31 July 2005

Brewing Beer - Batch 0

(Cross posted to Chelsea Blog)



Today I began batch zero of brewing beer at home. My first attempt was, well, I don't know yet. I have bubbles from the fermenter, which indicates that at least something is happening. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, although I had no frame of reference.



Many thanks to the Cork 'n Cap in Jackson for setting me up with the gear and a good starter recipe. I made an English Ale, so once the beer goes into the bottle (hopefully around Friday), it will be ready to drink by 26 Aug.



I used the burner on my grill so I could keep all the moisture outside and in the hopes that the larger burner would speed the boiling. By going outside, however, I managed to get a nice, red sunburn (and a not a little dehydrated). If this turns out, I'm going to invest in a turkey fryer for some serious heat. Oh, and the chance to deep fry a turkey. (Seriously, it's actually very, very good.)



I'll put something up here when I know more about the beer. Anybody else home brewing in Chelsea?

29 July 2005

The Idiots Guide to the NHL Lockout

Wow, I am so glad I can buy a football soccer package on cable; they screwed with the basics of hockey.



Don't get me wrong, the players deserved a lot worse than they got, but when I read crap like this:



They extended the blue lines and decreased the neutral zones, making it easier to maintain control of the puck onsides, and allowing more room to operate on power plays


I weep. Jeez, let's just cork all the bats and give the players 'roids so we can have a season-long home-run derby. Oh, wait...



Go Ajax!



Link

28 July 2005

Dessert - Grilled Nectarines

Quick and easy dessert, perfect for the summer.



Take one ripe nectarine. Cut in half, remove pit. On the expose halves, sprinkle with a generous amount of sugar or Splenda. Sprinkle to taste with cinnamon. Grilled cut-side down over medium flame for 5 minutes. Rotate half a turn and grill 5 more minutes. Flip to the skin side and grill for 5 more minutes. The nectarine should be warm through and slightly soft.



Remove, let cool momentarily and dig in. Especially good with a little honey.



And I don't usually like fruit. Thanks to J-- for the great idea.

25 July 2005

Yahoo! acquires Konfabulator

Yahoo! has! purchased! Konfabulator! Awesome! (sorry)

This is actually very cool news because Yahoo! has said they will be giving the app away for free and releasing the APIs so you can tie into Yahoo! content.

I hope they optimize that thing too... it's cool but it sucks up way too many resources.

Link

UPDATE: You can download it now.

23 July 2005

Art Fair Bingo - My Pathetic Offering

We went on Friday after work. It was hot, it was crowded, we ended up at Arbor Brewing bored out of our minds. But I did get a few photos for Art Fair Bingo. Click the thumb for a larger view. (I swear I had a couple packin' four kids between them, but apparently my camera didn't go off; I need to replace that POS).



22 July 2005

Longhorn has a name

This is all over the place, but Microsoft announced that Longhorn will be branded "Windows Vista". *yawn* Can we be done with this idiotic name/version march and go back to meaningful release numbers?

Link

21 July 2005

Art Fair Bingo 2005

Brandon at Arbor Update posted the Art Fair Bingo cards for this year. Let people watching begin.

Link

20 Technology Skills Tech Writers Should Have

Inspired by this post at the Shifted Librarian:



  1. Spreadsheet Skills

  2. Database Skills

  3. Scripting Skills

  4. Electronic Presentation Skills

  5. Web Site Design Skills

  6. Email Management Skills (including outgoing mail)

  7. File Management Skills (non-Windows)

  8. Computer Network Skills (including Wireless)

  9. Installing Software Skills

  10. Distance Learning Skills (vendor agnostic)

  11. Computer-related storage devices (DVDs, SANs, USB Drives)

  12. Knowledge of PDAs and cell phones

  13. Advanced Electronic Research Skills

  14. Electronic Copyright Knowledge

  15. Computer Security Knowledge

  16. Web Content Delivery Skills (RSS, Newsreaders, Forums, Blogs, etc)

  17. Fontography Skills

  18. Basic to Intermediate Electronic Page Design Skills (using Word templates doesn't count)

  19. Advanced Markup Skills

  20. Basic to Intermediate Skill in at least one area of expertise that doesn't relate to writing.


You might get away with not having one or two of these, but you better be supplementing them with other items. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who can "write" but have zero clue who they are writing for. I saw a comment the other day in reformSTC that every minute spent using the product of a tech writer is a minute not spent completing the task the user needs to accomplish. What a profound statement. It was, in true writer fashion, pounced on and flamed out of conversation.


That's too bad. Maybe it's not a true portrayal of the concept, but it's a hell of a lot closer than the attitude that users are idiots because they didn't read the entire chapter of Help on composing a widget.

20 July 2005

Art Fair

Ah summer in Ann Arbor, when tourists come into the "city", streets shut down, and artists from around the one-day's-drive area congeal in the gutters to disgorge their "art" on overly-anticipatory populous. Yes, it's Art Fair. But not just one Art Fair! Oh no, this is Ann Arbor, where even the artists can't get along. So there are four fairs going at once (although, attempt to explain that to someone from out of town and you'll get blank stares).

Of course, the day I need to find it, ArborBlogs is down and I can't get this year's Art Fair Bingo. (To tide me over, I may have to recycle last years Bingo cards.) If anyone has this year's card, post a link in the comments.

Will we go? Yeah, I guess. It's kind of like Tulip Time in Holland: If you don't go on vacation during the festival, you're guaranteed to be sucked in. Plus, I need my annual injection of art-on-a-stick and chances to insult people on Political Alley.

Google Moon

Google has added the Apollo landing sites to Google Maps to commemorate the first manned Moon landing which occured 36 years ago today (That's July 20, 1969). If you zoom in all the way, you can really see the detail on the surface.

Google Moon - Lunar Landing Sites

18 July 2005

New Home

I don't think I've actually posted about my new house.



J-- and I have finally settled into our new place in Chelsea. It's a 1.5 story something or other, 2.5 bedrooms (ok, three, but if you can get a bed in that other room, good on yah), 2 baths, and detached garage. It's our first place (purchased) and so far, so good. We painted 3 rooms, the kitchen cabinets, and a bathroom in two days. Yeah, barrel of laughs. But, on the plus side, I now have a kick-ass grill, a (small) backyard, and no damn highway within earshot.



Chelsea is a great little town West of Ann Arbor. I only have to spend working hours in AA now, and man, it couldn't feel better.



Anyone in the AA area looking to work with a purchasing agent, I highly recommend The Home Buyer's Agent of Ann Arbor. They don't sell homes, only help you buy. After the experience we had with our first agent (no linking love for that douche), the people at The Home Buyer's Agent were awesome.



In all, we toured over 50 homes, bid on three, and got one, all in about two and half months. I don't think I'll be moving in a year again.

16 July 2005

Buwhahahahaha - RMS calls for Potter Boycott

Richard Stallman (RMS in the Open Source world) has called for a boycott of Harry Potter. I can sympathize with his premise (a Canadian court ordered that people who were erroneously sold the book early weren't to read them), but this is the stupidest idea I can think of as a response. RMS obviously does not have children, and admits he's not a fan. Wow, what a meaningful gesture he's made, not buying a book he never had a compelling reason to buy in the first place.



We were at the midnight release here in Chelsea last night. It was madness. There were so many kids who would have stayed up all night if they could. Denying a child a book the only book they want all year out of the parents' political motivations isn't the answer. That child doesn't understand why they can't have the book. Stallman has good intentions but makes an emotional response to a problem with more angles than just his perspective.

14 July 2005

MozBackup

Save yourself a ton of time and pain; backup Firefox bookmarks, cache, extensions, passwords, history, and cookies. Works for Thunderbird, too.

Link

Over 100 Quick and Easy Healthy Foods

Most are under 30 minutes to make.

Link [via Kottke Remainders]

13 July 2005

Pope vs Potter

This is a little dated, but Pope Benedict isn't a fan of Harry Potter. Go figure, eh?

"It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly," wrote Cardinal Ratzinger.


I'm sure sales will tank on the news.

Link

Torrent of all the BBC Beethoven MP3s

Fire up your BitTorrent client before the nasty classical music companies invoke copyright somehow on these public domain works which none of their artists performed.

Link

11 July 2005

Dude, you got a Dell (and it sucks)

I can think of a few University departments that subscribe to the same customer service manual that Michael Dell does.



Dell has closed their public support forums because of the rising anti-Dell rhetoric going on on the boards. They even gave notice with this little re-history:



The Customer Service boards on the Dell Community Forum will be retiring at 3:30pm this Friday, July 8th. ... Customer Service FAQs will still be available to help answer your questions. If you need further assistance, you may contact our customer service team via Chat for any non-technical issue you may have.


Of course, lots of Blogistanians are heralding Jeff Jarvis for this. While I'm sure Mr. Jarvis would love to take credit, Dell hasn't been providing the world's greatest support either. Jeff's snit is representative of the experience of many. (Sidenote: Anyone who thinks Jarvis should have gotten special treatment because he's an "A-list" blogger is completely missing the point (as Ed Bott so eloquently points out).)



I'm glad I build mine; at least I know who to blame when the power source goes pfhewt.

10 July 2005

08 July 2005

Live 8 videos

Some guy has posted direct links to many of the AOL-hosted Live 8 performances. The Pink Floyd clips are excellent, as is the R.E.M. performance.



Check it out and sign the list at the Live 8 website.

07 July 2005

Cold Press Mass Quantities of Coffee

Blogging has been (and will continue to be) light due to the overwhelming nature of buying a house.

Since sleep is one of the first things sacrificed in the rush to move, I present a recipe to make 9 cups of concentrated, cold-press coffee.

Link