Thursday, January 24, 2019
I have been working a number of projects, illustrated in the diagram below.
- Several license/registration related renewals this year, including MVA.
- Gathering tax related documents and starting my TurboTax process.
- Finance moves, hoping to get the best returns on my meager savings. Switched funds in a recently matured CD, to a CD with higher interest rates. Went from 1.75% to 2.85%. Happy with the timing on all of that.
- Last but not least, preparing (setting up development environments on my MacBook and WindowsXP systems) for more efforts using the c++ programing language.
Lately, I have spent a lot of time on software efforts. Several problems with API resources that have me searching for workarounds. You may have noticed issues with WiredPages.
To a lesser degree; efforts with taxes, finance and state renewals-- nevertheless important projects that I need to get out of the way. Simply a matter of gathering paperwork and submitting requests.
Maryland's Motor Vehicle Administration- in keeping with Federal law, now requiring new procedures for renewals. Happy to report, this seems like an easy adjustment to my plans and moving along.
Several in my family are affected by the Federal Government's partial shutdown so things are a bit low key. I am self employed. I have been working late hours and hoping things work out.
Thursday, January 03, 2019
I have been working several projects including updating my sites for the new year. This mostly involves updating the copyright year, i.e., 2002-2019 for site pages that provide the data.
I have also been playing around with a new audio resource. I am pleased with how this worked out. The video does not provide the actual robust audio quality, however you may get a sense of how well this works.
The video provides demonstration of Alexa Echo Dot, Apple iPod Mini and Youtube video via my Android as sample input audio to the 100 Watt per Channel speaker set. Keep in mind, I am still not expert in video production.
- What's new in my hometown? My outing yesterday.
- Updated the stores, including "Items I Have".
- Fixing software bugs.
- I missed the first season of "Counterpart" on Starz, so just before Christmas, caught up via Verizon FiOS' OnDemand feature.
- Business housekeeping chores that I put off. Happy to get some of these chores out of the way.
This year, I spent a lot of time planning for the holidays. I am kind of happy now, to only have business issues to worry about.
Thursday, June 07, 2018
For various reasons, yesterday was the first time I have been to Costco in a number of years. Not because I do not love shopping at Costco and not because I do not have a household membership card in good standing. I do.
That said, somethings have changed since my last visit to Costco.
- My bank cards now use chip technology.
- Visa can be used as a credit card at checkout (in the past you had to use a bank debit card with the pin-- still the case with MasterCard).
The card reader shown in the illustration on the right is similar to the card readers the cashiers use at Costco, in that they have both a card swiper on the right side and a card reader at the bottom for cards using the newer chip technology. Both my business and personal check cards use the chip technology.
By the way, did I mention that because I do almost all of my shopping online with a rewards credit card not associated with a bank account, I had never used the bank issued card associated with my personal checking account before yesterday? I opened my business checking account in 2004, however the new business card issued about 4 years ago with the new chip technology has also never been used.
Anyway, yesterday as I am checking out-- the cashier asked me to swipe my 3 year old never used [personal bank checking] card. I try several times to use the right-side card swiper and fail. Then she suggests I use the chip reader at the bottom. No, I did not have my readers on. Again it fails. The reason (this time)? I did not leave the card in long enough.
I like thinking I am well versed in computers and new technologies. That said, for some reason yesterday, all of this simply mystified me. The cashier finally asked for my card, and made easy work of it all.
Friday, June 01, 2018
Some are aware, I use my news service, WiredPages to showcase my custom software tools and interfaces.
Its primary function has always been to provide "real" demonstration of my software widgets and tools, allowing visitors an idea of the type of customization I [QiSoftware] offer.
I have provided this information in the past, however feel new visitors may not understand the primary intent of the news service [WiredPages].
As indicated in an earlier post, over the last two or three months, I have been working to repair most of the tools.
Security issues caused by a server move [about 4 years ago] that I did not understand, prevented most of the tools from running. Appears to be mirrors and masking issues. You may have noticed, over the last 3 or 4 years though I mention the service, I rarely provide links. All of that is changing.
Visitors over the last 2 months may have noticed- things are beginning to work, however I am still holding off on the installation of some of the updates or new tools.
Today, I created a new interface [Java Servlet] for the Shopping page which showcases another use of the Amazon Product Advertising API.
I have several tools that use the Amazon Product Advertising API, so this new tool only offers another idea on ways to integrate Amazon affiliate resources. I am not sure if I am going to install this new interface, another security issue, however I am almost finished with debug. I may also change one or two things with the appearance.
Tuesday, May 08, 2018
For reasons I am not going to go into here, though I have continued the tedious process of converting my old Java applets to servlets, I am no longer installing the updates to the server.
Work on the Quick Number Base Converter servlet was completed about 2.5 weeks ago.
Be back soon to provide details about some of my other projects and activities.
Friday, April 27, 2018
Among many recent updates to WiredPages (WP), the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)1 calculator maintained on the WP Health page was updated from a Java applet to a servlet.
The illustration above taken before work was complete, however I wanted to show the difference in the applet version versus the servlet. Updates like this conversion now allow visitors using mobile devices to interact with many of the WiredPages interfaces that were originally developed using Java applet technology. Typically, mobile devices, i.e., iPads, Androids, tablets [stand alone] and phones do not support Java applets.
Briefly, some of the other recent changes:
- Added a new Dictionary interface to the Reference page.
- Added Famous Birthdays to the Style & Events page. (Did not update the online birthday database with the master version I use off-line for software development and testing. Security issues, however the current online version is pretty robust.)
- Updates to the interfaces on the Government page.
- Slowly, updating links on most of the pages.
Yesterday I decided to take a break from software development. I went out to take photographs for business community projects. See my social media link icons, top right sidebar.
Today, again I did not pull out my Macbook [used for software development and illustrative documentation screen-grabs].
It has been a busy 3 or 4 weeks insofar as updates and rewrites to WiredPages interfaces and I still have lots of work to do.
1BMR is the amount of energy expended each day when the body is at rest.
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the last 3 years because of server mirrors, redirections and moves, you may have noticed the "No Authorization" message on several of the pages where security triggers have stopped execution of many of the tools that were available with the service.
Sometime ago, I started updating the underlying software for some of the tools, however put off the actual installation of the new software. Documentation of this work, provided in Remix blog posts.
Over the last two weeks, because I decided to prepare to re-establish the news service [WiredPages], I found many of the tools broken because either the data source updated their offerings or unusable because the "Java Applet" is no longer supported by newer browsers or tablet devices, i.e., iPads, Androids
To be honest, I had no idea so many of the tools were in disrepair and I have been working 12 hour days to fix the problems. I still have a lot of work to do.
That said, I wanted to give you an idea of what I have been doing [and where I have been doing it] for most of the last two weeks.
I use the Macbook for software development and the other platforms to ensure the new tools and site updates work on as many systems as possible. Some of my computers are very old and most of my pages and tools still work in those environments-- as well as new.
When will I finish? I used to work 12 hour days just to ensure the site and its tools were in working order. Yes, I also liked adding new tools. So the answer is- not sure. I am busy and actually miss working software issues-- so I am not unhappy about this-- just a little tired.
What's been updated? Will update this later, however here are a few examples....
Saturday, April 07, 2018
Normally, my software development efforts are discussed in the Remix blog, however because of the many projects ongoing, I have chosen to use this less formal setting for discussion of my latest interfaces.
First, recent visitors to WiredPages will notice I updated all of the AP News Headlines interfaces. The following illustrates both the new interfaces and how they used to look.
When I developed the original interfaces, I used a combination of Java applets & servlets. Now the interfaces are comprised of only servlets. The reason? Many desktop browsers no longer support Java applets and mobile devices, i.e., iPads, Androids, etc., never supported the Java applet.
The following pages [WiredPages] have new AP News interfaces:
You will notice, some of the pages [WiredPages] still use Java applets. Firefox and MSIE are able to run the applets, however you need to set the security settings to enable engagement.
The Java applet shown in the illustration above [lower image in the illustration], was taken from a recent screen-shot using my Windows10 PC/Tablet and the Firefox browser. This of course, before the interfaces were rewritten and online versions updated.
Some of the WiredPages tools that use Java applets have been rewritten using only Java servlet technology, however I will not update the online versions until I workout security issues.
The second interface just completed, is an interface that provides visitors with the latest New York Times Best Sellers [books] and the Amazon link for purchase.
The interface illustrated above uses the following resources:
- Amazon Product Advertising API
- New York Times API
- Java Servlet Technology [Java Servlets run on servers and are typically faster than other server side programming/scripting technologies.]
The new interface is ready to install, however I am still deciding where to showcase the tool. Options include: the QiSoftware Products Catalog or the Libraries page of WiredPages. Yes, security issues also a factor in when the interface will be installed.
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Over the weekend I received a package containing a new drive for my android and a case for my RCA Cambio Windows 10 Tablet/PC. I am so pleased with both items.
First the tablet case. About 3 weeks ago, a spilled coke splattered near my Windows 10 Tablet/PC causing the plug-in keyboard that came with the unit to malfunction. Luckily, I had an extra Anker Bluetooth Keyboard which works great.
The old keyboard was part of the casing for the device, so the new case now holds both the tablet and bluetooth keyboard that I am using as a replacement. This also, worked out well.
Now the SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive. My Android operating system version is 5.1.1. Shortly after getting the device, I rooted it enabling print service to a USB printer via an OTG connector and USB cable. Initially the root process also allowed me to use USB flash-drives with OTG cables and hubs.
Recently, I somehow changed a setting that although continued to provide printer support via an OTG connection, disabled access to USB flash-drives. I tried any number of things to correct this problem, however was unsuccessful.
After reading reviews for the SanDisk Dual Drive m3.0, I was hopeful that I could once again port items from my Windows10, WindowsXP and Android using one drive and was pleasantly surprised when the SanDisk Dual Drive did the job.
What else have I been up to?
Also, you may have noticed I added a new category to this blog, Finance, so I have been thinking about relevant material as related to both business and personal finance that may be interesting.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
In an earlier post, I discussed integrating elements of the Google Tag Manager resource throughout areas and subdomains of my different sites.
My online sites include:
Sometime ago, I setup Google Analytics defining different properties of my sites for reporting purposes. I use only one Google Analytics account for all of my sites, as shown in the following illustration.
Over the last two weeks or so, I have spent a little time researching and testing basic Analytics Tag implementation concepts across different areas of my sites with emphasis on this blog and my Personal Résumé Site.
For those of you who have not researched and tested Google Analytics Tag implementation, the following video may have little meaning. Those who have, may find the video interesting. Keep in mind, I tend to capture everything and do not spend a lot of time editing nor recapturing videos I create.
Google Analytics and the associated Tag Management resource are powerful reporting tools, and in my case well worth the time and effort to come up to speed with ways to use and integrate these resources.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
For the past week or so, I have been integrating the Google Tag Manager resource throughout areas/subdomains of the QiSoftware Site.
This process involved updates to several areas, including:
The process was especially tedious for the main site [www.qisoftware.com] area pages and WiredPages [wiredpages.qisoftware.com]. The reason? The 20 and 24 pages associated with qisoftware.com and WiredPages respectively, are not maintained using a traditional content management system, e.g., WordPress or Drupal. In other words, I manually edit each page using the VI Editor in a Terminal Window on my Macbook.
The reason for this self inflicted tedium? Initially, it had a lot to do with the template I configured to use with older browsers. I found the Macbook VI Editor inserted the least amount of ambient control tags when writing the files which tended to help older browsers render the pages correctly.
Today, because of security issues I have with the site, if there are non-linked mirrors, it is harder for someone to pretend the pages of the mirrors are official versions, if changed. In other words, it makes it harder for others to change my pages.
In addition, to the myriad of code tags pasted into the headers of pages and variable fields, minor cosmetic updates were incorporated into the pages of the main site [qisoftware.com] area.
WiredPages updates? Although, I have rewritten some of the applications I maintain on WiredPages, I did not include the new versions on this series of updates. The updates recently integrated only dealt with integrating Google Analytics reporting code tags to the underlying elements of the pages.
I hope to republish the fully working version of WiredPages in the near future, however because of security issues will not attempt this task until I am assured my code is being used in the manner I intended.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
In late 2016, we ordered new handles for the refrigerator in the kitchen. The handles had turned slightly orange with age. Thursday, I finally decided I would attempt to install the new handles.
What took so long? Even though I found any number of DIY forums that explained how to install the handles, when I first tried to wedge a knife between the trim and the frame I could not get it to budge.
Thursday, I used a flathead screwdriver I found in the kitchen utility drawer which did the trick.
FYI: You are also going to need a special screwdriver that has a tip with six points as shown in the illustration below:
Products discussed in this post:
Are you in the mood for your own DIY projects? Since getting our Alexa Echo [Christmas 2017], I have been researching the many appliances coming out that are "Alexa" enabled and added a few of the more noteworthy items to my store.
Saturday, December 30, 2017
I have not done a video in awhile, so I decided to demonstrate some of the things I have been doing with our new Alexa Echo. The video is a bit longer than some of my others- and of course I am still coming up to speed with taping, editing and using video in blog posts.
New holiday gifts were added to the "Items I Have" list. Are you taking advantage of some of the great after Christmas bargins?
Happy New Year!
Saturday, November 04, 2017
For the last two weeks, I have experienced problems with my Android in that an error message indicated the Storage Space was under 250 MB causing several applications [apps] to malfunction.
Briefly the specs on my Android include:
- Android OS 5.1.1 Lollipop
- 16GB Storage
- 2GB RAM
- No SD Card Slot
Initially, I tried several solutions however the error returned within a day or so. One of my problems, I use my Android and the Chrome browser quite a bit and tend to leave the browser cache unattended. Deleting the browser cache helped for a moment or two. I also deleted several apps I rarely used. Neither of these solutions worked long term.
Then I discovered, the error message was a bit misleading in that it was not actually the storage space that was causing the problem, more the amount of free RAM.
Why "all of a sudden" was this causing a "Storage Space" problem on the Android I have used daily since February 2015?
I believe it is because recent releases of the apps I use, provide more instant notifications requiring the programs to stay resident in memory.
For example, my Amazon App now provides an instant notification every time something on my "Wish List" is on sale as a Deal.
When these notifications started in October , I was pleased. I still love the feature, however I had to disable it on that app as well as most of the others to free up RAM space on my Android.
As noted, solutions included turning off "Show Notifications" for most of the apps running on the Android. Since I will miss those notifications, I researched devices that would be able to handle the many applications I use on tablet/Android devices and came up with two solutions [iPad & Samsung devices with lots of storage and memory]:
Have you had a similar problem?
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Yesterday, while driving around Arundel Mills, I took these photos.
It was a gorgeous day, and today is even prettier. In our area, the leaves are just beginning to change and peak color should be here in no time. This is one of my favorite times of the year.
What else have I been up to?
I have also been researching software products. Microsoft Access is a powerful tool and as a software developer I can do a lot with this software, however it is not supported on the Mac operating system. I do a lot of development work on a Mac computer.
In addition, if you are not well versed in database definition [schema/structure] or the SQL standard, you may find the FileMaker offering a bit easier to use, in that there is no programming involved.
Friday, October 20, 2017
For the last two days, I have been developing a new Microsoft Access Database to assist with running, tracking and reporting items associated with an affiliate program.
Thus far I have created the following elements for this new database:
- 2 Tables
- 1 Form
- 4 Reports [2 HTML snippets to use with my site areas]
- 8 Queries
- 1 Macro
- Data Access Page [still working on this]
Though I have extensive experience developing and working with SQL compliant databases [and Microsoft's Access product], in recent years my work in this area has concentrated more on MySQL development efforts and Java JDBC programming.
This has been a great exercise for me, in that I have been looking for a reason to play with Microsoft Access again. I am pretty pleased with my efforts thus far. In 1993, when I first started working with Microsoft Access, I was pretty impressed, and I must say-- I am still impressed with its power.
That said, in 1993 I was writing front-end c routines, back-end Fortran code, c-binding for DEC's RMDBS, and the X-Windows System platform to develop graphical user interfaces for my programs.
When I was tasked to come up to speed with Microsoft's new offering [Access], I felt it comparatively easy to my other system development efforts.
I still have the original HR System I developed for my Crystal City Rockwell office. The system was pretty extensive and gave me a great opportunity to develop in the Windows environment.
Back then, I mostly developed software for Unix or VMS platforms, and used a PC to document my software development life cycle efforts.
I also used Microsoft Access to create a Program Trouble Report database that was used to support Configuration Management efforts for our contract deliverable programs. I also have this system.
My résumé boasts, Microsoft Office Power User, however until this week I had forgotten just how powerful this resource is.
Next week, I am going to continue looking at the Facebook API. I have been adding national events to the WiredPages Facebook page, for the new widget/servlet I am developing for the Style & Events page. See illustration of a similar interface here.
If you would like to have your event listed-- contact me at wiredpages dot qisoftware dot com. Check out the list to see the type of events being listed.
Saturday, September 02, 2017
Many are aware- I use Thingamablog as the content management platform for both my business and personal blogs. I started using Thingamablog in 2010 when Blogger decided to discontinue FTP support for users who hosted their blogs on private domains.
Thingamablog runs standalone on desktop computers and requires Java installation, if not already installed on the system.
In my opinion, the Thingamablog platform offers more security in that the entire application and post database are maintained off line. What this means? The master copies of my blogs are maintained off line and are tamper proof.
This also allows for easy backup to external storage devices of the off-line applications and databases, as opposed to online site backups.
That said, in my case I also backup my entire website so snap-shots of both the remix.qisoftware.com and personal.qisoftware.com sub-domains where I maintain the blogs, are also backed-up when I perform full-site backups.
In 2010, I also established the Facebook group [referenced above], for Thingamablog users. We are always looking for new members, so if you are interested in this blogging/content management tool, please join us.
Friday, May 12, 2017
In March, when I ordered my new camcorder, I did not order a backup battery nor a condenser microphone. A week ago, I ordered those accessories and yesterday the purchases arrived.
Check below for links to the specific camcorder accessories I ordered:
Short video demonstrating the difference between using the camcorder with and without the condenser microphone.
What else have I been up to? Actually several projects, however I will have to update this later.
Tuesday, May 02, 2017
About a week ago, most of my family went out of town. Before leaving, the fridge was stocked and I have been testing different recipes almost everyday.
One of my favorites- a roasted chicken breast with olive oil, cayenne pepper, salt, and the original chicken seasoning by McCormick. I roasted it in the convection oven-- according to the instructions in this recipe and added sides of fresh cranberry sauce and white rice.
Today, I grilled a steak on an indoor grill I purchased last year as a holiday gift that I decided to keep. The price on the grill was such a great deal, Amazon does not even list it with the order. Check here for more on the grill.
Short video capturing the grill in action today.
My new Canon camcorder produces MP4 and AVCHD [MTS] video files. Often I use the AVCHD setting for the higher resolutions. The camcorder has a built-in utility enabling quick conversion of AVCHD videos to MP4.
I also found a great video conversion utility which works with the MTS [AVCHD] video files, allowing for slightly higher file resolutions than the camcorder's built-in function.
Here is a screenshot of the AVC program.
This week, I also made a video showing how to make fresh cranberry sauce with frozen berries, however that video was 35 seconds and the steak video only 15, so I opted to use the shorter to discuss the AVC utility program.
By the way, I also love the grill.
Saturday, April 01, 2017
All day, I have been updating my iTunes Library with old CDs from my extensive collection.
I had separate iTunes libraries on my Macbook and Netbook, so earlier this year I decided to put everything in one location and maintain the actual music library on a 32GB SD card shown as an inset in the illustration below.
Most days when I want to listen to my music, I use the RCA Cambio Windows10 platform with my TaoTronics Stereo Bluetooth Speaker.
Below, short video showing my work environment today, while porting more "old" music to my iTunes Library.
I love having all my old CDs digitized and available whenever I want to listen.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Finally ordered a camcorder. The final decision came down to these two:
- Canon Vixia HF R700
- Canon Vixia HF R800 [see this link]
I opted for the 2016 unit [R700] because it was $41.00 cheaper. The specs on both almost the same, however the R800 has one or two added features.
I am very pleased with my new hardware. Its light, easy to use and has the high definition and external microphone support I was looking for. Two items I will be ordering in the near future, an external microphone and one additional battery pack.
A short demo video to show the type of output you can expect from this camcorder.
Above, I am using the HTML5 Video Player to provide either a MP4, OGV or WEBM version of the video- depending on the browser requesting the playback.
I am using a commercial software app "TheFileConverter" to convert the MTS video file the camcorder created, into the MP4, OGV and WEBM formats for use with web browsers. Shown below- part of the underlying html for the HTML5 Video Player.
I do not need to provide different video formats for my social media accounts and am so pleased I can now upload Full HD Video to my Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Youtube accounts.
Thursday, March 09, 2017
I have been researching digital video camera options, and recently added two new cameras to my resources.
- Action Camera-- it is so small and light I actually carry it in my purse.
- Dash-Cam for the car.
I like using resources in multiple environments and have found I can use each new camera as a webcam as well. Shown below, photos of the dash-cam as a webcam.
Another set of images showing screen-shots of the Camera application [app] I use with webcams. The screen-shots show me as depicted by the webcam and my environment when working just off the kitchen.
Late last year, I posted a video to one of my social media accounts that was so grainy, I decided I needed a new video camera. I like the action cam and dash cam, however there are limitations to the types of video I can shoot. Also the new cameras support resolutions a lot higher than that of my older digital camera, the Canon Powershot A590.
Currently, I use my digital camera for both video and still shots. What I love about my camera? Its many features and the low resolution options for videos and images. Like most who pay for web hosting for their domains, I have limits to the amount of storage I can use. Videos and photos can take up a lot of storage- quickly.
Important features I am looking for in a video camera:
- Optical zoom at least 20x
- External microphone support [already have a stereo microphone]
- Macro lens support.
- Full HD recording
My research has led me to some interesting finds-- and I have listed some of the results in my stores under the "Just Want" Category and the "Computer Electronics & Home Office" Category. [New finds added at the end.]
I think my finds can provide a good basis for your own research and help in determining what you need based on your requirements. For instance, you may not have my concerns about storing videos online. You may only need a great video camera for life's moments or a vacation. There are a lot of great options.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Sunday, my Mother had to get a new cell phone. What did she get? Apple's iPhone 7.
I have to say, this phone is pretty impressive. Features include...
- Full HD Video
- Display 1920 x 1080 pixel-resolution.
- 12MP Camera-- wow is that camera nice.
- 2x optical zoom and up to 10x digital zoom.
- See the specs for yourself here, she opted for the 5.5" with 32GB of storage.
She is still playing around with the many features and is extremely pleased with her new hardware. Yes, I think this should be my next phone too.
Friday, January 13, 2017
Today, I decided to take a tour of Hanover, MD [the town where I reside] using the new dash cam.
I merged several longer clips [shot today], to create this video, however have yet to master a dubbing technique to add sound bites.
Areas shown in the video...
- AACC @Arundel Mills
- Maryland Live Casino-- when I slo-mo the video the flickering on the neon signs is absent.
- The area known as Arundel Preserve in Hanover.
- Milestone Parkway [runs from Arundel Mills Blvd to Route 175].
- One of several new housing areas right down the street from where I live.
- Pulling into the driveway.
Probably will not use the dash-cam every time we use one of the cars-- however like having it just in case...
You can learn more about Hanover, MD as related to commerce here.
Saturday, December 31, 2016
Early this morning, my mother and I took her car out to test the new DVR Dash Cam. It was one of her Christmas gifts.
I like the features on this dash cam and everything is so clear. It was also easy to install and mount. Because of the many features-- the learning curve for the seven buttons on this cam might be a little intimidating, however well worth the effort. I think I have got it, however she seems a little concerned.
In addition, today I received the LED light I ordered. Hoping it will lighten up my photos and videos. What do you think?
Yes, I like this new light a lot. Are you ready for the new year?