lazing around, reading, trying to listen to music over the drilling the neighbours are making— watty (@watty) August 16, 2007
As instagram overtakes twitter by reaching 300m mau, it’s worth looking back to my first posts on both services. Joined twitter august 2007. It’s easy enough to find a user’s first tweet through twitter’s discovery service. Not much meaning to that first tweet, which means I used it for the correct purpose, hahaha. I use twitter primarily to record my running and workouts, and for the longest time it was pretty much the only things I posted. I’m trying to vary the content a little more nowadays.
Joined instagram july 2011 and the first pic was of my kettle. Very mundane. Most of the instagrams in the first few years were of food, and like twitter I’ve tried to diversify somewhat lately. Most pics I take on the iphone get instagrammed, and as new filters are announced, my view of quick pics has changed. I took pics of the recent pannacotta I made on both instagram and my camera and as I was photoshopping the camera pics I was looking for the effects I’m getting on instagram.
All my instagrams are automatically posted to twitter, and all tweets are automatically saved to a google docs spreadsheet; the automation achieved by IFTTT recipes. Because of IFTTT I don’t have to pick any one service, they seem to co-exist quite happily. I have mostly different followers so there isn’t so much overlap.
After 79 days, the last of the #occupyhk #umbrellamovement camps at Causeway Bay was cleared on Monday, following the Mongkok site clearance two weeks ago and the main Admiralty site clearance last week. There was polite, peaceful resistance to the end.
About 20 people were arrested, adding to the 200-odd arrested and 900-plus whose ID card details were registered by police at Admiralty. Those arrested included Uncle Wong, a elderly supporter who had already been arrested last week at Admiralty. Go Uncle Wong!
What next? The CE declared the end of the protests and people went back to going about their daily business, or so the blue ribboners think. Students and protesters are regrouping.
That the Movement lasted over 2 months is beyond everyone’s expectation, but its scale and spontaneity are unlikely to be repeated in the near future. The next wave of activities will likely be smaller, more covert and unexpected like #9wu shopping trips and guerilla banners. Communication will continue to take place over social media. The idea, as the last ditch banner in Admiralty said, is that we’ll be back.
As for me, I’m tucking my yellow ribbon and yellow umbrella away into my coin holder. This way, they’re with me all the time but not forgotten. When the time comes again, they and I will return.
p.s. after I published the original post, I received a couple of messages on twitter. I think we’re onto something.
@watty : Maybe we need plastic membership cards with a yellow ribbon and umbrella symbol. Then we could all tuck these away in our wallets.— James Thorburn (@James_Thorburn) December 16, 2014
@watty : Then when we meet another fellow umbrella supporter, we won't have to get our umbrella keyring fobs out of our purse.— James Thorburn (@James_Thorburn) December 16, 2014
I had some cream in the fridge I needed to use up, so I made pannacotta. Four ingredients: 500ml double cream, heated with 50g sugar and the seeds from one vanilla pod. When almost boiling, remove from heat and add to 2tsp gelatin powder already soaking in 3tbsp water.
A little too set, due to unfamiliar gelatin. But so rich, and so vanilla-y, can see all the seeds in the dessert. There was some discussion on a Paul Hollywood Pies & Puds program about the colour of pannacotta, whether it should be white or yellow. The chefs say white, but he had guest dairy farmers who brought in the richest, creamiest clotted cream from Devon and the pannacotta he made was yellow. It depends on the cream. The cream I used was good double cream, and the result was defiantly creamy yellow.
Ideally I would have liked to serve it with mixed berries or at the very least strawberries. Alas, the strawberries at the market were expensive and looked terrible. So mum opened a can of peaches. Heh, we’re not running a michelin star establishment here.
For early family christmas lunch we opted for an italian restaurant near my place. We all chose the antipasti buffet which came with unlimited prosecco and soft drinks. Quite nice food: salmon, cold cuts, salad, grilled vegetables, stuffed tomatoes, bread. Worth it for the prosecco, not so value for money for mum and niece, I had niece’s portion of diet coke.
Our first Christmas decoration this year. Hahaha. It’s a cardboard tree that came free with a couple of bags of maltesers. Took 10mins to assemble and is now sitting on the tv cabinet. We have a 70s silver fake tree, but I don’t think we’ll put it up. We don’t really do christmas decoration.
Original plan was to visit mm’s family friends for a bit, then do our own thing. We ended up visiting with them all day. It was uncle wong’s 70th birthday, and he was preparing his own birthday dinner. He took us all over the place to shop—specific shops for chicken, roasted meat and seafood. It was a veritable feast that was better and healthier than what you’d get at a restaurant. Lots of seafood, mostly steamed and the chicken and meat were from outside.
He made steamed sea prawns, steamed abalone, winter pickle steamed lion fish, steamed lung dun fish, scallops with vermicelli, vegetables, chicken, chicken feet, roast suckling pig. Delicioius, the sign of someone who loves cooking.
Software update told me that it’s my turn to update to firefox 34. I read earlier that yahoo will replace google as the default search engine on firefox 34 and I was curious to see if that was the case for me.
Surprisingly, no. That’s because I have the always google.com in english plug-in and I use searchbar autosizer to customise other aspects of the search bar.
If firefox had forced me to default to yahoo, I would have changed it. If it wouldn’t let me change, I would have switched to chrome immediately. I remember using yahoo when I first started on the internet, that was before google existed. I haven’t used it for a long time, only when there’s a problem with google. And lately I’ve positively hated yahoo, it never respects my location preference: even if I type yahoo.com manually it forces me to go to the local site, in a language I can’t stand to read and displaying stuff I’m not interested in. Even if I type yahoo.com/ncr, the preference disappears after I click around and go back to the homepage. Ridiculous.
I’ve noticed google doing the same. Even with the add-on that’s supposed to force google.com, it brings me search results on the local site. And changes the url of sites like blogger and youtube to force me to the localised version. It is not an enhanced experience. It is lack of respect of people’s preference.
And makes it so obvious that I’m being tracked, and my data used for marketing. Targeted ads don’t work on me though, I’m very tightly defended by adblock plus.
I switched search engines. I’ve been using duckduckgo for a couple of weeks and I’m pretty happy with the switch. There are many good things about duckduckgo, primarily it’s about privacy, as fastcompany pointed out:
When you do a search from DuckDuckGo’s website or one of its mobile apps, it doesn’t know who you are. There are no user accounts. Your IP address isn’t logged by default. The site doesn’t use search cookies to keep track of what you do over time or where else you go online. It doesn’t save your search history. When you click on a link in DuckDuckGo’s results, those websites won’t see which search terms you used.
No wonder its usage has skyrocketed after the Snowden affair. Although my searches aren’t confidental or sensitive, I’m still happy that I have privacy. That little toggle button on the right that enables me to turn off region, that’s what I like. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
It looks simple and the results are straightforward. When I searched for gameboy, it brings me first to the official site (something that sometimes ad-driven google doesn’t do) then it’s wikipedia, amazon and ebay—pretty much the expected results. For specific results on a specific site, I just have to add !site in front of my search. So
brings me directly to the amazon search results for gameboy, saving one click. This is only one of a bunch of cool features available.
Of course, it’s not perfect. Search results tend to deteriorate after half a page to weird sites. For more complicated searches I’ve had to go back to google. There is no image search, news article search, map or other google features. Recipe searches bring me to US sites rather than my preferred bbc and UK sites (one advantage of google’s tracking I suppose). These are minor inconvenience, I can live with using duckduckgo for the majority and reverted to google when necessary.
Plus, it’s been blocked behind the great firewall of China, there’s no better endorsement than that.
When my niece learned that I have still have my old gameboy (pocket, I must have given the original one to the charity shop ages ago), she asked if she could have it. When we tried to turn it on, we could hear the sound, but the screen only showed one horizontal line.
me: you can definitely have it, but it doesn’t work
niece: it doesn’t matter, it’s a gameboy
me: you sure? it doesn’t work
niece: it’s a gameboy
I could hear her emphasis and I guess I can see her fascination with something that is older than her. I know she’d be happy with the non-working gameboy, but what if I can get it working again? Gameboys are still available on ebay, and there are videos and instructions on how to fix them. One option is to mod it using a raspberry pi.
I don’t have the skills or confidence for that sort of repair, so I took a chance and went to one of those messy computer malls and found a hole-in-the-wall stall amongst the computer and video game repairs section. After taking it in for inspection, the young man called me back after a few days and said it’d been repaired. Yay!! For the equivalent of USD20-ish, they replaced the circuit board and I have again a working gameboy.
I remember bubble bobble being one of my favourites. I can play it, but I can’t for the life of me get beyond the first level. Argh! May be my niece will teach me.
9.02km 1.18.34hr 8.42min/km
This is the longest I’ve run since I started the 52 week marathon training program. End of week 8 already. I haven’t followed the plan exactly. I’ve run fewer days but longer distance each run. Week 8 weekend run is 4 miles (6.5km) and total for the week 12 miles over 4 runs. I did 15 miles (24 km) over 3 days this week.
I’m trying not to get too unhappy about the speed, or utter lack of it. My baseline is 6.42 and I’m two whole minutes slower. I have only myself to blame for losing my fitness level, so I’ll have to get over it. The good thing is, I ran all 9km. The only stopping breaks were at traffic lights to cross the road and a couple of stops at the water fountain. So if I don’t have my speed back, at least I’m working towards getting my endurance back.
There’s a long way to go yet. I should get started on hills or strides soon. I’m using the zombies run app so there is an element of intervals. It really is a very good app, I paid $9.99 for an all access pass when the offer was on, and it’s money well spent.
Gear patrol spent 5 days visiting a bunch of bourbon distilleries. Fascinating posts, for all bourbon, whiskey and whisky lovers.
I recognised some of the distilleries that I visited myself when I went on the bourbon trail a few years ago. The bourbon trail passport now requires stamps from 9 distilleries (used to be 6 when I went). This means a longer trip, which I guess is what they want. Ah, commercialism.
One of the people interviewed on the video looks familiar. Yep, it’s our guide at Buffalo Trace. I have a picture of me and him too at the tasting bar, he was super nice and a great guy. No, I don’t post pics of me.
Mum and I went to the Japanese snack store, the one that also sells non-snacks and grocery items at almost wholesale prices. Mum got noodles and some snacks. I saw this wine and I had to get it. I mean, it’s the human cannonball wine. Cabernet merlot 2012 to be precise.
I can’t find too much about it, apart from the bottler. I don’t think they are a winery, rather a bottler and producer of wines and spirits. The blurb for the human cannonball wine is pure marketing. I can imagine PT Barnum shouting this out to the crowd:
Step right up! Get your ticket and experience the eighth wonder of the world. Yes, you heard right. The Human Cannonball is here! Your mind will not believe your eyes and you brain will not believe your taste buds. The bravery and courage is the spectacle, this fearless death defier will leave your mouth wide open & chanting for more. Tell your friends and bring your family… The Human Cannonball wine range is the lighter path to drinking serious wines. Instead of being clad in leather and tweed, we encourage our drinkers to wine down (pun intended) and be the spectator of something truly amazing. What colour is your ticket?
It’s not an expensive bottle, in the region of what I’d pay for wines I use for cooking. Since I usually cook with half and drink the other half of the bottle, I’ll see when I use it whether it’ll leave me wanting to wine down (pun intended).
I used to love Bones. I still do, but I don’t watch it often enough. To celebrate the 200th episode, dedicated fans made an amazing infographic that shows the 10 seasons by the numbers. For instance there have been 83 punctures, 67 gunshots, 57 bludgeonings, 28 poisonings, 26 suffocation and 92 unknown causes. Brennan tried to tell a joke 30 times, B&B kissed 36 times and “King of the Lab” was mentioned 27 times.
This is only a small part of the infographic. Full size here or at official site.
When I was talking to sis’ restauranteur friend about a whisky bar, he mentioned about an idea he had about whisky and waffles. Quite intriguing. The main reason is that using standalone waffle irons or electric griddles falls under a less stringent food licence. And waffle irons can be used to cook all sorts of food other than waffles.
We ended up not going through with the whisky bar idea. And waffle irons do come in other shapes like animals, the state of Texas and of course Hello Kitty.
I was reminded of our idea when I saw this keyboard waffle iron kickstarter project featured all over the place. I can imagine geekily shaped waffles and whisky being an interesting idea for a bar-café. And for an alternate breakfast idea, how about keyboard waffles with this pg tipple cocktail made from pg tips, marmalade and bulleit bourbon.
$60 for a waffle iron is on the expensive side—most kickstarter projects are expensive I find. If I were going for the whisky & waffle bar idea then I’d probably get a couple of these.
We’ve seen enough food & travel programs to know that often the best food is found in unexpected, down-to-earth places. Dad took us to a foodcourt in a downmarket shopping centre and we found really great food. Value for money, naturally.
The highlight were these tiger prawns stir fried with garlic, spring onions and pepper. Huge portion, we think there are 11-12 prawns. Would have been the same price, even more, to buy fresh from the market. We also ordered squid with vegetables and noodles. Came with rice and a nice homemade soup. This being a foodcourt, there were other choices and we had lamb curry with roti from the Nepalese / Indian stall and I got a winter melon tea from the Taiwanese stall.
Update for 101 tasks in 1001 days challenge.
tl;dr version: 365 days, 58 tasks done, 43 tasks remaining
No need for a sophisticated chart or analysis to see that the challenge is going well. I hesitate to use ahead of schedule because of the relative difficulty / time-consumingness of the tasks.
I picked off some low hanging fruit, like use my library card, make a cocktail and make a list of 101 places to visit. I was also incredibly lucky to go with my parents to new countries, try the foodcarts in Portland and spend a day at a korean spa with mm. The strangest task was eat an insect and I ended up finishing the whole cup. I made bread for the first time and invested in a worthwhile cause.
I’ve managed to complete at least one task in each of the 11 sections, and have made a start on some of the ongoing tasks. Of the remaining 43 tasks, some are potentially harder than others. Need to do a bit of strategising.
on track — ongoing or cumulative tasks:
- 3. become proficient with Evernote — I’ve done a lot with EN this year, and I’m in the process of migrating my instapaper clippings to EN
- 5. 1001 posts on website — currently at 439, since I aim for at least one post a day, this is one of the tasks that will go almost all the way to the end
- 16. finish Lamplight — the second (or third?) draft is done, so technically I can claim this task is complete, once the current round of rewriting is done I’ll claim the goal
- 17. outline book ideas — mostly done
- 20. 1001 instagram/vine pics — at 367, which averages to just over 1 day day, need to do better but should be on track
- 39. run/walk/bike 1001 km/miles — 1001km is done, at 660 miles with 341 to go should be no problem
- 40. complete walk to mordor challenge — at 660 miles, with 1119 to go, been averaging over the required mileage, so don’t forsee a problem
- 47. make a list and photoset of 101 food already tried — list is done, just need to revisit a few foods and take pics
- 59. make vanilla extract — vanilla pod has been soaking in bourbon for a few weeks, need to add a few more used pods
- 74. put away $10 for every goal achieved — this will be a task to be completed on the last day, but no big issue
- 75. set aside $1 for every goal achieved for charity — again, a last day completiong, no big issue
- 80. scan 101 family pics — scanned 24 already
- 87. make a list of 101 things achieved — list is done, need to scan and sort some old pics
- 94. pack a go bag — on track, gathering items
- 99. find a race and train for it — at week 8 of the 52 weeks marathon training program for chimarathon 2015
doable — haven’t started but are doable:
- 15. nano 2015 — nano #11
- 18. design a book cover — have ideas, need execution
- 30. new country (#3 of 3) — technically I can claim Palestine, I’ll see if I get to go to another new country, if not I’ll retroactively complete this
- 42. db bench PR — slowly working up to it
- 43. 101 crunches — also slowly working up to it
- 58. new recipe (#10 of 10) — one more new recipe to complete the set of 10
- 60. open a cookbook and make whatever comes up — choose the cookbook carefully
- 61. plan, make and serve a 3-course meal with wine — need an appropriate occasion, I have a good idea of the menu
- 67. new whisky (#4 of 5) — have idea of which bottles to follow in rotation
- 68. new whisky (#5 of 5) — see above
- 72. new restaurant (#4 of 5) — next time we travel, may be London or Chicago or Tokyo
- 73. new restaurant (#5 of 5) — see above
- 76. make a will — keep needing to remind mm to lend me hers
- 83. new family activity (#3 of 3) — sometimes we do new stuff but it’s not so remarkable to write up
- 90. leave an inspirational note in a book for someone to find — I forgot to bring a postcard when I was at Portland, otherwise it would have been awesome to leave it in a book at Powell’s
- 97. stop using so much salt and substitute with herbs & spices — I do this already, I want to come up with a really good dish
- 98. travel to one of the 101 places to visit — technically I’ve done that, gone to Athens and Jerusalem and Alaska, I should write it up retroactively
need work — harder tasks for various reasons:
- 1. upgrade macOS at least once — the mba is still on snow leopard, but it works great so I don’t want to upgrade it to mavericks or yosemite, I may tweak this task to target upgrading iOS instead
- 7. new musical — there are lots of musicals I want to see, it depends on travel plans
- 8. old musical — depends on travel plans and timing
- 19. write a short story — I used to churn them out like clockwork, but haven’t had much inspiration lately
- 25. find colour in an unusual place — this is a task left over from the original 2007 challenge, I kept forgetting it then, and I keep forgetting it now
- 41. break a running PR — I’m 1-2 minute per km slower than my baseline speed, it will take lots and lots of training to get this
- 45. take a tai chi, yoga or martial arts class — thing is, I’m not that interested in them right now, I don’t belong to a gym and I haven’t bothered to look at places that offer first class free
- 46. rock climbing — there are only a handful of places here, I should enquire at the YMCA, I think they have a wall and classes
- 88. make a list of 101 favourite things — surprisingly this has proved difficult; I’m stuck at 52 things
- 95. learn how to rocher — I need materials and a container to practice
- 101. be more grateful to family — how do I determine if I complete this task? it’s so subjective
When episode 4 came out, people saw the trailer at the cinema before the regular feature, that was it.
When episode 1 came out, people again saw the trailer at the cinema, but I think it was also on tv shows as the actors and George Lucas did the media promotion rounds. Not sure if it was available online, media companies were much more cagey about sharing stuff in those days. Plus people would have had to contend with dial-up speed. If I looked around, may be some geek would have posted about it on the then brand new livejournal site.
Episode 7 is coming out next year. The first teaser, on the official youtube channel has been viewed 9 million times as of today, and shared an enormous number of times on social media. Everyone watched it multiple times within minutes, hours of it being released. Each frame has been scrutinised and dissected. There are even fan adaptations, like this lego version, itself with 1 million views.
I must admit, I love it. It feels much more like classic ep 4-7 than stupid ep 1-3. Stormtroopers, X-wings, a Tatooine-like landscape, new faces that don’t look annoying, and look at that lightsaber! (still prefer Darth Maul’s double sided one.) I can’t not share this, right? One more year to wait.
Tasks #81-83 of 101.1001 are to participate in 3 new family activities or go to 3 new places. This is 2 of 3 and task #82.
I went to 2 family events today, first with my own family then with mm’s family.
In the morning, I braved the long bus journey (that didn’t make sense geographically speaking) to go to my niece’s school’s christmas bazaar. The bazaar was split into 2 buildings and 2 main areas. One had stalls selling all sorts of stuff: christmas decorations, chocolate, gluhwein, stollen, jams, cards, clothing and bric-a-brac. The other area had food & wine stalls selling sparkling wine, wine, beer, bratwurst, raclette, asian food, cakes and waffles.
We wandered around the selling area and mum bought biscuits and chocolate while I bought a couple of stollen. In the food area we had bratwurst and waffles. I tried a couple of their beers.
Very tired. I conked out on sis’ sofabed for 45mins in the afternoon.
The evening activity was mm’s niece’s birthday. Her parents organised a bbq at a large outdoor bbq establishment. The staff set up our pit and we had a set of the usual: pork chop, chicken wing, scallop, prawn, fish balls, sweet potato and the like. The main attraction was a whole suckling pig which we grilled ourselves on a rotisserie set up over the pit. The suckling pig had already been partially cooked so it was just a matter of browning the meat and crisping up the skin.
When the skin was crisp enough, the staff came and chopped it all up for us. Yes, definitealy crispy skin and juicy meat.
Ice cream birthday cake to follow. I had 2 portions. All in all, a family day and very tired.
I love cricket. Summer in the UK, in the days before internet and cable, was spent a) outside playing in the garden and b) sitting in front of the tv watching cricket. In those days there were only 3 tv channels and during cricket season, BBC2 showed the test matches all day. Cricket was a new sport to me then, but I had great teachers. Between the likes of Richie Benaud, Christopher Martin-Jenkins and a revolving chair of experienced commentators, I learned how the game worked, how to score, the terminology and strategy.
I never got the chance to play (aside from bowling a tennis ball at the garden wall occasionally) or to attend a game in person (the only time I made it to Lord’s was for Olympic archery) and I don’t follow the sport as much nowadays (cricket channel is an expensive add-on to my cable).
This week, the cricketing world was shattered by the news that Australian batsman Phil Hughes died after being hit at the side of his head by a bouncer. I don’t know why, I’m even more affected by this accident than normal. We read about tragedies all the time on the news and they are all extremely sad. This one came as such a shock that it’s hard to put my head around it. People don’t die playing cricket, and for this to happen to a 25 year old, world-class batsman, it’s so awful, so awful.
Around the world, people are paying tribute to Phil Hughes on twitter, instagram and social media by putting their bats outside. The images under the #putoutyourbats hashtag are fitting, dignified and very powerful. This is from former Australia captain Adam Gilchrist:
I don’t have a cricket bat (on this occasion, substituting a baseball bat is not appropriate) and I lost my cricket ball during the move back from London. So all I’ll do is pay my respects silently, and share on these images instead. This next one is from the New Zealand team:
Sincere condolences to the Hughes family, but the thoughts of every cricket fan and player are also with Sean Abbott, whose pitch hit Phil Hughes’ head. It was a freak accident, there was no fault.
An architectectural firm in Madrid designed this modern, efficient space from a small apartment. One half is a fixed living area (seen on the slideshow) and the other half is divided into rooms using movable walls. The kitchen units and bathroom are on either side, and 3 plywood units can be moved to create kitchen, bedroom and sitting/utility area. The room collapses when the units are moved to another configuration. The walls themselves double up as storage and closet.
Technology is such that nowadays, movable walls and doors made from heavy materials can be moved with one hand. The walls are suspended from the ceiling and move along using tracks similar to what is used in libraries and archives. The bathroom looks quite small and narrow and it can get to be a pain to raise/lower the bed everyday. These are the only negatives I can see, everything else looks super. Of course, this is pretty much only suitable for people who live minimalistically and tidy up as they go about their day.
The name of the firm is PKMN pronounced pac-man, it shows they have a sense of humour. The video is fun too:
Spent almost all afternoon with mum getting her a new phone, changing her plan and going to the supermarket. We stopped for a snack at an udon place opposite the supermarket. I had udon with a soft boiled egg, mum had udon with tofu sheets—she gave me one sheet. We can add garnishes ourselves—ginger, spring onion and soy sauce: the usual suspects. In addition, we could also add scraps, or bits of leftover tempura batter.
I thought scraps (aka scrumps or batter bits) are more of a nostalgic northern thing, cos I don’t remember ever seeing them. It seems like they’ve been outlawed by Health & Safety. Spoilsports.
I should have known that the Japanese, with tempura frying, will save these delicious bits. Interestingly, the Japanese are also divided in the name of the product. Those in western Japan call it tenkazu and in eastern Japan they call it agedama.
Sometimes I wonder about the weird direction our conversations take. No idea why or how we started talking about peanut butter, mm says she likes planters and I say I like skippy. Why? No clue. I guess for me, skippy is one of the brands that has been available all over the world and is often on sale. It’s less a matter of taste or brand loyalty. Besides, I don’t eat at lot of peanut butter anymore—although at my peak I eat it straight out of its jar on a spoon. Peanut butter and apple, that’s the perfect snack for when I was training.
And then the conversation moved to toothpaste. Now it’s definitely a matter of taste and brand loyalty. Everywhere I go, in supermarkets and pharmarcies, the shelves are overwhelmingly full of colgate. When I was young, all my parents used was colgate (still do). I had to use it too, and I didn’t like the taste or the amount of froth. I switched to crest as soon as I learned of its existence and even though it was (and still is) very hard to get, I stock up whenever I travel to the US.
So mm says she needs to restock her peanut butter supply and issued me a challenge. She’d switch to skippy if I switch to colgate. Hahaha! I said no. Unless it’s a travel size tube of colgate. Then she said it’s not fair, it’s just a sample.
So I offered her an even bigger concession. I’d switch to Tetley instead. This is HUGE. I’m a diehard PG drinker and believe the only cuppa is a PG cuppa. She didn’t believe I’d do it. Ha! Anyway, we have to see if we can find Tetley here first.
I think i have to tag this into the evidence of my insanity category.
On sunday we drove out to st stephen’s beach for a bit. It’s a small beach near Stanley that is as uncrowded as you can get here. A small sandy beach with a pier for people to try fishing. One small bar-café and a few bbq pits. Accessible by car only. Or yacht — there were a couple anchored outside the swimming area.
We sat at a free bbq pit facing the sea and did a little planning for Christmas presents. We got there at 4.45pm and by 5.30pm the sun was going down. We had a good view of sunset.
This is the first year I’ve used scrivener for nano. They’ve offered nano winners 50% off for a few years now, and I took advantage a few years ago. I ported LL over to scrivener, and that’s where I’ve been editing since. It was just a matter of switching from google docs, which I now use for backup.
Scrivener is a fantastic app, some say it’s the best dedicated writing tool on the market.
Lots to like:
- clean interface — I can even hide the file structure on the left and have a full page view, even with the navigation, i have most of my screen to type in
- hierarchichal container structure — instead of one flat file or multiple files like in traditional word processors, the scrivener file structure is a dream to work with and navigate, it’s easy to go to any chapter and any section, and to move sections too
- character and place profiles — brilliant to create backstory and to remember features
- research — write notes, clip webpages, import diagrams
- word count at a glance — the entire manuscript, selected chapters and sections
- name generator — this is fun, and is particularly great during nano, to take the headache out of thinking of names
- compile — no need to worry about formatting and front matter like table of content
- export — exports to all sorts of formats like rtf, doc, pdf, epub
And all this in one global file and one workspace. No need to toggle between tabs and apps. There are features I don’t use, like the corkboard view, colour scheme or split screen. I hide the inspector and don’t use it to its full advantage. I don’t use project targets. I’m sure there are features I’m not even aware of.
The biggest complaint is that it’s not mobile. The app is still stuck in the web 1.0 era: it sits on the mba and the global file is only saved on the mba. Although I can install the app on different computers, I can’t just open it wherever I like and be synced to where I was. I have to backup to dropbox and remember to save back to dropbox when I finish. It can import webpages, but pales in comparison to Evernote in terms of clipping and ability to store and organise research articles.
Since the promised iOS version has been delayed and delayed and delayed, other apps have come to the market. The most prominent is storyist, which is 50% off for nano winners and is similar in look-and-feel to scrivener. Another one I recently came across is novlr, which is web-based, like google docs. Then of course it’s possible to use evernote as a writing tool, even though its text editing feature isn’t very good.
I may give storyist a try, if the 50% discount extends to the ios version. The fact is, scrivener is too good at its job for me to jump ship, I’ll live with using it on the mba and wait patiently for the ios app.
note: I came across an interesting article from a scrivener user that makes a point I hadn’t realised. It’s great for writing, but if you’re lucky enough to find a publisher, edits are done in Word, using the awful, awful track changes tool. Hmm. My copy of Word is 2003 (yes, really) although I suppose I can use Open/LibreOffice. We’re back to web 1.0 flat file eras. Ah well, moot point.
Task #14 of 101.1001 is to complete nano 2014. It’s one of those tasks I put in there because I knew I’d get it done. It’s not me trying to show off or anything, the fact is that I’ve finished all the nanos I’ve started, so the odds are very good.
I’m very pleased they opened up validation on the 20th this year, I think it’s the earliest they’ve done so. Actually I don’t see why validation isn’t available on day 01, since there are people who challenge themselves get to 50k in one day, and the validation code surely hasn’t changed in years.
Anyway, I validated at 60k words, but actually only 57k was written in november. I could have deleted the pre-nano words when I copied over to validate, but I couldn’t be bothered. Details, details. I got to 50k on day 12, which is pretty good. (My average finish is day 15.) Since day 12, I’ve slowly written a few hundred words a day. I’m not sure if I’ll finish it now, or leave it till later. It’s not a bad story.
The restaurant near the library my dad goes to changed hands and is offering a meal deal of lobster or whole chicken for the equivalent of £3. Other items are normal price. Went with parents and we ordered the lobster, plus steamed fish and roast goose.
It’s very odd, lobsters in this part of the world are cooked either in a brothy sauce or a heavy cheese sauce and served over e-fu noodles. This is the type of noodles eaten at birthdays for longevity and have a nice taste. The lobster was all chopped up, and there was enough for 3 people.
We went for lunch at an Italian restaurant called Panevino. It has been around for a long long time near where I live, and sometime in the past year opened a branch at this new location. They have a set lunch of antipasti buffet and a bowl of pasta. The antipasti buffet was good, they had salad, olives, roasted vegetables, mushrooms, stuffed tomato, grilled polenta, arancini, tortilla and bread. The pasta in the set lunch were standard like bolognese, pesto, carbonara. I had my favourite spaghetti aglio e olio.
A small additional charge for non-standard pasta, dessert, coffee tea and wine. The add-on charge was minimal so I had a small glass of red wine and mm had coffee.
We don’t normally go out for Italian because we can make pasta at home. This was decent value because of the antipasti and the pasta was good too.
Things have been happening in the science & technology world lately that make me feel uncomfortable and sad.
I’m at best a very casual gamer. I don’t have the patience or interest to spend more than a few minutes playing a game, however much I’ve tried since I was young. So I peripherically follow games news without paying much attention.
Twitter exploded with something called #gamergate during the summer. A simple summary:
- a nasty breakup led to one of the party writing terrible, bitter blog posts about his ex, accusing her of a) sleeping around and b) sleeping around with a games journalist
- he implied that games journalists are not objective since they are in bed with devs
- somehow the posts went viral in certain quarters
- trolls attacked the dev, including doxxing her (releasing her personal information such as address and phone number) and sending her death and rape threats
- other women who came to the dev’s defence were also horribly harrassed using the same methods
- a female journalist who wrote about the death of the identity of ‘gamer’ (because of popularisation of gaming) was also horribly harrassed
- more women who spoke up were equally horribly harrassed
- interestingly, a male gamer who called #gamergaters every name under the sun was not harrassed
Ostensibly #gamergaters are up in arms about ethics in games journalism, but they have never been able to articulate exactly what they were after. The turning point for me, was when well-respected, well-loved gamer who wasn’t a dev or a journo got doxxed within an hour of her writing a personal post on the subject. Which part of ethics in games journalism was that attack?
So they doxxed Felicia Day for saying GG was bad. Didn't dox Will Wheaton. Please, tell me more about how this isn't about misogyny.— Chris Maue (@cmaue) October 23, 2014
It’s a no-brainer, really. They have been exposed as a emotionally retarded boys who don’t want girls to play video games.
Makes me sad, reading all the threats against the women, and it’s all been against women.
On 12-nov-2014, the European Space Agency (ESA) landed a small space probe on a comet, after a mission spanning more than 10 years. It was an incredible moment in human scientific achievement.
One of the scientists, while on a global livestream broadcast, wore a colourful shirt with cartoon naked / semi-naked women. In one stroke, he spoiled the vast achievement of the ESA by his stupidity and insensitivity. The STEM industries have had trouble recruiting and retaining women, and this was symptomatic of the reasons why. Lots of negative comments on the topic of #shirtstorm.
Then, guess what? Women scientists who spoke out got horribly harrassed with death and rape threats.
The scientist has since made an apology, but I feel it’s a hollow one. I’d like to see what he, and the ESA, do to recruit and retain women into the industry. My fear is, nothing.
This week, something else blew up. It’s all about ride-sharing service, uber. This storify gives a good summary. Basically, a senior uber executive suggested at an official dinner that the company could hire a team to dig up dirt on journalists who write critical articles about them. He threatened the family of a particular journalist and said they could expose her personal life.
Buzzfeed reveals that Uber exec boasted of planning smear campaign against Pando EIC, Sarah Lacy http://t.co/hrzloQwDSz astounding— Sarah Lacy (@sarahcuda) November 18, 2014
The uber exec in question half-heartedly apologised to the journo (by creepily calling her, when she had never given him her phone number), and the CEO of uber issued an apology that was more like an internal memo, while not firing the exec.
Other journos revealed that uber was not careful with confidential data, accessing and showing ride history and location without the permission of the customers involved.
There are 2 stories here that dovetail into each other. One is the threat against the family of a woman journalist who wrote critical things about a company. However much someone disagrees with any person or company on a professional level, to bring the fight to a personal and family level is unacceptable. It’s sad and scary that a company such as uber would even think of such action.
The second is the seemingly casual attitude the company has when dealing with their customers’ data. They have personal info like credit card, phone number and home address. Furthermore they can deduce where the customers work, what they do on a Friday night and where their kids go to school.
No wonder the journo who was threatened has now hired security for her kids.
I’ve never used uber. Taxis and public transportation are readily available and cheap where I am, and the couple of times I looked into uber, it’s been more expensive than a taxi. I get that ride sharing services are useful in cities where there’s poor public transportation and/or insufficient taxis. I downloaded the app for a) emergency and b) when I’m in another city and may need a ride. In any case, after #ubergate, I’m heeding the call of many techies to delete the app. It doesn’t matter to me, I hope that people who have loyally used it can find another, more ethical and more trustworthy, service for their needs.
Mum asked my niece what she wanted for her birthday and the reply was chocolate. Mum normally gives her nice chocoalte like godiva or equivalent. This year, I offered to make truffles. I made two types: mint choc and salted caramel.
The mint choc used 70% mint chocolate as base, and the usual add cream and butter method. The end result was a very subtle, almost non-existent mint flavour. If I had more time I’d infuse mint leaves in sugar syrup or find mint flavouring.
The salted caramel truffle came from an Edd Kimber recipe. In case people are not aware who is Edd Kimber, he was the winner of the first Great British Bake-off. I used 1/3rd of his recipe, to get about 20 truffles.
100g 70% chocolate
100g caster sugar
7g light brown sugar — probably not needed
100ml double or whipping cream
- break the chocolate into a large bowl, set aside
- in a heavy saucepan, slowly melt the white sugar, gently moving the pan until all the sugar has melted
- add half the cream and the recipe says brown sugar but I don’t think it’s needed
- the mixture will bubble madly, remove from heat if it gets too violent
- when the bubbling has subsided, add the rest of the cream, butter and salt
- pour over chocolate and stir until all chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy
- cover and set overnight. Roll into balls with hands, coat with cocoa powder (or icing sugar or chocolate shell), decorate with a crystal of rock salt
Very nice. I added more salt, it contasted well with the sweetness of the caramel.