April 23, 2013
January 28, 2013
Hey Seven, Where's The Beef?!
Didn't cook over the weekend so I had to resort to 7-11 bentos for lunch. That's not quite as terrible as it sounds since Taiwanese 7-11s is a combination of Japanese combini technology and Taiwan's largest food conglomerate. So there's always lots of product churning with new flavors and combinations going on. And like a sucker I'm always grabbing the latest thing, if only because it's New And Different.
So today the latest-and-greatest is the Korean Kimchi And Beef bento. Sounds pretty good, right? I do love me some bibimbap, even if the microwaved plastic tray won't make the same crunchy layer of charred rice that a heated stone bowl would. At least until I tore open the shrink wrap and popped off the lid. Sure, there was plenty of kimchi, with some bean sprouts and wood-ear mushrooms to provide additional crunch. But there were only two small, pathetic pieces of bulgogi beef all scrunched up in the corner, hardly worthy of the second-billing on the label. They really should've just called it the Kimchi And Bean Sprouts Bowl (with beef).
At least the whole thing was spicy enough, thanks to the kimchi and lots of gochujang red sauce. Which was the whole intent of it, from their point of view. Save on the pricey beef by throwing in plenty of spicy flavors to make the bland rice more editable. I guess it makes for a decent enough change-of-pace from the home-made lunch, which has plenty of good stuff, but can't be as spicy to accommodate the kids' palates.
February 22, 2012
If An RSS Feed Falls In The Forest
Despite efforts from Apple, Yahoo, Google, Mozilla etc., the RSS syndication system has always been just a little bit too geeky for the general public. That doesn't bother me, as I've built up my own little news-reading workflow over the years that's made it easy for me to skim news headlines from my favorite sources and track the read status amongst all my desktop and mobile devices. Started reading with an independent NetNewsWire on a G4 Powerbook, stuck with it through its buyout then spinoff by NewsGator as Macs transitioned to Intel. Killed time on the commute by reading RSS on an W810i feature-phone running Java ME counting the bits over GPRS, carrying the same RSS subscription list through the iPhone revolution and its array of dedicated news-reading apps.
Throughout my RSS-reading history, Yahoo News' Top Stories feed has always been at the top of my reading list. It pulls together the major headlines from multiple news-wire feeds and presents them in a no-nonsense, easy-to-read way. And throughout that time I've never had to mess with the feed URL http://rss.news.yahoo.com/rss/topstories.
Until this past week, while the headlines and summaries still show up in the RSS newsreader, when I click on the headline to read the full article in the browser all I get is an error page saying:
Sorry, the page you requested either doesn't exist or isn't available right now!
Well, that kinda sucks. The Yahoo News sitemap doesn't even show a Top News item anymore. But I don't want to add all the individual subcategories either. Yahoo News itself does still show a Latest Headline's tab that's also available to be added to the My Yahoo! portal page. And from the My Yahoo! module I was able to extract a valid RSS address for the Latest Headlines:
So simple! But not obviously visible anywhere. All my Google and even Bing searching hadn't turned up any answers, which I didn't think was possible in this day and age when it comes to tech questions. So consider this a public service announcement, for those few geeks who still cares about the Yahoo News Top Stories RSS feed. I guess everyone just get their news headlines from Twitter now. And it looks like Apple is giving up on RSS for consumers in Mountain Lion, too. Maybe RSS can count towards my nerd cred a little bit now. The old Geek Card can use a little polishing up.
February 14, 2012
Splashed out a good chunk of money for my first DSLR for our engagement, upgrading for the first kid, then once again for the second kid. That's not even counting all those lenses and accessories that I picked up along the way. It's worth it to record the memories of our kids' birth and growth plus our own travels and life experiences, as mundane as they may be. But in strict accounting terms, the return-on-investment has been a big fat zero in the numerator.
Good old OCD, plus the fantastic FlickrExport iPhoto & Aperture plugins, allowed me to diligently caption and tag every single photo I post to Flickr. So in addition to the family-member views, I get the occasional Google or Flickr search hit. Some websites have requested usage of my travel images, but they were mostly scraping for free content and there's no compensation other than a link-back or acknowledgment.
But someone out there finally recognized my picture-making genius and was willing to pay for it! Received a message with subject line that started with "send us your invoice", which is an excellent way of drawing attention to your message, by the way.
We would like to use your photo in thumbnail size in our layout:
If agreeable, we pay SGD$50 per stock image in our [redacted] magazine Spring 2012 issue.
I whipped up a business-like invoice with a Microsoft Word stock template and sent if off without much expectation of actual payment. But a few weeks later I got a call from my bank asking me what to do with this wire-transfer of Singapore dollars. The handling fee ate up a big chunk of the money, but the reward wasn't in the money anyway. In fact, I kinda regret the electronic wire transfer and should've asked for a physical cashier's check for a keepsake. Or find someone in Singapore who can go by a Park Hotel to pick up a couple copies of the in-house magazine…
October 13, 2011
The term "pludging" is Ars Technica forum's memetic term for applying MacOS updates, a particularly misspelled forum post title that stuck. There's always the comedic hyperbolic posts about doom and destruction following the installation of some innocuous point-update, but in reality it mostly goes smoothly, except for the inevitable reboot that resets the precious uptime.
MacOS X 10.7 Lion was a bit more exciting in that it was immediately available for download over the Mac App Store, anywhere in the world. No need to wait for shiny silver discs to be localized and pressed and delivered to our little island backwater. Waited a couple days for the initial rush to subside, then grabbed it during US late-night hours, to insure the download went smoothly. After that it was just click-and-go like good Apple software should. Of course I had two backups of my precious data before running the upgrade, one by TimeMachine and one via SuperDuper, plus I'd also just finished uploading my photo library onto the Crashplan cloud. Thankfully the Lion install all went well enough. So much so that I became emboldened to install Lion on the wife and sis-in-law's Macs soon after, with only one backup, even! My Aperture workflow seemed to chug a bit under the new OS, but I fixed that with a $50 memory upgrade, which I'd been meaning to get anyway.
But really MacOS is the least of Apple's worries nowadays. It's iOS that's the rising star, if not the main focus, of the company. While MacOS provided a solid foundation, the iOS team has been busy building new APIs, service, and even a new retail paradigm for the software ecosystem. I don't mind Apple's centralized control too much (don't really care about shell access on a phone, for god's sake), but it sure does make for a major pain in the bottleneck when everyone jumps on the latest iOS release all at the same time. So it took a few Error 3200 messages before the iOS upgrade finally took. Upgraded the wife's iPhone, too, figuring she might like the improved camera app and iMessage functions. But in my haste to get it done before leaving for work I caught stupid and forgot to back up her phone's photos first, wiping out a bunch of her recent baby pictures in the process. No software upgrade will make up for that, unfortunately.
Meanwhile, quietly in its virtually-sandboxed little corner of my HTPC, runs the toy Linux "server" that acts as an external SSH gateway and provides Linux-y services to the internal network. That's been running on Debian Lenny for a while, but Lenny was already due for replacement when I originally installed it, and it's long been superseded by Debian Squeeze. The wife and kids were at her mother's house for the weekend, and I figured what better thing to do with my precious free time than to upgrade a Linux distribution? Fired up a terminal to edit the repository sources and to run
aptitude via the command line, which is no big deal, for Linux work. Took a deep breath and fired off
aptitude dist-upgrade and walked away for a cup of coffee while it churned through the hundreds of Squeeze packages to be downloaded and replaced in the new major version.
Finished installing all the packages and let it reboot to... nothing but a login prompt. No GDM or any signs of a GUI. Good thing about being a late-adopter is that us Murphys have sussed out everything that can go wrong during the process and wrote about it on the Internet for Google to index. Some voodoo combination of editing init.d, reinstalling the Virtualbox graphic drivers, and
dpkg-reconfigure of X.org managed to bring the GUI back to life. Then I noticed that it didn't have any network connectivity. It saw the Ethernet hardware but Network Manager wouldn't configure it.
dmesg output seems to find some problem with
udev? A zillion edit-reboot-connect cycles later (thankfully not too painful to do in a virtualized environment) I still couldn't get the supposedly advanced network auto-configuration system to work. This was meant to be a hard-wired server image anyway. So I patched up virtual-duct-tape style by hard-coding the network connection into the
So my little server was back on the Net but it wasn't doing anything. Turned out that I needed to update all my Python packages, too, to support the new Debian version. Then I had to upgrade Python itself to support the features used in some of the updated packages, because even the version in the latest Debian stable release isn't all that new. Then some more permissions and paths tuning to get my jury-rigged scripts working again. Finally re-enabled some Apache modules and finally I was... back to the exact same place I was before the "upgrade." If nothing else, I've learned that if a server works, don't start messing with it. Especially when one has two kids who are more precious than uptime, even.