Sunday, January 31, 2010

Drying Extra Cilantro

So I tried these directions for drying extra cilantro, and I'm not impressed. I think 30 minutes at 250 °F is too long. The oven drying didn't retain those tasty essential oils ... maybe cilantro ice cubes next time.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Stroller Bag

Not that stroller bags are expensive or hard to find, but I made one. In the scraps, I had a loudly-patterned tunic with a fringed hem. The tunic was a bit tight in the arms for me, and not very fitted (some curves but no darts).

I turned the tunic inside out, cut across between the underarms, and then marked straight vertical lines on the sides (one vertical line on one side, the other on the flip side -- explained later). I kept the fringes safe with masking tape (no fringes getting caught in the side seams!). I decided I might want attachment points on this bag, so I pinned D-rings where the side seams would go. At first I tried nylon webbing, but it was more than my serger wants to cut doubled over, so I used some sturdy grosgrain ribbon to attach one D-ring to each side. I threaded my serger up in matching colors, and serged each side from bottom to top so I could make sure that the bottom fringes were perfectly aligned. To see the straight lines while serging, I needed the marks to be drawn on the right side with the fabric facing up, so that's why the side seams were marked on opposite sides: so I could serge bottom to top for both sides. After the side seams, I went around the top with the serger finishing the edges for me. End of Day 1 (as much break as the children allowed me).

Now I turned this bag right-side out. Next I measured the right length of zipper tape and pinned it in place. I switched to my sewing machine with the zipper foot and stitched down the zipper. The serged edge is a nice accent without bulk, and it's less loud than the pattern (yikes!). Then I stitched straight across the bottom with a straight stitch. To finish it off, I used small sections of the ribbon to prevent the zipper pull from going too far by covering the two ends. Some of this I had to sew by hand, but it makes the zipper less likely to fail! End of Day 2 (I finished the hand sewing after they went to bed!), and almost done!

I added two ribbon straps, one left and one right, with a box stitch just below the zipper on one face. The boys loved the next step: I put two buttonholes on each ribbon, one close to the bag for a small loop that just fit around the handle, and one near the end of the ribbon for a larger loop (to allow me to hook on various places on our double stroller). My sewing machine has an automatic buttonholer (I don't like making buttonholes, so I looked for this feature!), so I let the boys push the 'start' button to make the buttonholes! Such fun! I stitched down two ribbon "pads" on the matching face to strengthen the buttons. Then the kids joined me on the couch, and I sewed on two buttons, one on each pad. Initially I stopped here, three days to a stroller bag with kids helping me serge and sew.

But then we went to Disney World, on and off the bus with that folding stroller, and the bag going on and off. So when I came home, I grabbed a sleeve (originally I was going to use the sleeves for the button straps, but the linen-like fabric wasn't as sturdy as the grosgrain ribbon) and cut out a five-inch section that I squared up. I had a section of thin batting left over from another project that I stuffed inside this pocket. I made two thin straps, one for each end, and with those in place, I made the sleeve section square. (This will make more sense in a minute, I hope.) The final result was a rectangular pad (in fabric matching the stroller bag) with two straps across parallel edges. I sewed two buttons in the middle of the pad. What I can do now is put each long ribbon from the stroller bag under a pad strap and button it in the middle. Now the original stroller bag converts to a shoulder bag with a padded strap! Just one more day of sewing, and I expect this padded addition to make hopping on and off a bus with a folded stroller and two children somewhat easier. The fewer things I have to hold with my hands at those times, the better.

This stroller bag wasn't hard to make, but I didn't know where I would end up when I started. I'm pleased with the final result, though. And, as a result of the loud print, our stroller is easy to pick out in a crowd.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

DNS notify

We've had entirely too much fun at work recently, trying to get dns-notify to work. It only worked on one server, where the firewall had silently crashed, so we followed that red herring for a little while.

And then, suddenly, the well, duh obvious breakthrough.

options {

//other stuff removed

// Send zone change notify

notify yes;

also-notify { server1; server0; server3; server6; server4; server5; server7; };

}; // End of options section

After our thrashing, each zone declaration (around a thousand of them!) had notify yes turned on, but it still didn't help.

zone zone-name {


        notify yes;


Even though I would have expected notify yes to work when I didn't use explicit, it didn't; but listing them in also-notify as though explicit were on did work.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

iMovie '09 on a PowerBook G4

I started with this Google result to install iMovie '09 on a PowerBook G4, but I had a few problems as written and came up with a similar way that worked for me. I copied iMovie.pkg to my hard drive, then "Show Package Contents" to get to Distribution.dist that I edited with TextEdit. Near the top, under Installer logic, I made this function replacement:

function installationCheck()


return true;


The original function is longer, but it keeps me from installing iMovie directly, which is all I wanted to do. Then I went back to the original hint and ran defaults write NSGlobalDomain allowG4Launch -bool YES to finish the job. An awful lot of bounces in the Dock (old, old laptop), but it launches!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Mini Re-Test Against (Quicken and) Buddi

It's been two years, and it feels like time to look at alternatives to Quicken for personal finance. I've been using Buddi happily for 2 years. It's updated regularly. It's portable (cross-platform and no funny stuff in the data files). Java isn't as slow as I expected, and Buddi even accepts dropped text. It has a stable of plugins. However, some of export plugins don't work as well as I'd like. The unmaintained QIF Export has no option to export each account separately which is needed for most of the personal financial software I've tested, and, much worse, the starting balance in the QIF file was off by about two orders of magnitude! Since only the starting balances were wrong, I edited those lines by hand in TextEdit, but it makes me not trust the QIF Export plugin -- not fun for all of your financial data. [I suspect the safer route is to use CSV export and then use a CSV-to-QIF tool written in awk, perl, python, or ruby; the other direction is Javascript that you can even download to your own computer.] And Buddi isn't Aqua, or integrated with anything else on my Mac. Buddi is a very reliable program that I could use for many more years, but I don't mind looking at the alternatives either.

So, to review from last time, my needs are:

  • reconcile that I can use
  • proper double entry for transfers
  • import/export
  • would like multiple accounts in one document
  • would like bill scheduling, although I have reminders in iCal now

A quick check for what was updated since 2008 and had tempting screenshot(s) led me to Stash (new yummy open-source Aqua!), mini$, and MoneyWell. Although I looked at those last two before, they had major version updates so I thought I'd look again.

The quick one: mini$ had a big update since I last tested it, but it wouldn't launch on my Intel MacBook Pro, so that test is done already. The error was "java.lang.UnsupportedClassVersionError: Bad version number in .class file" so I think my Java is too new for it (it needs 1.4.2+ and I have the standard 32-bit 1.5.0_22 version in). I need the newer Java for work applications, so I don't want to mess around with older versions of Java.

So here's the report on Stash and MoneyWell.

Stash is very new, so I'm reviewing a moving target. Reconcile is just a check, but I can use that (no check for cleared, though). I like that Stash can re-order transactions so that I can match Stash's balance with my bank statement (which is the order in which the transaction cleared, not when it occurred); this makes reconciliation easier. As of version 0.6, it has double entry transfers, although if I delete one half of a transfer, the other half is still there (although that shouldn't be common). Stash can import and export QIF, and it has multiple accounts per document, with transaction scheduling. It hits my necessary points, and it has bonus points for Aqua and a responsive developer. It's worth a look. Plus there's just something pretty about it that makes me want to like it!

MoneyWell does a lot. It has states for open, pending, cleared, and reconciled transactions (although I can't click on the icon to cycle between open, cleared, and reconciled). It transfers. It imports many formats including CSV, QIF, and OFX, although it only exports to QIF. It has multiple accounts in one document, and it does bill scheduling although it filled in the current variable amount for the future transactions as well. (Quicken asked me if the amount were the same or if it varied.)

I think I should use the MoneyWell Bucket construct for what are Categories in Quicken and Stash, and Budget Categories in Buddi. Watch your left-hand pane when using MoneyWell: your view is filtered to whatever Accounts and Buckets you have selected! So if you think you're missing an entry, select ALL Accounts and the "All Transactions" smart bucket! Although I don't plan to use this feature, MoneyWell can link an account in your MoneyWell document to an online account in order to download transactions. There even appears to be a way to manage similar and duplicate transactions (I'm sure that's useful)!

I really can't explain why I'm not sucked in by MoneyWell with all of its features, but yet I find Stash attractive despite a shorter feature list. I guess it's because MoneyWell doesn't have the user interface convenience I expect when I click on the open-cleared-reconciled checkbox. I want utter simplicity, and MoneyWell has a flurry of ways to filter my view. Stash, on the other hand, is very much like a checkbook register. It's simple, and it does what I expect when I click on the reconciled check. I don't need the very simple budgeting in MoneyWell, and the graphs in Stash supply eye candy if I want it. Stash has a simple, uncluttered, unconfusing user interface.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Useless Factoid

According to the calendar in my office, today is Trivia Day; that amuses me because it's such a trivial little fact to know. I think yesterday and Wednesday are better though: yesterday was the Festival of Sleep, and Wednesday is even better! Cuddle Up Day!