Tuesday, December 8, 2009

5 Minute Nook Review

I spent 5 minutes with the Nook yesterday.  I'd had the benefit of having read one review with a decent video walkthrough so I knew what I was doing well enough so as to provide offer the following observations:

1. The interface is at first glance intuitive yet is hampered by slowness of UI and the weird mix of touchscreen and physical buttons.  Specifically, there are 3 modes of input: a color touchscreen separate from the reading screen, a set of left-right paging buttons and a home button.  Each has it's own set of quirks (the home button is inexplicably not a click-button yet the paging buttons are) that, combined with sluggish responses, are confusing and make the overall experience not all that great. 

2. The reading screen is about the size of a paperback, the total size is that of a hardcover, and yet the weight of the thing is more than both combined.  Using the thing single handed was difficult and not something I'd want to do during a commute for extended periods of time. 

That said: the concept behind the design terrific and the screen is a pleasure to read off of, but I still want to know: who needs this thing? 

It's obvious that the e-reader market is going after three market segments:
1. Voracious readers of mass-market books
2. Commuters and/or people who want a more convenient way to read newspapers and other periodicals 
3. Geeks that can (in theory) be turned into either or both of the above 

Are any of these markets very large?  As far as I can tell, NOT AT ALL.  At least, not among those willing to shell out 250$ for a marginal increase in convenience matched with a marginal increase in frustration and hand cramping.  Used books cost next to nothing and they're practically giving away magazine subscriptions these days.  If I want to browse online content, I have a smartphone. 

That said there will always be people too overwhelmed by gadget lust to care about the actual utility provided by a new device.  Those people will buy e-readers today, mythical apple tablets tomorrow and crazy alternate universe Apple tablets somewhere inbetween.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

blackberry-vanilla infused vodka

gift part 2
Originally uploaded by krylonultraflat
1/2 a bottle of Ketel One goes into a blender with a chopped vanilla bean and a package of blackberries.

The resulting mix is left to sit for a week or two and then strained. It could probably be strained and drank today but the vanilla needs some time to settle out.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

RSVP replies for my 10 year high school reunion

"I regret to inform you that I will not be attending our high school reunion as I see no point in encountering people the memories of whom have been erased by alcohol"

"As I skipped most of high school, it would not be in proper form for me to attend. Therefore in keeping with tradition I will be skipping the reunion. I look forward to the 20 year reunion, which I will skip also."

"I regret to inform you that I will not be attending our high school reunion as I have gone through the guest list and now, as then, there is not a single woman I would sleep with"

"Due to the restrictive nature of concealed weapon permits and my inability to inhabit the same room as you people without a gun handy, I will unfortunately be unable to attend our class reunion"

"My parole officer was unwilling to grant me leave from house arrest to attend the reunion. Sorry."

"I have swine flu and my every orifice has become an evacuation zone for fluids. I regret my inability to attend. Go Cavs!"

"Unfortunately the Saturday evening of the reunion coincides with my cult's 'Day of Ascension'. I feel it necessary to inform you that I will likely not attend the 20 year reunion unless it is held within the Celestial Oneness"

"Facebook has already given me more details into the lives of my former classmates than I wanted and no amount of alcohol is going to want to make me build on any of that. Also - too many of you are breeding and it weirds me out."

posted more of a reminder to self than as a blog post

left of computer

Set list (in no order)
buckets of rain - bob dylan
nasty dan - johnny cash
james alley blues - traditional/wilco
rowboat - beck
straight to hell - the clash
5 O'Clock world - the vogues
dead kennedys - kill the poor (in a deadpan)
talking heads - the big country
mountain goats - international small arms traffic blues

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Scotch Cake - good idea? Bad idea? Awesome idea? Let's find out ... together.

Rumcake is a hallowed tradition in my family. Made from a recipe* passed down from generation to ... well, one generation so far. Also it was stolen from a family friend who got the recipe from god knows where. I can't imagine from Family Circle or anything because the recipe calls for about 12 shots of rum (3 of which are for the cook).

Yesterday, in the proud tradition of taking family traditions and messing them up horribly, I tried to make Scotch Cake. I knew you could make Whiskey Cake but I did not have whiskey when I planned a completely random birthday party. I just had scotch, and not even enough to really make the recipe as planned.

The alcohol comes into play two ways: first when you add it to the batter and second when you make the glaze. It's necessary to add it to the batter because you're also adding in pudding mix for extra moisture, thickness, and "holy crap this is good"ness.

However I didn't think you taste much of the rum in the actual cake and that most of the flavor came from the glaze, which is really just butter, sugar, and rum (and if the thought of those combined didn't make you drool, you sir or madam are not human).

Thus I just added extra water to the mix that made a good cake but not an amazing cake. I can tell you though that the glaze itself was incredible, which makes up for it. Next time - more scotch.


Cake Recipe -
1 box yellow cake mix**
1 box (large) cook n' serve vanilla pudding
1 cup rum or scotch

Glaze Recipe -
1 stick melted butter
1 cup rum
1 cup sugar (split between white and brown sugar if you like, otherwise just white)

Bake according to box directions in a very well greased and floured bunt pan with hazelnuts or pecans in the bottom. Let cool, pop onto plate or into a large bowl that will let the glaze sit in the bottom without spilling all over the darn place. Melt butter in the microwave but try to not melt it all the way (helps the glaze stick better) and mix in rum and sugar. Poke holes in the top with a toothpick or fork and SLOWLY drizzle glaze all over. If it forms a nice little shiny surface over the top of the cake you did it right. If not, doesn't matter, it still tastes gooooood.

* yeah not really a recipe if it involves a box is it
** see previous

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Originally uploaded by krylonultraflat
A high-output LED flashlight ≥ a flash snoot. I need to buy a more powerful one.

Pictures from Amy's Birthday and Taco Extravaganza are here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


"The problem with Miami is that everyone is on vacation, and it's like day 3 of a trip where you just start to lose your mind slightly but stretched out over a lifetime."
Jose, the most sage 16 year old I know

The problem with Miami is that social interaction doesn't progress past a 10th grade level.
Me, at some point last week

"The problem with Miami is people who say 'the problem with Miami is...' too much"
You, after reading this blog entry

Monday, September 7, 2009

somewhat random blog post about booze and math

Preface - I am horrible at math. However doing mental calculations for no good reason I find endlessly entertaining.

From an Ars Technica article:
What really impressed me about the study, however, were the hard numbers the authors were able to put on the phenomenon: "A multivariable model revealed that a 10-cent increase in cost per gram of ethanol at on-premise establishments was associated with a 30% reduction in the risk of exiting an establishment intoxicated." I realize that college students are perpetually broke, but I certainly wouldn't have expected a dime to make that much difference."

A bottle of crappy beer is around 5% alcohol. One fluid ounce of water roughly equals one dry ounce, so for beer we can equivocate them.*

So that means there are .6 dry ounces of ethanol in a 12 ounce beer, which equals 17 grams.

At ten cents per ounce, that's an increase of nearly two dollars. So in other words - you make a 3$ beer and make it a 5$ beer, or if you assume it takes 5 beers to get someone drunk, 15$ versus 25$.

Here is where I should point out that this study came from the University of Florida and was no doubt conducted in Gainesville, where an across-the-board 60% increase in the price of beer would cause riots.

I'm pretty sure the author was aware of everything I just stated but still decided to feign shock to "punch up a story". I can't stand it when people do this.

* Beer is mostly water with some flavoring and ethanol (5% of the latter, as mentioned). Ethanol is less dense than water so I can't make this equivalency with, say, a shot of whiskey.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The weird things I think about

Apparently in the early 1990's there was a rumor that Lego would start including minifigs of homeless people in their playsets in an attempt to make them more "relevant" and children "more aware". When asked about this rumor, a company representative said that "Only happy smiling people live in Legoland".

That seems to be irrelevant - I've seen happy smiling homeless people, and while they're doubtless delusional or in their own world, their feelings seem to be genuine. It's entirely possible they are in fact already IN Legoland, if only in their head.

Anyway, it's good to see we've moved past this culturally, as there really are so few "city" lego playsets now and infinite "pirates" and "space" and "indiana jones and the awful movie tie-in" playsets. I guess you could have a homeless astronaut or a homeless pirate though.

Saturday, June 27, 2009



My mac is quickly becoming unusable. It started with lines on the screen which have now branched out into the big fat bar of white you see in the picture above. Reports online generally state that a) it always happens after the warranty expires and b) it costs way too much to fix.

In retrospect, I have no one to blame but myself: my old imac (333 mhz, green) had a logic board failure that also cost more to fix than the cost of a new computer. My last laptop, the last of the TiBooks, had a hinge bust, the PC card slot fail, and currently has several busted keys. This new failure is not surprising but has still come much earlier than I expected considering I have only had this computer about two and a half years.

I believe the "apple tax" to be a myth, and the level of performance you buy with an Apple equals what you will get out of a PC of the same cost. However that doesn't take into account the fact that it is nearly impossible to find ANY product that has all of the following attributes: aesthetics, performance, and longevity. 1 and 2 Apple has in spades, but the third they have obviously lacked time and time again and refused to own up for their design failures and issue recalls or offer free repairs. The common answer to this is to purchase Applecare, which to be honest, IS the true Apple tax.

My next mac will be a mac mini or possibly a cracked netbook. Either will be cheap enough to be disposable in the event Apple's (or MSI's) shoddiness rears it's ugly head. This of course assumes I won't be sucked in by some new whizbang bit of user interface design (because honestly, multitouch trackpads are mesmerizing)

Most of the anger behind this rant may die down on Monday once I can visit an Apple Store and get an actual estimate for the cost of the repair. It will no doubt be far more than the cost of an external monitor, but I want to go anyway just for curiosity's sake.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Miami Midsummer" Mix CD Playlist

1. Tom Waits - Rains on Me
2. Ann Peebles - I Can't Stand the Rain
3. The Cascades - Rhythm of the Rain
4. The Clientele - Rain
5. The Shannons - Mister Sunshine Man
6. Bud and Kathy - Hang it Out To Dry
7. The Ultra Mates - Pitter Patter
8. Cougars - I Wish it would Rain
9. The Beta Band - Dry the Rain
10. Tommy Guerrero - It's Raining Again
11. Lightning Bolt - Wonderful Rainbow
12. Thom Yorke - And It Rained All Night
13. Hood - Still Rain Fell
14. Bright Eyes w/ Britt Daniel - Spent on Rainy Days
15. Superchunk - Rainy Streets
16. Neko Case - Buckets of Rain (Bob Dylan cover)
17. Bob Dylan - Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35
18. Yoko Kanno - Dreams in a Pie
19. 800 Cherries - Rainy Poppy Field
20. Stars - The Aspidistra Flies
21. Tom Waits - Rain Dogs
22. Ella Fitzgerald and the Ink Spots - Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

are we sensing a theme here?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

on dating

Ximena: Dating is like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You have to keep trying until you find the one that's just right
John: ... and then they don't think you're "just right" and you die alone.
Ximena: ... or you get eaten by bears.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

talking about what's IMPORTANT here people

So while everyone flips out about what our current governor Charlie Crist is doing next, I reassure myself with one simple fact:

There is a chance that Charles Bronson will be our next governor.

Politics aside, this would be kind of awesome.

ok real post coming this week, I promise

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

an open letter to my Hasidic stepbrother

Dear Jon -

I recently made up a new rule: you cannot be my facebook friend if you've reproduced. This was done to counteract the sudden rush of friend requests from people I graduated highschool with who are suddenly gushing about having their first kids. Most of these people, coincidentally, were also more popular than I was and drank/smoke/whatever before anyone else did back in the day.

This new rule had 2 unintended consequences - it meant that I couldn't be friends with many people over the age of 40 (which, frankly, is convenient as I didn't really want to be FB friends with my friend's mom or my superior at work anyway) but it also meant that I could not be friends with you, you who are one year younger than I am yet just had your fourth kid.

I considered briefly setting a standard (if you're under 30 but have more than 1 kid - acceptable) but there was no underlying logic to this that would have made sense. It would have been "arbitrary and capricious," to use an agency law phrase. I feel it necessary to set specific standards though as this will not be the last time I have this problem, so the most convenient exceptions to this rule are as follows -

1. Family are exempted from this rule (conveniently, you've been full-fledged family for about 3 weeks since our parents got married. Hooray!)
2. This rule shall stay into effect until such time as I lose my mind and choose to reproduce or such time as Facebook becomes as outdated and passé as Friendster (because while we're setting standards, might as well do so for the long haul)

With that out of the way, warmest congratulations!!!
Your Loving Stepbrother

Monday, February 23, 2009

Band cover meme


Band name was a city in Turkey, quote was from Eisenhower, photo from here.

Meme here, brought to my attention by Alesh.

I imagine this meme will create a whole lot of angry flickr photographers.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Tea, soymilk, teabag

I like it when full circles take that last second left or right jut and become spirals.

Occasional tea drinker to heavy coffee drinker to insomniac to regular tea drinker. Doing donuts in the parking lot with a travel mug in my hand.

So: Tea.

Were wars ever fought or started over coffee? You'd think they were, considering what happens to people if they don't get it. Perhaps they were on an incredibly small scale, and between management and accounting. I imagine they were no less violent though.

Anyway, this isn't about coffee. This is about it's milder sibling, tea, and our love affair. South Florida has never been a place that loans itself to hot beverages, and it wasn't until senior year of college when caffeine went from luxury to necessity that I began drinking it. It then went from necessity to curse during my first year of law school when I became a die hard insomniac due in part to my three cup a day habit.

I managed to ween myself off and switch to tea by brewing a weeks worth of decaf and having an iced cup of decaf every morning in conjunction with some relatively strong tea.* I haven't looked back but for during the more exhausting work weeks I've had. Coffee is better as a weapon of last resort against exhaustion, drank before a night out or during an especially tiring day at work. Also, there's relatively little finesse in coffee making. Sure you can argue about what esoteric device you put it in or the (shudder) terroir**, but little of that has anything to do with things you do in a kitchen and more to do with things you do in a lab.

I have a jar of dried orange peels, cardamom, and ginger that I can throw one of each or all three in with my loose tea. I can steep the tea in milk instead of water. I can choose from an endless number of varieties of tea or tisane. I can brew the stems of the plant instead of the leaves, or the buds, or I can have the leaves wholly dried, blanched, or barely dried. In order, I just described stick, white, black, oolong, and green teas.

All that AND I can sleep at night. Color me a happy camper.

* 1 cup of coffee equals between two and five cups of tea caffeine wise, but for whatever reason drinking 3 cups of tea ≠ the buzz from 1 cup of coffee. I'm awake, sure, but the hairs on the back of my neck aren't standing up.
** Terroir is silly. There, I said it.