan worth it?

Turns out that SoundCloud measures storage by time. Whereas other cloud services, like Dropbox, measures usage by disk space size. A measurement that most people might be familiar with.

So in the free plan, called "Partner", you are allowed to add up to 3 hours of audio files. This is the total amount that your allowed to have. So once you reach that limit you can't upload any more audio. You would need to remove audio files to make room for new audio files. This isn't a total amount to upload per day, it's the total time amount that you're allowed to upload.

Not enough time? You can double the upload time to 6 hours with the Pro Plan and get some extensive stats information for $7 a month. If you're really big into audio you can go unlimited with the 'Pro Unlimited' plan for only $15 a month. Honestly, if you're doing a lot of podcasting, your best bet would be the 'Pro Unlimited' plan.

As of now, I'll be sticking with the Partner plan, I don't plan on uploading more than a couple of hours of audio.

Steve Jobs - Challenging Times

This is an audio clip of Steve Jobs at MacWorld, 2003 or 2002, talking about the challenging times that is facing the computer industry. This is a poor quality audio as I was recording on my computer from a live stream. The picture of Steve Jobs with the audio clip is from my collection, I took it at the Palo Alto Apple store grand opening.

March 5, 2016

Fortune Cookie

Over the years I have collected fortune cookies slips with the intent to display a random fortune on the website. When the site was redesigned I removed that feature and stopped entering data into my fortune cookie database. The feature was removed from the homepage because it didn't really add any value.

I was doing some desk cleaning this morning and I found a whole bunch of fortune cookies slips. I decided that it was time to add them to the online database, and throw away the slips. After adding about 50 of them, I decided to create a landing page for the fortune cookie collection. You can find the 305 fortune cookie collection at

While inserting the fortune cookies, I actually came across a duplicate fortune:

Double Fortune

I don't know if that a good sign or a bad sign. Certainly a good lesson to learn for any small business.

I also encounter the following Fortune Cookie saying that got cut off:

Habits Fortune Cookie
"If you develop the habits of success, you will make success a..."

I wasn't able to find the full saying anyplace online. I am guessing, based on my Fortunism experience, it would go: "If you develop the habits of success, you will make success a habits."

February 27, 2016

Badge Generator

A painting might be worth thousands of words, but a browser screen shot may not show critical information that would help people understand the screenshot better.

When I encounter a bug, I'll usually take a screenshot and attach it to a Jira ticket. In the past, I would get asked to provide browser and environment information. A while ago I decided to make things easier for everyone and add more information to the screen shot.

Browser Badges

I came up with six badge-type images to use as an overlay on any screenshot. This will help to engineer with some additional information that may help them understand the issue. I am sharing these so other QA engineering teams can make use of them.

The browser badges are like flags that you put on the top of the screen shot. All the transparent image size is 150x150 pixels, a perfect size for most screenshots.

Here's an example situation:

Firefox Site Demo

I apply the badges using Pixelmator or AutoDesk Graphic. For me it's very easy to do and very routine.

Visit the QA page to grab the images that you want. Better yet - bookmark the page so that you'll always have the latest version of the images.