Overloading the Machine


While I do write about work-related things here -- because I love my job -- everything here is my personal opinion and does not represent the views of my employer. For that, see the FSF blogs.


10 Feb 2015 | 10:19am

From an interview with Daniel Handler in the New York Times Book Review:

What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

I haven't read any Proust. It's mortifying. There are episodes of "The Golden Girls" I've seen a dozen times, and I haven't cracked open Proust. I'm trying to start a Dive Bar Proust Club, where we meet regularly at dive bars to discuss Proust, but the people I invite keep asking, "Do we have to meet at dive bars?" or "Do we have to read Proust?"

Look familiar?

15 Nov 2014 | 09:41pm

Braun T 3 radio, designed by Dieter Rams in 1958:

Lots of other very close inspirations for Apple...

Is your phone too big? No, your pocket is too small.

15 Nov 2014 | 04:04pm

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices hit shelves today in mainland China, and buyers are lining up outside of telcos and Apple stores across the country. But one local carrier outlet is aiming to make its customers’ deep pockets even deeper. A photo going viral on Weibo depicts a tailor at a China Unicom branch in Shanghai adjusting pant pockets to accommodate the oversized iPhone 6 Plus.

-- Chinese telco hires in-store tailor to enlarge pant pockets for iPhone 6 Plus


08 Nov 2014 | 06:40pm

Berlusconi's watch costs $540,000.


The universe is horrible

09 Aug 2014 | 01:54pm

A 21-year old Long Island woman who chose to walk home instead of drive with a friend she thought was drunk was killed on Saturday morning after the friend ran into her, police said.

New York Times, July 27, 2014

Grocery shopping trip

03 Aug 2014 | 02:45pm

Today my grocery store did not have Jamaican curry powder, or complete copies of the New York Times (magazines all missing), but they did have Lay's Cappucino-flavored potato chips.

New word

02 Aug 2014 | 01:57pm
Katabasis, which can mean a trip to the underworld.

I did not know this word when I was reading Alice Notley's The Descent of Alette.

Boston is close-minded

23 Jun 2014 | 03:43am

I was at work until very late tonight. I had to take a cab home, because the train had stopped running. This wouldn't be a big deal, because it's normally only $15 with tip and takes less than 10 minutes. Unless the city decides to close all of the tunnel entrances simultaneously -- something I haven't seen in my 3.3 years living in East Boston. Often one is closed late at night, but I've never seen 3 closed before. $40 and 30 minutes later, I finally got home. I wish they announced the closures somewhere, but I really think they just do what they want when they want.

Cooking diary

16 Jun 2014 | 02:26am

I'm working on a project to cook every recipe and major variation in Veganomicon.

Since the last post about this, I made:

  • Dijonaise: was okay, after reducing the sweetener from 2 tbsp to 2 tsp. I'm not a huge fan of these silken tofu based dressings — they taste too much like soy. And probably I should have used a spicier dijon than the Maille — I added more than called for, anyway. And I need to cut the whole thing in half because there is no way I can finish it before it goes bad. And I need to plan to use silken tofu for multiple things at once because I've never figured out how to preserve it properly in the fridge once open for any length of time.
  • Tomato rice soup with roasted garlic and navy beans: I cooked the navy beans from dry instead of using canned — so easy with the pressure cooker. The roasted garlic instructions were wrong. The soup recipe says to preheat the oven to 425 and then roast for 45 minutes according to instructions on page 32. But page 32 says preheat to 375 and roast for 20-30. I followed the latter, with an extra 8 minutes with the garlic uncovered. The soup was very good, but I'll use less marjoram next time.
  • Marinated Asian tofu: Nice quick way to prepare tofu. I cooked down the marinade to make a sauce for it, but probably should have added some thickener.
  • Collard green rolls with blackeyed peas: Very good. No way you can do with just one bunch collards though, like the recipe says. I used two. There's kind of a temperature problem in the finished dish because the outside wrap is inevitably cold. Maybe they could be warmed back up in a steamer basket after rolling before serving.
  • Backyard BBQ sauce: Goes with the collard green rolls. Very good. I like a thick bbq sauce, so this recipe didn't make enough to have very much on top of the rolls in the end. But I also didn't think the rolls needed much (any) on top. I also ate it on a Boca burger and some Gardein chicken nuggets.
  • Banana wheat germ muffins: Mmmmm, don't they sound hippielicious? But they are good. I was wary about the amount of cinnamon, as I'm not always the biggest fan, but it wasn't too much. They took 2 minutes longer than the recipe, in my oven.
  • Lower-fat banana bread: There's a small screw-up in the recipe; the directions mention optional chocolate chips but those are not in the ingredient list. I screwed it up too, and only put half the sugar in — that's what I get for baking before coffee. It was still good, though.
  • Fresh dill-basmati rice with chard and chickpeas: Little typo in the recipe, "the it". Tasty. Kind of begging for a yogurty sauce drizzled over it, I think. I think the lowest cooking time was still a little long, but maybe I just had the heat too high.
  • Sweet Vidalia onion sauce: Boston Organics has been burying me in beautiful Vidalia onions the last few weeks. I love caramelized onions, but this recipe was pretty bad on that front. It takes longer than 20 minutes to caramelize onions — more like 40+. Also, there's no way this makes 2 cups of sauce as claimed, since it only specifies 2 cups of onions to start with. They reduce to about 25% of their size. It's more like a relish than a sauce. I also don't think 30 seconds is enough after adding the liquid ingredients — unless you want to serve a cold sauce. I turned the heat up to medium-high, brought it just to a simmer, then took it off right away. All issues aside, it's delicious. But if someone had never caramelized onions before and followed this recipe, they'd end up with grossness.

Inspired Vegan

  • Vinaigrette: I used this recipe several times in the last few weeks. I switched to using grapeseed oil with it, because I just don't like that strong of an olive oil flavor in my vinaigrette — maybe I should try half-and-half. With all olive oil, it was also too thick — probably because I use a stick blender to whisk it, which generally reduces the amount of oil required for an emulsion.

GPG keysigning and government identification

05 Jun 2014 | 12:02am

Please stop recommending that checking government-issued ID is a good way to verify someone's identity before signing their GPG key.

Have you been a US bartender before? Or held any other position where you've had to verify an ID? It's not an easy thing to do. People in those positions have books of valid IDs from different states. They have lights that show the security marks. They still get it wrong regularly. A very amateur fake ID, or borrowed real ID, will fool just about everyone in any informal context.

What's even worse is that people have a habit of happily looking at passports from other countries than their own, and nodding knowingly. It's fun, but be honest, you have no idea what you're doing.

How about just signing keys with people you would actually say you know well enough to trust? It's not the Web of Amateur ID Checking.

ID checking is at best ineffective against the threats it's supposed to address, and is probably actually damaging to the Web of Trust because of the false sense of security.

No idea what I'm talking about? Learn to encrypt your email by reading the FSF's new Email Self-Defense Guide, published in honor of today's Reset The Net effort.

You kept making all the stops?

24 May 2014 | 10:13pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A man stole a New York City bread truck and began delivering loaves of savory baked goods to random businesses, the bakery's owner said Thursday.

Life imitates Seinfeld:

You kept making all the stops? (See 1:10)

Penalty shots versus power plays

16 May 2014 | 10:44pm

Coaches in the NHL should be able to decline a penalty shot and take a 2:00 power play instead.

I thought of this tonight while watching Jonathan Quick in Game 7 stop Anaheim's penalty shot with a brilliant poke check. But I see that the idea was suggested a long time ago by Pierre McGuire.

There are enough possible game situations where the coach might rather have a power play than a penalty shot that they should be given the option. The penalty shot is meant to be the most severe penalty; but in some cases it may be less severe.

It seems hard to find stats about what the penalty shot save percentages are, but that article claims in one season 19 out of 64 went in, for a 29.6% scoring rate. That's league-wide; it would be more interesting to see the percentages of individual goaltenders, and individual scorers.

The best power plays in the league are just under 25%, but you can imagine particular situations where the expected percentage could be higher. The player going to the box may be one of the team's best penalty killers. The penalized team may have an especially bad kill percentage historically against the beneficiary team.

The penalty shot results in a single high-quality scoring chance. But, for most calls, the player who takes it has to be the one who was fouled. This may not be a team's best scorer. A 2:00 power play can yield multiple scoring chances. You probably wouldn't turn down a guaranteed scoring chance for some potential ones, but a power play also has other effects. It wears out some key players on the penalized team, and possibly gives you a chance to rest some of your own players. Additionally, it's 2 minutes off the clock during which it's very difficult for the penalized team to score. The scoring opportunities can also be higher quality, with teamwork.

I think the league doesn't want the choice because they think the penalty shots are exciting for the fans. But penalty shots are called so rarely anyway; and fans will get the vast majority of their 1-on-1 fix when watching shootouts after scoreless overtimes in the regular season. Plus, I think the drama of the choice adds some excitement, and power plays themselves aren't exactly boring.

The NFL has this idea built-in, that coaches should be able to decline most penalties. The NHL should have it too.

One of three, at least

12 May 2014 | 01:02am

Cooking Diary

05 May 2014 | 12:56am

I'm working on a project to cook every recipe and major variation in Veganomicon.

Since the last post about this, I made:

  • Mexican Millet: Similar to "Spanish Rice" but with millet. Despite the name, I liked it and would make it again. I will probably have to make it again, since I still have a lot of millet left, and I don't remember the last time I made anything else with millet.
  • Black Beans in Chipotle Adobo Sauce: This is a very simple recipe and I enjoyed the flavors, but I don't understand the sauce. There is no liquid in it other than the adobo sauce from the peppers. As a result, it seemed too thick to me. I added probably 1/4 cup of hot water, and also a little lime juice to brighten it up.

I was only home 10 full days in April, so not much cooking happened. Hopefully there will be more in May!

Welcome to Barcelona

13 Apr 2014 | 09:15am

Within an hour of landing in Barcelona, I was pickpocketed by a pretty well-dressed gentleman who was so skilled at his profession that, on the shuttle from Terminal 2 to the train, he unzipped the wallet hanging across my chest at my side and extracted my ATM card and the 100 Euro I'd just taken out of the ATM machine. I felt nothing physically, but I did have a little spidey sense thing happen so I looked over at him -- he just stared right back at me. I didn't notice the wallet unzipped until after getting off the bus. It was not a crowded bus; there was a lot of space between people and I'm surprised no one else saw this happen either. Or maybe they did and didn't say anything. Or maybe he had some associates standing around him.

I guess by interrupting him I got to keep the rest of my credit cards, passport, and US dollars. Could've been a lot worse.

I was aware of the pickpocketing risks here, but I hadn't even arrived in the city yet. Be careful out there!

Cooking Diary

07 Apr 2014 | 12:20am

I'm working on a project to cook every recipe and major variation in Veganomicon.

Since the last post about this I made:

  • Gazborscht: This was not a good recipe. 3 cups shredded beets? How many is that? I ended up shredding way too many beets. I'd really like to have the pre-shredded amounts by weight. Too bad I didn't record them myself either, but I'm going to guess that it's ballpark 3 medium beets. I did like the end result, though.
  • Chickpea Cutlets: Nice and quick to make, but didn't seem to cook all the way through, and frying time was lower than suggested, otherwise burning was starting to happen. Maybe this means my temp was too high? But it was definitely only medium. Considering finishing them in the oven. Might make good breakfast sausages.
  • Vegetable Broth: I hate putting good vegetables in just to make broth, but I wanted to see how much better it was than my usual method of freezing vegetable trimmings throughout the week. Unfortunately, this stock was way better than my leftovers method. If I can get some composting system going, I'll feel a lot less bad about boiling vegetables for stock and then tossing their carcasses.

For non-Veganomicon cooking:

  • Carrot risotto: with carrot stock that I made earlier in the week. This was delicious. The Dirt Candy chef Amanda Cohen was on Simply Ming recently. It wasn't my favorite episode of the show — Ming does a not-so-impressive cauliflower steak in the opening segment, which is already not my favorite feed-the-vegetarian dish, and he repeats a few too many times that vegetables can be just as good as meat. But she makes a beautiful carrot pasta. And the risotto directions seemed just about perfect. I did not yet make the add-ons (carrot dumplings and fried carrot strips) but I will next time.
  • Raisin spice scones from Vegan Brunch — These taste kind of unpleasant for some reason. Maybe I didn't bake them long enough; they seem a little doughy on the inside, but they also already seem a little dry. It's possible I overworked the dough.
  • Zucchini Bread from How It All Vegan. Tastes good; texture was not great, but I blame myself because I was a little shy on baking powder. And very shy on non-expired baking powder. One odd thing in this book's recipes is that they like to call for "sweetener" without specifying. In this case, I used sugar, and I bet I was supposed to use something liquid like agave, because I had to add a 1/2 cup water to make it at all moist.
  • Roasted Winter Vegetable Jambalaya from The Inspired Vegan. I was very skeptical of the idea of taking lovely roasted vegetables and simmering them in liquid, but I really liked the result. I substituted turnips for parsnips because I thought I didn't have any parsnips, except then I did. But that's okay, because I'm desperate for ways I'm not sick of to use all the turnips I have.

Drupal UI win

11 Mar 2014 | 07:11pm

Cancel button next to Cancel link

Cooking diary

10 Mar 2014 | 01:16am

I'm working on a project to cook every recipe and major variation in Veganomicon.

Over the last week I made:

  • Banana Ice Cream
  • Simple Seitan
  • Seitanic Red and White Bean Jambalaya: This will feed me all week. Not sure why I decided it was a good idea to make beef-style seitan instead of chicken for this -- next time will be chicken. In case you're wondering, this recipe won't fit in your large cast iron skillet. I ordered a Dutch Oven so next time I won't have to split it between 2 9x13 pans for the baking.
  • Herb Scalloped Potatoes: Really not impressed with this recipe -- scalloped potatoes need to be seasoned and sauced between layers, not just once over the top layer. Came out looking pretty but tasting bland.


01 Mar 2014 | 12:36pm

Spritz seems like a very interesting way to read quickly. It's the opposite of everything I've read (slowly) about speed reading, which focuses on using peripheral vision and not reading word-by-word. You're supposed to do things like move your eyes straight down the page, taking in whole lines at a time.

Interruptions seem like a big problem; interruptions that make me look away, or interruptions in my brain, where I might realize I've not been paying attention for some amount of time. Maybe they should have navigation buttons similar to video players, so you can skip backward 15 seconds at a time. I also do want to go back and review previous pages sometimes for reasons that have nothing to do with interruption, so I wouldn't want word-by-word to be the only way to view a text -- especially when reading nonfiction. I might event want it to work in a mode where you hold down the button on the side of your phone or tablet in order to move the words, and then have them automatically pause when you release. It feels like I'd want a lot of short breaks when reading in this style.

It should also be free software, but unfortunately I'm guessing it won't be. I hope someone will make a free software application along these lines -- the basics seem pretty basic.

Dan Weiss

01 Mar 2014 | 11:42am

These videos of Dan Weiss adding drum tracks to "vocal" things are a lot of fun. I'll definitely be checking out his album "Fourteen" when it's out (March 25th).

(youtube-dl is awesome.)

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