March 24, 2017

Biff App

Biff Logo

I became interested in the Biff app when I saw it included in a couple of Macintosh Mega App deals. I wanted to find out more about the application.

Here's a description of what Biff is from their website:

Biff is a Vector Graphics application. It makes creating graphics for your Website, Poster, or anything else really easy. Biff helps you create Amazing Logos, App Icons (Biff comes with the Templates you need.) with simplicity, without sacrificing powerful features like full path editing and boolean operations.

The developers of Biff are huge Back to the Future fans and the App name is in reference to a character in the movie. There are several references to the movie throughout the App.

Initial Impression

This is a good app to learn some of the fundamentals of Vector Graphics.

It lacks a lot of features that you can find in other vector base applications. While it talks about creating "Amazing Logos," other Applications give you a lot more power.

The application is expensive and sell for $59.99 on the App Store. However it is currently on sale for $39.99 on their website.

Some missing features

True EPS import - You can open up EPS files in biff, but you loose the vector aspects. Basically, you get a rendered EPS file. So if you purchase something online from DepositPhoto you can't modify vector components.

Limited Tools - When you click on the circle or rectangle shape it automatically creates one for you. You don't get to define the size of the shape on creations. The rectangle tool appears on the bottom right corner, and it took me a while to figure out that when I clicked on the rectangle icon a shape was appearing in my image. In addition, there is no pen tool, which is essential for any vector application. There is a free shape tool, which seems to only draw a line.

Training - There is some tutorials on the start up screen: Decorations, Intersecting Shapes, and Text with Image Fill. Other vector base apps have more detail information about the various tools.

WYSIWYG Font - There's no WYSIWYG font option, Biff just uses the system font picker when you need to change the font of a text.

Application Features

biffstartupscreen

There is a Library pallet with 18 Objects that you can use as a starting point. You can also build the library with your own Biff Objects. This is useful if you plan on reusing certain buttons or shapes.

There is a Style pallet with 14 styles to spice up any selected object. It's a good way to see the power of the application and makes it easy to see the object in different designs.

Lots of Shapes! Everything from standard circle and polygon to trees, people, and even an iPhone. A total of 53 shapes.

Skew Dialog box - In the transformation tool is the skew dialog box which gives you the ability to preview the skew shape that you wish to perform. This is better than most of the skew functionality that is in other apps, where you have to play around with the tool to figure it out how it works.

The Boolean Operations box in the Objects area is a neat way to learn the way multiple shapes transform when you use the different operations.

Cool Feature

The Repeat/Title Tool is better than what's in Affinity Designer. You can set the repeat amount and offset and see your object get transformed.

Repeat Title

Bug: When I clicked on the Repeat/Tile the print dialog appears. Very strange!

Final Thoughts

Hard to recommend Biff when there are a lot of other good options out there. I would certainly suggest looking into Affinity Designer, ArtBoard, and Autodesk Paint as good alternative applications. In the long run, you'll learn some core fundamentals of vector programming.

I highly encourage you to download the Biff app from their site and use the 30-day trial.

Cross Application Note: When I copied an object from Biff and pasted it into Affinity Designer the object shows up as image and not as a shape or curve.

March 23, 2017

Boston Spring

Spring has officially arrived and pretty soon things will get busy in the City of Boston. Here are some notable openings that pretty much guarantee that the warmer weather is here to stay for a while.

February 25, 2017 Sullivan's at Castle Island
March 22, 2017 Duck Boat Tours
March 25, 2017 Greenway Carousel at The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Grove
April 3, 2017 Red Sox Opening Day
April 17, 2017 Boston Marathon
April 30, 2017 Christian Science Center Reflection Pool

Visual Graphic

Boston Spring
Download a higher resolution chart

Missing Anything?

Is there anything that I am missing that you think that should be mention here? Let me know in the comments.

March 22, 2017

Grep

Grep is a great powerful tool that print lines matching certain patterns.

Some example Regular Expressions using Grep:

Remove BOTs from the website access.log file:

grep -Ev '|spider|slurp|yandex|bingbot|majestic12' access.log > access2.log

Show only City/Towns in Massachusetts that have at least 19 charaters

grep -x '.{10}' MassachusettsCityTowns.txt

Highlight the Search Results

export GREP_OPTIONS='--color=auto' GREP_COLOR='100;8'
grep '.{10}' MassachusettsCityTowns.txt

Using Grep in Bash Script

This is a script that I wrote a long time ago, that I used to check to see how many times a certain error would appear in a log file.

grepcode

#!/bin/bash
itoday=$(date +"%d/%b/%Y")
todayerrors=$(cat grep $itoday /server/debug.log | grep $itoday | grep "Exception" | wc -l)
echo "# ------------------------------------------------------------"
echo "# Number of Errors Found on $itoday : $todayerrors"
echo "# ------------------------------------------------------------"
echo "# Raw data"
grep -C 10 "Exception" /mnt/$i/server/debug.log

This script will count out the total number of errors that were generated today. Then display the RAW lines. This is useful to have handy to see if a particular error is occurring quite often.

Quick RegEx Table

This is a quick regular expression table that I found many years ago. It's quick reminder of some of the common grep commands:

#######################################################
# RegExpression Table
#######################################################
Reg-expr   | Description
-----------+---------------------------------------------------
.          | Matches any character except newline
[a-z0-9]   | Matches any single character of the set
[^a-z0-9]  | Matches any single character not in set
d         | Matches a digit,                   i.e., [0-9]
w         | Matches a alpha-numeric character, i.e., [a-zA-Z0-9_]
W         | Matches a non-word character,      i.e., [^a-zA-Z0-9_]
metachar  | Matches the character itself,      i.e., |, *, +
x?         | Matches 0 or 1 x's, where x is any of the above
x*         | Matches 0 or more x's
x+         | Matches 1 or more x's
x{m,n}     | Matches at least m x's but no more than n
foo|bar    | Matches one of foo or bar
(x)        | Brackets a regular expression (this is a bit of a lie :-)
b         | Matches a word boundary

March 21, 2017

L.A. Burdick Pastry

If your looking for some awesome Hot Chocolate in Bostons Backbay, the best place to go is L.A. Burdick. You can find all sorts of yummy treats to enjoy on a cold day.

Nothing goes better with L.A. Burdick Hot Chocolate than their famous pastry.

Gluten Free Pastry

In the L.A. Burdick store are several Gluten Free Pastry options, including:

  • Luxembourger - hand-piped meringues layered with all-natural buttercream, ganache, and fruit jam.
  • The Burdick - Layers of Japonaise (Almond meringue cookie) and dark chocolate ganache with a hint of rum.
  • Hazelnut-Orange Cake - A moist, flourless cake with hazelnut and citrus flavors, enrobed with a generous layer of hazelnut gianduja chocolate, topped with candied orange peel.

Burdick Pastry

L.A. Burdick location

You can find L.A. Burdick at 220 Clarendon Street in Bostons Back Bay. They are located about a block from Copley Square. The front of the building has a distinct brown awning with Chocolate on the fold.

You can enjoy your afternoon treat in the store, or if its not too cold out, it's a short walk to Copley Square.

La Burdick Boston

March 20, 2017

KidCot at Epcot

One of the ways that Disney makes Epcot World Showcase fun for kids is Kidcot.

Kitcot allows children to track each country that they go to by getting a stamp at each country in the World showcase. In some of the countries, the cast member may draw a picture on the back of the paper.

Kid Cot Sign
Sign at the Kidcot at the American Adventure

Tips and Tricks about Kidcot

  • You can start Kidcot in any country, simply look for the Kidcot sign and let them know that you wish to start the Kidcot program.
  • If your planning to get every country, your better off starting at Mexico or Canada - it will minimize the walking that you have to do,
  • Many of the countries have the Kidcot in a store in the country, typically in the back so that people can explore the country before getting a stamp.
  • If you are unsure of where the Kidcot is, simply ask a cast member or another family that is also doing the Kidcot program.

The best part of Kidcot is that you have a very personalized souvenir of your Epcot trip.

This is what the backside of the KidCot sheet looks like:

Kid Cot Paper White

Bonus Fun

When we were doing Kidcot, I had my daughter ask how to say 'Thank You' in that country language. It was a great way to educate her on the different languages each country had. In England and Canada, the cast member talked about local traditions that they would do.

March 19, 2017

Irish Music Playlist

This past week I was put in charge of background music for a Saint Patrick's Day dinner and dance.

I was surprised on how difficult it was to come up with a good selection of Irish music. After some searching through Itunes and Amazon, I came up with the following playlist:

Days of Elijah Robin Mark Revival in Belfast
Ireland's Call Celtic Thunder The Very Best of Celtic Thunder
Galway Bay (Single) Bing Crosby Top O' The Morning / His Irish Collection
The Irish Rover The Irish Rovers The Best of the Irish Rovers (Remastered)
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling Bing Crosby Top O' the Morning: His Irish Collection
Orinoco Flow Celtic Woman Celtic Woman
Whiskey In the Jar The Dubliners The Best of the Dubliners
Molly Malone (feat. Ronnie Drew) The Dubliners 50 Years
A Nation Once Again The Wolfe Tones The Wolfe Tones: The Greatest Hits
The Galway Girl Celtic Thunder The Very Best of Celtic Thunder
Whiskey In the Jar The Dubliners The Best of the Dubliners
The Irish Rover The Irish Rovers The Best of the Irish Rovers (Remastered)
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling Bing Crosby Top O' the Morning: His Irish Collection
Riverdance Celtic Roots Riverdance & Lord of the Dance

Total playlist time is one hour, which is perfect for my needs. This playlist has a nice blend of classic and POP songs.

Last Year I put together some other playlists for different events:

March 18, 2017

Concord Police Reverse 911

This audio clip is from 2003. It demonstrates how the Concord police stays ahead of criminal activity.

Listen to what the residents of Concord, Massachusetts heard in early September 2003:

There was no follow up in the local newspaper on if the people were caught.

March 17, 2017

Irish Icons from Xicons.com

A few years ago, the folks at Xicons.com created some really cool icons. They ran frequent contests for people to submit their icons and people would vote for their favorite.

The site isn't the same anymore, it's now part of InterfaceLift and it appears that the main focus of their business is with Desktop Wallpapers. They still have an active icon area, but it doesn't seem to be as vibrant as it once was.

Back in 2002/2003, I grab a bunch of their icons. Seems appropriate to share some of the Irish theme ones.

IrishCollection.jpg
Click on image to download the IrishIcons zip file.

Irish Icons

In this collection by Dustin J. Craig contain these icons inspired by Lucky Charms:

Clovers, Diamonds, Hearts, Horse Shoes, Lucky Charms, Lucky You., Moons, Neon Clover, Pot of Gold, Rainbows, Red Balloons, Stars

Lucky Charms

These icons by ceruleanjen contain all the marshmallow shapes in the Lucky Charms cereal:

Clover, Heart, Moon, Shamrock, Spade, Star

As noted in the Read Me file: A few icons to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and make your Mac feel a bit Irish.

OS X Flag Icons

This icon collection contains 194 national flags and 7 Organizations, including Ireland.

AFRICAN NATIONS:
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Congo (Zaire), Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethipoia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

AMERICAN NATIONS:
Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & The Grenadines, Surinam, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela

ASIAN NATIONS:
Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen

EUROPEAN NATIONS:
Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Belorussia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vatican City

OCEANIAN NATIONS:
Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

ORGANISATIONS:
European Union, IOC, NATO, Red Crescent, Red Crescent & Red Cross, Red Cross, United Nations

March 16, 2017

Charles F. Hurley

Charles Hurley

Charles F. Hurley was the 54th Governor of Massachusetts and is the first Irish Governor of Massachusetts. He only served one term from January 7, 1937, to January 5, 1939. He represented the Democratic Party.

Since tomorrow is Saint Patrick's Day, I thought it would be interesting to learn more about Massachusetts first Irish Governor.

Things I learned about Charles F. Hurley:

  • Graduated from Boston College in 1913
  • Was the Massachusetts State Treasure for three terms and was the first to step up from that position to governorship.
  • He won 47.62% of the votes in the Massachusetts Governor Race in 1936.
  • Under Gov. Charles F. Hurley the state budget was $70,117,030
  • Has three Daughters Nancy, Ellen Sarah, Betty and a son Charles F. Jr.
  • As Governor he received a kidnap threat against his daughters.
  • Two days later Edmund E. Farrell was arrested for sending the letters. He admitted to sending the letter.
  • Was one of the few Democratic Governors to have concerns about the "New Deal" by President Franklin Roosevelt
  • He authorized a minimum wage for women and children
  • The Fair Trade Laws were passed - which allowed manufactures to set the minimum retail price on goods.
  • He was that the dedication of the Paul Revere statue in the North End.
  • Inherited a forty-acres estate in Ireland by his Uncle Timothy.
  • Lost at a chance for a second term to former Governor James Michael Curley in the gubernatorial nomination.
  • He died on March 24, 1946

Charles F. Hurley Building

Obviously was named after the former Governor. It is the only monument/building to honor the former governor.

  • Designed by Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson, and Abbott.
  • Constructed by the Vappi Construction Company
  • Building also known as the "Health, Welfare and Education Service Center for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"
  • Opened in 1971
  • The front of the building was used in the movie 'The Departed' as the entrance to the Police Station.

Charles F. Hurley Painting

Charles Hurley Pano
The painting in the hallway of the Massachusetts State House.

You can see the painting of Charles F. Hurley, and other Massachusetts governors at the Massachusetts State House. Charles F. Hurley painting is on the third floor between the Secretary of State office and the State Library. You have to go up the stairs and all the way in the back of the building.

I learned that the sitting Massachusetts Governor can put any hallway painting in the Executive Office. They decorate the office with paintings of past Governors that they admire.

March 15, 2017

Directory Cleanup via Bash Script

I Mac Terminal

This is a simple BASH script that I used to sort a folder that has a lot of images. I wanted to put photos in a folder based on the date it was created.

This script will work in any environment, but I wrote this specifically to handle a large set of photos in a folder on my Macintosh.

#!/bin/bash
for f in *; do
dir=$(stat -f%SB -t%Y-%m-%d "$f")
echo $f '->' $dir
[ -d "$dir" ] || mkdir "$dir"
mv "$f" "$dir"/
done

What this Script Does

When you execute this script in any directory, it will use the UNIX stat command to check on the time stamp on the file. It will then move the file to a folder with the same. If the directory doesn't exist then one will be created.

Script Execution

Create a file with the above content. I call my file sort.sh. Move the file to any directory that you want to clean up. To execute, simply type in:

./sort.sh

In a few minutes you'll see the contents of the folder be replace with a bunch of date folders. (Yes even the sort.sh file will get moved to a folder.)

March 14, 2017

Wegmans Shopping

Looking for the best supermarket that offers the most Gluten Free products? Your best choice is Wegmans. They have the best selection of refrigerative and general grocery items than any other major food chain in New England.

In particular, we have found that the Wegmans store in Westborough has the best selection. Every time we go we find something new! Then have plenty of Van's Gluten Free French Toast, which is impossible to find at Stop and Shop. There's a great selection of gluten free bread and breakfast goodies.

Wegmans Gluten Free

Asian Bar Gluten Free Options

There are plenty of good Gluten Free options at the Asian Bar. My daughter likes the salad and some of the gluten free foods. She has never complained about the food offerings and doesn't always finishes her meal.

She likes that the store has a kids seating area with a TV that is tuned to Nickelodeon.

Store Location

The Northborough Wegman's is location at 9102 Shops Way, Northborough, MA.

We find the best time to visit is just after dinner hour on Saturday and Sundays. We would grab a bite to eat at the Asian Bar. Then we do our weekly shopping.

March 13, 2017

Laundry at POP Century

It tough to do laundry on vacation. Nobody wants to do it. More often than not it's done out of need.

Tips on Doing Laundry at a Disney Resort

First buy and pack up a large laundry bag. It takes up almost no space and weight in your luggage. I personally liked this one that I purchased on Amazon a week before the trip:

Laundry Bag

Pack up laundry supplies - At least pack up Dryer Sheets. They take up zero space. You'll save $2. Pack up some detergent and not only will you save more money but you'll have better quality detergent than what's in the vending machine.

You'll be happy to have the better quality laundry supply when you need to get that BBQ stain off the shirt.

Also the vending machines are a mix bet. I ended up having to "buy" two boxes of dryer sheets because the machine didn't take my first transaction correctly. (There's no 'refund' request for the vending machine only for the washer and dryer)

Laundry Time

When you need to do laundry throw all the dirty clothes in your laundry bag.

Make sure to bring a credit card and your wristbands with you. The laundry room doesn't accept cash and most laundry places require a wristband to get in.

You will need a watch with you too if you don't plan on hanging around the laundry room while your clothes are getting washed. Plan on

When you get to the laundry room, simply dump the bag in with the clothes. That way you have something to carry the clothes when they are done.

March 12, 2017

Usenet Oracle

The Internet/Usenet Oracle was a way to collect humor by answering what seems to be a simple question. People would send questions in to get an answer. However, to get a response you must answer someone else's question.

This is a classic exchange that I found in my internet collection, this is from October 23, 1996.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

Oh supremest Oracle whose supremacity cannot possibly be suprimized --

My horoscope says 'Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it'.

Now, what insignificant deed should I do?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Do you recall the old story about the man walking in the woods who tripped on a tree root? The tree shook, dislodging an acorn, which fell to the ground and was carried off by a squirrel. When the squirrel sat down to eat the acorn, it startled a butterfly which flew up into the air. The tiny gust of air caused by the butterfly's wings interacted minutely with a passing low pressure front, turning what would have been a minor squall into a violent thunderstorm. The lightning from this thunderstorm struck a kite being flown by an elderly gentleman who was experimenting with electricity, thus touching off the entire sequence of events that eventually resulted in the creation of Microsoft.

The Oracle does, of course, know about the insignificant deed that your horoscope mentions, but in the interests of averting a similar historical disaster, has no intention of telling you what it is. I will give you a hint, though: stay away from cars, bananas, and strange dogs.

You owe the Oracle some silk thread and a key...

March 11, 2017

Traveling Overseas? A Few Considerations You Should Make

E_ B I G B E N

Traveling overseas to other countries and regions of the world can be a thrilling experience. Upon receiving their passports, most American travelers eagerly await their travels over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Depending upon your final destination, the length of stay, and travel plans can determine some of the requirements necessary before you leave your hometown. Making sure you are fully prepared and equipped with necessities to ensure you safely reach your vacation spot is extremely important. Poor planning can lead to a headache and potentially a dangerous situation when travelers reach their overseas destination.

Are you traveling to a foreign country this year? What are some of the most important considerations one must make before they embark on their journey? Below we will outline a few of the most important things to ensure you are checking off your list before traveling.

Currencies

The American dollar can have a much smaller or larger impact in foreign countries where the exchange rate may be higher or lower. As a result, it's important to carefully consider the cost of common goods like food, and lodging before you even consider getting on the plane. Some areas of the world, such as Dubai may require large amounts of money in order to purchase necessary goods and services. You may be surprised how common items like a toothbrush or deodorant can greatly differ throughout different regions of the world because of exchange rates. Furthermore, some goods may be much more expensive because of the production process required for the product's development. The cost of goods may be much higher, resulting in a more expensive product.

Frugal travelers should consider traveling to places where exchange rates are much lower. One of the most budget-friendly places to travel that allow American travelers the ability to dine, shop, and relax is Thailand. Here, one US dollar is the equivalent to 35 Thai bahts (as of March 10, 2017). With this in mind, a typical hotel night can cost an American traveler anywhere from $12-$30 per night. Talk about getting a lot for your money!

Similarly, in countries like Australia, the American dollar is the equivalent of 1.33 Australian dollars. Though the exchange rate may be very similar in Australia, it's important to consider the costs of common goods. Are they similar to the cost in the United States, or are they more expensive because of their geographic region? This is where the importance of extensive research comes into play before planning your travels.

Safety

Traveling across the globe is enough to make first-time travelers nervous. Commuting on a plane for an extensive amount of time can already be enough to scare away those traveling to a foreign country for the first time.

Once travelers reach their final destination, it's important to consider the safety levels in the area. Will you be able to adapt to the cultural differences presented in the region? Making sure you are aware of what is considered respectful, and what is not is extremely important.

Its also important to consider your safety when traveling throughout different countries. When traveling to regions like the UK or Australia, drivers must quickly become adjusted to driving on the opposite side of the road in which they are accustomed to. As a result, this can cause a dangerous situation, especially if it's the first time doing so. When paired with sightseeing, and traveling to different restaurants and places of interest in foreign countries, driving on the opposite side of the road can be a distraction in itself. Paired with any slight consumption of alcohol can create a hazard for yourself and many other motorists on the roadway.

Creating a Pre-Travel Itinerary

Before considering any travel arrangements, consider important factors before embarking upon your next journey. Traveling to a foreign country is not only exhilarating, but it's an experience that lasts a lifetime. However, extensive preparation, research, and planning should be a part of any preliminary travel itineraries. Avoiding any potential dangers, unforeseen conditions, and problems should always be at the top of any travel plans. Make an itinerary far in advance, and plan for any unexpected issues that could arise. But most importantly, have fun and enjoy your trip!

March 10, 2017

TurboCollage 6

Turbo Collage6

Every day I send out a collage of photos to family and friends featuring my daughter. I have been doing this for six years now. When I put together the collage, it needs to be quick and simple.

What is TurboCollage

TurboCollage makes photo collages, mosaics, photo piles, grids, greeting cards, mood boards, polaroid collages, contact sheets, and more! Their website says that they have more than 55,000 active customers.

TurboCollage doesn't have any photo touch-up capabilities. You will need to touch up photos before using TurboCollage. This is fine for me because I have several applications that do an excellent job with fixing up photos.

Collage Style

There are seven built in Collage styles:

  • Regular Pile - Pictures on top of pictures
  • Advanced Pile - Pictures can be set to custom shapes (Hearts, Circle, Triangle etc…)
  • Picture Grid - Grid of pictures (Like the Brady Bunch Intro)
  • Mosaic - pictures are arranged in grid by different sizes
  • Center Frame - Mosaic layout with a large center picture
  • Zig Mosaic - Non-rectangular Mosaic layout
  • Photohive - photos arranged in beehive pattern.

Turbo Collage6

Templates

TurboCollage comes with templates broken into eight different categories. The templates are just a simple starting point to learn the capabilities of TurboCollage.

Basic Patterns, Picture Piles, Picture Grids, Mosaics, Center Picture, Zig Mosaics, Photohives, Instagram, Facebook Cover, Twitter Header Photo, Greeting Cards, Postcard.

What makes Turbo Collage Different

  • Very easy to create a collage with a custom layout size
  • The Picture border style adds a nice effect to final design
  • Easy to adjust the layout of the images.
  • You can create any layout size you need for print or web

TurboCollage vs Posterino

Both Applications do a great job making collages. I feel that for smaller collage, TurboCollage is the way to go. It’s very easy to put together a collage when you have only a few pictures to deal with.

Posterino is a great solution when you have a large set of images and want more control. You can read my review on Posterino from August last year.

TurboCollage vs PictMonkey

For years PictMonkey was my go to application for creating collages. Recently I encountered issues with my collage looking slightly out of focus. My workaround was decent but it was time to look at other solutions.

I really like how I could auto adjust pictures in PictMonkey, simplify right click and boom I can edit the picture and see the final results in the collage.

What I like about TurboCollage

I like how quickly I can generate a really good looking collage. I don't have to mess around with different settings or styles. I just add my photos, set the layout, make some visual adjustments and then export the image. It's fast, easy and I get a really nice clean picture.

TurboCollage 6 was last updated on September 28, 2015. It's available in the Apple App store or on their website.

March 9, 2017

Irish Famine Memorial

The Irish Famine was a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852. As a result of the Famine, the country population drop 25%.

The famine was caused by mold that was growing on the potatoes. Many Irish depended on potatoes as the food source due to strict land regulations. In addition, years of oppression on the Catholic Irish caused people to live just below the poverty line.

Boston was seen as a beacon of hope, and many Irish emigrated to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to escape the rough conditions in Ireland.

The Irish suffered job discrimination with people putting up signs in store windows which read, "Irish need no apply." People saw the mass migration as a threat to the skillful workforce.

In 1998, Boston dedicated a memorial to the Irish Famine.

Irish Statues

Things that I learned about the Irish Famine Memorial

  • Cost $1 Million to put together
  • Located on the Freedom Trail, across from the Old South meeting House
  • The original idea for the memorial started in 1991, but never amounted to any real project
  • Original location was to be someplace near Faneuil Hall
  • Thomas J. Flatley took ownership of the project in 1996 and made the memorial a reality.
  • More than 7,000 people attended the dedication on Sunday, June 28, 1998.
  • Dedicated as part of the 150th anniversary of THE GREAT HUNGER.
  • Cardinal Law visited the site after the Dedication Ceremony and blessed the memorial with Holy Water from Ireland.
  • Robert Shure, of Skylight Studios, made the two statues.
  • Robert Shure also created the statues at the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial which was dedicated on November 17, 2007.
  • Robert Shure also did the Boston Marathon Memorial (!996) and the Massachusetts Fallen Fireman Memorial (2007).
  • The two statues are Bronze on granite base.
  • Thomas J. Flatley, Committee Chairman, was an immigrant who arrived from Ireland in 1950 with $32 in his pocket.
  • Thomas J. Flatley, died on May 17, 2008 with an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion.

What are the statues of?

There are two statue monuments in the memorial.

  • One of the statues show a family suffering from the Famine. ( It looks very similar to an 1849 depiction of Bridget O'Donnell and her two children during the famine.)
  • The other shows a family doing well.

Some people say that the two monuments demonstrate how the potato famine impacted the poor and the rich.

The Eight Plaques

There are eight plaques around the memorial which tells the cause and effect of the Irish Famine:

  • Dying of Hunger - Starting in 1845, a virulent fungus devastated the potato crop....
  • AN GORTA MOR - The Great Hunger of 1845-50
  • The People were Gaunt - Starvation and disease spread across the Irish landscape claiming 1 million lives
  • Boston Sends Help - On March 27, 1847 Boston sends a ship of supplies.
  • Crossing the Bowl of Tears -Two Million people fled Ireland in vessels that were called Coffin Ships.
  • Arriving in Boston - In 1847, 37,000 Irish arrived in Boston...
  • The American Dream - Today 44 million American claim Irish ancestry
  • Lest We Forget.- The conditions that produced the Irish famine...still exist today.

Memorial Location

The memorial is located on Boston's Freedom Trail at the corner of Washington St. and School St. It's right between the "Old Corner Bookstore" and the "Old South Meeting House."

The memorial is not an official site on the Boston Freedom Trail.

March 8, 2017

Bashmarks

When you SSH to a remote box do you change to the same set of directories? Wouldn't it be great to bookmark the locations to make it easy to get to? You can with Bashmarks!

Bashmarks gives you the ability to create simple bookmarks to any location on your server. Now you can jump to whatever directory you want wherever you are on the box.

As my former boss would say, "Now your cooking with gas."

Bashmarks

Setting up Bashmarks

Bashmarks is simply a shell script that performs actions.

Download bashmarks.sh from GitHub. Put the file someplace where you won't accidentally delete it. (~/bin is a safe place, Macintosh users may want to keep it in /usr/local/bin)

If it isn't easy to move the file, simply copy and paste the contents of the file into a new file on the server that you want to use. (The file size is small.)

Update the .bash_profile with the following line:

# Make sure the directory and filename is correct.
source ~/bin/bashmarks.sh

Exit out and log back in the server.

Type:
bookmarksshow

If it's installed correctly, you should get back an empty line.

Using BashMarks

It's super easy to use BashMarks. When your at a directory that you want to bookmark simply type in:

bookmark staging

Where "staging" is the name of the bookmark - Tip: keep it simple and short.

When you want to go to that directory simply type in:

go staging

If you want to see all the Bashmarks that you have installed, type in:

bookmarksshow

Additional Notes

Currently Bashmarks only works with directories and not applications. However, you have the bashmarks.sh source file and it should be easy to manipulate it to do what works best in your environment. For example, you could shorten the word 'bookmark' to simply 'book.'

Enjoy playing around with Bashmarks!

March 7, 2017

Immaculate Gluten Free Cookies

One of the disadvantages of eating gluten free is that you can’t make a quick batch of cookies. All the instant dough making products, such as Pillsbury Cookies, are not gluten free.

Immaculate Gluten Free Cookies

Immaculate Cookies

We just found out about Immaculate Gluten Free Cookies, which are available in the Gluten Free refrigerative section of Wegmans. They are exactly like the quick oven bake cookies that you find in the dairy aisle. They come in three flavors:

  • Chocolate Chunk
  • Double Chocolate
  • Peanut Butter

They don’t have any seasonal special cookies, like Easter Eggs or Christmas trees. However, it’s awesome that we can now make a quick batch of cookies whenever we want. So if we want some cookies to enjoy with a movie, it’s super easy.

Storage Tip

Frozen Cookies

The cookies are available in the refrigerative section, but the directions on the packaging does indicate that you could freeze them and bake them from frozen.

Cookies will last 6 months in the refrigerator. We put our packages in the freezer. It was very easy to break apart the dough when they were frozen. I put the bags in several Ziplock bags and back in the freezer.

So, How are they?

Cookies were yummy. It took about 17 minutes to cook. However, they appear to be slightly undercooked in the middle. Perhaps a few more minutes would have made them perfect.

In our taste test, we found that the Double Chocolate was the best tasting of all of them.

Immaculate Gluten Free Cookies are available at Wegmans, Market Basket and Target.

March 6, 2017

Disney Spring Entertainment Tokens

If you have an off day on your Disney World vacation, there's nothing like spending some time at Disney Springs to do some shopping and enjoying the beautiful Florida day. (Around here we still call the place Downtown Disney)

Disney does offer some entertainment around the shopping area for the kids, such as face painting, Lego area and a place where you can enjoy music by the water.

There are a couple of popular attractions that kids seem to gravitate to when they walk by:

Marketplace Train Express

Miniature train ride for small children to enjoy. Little ones pay $2 to ride, parents are free.

Fun Facts

  • Number of Seats: 15
  • Number of cars: 6
  • Average Train Ride: 3 minutes

Marketplace Carousel Tickets

The Marketplace Carousel is much smaller carousel than the one in the Magic Kingdom. There is no special "Cinderella Horse" to find. You can usually find this attraction by the popular music that is played instead of the traditional organ music.

Fun Facts

  • Height Requirements: Children under 42" tall, must be accompanied by an adult
  • Number of Horses: 19
  • Average Length of ride: 3 minutes

Ride Tokens

To go on the Train or Carousel you need to get a ride token. You can buy them at each attraction, but they work at either ride. Each token cost $3.

When you arrive at the Carousel or Train, your much better off getting a couple of tokens instead of the one. You save money when you buy more than one coin.

Typical scenario:

You visit the Marketplace Train and your child wants to go on, so you buy a token for a single ride. After the train ride, your child sees the carousel and tells you that it's their favorite ride. Now you buy a second token.

In this situation you end up spending more for the single purchases.

What if you buy coins and don't use them?

You can keep them for a future trip. Optionally you can give them to a parent that you meet in Disney Springs or as a gift to someone you know that is heading to the DisneyWorld. (Remember you went to Disney Springs for Shopping?)

Would have been nice to know

I wished we knew that the tokens worked at both entertainment venues, as we would have saved some money and time. After all, once you have a token, you can bypass the token line and get right on.

I found this out by asking the person working the Carousel if they would accept Train tokens and they said 'Yes!'