Powerbook in SFO
April 5, 2020

Home Mortgage Refinancing for Veterans

During a somewhat uncertain time, we are all looking to make careful choices to protect our families and our health. Many of us are also carefully reviewing our budgets to cut excess expenses to keep our financial health in shape. If you are a veteran considering whether to refinance your home mortgage, take a look at the resources below to help guide this choice.

Home Mortgage Refinancing

7 Steps to Refinancing Your Home Mortgage
How do you best manage a successful mortgage refinancing campaign? Make these key steps the cornerstones of your refinancing plan.

Find the Best Mortgage Lenders and Refinancing Companies
Do your research to learn more about different types of loans, eligibility requirements and what you should look for when searching for the right mortgage lender for your needs.

Home Appraisals: Home Appraiser, Property Value & Tips
You should know a little about the process and how it works, both to decide if a home appraisal is in your best interest and to take any possible steps to influence the final appraisal number.

How to Improve Your Credit Score
Key takeaways include: Pay your bills on time, pay down your credit card balances to keep your credit utilization ratio low, and don't close old credit card accounts or apply for too many new ones.

Mortgage Assistance Programs for Veterans
There are several government-backed options that make the home-buying process more accessible to active and former military service members. 

What is a VA Loan?
Available to eligible veterans with key advantages such as: No down payment or mortgage insurance required and no pre-payment penalty for paying off a loan early.

VA Home Loans: A Guide For America’s Veterans
The ins and outs of VA loans explained.

Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan
Refinancing lets you replace your current loan with a new one under different terms. Find out if you’re eligible"and how to apply.

April 4, 2020

US Debt Clock

The United States debt problem is a well known problem. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is sure to add to the National Dept.

The USDebtClock.org is a great site to see how much the US debt is growing. The page may look overwhelming because there's a lot going on, but it's a good way to get an understanding of the impact the debt has on every American.

Website Description

The Purpose of US Debt Clock.org is to inform the public of the financial condition of the United States of America. We are dedicated to bringing to the public the most accurate up-to-date debt information possible. The numbers are laid out in such a way to give a complete real-time snapshot of the country's balance sheet. Although the numbers involved are enormous, it is still easy to see the relative balance between wealth generated and wealth consumed.

All the debt clocks on the site are updated continuously to the most precise calculations, using complex formulas and exacting standards, and the values displayed arc verified from the best sources available.

U S Debt Clock
https://www.usdebtclock.org/index.html

The page has lots of useful data:

  • A "time machine" to see what the debt looked like this year in history.
  • Check the debt for individual states.
  • The latest Official Unemployed and Actual Unemployed.
April 3, 2020

Unlock your Mac using the Apple Watch

Did you know that you can unlock your Macintosh computer with your Apple Watch?

This is a very cool feature of the Apple Watch because when you wake up the computer, it will check your watch for authentication and pretty much "instant on" your computer

Unlock Apple Watch Graphic

How to Enable

Simple steps to enable the Apple Watch:

  • Go to System Preference under the Apple Menu.
  • Select the Security & Privacy option (Its the Home icon with a Safe dial on the front.)
  • Go to the General Tab
  • Check the box, "Use you Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac"

Three Things I Learned

This is great, now you don't have to remember your password - especially useful after a long vacation.

Your Apple watch has to be connected to your account that you're using on your Mac. Note: Look at the System Preferences default screen to make sure you're using the right account that is sync to your Apple Watch.

Using the Watch is a secure way to unlock your computer because it will only work if you unlock your Watch - so if you leave your watch next to the computer it won't unlock your computer. You would have to put it on, enter in the password for the watch and then it will be enabled for your computer until you take it off your wrist.

April 2, 2020

Haffenreffer Walk

Every paved path in the Boston Public Garden has a name. One of the most traveled paths is the Haffenreffer Walk.

Boston Gardens Haffenreffer Walk

Haffenreffer Walk is a straight route from the Boston Commons to the Commonwealth Mall. It cuts the Boston Public Gardens in half.

There are three main things to see on Haffenreffer Walk:

  • George Washington " equestrian statue [Installed in 1869].
  • Foot Bridge [Created in 1867] " once the world’s shortest suspension bridge.
  • 
Seasonal flowers " The flowers are constantly changing to reflect the changing season. In the spring you'll see pretty tulips and in the summer you'll see palm trees.

Fun Facts about Haffenreffer Walk

Named after Theodore Carl Haffenreffer ( l880 - 1956) who was a member of the Board of Park Commissioners from 1930 - 1956. He served when major changes were being made that have been the foundation of what you see in the Garden today.

He was born on December 13, 1880, and died on

He served in World War 2.

He lived in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Along with his brother Rudolf Haffenreffer, they took over the Haffenreffer Brewery from their father. The brewery produced a lot of popular brews such as "The Green Monster" and "Haffenwrecker".

Theodore Carl Haffenreffer passed away in 1956, at age 76.

April 1, 2020

New England

This is the start of a new blog series where I’ll be showcasing places that I have visited around New England.

There are some complications in creating today’s post, so I won’t be able to post the scheduled content and will have to do that next week.

Some places that I’ll feature over the next few months.

  • Honeypot Orchards in Vermont
  • Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg Massachusetts
  • Manchester by the Sea Beach
  • North Conway 5 & 10 Store
  • Wychemere Harbor
  • LL Bean Store in Freeport Maine
  • Provenience Town tower

If there’s any place that you want to see, let me know and I’ll post it.

March 31, 2020

Boston Mile Marker in Framingham

Near the Minuteman Statue, at the corner of Union Ave and Main Street, is an Old Stone Mile Marker. This tells you how far away from Boston you are.

Stone Mile Marker

Five Things I Learned

There are 40 markers throughout the Boston Area and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At one time there were at least 99 that once existed.

These markers trace back to the early days of the country and were placed by the Massachusetts Council Order in 1767. They were used to help people navigate their way to Boston.

In 2015, the MassDOT restored 29 the old Stone Mile Markers the project was completed in 2018. The stones were restored were the original stones as the preservation work was done to the strict standards of the Interior's Standards for Preservation.

The mile market at this location reads: "23 miles from Boston 1768"

You can find all sorts of information on the National Register of Historic Places on their website.

Close up

23 Miles From Boston

A closer look at the Stone Marker, you can make out the letters. Keep in mind that this is 252 years old!

March 30, 2020

QA Video

Here are a few quick video clips that I use in Slack:

http://www.cryan.com//daily/2020/CanWeGetATestCase.mov

http://www.cryan.com//daily/2020/ReleaseDay.mov

http://www.cryan.com//daily/2020//PatchTime.mov

I am testing this as a new blog post, just seeing how Boostrap handles videos. If it works well, I'll certainly add additional video snips.

March 29, 2020

Corona Virus Update

Here’s a recap of the events that happened this past week, in the world of COVID-19.

Massachusetts Numbers

Massachusetts started the week with 646 confirmed cases. By Saturday there were 4,257 confirmed cases. On Friday, the state started publishing the number of people being tested. Interesting enough only 8% of those that got tested were positive.

It will be interesting to see if that percentage goes up by the end of this week.

Massachusetts has a population of 6.902 Million. Which means that .06 % of the population of Massachusetts has the Corona Virus.

Empty Stop Shop 2020
Empty Shelves show that Paper Products are still high demand.

View from the Front Lines

This afternoon I ventured out to Stop & Shop in Framingham. I was surprised that their meat department was well stocked. However, Eggs and Paper good (Paper Towels and Napkins) were empty. The pasta aisle was also hard hit.

I did find a 5-gallon bottle of Poland Spring water and some yummy ice cream.

How Long will it Go?

President Donald Trump extended federal guidelines recommending people to stay home for another 30 days until the end of April to prevent the spread of the virus. This is an extension of the original 15-day guideline that was issued a couple of weeks ago.

Massachusetts currently has a "Stay-At-Home Advisory." Maine is the only New England state to not have a Stay at Home Statewide order. Portland, Maine is the only city with a Stay at home advisor.

At least 229 million people in at least 26 states, 66 counties, 14 cities are being advised to stay home. This represents about 70% of the approximately 327.2 million people in the United States.

Schools in Massachusetts will be closed through May 4th. There are rumors that schools in Connecticut will not open this school season. Massachusetts Governor would like to see the schools in Massachusetts to open before the summer sessions.

Palm Sunday San Francisco
Palms at St. Dominic's Catholic Church

Palm Sunday

Most churches around the country will be closed for Palm Sunday next week. I really enjoyed how the St. Dominic's Catholic Church in San Francisco displays their Palms. They have four large palms in the middle of the church as a bridge as people walk in.

The above picture is from 2000.

March 28, 2020

Coronavirus COVID-19 Dashboard

The "official" dashboard that the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization uses is the one at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU). It's a simple one-page view of how fast the virus is spreading throughout the world.

You can view the World View or select a particular country to monitor the numbers. As soon as local officials report update the page automatically gets updated.

Website Description

In response to this ongoing public health emergency, we developed an interactive web-based dashboard (static snapshot shown above) hosted by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University, to visualize and track reported cases in real-time. The dashboard first shared publicly on January 22, illustrates the location and number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, deaths, and recoveries for all affected countries. It was developed to provide researchers, public health authorities and the general public with a user-friendly tool to track the outbreak as it unfolds. Further, all the data collected and displayed is made freely available, initially as google sheets, now in a GitHub repository, along with the feature layers of the dashboard, which are now included in the ESRI Living Atlas.

Coronavirus Dashboard J H U
https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html

March 27, 2020

Path Finder 9

On October 1st, 2019 Cocoatech release a major update to their file management application - Path Finder 9. This is the first major update since Path Finder was released in May 20th, 2018.

This is the third time I written up about Path Fincder. You can read my reviews on Path Finder 7 and Path Finder 8. Check out those post to learn about the capabilies of Path Finder.

Path Finder9

Four Major Features

Path Finder 9 brings back collapsible module shelves - which were missing in Path Finder 8. There are 17 modules - basically utility and info based on the selection. For example, you can have the "trash" module at the bottom of the window making it easy to delete files. You can now collapse these so they are out of the way when you don't need them.

More Robust and Stable Functionality - The big part of this release is to fix a lot of code for future enhancements. If you're a long time user of Path Finder, you should see some speed improvements when performing some transactions. Specifically, it shouldn't crash as much.

Improved compatibility with macOS 10.15 Catalina

Other small features, which hasn't been identified even in the release note.

Path Finder Search

Search Feature

While playing around with the Path Finder 9, I found a few features that I didn't see before. One cool thing is the search feature. You can search in specific volumes - even multi-volumes.

This means that I can select all the external USB thumb drives for files and move them to my main computer. For example, I can search for all EPS files, and simply copy the ones I want to my main computer.

This isn't something you can do with the regular finder. You can even save the searches so that you can find the files in the future.

March 26, 2020

Edward Everett Hale Statue

As you walk from the Boston Public Commons and enter the Boston Public Gardens, you'll see a life-size statue of Edward Everett Hale.

Edward Everett Hale (April 3, 1822 " June 10, 1909) was an American author, historian, and a Unitarian minister. He is best known for "The Man Without a Country" to help the Union during the Civil War.

Edward Everett Hale

Eight Things I Learned about the Statue

  • The bronze statue was made by Bela Lyon Pratt - approved by the Hale family and closest friends. Those that knew him said that the statue was an excellent resemblance of the preacher.
  • The statue is a heroic size (just slightly larger than real life.) show Dr. Hale in a long frock coat, walk with one foot slightly advanced, a large cane in his right hand and a hat in the left hand.
  • He is on top of a stone base that is three feet high. On one side of the base is an inscription that reads, "Edward Everett Hale, Man of Letters, Preacher of the Gospel, Prophet of Peace Patriot. 11822-1909" on the other side is "Look up and Not Down, Look Forward and Not Back, Lookout and Not in, Lend a hand"
  • Fundraising started in June 1910 and was done through the Edward Everett Hale Fund which was manage by Kidder, Peabody & Company.
  • A total of $30,000 ($833,606.68 in 2019) was successfully raised in 12-months. This was done by using circular letters mailed to various members of the Arlington Street Church.
  • During fundraising no specific location was set for the statue. The Edward Everett Hale Committee did ask the city for a place in Copley Square, but that was rejected as other designs were being considered for the area.
  • It was unveiled on May 23, 1913 - at least 3,000 people attended the ceremony which started at the Arlington Street Church. The statue was draped in an American flag and was removed by Edward Everett Hale Jr - the 7-year old grandson of the preacher.
  • Other people in attendance include Bela Pratt - the designer of the statue, Dr. Hales Widow who was 83 years old and many members of the Hale family.
March 25, 2020

Import Contacts into Documents

Swift Publisher has the ability to do mail merge in the documents. This is when you put in placeholders and when you print the document, the place holders get replaced with the content of a database.

Swift Publisher uses the macOS Contact database, which is nice since you don't have to go out of the way to create a whole new mail merge database.

Swift Publisher Contacts

Five Things That I learned

The placeholder text has been selected from the Insert > Address Field > Field Name menu option. You can't simply type in the field name.

The placeholder field name is not supported in the 2D Text or the 3D Text styles.

When printing the document you'll be asked which contacts you wish to use for the document. Within Contact App, you can set up groups for different segments such as Family, Christmas Card, etc. This makes it easier to find the contacts.

There is a small preview of the document in the print dialog. The problem is that the preview is too small to see your text in the document. The best option is to click on the PDF option on the lower left of the dialog and select "Open in Preview." You'll get a nice full-size preview of the document.

When you add Contacts in the Contact App there's a Note field. This could be a good place to add a personal note to the person. (Such as a Thank You Note.) You can add the Note using the Insert > Address Field > Other > Notes option.

March 24, 2020

The Framingham F

Driving around town, fou may have seen this 'F' painted on some driveways around Framingham, such as this one on Crest Road:

Framingham F

Fun Facts About this Design

  • In 2018, the Framingham Youth Basketball sponsored the citywide campaign as a Community Pride Fundraiser.
  • A donation of $25 would get the painted F on the driveway or any location that you choose.
  • The 2-color "F" is 3-feet tall.
  • The logo was supposed to last about 6-months, however, they are still visible 2-years later.
March 23, 2020

Test Better When Working From Home

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, many QA Engineers are now working from home. This may cause some issues with trying to stay focus while still delivering quality testing.

Here are some ways that can help stay focus and be a successful QA Engineer.

Keep a Daily Journal

During this social distancing period, track your home progress with a daily journal. A journal is one way to measure your daily productivity. It's a good way to show that you're being a productive

Writing Prompts are a good way to get your day started in the right directions. Here are seven suggested writing prompts:

  • What challenges did you face yesterday?
  • What testing technique would you like to learn today?
  • What areas of testing could you use work to learn more about?
  • What QA blog post topic would be interesting to read?
  • What's something new you can learn today that can help you test better?
  • Learn some new SQL trick and share with the team.
  • If you had to re-do yesterday again, what would you do better?

Set Daily Goals and Expectations

At the start of the day, write down what you plan to accomplish today. Challenge yourself to get more done than you think is possible.

Writing down your goals helps focus on what you need to accomplish for the day. Simply spend five minutes each day and write down the things that you want to accomplish for the day.

Sample Daily Goals:

  • Make sure that the testing queue is clear for the latest code freeze
  • Update two automation test cases for the next release
  • Learn something new with text formating in Jira
  • Bonus: Update the QA Wiki page with SQL tips done with date sorting.

Manage Distractions

Working from home can be challenging when the kids are also at home. It can be hard to stay focus when everyone wants your attention.

One way around this is to chunk your QA tasks so that you're in the work zone for a set amount of time.

Also it's helpful to publish your daily schedule so that everyone knows when your in meeting and more importantly when deadlines happen - such as code freeze or release day.

March 22, 2020

Scammer Blaster

Today I got a strange automation call from Scammer Blaster. I can't tell if this is a legitimate call or if someone is just waiting 800 number minutes while people are listening to this message.

This is the message that was left on my voicemail. This message repeats itself until the voicemail system disconnects due to length:

Transcript

This is the transcript of the message from Apple's transcript service:

This is an important public service announcement.

There was a rise in scam calls impacting people around the world. Many of these scammers are directly funding terrorist organizations and in 2017 $16 billion were scammed from Americans. Much of this money is used to fund terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and ISS to further hurt our neighbors around the world.

It is critical to report any phone calls from the scammers to the FCC or to the phone company of the scammer. You can use free carrier lookup tools to identify the carrier and then call or email the carrier so that the scammer's phone system is shut down. Most importantly if someone with a foreign accent claims to be the IRS, Social Security Administration office, Microsoft, Amazon, cash app or any other questionable source that generally doesn't call you immediately hang up the call and reported on our websites Scammer Blaster dot Com again that Scammer Blaster dot Com.

Knowledge is power, if everyone refuses to fall victim to these scams the scammer's revenue source will dry up and together we can get this problem significantly reduced.

Is it Real?

Scammer Blaster is a real site and they do good work to eliminate scam calls.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

March 21, 2020

Corona Virus in Numbers

Corona Virus is big news. There are all sorts of places that are giving the latest numbers. One good place that I found was WorldoMeter.

The website offers a page-at-a-glance view of the important Corona Virus numbers. You can see the detail Confirmed Cases and Deaths by Country, Territory, or Conveyance.

It's a useful site to see where the tough spots and see if the social distancing is helping to flat the curve in certain areas.

Website Description

Worldometer is run by an international team of developers, researchers, and volunteers with the goal of making world statistics available in a thought-provoking and time relevant format to a wide audience around the world. Worldometer is owned by Dadax, an independent company. We have no political, governmental, or corporate affiliation.

World Meter
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

March 20, 2020

Broadcast to AppleTV

Did you know that you can broadcast anything on your computer to an Apple TV? This means that you can play DVDs and show them on your large screen TVs.

This is all possible via Apple's Airplay Mirroring. You can enable this in the System Preferences > Display and check the box next to "Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available."

i Mac Apple TV

Five Things I Learned

In order for this to work properly the computer and AppleTV have to be on the same WiFi network. So if you have multiple WiFi networks both devices have to be the same network.

It doesn't matter where in the house the two devices are. So you can play a movie from wherever your devices are.

To enable the Airplay, click on the status icon and select the Apple TV. When you're sharing the screen contains the icon in the toolbar turns blue.

You can set it up so that only music to the Apple TV. This is done via System Preferences > Sound. Select the Output and you should see the Apple TV there. Note: This applies to all audio from your computer, so the Slack notifications would play on the Apple TV

In the Safari app on your Mac, navigate to the web video you want to play. Compatible web videos have an AirPlay icon. Click the AirPlay icon, then select your Apple TV.

March 19, 2020

Woodrow Bench

The park along Commonwealth Ave is a beautiful place to take a walk any time of the year. There are lights in the trees in the Winter and in the Spring you can appreciate all the flowers and tree buds.

There are benches along the trail on the Commonwealth Ave, which allows Bostonians to sit and enjoy the beautiful day.

Next to one of the benches is a white pale with a picture of a Dog. Seems out of place, but it's a special tribute to a dog, Woodrow, that once enjoyed sitting next to the bench and enjoying the day.

Dog Treats

Interesting Things About the Bucket

  • Woodrow was born in 2004 and died on December 7th, 2019.
  • The bucket contains some of Woodrow favorite treats and bacon.
  • The note outside the bucket says, “Please help yourself, courtesy of Woodrow.”
  • The Bucket has been out there since December - someone dig around the bucket.
  • The metal bucket is tied to the bench so no one takes it.
  • Woodrow has his own Facebook Page - Woodrow the George Clooney of Dogs.

Finding Woodrow's Treats

The bucket treat is located next to a bench on Commonwealth Ave. It's between Berkeley Street and Clarendon Street - near the General John Glover Statue.

Interesting Find

Woodrow2017

You can see Woodrow sitting by the bench on Google's Picasaweb.

March 18, 2020

Random Image Generator

Swift Publisher has a feature where you can add Random Image patterns. This can be useful as a background or as a special effect in your document.

You can find the tool by going to Insert > Image > Generate Random...

Swift Publisher Random
Sample of some of the images generated by the Random Image Generator in Swift Publisher.

Four Things I Learned

The effects are a small subset that is available in the Image Tricks Pro application, which is a separate application by Belight that cost $9.99.

There are effects in four different categories: Science, Lines & Fields, Gradient and Laying. A total of 20 effects available in Swift Publisher. In Image Tricks, there are 110 Core Image filters and 35 Quartz Compositions.

The default size is 400 by 400. You can define the size of the generated image by clicking on the Size button. In my test, I found that even if you pick the size of the document, it still shows up about 50% of the document size when you click the 'Ok' button. You can easily resize the generated image to fit your document.

Each Image generated selection has a unique set of parameters.

Random Image Dialog

Random Swift Publisher Dialog

Screenshot of some of the options of the Random Image function in Swift Publisher.