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Friday, April 03, 2020

The Bathroom Project

In early March [2020], I discovered because of corrosion, the faucet in the main upstairs bathroom would have to be replaced. We ordered a new faucet (PARLOS Brushed Nickel) and also decided to use Amazon's Home Services to have the work done.

The plumber who performed the initial work, although installing the new faucet, also explained the corrosion was more extensive than we thought. We would need a new sink as well. So I took measurements and went over to Lowes to get a new sink.



While at Lowes, I also found a Dracaena Trifasciata (mother-in-law's tongue or snake plant, similar Amazon offering) that I decided I had to have. When I left home right after college, my mother gave me one she had had for years, so I was happy to find another at a very reasonable price (under fourteen dollars).

This post was going to be about all of the projects I have been working lately, however the bathroom project was a big one and took a lot of time to complete. The repairs were completed by 11:00 am Wednesday, however the sink was not usable until the following morning to give the epoxy a chance to set up.

Of course, the current situation with COVID-19 a factor in scheduling of repair services--- even with our hustle to purchase the hardware that was needed for the repairs. Just happy to have that sink working again.


Monday, March 30, 2020

NPR One API Interface

Recently, when I finished work on the new Amazon Product Advertising API interfaces for WiredPages, I decided to continue with other software projects, specifically an effort I put aside sometime ago.

The NPR One API resource is an interesting project, and quite frankly when I signed up over a year ago, I thought I would get back to the project a lot sooner. Part of the problem, it took longer than usual to set up the correct authorization procedures. When I finally "correctly" initialized all of the codes, I felt most of the hard work was done and it was only a matter of writing the interface.

Below, illustration of work completed on the project, with still lots more to do...

One of the biggest obstacles, I thought I could use HTML5 audio features to enable live streaming of radio programs. I could not. So I spent most of the weekend coming up to speed on a popular jQuery Player.

Over the years, I have decided against using cutting edge technologies like JQuery and AJAX because a lot of my development hardware is older and cannot support those newer technologies. However, what this has enabled me to do, is insure my sites work with both new and old technologies. My old desktop Mac can still run most of the tools on my sites without issues. Today, there are very few sites my old desktop Mac computer can visit.

Now, I do have access to newer hardware, however up until recently, my newer hardware was for testing and not development work. These days, I am using a Windows 10 Pro mini for a lot of development efforts. Updates to SSL protocols left me with little choice but to afford a newer development platform-- see the Items I Have link for more information.

So, back to my efforts this weekend... I am pretty happy with the jQuery Player I will be using for the NPR One API project, and will have to get over the fact that some of my hardware platforms will not be able to provide the live radio streams from NPR's network of stations.

The new tool is a Java Servlet and will be installed on the WiredPages Media page.


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Amazon PA API5 Updates

Earlier this week, I noticed I had access to the Amazon PA API, so I decided to take the opportunity to convert my old PA API 4 tools, to the latest release (PA API 5). Efficiency guidelines, periodically disabling the resource, so this was my first opportunity to work with the new API.

I am not sure why, I thought the new release of the API would be easier to use, as related to development efforts for Amazon Product Search tools. In my opinion, the earlier release, PA API 4 was easier, especially the signing process.

That said, after some research and testing, I was able to get three program versions working using different frameworks:

  • Java Servlet not using the Amazon supplied SDK
  • Java Servlet using the SDK
  • PHP Version

When I install the new tools on WiredPages, I will be using the Java Servlet version which does not incorporate the Amazon supplied SDK. The following graphics illustrate how the new tools will look on the site, however [shown below] running in local mode from my IDE (NetBeans).

If you are familiar with my earlier Amazon Product Search tools, you will note the new tools are similar to the old. Updates also included new search categories. I will probably release the new tools sooner rather than later, however I am still researching security issues. Think I have found most of the program bugs.


Saturday, February 15, 2020

New Tool in the Works, Alexa Rank Check

Yesterday, I completed most of the work on a new tool that will provide Alexa Rank information for a specified website.

Plans are to install the tool on the WiredPages Technology page, however not sure when this opportunity will present itself. Related issues include; (1) Access to Amazon Web Services (AWS) data is billed based on usage, (2) the popularity of a tool like this could affect my web hosting plan and (3) security is always an issue for me. At this time, too many have access to areas of my site, which I cannot prevent.

Keep in mind, I am a sole proprietor and have no business partners as related to software development (see Business Partnerships for more details). I do maintain several advertising affiliate relationships as outlined in my disclosure policy.

Also note, the tool is still in checkout mode so I may change elements of the user interface, i.e., graphics, font sizes, etc., before the actual installation.


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Ham & Cheese on a Croissant...

Yesterday, I stopped by Costco and Safeway. I thought I would be doing all of this shopping on Friday, however weather forecasts though calling for rain, seemed to indicate the precipitation would begin late in the day, so I thought I could get most of this done by noon. Actually, arrived home after two, so it took longer than I expected.

For some reason, I have been craving a ham and cheese sandwich on a croissant along with a strawberry milkshake. So along with necessary staples, i.e., bottled water, paper products, coffee, etc., I thought I would get the ingredients to satisfy my cravings.

Strawberries were a little more expensive than I thought they would be, so I did not get the ingredients for a shake but did get everything I needed for my sandwich.

The croissants and pepper jack cheese purchased from Costco, and the ham, lettuce and tomato picked up from Safeway.

Other things I have been working on?

  • Updating my local master copy of the Celebrity Birthday Database (security issues preventing the online installation of the master version of the database). The almost 4000 entries included in the offline version are being checked for dead biography.com links which are being replaced with Wiki links. Very tedious process, however the database should be pretty robust by the time the work is complete.
  • Researching a problem with the "Who Are My Legislators?" interface accessed from the WiredPages Government page.
  • Reading, "Secrets of a Charmed Life" by Susan Meissner

Things are working out with my new Windows10 Mini insofar as duplicating my software development environment. Working a number of issues and ensuring I can duplicate development efforts normally worked on my older Mac system.

The cost to provide this duplicate development environment, given I needed new hardware and operating system to work effectively with newer technologies, was something I could afford at this time.


Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Current Reads, FICO Scores, etc.

I use the OverDrive App to borrow books from the Maryland Digital Library. Just finished the latest Grisham release "The Guardians". Now reading "The Silent Wife".

Also happy to report, I am done with my 2019 taxes. Any refunds due, already deposited to my personal checking account.

Here are recent photos from other things going on around here. Lunch today, cookies I made Monday, watching the banana plant I moved to the guest bedroom flourish.

Other things I am watching? Recent news reports indicate FICO score computations are changing. One of my credit cards provides free access to my personal FICO score and my business bank provides reports about my business scores (in my case these scores should be the same because I am a sole proprietor and use the same tax information for both personal and business accounts).

That said, I noticed a 13 point drop in the FICO score being reported by my business bank in early January 2020 and think this may explain the change. The fluctuations seem to be more reflective of spending. Holiday spending using credit cards may have been used in the business FICO score, however I always pay the entire balance on my credit cards so I think the new computations maybe a little trigger happy.

Are you noticing changes with your FICO scores?


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

!Rockin The Gray

For various reasons, when I make or notice changes to my appearance, I publicize the differences. For instance, I always like to provide recent photos, to insure the effects of aging are noted and current.

Over the last two or three years I have allowed my hair to grow out. At the same time, I have not dyed my hair so the advancing gray I wanted to be more a striking accent to my appearance- turned out to be, anything but. Did you see Poltergeist? By the end of the movie, JoBeth Williams' character had striking gray effects in her hair. I think, the natural state of my hair should look more like hers at the end of that movie.

The photos below were taken January 26, 2020 and show the enormous amount of gray in my hair:


Yesterday, I went to the market for my mother and also picked up a box of dye. I have to admit, I purchase things because they are on sale, so the box of Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Hair Color Creme, 50 Medium Natural Brown (Truffle) I purchased was more because it was on sale and not because I did any research.

That said, I love this brand. I loved how easy it was to apply, I loved the smell, I loved the way my hair felt after blowing it dry, and this morning after I took out the rollers.

The photos below taken this morning after I combed it out (camera flash highlighting the conditioner in my hair, most of the gray covered):

My natural hair color tends to have lighter brown/blonde highlights mixed in with the darker brown. The new color is a bit more auburn (especially where the gray was covered), however I like it.


Sunday, January 26, 2020

How Do I Keep My Curls?

On Friday, January 17, 2020, I placed an order with Amazon comprised of the following items, which arrived, Thursday, January 23, 2020.

On Friday, January 18th, a huge spring on one of the garage doors broke and though a relative looked at the door and said it could be used without repair, I decided to research, and have the repair done. It turns out, if the spring is left unrepaired, the release latch that allows for manual operation, is useless because the door is to heavy to lift without the spring and both cables. One of the cables also snapped.

So, for the last week and a half- major projects included:

  • Research, purchase and installation of 500 GB Harddrive for mini computer
  • More software installed on new mini computer, i.e., Thingamablog, iTunes, etc.
  • Garage door repair research
  • 2019 Tax Returns (Federal & Maryland) Filed

I needed a new desktop calculator with a small footprint and I am pretty happy with the Casio HR-10RC Printing Calculator I ordered. Below is a 9 second video demonstration of the calculator.

My mother has a slightly larger Casio Printing Calculator (Casio HR-100TM) which is also pretty good, so below, I am providing links to both calculators.

The installation of the Seagate 500GB harddrive was pretty easy, however it did not automatically show up as a new drive. I had to add the device under the Windows Control Panel Hardware tab (showed up as hardware that needed to be added).

These days, storage on harddrives is easy to purchase, and you may notice that I tend to purchase devices with lower storage amounts. This is on purpose. I try to purchase what I think I will need, not how much I can get.

P.S. I also use a Conair 1" Curling Iron which in combination with the items shown, help to keep my curls in place all day.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Elecrow Touchscreen Demonstration

I have been researching portable monitors for awhile and finally decided to purchase the Elecrow 10.1" 2K IPS Touchscreen Monitor.

Initially, the touchscreen capability was not a high priority, however overtime decided I would prefer a portable monitor with this option. When I found the Elecrow, several of the features I wanted with a monitor of this type were met, including:

  • Touchscreen
  • Monitor Size: 10.1 inches
  • Screen Resolution: 2560x1600 (2K)
  • Cost

The following is a short video demonstrating the Elecrow touchscreen feature.

Video Quality: I shot the videos for this post using my Canon VIXIA HF R700 Camcorder then merged the video files using a 640x480 lower resolution file size. This done mainly to accommodate my web hosting server. The original MP4 file was over 25MB and the converted file less than 10MB.


Monday, January 13, 2020

Upgraded Windows 10 Development & Productivity Environment

Recently, I upgraded my Windows 10 work environment from a tablet to a mini Pro environment.

Components of the new system include:

Currently, I develop software using a Macbook and Netbeans. Just for your information, however not related to my software development issues, my Thingamablog blogs are hosted on the Macbook (Remix) and a Windows XP (It's Personal [this blog], Résumé) platform. Thingamablog runs on a local system, i.e., PC or Mac and is written in Java.

The reasons I needed to upgrade this work environment? New security protocols (SSL) my older systems could not handle because newer releases of Java were not supported on the older systems.

The other problem? My Windows 10 tablet did not have enough, in the way of resources, to handle the installation of more recent software development tools.

I chose a Windows 10 Pro Mini, because it offered a quick, less expensive solution.

I installed recent releases of the Java SDK and Netbeans on the new Windows 10 Pro system. This enabled my development environment to handle the newer security protocols being used by today's websites and producers of API and XML data.

Happy to report this upgrade went well, and looking forward to adding a newer Mac Mini to my development environment in the coming year.


Friday, January 03, 2020

BoSidin Permanent Hair Removal System

In 2019, I had any number of unexpected business related expenses, where I spent more than I originally budgeted, for the year.

Major 2019 Business Expenses

  • Replaced my Canon "Point & Shoot" camera with a Canon DSLR (EOS M50)
  • Replaced my Android
  • Updated a Windows 10 Tablet with a Windows 10 Pro Mini platform

Luckily, this year my family provided holiday gifts in the form of money so I was also able to afford a personal care unit I have always wanted to try.

I did a bit of research before purchasing the BoSidin Permanent Hair Removal System and though quite happy to date, still in the early stages in the use of the unit.

Other considerations as related to the selection of the gift? (1) I am dangerous with a razor blade, though some of the newer technology is pretty good. (2) my cordless razor battery died. (3) I wanted a more permanent solution.

Hope your New Year is off to a great start...


Saturday, December 28, 2019

Ringing In The New Year

I have no plans New Year's Eve, however earlier this month I ordered two new lipsticks to test, and decided I could use the Blazing Lava L'Oreal Lipstick if I changed my mind.

The other lipstick, L'Oreal Peony Pink is not as festive and more an everyday look for me.

Through the weekend and up until the first, I will be preparing my sites for the new year, i.e., updating copyright information and ensuring any new year's regulations and policy requirements are current as related to my sites.

What are your plans for New Year's Eve?


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

DOSS SoundBox XL 32W Bluetooth Speakers

I am baking today, however I wanted to take a moment and tell you about a recent acquisition that I am pretty pleased about.

I imported most of my CDs to iTunes, and have the app installed on several mobile devices. In March of this year, while using an unprotected charging device, I believe I damaged my first bluetooth speaker (no longer accepting a charge), so I caught a sale and picked up this DOSS SoundBox XL 32W Bluetooth Speaker.

In addition to iTunes, I have several Echo devices hooked up to stereo and/or amped standalone speakers, enabling Alexa music requests in most areas of the house. I tested the new speaker with all of these systems and found in most cases the audio was greatly enhanced, however not in the den.

Systems around the house using other Echo devices where the Doss speaker made a significant difference:

If you are looking for a new bluetooth speaker, I think you will find this speaker has surprising output.

P.S. Issue from the last post, cleared up. I am so pleased about this.


Friday, December 20, 2019

Send What Back?

This wants to make me cry. Right now I need legal and DOJ authorities to track this problem. I did not ask for a refund. I asked them to give me a time schedule for the delivery that they have promised since Tuesday.

They agree I never received it however they want me to send it back. I placed a new order for the same thing. Law enforcement who have access to my dealings should have this problem. I do not like when things like this happen.

Too much of the wrong noise on this.

I have all of the correspondense on this. I never said refund. I said please tell me when I will receive this. Now they want me to send something back I never received.

I love Amazon and have never had a problem. Why now? I ordered the item again. FBI, would like this cleared up quickly.


Saturday, December 14, 2019

Happy Holidays (2019)!

It was a busy week, highlights included:

  • Replaced a brake lamp bulb on one of the cars (The internet allows me to think I can repair anything).
  • Trip to the market.
  • Online shopping & waiting on the deliveries.
  • Wrapping presents.
  • First holiday gift: Handy Multi-Use Tool - Synchrony
  • Putting up the tree and the rest of the holiday decorations.
  • Correcting a problem with the Instagram API Demonstration application.
  • Fixed the submit button issue with the map tool on the WiredPages Dining & Travel page.

Beautiful moon in our area on December 11th, 2019. The following photos taken with my Canon EOS M50.


Hope your holiday preparations are going well.


Friday, November 29, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019

I have had a busy week, running errands and preparing for Thanksgiving. Lots of shopping, cooking, and an appointment or two. Who sets an appointment Thanksgiving week?

The last three days in photos...

So much going on here and elsewhere this holiday season. Social media updates...

Found this holiday tune while listening to a station via an Echo device. An old song, however a new favorite for me.

My Echo devices (Note: 2 Echo Inputs):

Hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving holiday.


Thursday, November 21, 2019

New Android

Last week, in the midst of my holiday shopping, my android's battery stopped accepting the charge. This was a holiday-time expense I had not anticipated, however unavoidable.

I have already started my holiday shopping, as illustrated in the photo below, taken November 15, 2019.

With the holidays in full swing, I decided I could spend no more than $150 for a replacement unit.

I purchased my first android in February 2015, and used it almost everyday, whenever possible keeping the unit plugged in next to my software development and blogging platforms, or just "on" for any research or social media tasks on my "todo" list. I have to say, I am surprised it lasted as long as it did. I used it quite a bit.

The new android arrived, Wednesday, November 20, 2019, and I am very pleased with the ease it took to setup the new unit.

When things like this happen, I am usually good about accepting the loss and moving on. Over the last 6 months I have spent over a thousand dollars replacing business tools (camera and android). Both 2019 business expenses I had not planned on, however critical to completing the tasks I need to get done.

How often do I do this? Old camera purchased in 2008, old android purchased February 2015 and only when I have absolutely no other options.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Lampshades

My mother's birthday is right around the corner. This year, I decided to get her something she said she needed, however was unable to find. I researched online, offerings of the lampshade replacements she wanted and asked her about certain styles before I ordered.

I am glad I did. The new lampshades arrived today, and though not her birthday, I decided to give them to her a bit early after first ensuring the shades were undamaged. Illustrated below, the etched-like ginger jar lamps and the old versus the new lampshades.

Though the older shades do not look that bad in the photos, some of the pleats had separated from the lower hem of the shade, giving a slightly frayed appearance. She did not see the final gift selection, so I am pleased she likes the new lampshades.

I used to know where lighting stores in my area were located. I love finials, lamps, lampshades. I am not sure now, why it is hard to find things like lampshades and even online- the research was a little more difficult than I anticipated.

Now, what to do about dinner and other birthday activities...


Saturday, November 09, 2019

The Start of Something New (Research Phase)

Recently, I have been giving serious thought to the start of something new. Two years ago, I registered two new domains:

  • Hanover-Magazine.com
  • hanovermaryland.org

My thoughts at the time were to expand on my efforts related to the Hanover MD Businesses page, I maintain on Facebook.

The expansion would include an online magazine with hard-copy editions for the eleven or so area hotels, features related to the areas many social and media events, community events, the exponential growth in the real estate market as well as the business environment which has always had a strong presence in the community.

The related hanovermaryland.org site would be more of a directory, dynamic information site about the area and businesses. What's new, business listings, events calendar, etc.

Recently, I also started two new social media accounts (in addition to the older account, also listed):

  • HanoverMagazine on Instagram
  • HanoverMagazine on Twitter
  • HanoverBusinesses on Instagram (older account)

Shown below, existing pages associated with my Facebook account which may also- be of use with this project.

I love Autumn, so with the onset of the new season, I thought I would roam the area, researching and gathering ideas for this magazine project. Below a collection of some of the photos I have taken.

The area has all of the right elements to take seriously a project of this nature, including location, an international airport, one of the largest malls in Maryland, a major casino and easy access with plenty of parking.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Echo Input... This Works For Me.

Recently added to the collection of Alexa devices used in our home to include two new Echo Input units-- reference Instagram Post.

As noted in the above illustration, the order included RCA Splitter and RCA to 3.5mm adapters.

Pretty pleased with how this worked out, in that we already had the bookshelf stereo system and standalone amp speakers we wanted to use with the new devices. Note: I needed the RCA Splitter Adapter to allow both the Verizon Set-top box and Echo Input to output sound to the bookshelf stereo system.

Alexa devices currently used in our home, include:

One of the new Echo Input devices was setup in my office.

I love being able to put on a smooth jazz station while working. The bookshelf stereo system that was already in the office, offers a lot of sound, in that the on-board equalizer offers plenty of options.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Using My Photos

Fall arrived and I have taken the opportunity to get out to take photos with my recently acquired Canon EOS M50 Camera and Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens .

I use photos quite a bit for graphics. In 2010, I started a Facebook alumni group for my high school and periodically visit the school to take photos. Recently, I updated the header graphic for the group using one of the photos I took on a recent visit.

In addition, the following illustration shows another photo used as a new graphical element for the WiredPages Real Estate page.

And it goes without saying, I post regularly to my Instagram and other social media accounts.

In my area, autumn color is just around the corner, and I plan to get out and enjoy the season.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

CD Rollover

I provide a lot of information relating to my private, business and financial interests. I provide this type of transparency as related to my business and financial affairs because of ongoing investigations.

Quite frankly, I thought my legal issues would have been over a long time ago. That said, the promises from both Washington, and some of the corporations involved have not as of today, come to fruition.

Promises are still offered, however I am not sure of many of the issues still remaining.

The other problem? I have been out quite a bit working on community business projects rather than software development. Mostly taking photographs (next post).

That said, I have noticed odd things from some people who have gone out of their way to engage me. This should not begin again. I have had assurances from law enforcement that what I have noticed should not be happening and some of the people have been dealt with.

I have also noticed odd things with posts from Q's Wire. I continue to maintain the WordPress blog online, though law enforcement and judges have indicated the blog posts have been tampered with too much over the years.

I simply want to provide this disclaimer of sorts. That said-- because of the nature of my case and the amount of time involved most agree- the blog (Q's Wire) is only there to provide background to the horrific nature of all of this. Legally, experts agree I do have the master copy of all posts for that blog, and timely issues insofar as tampered posts should not be an issue.

This blog and my business blog are Thingamablogs and harder to tamper with.

Now back to a financial matter that I wish to provide transparency on. I use Synchrony to maintain two CDs and a Money Market Account. Recently, one of the CDs came to term. I decided to allow the CD to rollover, however knew because the interest rates were now lower, I would need to add more funds to maintain the same interest payment. The following illustrations provide the process I used to rollover the CD with more funds.

With my meager income, credit rating, business credit rating and a penchant to mind my own business, I should not have the problems I have. A hard look continues to suggest too much is wrong-- and I said no. I thought a lot of this was about "clean up".

Not sure why, some of the issues I have noticed recently are happening, however I am not one to be shy about why law enforcement owes a lot of these issues.


Monday, September 30, 2019

Incorporating a Budget Piece

Yesterday, I received a new pair of Aerosoles Women's Octagon, Black Suede Pumps and a Urban CoCo Women's Long Sleeve Coffee Dress (inexpensive budget item).

I was not sure whether the dress would work with some of my existing items, and quite pleased when most of the pieces I tried with the dress, worked.

Here are similar items that worked with the dress:

I added a body shaper slip to the above list of items. The dress is rather transparent. I wore the following cami/slip set with the dress.

I am always looking for items like this. No worries about dry cleaning and I can easily add a blazer, scarf or coat to make it office/meeting friendly. Though I am dieting, I am still not in my older suits and right now, solutions like this work for me.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Lightweight Additions, I Really Like

New additions to my wardrobe, suitable for light Summer/Fall evenings.

Below, I have provided the links for the items shown, however the Brown Lightweight Cardigan Shrug is no longer available.

I tried on all of the outfits shown in the photos above and happy with the look the shrugs add to each look. The layered look using the mocca & brown shrugs is surprisingly striking.

I ordered the rayon blue harem pants in an XL because I wanted a full effect. I am very pleased with this purchase, however think I will have the pants dry cleaned to maintain the vibrant blue coloring.


Friday, September 13, 2019

Costumes

Starting to update the Gift Ideas post and ran across an idea I thought might be interesting for a kid's birthday, costume or Halloween party theme.

These NFL youth costume theme sets could be a hit with the kids and cost between $17 and $75 depending on size and team.

I am only showing four of the theme sets, however most of the NFL teams are available.


Are you ready for the holidays? I am trying to get into the swing of things, however I am a little late with some of things I want to do this year.




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