Dark Chocolate Brownies

What can I say?  Life sucks today, but there isn’t a day so bleak that isn’t improved by a massive plate of brownies.  Over at Cooking for Engineers, those kitchen elves whipped up a batch of “John’s Favorite Brownies”, made with none other than  the excellent Scharffen Berger chocolate.  Yum-mee.

Cooking For Engineers – Recipe File: Dark Chocolate Brownies

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Blogzilla: DRM-a-go-go

What’s wrong with Microsoft’s DRM strategy:

“We don’t want this technology to be available to every hobbyist. We need to keep the number of licensees down to a manageable number. We charge a license fee to keep the number of people we have to deal with down to a level we can handle.”

Really, why would this hobbyist give even another $.10 to this company?

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What is so damned fascinating about The DaVinci Code?

I just finished listening to Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code and I can’t help but shake my head and wonder:

Why the hell is this book so damned popular?

Dan Brown is a dreadful writer.   Not just mediocre.  But bad.  Really bad.   I mean really, let’s open with an evil albino?  Why not just have a midget and a one armed man as villains?  Dear Lord.

And the code stuff?  They are riddles, not codes.

And the ending.  Dreadful.   Truly dreadful.

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Warty Visitor

Frog Visitor

Well, this evening I was staring out the door into the darkness to see if our sometimes-feral cat Scrappy wanted to be let in for some additional kitty chow, and I found this little guy peering in instead. He’s a good sized frog, probably three or four inches in length (just the body, not the legs), and he stood still as I tried to catch several pictures of him through the glass. I tried to get some motion video of his little chin pulsing, but it didn’t really turn out with the 1/2 second exposure times. Still, he’s kind of cute.

I mean, for a warty, slimy amphibian.

I’ll move him off into the bushes so the cat doesn’t get him when he comes back.

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Boing Boing: Google logo redesigned by Students for Free Tibet

I usually don’t post links to Boing Boing stuff, since everybody in the known universe already reads Boing Boing, but I thought this logo design for Google by the Students for a Free Tibet warranted a bit wider distribution.

Sorry Google, but if your motto is to “don’t be evil”, you are seriously off course. If your motto is “don’t be evil, except when there is a large, potentially lucrative market for us to exploit as long as we hold our noses and pretend that we aren’t evil”, then you are a lot closer.

Boing Boing: Google logo redesigned by Students for Free Tibet

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What I know and don’t know about Asterisk…

Well, I haven’t got it all figured out yet, but here is what I know:

  1. It’s not hard to compile asterisk for the amd64, but…
  2. You need to be careful compiling the ztdummy kernel module: in particular, you must define USE_RTC when compiling, because the sourcefile incorrectly only checks for USE_RTC if __i386__ is defined, which is not the case for 64 bit machines.
  3. Getting mpg123 to compile seems hopeless on the amd64.
  4. You can get a phone number for $11/month, with unlimited incoming calls and about $.02 a minute for outgoing calls to the United States via VoicePulse Connect!.
  5. I can, with a minimum of effort, create a simple dialplan that allows incoming calls from that number to be forwarded to some phones attached to my hacked Linksys PAP2 adaptor.
  6. BestBuy has a nice 5.8 ghz phone on sale for $25 with a $10 rebate.
  7. I can make calls from my Linux console (using a headset) to those phones.

What I don’t know:

  1. While the phones attached to the PAP2 can receive calls, I haven’t figured out how originate calls from them.  There is obviously something stupid about configuring them that I don’t understand.
  2. Sometimes the voice quality from the console seems bad, which I suspect is some kind of codec mismatch.

Ultimately, I’d like to make a simple “dialplan compiler” that allows you to enter some basic information, (account numbers, logins and the like) and generates the necessary asterisk configuration files.  I’ll probably write it in Python…

Hopefully, I’ll have this up and ready for human testing in the next week or so.  Then, I’ll unveil the deeper purpose!  Stay tuned.

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Monday Malais

Well, I’d hoped to announce the results of some of my experimentation with Asterisk, but the weekend didn’t conspire with me very well. My mom ended up in the hospital (she’s back out, but it was worrisome) and I was nursing a borderline migraine most of the weekend. Yesterday I ate most of a pound of chocolate M&Ms (first time I’ve done that in two years, ever since I started Weight Watchers) and was generally not very pleasant to be around. Today, I feel like crap, but it’s back to the sugar mines of Pixar Disney…

I’m glad Mom’s out of the hospital and feeling better, but Mondays still suck.

It’s a Small World After All…

Check out these cool landscape photos by Olivo Barbieri. He takes photos of landscapes, and then modifies them to make them look as if they were pictures of tiny models. They give a very curious case of perspective.

Addendum: Juan read more carefully than I, and explains that these are shot with a tilt-shift lens. I’m even more impressed.

Addendum2: You can get some more examples of this tilt-shift wizardry on this Japanese website.

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Athletics pick up former White Sox 1B, Frank Thomas

Oakland Athletics

Bitchin’.

The A’s pick up White Sox veteran Frank Thomas for a one year deal. He gets a guaranteed $500,000, plus up to $2.6 million in bonuses if he says healthy through the season. The White Sox cast the veteran adrift in 2005 because of his injuries. That’s really the big question: will we get the Frank Thomas that played 153 games in 2003 and batted .271 with 87 runs, or the Frank Thomas of 2005 that played only 34 games and had only 19 runs?

One thing I know: I’ll be watching. 🙂

Oakland Athletics : News : Oakland Athletics News

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Sushi Eating HOWTO

I must admit: I love sushi.  Even basic nigiri and sashimi show a degree of concentration that we don’t often see in the west.   Precision.  Freshness.  Balance.  Everytime I have a meal of good sushi, I can’t help but feel better.  The flavors of fish, rice, soy, wasabi and gari are all just… I love it.  I’ve grown to appreciate it so much that it now seems very strange to cook certain fish like salmon.

That being said, I’m no expert: I’ve never been to Japan and the only Japanese words I know come from menus.   But like most things, the more you know, the more you enjoy the subtlety of it all, so I’ll just provide this link to the informative and useful Sushi Eating HOWTO.

My new PC…

Over the last couple of months, I had gradually decreased the number of computers in my office to just two (well, computers that have X86 architecture anyway), and I decided that I would like to have a new amd64 based machine. I priced out the cost of just building one from components, and found that I probably couldn’t do better than the HP a1310n, so I just went out and bought one. I’ve purged the windows infestation off it, and installed Fedora Core 4 on it. I’ve got a number of projects that can benefit from its high speed, including goofing around with MythTV and Asterisk. I got the ivtv driver working on my WinTV PVR150 MCE card and even have accelerated X running on it, so progress is being made. Last night I had some difficulty with Asterisk, the ztdummy driver that provides timing information seems not to load for reasons that escape me. But the hardware seems to be quite nice, I only wish the onboard video had NTSC outs, then this machine would be ideal as a front end for MythTV.