October 1, 2016

Days to 2016 Election

Here’s a simple snippet example on showing how many days until the next election.

#!/usr/bin/php
<?php
date_default_timezone_set('America/New_York');
$dateDiff = mktime(0,0,0,11,8,2016) - mktime();
echo  floor($dateDiff/60/60/24) . " days";
?>

You could easily modify this to be any countdown that you want. (Christmas, Black Friday, Inauguration Day, Start of Summer)

Another Solution:

#!/usr/bin/php
<?php
date_default_timezone_set('America/New_York');
$datetime1 = new DateTime();
$datetime2 = new DateTime('2016-11-08');
$interval = $datetime1->diff($datetime2);
echo $interval->format('%R%a days');
?>

2016datetime

October 2, 2016

Rodney Dangerfield

Rodney Dangerfield Auto

Rodney Dangerfield was a brilliant comedian. He is well known for his "I don't get no respect!" routines.His comedy career peak was in the 1980's with several sold out shows and movie appearances such as Back to School, Caddyshack and Easy Money.

I saw his comedy act in Las Vegas in 1998. At the time he had a personal website and was selling a lot of Rodney Dangerfield items. He would mention the website on various Tonight Show appearances. Since I was a big fan, I decided to order some things; an autograph picture and his autograph on his trademark red tie. I don't remember how much I paid for each, but I do recall the tie being a bit expensive.

A few days later a big box showed up at my door in San Jose, California. It was from Dangerfield Entertainment. When I turned the box over I was surprised, it was the picture of Rodney Dangerfield created with a solder iron and solder. I have never gotten a box like this and have kept it. 18 years later, after 3 moves, including a cross-country move, I still have that box sitting in my attic.

The red tie is a classic, I am not sure it's worth anything, but to me it's priceless. It's really cool to have a trademark Rodney Dangerfield tie.

The Box Side2

The only thing missing from the package was the autograph picture. I sent an email to Dangerfield Entertainment to let them know that I never got the picture, and a few days later I got a Photo Mailer with a personalized autograph picture from Rodney Dangerfield. I know it's authentic because it's similar to other autographs that I see online. I have kept that picture in the photo mailer that it came in.

October 3, 2016

Disney Caribbean Beach Resort

On our next trip to Walt Disney World we have the opportunity to stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Since we have never stayed at the resort before I decided to do some investigation.

We have been told that the main pool, Old Port Royale, will be closed during our stay. This is an important factor to consider since we have scheduled a down day during our Disney vacation.

Here's a quick summary of the resort:

About the Caribbean Beach Resort

  • The resort first opened on October 1, 1988, and has gone under many refurbish stages over the years.
  • This is the second largest resort, in terms of property size, on Disney Property.
  • This is the only resort that has a resort shuttle buses to get around.
  • The resort is 4.1 miles from Epcot and 2 miles from Disney's Hollywood Studios. It's considered to be one of the Epcot properties.
  • There is a 1.5-mile running trail around the park. (Run around twice to practice the 5K!)
  • Preferred Rooms put you close to food court and main pool, but not next to building with the lobby and Magical Express pickup

The Rooms

  • The 300 Sq Ft. rooms at the resort are smaller than Port Orleans.
  • National Average Hotel room size is about 325 square feet.
  • Most of the rooms are theme after Finding Nemo.
  • There are limited number of Pirates theme rooms in the Trinidad South Village and these are a premium.
  • Most rooms beds are Queen beds, whereas at Port Orleans most of the beds are Kings.
  • The further you are away from the Custom House the cheaper the room rate, and the longer the walk to your room after a long day at the park.

Pools and Amenities

  • There are six heated pools located throughout the village.
  • The biggest pool, Old Port Royale, features waterfalls, slides and canons.
  • There are beaches around the resort, just stay away from the water.
  • The Goombay Games Arcade has lots of high tech games.
  • There are various playgrounds within each of the seven villages.

Chart of Hotel Acres

I put together a chart of the five largest hotel properties in Disney World. This shows you which resorts are taking up the most property:

Disney Acres

Resort Map

Download the resort Map so that you know where things are on the property. This also comes in handy when you're planning your trip, past hotel experience taught us that you're better off being near the DisneyWord Bus stop.

After a long day, you don't want to be bouncing between buses or walking a long way to get to your room. This is especially noteworthy if you have young kids and a stroller.

CB Map Frontbr/>Download the Report Map

October 4, 2016

Five Napkin Boston

Five Napkin Burger Boston

Five Napkin is located on 105 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA. You can access the restaurant from the Prudential Mall using the entrance next to Barnes and Noble booksellers. They are open everyday from 11:30 am to 11 pm, on weekends they are open a half hour early to serve brunch.

The past couple of years we have been visiting Five Napkin because the food and service are good and they have good options for Gluten Free. They use to have a separate gluten free menu, but like most restaurants, they can let you know if an entree can be made gluten free.

Knowledgeable Staff

When it comes to allergies, we have found their staff to be very knowledgeable about food safety. In fact, at one of our visits we encountered a waiter who had celiac and welcomes us to the restaurant. He told us that the kitchen goes out of their way to make sure that any allergy meal is prepared carefully. They have a dedicated fryer, so regular french fried and sweet potatoes are celiac friendly.

He gave us confident that it was a good restaurant to visit. My daughter was very happy to meet someone that had the same condition as her.

Great Kids Food

Usually my daughter order a cheeseburger on their gluten free bun, they have no problems using the bun on a kid-size burger. This past weekend, my daughter decided to be different and ordered a hot dog, they didn't have a gluten-free hot dog roll, but did offer to put it on a hamburger roll. My daughter was fine to have it bun-free.

The chocolate milk is a bit different than most places because they use dark chocolate. Seems to be a favorite with kids and my daughter drank all of her milk before the meal arrived.

Awesome Food - Less Crowded

The nice thing about 5-Napkin is that it's rarely crowded. So while the nearby Cheese-Cake factory has a 30-minute wait, we can basically walk over to 5-Napkin and get an excellent meal. They have a lot more than Hamburgers and Hot Dogs - they are just some of the popular meals.

They also have a nice selection of gluten free beers on their menu. They put all the drinks in a gluten free category so you know which drinks are safe. It's actually interesting to see the different types of beers that are available. (Thankfully my daughter is too young to drink!)

It's a great place to do a takeout! Which is perfect for when your watching one of the Saturday night summers flicks in the center lawn.

October 5, 2016

The Eames Massacre Monument

Eames Massacre Memorial

In Framingham, near the corner of Chatauqua Ave and Mt. Wayte Ave, lies a monument to a horrific incident that occurred 340 years ago. In 1676, during the King Philip's War, a mother and children were killed defending their home that was attacked by Indians.

This would be known as The Eames Massacre.

History of the Thomas Eames Family

In 1618, Thomas Eames was born in England. He came to the Massachusetts Bay around 1634 and did some odd jobs. In 1637, he fought in the Pequot War.

After the Pequot war, Thomas married Margaret and settled in Dedham around 1640. They had three children John and Elizabeth. (The first John died before reaching age one.) Margaret died September 17, 1660.

In 1662, Thomas married Mary Paddleford and moved to Wayland. Mary was a widow and had four children from a previous marriage: Mary, Johnathan, Zachariah, and Edward. They had three additional children together: Thomas Jr., Samuel, and Nathaniel.

How they got the Framingham Farm

Thomas wrote a letter to the government of the Massachusetts Bay and asked for land as a reward for his service in the Pequot War. His request was denied, but the request caught the attention of Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth. He gave a small part of his vast land to the Eames family.

The Eames farm was isolated from other families in the area. According to colonial document records, there were only seven families in the Framingham area. Most of the other family farms were together in the northern part of the town.

Tension between the Colonials and the Indians

King Philip's War (1675-1676) was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day New England and the English settlers. The battle was seen as the last chance effort to remove the English settlers from New England.

In the summer of 1675, the Massachusetts Bay provided four soldiers to secure the Framingham area. By the fall, there were no new attacks in the region and the council in Boston couldn't justify the cost of the troops and decided to bring the troops back to Boston.

In January 1676, word got around that surrounding towns were at risk of being attacked by Indians. Thomas Eames took action and traveled to Boston to get ammunition and military help to protect his family.

February 1, 1676 - The Eames Massacre

While Thomas was away, eleven Indians attacked the house and farm. His wife Mary defended herself using hot soap. She was quickly overpowered and was killed along with five other children. The remaining children were taken into captivity and the house and barn were burned. Horses and livestock were stolen.

Results of the attack

Mary Eames 30 Killed
Zachariah Paddleford 18 Captured and Escaped
Edward Paddleford 15 Killed
Thomas Eames Jr. 12 Killed
Samuel Eames 11 Captured and Escaped
Margaret Eames 9 Captured and Ransomed
Nathaniel Eames 7 Captured and Escaped
Sarah Eames 5 Killed
Lydia Eames 3 Killed

Zachariah, Samuel, Margaret, Nathaniel all returned to Framingham after escaping from capture.

At the time of the attack, Thomas was very weak and on disability. It's possible that he could have been killed as a result of the attack.

Aftermath

Investigation into the attack and the identity of the Indians were uncovered: Netus, Anneweaken, Aponapawquin, Acompanatt, Panananumquis, William Wannuckhow, Apumatquin, Pumapen, Awassaquah, and Aquitekash.

Thomas Eames put together an inventory of the loss of items. The General Court granted him some monetary compensation 200 acres of land as well as 200 acres of Indian land.

Much of the land become downtown Framingham and part of Ashland.

All the Indians that participated in the event were captured or were killed while trying to be captured. Some of the Indians were executed and others were sold off as slavery.

Thomas died in 1681 in Framingham, less than five years after the massacre.

Rock Monument

In the early 1900's descendants of Thomas Eames put a rock monument at the location of the former homestead. The monument reads:

Here stood home of
Thomas Eames
Burned by the Indians In
King Philips War February 1, 1676
His Wife and Five Children
Were Slain and Four Carried
Into Captivity

This Memorial
Is Placed by his Descendants
A.D. 1900

Home Stead Plaque

Missing Sign

In 1930, another sign was placed on the site, just behind the plaque on the rock. It has since gone missing from the site.

The sign read:

"While Thomas Eames sought help from Boston February 1, 1676. The Indians attacked his house which stood nearby. His wife and five children were slain and four children captured."

October 6, 2016

Boston Gaol

Real Boston Gaol Logo

The first correctional facility in Boston was called the Boston Gaol and it was located between Court Street and School Street. The jail was in use between 1635-1822. The jail was created less than five years after the city of Boston was founded.

Some people called the Boston Gaol the Boston Stone Jail because of the thick stone walls.

Terminology

The word "Boston Gaol" means a correction facility. the term gaol is used in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Since the facility was under the British rule, the name Gaol was used instead of jail.

Gaol Inmates

Some notable people that spent time in the prison include:

Captain Kidd - Spent a year in the jail before heading to England to be executed.

Mary Dyer - Visited the jail many times to comfort fellow Quakers. She also sent to jail for refusing an order to leave town. She spent the last night at the Boston Gaol before being executed in the Boston Commons.

Religious Leaders - Quaker's such as Anne Hutchinson were held in jail for being outspoken about their religion.

Salem Witches - Accused Witches were held anyplace that jail space was available.

Solders involved with the Boston Massacre - Were held in the jail in hopes to calm people down.

James Lovell - He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1782. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation. He was held in the jail as a likely dissident after the Battle of Bunker Hill.

John Leach - kept a journal of his confinement by the British Troops. He was in jail from July 2nd to 17th 1775.

Downfall of the old Boston Gaol

The Boston Goal went through many revisions and relocations over the nearly 200 years of its existence. By the 1820s it was too small to handle the increased jail population.

Boston Gaol Location

The Leverett Street jail was the success to the Boston Gaol.

Present Day Location of the Boston Gaol

The Boston Gaol has been long gone and the former site is the Boston Public School administration building. Directions to the site of the Boston Goal:

  • Take the 'T' to Government Center
  • Walk up the stairs and walk over to the Starbuck
  • Continue walking past Starbuck and down Court Street.
  • Just before you get to Franklin Ave, look across the street. You'll see a building will four tall pillars. This is the site of the Old Boston Gaol.

There is a small sign on the front left of the building to indicate the past history of the location:

Old Prison
The first prison in Boston stood on this site, close to the center of government and trade in the early settlement. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne describes its appearance: "The rust on the ponderous iron-work of its oaken door looked more antique than anything else in the New World...But on one side of the portal, was a wild rose-bush."

Did you know? Captain Kidd was brought here in 1689 after he was captured, and before he was shipped to England to be executed.

Old Prison

October 7, 2016

radioSHARK

radio Shark

Griffin radioShark is a pretty cool USB device as it provides a stereo FM/AM band radio receiver to a Macintosh or PC computer. It integrates really well with Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack.

In recent years, many radio stations have provided live feed via the Internet. radioSHARK key advantage is when you don't have Internet access you can still listen to the local over-the-air broadcast. In addition, your not using up any internet bandwidth just to listen to local radio.

So why not just connect a radio to your computer? You could, but if you wanted to listen to different radio stations it could be a hassle.

Audio Hijack

Combine with Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack, you have the ability to record live broadcast whenever you want. You can record your favorite morning drive team then at the end of the day change to the "All news station" to hear the events of the day.

Griffin Technology has discontinued the radioSHARK and you can only get it on eBay, Amazon or craigslist. The radioSHARK is available on Amazon for $50, which is premium price of $35 that I paid.

In addition, it doesn't hurt to have access to the radio in a high rise building. If we loose Internet or power, it might be good to hear what's going on.

Audio Source
Setting up the Radio Station is really easy to do in Audio HiJack Pro 2.9.1

So why record live radio broadcasts?

Because Someday I'll want to remember the "good old days." When so and so happened:

  • Remember the time when Trump was running and people were complaining about XYZ.
  • Imagine hearing the broadcast of David Ortiz hitting his final home run as it aired the night before he gets inducted into the hall of fame.
  • What was like in Boston during the blizzard of 2017?

My Setup

I have my radioShark connected to my old PowerBook G4 laptop and configured Audio Hijack Pro to record WEEI. This is perfectly legal because I am not going to redistribute the audio file, it's for my personal use.

My PowerBook might be old, but it's still a pretty powerful machine. The battery life isn't all that well as it uses it, but as long as I have it plugged in it works perfectly fine. I simply set up the times and stations that I want to be recorded, then dim the computer screen.

I have an 8GB SanDisk Flash drive that I use to move files from the Powerbook to my iMac computer. An 7 hour 30 Minute stereo radio broadcast takes up 432 MB, when compressed to MP3 (at 44,100 Sample Rate).

October 8, 2016

iOS X Voice Mail Transcription

One of the new features In iOS X is voice mail transcript. The feature is still in beta, but it allows you the ability to read your voice messages.

When I first installed iOS X, I checked the voicemail transcript and didn't see anything. However, a couple of weeks later when I checked I noticed that all my previous voice messages have been transcribed.

Sample Entry

Transscription Example
Note: I trim the transcription for this blog post, there entire voicemail was transcribed.

Note that the above voice message was 1:25 long. A quick read tells me that I don't have to hear this message. After taking the screenshot, I clicked on the delete button.

Apple now also transcribed deleted voicemail. Now I can go back and see what the messages were about.

The really neat thing about this is that I can get my voice messages in situations where it may not be convenient to hear them.

The feature is still in beta, but from what I see it looks pretty good. If you upgraded when iOS X came out, go check out your voice mail and see what you think of the new feature. Simple click on Phone > Voicemail then one of the voice messages that you have.

October 9, 2016

The American's Creed

The American's Creed from the Boy Scout Manual. This is something to remember as we get closer to election day in the United States:

I believe in
   the United States of America as a
   Government of the people, by the people, for the people;
   who just powers are derived from the consent of the government;
   a democracy in a republic;
   a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States;
   a perfect Union, one and inseparable;
   established under those principles of freedom, equality, justice,
   and humanity for which American patriots sacraficed their
   lives and fortunes.

I therefor believe it is my duty to my country
   to love it;
   to support its Consitution;
   to obey its laws;
   to respect its flagl and
   to defend it against all enemies.

The American Creed was developed by William Tyler Page in 1917. It is a brief, clear statement of American traditions and ideals, as expressed by leading American statesmen and writers.

Key lines to the Creed:

  1. Closing words of the Preamble to the Constitution
  2. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
  3. Declaration of Independence
  4. James Madison in The Federalist, No. X
  5. Speech by Daniel Webster
  6. Preamble to the Consitution
  7. Adapted from closing workds of Declaration of Independence
  8. Speech by John Hancock
  9. United States Oath of Allegiance
  10. George Washington's Farewell Address
  11. War Department Circular, April 14, 1917
  12. Oath of Alleigiance.

October 10, 2016

Disney Park Full Day Closures

Since opening in 1971, Walt Disney World has only been closed three times, all in anticipation of hurricanes. It was also evacuated in a brisk 30 minutes on 9/11, but the parks were not closed beforehand.

Disney was opening every day for 10,211 days. At this rate it won't be until September 22, 2044, when Disney will beat their consecutive day record.

The following is the list of hurricane's that closed Walt Disney World:

  • Hurricane Floyd September 15, 1999
  • Hurricane Frances September 4, 2004 and September 5, 2004
  • Hurricane Jeanne September 26, 2004
  • Hurricane Matthew October 7, 2016

Disney Close Dates

October 11, 2016

Jennifer Lee's Allergen Free Gourmet Bakery

Are there Gluen Free Options at the Boston Public Market?

Jennifer Lee Bakery

Yes, you can find Gluten Free foods at the Boston Public Market - check out Jennifer Lee's Allergen Free Gourmet Bakery. The bakery sells gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free, and dairy-free breads, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and donuts.

From a Press Announcement earlier this year:

Jennifer Lee's Gourmet Bakery produces all of their products in their commercial kitchen in Malden, Massachusetts, and sources ingredients such as jams, maple syrup, apple cider syrup, fruits, vegetables, and alcohol from local farms such as Carr's Ciderhouse in Hadley, Silverbrook Farm in Dartmouth (another Boston Public Market vendor), Brooksby Farm in Peabody, and Russell’s Orchards in Ipswich.

Yummy Chocolate Cookie!

On Monday, We stopped at the Bakery after wandering around the Market looking for Gluten Free options. The display case was a bit empty - which might be because we were there early on a Monday morning.

My daughter saw some extra chocolate cookies and she wanted one. We purchased one, and the cashier asked if we needed a bag. I said that we didn't and she handed the cookie to my daughter with a small wax paper.

We sat down on a bench nearby and she enjoyed her Taza hot chocolate with her chocolate cookie as her mid-morning Boston treat. She took her time eat and looking around the market. (Seems like a perfect combination.)

I asked her how the cookie was and she said very yummy. When I inquired if she liked these over the cookies we made at home, this past weekend, she told me she liked the chocolate cookie better.

She wasn't able to finish her cookie, so I went back and asked for a bag and she gave me one. I let them know that my daughter enjoyed the cookie and they were delighted that she liked it.

We'll certainly return back to Jennifer Lee's Gourmet Bakery at the Boston Market. They have a lot of bakery options to choose from. (The cinnamon rolls looked very good!)

The bakery is located on the back side of the Boston Public Market, near the restrooms. There is a tractor nearby where kids can sit and pretend to drive.

Jennifer Lee's Gourmet Bakery does have a website, http://www.jenniferleesgourmetbakery.com, but it appears to be down at the moment. (Hopefully it’s because they are busy cooking more of their delicious foods.

October 12, 2016

Pedestrians Track Crossing

The main MBTA commuter parking lot in Framingham is located at 2 Franklin Street. This lot is often called the Banana Lot because of its banana like shape. Because of its proximity to the commuter rail station, commuters have to cross a set of tracks to get to the inbound track boarding area.

Framingham Commuters did you know that there are a set of tracks that commuters are technically not allowed to cross? Last week Framingham Police were preventing commuters to cross the main set of railroad tracks.

Commuters are supposed to use the pedestrian overpass or cross the tracks at Concord Street. In Massachusetts, it's illegal to cross any railway tracks except at a designated crossing points.

MBTA Track Rules

Here is the Massachusetts General Law (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 160, S 218):

Section 218. Whoever knowingly, without right is present, stands, walks, or rides a bicycle, snow vehicle, recreational or other vehicle on the right-of-way, bridge, or other property of, or used or controlled by any railroad corporation, except at a highway or other authorized grade crossing and except on rights-of-way formally abandoned pursuant to state or federal law and no longer owned by said railroad corporation or rights-of-way owned by said railroad corporation but which have been converted or leased specifically for use as a bicycle or walking path in accordance with state or federal laws, shall be fined $100 or shall be required to perform a total of 50 hours of community service which may include service in the operation lifesaver program, so-called. Any person violating this section may be arrested without a warrant by any police officer, including railroad police, and proceeded against according to law.

Operation LifeSaver is a non-profit organization that educates the public about rail safety. According to Operation LifeSaver, some trains can take a mile for to come to a complete stop. Remember that the tracks are used by freight and commuter rail.

Technically A Crossing Point?

There is a sign near the crossing which may indicate that it's safe to cross here:

Look Before Crossing

Since the sign is warning pedestrians to "Look before Crossing" it appears that this is a valid crossing point. However, the MBTA and CSX claims that only the first set of tracks is valid. (Which is why it has a wooden base) It's illegal to cross at the main set of tracks in front of the old station.

Snow Trail2
In the Winter, commuters cut across the tracks and leave a path in the snow pile for others.

Pedestrian Fence

For years, I assumed that the reason for the fence between the two main MBTA tracks was to discourage pedestrians from crossing the track at the station. I assumed that the fence stopped near Concord Street crossing as an indicator to pedestrians that it was safe to cross.

My assumption was mostly wrong, while the fence is there to prevent immediate crossing, pedestrians should never cross tracks when they have to step over the tracks and there's gravel on the ground. Proper crossing will always have a flat surface.

Why doesn't the fence go to the road?

According to the MBTA and CSX, the reason why the fence doesn't go all the way to Concord Street is because there isn't enough clearance for two trains and the fence. The tracks come closer together within a few yards of the street are closer. The MBTA and CSX say that it's too close to a fence.

New Parking Lot Changes

When the new Framingham parking lot opens in the Spring of 2017, the existing entrance to the train tracks near the Deluxe Depot Diner will be closed. Commuters will have to use the new entrance by the pedestrian overpass to get to train station.

The new entrance is good news for the commuters that park at the Pearl Street Garage since the walk to the station will be a slightly shorter. This is bad news for those that are waiting for the MWRTA bus and wanting to get a drink at Tedeschi Food Shop, or go to the ATM - those people will have to use the Concord Street crossing.

October 13, 2016

Quack is Back!

Quack is Back

A few months ago I wrote about some information about the "Make Way for Ducklings" statue in the Boston Public Gardens. One of the facts I mentioned was that 2 of the ducklings that were stolen were never returned. I learned this week that one of them did get returned.

In the Children's section of the Boston Public Library Central Branch is "Quack", one of the missing ducks.

Finding Quack

Quack might be hard to find when you bring a child to the Children's section you can play a game to find Quack. You can find Quack in a small window on the front right side as you walk in the Children's section. There might be couches or blocks that could make it hard to see when you walk in. (Simply walk along the right wall.)

After finding Quack, sit down and read the "Make Way for Ducklings" story. It's a lot easier to do it at the library than in the Public Gardens.

There is a little wall sign near the duck statue about the lone duck:

Quack was among eight ducklings and a mother mallard sculpted and cast for the Boston Public Garden by artist Nancy Schon in 1987. The bronze feathered family, one of Boston's most famous public art installations, pay homage to Robert McCloskey's famous children's book Make Way for Ducklings (1941). In the much-loved story, the ducks find their way to a new home on an island in the Public Garden's Lagoon. McCloskey (1914-2003) brought six ducklings to live with him in his New York studio while he was illustrating the tale; he webbed roommates modeled for a series of preparatory sketches that now reside in the Boston Public Library print collection.

Not long after the Public Garden statues were installed, young Quack (the last in the line of ducklings) went missing. Schon cast a duplicate sculpture to replace the figure. In 1988, Quack came back and soon make its way to the Boston Public Library's Children's Library, where it has become a beloved resident.

Gift of Nancy Schon, 1989.

Quack Sign

Maybe someday Quack will get united with the rest of the family. Here's a link to the original "Make Way for Ducklings" blog post.

The original Mack statue is still missing! Bring Mack Back!

October 14, 2016

2-Page View in Pages

Is the latest version of Apple Pages better?

This week I was doing some last minute presentation edit for a class that I was going to teach. I was using Apple Pages 6 (latest version) and was discouraged that I couldn't get a 2-page view. It's much easier to organize the layout of a section when you're looking at a 2-page view.

Once upon a time, Pages did have a 2-page format. On my iMac, I have Pages 08, which was released on August 7, 2007 and it has the "Two Up" functionality. Pages 08 was part of the iWorks suite and is officially called Pages 3.0. Here is a look at the both word processing application side by side using the same monitor view:

Pages View

Pages 3 is on the left and Pages 6 is on the right. Which application do you thing is going to be easier to work with when performing final edits?

Blame it on iOS

In 2013, when Apple updated Pages to version 5, they made many changes so that it would be in sync with the iOS version. Unfortunately, they removed the "Two Up" functionality. According to other online forums this was because the iPad was too small to handle multiple page view edits.

Alternative Solutions

Since the latest version of Apple Pages didn't meat my needs, I decided to venture out and check out other applications. I checked Nisus Writer Express, and found that they don't offer any 2-Page document view. I did find a comment in the Nisus forum, from 2007, of someone requesting that functionality but it hasn't been implemented.

Microsoft Word has the "Two Up" functionality and it works very well. I didn't have any problems using the application in full view mode. It worked like a charm.

Microsoft Word View
Microsoft Word have an excellent "Two Pages" view.

Page Layout Applications

I decided to check out a couple of Page Layout applications since I am trying to decide which one I should buy. I am looking at Swift Publisher and iStudio. Both are similar Desktop Publishing applications. I really like the simplicity of Swift Publisher, but there is no 2-page spread editing, which was in Adobe InDesign CS2. iStudio does have the spread editing functionality.

Apple Pages

One Up Two Up

Apple Pages would be a really good application if they just didn't lose functionality when they upgrade. Computer Monitors are getting bigger, and there's no reason why they can't let users display more than one page at a time.

So for now, I'll have to use Microsoft Word when I do my presentations. Hopefully, Apple updates their application, and I'll check into some of the features of iStudio to see if not having a 2-page spread editing is that much of a big deal.

October 15, 2016

Disease: When It Strikes & How You Can Help Others

Ambulance

Perhaps a close family member or friend of yours has recently visited their family doctor, and returned with a rather concerned look on his or her face. Going to the doctor can sometimes be an experience that is rather frightening for some, because of the unexpected results that can come from discussions from your doctor. Just remember, it is your doctor's obligatory duty to prepare and inform you of the worst possible situation for any type of condition you may be experiencing.

Because of this, many avoid going to the doctor all together. Some may feel as though they are already juggling enough in their daily lives, and do not want to concern themselves with negative results their doctor may provide. For others, a lack of time or concern is another reason they may not visit the doctor. Your health is your number one backbone, and without it, you would not be able to function properly. Taking time out of your day, to go visit your doctor and receive regular checkups is vital for your routine maintenance for your body.

How You Can Help When Bad News Strikes

It may have started off as a regular checkup. A woman goes and visits her primary care facility, and finds that she has an irregular lump under her skin. The doctor may have scared her into believing that there is a high risk that the area is cancerous, and she should keep immediate care from a cancer facility.

Whether or not the bump is cancerous will only be able to be determined by a specialist who deals with cancer and tumors. A primary care doctor can only provide advice on what they may think the cause of the raised area is from, but they cannot properly diagnose the situation without receiving a body scan.

As a friend or family member to the individual dealing with such circumstances, there are plenty of things that you can do to assist with the process. Depending on how the individual reacts to news will determine how you need to treat the situation. Some people may become easily devastated, and shut down. In this situation, you need to act as the support structure that helps them to get through the situation. Do some research, and help them get to their next step in the process. Research cancer facilities and help them locate the best possible care facility in their area. Extensively research doctors and review their ratings and what others have to say about their level of treatment.

Furthermore, you may have an individual who takes the situation lightly, and does not concern him/herself with the seriousness of what the doctor may have determined. In this situation, you need to be the leader that discusses the importance of the situation, and offers aid and assistance for them. You need to be persuasive with your actions, and develop a plan where you can quickly inform them of the seriousness of the issues at hand, and how they should proceed. Though the doctor may have stressed this during his/her initial visit, reinforcement from friends and family members will help to reiterate the consequences of avoiding treatment for the issues at hand.

Why It's Important To Show Support

As an individual who may have recently received bad news from their doctor, it's easy to feel down upon yourself, and become frustrated. For the individual dealing with the situation, there may be outside events taking place in his/her life that are already stressful enough, and they may feel as though they cannot handle any additional negative news or events. Furthermore, the individual may feel as though they are already unlucky, and when devastation may strike, they may give up easily.

As a family member or friend, it's always important to be there for those whom you care for. Just put yourself in the shoes of your peers, and think about how you would seek their support when they are in need of assistance.

October 16, 2016

Subaru Key Fod Battery Type

Subaru

If you have a 2010 Subaru Legacy, right about now you may encounter issues unlocking the door with the key remote. This is because the battery in the key fob is dead. Looks like the life of the battery is 6 years.

There's no need to go to the dealer to get it fixed. You can find instructions on replacing the battery on iFixit. It very easy to open the Fob and replace the battery.

The Key fob for the 2010 Subaru Legacy uses the Panasonic CR-1620 (3V). This is a not a common battery and is not available at CVS or Walgreens. You can find it at Battery Plus, or on Amazon.com.

Subaru Key Fod
This is what the Key Fod looks like when taken apart.

Amazon Purchase Update - October 21, 2016

I purchased the Energizer CD1620 Lithium Battery from Amazon. It as a five pack and it worked perfectly. There's no "freshness" date on the pack, so I don't know how long they will last, but for $6.83 it was a good a good deal for 5 batteries. I need the batteries for both my key fods.

Energizer

October 17, 2016

Extinct Attractions Haunted Mansion

Theme Park Music

As an avid Haunted Mansion fan, I get excited going to Disney and riding the Haunted Mansion. In the early 1990s, I would bring a cassette recorder with me to record some of the sounds in the Haunted Mansion. The purpose of capturing the sounds was a way to remember the trip.

Favorite Clip Challenges

A couple my favorite sounds:
"Welcome Foolish Mortals to the Haunted Mansion"

This is very hard to capture because you have to be in the stretching room as soon as the doors open. In addition, to get the best quality of sound you need to know which speaker the audio is coming from and most importantly have a quiet room.

"Our library is well-stocked with priceless first editions. Only ghost stories, of course. And marble busts of the greatest ghost writers the literary world has ever known. They have all retired here, to the Haunted Mansion."

"Actually, we have 999 happy haunts here, but there's room for 1000. Any volunteers, hmmm? If you should decide to join us, final arrangements may be made at the end of the tour...."

This can be tricky to capture because the sound quality isn't the same in all the doom buggies. For some reason, some of the doom buggies speakers would fail just before you get to the library. You end up hearing the ghost host from nearby doom buggies.

I like this clip because this track is only played in Disney World as the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland doesn't have a library.

Extinct Attraction Club to the Rescue

Around the turn of the century, Haunted Mansion fans could have gotten a CD copy of individual sounds from Extinct Attractions. According to the sales pitch, the audio clips were pulled from the same audio used in the Haunted Mansion. The quality of sound was worth the price.

Extinct Attractions was created as a resource for people to share old home movies of attractions that are no longer at Disney. Guest could purchase DVDs and relive such rides as Tiki Room and Carousel of Progress.

I purchased my audio collection in 2006. Today I still listen to the audio around Halloween or just before heading on my next Disney vacation.

The 3 CD collection has 71 tracks including: HM Virtual Audio Tour, Foyer Music (Stereo), Four 1969 Radio Spots, Stretch & Portrait Hall (Ghost Host), Load Area Wolf Howl, Bells, DoomBuggy Load (Ghost Host), Hall Clock Loop, Madame Leota (Final), Ghost Host With Organ, Pistols, Ballroom (Stereo), Attic Heart Beat & Screams, Attic Scream 1, Heartbeat (Isolated), Caretaker's Dog, Cats, Chanting Ghosts, Bones & Flute (Isolated, Stereo), Deaf Guy, Singing Busts Tracks, Ghost Host Goodbye (Stereo), Exit Crypt Music, Little Leota_ Hurry Back, Come Back, Grim Grinning Ghosts, Otherworldly Music.

The Foyer and Ballroom music tracks are great as background music when you need to drown out the background of an open office.

Extinct Attractions Club Takedown

When it seems too good to be true...

Disney sued the Extinct Attractions Club in 2010 and as a result completely shut down their sales pipeline. This could explain why I haven't gotten any emails since May 25, 2010. In the prior email the subject was "Extinct Attraction Extinct?" There were a couple of issues not related to the take-down by Disney.

Disney Lawyers has imposed the owner, David O’Neal, a Million dollar fine if he used any Disney materials for future sales. According to various internet sites, prior to the shutdown, he was shipping nearly 1,800 DVDs a week.

Initially David justified his sales as portions of the sales went to help the homeless around Anaheim. Evidently, he got greedy and Disney caught on and shut down the mail order business.

Today, the Extinct Attractions Club is still operating, but they no longer selling any merchandise. They appear to still comply with Disney lawyers.

Occasionally you’ll find some CDs or DVDs on eBay from Disney fans selling their personal collection. If you do see the Haunted Mansion CD/DVD collection, I would highly recommend getting it.

Alternative Solution

If you're looking for a legal version of the Haunted Mansion Soundtrack, check out the "Haunted Mansion souvenir soundtracks" Soundtrack. You’ll find some ride audio walkthrough.

The Disney CDs doesn't include the individual clips that were in the Extinct Attractions Club. Maybe some day they will offer it? Perhaps on the 50th-anniversary audio collection.

The walk through audio quality is still better than if you were to personally record the media for yourself. Certainly can't go wrong.

You can pick up the CD at Memento Mori (Haunted Mansion store in the Magic Kingdom).

Extinct Attraction Media

Warning to anyone that purchased any media from Extinct Attractions.

None of the extinct attractions videos were ever manufactured on pressed DVDs as they were always done on regular DVD media. This is true for the CD collection too. This means that they may lose quality over time, much faster than pressed media would.

Since you can’t get a replacement for your media should anything happen to it. You should back up your CD or DVD collection. The easiest way to do backup the CD collection is to “Mix-Rip-Burn” the CD via iTunes.

October 18, 2016

Wahlburgers

Walburger Boston

Last week we were near Fenway Park and decided to checkout Wahlburgers. According to the "Find Me Gluten Free" App, the resturant has a 93% approval rating for being a Celiac friendly. We thought we give it a try.

Wahlburgers is a different type of restaurant, it's basically a step above a Smash Burger. You have the option to order via counter or walk around and eat in. When we ordered our drinks it came in take-out paper cups. My first thought was, "Well that's one way to avoid doing the dishes."

Placing the Order

When the host came over and asked for our order, we let them know that our daughter needed to eat gluten free. He was very knowledgeable on what was available on the menu that was gluten free. We asked if they had gluten free mac & cheese, off hand he didn't know, but he checked with the kitchen and confirmed that they didn't have a gluten free pasta. We decided to order a grill cheese sandwich for my daughter and a couple of burgers: "The Melt" and "The Our Burger." We order one with french fries and the other with Sweet Potato Tots.

We were told that they have a dedicated fryer for french fries and tots, so there were no cross contamination issues.

Really Good Burgers

Grill Cheese Sandwich GF

We didn't have to wait too long for our order to arrive, which was good because we were starving. The burgers looked good, as well as the grilled cheese looked yummy. We tasted our burgers and they were delicious, much better than Smash Burger. They were loaded with flavor.

I didn't care for the french fries too much, I think the shoe string french fries at Smash Burger is better, plus you get a lot more to enjoy. The Sweet Potato Tots were very yummy and didn't last long at our table. Lots of flavors and delicious.

Desert

There was very limited gluten free options for dessert, but the server suggested the "Grilled Banana Fluffanutta" as that could be made gluten free. The desert contains peanut butter, fresh bananas, fluff & Nutella served between grilled bread.

The server completely forgot that we ordered it when he dropped off the check at our table. He apologized and said that he would get it with no charge.

The desert was 'ok' wasn't anything all that special. I was thinking that it would be a cold desert, not a hot one. Probably not something that I would order again.

We'll Be Back

The restaurant noise was a bit loud as the current hits were being played over some of the TV audios. Certainly not the place to go and have a chat.

We enjoyed our meal at Wahlburgers, and we'll certainly be back. The restaurant is far from Framingham and we had to pay $10 to park at the Landmark Center Garage across the street. So we won't be going as often as other restaurants that we go to.

We are glad that we found a new gluten-free place for our daughter.

One more thing

What's the deal with the drink prices? why is a "fountain soda, Coke" cheaper than Gingerale? Both were served in a Wahlburgers take-out cup.

Drink Prices

October 19, 2016

Framingham Salem Ends House

Salem House2016

At 657 Salem End Road, in Framingham is the "Salem End" house. This ia an abandon house with history dating back more than 323 years ago.

History of the House

In 1692, it was the peak of the witch hunt in Salem, Massachusetts. Among all those being sought were three sisters who were accused of witchcraft: Sarah Towne, Rebecca Nurse, and Mary Esty. At the time it was widely believed that witchcraft was a family trait.

All were tried and evidently found guilty of witchcraft. Rebecca and Mary were hung within days of their trial. With the help of her husband Peter, Sarah escapes prison and was hidden by her family and friends until they reached Framingham, then called Danforth's farms.

Once in Framingham, Sarah changed her last name to Clayes. She lived the remaining years of her life trying to clear her sister names. She died in 1703. Sarah's grave has never been found. Framingham's oldest graveyard only has gravestones dated back to 1704. It's possible that Sarah might be buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery.

Part of the downfall of the Witchcraft hunt was done by Deputy Governor Danforth as he was instrumental in stopping convictions by the court.

The area was name "Salem End" because of all the families who escaped the Salem Witch Trials more than 323 years ago. The families found that the area gave them peace from all the witchcraft delusion the occurred in Salem.

Over the Years

The house has changed hands many times over the years.

In the 1990's, the house was part of a bitter divorce and as a result, no care was taken to the house or property. The house has been officially abandoned for ten years.

In the 1980's when the house was for sale, someone placed a classified Ad, Here's the December 9, 1984, Boston Globe copy:

Framingham1984 Ad

Sign at the House

If you drive by the house today, you'll see a large sign with the following text:

Save the Sarah and Peter Clayes House!

Elements of this house date back to 1693, when Sarah and Peter Clayes -- along with their extended families with surnames of Nurse, Bridges, and Esty - built their dwellings along what is now known as Salem End Road. This little group was refugees from the witch hysteria that gripped the home of Salem Village, 30 miles northeast of this spot. Sarah's sister Rebecca Nurse and Mary Esty were hung for witchcraft, along with 17 other men and women, and Sarah herself was jailed for the same fabricated crime. Sarah survived , and settled with her family on what was then known as Danforth's Farms, named for Thomas Danforth, who was Deputy Governor at the time. These early settlers went on to incorporate the Town of Framingham in 1700.

Efforts are underway to Preserve this historic home. If you would like to join this Initiative, please see our website at www.sarahclayeshouse.org

This home is under serveillance and also watched by concerned neighbors. Trespassing is not allowed and will be prosecuted.

Current Status

An onsite Auction was held on Oct 23, 2015, where the current owner, Goldman Sachs, had pledged to donate the house to a non-profit who would restore the house. They would only pledge if no one else wanted the house.

There were three potential bidders at the auction but none of them wanted the house at the opening bid of $817,894. The current Zillow value is $637,042. The house last sold for $224,973 in July 1997.

In December of 2015, Goldman Sachs made good on its promise and donated the house to the Sarah Clayes House Trust.

The Land Conservation Advocacy Trust is now working to raise money to help restore the house, you can visit their Go Fund Me campaign to contribute to saving the house. They are looking for tax-deductible contributions to raising the first $10,000 need to help save the house.

The Go Fund Me campaign has lots of information about the history of the house and the what the Trust plans to do with the house.

October 20, 2016

Parkman Bandstand

Parkman Bandstand

On the eastern side of the Boston Commons is a landmark bandstand. The bandstand is named after George F. Parkman and is officially called the "Parkman Bandstand."

George F. Parkman was the last family member of the Parkman family, a wealthy Bostonian Family. The were consider one of the Boston Brahmin - a class of wealthy, educated, elite members of Boston society in the nineteenth century.

When George Parkman died on September 16, 1908, he gave the city of Boston $5 million for the purpose of taking care of the park. That would be equivalent to $133,064,476.27 in today's value.

This is the second monument that is named after George F. Parkman in the Boston Commons. In front of the visitor center is Parkman Plaza, a circular paved area with three bronze statues representing Industry, Religion, and Learning. The Parkman Plaza was dedicated in 1960.

Interesting Facts

  • Parkman Bandstand was open in 1912
  • It cost $20,000 to build. ($532,257.91 in today's value)
  • Designed by Derby, Robinson and Shepard.
  • The Bandstand is modeled after Versailles' Temple d'Amour
  • Cow Pond once occupied the site.
  • The pond was filled in 1838 when the city of Boston pass an ordinance to ban cattle-grazing on the Commons.
  • The Bandstand and pavement around it is about 300 square feet.
  • The City of Boston welcome "first night" 1930 with a concert at the Parkman Bandstand
  • Charles Lindberg delivered his message from the Parkman Bandstand on July 23, 1927
  • Parkman House, 33 Beacon St, Boston, MA, is the Boston's Mayor Official Reception Hall
  • The bandstand also gives the Boston Common its most useful platform for public speaking
  • It was last restored in 1996 by McKinley Kalsow & Associates
  • Handicap ramp was added during the 1996 restoration.
  • George F. Parkman is the only person to have 2 monuments named after him in the Boston Commons.

Sign on the Floor

When you walk up the stairs of the Bandstand there is a plaque on the floor that was placed during the 1912 dedication ceremony. The text is all uppercase using an old style too look "clean and classy." This is the old-world style text:

Parkman Bandstand2 PARKMAN MEMORIAL BANDSTAND
ERECTED BY AVTHORITY OF
HON JOHN F FITZGERALD MAYOR
AND THE CITY COVNCIL
VNDER THE SVPERVISION OF THE
SVPERINTENDENT OF PVBLIC GROVNDS
D HENRY SVLLIVAN
AND THE MVSIC TRVSTEES
WILLIAM C BROOKS CHAIRMAN
MARY E MCISAAC DANIEL P SHEDD
JOHN A O'SHEA ALFRED P DEVOTO
BERBY ROBINSON & SHEPARD ARCHITECTS
DEVICATED MDCCCCXII

Notable Yearly Events

  • On October 23, 2007 it was the location of the Barack Obama and Deval Patrick Rally on Tuesday.
  • Johnson and Weld held a rally on August 22, 2016.
  • Shakespeare in the Park happens in the Summer
  • The yearly "Castle Hill Concours d'Elegance" car show is held every September around Bandstand

Family Story

There is an interesting side story about George Parkman family.

In 1849, George Parkman father, Dr. George Parkman, was murdered at Harvard Medical School in one of the most famous murder cases in Harvard history.

On November 23, 1849, Dr. George Parkman, a successful surgeon, stopped by Harvard Medical School to collect some money from John White Webster, a Harvard professor. Mr. Webster had some problems with paying off the debt and ended up murdering Mr. Parkman. Mr. Webster placed his parts inside a brick wall. A week later the body was discovered by Ephrain Littlefield, a janitor at Harvard Medical School.

The crime and trial of Mr. Webster was an international sensation. Tickets were sold to those that wanted to sit in the courtroom, and six thousand tickets were sold. The trial lasted for 12-days and John White Webster was convicted of Parkman's murder on March 30, 1850 (127 days after the murder).

He was executed on August 30, 1850. That's 280 days after the murder, and 153 days after being convicted.

There are some historians that believe that John White Webster may not have been guilty of murder and that the murder might have been accomplished by Webster's accuser.

Fall Foliage

The Parkman Bandstand is a great place to take pictures of the Boston Foliage:

Parkman Fall

October 21, 2016

Arrows in Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer Logo

On October 6, 2016, Serif announced the latest update to Affinity Designer. This is the first major update since October, 2014.

Affinity Designer is the perfect application for anyone wanting to have more control over their graphics. It's a pretty powerful tool that will certainly take time to explore and learn.

Brief Description:

Affinity Designer is the fastest, smoothest, most precise vector graphic design software available. Whether you’re working on graphics for marketing materials, websites, icons, UI design or just like creating cool concept art, Affinity Designer will revolutionize how you work.

In short: If you do any work with marketing materials, websites, icons, UI design - Affinity Designer will take your creativity to the next level.

I have been using Pixelmator for a long time. I can see that the two applications seem to have strengths in various functionality. For example, anytime that I want to touch up a photo, I would use Pixelmator as the "Auto Enhance Color Adjuster" is perfect for that. But if I am looking to add a new header or put together a flyer, then Affinity Designer is the perfect tool.

Getting Decent Line Arrows in Affinity Designer

There is no decent arrow functionality in Affinity Designer. There is a double sided arrow shape tool, but that's just for design purposes. It doesn't work too well when you want to highlight a feature.

In a future update, I would like to see some decent arrow head capability with line objects. I use arrows to point to screenshot functionality. I would like to use Designer to tell a story of why some functionality isn't working properly. One possible solution would be to use Skitch to add arrows to images and then use Affinity Designer to build a storyboard.

There is a better way. I am taking advantage of the new Assets section in Affinity Designer 1.5. I set up a bunch of arrows types that I can instantly use whenever I want.

Affinity Assets

These are vector shapes, which means that once I drag and drop the arrow object to a file, I can ungroup and then manipulate the arrow to anyway that I see fit.

I have set up different arrow directions, so that I can just drag and drop the arrow where I want it to work. I expect to add additional arrows when I need to. I got the above arrows from https://openclipart.org/. There re some great arrow collections over on creativegraphic.com and InkyDeals.

Reminder: That when you add objects to the Assets section, you should group vectors together. I ran into issues when I was dragging arrows over and the arrowhead would be a separate asset from the line. This is because Designer is treating each object as a separate Asset. Simply select both vector objects and group them. Then drag it to the subcategory that you want. When you drag them out of the Asset section you can ungroup them and then make the arrow do whatever you want.

Download the Asset

Got Affinity Designer? You can download my 'QA Asset' category. This includes the browser badges and the arrows.

Initial Impression

I am very happy that I finally have a vector application. Over the years I have accumulated lots of EPS files and I haven't had a decent application to properly read these files. I like the fact that I can use the same brushes that I had in Pixelmator in Affinity Designer, especially the "Torn Paper Brushes," which I use frequently.

Brush Pallet
Affinity Designer Brush Pallet on the left, and Pixelmator Pallet on the right.

I am looking forward to learning a lot more about the capabilities of Affinity Designer. Their training on Vimeo is very helpful in understanding how the application works. They a video tutorial on the fundamentals of every bit of their application.

October 22, 2016

Simple Vector USA Map

I was doing some search on the internet for a good vector USA map and really couldn't find any. There were a few but they were hand drawn and made Massachusetts look pretty ugly. I decided to search my personal vector collection for a good map. I have IMSI 101,000 Masterclips, 25,000 Image Pak Click Art and Mega Gallery Vector clip-arts.

To use these images, you need a vector reading program such as Illustrator, Affinity Designer and Autodesk Graphic.

USA Vector Image

I found a good USA vector image. Decided to clean it up and make it free for anyone to use. This is perfect if you need a map to color the states, like for the 2016 Election. If your looking for a better map, consider purchasing one from Creative Market.

Lower48States.jpg
Click on image for the EPS version.

The graphic is in EPS, and it looks much better than the JPG compress in the above image. You have full control of the border size, so if you want the state borders to be bigger you can do that.

November 8

I also found a neat "November 8th" graphic. Kind of the neat way to promote the election day this year. The IMSI MasterClips has a folder of EPS images that feature every day of the year. They also have a calendar which features the day and week. (For example, Tuesday 8th.) If you need a particular day, leave a message in the comments and I'll get you one.

November Guy
Click on image for the EPS version.

More Graphics to Come

I'll post more cool graphics as I find them.

October 23, 2016

iPhone Tip: Screen Capture Videos for Social Media

If you're just taking pictures for the purposes of posting onto a social network, then shooting the footage in video and then taking a screen shot of the final copy might be a good way to get the prize winning shot. Why take the chance of missing the perfect shot.

Standard iPhone 6s Plus picture is 4032x3024 (1.9 MB), a screenshot on an iPhone 6s Plus is 2208x1242 (4.7 MB). Your image is still bigger than the recommended sizes on all the major social media sites:

Social Media Photo Size Recomendations

Social Media Photo Recomendation
Facebook 1200 x 628
Twitter 1,024 x 512
Pinterest 735 x 1,102
Instagram 1,080 x 1,080
LinkedIn 700 x 400
Google+ 800 x 1,200

Sample Video Photo

Green Line Photo
Screen capture of a video, while waiting for the Green Line in Boston

If you're taking an action shot, you can always increase the frame rate so that you don't have a blur effect on moving objects.

Screen Capture

To take a screen capture - Simply press and hold the “Sleep/Wake” button and then press the “Home” button.

Try FiLMiC Pro

I use FiLMiC Pro for my videos because you have better control over the focus and exposure. You really get the full capabilities of your phone. It really is worth the $10 to get a lot more out of your iPhone 6s Plus.

From their website:

FiLMiC Pro turns your iOS camera into a broadcast worthy High Definition video camera. FiLMiC Pro variable speed zoom, audio gain control, variable frame rates up to 240fps on newest devices. With full manual control over focus, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, tint and color temperature you may never need another video camera again. Additionally, FiLMiC Pro has a ton of professional tools such as audio meters, stereo microphone support, informative thirds guide, and aspect ratio overlays. And for the truly creative a variety of resolutions and aspect ratios including 2K, 3K, and 4K on the newest iPhones; Cinemascope, Letterbox, Super 35 and Super 16 aspect ratios. This app has everything you need to create your own Hollywood movie, documentary, music video, or iPhone news Story.

October 24, 2016

Memento Mori

Prior to October 1, 2014, if you wanted a Haunted Mansion souvenir in the Magic Kingdom you would have to look for the Mme Leota cart. Seems like a strange name for a cart, I wonder who came up with that?

Here's a couple of pictures of the cart taken in 2000 and 2005.

1999 Cart
Haunted Mansion Cart in 1999

Cart Closeup
The cart at night showing some of the merchandise in 2005.

The cart had very limited stock. There were a couple of shirt designs, some keychains, and pins. The variety on the Disney.com store was much better.

New Memento Mori Store

The Memento Mori store is a significant improvement from the cart store. The store replaced the old Yankee Store which was closed down for few months for a complete refurbishment.

You can see what the area looked like while they were transferring the building to be the new Haunted Mansion Store.

I remember being in the Yankee Store and was never impressed with the merchandise. They did have Colonial Memorabilia, which fit in the land that it was in. I thought the store would be better near the Hall of Presidents.

Special Haunted Mansion Merchandise

There's a lot of exclusive merchandise that Disney added to the store. Merchandise rotate all the time, so it's never the same place. When you go in, simply ask a cast member of any new inventory or popular things.

Exclusive to the Haunted Mansion store is the spirit souvenir photo. This is your chance to transform your face to a skull. Much like the portrait gallery inside the Haunted Mansion. Currently cost $20, for the photo and basic frame. I haven't done this as I don't know where I would hang the picture.

There are a few premium merchandise - desktop and wall accessories which are very cool. You can always have these shipped to your house - that way you don't have to worry about bringing it home. It's worth the extra shipping fee.

I like the coffee mug collection that they have. I am always on the lookout for some updated Haunted Mansion mug design. This is the place to get a Haunted Mansion shirt for the little Haunted Mansion fans too!

Shopping Tip: If you see something interesting, get it. I saw some cool mugs, and I waited until the end of the day to get them - only to find out they sold them all out! I went back to the store a couple of days later and they still didn't have the mugs.

Disney Special Effects

While walking around the store, pay attention to your surroundings. There're all sorts of special effects such as object in mirrors, or special lighting that Disney Imagineers added to make the store special.

It's a fun store to visit before or after going on the Haunted Mansion ride.

Momento Mori Construction
Construction of the Memento Mori in early 2014

Merchandise at Other Attractions

The Haunted Mansion is one of the few original attractions that doesn't make you walk through the store at the end of the ride. A great example is the Pirates of the Caribbean or the Pooh Ride.

While the Haunted Mansion store is long overdue, there are many other original 1970 Disney attractions that do not have any stores related to the attraction:

  • Small World
  • Peter Pan
  • Hall of Presidents
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Tiki Room
  • Carousel of Progress

Many of the Fantasyland attractions have merchandise in the "big top." If you're looking for merchandise related to your favorite ride ask a cast member for the ride.

October 25, 2016

Halloween Candy

Halloween Candy

Halloween can be tricky time for kids with Celiacs. Thankfully many of the popular candies are Gluten free and Celiac friendly. Here’s the list of the 30 most popular candies in the United States

Pay attention to the candy that are handed out at halloweeen, and ask ask for a different candy if they should get one that is not on the list. Example, keep in mind that M&Ms are gluten free and look for that in the bucket as candy is being distributed.

100 Grand Bar Not Safe
3 Musketeers Safe
AirHeads Safe
Almond Joy Safe
Butterfinger Safe (Only the Bars!)
Candy corn Not 100% Safe (Brach's Candy Corn is processed in a facility that also processes wheat)
Hershey's Kisses Safe (Not the Hugs variety)
Jolly Ranchers Safe
Kit Kat Bar Not Safe
Laffy Taffy Safe
Lifesavers Safe
M&M's Safe (Except for pretzel M&Ms)
Milky Way Safe (Not Orginal)
Nerds Safe
Nestlé Crunch Bar Not Safe
Pixy Stix Safe
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Safe
Reese's Pieces Safe
Skittles Safe
Snickers Safe
Sour Patch Kids Safe
Starburst Safe
Swedish Fish Safe
Sweet Tarts Safe
Toblerone Safe
Tootsie Rolls Safe
Twix Not Safe
Twizzlers Not Safe
Oreos Not Safe
Whoppers Not Safe

LiveStrong has a very good list of all the candy that is Glueten Free.

October 26, 2016

Peter Salem

In Colonial America, there were many fighters that fought for the freedom of this country. Among the farmers and tradesmen on the battle lines were black slaves who fought with the hopes of gaining their freedom.

One of the 5,000 blacks and free men who fought alongside the farmers and tradesmen was Peter Salem from Framingham, Massachusetts. For many years he was a slave to Captain Jeremiah Belknap. He was then sold to Major Lawson Buckminster. Just before the start of the Revolutionary War, Mr. Buckminster set Peter Salem free so he could enlist in the militia and fight in the American Revolution.

Bunker Hill

Peter Salem served under the Framingham militia and was part of Colonial Nixon's Regiment. At the battle of Bunker Hill, Peter was ordered to support Colonial Prescott. As the militia was faced with some difficulties, the British Major Pitcaurm, seeing victory was near, said: "The Day is Ours!" Peter Salem shot the Major, and Major Pitcaurm fell into the arms of his son. He would later die in a house in Boston.

The death of the British Major was an inspiration to the colonial militia and gave hope to those fighting for the American Revolution.

Life after the Revolutionary War

Peter stayed with the Framingham Militia throughout the war. He fought at various battles including Saratoga and Stony Point.

After the war ended, he headed to Leicester, Massachusetts. He lived in various parts of town where he did odd jobs including farming, making and mending baskets and fixing chairs.

Peter Salem didn't really do well in his business and resorted in support from the local government. The town of Leicester sent him back to Framingham where Peter lived his final days in a poor house.

Peter Salem died on August 16, 1816. He was buried at the Church Hill Cemetery (Old Burial Grounds) in Framingham, not far from the Belknap and Buckminster farms where he served as a slave.

Peter Salem Grave

Grave at Old Burying Grounds

Since he had no money, Peter Salem was buried in an unmarked grave at the Old Burying Grounds. In 1882, the town of Framingham spent $150 to honor Peter Salem with a monument. (Equivalent to $3,488.37 in 2016)

Note: No one knows exactly where Peter Salem body was buried. The monument was placed in the center of an area where unmarked graves were kept.

Tips on finding the monument at Old Burial Ground:

  • There is no parking in front of the graveyard, the nearest public parking is over by Bowditch Field by Walnut Street.
  • At the main entrance, near the "Old Burying Grounds Cemetery" sign on one of the stone post, walk the main path all the way to the back.
  • There is a small grass area, in the middle of the grass is Peter Salem monument.
  • You'll see an American Flag and a Revolutionary Star next to the monument.
  • There are 89 Revolutionary Solders that are also buried here, look for the Revolutionary Star to the left of their headstone.
  • Major Lawson Buckminster, Peter Salem's former owner, is also buried at the Old Burial Grounds.

Battle of Bunker Hill Painting

At the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is a painting of the Bunker Hill, called "The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill." In the painting, you can see a black man standing behind Joseph Warren.

Many historians suspect that the painter, John Trumbull, had painted Peter Salem there as a tribute to his actions at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Peter Salem Monument

In Leicenter, Massachusetts, there was a small memorial to Peter Salem at his former homestead. His last residence was on Rochdale Road. After he died, the road was renamed "Peter Salem Street."

For many years there was a small stone monument cemented together with the inscription, "Here Lived Peter Salem, Negro Solder of the Revolution." The monument disappeared many years ago. (45 Peter Salem Street is where I believe the monument was.)

Children that went to school in the area around Leicenter, Massachusetts learned all about their native hero. They learned all about how a former slave help the momentum of the militia.

Monument to Black Revolutionary War Soldiers

In 1985, the House of Representatives approved a bill to erect a monument to the black patriots who served under George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette. The Senate delayed the vote because of dispute of where the monument would be placed.

After 30 years, the National Park Service suggest a small strip of land near the Department of Agriculture, at the corner of 14th Street and Independence Avenue. President Obama signed the authorization into law on September 26, 2014.

The National Liberty Memorial is still gathering funds for the Memorial, visit their website for additional information.

October 27, 2016

Central Burial Grounds

In Boston, there are four major cemeteries that opened during the Colonial period.

Place Years in Operation Number of Interments
King Chapel 1630 - 1660 1,500 people
Old Granary Burial Ground 1660 - 1856 5,000 people
Copp's Hill Burying Ground 1659 - 1968 10,000 people
Central Burial Grounds 1756 - 1836 5,000 people

The one that is most likely to be haunted is the Central Burial Grounds. That is because of a couple of major events that have happened at the cemetery.

Brief History of the Grounds

The need for a third burial grounds came about because of the continued growth of the city of Boston. It was established on the Boston Common in 1756. It is located on Boylston Street between Tremont Street and Charles Street.

The grounds were actually not all that desire of a place because it was further away from the main part of the city. Many of the city poor were buried here. Many children were buried here.

British Soldiers

During the occupation of Boston, the British buried their dead in the Central Burial Grounds. They either died in combat or as a result of disease during the occupation of Boston, and the various battles around the city.

First Disturbance - Boylston Street Expansion

In 1836, Boston Mayor Samuel Armstrong requested extending Boylston Street to connect with Tremont Street. As a result, a considerable part of the cemetery had to be eliminated and a row of tombs had to be moved to make room for the street.

The tombs were relocated in a long barrow, which is called the "The Dell."

The Dell Location
The Dell at the Central Burial Grounds.

Second Disturbance - The Subway Construction

In 1894, when the Tremont Street Subway was under construction, burials were discovered in the area near the cemetery. These were reinterred in a mass grave within the bounds of the burying ground.

Many of the 900 bodies that were found were the British soldiers who died during the Boston occupation 100 years earlier.

The mass grave has a slate table and three boundary stones to mark the spot of those that were relocated.

Grave Yard

There were a couple of strange events that happened near the cemetery after the two disturbances.

Tremont Street Gas Explosion

On March 4, 1897, a gas explosion took place just a few feet from the Central Burial Grounds. In all six people were killed and at least sixty were injured. All the buildings in the area were shaken and windows in the area were broken.

The total damage cost, other than the loss of six people, was $10,000. (Equivalent to $287,196.15 in 2015) Most of that was for all the broken windows in the buildings.

At the time there was a well-known issue with a gas leak at the Boylston as many people reported the strong gas smell to the gas company. The gas company was negligent for not responding in time.

However, since it happened near the cemetery and shortly after the move of many graves, some think that a paranormal event occurred.

Emerson College Construction Collapse

In 2006, a horrific accident occurred during construction at the Emerson Dormitory building on Boylston Street. This was the first building being constructed opposite the cemetery in roughly 80 years.

On April 6, 2006, a large scaffold collapsed, and three people tragically lost their lives. An investigation went into the accident and discovered that it was a worker procedure error that caused the crane to collapse.

Girl Without a face

There is a ghost story around the Central Burying Ground where a "Girl Without a face" has been spotted wandering around the graveyard. I heard about this story from various sources, and will need to research more for a future blog post.

October 28, 2016

Panic.com's Transmit

Transmit Icon

I have been a long time fan of Panic’s Transmit software. I first purchase Panic 3, on September 27, 2006. Today it's my day-to-day application for transferring files from my computer to any remote server.

Panic.com description of Transmit:

You need to transfer files. Maybe to an FTP or SFTP server, or the cloud via Amazon S3, or using WebDAV. You maintain a website, do backups, or upload photos. You need Transmit, the #1 Mac OS X FTP client. Now, in Transmit 4, we took everything good about Transmit and added a dollop of unbelievably great.

Why Transmit?

Macintosh users are a lot of choices when it comes to transferring files via sftp: Cyberduck, Interarchie, Forklift, Yummy FTP, Fetch, Flow and some others.

Back in 2006, when I was looking at various sftp applications, I felt that Transmit interface and functions were better than anyone else. I haven't found any issues with the application that has made me switch to a different application.

Specifically there are three cool features that I like using with Transmit; DockSend, Droplet and Transmit Disk.

DockSend

DockSend automatically uploads files or folders dropped on Transmit's icon in the doc. The file gets sent to the correct equivalent location on a server.

This allows you the ability to send files to a server quickly. You don't need to open up Transmit, then pick the server and then drag the file to the server.

I use DockSend to easily upload my blog images to the server:

Droplet

If you have multiple services that you upload files to all the time, then Droplet is perfect for you.

You simply drag and drop a file on the droplet application icon and within seconds the file is uploaded to the server.

Droplets are a convenient way for non-technical users to upload files to a pre-set location. You can set up a droplet and have someone else upload files to your server.

The neat thing about droplets is that you can change the icon to something different, so it's easy to figure out where the file is going.

Transmit Disk

Transmit Disk allows you to mount your SFTP as a disk on your Mac Desktop. You can easily move files as you would any other Macintosh folder.

The neat thing about this, is that when you copy files from the server to your computer it keeps the file create date the same as the one on the server. I like this because I can back up old files on the server and know that my backup version will have the correct file date and not the date of the backup.

Transmit makes it easy to access your favorite remote servers from the menu.

Transmit Supports AppleScript!

AppleScript gives you more flexibility to perform certain tasks without having to remember them. Don't think AppleScript is useful for an FTP application? Check out three examples of how I integrate AppleScript and Transmit:

  • Every morning I get the latest server.log file
  • On the server, I have a cron job to do a weekly archive my database files and I use AppleScript to get the database dump so I don't have to think about it.
  • I use AppleScript to log files that I put on the server.

AppleScript is a bit complicated to setup for everyday users, but I certainly help to understand some of the fundamentals. If you want to get the basics I highly recommend Up and Running with AppleScript on Lyndia.com.

Make the Move

I would highly recommend Panic.com’s Transmit application, it’s certainly worth the $33.99 cost in the Apple store. This is a great utility to have and worth the investment, if you manage any website.

What about Panic Coda?

I have been very interested in Panic's Coda, an all in one FTP/Editor/Mysql application. (I even set up a Google News Alert if it goes on sale) I haven't made the switch because I am a big fan of BBEdit and I don't see switching to another text editor anytime soon.

October 29, 2016

Top Song of the 80s

If you're involved with an 80s theme party, check out this list of the number one song of each year..

When I was helping planning for an 80s party, I was very surprised that no one else had a list of the number one songs of that year. (This should be in any 1980s playlist!)

Number one songs of each year

1980 Call Me Blondie
1981 Bette Davis Eyes Kim Carnes
1982 Physical Olivia Newton John
1983 Every Breath You Take Police
1984 When Doves Cry Prince
1985 Careless Whisper Wham!
1986 That's What Friends Are For Donnie and Friends
1987 Walk Like an Egyptian Bangles
1988 Faith George Michael
1989 Another Day in Paradise Phil Collins

There is no album that has all ten songs. You need to rip/mix/burn your own album. This playlist has 10 songs and is 43 Minutes long (85.4 MB)

What about Michael Jackson?

Michael Jackson had lots of hits, but none of his songs actually made it long enough to be number 1 of the year. His best song was Billy Jean in 1983, but the Police "Every Breath You Take" spent more time at number one. Check out the Billboard's list of popular Michael Jackson songs.

Bonus Idea

Listen to iHeart Radio and you might get lucky and capture Casey Kasem announcing the number one song of that year. Wouldn't it be cool to have that played as a lead into the song?

Check out this as an example:

October 30, 2016

Selfie Sticks in Massachusetts Polling Places

President Position

This year's Presidential election is pretty crazy and people are starting their early voting. Some people are even posting selfies of them at the voting booth.

While selfie sticks haven't been ban in some voting area, some schools/buildings have banned them for security purposes.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts doesn't have any laws against taking any type of pictures at the voting area.

Following Voters

You can follow along those that have publically announced that they voted:

Did you know

  • Flags are required by law to be displayed in a Polling area. (Title VIII, Chapter 54 Section 25A)
  • Not only is Smoking is prohibited but carrying any cigarettes or lighter can be asked to leave, otherwise you could be faced with a $20 fine.
  • You are allowed to put a sticker on the ballot in special situations. (According to the Massachusetts Election Day Manual: "The voter may also bring with them a sticket, handed to them on their way into the polls by one of the write-in candidates, to affix to the ballot.")
  • Any person may challenge a voter for legal cause. (Don't do this unless you're sure of the outcome!) If a person makes a challenge for an unspecified reason, the election worker should thereafter ask the challenger what specific reason they wish to have recorded. If, after being so questioned by the election official, the challenger gives no specific reason, the voter should be permitted to vote, and should not be considered a challenged voter.
  • The names of the Presidents are in the alphabetical order by surname.
  • After the Polls have closed, the polling location must remain open so that the public may observe the counting of votes from outside the guardrail.
  • When you vote and encounter a problem, notify the warden or presiding officer about the issue. They should be able to resolve the issue. If you do not get a satisfied resolution, contact the Commonwealth's Elections Division at 617-727-2828.

October 31, 2016

Haunted Mansion really Haunted?

Is the Haunted Mansion in Disney World really Haunted. - Yes!

Known Oddities

Cast members will talk about how the Haunted Mansion ride will mysteriously shut down. Anytime the ride has a malfunction they are required to record the incident. That would be an interesting log to review to see if there are any particular patterns that have cause ride stoppage.

Personal Experience

I have been in the Haunted Mansion a couple of times where as something odd would happen. I have ridden on the ride many times to know the difference between a ride stoppage and when it feels that something doesn't seem right.

Broken Stretching Room

One time I was in the stretching room and all activity stopped after the lighting went off. It was completely dark and silent. About 15 seconds later the lights would go on, and then the main door open.

The cast member was quick to get everyone out of the room. I looked back and saw him talking on the radio. That particular stretching room wasn't used again for the remaining part of the day.

Doom Buggy

I have been in the Haunted Mansion enough times to experience a Doom Buggies stoppage. The stoppage is usually done to help a guest load or unload.

I actually look forward to the stoppage, as I'll try to get a good picture of the library or the graveyard. The ride moves too quickly to get the camera to take a nice night shot. However, I usually get stuck in a weird place - such as the area before the hallway or exiting the attic. I don't get an opportunity to take a cool Haunted Mansion ride photo.

Something different happened on the ride in November 2015. The ride came to a complete stop right before the Doom Buggy exits the graveyard. This was a longer stoppage than normal, as the cast member kept announcing over the speaker system that they were looking into the issue. I had plenty of time to get some pictures.

The total stoppage was roughly 2 minutes. While in the graveyard, I could see people taking flash pictures.

Taking Haunted Mansion Ride Photos

If you want to take decent ride photos you need the right opportunity and the right equipment. Using a cell phone camera is not your best option.

Good camera settings

If you have a DSLR or a Bridge, here are some suggested camera settings for various areas of the Haunted Mansion. This is based on successful pictures that other people have taken.

Place Aperture Exposure Time ISO Focal Length
Library f/2.8 1/25 12,800 24 mm
Hallway f/2.8 .3 12,800 14 mm
Dinning Room f/1.4 1/60 3200 30 mm
Graveyard f/1.8 1/40 12,800 50mm

The iPhone 7, the latest and greatest has these as max settings:

iPhone 7 f/2.2 Exposure Control 24mm

The Nixon D7100 seems to be the most popular camera that has captured the best photos