Blog Graphic
back in October of 2021

Lottery Giveaway Scam

This week I got a really weird text message - along with five other people in the text message group.

Dave Johnson Text

Its a Scam

90% of the population will know this is the scam, but a few people may think it's legit. There is plenty of evidence that this is a scam, but in case you are unsure, here are three key things:

The name "dave johnson" should be Dave Johnson. Really who makes that mistake? Probably someone who doesn't write English as their primary language. (The same thing goes for New York City)

I won $30,000 from a giveaway program in a contest that I didn't know about or entered. How did you get my number then-

Google the phone number (651) 409-8770 and the first result says the number is Spam/Fraud Potential.

Oh and by the way, if I really won $30,000, I would hope that you would communicate the message in a more personal form than a group text message.

How did they get my Number?

My phone number was likely found from some online survey that I filled out months ago. Did you notice that the message is very vague - nobody name is called out.

It could be a random number generator - but I think it's from some distribution list.

Now What?

There's nothing to do but ignore the message. Likely the number that sent the message was spoofed.

At some point these scammers will stop when they get no attention.


Sling TV

Back in 2018, I wrote a blog about how can stream the Hallmark Channel, this was critical as we had recently "Cut the Cable" and we enjoy watching Hallmark Christmas shows.

One of the options was using Sling TV. That was back in 2018, and things have changed a bit.

The team at wrote an extensive review of the Sling service and it's certainly a worthwhile read. They do a great job breaking down the Sling TV plans and what channels are available in the plans.

They also cover the various add-ons - do you really need them? Hint: You do if you want the Hallmark channels for an extra $6 a month

Kill The Cable

This is a great guide to getting the full understanding of Sling TV. I would recommend reading through the review and seeing all the options available.

Oh and the guide tells you how you can watch the Free Content on Sling TV without having to sign up.


ArtBoard and Ortelius now Free!

In June, MapDiva announced that they are discontinuing supporting the ArtBoard and Ortelius. This is the announcement that they put on their website:

Unfortunately a series of overwhelming external forces and lack of resources has forced this decision, among which was the withdrawal of support for our chosen licensing scheme by Devmate. One effect of this is that existing licenses will become deactivated over time. All subscriptions will end when the current period expires, and no further charges will be made -- customers do not need to cancel their subscriptions manually.

As a courtesy, a fully unlocked, free, and unlimited version of Ortelius (and Artboard) can be downloaded below to allow you to continue to finish projects. There is no longer any support available, however. Note that this is a fully notarized app -- something we were unable to release previously due ironically to problems with the licensing framework. With that removed, the notarization could proceed successfully. This version also supports Big Sur and M1 Macs natively.

Yup, your read that right, you can now download Artboard and Ortelius for free! This is a big deal since Artboard was selling for $39.99 and Ortelius $399.

This is a great way to get your hands on some pretty powerful vector drawing applications.

Purchased in 2016

I purchased ArtBoard in 2016, and for a while wrote a few blog posts. I was really getting into the application for some occasional use. Some of the blog post images in the summer of 2016 were done using ArtBoard. I did consider purchasing an upgrade but didn't think it was worth it as I thought Affinity Designer was more useful for my needs.

Works in macOS Monterey

As for the free versions of ArtBoard and Ortelius, I have verified that they both work on macOS Monterey (12.0.1). Ok so I haven't tried all the functionality but it seems stable.

Art Board Ortelius

Five Reasons to Download

Hands-on Exercises - If you haven't use a vector pen before, it can get a bit difficult to use. Both ArtBoard and Ortelius have Hand-On Exercises to learn how to apply curves. They are easy to follow and certainly

Create Your Own Street Map! - Using Ortelius you can create your own personal street map! This is something that will take time to create. There are some Hands-on Exercises that can guide you, but I think it will take some trial and error to create an awesome map.

Templates - In ArtBoard there are Social Media templates to help you plan your social media graphics. While these may seem a bit dated - they are from 2016 - you can update the default template to your image specs. There are business card templates for too.

Library Manager - There are 1,961 library items in ArtBoard and 1,809 in Ortelius. These graphics might help add some variation to your images.

Text Effects - In ArtBoard you can easily create text paths with various curves and styles. I find it a lot easier to create text on the circle path in ArtBoard than in Affinity Designer.

Help & Support

MapDiva has removed all support for ArtBoard and Ortelius, there's no help in the application anymore. Hey, it's free - remember! You can download the old PDF manuals as a guide to learn ArtBoard and Ortelius:

Download ArtBoard and Ortelius

You can download ArtBoard and Ortelius from MapDiva's website. I don't know how long they are going to make these downloads available.


Downtown Framingham Commons

When driving through downtown Framingham, you'll probably see a small park - not too far from the train tracks. This is the Downtown Framingham Commons.

If you look carefully, you'll see a couple of markers on the Concord Street side of the park. This park is actually an old Indian Burial ground.

Downtown Framingham Park

Ten Things I Learned

This is the Nipmuc Tribe graveyard - the final resting place of the chieftains and warriors.

This park used to be called the "the Old Field"

In 1693, Nathaniel Eames found this spot and cleared the area to make room for a cornfield. Nathaniel Eames would have known that it was a graveyard as the Indians had mounds of dirt or stones above the graves.

When building the Baptist meeting-house an Indian grave was discovered. Along with skeleton remains, they found spearheads.

On June 17, 1910 - The small bolder and tablet was dedicated by the Framingham Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Participating in the ceremony was Dorothy Boynton Eames, the daughter of Mr and Mrs George H. Eames and the eighth direct descendent of the Eames family that was massacred in 1676.

In 1946 - The granite stone marker was placed. (There isn't any information on the ceremony.)

Size of the Park: 0.43 Acres

Official Address is: 2 Park Street, Framingham MA 01702

Framingham Property ID: 128-86-5248-000

Stone Engraving

This is the description on the granite stone marker:

This the "Old Field" of 1800 was an indian Burial ground A Town Common since 1854 The gift of Lovell Eames

This stone erected under the will of William Harvey Smith 1946

The bronzes represent local Indian Life The Center The carrying of corn to the hungry bay colonists in 1630. Over the nearby trail later called "Old Connecticut Path"


DNA Testing for Celiac Disease

If you take the DNA test from 123 and Me, you may find if you have celiac disease. That's a big maybe.

One of the tests that 123 and Me perform is the presence of the rs2187668 and rs7454108 genetic variants. These have been linked to the HLA-DQ2.5 and HLA-DQ8 haplotypes which are associated with a higher risk for celiac.

Okay, that's a lot to take in. Let's break it down...

23and Me Gluten

rs2187668 and rs7454108

The rs2187668 genetic variant is associated with various traits including Celiac disease, Diastolic blood pressure, Collagenous colitis - which is a condition that affects your large intestine,

The rs7454108 genetic variant is associated with pemphigus vulgaris - which causes blisters on the skin, anti-neutrophil antibody associated vasculitis - a rare destruction and inflammation of the kidney, stomach, intestine and lungs.

Important Reminder - Just because rs2187668 and rs7454108 show up in the DNA test doesn't mean that person has any of the conditions. It basically means that some people that had those conditions had rs2187668 and rs7454108 in their DNA.

HLA-DQ2.5 and HLA-DQ8

In recent years, scientists have been able to identify two specific genes that tend to appear more common in people that have celiac disease. They put these into two groups of gene complexes known as human leukocyte antigen (HLA):

  • HLA-DQ2.5 - which is found in about 90% of people confirmed to have celiac disease.
  • HLA-DQ8 - which is found in eight percent of that same known celiac population.

HLA-DQA1 belongs to the group of genes with crucial roles in inflammation and autoimmunity. One variant in this gene has a robust association with celiac disease. 90% of the people that have celiac have the HLA-DQ2 gene.

The National Library of Medicine has a detailed report called, "HLA-DQ2.5 genes associated with celiac disease risk are preferentially expressed with respect to non-predisposing HLA genes: Implication for anti-gluten T cell response." It's a very technical report to understand the HLA-DQA1 link to an autoimmune disorder.

As for the HLA-DQ8 - I would highly recommend reading the HLA-DQ8 and the Genetics of Celiac Disease article. Its very well detailed about why the HLA-DQ8 is an important gene complex.

123 and Me Test Disclaimer

The legal department of 123 and Me put out the following disclaimer:

Each genetic health risk report describes if a person has variants associated with a higher risk of developing a disease, but does not describe a person's overall risk of developing the disease. The test is not intended to tell you anything about your current state of health, or to be used to make medical decisions, including whether or not you should take a medication, how much of a medication you should take, or determine any treatment.

The Celiac Disease genetic health risk report (i) is indicated for reporting of the rs2187668 variant in the HLA-DQA1 gene, which tags the HLA-DQ2.5 haplotype, and the rs7454108 variant near the HLA-DQB1 gene, which tags the HLA-DQ8 haplotype and (ii) describes if a person has variants associated with a higher risk of developing celiac disease. The variants included in this report are common in many ethnicities but are best studied in people of European descent.

Basically, if you have rs2187668 varient with the HLA-DQA1 gene, don't assume that you have Celiac Disease. Your best bet is to get tested for Celiac Disease.


QA Memetober #4

Here's the final entry for QA Memetober. There are four more included in the QA Graphic Library.

/ Happy Release Day
Happy Release Day

/ Moments Before Release
Moments before a Release

/ Bug Free Build
Bug Free Build

/ QA Cycle
QA Test Cycle

Remember to check out all the QA Memes in the QA Graphic Library. (Quite Possibly the Largest QA MEME collection online!)


California Commercials

This week's video media features some classic commercials from California. These aired around the late 1990s.


  • Al Checchi For Governor of California
  • Taco Bells 12 Taco Shells for home
  • Computer Learning centers
  • SouthWest Airlines - "Finding Inspiration"
  • Chevron Cars
  • Chia Herb Garden by Terra Cotta
  • Sprint PCS

These came from a couple of VHS tapes in my collection. The quality isn't 100% great.

The SouthWest Airlines looks pretty similar to the Morgan and Morgan commercial. (People blowing leaves in front of the house.) I checked and the house is different in both commericals.

Classic 1990s Commercials


Ways to modernize your moving business

A modern navigation system that can be used to modernize your moving business

The quick advancement of technology over the last couple of decades has been affecting several industries. And those changes didn't bypass the moving industry either. The digital evolution, accompanied by progressive software development, is making a serious impact on how many businesses operate today. More significance is given to the modernization of operations, communication, and relationship with customers. As a result, competition in the moving industry is continuously growing. And expanding the customer base is becoming more difficult by the day. Given these points, regardless of the size of your company,-you have to modernize your moving business to survive the harsh market conditions.

How tech can help you modernize your moving business

In a way, everything seems like switching from analog to digital. To adapt, a moving company has to-understand and follow the changes in its market. Most importantly, it has to understand its customers better. Because with technology, the expectations, perspectives, and behavior of potential customers are changing as well. While deciding to modernize your moving business is relatively easy, knowing where to start is the real challenge.

There are several ways to improve your operations and expand your customer base. Here, we'll discuss a few that can help you better adapt to the circumstances.

Embrace the technology

Generally,-one of the best ways to modernize your moving business is to embrace new technologies. While it may seem exceedingly overwhelming at first, the results are worth it.

Here are a few examples of technologies that a moving company should consider:

  • Callback and automation software
  • Chatbox on your website
  • Better online estimates
  • Upgrading the communication channels
  • Improving the customer service system
  • More effective scheduling
  • Geotargeting and local advertising
  • Vehicle tracking systems
  • Solutions for monitoring deliveries and movement
  • Route optimization solutions
  • Analytics and reports of information

In the long run, using tech in your daily operations will lower operational costs and save resources. For this, there are different software solutions created specifically for the moving industry.

Ratings and map navigation instructions on a mobile device thanks to geotargeting software
Both business owners and customers benefit from using advanced software solutions.

Modernize your business website

As one of the primary focuses of marketing efforts, a business website must follow the trends. It is-among the first places potential customers check-when looking for a suitable moving company. Depending on the quality and relevance of your website, they will evaluate you immediately. That's why it has to be modern, clean, functional, and useful, above all.

Second, your website needs to-represent your brand-among other competitors properly. Being that today's customers are more tech-literate than before, they will make their own comparisons. Failing to-provide them with a good user experience-will only drive them towards your competitors. To avoid this, make sure you are offering everything others do and even more. In other words, make your website:

  • mobile-friendly
  • fast and performing
  • with advanced features like call scheduling and online estimates
  • filled with helpful information like guides and instructions

Most importantly, ensure you have open lines of communication ready for your potential clients.

 A mock-up prototype design for different website elements
When in doubt, consult with professional designers and developers.

Master your marketing strategies

Today, marketing is much more complex than before. What used to be quite simple is now branching into numerous directions. *We have social media, communication apps and portals, and thousands of means of online communication*. Everything that an average moving company can use to better advertise its business.

Social media for advertising

Contact with numerous social media networks like Facebook and Instagram seems inevitable nowadays. Everyone is using them for various purposes, and the amount of shared information is simply incredible. However, many moving business owners underestimate this aspect. It's a free-pool of potential customers-that would be a waste not to use.

Not only that, but it's a sure way to-adequately promote your moving business-and make a recognizable brand. You can create a company profile and share content. It's a great way to establish valid relationships with your current and potential customers. On the other side, other experts and-influencers can help-by reviewing your service. And ordinary people can share their own positive experiences about your business with others.

Icons of major social media platforms on a smartphone
Improve your connections with potential customers with social media networks.

Include a blog to your website

A blog is a great place to share information about relocations in general. Considering this is the subject you know best, you will have a lot to write about. Everything from simple guides and innovations to previous experiences can be transformed into quality content. For example, packing instructions, storage options, vehicles and additional equipment, and many more.

First, it will-establish you as an expert in the industry. People will appreciate the information and familiarize themselves with relocation. Not to mention, it automatically means more potential customers.

Second, it-gives you additional space for other marketing methods. With plenty of quality content come more keywords you want to rank for. More opportunities for links to and from other websites. And finally, with good optimization, your moving company will be easier to discover online.

Follow modern practices for search engine optimization

Speaking of optimization, a modern moving business takes care of SEO. It is what essentially makes it possible for your business name to rank high in search engines. High rank translates into better online visibility and more website traffic. And eventually, result in more clients.

However, digital marketing is constantly changing, including rules and guidelines you need to follow. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not something you can do and forget about it. It will-*require continuous attention and effort to be effective*. Many competitors are already probably investing in optimization and don't plan to stop. Most importantly, search engines like Google also want to ensure their users are served with the best and most relevant information.

Invest in local SEO

Besides general, every business that serves a particular area should also focus its efforts on local SEO. For example, if you are in Washington, you first want to attract customers interested in this area. Whether they are moving from or to,-they will look for moving service with a location in mind. For this, you can benefit from GMB listings, online reviews, maps, and more. Everything that is included in local search engine optimization. The only effort, late on, is to keep all the information up to date.

Considering all the above, it's clear that relationship with your customers is growing in importance. If you wish to be a modern, influential, and recognizable company, don't forget that. If you want-to modernize your moving business, you need to invest in promotion and equipment but in communication as well.-After all, the internet is making it possible for both sides to benefit from it. Customers will have a better service, and all their issues appropriately solved. On the other side, reviews and ratings you will get from them will spread a good word about your business.

Meta description: Learn about different ways to modernize your moving business so you can stay in touch on what matters today the most.



Everyone knows about Grammerly - a browser extension that helps you write better. This is nice - but its all automated and sometimes the suggestion is a bit weird. is a service that makes your sentences read better. It works well because there is a real person behind every suggestion. You don't get an instant response, but you do get a practical one. This is very useful when you're putting together a paper or if you want your social media posts to sound better.

Website Description

TextRanch lets you have your English corrected by native-speaking editors in just a few minutes. Get your English checked!

Text Ranch

Not Free - But Useful

Obviously this is a paid service but it could be worth the money by having more professional-sounding sentences.

Try it out and see if its something that might be something you would use on a regular basisw.


Removing Color in Affinity Photo

This is a question that I get asked frequently in regards to Affinity Photo:

How do you select a color in an image so that I can change it or make it transparent?

The key thing to do is to rasterize the image. When you do this, you get to delete anything you selected and you can create new layers based on your selection. Rasterizing flattens an image to create pixel layers. You have to do this even to some images. (I know it seems weird.)

To rasterize, simply right-click on the layer in the layers pallet and select Rasterize.

Now when you use the "Select Sample Color...", simply click the delete key. Alternatively, you can Copy/Paste the selection. When you do that, a new layer gets created with your selection. Now you can apply various filters to change the color.

If hitting the delete key doesn't erase the selection, it means that you didn't rasterize the layer or you're not editing on the right layer.

What's the best way to select all like colors in an image?

I would recommend using the "Select Sample Color..." in the select menu and adjusting the tolerance that best fits your needs. Remember, you can always add/remove pixels using the selection tool brush.

The "Select Sample Color is a powerful tool and useful when you want to get all those colors in-between spaces.

Once the color is selected, move it to its own layer and have fun making the color adjustments.

Affinity Photo is a pretty powerful photo tool, as there's more than one way to do things.


Aaron Hill

Near the front entrance of the "Old Burying Ground Cemetery" is a gravestone that has a Revolutionary War marker. I thought it would be interesting to learn more about this gravestone.

Hills Framingham Desktop
Hills Framingham Mobile

Interesting Things I Learned

Aaron was born on April 27, 1752 in Sherborn, Massachusetts.

Joined the American Revolution, at age 25, with the Captain Buckminster's Company, Col. Bullard's Regt. This is the description in the Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the American Revolution:

HILL, AARON, Framingham. Descriptive list of men raised in Middlesex Co. for the term of 9 months from the time of their arrival at Fishkill, agreeable to resolve of April 20, 1778; Capt. Buckminster's co., Col. Bullard's regt.; age, 25 yrs.; stature, 5 ft. 6 in.; residence, Framingham; arrived at Fishkill June 21, 1778; also list of men returned received of Jonathan Warner, Commissioner, by Col. R. Putnam, July 20, 1778.

Fishkill Supply Depot was the site chosen by General George Washington as the principle supply depot for the Continental Army. The Depot is located in Fishkill, NY. (The site is 168 miles from Framingham.)

Married Katharine Hall on June 4, 1778. They had 3 children:

  • Abel Hill (1787 - 1874) - Buried in Cavendish Village Cemetery in Cavendish, Vermont
  • Sally Hill (1788 - 1879) - [ Sally Hill Chickering ] Buried in Edwards Church Cemetery in Framingham, Massachusetts
  • Nancy Hall Hill (1806 - 1867) - [ Nancy Hills Irving ] Buried in Walnut Street Cemetery in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Aaron Hill died by a "Disease if the heart" at 66 on May 4, 1818 in Brookline.


2021 Halloween Candy

At this time of the year, I usually take a look at some of the Gluten-Free Halloween candy options. Here are some of the blog posts that I have done in previous years:

2021 Candy Blog
Various "Fun Size" Candies

Hershey Candies

This year I found out that the best way to know which Hershey candies are gluten-free is to read the ingredients. According to a Hershey's Chocolate representative, some of the candy ingredients change and the best way to know what's in them is to read the ingredients on the label. (I don't think they will add wheat to the Hershey Chocolate bar.)

Most Popular Candy in 2021

According to, these are the top ten most popular candy in 2021. I added an emoji to which ones are known to be gluten free:

  • Reese's Cups
  • Skittles
  • M&M's
  • Starburst
  • Hot Tamales
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Hershey Kisses (Not the Hugs variety)
  • Snickers
  • Tootsie Pops
  • Candy corn - Not 100% Safe (Brach's Candy Corn is processed in a facility that also processes wheat)

According to my daughter Reese's Cups are the candy to get this year.


QA Memtober #3

Here are some Meme type images that I created for this week's edition of Memetober.

Pablo Leaving
You're Still Here?

Expected Results
What is the Expected Result?

What The Expect Result
What is the Expected Result?

Tested Using Incognito Mode
Tested Using Google Incognito Mode

Testing With Google Chrome


The Laura Ingraham Show

Back in 2004, it was a tight race between Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and President George W Bush. The race was pretty tight as both sides were hitting the campaign trail pretty hard.

Laura Ingram had her radio show - The Laura Ingraham Show - in full swing. She spent much of her show making fun of John Kerry and praising George Bush.

In this audio clip from just hours before the polls opened, listen to how Laura tries to convince people to not vote for John Kerry. It's kind of interesting to listen to this clip 17-years later.

Card image cap


Strengthening IoT Security In Your Smart Home

sebastian-scholz-nuki- I Jk Sskf Eqr M-unsplash

65% of consumers say they're excited-about the future of smart technology with 26%, in particular, currently interested in purchasing a smart home. Internet-connected devices like security systems, smart locks, medical alert systems, smart TVs, and smart thermostats can enhance comfort and convenience around your home, but they can also provide hackers with the opportunity to access your devices and data. If you're creating a smart home, it's-important to strengthen the security-of your IoT devices and eliminate poor security practices.

Secure your router

Your router links all your IoT devices together, which means it needs to be impenetrable to hackers. The manufacturer will have given your router a default name (typically its make or model). However, a generic name can be more easily guessed by cybercriminals and allow them access to your network. So, it's important to change your router name to something unique unrelated to you or your home address. Setting a complex password is also essential; make it at least 15 characters and a combination of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and special characters. It's also useful to use-a strong encryption protocol'- namely WPA2 rather than WPA or WEP. WPA2 protects your Wi-Fi access points, offers stronger security, and requires stronger wireless encryption. These security protocols are particularly important for people with disabilities who are increasingly turning to smart home technology to help them-live more comfortable and independent lives. It's important people with disabilities set protocols that keep their home secure while being manageable and within their capabilities.

Use a dedicated network for your IoT devices

Setting up a guest network solely for your IoT devices, separate to your primary network, allows you to maintain complete control over your smart home. With this security precaution, hackers are kept at bay and your local smart home network can only be accessed by you. Ofer Maor,- cybersecurity thought leader, explains the importance of running your home on multiple networks: 'There is my 'office' network with the laptops, NAS, and all the important sensitive parts of my home. There is my 'Home IoT' network, which holds most of the IoT devices. This limits a breach ' if one of my IoT devices gets hacked, the hacker may be able to propagate from it to other IoT devices but will not be able to reach my laptop or my sensitive data.'

Keep your devices up-to-date

It's important to regularly update all your IoT devices, apps, and router as they may not do so automatically. Keeping your smart home network up-to-date further reinforces the security and protects against cybercriminals. Also be mindful to disable any unused or unwanted features, such as, the ability to control your smart devices remotely. This essentially helps you keep any potential entry points into your smart home to a minimum.

Working to improve comfort and convenience, smart homes can drastically increase the quality of life. By ensuring your IoT network is as secure as possible, you can ensure your home stays safe and out of the reach of cyber criminals.


Wheel of Fortune Generator

If you know some that are a big fan of the Wheel of Fortune - this is a cool game generator, you can wish them a Happy Birthday or send a secret message.

Simply put in your own clue and let the person guess. This isn't a full game, just the ability to show the puzzle to get them guessing.

Website Description

Go Nuts and create your own wheel of fortune puzzles! You can make your own puzzles with blank spaces where people can try to guess the puzzle, OR you can make a full puzzle like this one! Other resources on the site include a Scrabble Word Finder, Anagram Solver, and Words With Friends Cheat. This website is in no way associated with Sony Pictures Television nor Scopely, makers of the popular games Wheel of Fortune and Wheel of Fortune Free Play or the television show. It is merely a fun fansite! Wheel of Fortune Answers to puzzles for the very fun WOF mobile app.

Wheelof Fortune

Sample Graphic

Welcom Foolish Wheel


Luminar AI

This week I purchased Luminar Ai. I finally decided to upgrade from Luminar 3 to Luminar Ai - so that I could take ordinary photos and make them look extraordinary.

Luminar AI makes it quick to do image touch ups, which can easily be done in Affinity Photo, but I am more likely to apply when I am in a hurry.

Brief Description of Luminar Ai

The first image editor fully powered by artificial intelligence. With Luminar AI, creating striking photos becomes surprisingly easy and fun. Unlike traditional photo editing, which is boring and time-consuming, Luminar Al is all about the result, not the process.

Luminar Al is designed for visual communicators, everyday people, and professional photographers alike. It's made for those who rely on images to communicate important messages, create new opportunities, and grow their reputation: bloggers, entrepreneurs, educators, marketers, small and medium-sized businesses, and many others.

Luminar Al automates common manual tasks and reduces complexity so you can tell your story with rich and expressive images like never before.

Clock Works Luminar A I

Five things I am excited about

Templates - Luminar Ai comes with 22 templates right out of the box. These are a great starting point to see how quickly a photo can be made better. Sometimes this is all that's needed to touch up a photo. You can alway buy other templates in various categories.

Sky Changer - Change the Sky. Add more clouds, more sunshine whatever you want! Changing the sky can really change the mood of a photo. Luminar AI makes the process simple

Augmented Sky - Luminar AI has the ability to add objects in the sky such as Moon, Balloons, and fireworks. This is a cool way to spice up a boring sky. You can even add your own custom objects, such as the Deathstar, and use all the settings as you can do with any included object.

Lens Distortion Fix - I can set up a template to quickly fix the GoPro lens fish eye. This will make it easy for me to make GoPro photos look awesome. To make things easy, I can create my own GoPro Template to fix lens distortions in one click.

Portrait Mode Touchup - I can easily touch up people in pictures. I can whiten teeth, fix skin marks, color eyes, and much more.

Next Up

Next week all blog post images will be touched up using Luminar AI. As I learn more about the application, I'll be sure to share some tips and tricks.

In the meantime, you can download a trial version of Luminar AI.


Corporal. John Ryan

Walking around the Saint Georges Cemetary in Framingham, you may encounter the gravestone of Corporal John Ryan. His gravestone is located in the middle of the graveyard.

Corprl John Brown Grave

GraveStone Text

This is the text on the gravestone:

By Edward Hannall Ryan.
In memory of dear beloved Son
Corprl. John Ryan
Of Com. C. 33 Regt. Mass. Cols.
Who was killed
In Battle on Lookout Mountain Tenn.
Oct. 29, 1863
AEt. 22

Far off, away from home, and on the field of battle/br> A youthful daring an unflinching soldier fell/br> No more to hear their clash of Arms or Cannon rattle/br> Soldiers we hope thou art in peace farewell, farewell

Interesting Facts about John Ryan

In August 1962, John Ryan joined the 33rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry to support the Union Army in the American Civil War.

John Ryan was promoted to Full Corporal on September 11, 1863.

He was killed on October 29, 1863, at Raccoon Ridge, Tenn. during the battle of Wauhatchie. Eleven other soldiers died on that day from the 33rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

The Battle of Wauhatchie was fought October 28-29, 1863, in Hamilton and Marion counties, Tennessee, and Dade County, Georgia, in the American Civil War.

The 33rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry lost a total of 188 men during the 3-year service; 7 officers and 104 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded, 77 enlisted men died of disease.

During the United States Civil War only Generals, that died in battle, were returned home. Corporal. John Ryan isn't buried here. He is likely buried in the Chattanooga National Cemetery. This is marker is known as a Cenotaph (a monument to someone buried elsewhere)

There was another John Ryans that served in the 33rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Company C. The other John was from Grafton and was recorded as leaving service due to disability.

The Story of Wauhatchie

Andrew J. Boies kept a journal of the 33rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. This a part of his description of the events around the Battle of Wauhatchie.

[October 29, 1863 ] -

About midnight we were awakened by the beating of the "long roll" and a cry made, "To arms." The enemy had attacked our pickets, and it was true a battle had commenced. It fell to the lot of the "Iron Brigade," as Hooker calls it, which was immediately ordered out, and before 1 o'clock was marching back with orders to carry and hold the ridge at all hazards. Upon their arrival it was found to be a steep declivity of nearly 200 feet, so thickly wooded and covered with underbrush as to almost render it impassable ; but it must be done before daylight, or the consequences would prove serious. To the 33d Massachusetts and 73d Ohio was assigned this perilous duty of charging up that steep mountain side and driving the enemy from the top, and how well it was done, the result will prove.

The 33d regiment had only seven companies present, the other three having gone on a secret expedition. At the word "Forward," the boys took as quick a step as the nature of the ground would permit, and slowly worked their way up the steep side of the ridge, not knowing what might be in store for them upon their arrival at the top, determined to do or die. The 33d was on the right, the 73d Ohio on the left. Arriving near the top and but a short distance from the pits, a few shots were fired by our men, when the "Rebs" commenced their old game, crying out, "Don't fire on your own men."

It being so very dark, our boys did not know but such might be the case, and the firing ceased. One of our officers inquired, "Is that the 73d?' "Yes," was the reply, "what regiment is that?" Upon being answered, "33d Massachusetts," they poured into us a terrible volley from right to left. Our men gave them shot for shot, but the loss in our regiment was fearful. Adjutant Mudge fell dead at the first fire, Col. Underwood fell, dangerously, and as we supposed, mortally, wounded.

It being impossible to advance the regiment further, in its disordered state, it fell back to the foot of the hill and quickly formed for the charge, and as they now knew what they had got to contend with on their way up, and the disposition of the occupants at the top, they started slowly and cautiously, with orders not to fire, but drive the enemy out entirely with the point of the bayonet.

Once more gaining their forfner position, they were received with a murderous fire. The men, with knapsacks on, kept pushing and climbing for the top, which was finally reached, and then commenced a scene of heroism and bravery seldom equalled in this war. Over the bank and into the pits, with the enemy, was but the work of an instant, and at it they went, charging with the bayonet, dealing each other blows over the head with the musket, slashing and cutting with swords, until the whole scene resembled a grand knock-down, our boys reaching over the pits and dragging out the "Rebs" by the collar.

This was too much for them, and they seemed amazed and confused, and finally gave way and started over the opposite side of the hill at a fast pace, our boys giving them the contents of their muskets as fast as possible, leaving the 33d in possession of the hill, about 100 prisoners, a large number of guns and all of their intrenching tools, which were speedily given into the hands of the pioneers, and in a short time we had a formidable line of pits thrown up on the other side of the ridge.

Then we had a little time to look over and see how much this gallant act had cost us in the loss of officers and men.

Out of 238 men and officers who went into action, the 33d regiment lost 87 killed, including eight commissioned officers, colonel, adjutant, two captains and four lieutenants.

The 73d Ohio did bravely and fought nobly, losing a number of good boys.


Halloween Candy Box

This Halloween season Hershey is doing something unique - for those that are handing out candy. They put together a creative assortment of Halloween candy in a treasure chest. This is something different than getting a bunch of candy bags and putting them in a bowl.

Halloween Candy Box

Interesting Facts

The box contains six different types of individually wrapped candy: Kit Kat, Rolo, Reese's, Hershey Kisses, Jolly Ranchers, and Twizzlers

There are 488-pieces in the box and it cost $29.98 for the box or $.29 an ounce.

The box is nicely decorated with eyes on the front - I guess Hershey wants people to present the box to the trick or treaters.

The popular "Hershey's Halloween All-Time Greats Candy Assortment, 100 Count" 2-pound bag is cheaper at $9.94 but cost you slightly more per candy at $.30 per ounce.

For Celiac users, there are only two candies types that you can't eat - Kit-Kat and Twizzlers. (Most people don't know that Twizzlers contain wheat!)

This isn't the largest candy set. Walmart sells a Now & Later with Nerds 600 pieces set for $29.98.

Walmart Exclusive

You can only find the Hershey Treasure Box at your local Walmart. They are selling out fast!

Get a box and see if you go through all 488-pieces. Don't forget to ask your trick or treaters if they have any allergies!


Testing Code Meme

This week's "Memetober" theme is "Testing code when it gets to QA" and dealing with the "Test Case Repository"

Build Ready Meme

Mini Release

Test Cases Pass Everywhere

Test Linkis Awesome


Boston Marathon

This weeks video feature is the 2021 Boston Marathon.

Standing with my GoPro Hero 9 at the 5.5-mile marker in Framingham, I took various video clips of the runnings going by.

I use the GoPro Quik app for the post-production editing. All the transitions and effects were generated by the app. The only thing I did I did was pick the clips and highlighted the moments in the clip.

Framingham 5.5 Moment

Back in 2012 I blogged some useful tips about viewing the Marathon at the 5.5 mile mark.

Many of the timelines didn't apply this year, as they did more of a rolling start. I suspect that at the 2022 Boston Marathon the times will be closer to the 2012 times.


Essential Types of Software Every Business Needs

Two men talking about essential types of software every business needs.

It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur. If you have a good idea and surround yourself with the right people, you can make your organization successful in no time. However, running a business is never easy. There will be many challenges on your way, and to overcome them, you must find the tools that will help you do it. Of course, we’re talking about software solutions. But with so many of them available, how can you decide what you should go for? To help you out, we prepared a list of essential types of software every business needs. So, let’s check them out.

Internal Communications

One of the first things you want to get is a place where all your employees can get together and talk or chat at any time. This piece of software is crucial if you want to get your home-based business off the ground. And one of the solutions lots of businesses use and love is Slack. With it, your workers can interact with each other easily, and you can create as many chat channels as you like.

On top of that, you can choose to connect your internal communication platforms with other business software solutions. If you go down this path, it’ll not be only for communication, but you’ll also be able to see what your team members have been working on.

A man talking to someone over the internet.
Internal communication solutions are one of the essential types of software every business needs as they allow your employees to reach each other easily.

Social Media Management

In this day and age, if you want to set yourself apart from the competition and reach a new audience, you can’t do it without social media. That’s what we all know. But, when you’re busy, it can be hard to find time to manage all these accounts. At the end of the day, it’s a job as any other if you do it the old school way.

Luckily, you can use social media management tools to help you take care of it. They allow you to plan and schedule your posts ahead of time and analyze the results all in one place. You’ll know where you are with clicks and engagements at all times.

Combine these with social media monitoring tools, and you’ve got yourself a full set. These are a great way to see what people are saying about your brand anywhere on the internet. Tools like Hootsuite can pull in conversations from around the web and display them all in your dashboard. So, they’re a big help with staying informed.

Customer Relationship Management

CRM is one of the fastest-growing software markets that we have today. In 2019, it was valued at $49 billion, and by 2027, it’s projected to reach $96 billion. And that kind of increase can’t be a coincidence. So, what’s it all about?

Well, it starts from the idea that the more you know about your customers, the more successful you can be as a business. A CRM software lets you keep all of the insights and notes you collect in one, easy-to-reach place. So, CRM software, like the one from, collects, organizes, and manages all your customer information.

In essence, it’ll help you to:

  • Improve communication with clients
  • Enhance your customer support
  • Manage your data in marketing, sales, and support teams

A man in the office talking on a phone.
CRM will help all your teams to do a better job.

Contract Management

No matter what your business is all about, all the chances are that you have contracts with each client you work with. So, the next of the essential types of software every business needs is contract management.

If you have it, your employees won’t have to neglect their regular work to search for key data every time they need to do an audit. All your contracts will be in a single place, and the right people will be able to access them at any time. Hence, it’s a tool that makes the lives of your workers easier and saves you money.

Moreover, you can use it to review trends, analyze the data, and find risky areas that you overlooked before. No matter what niche you’re in, it’s always nice if you can improve your operations, and this software makes it easy.

Email Management

There’s no way around it - emails are vital for any type of business. It’s one of the effects of the digitalization of everyday life, and there’s nothing we can do about it. If you don’t open and respond to them in time, it can cost you a lot. It’s enough that you’re not careful for just a few days, and you might miss growth opportunities that you needed to stay in business or take your company to a whole other level.

Email management software will help you stay on top of everything, and that’s why you need it. It will resurface any messages that you or the sender didn’t follow up. On top of that, it will help you arrange the emails if you’re overloaded with them. It’ll make it easier to see the important things sooner so you can react in time.

Knowledge Management System

This is software that will be very helpful if you’re in the business of selling services. Its main purpose is to make it possible to share knowledge within your business.

So, you can use it to create guides, documents, and articles that your employees can share among themselves. Your customer support will have better knowledge of what you sell, and they’ll be able to help your clients a lot faster.

Two men talking over some papers.
With KMS, your employees can teach one another things, so your business becomes a better-educated place.


If you ever tried to manage a company’s financial system, you know how daunting of a task this can be. You have to think about the transaction history, auditing, and all sorts of reports. Taking care of all of these things manually can take days. So, why would you do it that way?

It’s a much better idea to invest in an accounting software solution and let it do things on its own. The app will do everything from supervising accounts to payrolls and taxes. It will save you time that you can spend doing something more productive, like creating great CTAs.


So, that was all of the essential types of software every business needs. If you’re running a small company, using the solutions that we talked about will make your life and the lives of your employees easier. All of your documents will be easily accessible, and you’ll be able to run your business more efficiently.


Halloween Costume Idea

Halloween is coming up soon. If you haven't thought about what to wear, don't worry, there's an internet site to help you.

The folks over at Fancy Name Generators put together a site that will randomly generate 10 halloween costume names. You can use these to come up with some creative costume idea.

This name generator will generate 10 random costume ideas, but they could just as easily work as monsters or villains for stories.

Halloween can be a great time of creativity and costume design, but thinking of a fun costume can be tricky. For story purposes too, it can be hard to come up with different costumes that don't rely on dressing up as pop-icons, for example. This generator will hopefully help with that. I focused mostly on the more creepy side of Halloween rather than on costumes based on jokes or pop culture, as they date quite quickly. But I did add ideas like "Defeated Superhero" or "Undead Version of a Pop-Culture Icon" as well. Most ideas have been done over and over again, others less so, but then Halloween is about tradition and reinventing existing costumes and monsters.

To start, simply click on the button to generate 10 random names. Don't like the names? Simply click again to get 10 new random names.

Fancy Name Generator


BBEdit Clippings

BBEdit Clipping allows users to add their own pre-defined bits of text into any document. There's no size limit and you can add special substitutions.

Creating Clipping

It's easy to create a snippet, in BBEdit simply select a text and right-click and then choose Save Selection As Clipping. It really is that easy.

Activate Clipping

You can activate a clipping by typing a shortcut or by assigning a key combination. The key combination is more powerful as you can apply the clipping to the selected text.


This clipping snippet will apply a specific paragraph class to the selected text.


Popular Clipping Substitution Placeholders

These are the five placeholders that are most useful to know. You can find all the placeholders in the official BBEdit Manual.


Marks the place where BBEdit will place the insertion point after inserting the item; if multiple #INSERTION# placeholders are used, the second and subsequent occurrences are replaced with a placeholder "<##>", which can be used with Go to Next/Previous Placeholder in the Go menu. Useful when you apply a snippet via typing and you want the cursor to appear within the snippet.


If there was a selection when the clipping was expanded, it will be put at this position; otherwise, the insertion point will remain here. It is useful when you want to use a clipping as a keyboard shortcut or activate it when typing.


Contents of the current clipboard. Useful when you want to use the clipboard as part of the clipboard substitution. For example, if you want to use a GitHub branch name.


The selected Text. Useful when you want to wrap the selected text around tags.

#SYSTEM shell_script#

Given the full path to a shell command or script, BBEdit will run that command or script and insert the result. This is a pretty powerful way to apply external commands with your BBEdit clippings.

Shell Script Example:

#SYSTEM uptime#

This will tell me the current uptime on my computer. I save the clipping as "uptime" and anytime that I want the computer uptime, I just type uptime. (Not something I would do often but a cool example.)


Lorenzo Gibbs

There a lot of notable people buried at the Old Burying Ground Cemetery and the St.George Catholic Church Cemetery in Framingham. Some are well known more than others.

Over the next few weeks, I'll highlight some headstones of people that have stories that would otherwise go unnoticed.

This week, its all about the Lorenzo Gibbs gravestone in the Old Burying Grounds. It's located near the back left of the cemetery. The writing on the gravestone is slowly disappearing.

Lorenzo Gibbs Grave

Interesting Things I Learned

Lorenzo Gibbs was born on November 10, 1828, in Framingham Massachusetts.

On September 17, 1862, he enlisted in the Forty-fifth Regiment, Massachusetts volunteer militia to help defend the Union in the Civil War. He was 38 when he enlisted. According to military records he was a married farmer when he joined the militia. He was with Company F in the Forty-fifth Regiment.

Military Listing:

Company F

GIBBS, LORENZO, Private. Farmer, age 33, married, Framingham; en. Sept. 17, 1862; m. i. Sept. 26, 1862; m. o. July 7, 1863. Died Feb. 19. 1892.

According to Massachusetts documents he married twice:

In 1857, he married Sarah Elizabeth Sutphen. (1838 - 1880) and they had 4 children.

On November 24, 1875, he married Catherine Elizabeth Bullard of Newton. (November 9, 1829 - February 13, 1900)

Lorenzo Gibbs died on February 19, 1892


George Washington Gibbs - 1857 - 1929

Charles Henry Gibbs - 1860 - 1860

Alzena Frances Gibbs - 1861 - 1871

Hattie Isabell Gibbs - 1868 - 1881

George W. Gibbs is the only family member not buried in Framingham's Old Burying Ground Cemetery. He fought in the Spanish American War. He is buried in Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois,

Some Mystery Around Lorenzo Gibbs

There are some reports that he died on February 18 and other reports that he died on February 19, 1892. The discrepancy can be because of when the death reports arrived in different locations.

Military records show that he died on February 19th, and other records - including his gravestone shows it was February 18th.

Information from this research came from various online family tree websites.


Linx Tavern

Ocean Edge Resort is a fun place for enjoying everything Cape Cod. They have a great 18-hole golf course, swimming pools, and beach. When you are hungry, there are a couple of restaurants on the property.

One of the popular places is the Linx Tavern. It's a popular place to get a beer and snack after 4-hours of golf.

We recently visited for a family dinner. I selected this place because we have eaten here plenty of times in the past and the food is good.

Linx Gluten Free

Five Things I Learned

As usual, my daughter ordered the 19th Hole Burger with the gluten-free bun. (They had to double-check that they still had Gluten-Free bins) The bun looks to be Udi's Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns.

There's only one appetizer that was gluten-free that my daughter wanted to eat - that was the Chicken Wings. She loves Chicken Wings and if it's on the menu and gluten-free - she is likely to order it. The one thing we weren't 100% sure about is which sauce was gluten-free - turns out they both were. We went with the Mumbo sauce as it wasn't going to be as spicy.

After we placed our order, the server came back to confirm our order - which we thought was weird. Turns out that shortly after we ordered a couple of the servers quit. Lucky for us our server was the restaurant manager. We don't know why they quit. The manager came over to our table to let us know and said it shouldn't impact our order. Our order did take a while, but it didn't bother us too much as we kept speculating on why two waiters would quit on the same night.

When we ordered the burger, the server didn't say anything about the side dish. When the dish came, it came with French fries. It wasn't until we got home that I realized that we didn't order fries in the past because it wasn't cooked in a dedicated fryer. The waiter should have caught that there might be some cross-contamination issues when the order was placed.

My daughter ate most of her burger and some of the fries. We took the leftovers home and she had the burger for lunch the next day. The Chicken Wings were also a hit - there was a few left to bring home.

Going Back

Despite the weird experience with the waitress quitting, we'll certainly be going back. Everyone enjoyed their meals and it was a fun night out.

My daughter didn't get any reactions to eating the french fries. I don't know if they are 100% safe but it's good that she didn't get sick.


QA Memetober

On Tuesdays in October, I'll post 2 QA Memes. These will be practical memes that I use on a frequent basis. The goal is to focus on quality content, and not just throw up a bunch of graphics.

Good Luck with Your Testing

I M G_0897

Ready for QA

Q A Wheel Puzzle


Tom Leykis

In 1993 Tom Leykis hosted the mid-day show on WRKO in Boston. He brought a different style of talk radio in Boston.

In these two clips, from my Real Audio library, you'll hear Tom at his best. In the first clip, he is talking about the goal of radio talk show hosts. In the second clip, he talks about a seafood restaurant in Boston.

Christopher Ryan 34 - Tom Leykis Clips

The audio is currently hosted on SoundCloud. I'll look for a way to host future audio on this site.


Unix Find Tips

Quick UNIX tip that I recently learned:

If your a UNIX power user, chances are you done search using the find command. The search may look like this:

find / -name python - print

The problem is that you may run into a lot of noise. In particular, you search may end up with a lot of these types of entries:

find: /usr/sbin/authserver: Permission denied
find: /Library/Application Support/Apple/ParentalControls/Users: Permission denied
find: /Library/Application Support/Apple/AssetCache/Data: Permission denied
find: /Library/Application Support/ApplePushService: Permission denied
find: /Library/Application Support/ Operation not permitted
find: /Library/OSAnalytics/Preferences/Library: Permission denied
find: /Library/Caches/ Permission denied
find: /Library/Caches/ Operation not permitted
find: /System/Library/DirectoryServices/DefaultLocalDB/Default: Permission denied
find: /System/Library/Templates/Data/private/var/audit: Permission denied
find: /System/Library/Templates/Data/private/var/root: Permission denied
find: /System/Library/Templates/Data/private/var/lib/postfix: Permission denied
find: /System/Library/Templates/Data/private/var/db/appinstalld: Permission denied
find: /System/Library/Templates/Data/private/var/db/diskimagesiod: Permission denied
find: /System/Library/Templates/Data/private/var/db/locationd: Permission denied
find: /System/Library/Templates/Data/private/var/db/analyticsd: Permission denied
find: /System/Library/Templates/Data/private/var/db/rmd: Permission denied
find: /System/Library/Templates/Data/private/var/db/knowledgegraphd: Permission denied
find: /System/Library/Templates/Data/private/var/db/nsurlsessiond: Permission denied
find: /System/Library/Templates/Data/private/var/db/fpsd: Permission denied

The problem is that you may lose matches in all the permission issues.

## Easy fix

There's actually an easy fix. Simply redirect the error messages. Here's all you need:

find / -name boston -print 2>/dev/null

Now when you search for something you only see the matches:

$> find / -name python  -print 2>/dev/null


Starbucks Drink Order Generator

Are you a Starbuck fan? Ever wanted to order a different drink. Why not try the Obnoxious Starbucks Drink Order Generator?

The generator offers creative ways to order drinks at Starbuck. Give the Barista a workout with your order!

Website Description

Why order a plain old coffee when you can send a Starbuck's Barista into a flurry of confusion and spastic activity with a truly obnoxious drink order?

Starbucks Drink Generator



The past few months I have been doing a lot of database work. I was looking for a good application that I could use that wasn't limited on the type of database. I was recommend DBeaver - the free Universal Database tool.

DBeaver Logo

Five Reasons Why I Like DBeaver

  1. Database Support - The application pretty much supports any database you need: MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, Sybase, MS Access, Teradata, Firebird, Apache Hive, Phoenix, Presto and more. (A total of 89 different database connections are available out of the box!)
  2. SQL Generation - You can easily moved text between tables. Simply select a bunch of rows, right-click and select "Generate SQL." You'll get a copy of the SQL statements as insert statements. Useful when you want to delete a row and reinsert it again to test triggers.
  3. In Grid Editing - Easily change data in the grid - just like excel. DBeaver makes it so much easier to manipulate the data. Once you make all the changes, simply commit it.
  4. SQL Views - Very easy to create/modify views. In one of my projects, I didn't use many database views. When using DBeaver, it was easy to create and modify SQL views.
  5. SQL Scripts - Create and Save SQL Scripts for various projects. Makes it very easy to reuse past queries. You can even search through SQL Scripts for code - making it a great resource to reuse SQL commands.



It's a pleasure to welcome you to's main blog page where you will find all kinds of informative blog posts that cover a variety of topics of interest. From technology to lifestyle and career advice, there is something for everyone.

We strive to provide our readers with the highest quality content available, so you can be sure that you're getting the most up-to-date, reliable information.


Monday Media Monday
WednesdayNew England
ThursdayGluten Free
SaturdayInternet Tools
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