Powerbook in SFO
November 23, 2020

QA Release Checklist

Release time can be a crazy time for QA. There are always things going on, from last-minute issues discovered by QA to last-minute infrastructure changes for security purposes.

It’s really easy for QA team leads to get distracted and forget some of the essentials that need to happen for a release to be deployed successfully.

QA Checklist to the Rescue

The easy solution is to keep a release checklist. Something that will help you remember key things before a release gets deployed.

There’s no “one checklist fits all.” You should create a checklist that works best for your environment.

The nice thing about the checklist is that it acts as a release journal. If there are deployment issues, you can make notes on what to do in future releases.

Example Checklist Items

  • All QA team members signed off on the release
  • Automation Pass
  • Automation total run time is acceptable
  • All Critical Paths have been tested
  • Release Branch matches the test branch
  • Database migrators have no locking vulnerability

Checklist Stationary

You can use any digital software to create the checklist: Evernote, Microsoft Word, Notepad ...

I would recommend a paper solution. That way you can focus your computer screens on the release.

The checklist can be next to your keyboard - reminding you of all critical tasks.

I would highly recommend getting the Emergent Task Planner and using that as your checklist. It’s really well put together. You can build a timeline of when sign-offs have to occur before the release is deployed.

November 22, 2020

Credit Card Voice Mail Scam

I get a lot of Credit Card scams on my cell and landline. This past spring I got a couple of voice messages that seemed very similar. These were left on my cellphone about 24-hours apart.

I am thinking these are going to the same call center in some foreign country.

Call From: (302) 501-7927 - NEW CASTLE DE

Apple Voicemail transcript:

Hello. This is Alice calling from the underwriting department regarding your Discover credit card account based on your recent payment activity and balanced you are eligible for an interest rate reduction to as low as 1.9% to take advantage of this limited-time offer please call card member Services directly at 1-800-694-0048. Once again, that's 1-800-694-0048. This will be the only notice you received and this offer is only valid for three business days. Thank you.

Call From: (302) 306-2083 - HARTLY DE

Apple Voicemail transcript:

Hello. This is Elizabeth calling from the underwriting department regarding your Capital one credit card account based on your recent payment activity and balance you may be eligible for an interest rate reduction to as low as 1.9% and there is additional information. I need to confirm your eligibility or so please return my call directly in the underwriting department at 1-800-258-6019. Once again 1-800-258-6019 and will be the only notice you receive and this offer is only valid for three business days. Thank you.

Avoid These Scams

Any company that "cold calls" you with an interest rate reduction offer is likely a scam. Especially if they need to "verify" your credit card number so they can look it up.

Have fun with these calls, never give any legitimate information.

November 21, 2020

Scale

Good illustrations are hard to find. You can search for various online databases for the perfect fit. Then you have to deal with the licensing issues.

Karthik Sridharan put together Scale which is a free illustrations for all. Its a cool collection of illustrations that you can use to spice up any website or presentation.

Website Description

Royalty-free Vector Illustrations for Commercial Use One new high-quality, free illustration each day. Bring your ideas to life with Scale.

Scale Flexiple
https://2.flexiple.com/scale/

How Awesome That

November 20, 2020

Missing Disk in Sidebar using Big Sur

On Friday, I finally upgraded to macOS 11.0.1 (Big Sur). I have been trying for a week and kept getting an error during the upload process. This is the error that I have been getting:

Mac OS Big Sur Install Error

When I tried on Friday the installation process was successful. I think the whole install took about 45-mins.

SD Disk Missing from Finder

One of the things that caught my eye was that an SD disk that I had in the computer wasn't showing up in the finder sidebar. The disk would appear in the Finder when the "External Disks" is selected.

Some reason the Finder sidebar wouldn't show the external device. This makes navigating a little tricky as that's the most common way I access my SD cards. I usually turn off the "External Disks" on the desktop because its just clutter.

Apple is aware of the bug, and a fix will be shipped in a later update.

Alternative Solutions

There are several alternative solutions:

Simply click on the "Computer" in the sidebar (Should be Your Name) and click on that to see all the connected devices.

Learn the shortcut: Command - Shift - C (Which opens up the Computer window.)

Path Finder Big Sur

Use PathFinder which doesn't have this issue. All the external devices show up correctly in the sidebar.

November 19, 2020

The Point Boston Sign

One of the oldest streets in Boston is Marshall Street, near Fanuel Hall and Haymarket. At one time it featured many small businesses trying to make it in Massachusetts. Today there are popular restaurants and night clubs.

One of the popular night clubs is The Point. They feature popular New England dishes such as New England Clam Chowder, Classic Cheese Point Pub Pizza, Bullfinch Basic Burger, Fish and Chips and so much more.

The Point Desktop
The Point Mobile

Great Photo Spot!

Next to their entrance is a painted Boston sign that's perfect for selfies or group photos. The sign is big, so unless you have a super long selfie stick, you should ask someone to take your picture.

While this isn't a Boston Historic Landmark, it's one of the few places where you can show that you're in Boston with the words Boston in it.

Don't worry about the lighting at night. The street lights will help make sure you get a great picture!

Finding the Sign

The official address to the Point is: 147 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02108

Take the Green or Orange line to Haymarket. Walk out of the station towards Quincy Market, you'll see signs pointing to Quincy Market. You'll see the Union Oyster House, look for a small side street next to the restaurant. Walk down that street, and the brick sign will be on your left.

November 18, 2020

Camera Hot Shoe Mount

One of the cool camera accessories that I found was the Camera Hot Shoe mount. This allows me to add an additional camera using the DSLR hot shoe (flash) mount.

The mount puts the second camera out of arm's reach. So you'll likely not be able to adjust the focus or zoom once you have it in place. With some cameras, it might be hard to even hit the record button. You should test the camera before production.

This mount is very tricky as I need to make sure that I don't put anything too heavy that could damage the camera.

Hot Shoe Mobile
Hot Shoe Desktop

Camera will Shake

So the tricky part of this mount is that when the DSLR moves so does the top camera. When I first started using this mount, the second camera took care of the wide angles.

The problem is that anytime I touched the DSLR the top camera would move - which cause the camera to shake. This was a real problem because I needed to do manual focusing, and that resulted in a lot of adjustments and camera shake.

Just keep in mind that the location is shake sensitive. If you are using this as a backup for when the DSLR is in focus, you'll discover that the footage may have more shake than normal.

Make Sure to Tighten the Mount

Make sure that the mount fits in the hot shoe and that you secure it in place. This will help prevent any excess shake because of the camera motion.

Out of Reach

The mount puts the second camera out of arm's reach. So you'll likely not be able to adjust the focus or zoom once you have it in place. With some cameras, it might be hard to even hit the record button. You should test the camera before production.

November 17, 2020

Multiple Displays

Final Cut Pro is so much better with multiple monitors. You don't need two similar monitors, just two good ones. This is the layout that I have on my home computer:

Final Cut Pro Displays

The 20-inch Apple Cinema Display is a ten-year-old monitor, and it works perfectly well for me.

Setting Up Final Cut Pro

Here's all you do to get Final Cut Pro to use two monitors:

Connect a second monitor to your computer. (That's pretty obvious.)

Under the 'Window' Option you'll see a "Show in Secondary Display" this is where you select the content to display on the second monitor. When you select this the item is removed from the primary display.

You have 3-options:

Browser - This is all the media files in your project. Use this option when you're starting the project and trying to figure out what clips to put in the timeline.

Viewers - This is the preview window. I usually have my second display always set to this. Having this on the second display makes navigating the timeline so much easier. This is especially true when you have multiple clip layers.

Timeline - This is the video timeline. Useful if your second display is a wide screen.

FCP Second Display Selection

Quick Shortcut

In the top of the main window there is an icon that shows two computers. You can toggle using two displays simply by clicking on this icon. (Its the green box in the above screenshot)

I have found this to be a quick way to display Final Cut Pro to use the second monitor when I want to do something outside of Final Cut Pro, such as browse the internet or check email

November 16, 2020

Unhelpful Error Messages

Someone on Twitter asked:

What’s the most unhelpful error message you’ve ever seen?

I couldn't think of anything right away, so I search my collection on Google Photos, and I found two that I thought are worth sharing.

Apple Error

Bad Big Sur Install

This is there that I am now getting while trying to install Big Sur on my iMac. There’s no indication of what I should do next.

There are plenty of websites that give some clues on what to try. Most of the advice is around some technical issues that Apple had during the original rollout. However, I am still encountering the issues - many days later.

Still working on finding what this error means. Hopefully, this gets fixed soon, and it doesn't involve formatting my computer!

Flavia Coffee Pot Error.

Bad Flavia Message

This is an error that appeared on a coffee machine at work. Multiple people have to get involved to fix this issue. Phone calls were made to the coffee company to report Error 328.

Turns out the problem is with a stuck freshpack. I found a website that explains how to fix the error.

It would have been so much better to say something like, "Clear the Stuck Freshpack."

Note: This isn't a problem anymore as the company has moved on to a machine that makes single-serve coffee with the need for K-cups or Freshpacks.

November 15, 2020

Disney+ Error Issue

Recently we had a problem with getting access to the Disney+ on our Samsung Smart TV. We tried several things to fix it and got it working!

Disney T V Logo

The Problem

When ever we switched over to Disney+ we would get an error:

We’re having a problem. Exiting the App. Error Code: 1016 " App_Config_Failure.

We search online for other people's solution to this problem:

  • We removed the App, and installed it again - That didn't do anything.
  • We shut down the TV, waited a minute and tried Disney+ - That didn't do anything.
  • We disconnect the power to the home Wifi to recycle the Internet. Turned on the TV, then Disney+ - That didn' do anything.

We also found that we were getting errors on our iPad devices too. The error was related to Error Code 83. (Which is great if you know what Error Code 83 means.)

The Solution

We finally gave in and decided to call Disney+. After being on hold for about 2-minutes, we talked to a technician about our problem.

He told us that our home IP address was marked as suspicious. That's why we were not able to get into the account.

He did some "Disney Magic" and told us to try again. (He probably just removed the suspicious tag on our IP Address.)

It Worked!

Having This Issue?

So if you're having any issues with Error Code 1016 or Error 83, simply call Disney+ to see if there's an issue that they need to fix. (This is true especially if you tried everyone else solution.)

Oh and Disney, please work on a better Error message than "Error Code: 1016 " App_Config_Failure."

November 14, 2020

Brand Colors

When creating websites, sometimes you want to match a color from your favorite brand. For example, if you're creating a section for YouTube videos, you may want to use YouTube Red.

U.S. Brand Colors is a great resource for the color of many popular brands. It's a good way to figure out the right Hex, RGB, CMYK, and Pantone color to use for your next project.

Website Description

A small team of designers studying branding trying to build a reliable resource containing the color palettes of the most popular brands in the world.

U S Brand Colors
https://usbrandcolors.com/

58 Brands Available

As of today, here are all the brands that are available on the website:

Amazon, Microsoft, Xbox One, Burger King, Red Bull, FedEx, Levi's, John Deere, Heineken, Samuel Adams, Pabst Blue Ribbon, WhatsApp, Lyft, Pinterest, Taco Bell, Monster Energy, UPS, Miller High Life, Keystone Light, Busch, Busch Light, Uber, Netflix, Subway, Coca-Cola, USPS, Natural Light, Michelob Ultra, Miller Lite, Budweiser, Airbnb, Slack, Starbucks, Pepsi, DHL, Coors Light, Bud Light, Johnny Walker, Android, Spotify, IBM, McDonald's, Kool-Aid, Jack Daniel's, Messenger, Snapchat, Apple, Facebook, Oracle, HP, Dunkin' Donuts, Gatorade, Sprite, Jim Beam, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Google.

November 13, 2020

Quickly Change Wallpaper

When on Zoom calls, I like to have the computer desktop set to White. This allows a little bit of brightness so people can clearly see my face.

When I am not on Zoom calls, I like the desktop dark so that it doesn't blind me when I am working.

The traditional way of right-clicking on the desktop to Change the Desktop background is a lot of steps to do every time I start and end a meeting. There has to be a better way.

Thankfully there is a better way with Keyboard Maestro.

Quickly Change Desktop

Keyboard Maestro has an action to change the desktop background. Now, I can select the Keyboard Maestro menu item and quickly switch between dark and light mode.

This makes it super easy to switch desktop patterns whenever I need it.

Keyboard Maestro Macro

Here's the Macro I have set up:

Desktop Change Dark

For the light version, I just created a small white image and used that as what to set the background too.

I used Dropbox as my source so that the Macro would work no matter what computer that I had Keyboard Maestro installed on.

November 12, 2020

Boston Brownstone

Boston is well known for the historic brownstones. They are beautiful to look at when you see them together.

Some people will walk around Beacon Street and Commonwealth Ave area looking for the best houses. However, there's a better location that offers better picturesque opportunities.

Brownstones Desktop
Brownstones Mobile

Streets of South Boston

One of the best set of streets that has a lot of brownstones with stairs is Pembroke, West Brookline and Newton St, which are located next to each other in South Boston.

Usually, local residences will put flowers and seasonal decoration which can help make the pictures that much better..

These streets are located between Tremont and Columbus Ave.

The streets are not really accessible via public transportation. The best way to get there from the Prudential Mall is to walk down W. Newton Street to Harriet Tubman Square. Then walk around the streets to find the perfect view.

Just remember these homes are privately owned. Please respect the property and privacy.

November 11, 2020

Super Clamp with Magic Arm

Last week, I talked about the Ballhead Arm Super Clamp Mount, as a good way to have a second camera available on the tripod. This week it's a step further with a magic arm on the Super Clamp Mount.

The Magic Arm gives you more control on how to position your camera on the Super Clamp. In many ways, it's better to buy a Clamp Mount with a magic arm, so that you have more control of the camera.

This arm is strong enough to hold just about any point and shoot camera or GoPro.

The Magic Arm Clamp sells for about $24 on Amazon and about $23 on B&H Photo.

Magic Arm Mobile
Magic Arm Desktop

Four Things I have Learned

Once you lock down the arm position, you can't move the camera. The camera can't move left and right. One way around this is to use a ball mount between the Magic Arm and Camera.

I find it best as an L shape. This gives you the opportunity to have the second camera away from the primary camera on the tripod.

As you can see in the picture, I like to use a Monopod with the Magic Arm. This allows me to have the camera as high as possible. Obviously, I can't control the camera when it is up high

The Clamp is very strong. It's the same type of clamp as the Super Camp Mount. Once you have it secure it doesn't lose its grip. In addition, it won't put a grip mark on the object. I put it on a wood railing with no issues.

November 10, 2020

Adaptive Limiter

One of the things I have learned is that using Normalize is not the best way to fix audio that might be too soft. Normalize is available in audio applications like Fission and Audacity.

The problem is that if your audio clip has one large pop, then Normalize won't work.

Apple's Logic has a powerful way to balance the audio and that's something called: Adaptive Limiter. Apple included the functionality in Final Cut Pro

Adaptive Limiter

Feature Description

Adaptive Limiter is a versatile tool for controlling the perceived loudness of sounds. It works by rounding and smoothing peaks in the signal, producing an effect similar to an analog amplifier being driven hard. Like an amplifier, it can slightly color the sound of the signal. You can use Adaptive Limiter to achieve maximum gain without introducing unwanted distortion and clipping, which can occur when the signal exceeds 0 dBFS.

Things I Learned

This can be found in the Effects section, check for Audio then Levels.

Simply drag and drop Adaptive Limiter to the audio that you wish to enhance and the audio will be enhanced.

If you want to make further Adaptive Limiter adjustments on the clip, go to the audio section of the clip, scroll down and look for Effects. You should see the Effects section.

You can make whatever adjustments you want, I would recommend maling slow adjustments and test the clip peaks and valleys.

There is an Advance Effect Editor UI for those audio pros. This is a powerful audio tool to play around with.

At the End of The Day

Using applications like Fission and Audacity is great for simple audio files. The audio functionality in Final Cut Pro is pretty powerful. There are a lot of audio effects built - 109 to be exact.

You shouldn't have to use a third party to fix audio issues. In most cases, it can be professionally cleaned in Final Cut Pro.

November 9, 2020

World Quality Day

On November 12, 2020 is World Quality Day.

World Quality Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in November.

World Quality Day2020

World Quality Day

Each year the IRCA and CQI team put together a focus on World Quality Day.

This year the purpose of the day, is to put in the spotlight people that go above and beyond to improve customer value.

Quality at Drug Companies

I think there should be a focus on the various Quality Control teams in the drug testing field. These people are working overtime to make sure that the proper medication is being distributed. In addition, they are making sure that test results are accurate as possible.

Don't forget to thank your favorite QA person on World Quality day.

November 8, 2020

President Joe Biden

Congrats to Joe Biden for being the next President of the United States.

I had some other content set to post today, but Biden getting the official word that he won the Presidency certainly cannot be overlooked

Here's a couple logos I found in some emails that I have gotten over the past year.

Joe Binden2020 Desktop
Joe Binden2020 Mobile

I have been getting emails from him since he started running back in April 27, 2019. Most of the emails have been for fundraising. Every once in awhile it would be for some attack on Trump tweet.

Kamala Harris Email

This is an email that I got from Kamala Harris, on the day that Joe Biden put his hat in the ring:

Kamala Harris Letter Biden

Best of Luck Joe!

The recent election has shown that the nation is truly divided. It's going to take a lot to get the country back together again.

Some people think that Joe will put some Republicans in his cabinet - such as Charlie Baker, the current Massachusetts Governor who has a very high popularity rating.

November 7, 2020

Stack Overflow Trends

When you need help with something with computer programming, the best place to go online is Stack Overflow. You can usually find an answer to your question, or if it's new, someone can answer your question.

Over the years Stack Overflow has captured a lot of data from the questions that people have asked. They put together a trends section, where you can compare various things.

You can find out what Operating System is the most popular, what computer language is being used, what Javascript framework people are using.

Website Description

See how technologies have trended over time based on use of their tags since 2008, when Stack Overflow was founded. Enter up to 15 tags to compare growth and decline.

Stack Over Flow Trends
https://insights.stackoverflow.com/trends

You can use the links on the page for popular searches, or type in tags that you want to compare against.

For "fun" see if you can guess what caused certain things to trend lower.

November 6, 2020

PhotosScape November Update

In late October, Mooii Tech add some new features to PhotoScape X, a popular Macintosh Photo editor. This release has a lot of exciting changes.

Photo Scape November Update

Here's a list of changes, and where to find the changes:

New Text Effects: Long Shadow, Overlays & Masks, Background

These are new select items in the Text dialog, they are located below the opacity selector.

New Object Effects: Long Shadow, Overlays & Masks

These can be applied to objects such as Stickers, Shapes, Figures, Lines, and more.

New Filters: Gradient Opacity, Radial Speed Lines, Lines, Concentric, Geometric Collage

In the Adjustments section: Gradient Opacity

In the Effect Section: Radial Speed Lines, Lines, and Concentric

In the Transformations section: Geometric Collage

New Filter Objects: Mosaic #2, #3, #4, Frosted Glass

These are located under the "Filter" menu. Click on Insert, then on the Filter next to Tools.

New Text Warp: Gradient Upper, Gradient Upper 2, Gradient Lower, Gradient Lower 2

These are located in the Text dialog. On the bottom of the text box, click on Transform then click on the transform button. In the Transform dialog, click on the "None"

Other Additions

Added 119 Film Looks - New Looks category in the Film Section ( Click Film in the top toolbar)

Added 104 Film Extras - New Extras category in the Film Section

Added 150 Nature - New Nature category in the Light Section

Added 108 Comic Stickers - New category in the Stickers section.

Added 4 more Draw Brushes (Stipple) - These are the brushes found when drawing/ they are located at the bottom of the brush selection.

Added 1 more Text Outline Type - In the Text dialog, click on the checkbox next to Outline, you'll see that there are now three different outline types.

Added 6 Object Transform Skew Types - These are located in the Transformation dialog. These are below the object. For example, you can transform text to create a logo.

Added 8 Canvas Grid Types - This is the overlay grid that you see. This is located on the bottom bar, it's the dotted grid icon.

November 5, 2020

The Barking Crab

Every Thursday in November, I'll be featuring unique photo spots around the City of Boston. These are great for background photos and perfect for those Instagram Stories.

Barking Crab Photo

Wall of Wooden Buoys

Near the Children's Museum is the Barking Crab. They have been in business for 26-years serving some of Boston's best seafood. They have a clam shack type of restaurant serving many popular dishes including lobster and clam chowder.

If you go to the backside of the restaurant, towards Fan Pier, you'll encounter a wall of Wooden Buoys! What a great picture spot!

One of the best times to be here is in the morning before the restaurant is open. The morning sun will provide the perfect lighting for your photos!

Bring a portable tripod if your taking group shots. You won't find anything to hold your camera.

Finding the Barking Crab

They are located at 88 Sleeper Street Boston, MA 02210. Right off of Seaport Blvd.

The best way via public transportation is to take the Silver Line to the Court House. Once you get up at Street level, walk along Seaport Boulevard towards the high rise buildings.

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