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Tue, 29 Jul 2008

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 17:35

Vitasoy Heart, Yummmmmmmmmm (fullsize)
What do you know, it is Tuesday afternoon and I have a 1 litre UHT container of the yummiest milk sold sitting in my office ready for a bit of Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging.

They add oats to this soy milk to give us Vitasoy Heart, so most of the Vitasoy milks are already among the yummiest available (definitely superior to So Good), however this one really is fantastic. Now if only more supermarkets stocked it.

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Fri, 25 Jul 2008

Cold typing solution - 15:56
So the heating is playing up a lot at my place currently, either on hot all night or not coming on and the controller displaying a flashing spanner. All manner of problems that mean the gas bill is stupidly high and yet we are often cold. Last night it was off and thus when I got out of bed this morning it was 9 degrees Celsius inside. Hopefully with some heating technicians coming back and forth, last week, today and again twice next week it will all be working again by the end of next week.

However one thing I discovered this morning, when it is really cold and you have a laptop with aluminium palm rests such as my dell xps m1330, metal can be mighty cold to rest ones palms on when typing. It made typing a little bit uncomfortable. When I mentioned this dilemma to an academic at work he made a rather interesting suggestion. I should simply run some CPU and disk intensive job on the laptop for 20 minutes before I sit down to use the machine, by that point there should be enough heat around the keyboard to use it more comfortably. What a thinker.

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Thu, 24 Jul 2008

Wines from Plonk! - 17:32
So I had been wondering what to get my mother for her 60th birthday celebrations, the actual celebration is tomorrow even though her birthday was yesterday. However I will give her a gift tomorrow, I feel I can safely write about it here as she never actually reads this unless bludgeoned with a link to a particular entry.

It occurred to me that Mum and her partner drink wine with food and like to try out a variety of different wines. After getting some wine recommendations from Jane I set about finding somewhere to buy some nice wines from knowledgeable staff. I had Plonk at the Fyshwick Markets suggested and they sounded good as they focus on smaller labels and more variety than you may find from a large bottle shop chain.

I grabbed my car from home at lunch today and drove over to have a look, I walked away with what I think will be a reasonably nice gift of 8 bottles of wine from them, 6 whites and two reds. The wines I got are.

  • Lake George - Pinot Gris
  • Lake George - Shiraz
  • Brindabella Hills - Chardonnay
  • Pikes Clare Valley - Reisling
  • Krinklewood - Verdelho
  • Pizzini - Sangiovese
  • Tohu - Sauvignon Blanc
  • Garden Gully - Sparkling Shiraz

The Tohu comes from Marlborough region of New Zealand, apparently this is quite an award winning wine. Three of the wines as you can see are very much local and the others are all Australian. I liked the guys I talked to in the shop and we even talked about the possibility of them supporting some mountain bike stuff with CORC.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2008

My weekend in food - 13:47
So over the weekend I was down in Melbourne, I ate a lot and did a fair amount of shopping. (one of the items of clothing I bought were some new Jeans, made by Helly Hanson, how cool is that, I can sort of think of it as if I were buying outdoor/race gear made by Helly Hanson and it is instead functional clothing I wear the rest of the time). Anyway one of the things that occurred over the weekend was consumption of a lot of really yummy food.

I suppose I could say it all started on Friday evening before catching the flight down when I made some pizzas topped with organic tomato paste, onions, pumpkin, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, capsicum, sun-dried tomatoes and kingland soy cheese. Yummmm, ate too much and then got a lift to the airport, the plane was running late which was fortunate because dinner took a bit longer than expected.

Saturday morning Soulfood Cafe was the venue for breakfast, Jane (sister) was in Melbourne for a few weeks for PhD conferences and research, also a mtb friend moved to Melbourne recently and is living a block or two away from Soul food in Fitzroy so they were at breakfast to catch up. Had a yummy chocolate cup cake, a blueberry muffin, a big veggie breakfast and a fruit salad, oh and a great soy mocha.

Lunch was had at Vegie Bar with a slightly laksa like broth that contained some very good sesame dumplings, some good Roti with Dhal and then a spectacular stuffed vegan mushroom. Dinner that night was at Lentil As Anything in St Kilda, getting there late there was not a lot left, however what was there was fantastic. A really yummy spicy pumpkin soup followed by a curry platter (a beetroot curry that worked well due to the sweet beetroot and savoury curry, a Moroccan hot pot curry and a pea and potato curry of some sort. Both the dishes were served with good Roti once again. At the end of this day I was somewhat full of food and almost rolling around the streets I think.

Sunday morning was breakfast at InVita Cafe at the Queen Vic markets, they had fresh out of the oven hot vegan blueberry muffins that were to die for which I followed with scrambled tofu on pumpkin bread. Lunch was at Silly Yaks cafe in Northcote where I was able to tuck into a Mexican bean burrito with salad and a good bruschetta (the bread had an obvious potato taste but was actually fairly good I thought). This was followed a few metres down the road at Coco Loco, an organic, fair trade chocolate bar. They had vegan Chocolate Mousse that was fantastic, rich, creamy, held its fluff and worked really well (something I really want to work out how to make, maybe using agar and soft tofu in a blender will help... who knows), vegan waffles in deep rich dark chocolate and they had something they call Kashew Mylk, somewhat obviously a milk made using Cashews. So I had a rich dark chocolate and orange hot chocolate with the Kashew Mylk. All very satisfying.

At one point on Saturday evening I had wanted a snack and Lord of the Fries seemed appropriate. So I had a cone of fries with French Canadian sauce (using vegan cheese) and damn that was good (though definitely waistline expanding) this on Sunday afternoon heading toward the airport I wanted to try out their Vegan nuggets, alas they were out of stock, however I had more fries with the same sauce and a yummy vegan hamburger. Then ran for the airport thinking the plane would be leaving before I got there. Upon arrival at the airport they rushed the checking and then the plane was delayed for 2 hours. Oh well I had a fun, if somewhat waist expanding Melbourne weekend.

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Tue, 15 Jul 2008

Waiting for workmen and trying to offend - 13:26
I know of a t-shirt I would love to wear on occasion (say in Sydney this week) that says "I found jesus, he was behind the couch" (that sounds like a very fafblog sort of thing to say too). All this reminds me of my attempt to really offend some religious types one easter in the Friday morning mtb email. It amuses me often when I see how far Paul's scripts in Good News Week go toward trying to offend pretty much anyone. (though the content here is definitely toned down when compared with most Doug Anthony All Stars material he dealt with).

Last night for example he was talking about the young priests pinup calendar (makes me wonder more about the WYD stuff when they have such a calendar) and Paul commented it is not so unusual to have pinups, after all Jesus was the first pinup in the church. Oh and more offence against WYD, I liked the expansion of WYD SYD I saw recently, Would You Do Some Young Dude.

On the waiting for workman thing, I know everyone experiences it and has to deal with it, however I was at home for a while today as I had a call from a company coming to look at the heating to learn why it is playing up. I was told sometime between 11am and 1pm, which is kind of annoying when you have to leave work for that period, and many people would need a day off for that sort of gap, and it is no where near as bad as some of the telstra things when they give you a half day period. I got home at 11am, did vacuuming for a while, some other cleaning, lay down and read the newspaper, etc. There are a pile of things to do at work and I was not doing them, though I guess I should have taken a laptop home with me to do some work while waiting. So partly my fault (I thought of that when I got home at 11am, ahh well).

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Fri, 11 Jul 2008

Causing scenes - 13:50
This is not an important Internet resource, however it is yet another example of being able to find out about cool stuff happening elsewhere in the world thanks to the Internet. I have known about this group and some of their stunts for a while (2 years or so maybe, though it is fascinating to see they have been doing this stuff since 2002 or so). I finally felt I should talk about it here because they just keep doing really cool stuff.

From the title you may have guessed I am talking about Improv Everywhere. The group started in New York, the idea is they think up some harmless but strange stunt to pull in public and then go an do it en masse. The idea is that if you saw one or maybe two people doing this it would not be unusual, however to see 100 people or more doing something strange all at once, with all of them claiming to have no knowledge of the others. That becomes a form of mass performance art.

The recent stunt with twins on a train (hmm they could make a snakes on a plane rip off t-shirt for this stunt) is a fantastic example of being able to think of something unique to brighten the days of many people who stumble upon it, also doing something so unusual as rounding up all those twins to pull it off successfully. Many of their other missions are clever and fascinating to see how they turned out in public. One I thought stood out as well performed and interesting though not on such a grand scale was The Moebius, looping through the same 5 minute performance in public at a Starbucks and seeing how people there notice it as it happens over and over again. I thought my cousin Nick would appreciate this one a lot (though he is likely to enjoy the whole concept anyway).

It is good to note other chapters have popped up around the world (including one in Sydney (I wonder if Nick already participates). Anyway some fascinating things to see that this group has done.

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Tue, 08 Jul 2008

How to capture one image from a v4l2 device - 17:22
So after seeing Mikal wondering about it again yesterday, I had a look at some source code, decided that it could be done but it would be nicer to do it with existing software. I recalled seeing ffmpeg or mplayer commands that may in theory be able to do a capture of a single image. Then I stumbled upon a way to do this with gstreamer filters and sinks.

"gst-launch-0.10 v4l2src ! video/x-raw-yuv,width=640,height=480 ! ffmpegcolorspace ! pngenc ! filesink location=foo.png"

As one command captures the image at that resolution into a file foo.png. This is on my laptop, however I tested this with the QuickCam 9000 on my desktop with a resolution of 1600x1200 and it worked, the focus meant it took a while but it popped out a good image. Gstreamer really is cool, I still remember seeing Federico talk about GMF (Gnome Media Framework, which is what became GStreamer) at CALU in 1999 and being excited by it.

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Mon, 07 Jul 2008

Science Fiction Hands - 17:14
So I know I should not throw stones, however I almost can not help this, Mikal has a recent post with the title " On the potentially sorry state of second science fiction hand book stores in Sydney", making me wonder why you would go looking for a second science fiction hand? Did he lose his first science fiction hand? I guess when you recall that these are science fiction hands he is looking for, a book store is as good a place as any to look for one. (I know Mikal probably meant to say "Second hand science fiction book store" but who knows, maybe he really has a need for more than one science fiction hand.)

Of note if Mikal has a day or two spare to spend looking for cool books in Sydney the ultimate second hand book store is the institution known as Goulds in Newtown. I say you newed a day or two as nothing seems to be sorted well, however there are many treasures to be stumbled upon all over the two stores.

As for v4l2 software I also note there are no easy ways to capture images from v4l2 webcams, I can easily capture a video stream with a few applications and than splice it, though trying to do that in headless mode is not as easy. I have a quickcam pro 9000 on my desk to play with and this laptop has a built in uvc based camera, I was contemplating writing an image grabber to use v4l2, however have no real need for the images yet so had not done so.

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Cooking breakages - 13:40
On Saturday night while cooking three of the yummy recipes from Veganomicon (the book Davyd has referred to a bit). (the recipes were "Greek style tomato zucchini fritters with fresh herbs", "Jamaican yuca shepards pie with sweet potato kidney beans and plantains" (though we used purple sweet potato and banana), and "eggplant potato moussaka with pine nut cream". We followed this with a yummy chocolate cake with soy cream cheese with lemon and jam filling and chocolate with fresh berry icing) I managed to break some cooking implements.

While I was trying to press some ingredients down into a blender I cracked the handle of one wooden spoon. So I got another wooden spoon out of the drawer and then while pushing the same ingredients down I pushed a little too far and the blender tore a chunk from the middle of the spoon. Oops too wooden spoons sacrificed in the name of the dinner party. All the food was incredibly yummy, the 12 people at the dinner all had a great evening and all I really need to do now is go and buy myself more wooden spoons. Maybe I had better buy a few spares. Oh and no one there was allergic to wooden spoons, so all was fine.

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Fri, 04 Jul 2008

Looking for some ingredients - 14:18
So for something I wish to cook the recipe suggests Cassava (Yuca, Tapioca) and Plantain. So sure I could possibly get away with sweet potato and banana. However the recipe already contains sweet potato as well and the banana (even with green bananas) may not be quite right. So I was wondering where in Canberra I could possibly get these ingredients. I rang some organic food stores and they have Tapioca flour, however none of them have the roots whole.

I have also rung a few Asian grocery shops, one of them said they had Cassava so I could head out there, however I have not found Plantains yet. I guess I should check out the Fyshwick Markets tomorrow to see if I have any luck there.

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Wed, 02 Jul 2008

The Shadow of the Wind - 18:10
I have not had much time to read books in the last month, however just before Geoquest someone handed me a copy of the Carlos Ruiz Zafon book The Shadow of the Wind suggesting that it is a good read. I had some spare time up at Geoquest to sit and read it in the sunshine however did not finish the book until this week, I have been home sick on Monday and Wednesday (today) this week so apart from sleeping I also finished reading the book.

I like this book a lot, I do not notice any clumsiness in language or similar that can sometimes appear in translated works. The story is rather interesting, Daniel and all the people surrounding him constantly have new facets open up concerning their characters. I also think it shows some interesting aspects of Barcelona, though I have not been there so do not know how accurate the depictions are. The book with in a book aspects in the story are also interesting, and I like the concept of the cemetery of forgotten books. Definitely a good read, and though I may be tempted I had better not spoil any of the story for anyone who may read it.

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