Archive for the 'Stuff' Category

Barrel Aging Drinks

Friday, May 24th, 2013

No OpenNMS content, but since at least one of my three readers is into home brewing I thought this might be of interest. While I love the chemistry behind home brewing, my waistline could never survive it.

I travel a lot for my job, which means I’m lucky enough to eat and drink in nice restaurants (the downside is that I’ve had more than my share of meals purchased from convenience stores as well – the joys of travel). One thing I’ve seen over the last year or so is a resurgence in the art of the cocktail.

I’m not talking about a rum and Coke or a seven and seven. I’m talking about drinks that take time to prepare, like most of the cocktail menu a the bluezoo restaurant in Orlando. Some good friends of mine introduced me to that place, and the General Manager there has been kind enough to share with me some of the recipes, usually involving infusions, shrubs and/or foams.

One thing they do at bluezoo is barrel age cocktails to create a much richer, complex flavor. I’ve always been interested in trying that, so when I read an article by David Lebovitz about a barrel aged Vieux Carré I decided it was time.

I contacted my friend at bluezoo who sent me to Thousand Oaks Barrel Co., and I dutifully ordered a 2L oak barrel for this project.

The barrel is oak that’s charred on the inside, and while the barrel itself seems well built, I’m not happy with the little spigot. You have to assemble it yourself, but even though I was very careful, the handle came off. I’ve attempted to glue it back on, but I might end up using pliers to turn it. A little disappointing since otherwise it looks pretty cute.

In any case, I was now ready to assemble my Vieux Carré. I had my Canadian Club (per the recipe), a decent Cognac and the only Sweet Vermouth I could find in Pittsboro. I also had the required Peychaud’s bitters via Amazon.

Since it was a 2L barrel, I decided to go with 600ml of each spirit and a teaspoon and a half of bitters. Once done I placed it out of the way on the bar.

Now all I have to do is wait 6-8 weeks. I believe I’ll need to decant the drink once it is done as too much aging is not a good thing, but I plan to experiment a bit with it.

Juniper SRX240 Unboxing

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Since the Apple fanboys seem to like unboxing their gear, I thought it would be fun to do the same with a new Juniper SRX240 I just bought (from Redapt – our equipment vendor of choice).

Due to my previously detailed issues with Centurylink, we are working with Time Warner to get a dedicated fiber circuit to the building. While the 10Mbps down will (in theory) be the same as what we had with the DSL line, it’s the 10Mbps up that I’m looking forward to the most.

Currently, we use a Cisco 800 series router to terminate the DSL line, and I needed something else for the new circuit. I’ve soured on Cisco in the last few years (due more to issues with their hiring practices than anything to do with their product) and I’ve grown real fond of Juniper gear, not the least because they are a customer (I buy my pizza at Papa Johns, I book travel on Travelocity, and I shop at Sears in part because I like being a customer of my customers).

Anyway, it looked like the SRX240 would be both more than sufficient for what I needed and it comes with lots of cool features.

I liked the minimalist packaging. The router came in a plastic bag held in the box with lightweight, molded plastic spacers – no “peanuts”. There was another bag with some documentation and a console cable, and the only other thing in the box was a power cable.

The router itself is rather lightweight. It’s 1U in height and about half the depth of a standard rack.

Since the circuit won’t be in for a couple of weeks there isn’t much configuration to do at the moment, but I was able to get the management interface configured from the command line which gives me access to the web-based user interface.

I tend to be a command line person, but when learning new gear having a webUI will be helpful.

Paulo, a Juniper employee who happened to be in our office when this arrived, showed me a neat trick with the CLI.

When you make a change to any router configuration, you usually have to “commit” it in order for it to be applied. This can be a bit scary, especially if you are remote or if you depend on the router for network access. One mistake and you might end up in the car.

JunOS has a feature called “commit confirmed”. This will commit your changes, but only for ten minutes unless you issue a normal “commit”. Thus if you screwed something up, ten minutes later the changes will be rolled back.

Pretty cool.

American Airlines iPhone App

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Just a heads up to everyone who has missed it – American Airlines has a sweet new iPhone app.

Yes, I Hate Freedom – the iPhone 4

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Last fall I bought an iPhone 3GS. It was a hard decision, but one I haven’t really regretted. Note that I don’t make many phone calls, so I was mainly interested in having a 3G iPod Touch, but I did have the requirement of having a GSM phone since I travel overseas a lot.

Last week, as you know unless you have been living under a rock, Apple introduced the iPhone 4. It was enough of a redesign that it triggered my “don’t by Rev 1 products from Apple” rule, so I was in no real hurry to get one. But then my wife, who is a runner, kept borrowing my iPhone for the MotionX GPS app to track her progress so I got permission to spend the extra money and get the iPhone 4 so she could have my old one.

After a week of playing with it, I have to say I’m pretty happy. The biggest weakness of the iPhone 3Gs (at least the way I use it) was the camera, and the new iPhone camera is much, much improved.

Of course a lot a press has been devoted to the “retina screen” and it is beautiful. I wear contacts that I take out every night, and one of the first things I do when I get up in the morning is pick up my phone to check e-mail. I have to bring it close to my face to see it, and it is almost impossible to make out the individual pixels. Think about it – the iPhone 4 is 640 pixels wide and the pictures I post on this blog I crop to 450 pixels.

I have also noticed much improved battery life. The iPhone 3Gs wasn’t bad and it would last me about a day of heavy use, but the iPhone 4 seems to go about twice as long.

However, the only real “wow” feature has been FaceTime. I was chatting with OGP member Mike Huot and it worked amazingly well. In fact, I think the audio quality over FaceTime was equal to or not better than what I get over AT&T with a normal phone call (FaceTime is Wi-Fi only). Another cool feature is that you can switch between the front and the back cameras by tapping an icon in the lower right side which means you can show your caller what you are looking at without having to rotate the phone.

On the downside, much has been made about the attenuation of the signal when the device is being held. Unlike the other iPhones, the iPhone 4 is surrounded by a metal band that is also used by the antenna. I can tell you that the problem is quite real. While this may be hard to believe, I have never had a call drop from the office, and the first call I received on the new phone dropped within the first 10 seconds. Of course I was gripping in my left hand, which is apparently a no-no.

I think it is pretty easy to figure out how Apple missed this. In all of the real word tests the phones were in cases to hide the fact that they were new. This probably helped the signal and the fact that in Silicon Valley AT&T drops calls often, so the testers probably didn’t notice. In any case, I ordered my $30 rubber band which should help. I’ll know more when it arrives next week.

I’m not unhappy with my purchase as the camera improvements mean I can leave my point and shoot at home now, but barring the fact that my wife wanted my old phone I would not have bought at this time. Always, always wait for Rev 2 if you can help it.

Of course, programming on the iPhone can be painful. I usually spend 45 minutes just sorting out my certificates, although the new Xcode makes it a little easier. I only use it to play with the new OpenNMS iPhone app, but it is considerably harder than anything I’ve done on Linux.

I do have a little bit of guilt about buying such a closed product, but my reasons for buying my original iPhone still stand. However, I saw on MacRumors that there is a new project called “marble” which may actually become Xcode 4, and it got me to thinking. Since Apple now owns it’s own chip company, it could use Xcode to be the only way to compile on it (although Ben tells me that it would be much harder than that to lock it down). Then Apple could move all of their Macs to that chip and seriously lock down those as they have the iPhone/iPod/iPad. Thus OS XI or whatever would be as closed a platform as we’ve ever seen (well, at least on that scale).

A long shot I know, but scary.

So you might be asking “why in the world did you buy another iPhone, you freedom hatin’ conformist?” In part it is because I don’t view it as a development platform like I do a standard computer. I don’t need to have access to the code in my microwave or my car, for example. And I am seriously hoping that Android is able to catch up. I think it will, eventually, but that it will take time. Apple has a larger market cap than Microsoft, so they have a lot of money to throw at the product, and it is hard for a free, distributed community to compete with that as quickly.

But with enough time and interest, all commercial software becomes a commodity.

Ampelmännchen

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Just a quick post between a lovely weekend at the beach and the Open Source Business Conference.

Last year I managed to visit Dresden where I saw for the first time, in person, the ampelmännchen. These are the rather unique street crossing lights that can be found in the former East Germany. It wasn’t the first time I was introduced to them, however. That was at the house of Jonathan Sartin (OGP) in the UK, where his son Eddie had plastic toy versions of them.

In fact, there are a number of shops dedicated to the symbols.

However, I was unable to find ampelmännchen cufflinks. Since I live in a area that has a high density of artisans, I decided to have a pair made.

I think they turned out rather well. They were made by Sandra McEwen in silver and enamel.