Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Put Out That Cigarette!

Tobacco-related deaths per year according to the CDC are about 443,000 in the U.S. Compare that to under 40,000 motor vehicle deaths annually in the U.S. and cigarettes are scarier than cars!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall Imminent

Two fairly cold days (I acclimated to warm weather) and big oak leaves in the driveway ... the trees haven't changed colors yet, but fall is just around the corner!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Android Camera crashes

Unfortunately this struck while I was on vacation! The camera on my Android phone started saying "The application Camera (process com.android.camera) has stopped unexpectedly." with "Force Close" as my only choice more often than not. The suggestion of resetting all Camera application options didn't work for me until I also rebooted. I did not lose any pictures, just customizations like geotagging.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Grocery Lists for Android

I know lifehacker likes Grocery IQ, and it does have the coupon tie-in since it's from Coupons.com if you're into that. However, after this trip, Grocery IQ won't be on my phone, and ZipList will stay. For lists of about the same size, Grocery IQ is using 5 MB of user data (and I'm running low on main memory even though it's installed on SD, and deleting items then clearing the history helped), while ZipList is using 104 KB for user data. That's a huge difference when I'm not using the coupon tie-in! So ZipList wins for me.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wireshark 1.8.0 capture-filter

At least for what I do, the capture-filter options in Wireshark 1.8.0 are definitely on the Need To Know list! I agree with the comment that frequently-used options should not hide behind a double-click. I've been known to mark "too much clicking" as a negative point for an application.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

All About Flour

Flour isn't simple! This reference explains flour types (hard or soft, red or white, and spring or winter), production, and analysis. The next thing to know is the more protein, the less water needed. And this is why you may need to bake "by feel" to adjust the water-to-flour ratio for the best results.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Easy Fix

Well, I think that was one of the easiest fixes ever! I had an external monitor hooked up to my home laptop for extra pixels. I used the mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter that came with my laptop. The monitor developed interesting colors and patterns, so I quit using. When my 4-year-old asked for his own computer (ORLY?), I borrowed a Mac mini from a co-worker, and decided to try the failing monitor. However, the Mac mini only had DVI so I dug up a DVI cable ... and the monitor has been working perfectly ever since! Something in my VGA chain (the adapter, the cable, or the monitor's VGA connection) had gone bad, but it didn't affect the display on the DVI chain.

I love it when monitors are that easy to fix!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Squeaky Stairs

This house is 28 years old, and the interior stairs squeak. (Use wood glue and screws instead of nails!) For the past 9 years, I've been trying to figure out the pattern ("step here, then there") to squeak the least. But in the past few months, I discovered that I've been following the wrong approach. This isn't a position-dependent problem, but time-dependent! The faster I go (within reason: falling down the stairs at night would be very loud too), the less squeaking. The only exception is the third step from the top: it always squeaks.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

VNC Server on Mac OS X 10.3

I didn't want to get more hardware right now, so I wanted to use the keyboard and mouse that was on my older PPC Mac, still running OS X 10.3. It doesn't do Remote Desktop's Screen Sharing as easily as newer OS X, so I wanted to use Vine VNC for a VNC server. I downloaded version 3.12, but the disk image wouldn't mount under 10.3. So, back to my newer Mac, mount, copy the application off, and (not wanting to hit further problems, although I did not test if this were still necessary) I also deleted Tiger.bundle before copying it to the older Mac. VoilĂ ! it works!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cocoa Powder

I've been making chocolate cupcakes for Karston's lunch. He knows he has to finish his lunch (two cheese sticks) first, but then he loves the treat and packs in more calories. So I was wondering about cocoa powder, specifically if I should use dutch-processed (alkalized) cocoa powder instead.
And, across the board, the two Dutched cocoas beat out the two natural cocoas in terms of both flavor and texture. So does the home cook need both Dutched and natural cocoas? Not based on our findings. But buyer beware, too much “dutching” is not a good thing. Our tasters found that while moderate Dutching helps alleviate harsh notes, the overzealously Dutched cocoa we tasted took on a taste and consistency reminiscent of talcum powder.
This suggests I should stick with Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder since it is partially dutched. Plus, I've been looking, and alkalized cocoa powder is hard to find in my local stores. But Hershey's Special Dark? Easy to find, and Yum!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cake Faults

This week's small batch of chocolate cupcakes turned out nicely. The previous two weeks, using a different recipe scaled down, did not. I read about cake faults to note that
Fault — cake sinking in the center


1. Too much aeration. This may be caused by:
(a) Too much sugar used in the recipe. This can be detected by excessive crust color and a sticky seam running in the shape of a U.
(b) Too much baking powder. Difficult to detect because it can be confused with (c).
(c) Overbeating of fat/sugar/egg batter prior to adding flour.

2. Undercooked. This can easily be detected by the presence of a wet seam just below the surface of the top crust.

3. Knocking in oven prior to cakes being set. If during cooking when all the ingredients are in a fluid state, a cake gets a knock or disturbance (such as a draught of cold air) some collapse may take place which will result in the center of the cake caving in.

4. Too much liquid. This is easy to detect because, firstly the sides will tend to cave in as well as the top, and if the cake is cut a seam will be discovered immediately above the bottom crust. Cakes containing too much liquid do not show this fault until they are removed from the oven. During baking, the excess moisture is in the form of steam and actually contributes to the aeration of the cake. On cooling, this steam condenses into water which sinks to the bottom of the cake, collapsing the texture by so doing.
I didn't see the behavior described for #4, so that's not it. I was careful not to knock them, so not #3 either. I really doubt #2 as well, just based on the clean toothpick. The cupcakes rose, and then fell, so I think it's #1. I don't think it's a because the cupcakes weren't as sweet as most. I didn't use any egg in the scaled down version, so either I did too much with the butter and sugar (by hand? really?), or too much baking soda (no baking powder in that recipe either). Or maybe it was leaving out the egg? Maybe more protein would hold the risen shape and not collapse?

Since the first recipe didn't scale down well, and I'm enjoying testing recipes designed for small batches, I don't think it matters. But it's nice to know what causes this sort of problem too.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why Do I Have to Learn the Hard Way?

Why do I have to learn this the hard way? My previous blog host shut down, and I promise I didn't see any large notices, but most of the posts are backed up in MacJournal. It'll take me a while to push everything here (sans comments), and I'll have to re-create the pages that were outside of the post hierarchy, but here goes!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Windshield Cleaning

The inside of my car windshield gets filthy (and I don't smoke!), so I tried making my own windshield cleaner from equal parts of rubbing alcohol, ammonia, and water. It worked, I suppose, although there were some streaks.

So I decided to work on the streaking angle. This time, I used an old sock with a hole and water. After I rubbed the windshield, I went over it with a squeegee to remove all traces of water. Guess what? That worked really well!

So pick the window cleaner recipe you like best or use water; my best advice is to use a squeegee immediately afterwards!