Bialetti Moka Express

Yesterday the mood took me and I went hunting for some new coffee making appartatus. I didn’t get a replacement glass for my french press which was my original intention, but I did pick up a stove-top espresso maker and have spotted where to get the necessary component for my fallen Bodum, which shall be acquired at some point in the near future.

It was a bit of a mission tracking this piece of equipment down, but just when I had given up I bumped into a work colleague who pointed me in the direction of Habitat who could thankfully satisfy my needs. I walked home via the supermarket and picked up some fine-ground italian coffee to go with my new toy:

Moka And Espresso Grounds

I eagerly read the included instructions, washed and filled the moka and went ahead with making my first, sacrificial, batch of espresso. The smell of the fresh coffee was fantastic and I was a bit disheartened with having to pour it down the sink, but I wasted no time getting setup for another run and wasn’t disappointed with the results.

The process gave me a mug(!) of rich, black, steaming espresso which I drank as fast as I could. I could feel the muscles in my jaws tighten, my stomach got a bit queasy and all I could think was “this is great, I need more!” I resisted the desire for another spin on the roundabout and needless to say, I didn’t feel entirely sleepy when it was time for me to get into bed.

Today I have went through the ritual no less than 4 times and counting my saturday afternoon routine of a quadruple shot americano at Starbucks with the troops, my espresso shot count is easily in the high twenties. And all I can think of is having more.

Beware the “little man with a mustache.”

My Brain Hurts

I’ve just finished hacking new features into a web-app my colleague Kev developed. Yep, I was deep into M$ country but as always nothing beats the sense of satisfaction that problem solving brings (for me anyways.)

Any time I’ve went back over my own code I usually ask myself “what was I thinking of here?” so over the past few days I’ve felt pretty much like that what with stepping into some one else’s work and trying to understand what is being done, how it is being done and getting acclimatised with a foreign coding style. Visual Studio wouldn’t allow me to view any of the pages in design mode either which added to the fun.

The changes are being reviewed by the “them upstairs” as I type and the modified files should be uploaded to the production site soon. I’ll no doubt have to tweak things further to their satisfaction, but such is life.

Clocking off time approaches.

Update: the changes have now gone live.

Bye Bye Bodum

I was doing a bit of washing up last night before I went to bed and as Fortuna would it, the glass component of my cafetière fell over in my dish rack and promptly broke. It was made of Pyrex / borosilicate glass and the fall seemed so mild for want of a better term so I felt both shocked and confused that such a thing could happen. Here’s a snap of the fallen soldier:

Bodum Cafetière - Broken

I would have had that particular piece of paraphernalia for 2 years next month, though I haven’t used it much since christmas when my brother and his missus donated a filter coffee maker to the cause, which has seen daily use. I guess it was just it’s Time. Ahh, the fond memories of sitting in front of my monitor at 4 in the morning with a steaming mug of java at hand. It will be missed.

I see that Amazon sell replacement parts so I’ll scope out the prices in town in my lunch break, compare and contrast and decide on my next action.

Less mourning and more coding…

4mm Tunnels

I had been thinking about it for some time and finally decided to just go for it. So, a couple of hours ago I was signing the waiver and getting ready to get my ear lobes stretched for the first time.

I can remember not liking the whole flesh tunnel thing, but over time, what put me off them was what happens when you remove the jewelery: the “cat’s arse” look. Today I just gave in though and here are my ears less then 15 minutes after I left the piercing shop:

Left Ear Right Ear

It wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience, having a taper forced into an existing piercing but I’m told that the first stretch is the worst and that it should be easier as the gauge increases. I can only describe it as a burning, tearing sensation and it has been so long since I was last pierced that I couldn’t say if was any better or worse than my previous experiences.

I was initially unsure about the look of the CBRs sitting behind each tunnel, but after looking at the photos (taken with my now silent camera phone) I don’t think they look too bizarre. Time will tell what I do about them though: when I was younger I thought more was better but I’ve come to believe that quality is better than quantity, so I might take them out or possibly change the jewelry.

Now all I need is another tattoo and my life will be complete (well, for half an hour anyway!)

Why, I haven’t seen bicuspids like these since…

I had the joy of going for a dental checkup this morning and I must admit I was a tad on edge, but thankfully I got the all clear and there will no repeats of the root canal work I had done earlier in the year …and I managed to get a quick snap of the x-ray which was taken when I was in quite a bit of oral distress and had just signed up with my dentist:

X-Ray of Steve's mouth

I did get my teeth cleaned though, which wasn’t overly unpleasant and even got some of the gunk cleaned off my tongue piercing, which I had actually planned on cleaning before-hand but forgot about; oh the shame of being told that I should clean it as well as my teeth!

My dentist seemed to think my dental hygiene was up to scratch and I’ll not have to go back near the chair of pain for another 6 months, all being well.

And Relax.

Barely Legal

Richard just drew my attention to this news item describing Banksy’s latest escapade, an exhibition which includes a “37-year old Indian elephant [...] painted, from head to tail, in a floral pattern reminiscent of an old fashioned living room or a British pub,” genius!

Banksy - Pink Elephant

I hadn’t heard of Banksy before until I read about him replacing 500 copies of Paris Hilton’s album in record shops with CDs containing music by Danger Mouse and featuring doctored artwork. I immediately thought “I like the way this guy thinks!”

Looks like I’ve just got myself a new IM avatar!

First Post From Kubuntu

Kubuntu LogoI finally installed Kubuntu on my desktop machine at home at the weekend and I must say I am impressed so far. From my first experience with Red Hat 5.x in early 1999 (I’m guessing the version number from the date, I bought my first Linux book just before the exams of the first semester of my first year of Computer Science at QUB) I knew that *nix was real computing.

My sole piece of hardware back then was an original Pentium chip running at 100 MHz with 24 MB of RAM and approximately 1.2 GB of drive space (could be wrong about that figure.) I can vaguely remember the joy of partitioning the drive and getting Red Hat dual-booting with Win95. Getting X running wasn’t easy and involved scouring the manual and blindly executing various esoteric commands at the CLI, I don’t think I got the soundcard working and the thing that eventually got me to give up was not being able to use my winmodem (I couldn’t even afford to buy an external one!)

I kept coming back though. A few years later (possibly in 2002) I upgraded to an AMD 1800+ XP processor w/256 MB, initially running Windows ME (pirated, naturally.) This was when WinXP was still new and shiny and you couldn’t just copy someone else’s installation CD, but my mate Keith slipped me a copy of the infamous Devil’s Own release and that was me, even deeper into M$ territory. When I eventually got a broadband connection I was able to download a whole array of different distributions, but there was always something that stopped me making the jump.

My last major upgrade was to an AMD64 chip in 2004 and I thought it would be a prime opportunity to move to Linux as it had more to offer on the 64-bit front than Microsoft (XP64 was in beta at the time.) I think some multimedia aspect stopped me initially and it was back to XP32 for me. I wasn’t too fussed with XP64 either as there was a great lack of any 64-bit software.

Since then I’ve been playing about a lot with Slackware on older hardware (this site is running on it) and so I’m more familiar with core Linux operation, but I had problems with X on the unofficial 64-bit port of it and gave 64-bit Debian a go but couldn’t get OpenOffice to work. But things have been different this time around. The only hiccup in the installation was with the boot-loader trying to load things from the wrong drive numbers (mobo has 2 sets of SATA channels) and since the only thing that has given me stress has been establishing a VNC connection through a SSH tunnel from my XP workstation in the office, but that’s a post in itself!

I’ve been able to write and print documents, burn CDs and download and watch multimedia all with the minimum of effort. The package manager, Adept, is easy to use and Google has been able to satisfy most of my curiosities. I’ve found not having a root account a bit strange though…

Yep, I’ve got the Linux horn.

Here Lies Belfast

I was out and about with my sponsor on Saturday and we were walking up Stranmillis Ave and Friars Bush happened to be open for tours. My good friend Nicky K lives in one of the gate-keeper’s cottage, but in all my time living in Belfast I don’t think I’ve seen the place open to visitors and so I’d never been in it before.

Here Lies BelfastWhen I was a wee lad I used to live right next door to the graveyard of the local church so walking amongst the graves brought me back a bit. I saw this gravestone and had to snap it with my camera phone.

Reminiscing aside, this post has been an opportunity to play with the URL Rewrite module for Gallery2 and the G2Image plugin (included with the WPG2 plugin) for WordPress. I really liked the idea of G2Image: being able to insert images from my gallery into blog posts via the post editor instead of browsing to the image and copy and pasting the address of the image, but as is usually the case, there was problems.

Firstly, the Gallery2 URL Rewrite module modified the .htaccess file belonging to my WordPress installation, rendering the permalinks useless. Thankfully this was easily rectified and I much prefer having the album and image name making up the URL when browsing the gallery, but the G2Image plugin doesn’t do what I thought it would.

I suppose that is just the nature of Open Source projects and I’m not going to cry about it. Hopefully I’m going to get my act together and contribute in some way to the FOSS movement in the future, until then I’m just going to be greatful that I have access to so much software and not be expected to pay licensing fees that I can’t afford or use a warezd copy (not that that would have bothered me in the past!)

Drumstick Boogie

As usual, Thursday night is leg night chez Biscuit; I’m just in from the gym and I’ve munched on a tuna sandwich and I’m just about to hit a meeting.

I didn’t punish myself (much) and my workout could only have been described as “average” on a good day, but I turned up and did a bit. The focus was on practicing my squat technique and I must admit I was feeling fearful stepping into the power cage after my experience last week. I ended up doing sets of 10 reps with 1) just the olympic bar, 2) 20 Kgs, 3) 30 Kgs and finally 40 Kgs of plates on the bar. I didn’t try to press my luck and do more weight than last week and I wasn’t as concerned about getting my quads down to parallel as I know with time my technique will improve. I was was glad to step away at the end though!

Alrighty, I’m off to get some recovery…

Pink Is The Colour

I was reading a discussion on Lifehacker this morning about listening to music while studying, whcih mentioned an earlier post about pink noise. Between the guy on the radio and one of my coworkers I knew I had to take action or suffer the consequences. I felt a MacGyver moment coming on.

One of the comments on the pink noise post led me to download a little app which generates a wave file containing 12 seconds of the stuff. A hop, skip and a jump over to SourceForce enriched me with a copy of Audacity which enabled me to copy-and-paste to my wee hearts delight and voila, 50 minutes of pink noise in an mp3 sandwich which I swiftly transfered to my iPod. Powerful.

I’m listening to it now while I’m writing this post. It reminds me of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music and like MMM, I don’t know if I like it and I may well either be sick or go mad.

Now if I only had some duct tape