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June 09, 2022

Best Places to Live in and Around Washington, D.C.

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There’s nothing quite like Washington D.C. This area of the country has fantastic schools, awesome businesses and career options, and incredible entertainment: while still getting to claim the southern charm so many people cherish in the south. 

If you're considering moving to Washington D.C., these are the top areas you should consider moving to. 

Why Washington D.C.? 

Washington D.C. is possibly the most well-known area in the country since it's the capital of the United States. This entire area may be expensive, but it's also one of the best paying portions of the country, with a lively economy that ensures anyone who wants to find a job can grab one in no time. 

This is also an awesome area to raise a family since the schools and education here are unparalleled. Washington D.C. should be everyone's top choice. 

 Alexandria, Virginia 

The average home in Alexandria is half a million dollars, but this is possibly the most affluent city on this list. One of the oldest cities in the country, originally a colonial city on the Potomac River, it played a huge role in shaping the country into what it is today. Living here allows you to enjoy the countless memorials and museums, even though a steep price tag comes with it. 

Frederick, Maryland 

If you want the most affordable area on this list but don't want to give up your great schools and low crime levels: it's time to move to Frederick, Maryland. Unfortunately, the one drawback of all of the fantastic things it offers is that it's a full hour outside of Washington, D.C. Many find this drive worth it to live somewhere that's safer, more visually stunning, and quieter than you could ever find living close to the nation's capital. 

Arlington, Virginia 

Although Arlington real estate is the most expensive on this list: it's worth it for how incredible this area is. The average home value sits at $700,000, which is far higher than the national average, or the state average: but you're also just five minutes outside of Washington, D.C., and so close to the beautiful Potomac River. 

There’s a deep wealth of historical properties here that you can explore and learn about, and it’s like living within a city that’s also a museum. This is an experience unlike any other. 

Rockville, Maryland 

If you want to be in an area that has the best schools available (ranked A+) and a relatively small population, you're welcome to move to Rockville! With just under seventy-thousand people, Rockville has a low crime rate and is just twenty minutes out of the nation's capital. Plenty of green spaces, gardens, and trails ensure anyone can enjoy an active lifestyle while living here. 

There’s Nothing Like Living Near the Nation’s Capital 

Living near Washington D.C. gives you the perfect mix of fun and intrigue that ensures you can enjoy getting to know the history of this country: while still being excited about how far it has to go. Consider moving to Washington D.C. and watching history as it happens.
April 24, 2020

My 2019 Year-end Review (A Long Overdue Post)

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Wow! It's been 8 months since my last blog post. I've been really busy. I was working two jobs and at the same time studying. I subscribed to LinkedIn Learning courses for 6 months and have also purchased a one year subscription to Code with Mosh courses. So that's my life basically. Char! Hehe. 

But since my contract has just ended for my part-time job, I can now give time to update to this blog. For the past few days I have been working on changing its look, updating categories and fixing some issues. I intend to keep this blog till the end of time. Charot! :) 

Anyway for today, I'll be sharing my 2019 Year-End Review which is a long overdue post. Hehe. 

January - March 2019 - Managed to update this blog at that time. There were unexpected things that had happened. You can check them out here and here.  Last March was also my real birthday. Thank you Lord for another year of my life! More birthdays to come! Sana matupad na iyong pinakawish ko. Hehe :) 

April 2019 

Dumanlas Elementary School Alumni Homecoming, Dumanlas Elementary School

I attended the Dumanlas Elementary School Alumni HomecomingI think it's the first Alumni Homecoming of our school and I'm happy that I was able to attend it. It is really good to see my classmates again after soooo many years and reminisce our memories together. Fun times! Almost everyone is now married. Hehe. 

Verzosa-Esencia Clan Reunion

My family had also attended the Verzosa-Esencia clan reunion at Maraymaray, Don Carlos, Bukidnon. It was my first time to go there and see our relatives from Bukidnon. We also had relatives who travel all the way from Cotabato. 

It was just a day trip. Bitin masyado. We hope we could tour around and had swimming in the river and experience life at the province even for just a week. :) 

May - June 2019 

I have started looking for a part-time job to augment my income and thankfully, a recruiter found me in Upwork and I passed the two-week training process at Datafox (by Oracle). It's my first time to be working for a company as big as this and I'm just soooooo thankful for this wonderful opportunity.

Datafox, Data Operations Annotator
Our picture together during one of our All Hands Meeting. There was a time when the auditors count is 200+

July 2019
My request to go back working from home was finally approved. Yay! It was just the perfect timing. 
We also celebrated the 62nd birthday of my father dear. :) 

fathers birthday

August 2019

I was promoted at Datafox. I became part of the QA/Reviewer Team and was recognized as the Rising Star of the month during our All Hands Meeting. So thankful to PM Nicole for the trust and opportunity and of course the inspiration :) Ang galing niya talagang leader. Nakaka-amaze!

I was also transferred to another team. We were working on Level 3 projects.
Achievement Unlocked! :) 

Datafox, Data Operations Annotator

September 2019

My brother celebrated his 33rd birthday. Happy that our cousin from Iligan (whom we don't get to see often) was there to celebrate with us. And of course, the Merin family from Davao were also present.  

I'm hoping we could have our Merin Clan Reunion by next year. 
brother's birthday

October 2019

Received a wonderful news on the beautiful morning of October 8, 2019. I was proposed to become a Supervisor. :) 

After I passed the training, I supervised a team of 3-5 people from different countries. It was quite a challenge especially that I'm not an eloquent speaker. So that's the time that I really decided to subscribe to LinkedIn Premium Learning courses. I have to improve myself, my communication and leadership skills. 

So thankful for this opportunity! My new Project Manager (PM Yuri) was also as inspiring as PM Nicole. I really admire and love them both. They are young Project Managers who are just so freakin' awesome! They keep me on my toes. :) 
Team, Datafox
My teammates: June, Maasa and Ryan. Insert: Dayeon and Yee Hshin (Hehe)

November 2019
Nothing much for this month I think. I don't remember any events that I attended to or something. 

December 2019
As always, December is full of events. Hehe. 

Lunch with Teammates, Tong Yang Plus SM Ecoland, Tong Yang Plus
Lunch at Tong Yang Plus, SM Ecoland. We won in the contest (games organized by Illumedia Team) so this is our prize. Hehe. Happy tummy! :) 

Christmas Party, Illumedia Christmas Party
Illumedia Christmas Party - lots of gifts! Hehe. 

Dinner with some of my high school friends :) 

Christmas dinner with family. Of course, hindi mawawala ang lechon. Hehe. :) 

With some of my teammates: TL Jonathan, Chuckie, Cristina, Josh, Jhusteen, Princess
(Insert: Beldeck, Analyn, Stephanie and Mart)

And last but not the least for my work at Datafox + Oracle, I was transferred to Alpha Team to supervise a bigger team (4-10 people). This time all my teammates are Filipinos. No more nosebleed everytime we have our weekly meeting. :)

But before that also, I underwent another training and I got a 100% rating. It's another achievement unlocked! Super stoked!

Overall, 2019 turns out to be a great year. Thank you Lord for all the blessings. :) I also managed to buy something for myself like the new guitar and our dream of having our own videoke because we all love to sing. :) 
July 11, 2019

Learning Kentico: Restoring Deleted Web Part and Making a Copy of Page Template

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Fort the past 2 weeks, I received two requests from client of trying to create a page based from an existing template but has only a slight difference on the page section. 

But as you know, if that template is being used by the other pages or subsites - the changes you do on that particular template will affect the other pages. So I needed to make a copy of it.

Copying Page Template

All you need to do is go to the Page Templates section -> Select the template that you want to copy and click the Other Actions menu (three dots) and click Clone Template

Once done, you can now make changes to that template like removing a particular web part. Then go to the Pages application, select the page you want to update and choose that clone template you created. 

Cloning Template, Copying Template, Kentico
Cloning Template

Of Restoring Deleted Web Part

But before that, I first thought of updating the page in the Design tab because the client was only requesting to remove a section (like the Newsletter form). 

The newsletter form appears in the sidebar of a page and it is being used in another page also. I didn't check that the two pages are actually using the same template. I thought they are different and it will not affect the other pages. 

But I was so careless. I didn't take note also of the configuration of that custom web part. Shucks! I was thinking, this just an easy peasy job - no need to do that. I was so confident that the other page will not be affected. (I know right! Lesson learned! Don't delete immediately, just HIDE - take note Alma)

So I tried to check it in the Recycle bin but it can't be restored from there. I checked the Versions option found in the Properties tab of the Page but it looks like it will restore the content changes only (not the web parts being added and its setting). 

I checked some resource online (Kentico Devnet) and they said that it can be restored if you have an Object versioning enabled. But it looks like the client's site doesn't have that and comparing from the Documentation of Object Versioning I didn't seen an option for Template Versions in the Design Mode. My gosh, what to do? 

Kentico Page Design Mode
Design Mode

Seems like the only solution left is to add it manually and I don't have an access to the code files. I don't want to disturb our developers because it's already late at night in their country (New Zealand). 

So I thought of adding it myself. I checked the Web Archive Org on how the newsletter form looks and when I tried adding the newsletter form web part - it showed the default newsletter sytle. I changed the web part container to div element and it showed the style that matched the site's look but it becomes two form now.

Newsletter Form
Newsletter Form

So I needed to check it in the Page Templates section and see the code and while I was there, I saw the Versions Tab. And viola! It is where that you can restore it. Thank goodness! Issue resolved now. Yay! That's the fastest way! 

So remember this guys, when you want to restore to the previous Page Template version - just go to the Page Template Applications -> Version tab -> and select the Version you want to restore. :)  

Object Version (Page Template)

May 06, 2019

I tried but I failed

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And so I have tried my luck in taking the Kentico Developer Exam last Friday but unfortunately I failed.

Though I know the chance of getting me not passing the exam is a bit high because some developers weren't able to do so on their first try but I just really want to get it over (in my head and in my mind). I also wanted to see how difficult it is and I want to move on with my training.

Kentico Certified Developer Exam
Kentico Certified Developer Benefits

But before the exam, I scanned some of my notes and reviewed the Developers Preparation guide from versions 9-11. I took the tests and below are my ratings. 

For version 9, I only got 48%
For version 10, I got 63% 
For version 11, I got 87.5%

Version 11 preparation guide is almost similar to version 10 that's why it's quite easy. So basing from from those results, I didn't get an average of a passing rating (70% above). But I still took the exam . I didn't want to prolong it anymore. I also want to make use of the free voucher I got because of the Developer's training my employer has purchased for me. 

The exam consists of 50 questions with single answer and multiple choice types. It is an open-book test. So you can open any resources you want (Kentico documentation, Macro browser, API references, Kentico Advantage or a Kentico site running etc) except for another person. Remember no cheating or sharing! You must take the exam individually. 

Though it would not require you to code but the questions are reallly difficult. Head knowledge and practical understanding of the product feature's and functionality are not really enough. You need to have practical experience and high-level familiarity with the product itself. 

But it's still quite a relief. Because finally, I did it! No more headaches about Kentico and constant dreaming and a bit of anxiety. Hehe. Now, it's time for me to move on and switch to different training. Another headache! Hehe. 

I will finish first my curriculum from FreeCodeCamp site and then continue my C# training (all courses). I want my learnings to be as fast as I can but I can only do so much. There are times that I get tired and sleepy also, got distracted and encountered a lot of road bumps. But as my developer friend told me, I shouldn't give up. (Now, I'm being so dramatic - I hate myself. Hehe. 

But honestly, I really hope that I will thrive in this. This is the only thing that I can think of that will help me and my family's situation turn around. I need to level up. Good luck self! Kaya mo iyan!

Kentico, I will get back to you after a couple of months or maybe a year. We will see. Hehe. Charot!

By the way, if you want to download the preparation guides for Kentico Developer's exam. Check-out the links below (K12 included, the latest version)

Kentico 9 Certified Developer Exam Preparation Guide
Kentico 10 Certified Developer Exam Preparation Guide
Kentico 11 Certified Developer Exam Preparation Guide
Kentico 12 Certified Developer Exam Preparation Guide

April 04, 2019

Learning Kentico: Alternative Forms

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Just finished with the 2nd developer course (K10) and the last topic was all about Alternative Forms. 

Alternative Forms in Kentico are different versions of existing form lay-outs. 

I first learned about it when I watched the tutorial videos of a former colleague. There were two instances where he applied the Alternative Forms. 

First, in the Form application and the next one was in the Module application. The first one was not a surprised but the second one was like my AHA moments (one of those) also. He went to the Membership classes and edited the CMS_User table and added custom fields and make the other inherited fields hidden. Take note, it is a System Table or Object

Kentico Alternative Forms
Alternative Forms (System Objects)
And today, I learned two other ways where you can create an Alternative Forms. It is in the Page Types and Custom Tables. Cool! And I've seen the code name Filter when I checked an example for the Page types (see below). 

Alternative Forms in Page Types

According to Kentico, if you used that reserved code, the system automatically uses the alternative form that you created. Other code names are Insert, Update and NewCulture. Learn more from here

I have yet to try it but for now I just finished the Form Exercise of Creating Alternative Forms. :) I also learned that there's an Enabled condition field in the Advanced settings where you can use a macro condition and set parameter value. 

Kentico macro condition
Macro conditions (set parameter value)

Will continue with my review on the next training course! That's it for today! Short and sweet! Charot! Hehe. :) Happy Thurrrssssssssssday!
April 03, 2019

Learning Kentico: Workflows

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When my employer first bought Kentico training courses, I was not one of those who got access to it. I wondered why. But I said to myself, perhaps he thinks I don't need it. Besides, I'm into Customer Support and I'm quite familiar with Kentico CMS already and I don't need the CMS training. All the more with the Developer's Training because after all, I'm not a developer. Hehe. 

But after a year, I think they see something in me or I showed interest thats why they bought training courses for me. And I'm really thankful for it. So here I am - blogging about my learnings. :)

And Learning Workflows is one of them. I've seen it. I had a discussion with it with a previous developer (back then when he was learning about Kentico) and I got excited to know a bit about it. It's like one of those AHA moment. When you finally know what it is and where it is configured. 

Kentico Workflow
Default Workflow

So for example, you want to create a Workflow where an Editor will review the page's content. You can do this by creating a Basic Workflow. 

1. Go to Configuration-> Workflow-> Create New Workflow 
2. Then Go to Steps -> Create New Workflow steps (like Editor Review) 
3. Then Edit the Step you just created -> Assign Role (like the site administrators will do this)
4. Go to Scope -> Select the Path where the workflow will be applied 

Note: Basic Workflow has default steps already which are Edit, Published and Archived so you'll just need to add the new step. You can apply workflows to individual pages, defined scope of pages or for an entire website. 

Kentico Workflow
Basic Workflow

And for today, I learned something more. It's about the Advanced Workflows where there are special type of steps namely: Condition, Multi-choice, First-win, User Choice and Wait. Although I haven't applied them yet or haven't designed my own but I'm already lovin' it (as always, because I love Kentico so much! charot!)

Kentico Advanced Workflow
Advanced Workflow example

Anyway, if you are interested to learn more about Worfklows also, check-out this link
March 27, 2019

Learning Kentico: Linking JavaScript files to pages

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Just a quick post about something I learned new today.

I didn't know that there's  a Javascript web part that you can use to easily link it to your page and this can just be done in the Portal. So cool!

First, you will need to create your own javascript file by going to Development -> Javascript files and click Create. 

create javascript in kentico

Then go to the Page where you want to add a Javascript and select Javascript web part. Click configure web part and in the Linked Javascript section, select the javascript that you just created.

linking javascript file to pages

You also have the option to select where it should be located in a page like in a start up script, beginning of a page and header section. And of course, you  can always add in-line javascript also.
March 22, 2019

Learning Kentico: Device Profiles and Device Lay-outs

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I've finished reviewing the 1st Developer course (K10) last week and now I'm into the 2nd one. 

And yesterday, I learned about Device Profile which is part of the optimizing websites for mobile devices topic. (not discussed in K11 dev course)

It is also something that I always see when using the Preview option and it's good to know more about this adaptive design approach in Kentico. 

Kentico Device Profile
Device Profile

To set-up a new profile
,  just go to Development applications -> Device Profile and supply the necessary fields or add a macro rule like current device max screen size should be between 0 and 768 pixels (width).

Device Profile
Add New Device Profile 
Once done, if you go back to the list of Profiles - you will see a smart tip that the system checks the profiles from Top to Bottom. You can just rearrange this.

To use this profile, you will need to make use of the Device lay-outs found in the Page Templates. (so that's what this tab is all about?)

Device Lay-out
Use Device Lay-out

Then select to copy the default device profile and just edit it later (for how the lay-out will be)

Then go to the Pages application and select the page where you want the changes will be when viewing different devices. Like if you do not want the menu to be showing in the device profile you created (mobile device). You can adjust the CSS list menu web part and add a macro rule.

using macros for web parts
Using Macros for Web Parts

If you want  to learn more about this feature, you can check-out Kentico's documentation about Developing websites for mobile devices.

On another note, the lay-out mapping found in the Device Profiles looks interesting also. Hmmnn..

March 11, 2019

Learning Kentico: Online Marketing Essentials (the things I love)

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Howdy! Happy Monday everyone! Hope you are all doing well and had a wonderful weekend.

New update for today! I have briefly mentioned in my previous post that I have taken the opportunity to check-out the Online Marketing Essentials course also.

I don't often go to this section in Kentico because most of the support requests I received from our clients are site updates, bug fixes and help request on how to do this and that. So I was surprised to know that there are a lot of very nice features Kentico has developed that any Digital Marketers/Marketing Manager/Sales Manager in a company would surely love or find it very helpful.

Below are just some of the features: 

1. Marketing automation - very useful feature which you will truly love. You can set-up different steps for your marketing emails like if you want to send:

 a. an abandon cart email - email triggered when someone starts to check-out but doesn't finish
 b. browse abandonment email - trigerred when someone on your email lists visits a product on your website but doesn't check-out
 c.  we've missed you email - known as winback campaign, when someone doesn't come back to your store after 60 days or so, so you will send an email with a coupon to bring them back

marketing automaticon
marketing automation

2. Contact Mapping in Forms 
- I haven't noticed this since I was checking forms but it's good to know that there's this feature that you can use for your marketing activity. You can also create custom fields here like if you want to add a Bonjoro (an app you can use to send personalized videos to your contacts/leads). 

contact mapping in forms
Contact Mapping in Forms

3. A/B Test Feature (both in Pages and in Email Campaigns)
- a great feature that helps you optimize your website's peformance. Tests which will help you see which variants bring the best returns. :)

In Pages application, you can find this in the Analytics tab then select AB Tests.
See results example .

A/B test in Kentico

While for the email campaigns, just go to Email Marketing, select the email feed/campaign you want to test, edit email (click the pencil icon) and create A/B test.

A/B Test in Email Campaigns
Create A/B test in Email Campaigns

4. Lead Scoring - cool feature to analyze your visitor and identify the customers who are willing to spend money (hottest lead) on your product. :)

You can set-up rules like when they provide email address, considers large purchase and assigned score values. You can recalculate this and view the activity that lead to the scores of your contacts and find the most promising leads. :)

Lead Scoring Kentico Feature
Lead Scoring

I think that's it! Nice features right? Kentico is truly your all-in one CMS, E-commerce and Online Maketing platform. If you want to know more details about this or the rest of the Online Marketing features, why don't you check-out the Kentico's Online Marketing course also. 

Bonus:  Another thing that I learned. When setting up email campaigns using macros and your subscriber didn't provide a first name, this will not look good on your email. So you can set-up a condition to this or a default name like "subscriber".

This can be done by selecting the macro and go to the code tab. Then insert your condition like: IfEmpty(FirstName, "subscriber", firstname). Check-out video below for more :) 

Next, I will review the two developer courses and hopefully resolved the macros exercises. :)
March 06, 2019

Learning Kentico: Content Admin Essentials (the small things)

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Hello March! How are you? 

More than 15 days have passed since my last blog post eh? Yeah, I'ven been focusing reading and learning a lot about Kentico stuff. I checked out their Kentico Advantage site, their webinars (Kentico 10-12) and some other Youtube helpful videos including the tutorial videos prepared by a former colleague. Getting overwhelm with too much information eh? But I'm trying to manage all those stuff.  

And as part of my review and effort so I can really digest all the information. I went back to learning the basics also. I take the opportunity to check-out the Kentico Content Admin Essentials course. Although I'm already familiar with the Kentico Administration interface since version 7 (now it's Kentico 12). I just really wanted to check what's inside it. (if there's something that I missed or didn't know about

And yes, there were small things but important ones that I missed or should I say overlooked or didn't just bother about it before. 

1. The Compare Option in Editing Multilingual content - I didn't know that there's a handy compare option where it easier for you to update changes and you can even compare it horizontallly or vertically. I surely overlooked this feature. I remember I was working on a website of a client before and I was switching back and forth to different cultures. 

compare culture content

2. Anchors in Text Editor - I always get a request to create anchors and I would always do this in the source option. But didn't know that there's actually an anchor feature where you can use when you set the HTML editor toolbar to Full. Hehehe. 

html editor, anchor

3. The colors in the Language Status Overview - when you go to the listing and click on languages, I didn't know that there's meaning to the background colors of those flags in each culture

green -  page is published 
red - page is not published 
orange - published but outdated

language status

4. The pinning and managing of applications in the Dashboard - yeah this one is very basic, but I didn't really bother about this because I always have the option to search apps in the Dashboard by clicking the Kentico flower or logo (full list of apps)

If you want to configure your dashboard, you can just make use of the pin icon, the gear icon (found at lower right) and drag and drop apps etc. 

Kentico Dashboard

So that's it! But if you are new to Kentico or will be working as an Editor or an Admin I would suggest to really get the Kentico Admin Essentials course. The ones I discussed where my "small things" version only. But inside the course, you will really learned a lot of GREAT STUFF like:

Kentico Administration 
Website Structure 
Editing content 
Storing Files 
Creating New Pages 
Page Design 
Online Forms 
Workflow and Versioning

And their quizzes for each topic? Oh, I really loved them. It's tricky and you will need to be very careful. It would be good if you get the answers the first time. But if not, you can always retry. 

Bonus Small Thing: The Screen Lock 

This one is not discussed in the course but this is very helpful to all editors and admins. You will encounter this screen lock message all the time and quite annoying that you have to always click Cancel. To disable this, just go to Settings -> Security & Membership - Protection and uncheck the Screen lock option. Or you may refer to the screenshot below. :) 

how to disable screenlock in kentico

Next: I will check the Online Marketing Essentials :)

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