A-Z Challenge blog postings

A-Z Challenge Postings

Earliest: April 1, 2016Latest: May 10, 2020Total: 131
May 10, 2020

A-Z Challenge - 2020 - Reflection

This year's participation with April's A-Z Blog Challenge wasn't a 100% success. I completely forgot about the challenge until a couple of days into the challenge.

I didn't really plan out the month that well.

I did manage to get most of the posts in April to conform to the rules of the challenge, but had I prepared in advanced I would have gotten better content.

Check out all the A-Z Posts since 2016.

April 2020 A-Z Challenge

Four Things I Would Do Differently

  1. Plan to Win - The COVID-19 certainly distracted from the whole A-Z Challenge and I checked out several blogs that participated in the contest and they didn't post their content on a regular schedule.
  2. Promote More - I had some great content and would have been better to promote it on various social media accounts.
  3. Research More - I had a hard time finding good topics for the M, and T letters.
  4. Do it Not Do - I have to think if it?s worth doing the challenge next year. I didn't generate much traffic and there wasn't much feedback on doing the challenge.
April 30, 2020

Zakim Bridge

Boston's Skyline changed when the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge open in 2002. The cable-stayed bridge provides a way for Route 93 traffic to get in and out of Boston crossing the Charles River.

The 16-Lane bridge is lit up usually in special colors to commemorate various charities.

The bridge is 1,430 feet long and 270 feet in height. There is no pedestrian walkway on the bridge. It is the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world.

Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge

Fun Facts about the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge

  • The Zakim Bridge was part of Boston's Big Dig. The old bridge was the Charlestown High Bridge.
  • Bridge is named after Leonard P. Zakim who was a Boston Civil Rights leader. The naming rights were disputed by locals in Charlestown as they felt the bridge should be named the "Freedom Bridge" - some locals still call it as that name.
  • Construction of the bridge lasted 5-years.
  • Official naming was done in a ceremony on October 2, 2002 - it was done before cars could use the bridge. (Bruce Springsteen was one of the celebrity guests)
  • Opening: The northbound lanes were open in March 30, 2003 and the southbound lanes were opened in December 2003.
  • Elephant: On October 15, 2002, Fourteen Elephants from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus walked across the bridge. It's estimated that they put 12,00 pounds of weight on the span.
  • Lighting Cost: It cost $5,000 a month to light the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge. (2009 Figures)
  • Stolen Beacon Light - In 2015 a homeless man, Clifford Beckford, had twice stolen the red beacon off the top of the Zakim bridge. This is no small feat as he had to break in the tower and take the beacon which is 18-inches in diameter and measures 3-feet tall.
  • Zayn Malik Bridge? - In 2015, Zayn Malik was the first band member to leave One Direction. Some fans wanted Boston to rename the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge to the Leonard P. Zayne Malik Bridge. They started a change.org petition to get people to support the change. Only 50-people supported the change.
April 29, 2020

Yankee Magazine

With all the uncertainty of the post COVID-19 world, one thing is certain - New Englanders won't be traveling outside of New England as much as they used to - at least not in the short run.

Chances whatever summer 2020 vacation plans you have - it's going to be local.

Think You Know New England?

Check out the Yankee Magazine's "Best of New England" Summer Travel guide. This is a good guide to the best of the best of New England.

Yankee Sail Away
https://reader.mediawiremobile.com/YankeeMagazine/issues/205981/viewer

In the changing times, Yankee Magazine is making the guide 100% free! No Paywall or signup needed! Simply click on the graphic to read the latest issue.

Things to Checkout

Here are some of the features:

  • 25 Inspired Ways to See New England from the Water
  • The Hall of Fame collection of the "Best of New England"
  • Check out Designer Mally Skok's Colorful Massachusetts Home.
  • Lots of great ads for local business around New England - its like browsing around a gift shop in Salem or Cape Cod.
April 28, 2020

xCode Training

This week I am dedicating time into learning all about iOS 13 & Swift 5 using Xcode. Currently, I am using the Storyboard Interface and at some point in the training it will move to the new SwiftUI interface.

Udemy Training

I am taking the iOS 13 & Swift 5 training on Udemy. Dr. Angela Yu does a great job of explaining how to use XCode and her teaching styles help you learn a lot in a short time.

The course is good because there's a lot of workshops and real-life examples where you can play around and learn a bit more.

There are 58.5 hours of videos with 573 lectures - I think it may take a bit longer than a week to go through it.

Training Goals

I don't have any specific goals with this training. I just want to learn about the capabilities of creating apps on the iPhone. I am taking a lot of notes and enjoying learning all the challenges creating an App on the iPhone.

Code Snippets

When I find a really useful code, I am storing them in Google Sheets and tagging them as Swift. This will make it easy to find code snippets in the future.

A to Z Blog Challenge Note

The letter "X" is a really hard blog topic to find. Honestly, there are not that many words that start with an X. Let alone words in the Productivity category.

April 27, 2020

Why QA

Having a dedicated QA team is about as essential as having an editor for a newspaper or book publisher. QA will find things that developers will miss.

In these "trouble times" some companies may look to cut QA resources to save some money.

Joe- Binden- Likes- Q A
Joe Biden Parody

Four Reasons to Keep QA

  1. Second Set of Eyes on the changes - A QA Engineer can spot check the changes before it goes live, from checking to make sure that there's no risk to database locks to double-checking the critical path is working fine. QA can mitigate the impact of product changes.
  2. Domain Experience - A good QA team knows the product and can test changes based on how different customers may use the product. There might be different ways customers can interact with the feature and the best team to test it would be QA. In addition, during the off-time, QA should be doing research on industry changes and can use that knowledge to help better test product changes.
  3. Documentation Overview - Hard to believe but in QA, It's not always about bugs. QA can review help and tips to see if the terminology makes sense. Documentation may make sense in the design phase, but when going through a flow, QA can catch some ways it breaks the flow.
  4. Different Environment testing - QA can test the feature against different environments - such as different browsers or platforms. In addition, QA may want to test features against different locations to see if language or currency changes may break design or functionality.

A good manual QA team is just part of the winning team to delivering an awesome product.

I remember hearing at the Boston's Software Test Professionals Conference - "QA Testing is the little known Secret Ingredient to Start Ups."

April 25, 2020

visme.co

There a lot of websites that are provide online desktop publishing made easy. Visme.co is another company to check out.

They offer Presentations, Infographics, Documents, Printable, Web Graphics, Social Graphics, and more. Perfect for anyone with a Blog that is looking to add content and promote it.

Many of the designs are free, but if you want more power you can sign up for the Individual standard plan for $14/month billed annually.

Website Description

Visme is an all-in-one content creation tool empowering individuals and organizations to quickly create and share beautiful content they can be proud of in the form of engaging presentations, infographics, documents, videos, and graphics ? with little to no design skills.

Made for non-designers but still powerful enough for graphic designers, Visme combines simplicity, flexibility, and interactive features within a single platform, giving users everything they need within an easy-to-use online interface.

Visme
https://my.visme.co/

One of the things I like about Visme.co is that you can use animation in your graphics, and they have a large collection.

April 24, 2020

Unarchiver

If you have any ZIP, Tar or Stuffit archives in your collection. The best application to uncompress these is the Unarchiver by MacPaw Inc.

Product Description

The Unarchiver is the only app you need to open RAR on Mac. It?s times more powerful than the native macOS utility and supports infinitely more archive formats.

The Unarchiver aims to be the only unarchiving program you will ever need and to stay out of your way.

Four Great Reasons to Use Unarchiver

  1. Its there when you need it. You don't need to remember the name or where the application is. Simply double click on an archive collection, and Unarchiver goes to work. Install it once and let it work it's magic
  2. It works fast. In my test the application works way faster than Archive Utility (Apple's unarchive application.)
  3. Supports a lot of different Archive formats, Zip, Rar, 7-Zip, Lha, Zipx, Stuffit, Binhex, MacBinary, AppleSingle, GZip, GZip Tar, Bzip2, X2, Tar, ISO, CDI, NRG, MDF, GNU Tar, Unix Compress, Unix Tar and so much more..
  4. It's free and is updated frequently.

Useful Tip

In the Application Preferences Extraction, set the "Extract archives to:" to the Desktop. That way when you extract content from flash drives and CDs you don't get prompt that there isn't enough disk space or the space is write-protected. It's a simple step now that will save you trouble later.

April 23, 2020

Ted William Red Chair

One of the landmarks within Fenway Park is the lone red seat in the bleachers. The seat really stands out from all the green seats.

This seat marks the spot where on June 9, 1946, Ted Williams hit the longest home run in Fenway Park.

Ted Williams Red Chair
Ted William's Famous Chair at Fenway Park

Fun Facts about the Seat

Ted Williams hit the ball in the first inning of a double header against Fred Hutchinson of the Detroit Tigers.

The red seat is 502-feet from Homeplate. (When the event happened local newspapers reported it as 450-feet but was remeasured for the correct distance.)

Joseph A. Boucher was sitting in the 33rd row of the Bleachers with his straw hat. The ball hit his head and made a mark in his hat.

Officially the seat is located at Sec. 42, Row 37, Seat 21. In 1945 the seat was actually a bench.

He didn't get the ball as it bounced several rows behind him.

According to interviews after the event Joseph said that no one was standing up because the sun was blinding their sight.

Joseph A. Boucher donated the straw hat to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (I wasn't able to find any information that it is still there.)

Over the years, the bench was replaced by seats and in 1984 the Red Sox owners changed the seat to red to commemorate Ted Williams hit.

April 22, 2020

Sturbridge Village

About 56 miles west of Boston is Old Sturbridge Village, a re-creation of a typical New England village of the early 1800s. Old Sturbridge Village is a way to look back on how life was in New England between the years 1790 and 1840.

The largest outdoor history museum in the Northeast - a great place for the whole family to learn about history.

Sturbridge Village

Fun Facts About Old Sturbridge Village

Open to guests on June 8, 1946.

The whole concept was created by Albert B. Wells. He didn't see It open as he had a heart attack and moved to California.

Today there are 40 antique buildings spread out over 200 acres. Among the buildings are homes, shops, a meeting house and schoolhouse.

The graveyard is not a real one, but the gravestones were real. They are old gravestones from other cemeteries that are donated to Old Sturbridge Village. Many of these gravestones were being replaced at the original location. In some instances, the bodies that were buried at the original gravesite were missing.

The Vermont Covered Bridge is a great place to take pictures in the fall. This is one of 12 covered bridges that are still in use in Massachusetts.

Near the Freeman Farmhouse are some apple trees, another great family pictures spot. This is great any time of the year.

You can buy iron goods made at the Blacksmith in the general store. Supplies are limited. All nails that are used in the Village come from the Blacksmith. When you visit the Blacksmith shop, you can ask for some old nails - if they have enough stock they may give you one!

Sunday Brunch at the Village is a great place to stop by for Brunch. We have enjoyed going here for a nice quiet classic New England meal. The food is great and if it's a nice day, going through the Village afterward is a fun way to spend the day with family.

April 21, 2020

Red Hot Timer

Having a timer is one way to keep the focus on what needs to be done. It's a way to stay on track and get things done.

You can buy a timer to put at your desk so that you can see how much time is left. The good thing is that the timer isn't using any computer resources. In addition, it's good if you want to track time away from the computer.

On the iPhone, Apple's Clock has a good timer. Otherwise, any good 50 Minute Visual Timer would be good to have next to your home desk.

Red Hot Timer

On the Mac, the Red Hot Timer app is a fast and easy way to set up a timer. You can set the timer from the system menu bar and it will show you the most active time.

Red Hot Timer Blog
Screenshots of the Red Hot Timer App

Five Things I like About the Timer

  • In the preferences panel you can set up a predefined time for whatever purposes, and that will appear in the drop-down menu in the menu bar. So you can set up how long it takes to do a computer build, and set the timer and then check it when the time expires.
  • You can run multiple timers. The timer that is about to expire first is the one that appears in the menu bar.
  • There is a count down and a count-up mode. The count up is useful when you're tracking the amount of time before the release.
  • You get 6 timers for "free" to try the application, in the purchase panel there's an offer to try it for a month. If you find it useful you can buy a yearly subscription for $2.99.
  • There are several options on what happens when the timer ends. If the computer is on mute, the Timer application will become the front most active application.