camera dead

You might have noticed that my last few posts have been image-less. This isn’t because I’m protesting visual communication. I love it – in fact, I’m downright jealous of what most other bloggers pull off with the visual design of their sites!

My camera died. Yeah, the “new old” Olympus C-5050 I bought broke. I only have myself to blame. The camera was on my kitchen counter. I reached for it, but scooted it off the counter, dashing it on the floor. The damage could have been worse – only the mode dial came off. I can’t just reattach it using the screw hack someone posted, because the impact on the floor cut through traces on the flexible PCB. And they’re too fine to bridge easily. Besides, disassembling to the point where I could even consider repairing that damage ended up cracking a couple of very delicate plastic tabs, ones designed to hold the whole thing together. I could try and glue all of it together, but…

Someone on eBay has the entire mode dial assembly for $39, plus $8 for shipping to Canada. Soon I’ll have a working camera again, and by then the studio should be warmer, so lots more pictures and music for everyone.

Oh, and I’ll have my first actual honest to goodness conference submission done by then too (deadline: Dec. 18th). It’s been a long time coming but it’s good to have actual research data and prepare it for publication again. YES!

recipe: sweet potato butternut squash soup

Straight from the New York Times, this is something I’ve made countless times and love making this time of year. I made minor modifications for ingredients on hand and to suit my tastes. Also, I used some turkey broth left over from this year’s Canadian Thanksgiving, which is far less salty than the store-bought kind and added a nice buttery texture. Thanks for the reminder, Martha Rose Shulman!

I ate this with one chicken enchilada mole wrap, and some more of the apple thing. The mole sauce tastes even better after having been frozen!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (I used frozen minced ginger)
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium-size McIntosh apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 6 cups homemade turkey stock
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and stir together until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the squash, sweet potatoes, regular potato, and water or stock, and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until all of the ingredients are thoroughly tender.

2. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup (or you can put it through the fine blade of a food mill or use a regular blender, working in batches and placing a kitchen towel over the top to avoid splashing). Return to the pot and stir with a whisk to even out the texture. Heat through, adjust salt and add pepper to taste.

recipe: baked apple cherry maple thing

Ingredients

  • 300g never bleached flour
  • 175g Demerara (dark brown) sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 4 organic Ontario Spy apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm thick apple slices
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons Demerara (dark brown) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons dried cherries
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 2 ounces / shots spiced rum (can’t go wrong with The Captain)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl place cherries, cranberries and rum. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Combine flour and 175g sugar. Add cubes of butter and rub in until mixture darkens and looks like dark bread crumbs.

In a 9 inch or similar round casserole, place apples, 4 tablespoons sugar, lemon juice. Mix. Add fruit/rum mixture, maple syrup and cinnamon. Mix. Don’t break up apple slices. Cover in flour/sugar mixture. Cover with glass lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Eat hot for best results.

recipe: dutch apple pancake

I get organic groceries delivered each week. it saves me having to own or rent a car, and it’s only a $5-$10 delivery charge for some good produce, most of which is local. Recently I’ve been inundated in apples, a fruit I can only eat peeled due to an allergy. So I got a craving for dutch apple pancakes, made with Ontario organic Cortland apples. I adapted Mr. Breakfast‘s recipe as follows. Turned out great with powdered sugar and lemon wedges!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup never bleached flour
  • 4 tablespoons Demerara (dark brown) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 medium organic Cortland apples, peeled and cut into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ fluid ounce (½ shot) cognac
  • 3 tablespoons powdered “icing” sugar for dusting
  • 4 Lemon wedges

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, eggs, flour and 3 tablespoons sugar until batter is of consistent thickness (no lumps). Stir in the Cognac.

In a heavy ovenproof (cast-iron) skillet, melt butter. Add apples, cinnamon and the remaining sugar. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes, or until the apples are softened slightly. Remove pan from heat. Pour batter over the apples in pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pancake is lightly browned and puffy.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve with lemon wedges.

Have a great breakfast!!!

mr. looper^W cooper^W hooper

Portrait of Mr. Hooper, early Sesame Street character.Today, for the first time, I saw this Sesame Street clip in which the human cast explains to Big Bird that Mr. Hooper has died, and won’t be coming back. If you grew up on early Sesame Street, like I did, you may want to brace yourself for the footage’s emotional impact. A transcript is also available if you can’t view the video, or can’t bring yourself to watch it.

My long-time readers know that I’m a major proponent of the pedagogy behind and execution of the early works of the Children’s Television Sesame Workshop, and that one of my side projects helped push them into releasing some of the old content onto DVD. So why is this the first time that I’ve seen this clip? The truth is, when this first aired, I wasn’t allowed to watch it.

Continue reading

recipe: homemade mole sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons lard or bacon grease
  • ½ onion, finely choppedg
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon epazote
  • 3-4 large dried ancho chilies
  • 8-10 dried pequin peppers
  • ½ cup pitted prunes
  • ¾ cup dried black currants
  • 1/4 cup brazil nuts (6-8)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts (40-60)
  • 2 tablespoons almonds (~10)
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 bar Ibarra mexican chocolate (3.1 ounces)
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs, unflavoured
  • ¼ cup corn meal or grits
  • 2 litres chicken or pork broth

Directions

Remove the stems, seeds and pith from the ancho chiles. Cover them and the pequin peppers in hot water and let steep for 15-20 minutes.

Sauté the onion and garlic in the lard/grease in a heavy skillet. Slowly add the spices, fruit and nuts, stirring and sautéing for 10 minutes, or until the nuts are well toasted. Puree in a food processor. Add the bread crumbs and corn meal, and about 500mL broth, and blend thoroughly in a blender or large-capacity food processor.

Place chocolate disk in the center of a sauce pan. Cover with the blended fruit/nut/vegetable paste. Slowly incorporate the rest of the broth. Heat until chocolate is melted and sauce is rich but not too thick. Consistency should be that of good gravy. Pour over enchiladas (chicken or pork), baked chicken, etc. Freezes well.

migrating email

After a bunch of emails went AWOL this week (thanks, gmail. thgmail) I realized I couldn’t procrastinate any longer, and moved some of my critical email accounts back onto my own server. That involved setting up:

  • Apache + SSL/TLS – Van’s walkthrough is intelligent and accurate, and even goes into client-site certificates (which I’ve enforced)
  • Dovecot for imap – the basic QuickConfig is sufficient, though I have discovered I cannot bind imap (non-SSL) only to localhost on this system, possibly due to the way virtual hosts are done. So it’s global imaps for everyone, which is fine naturally.
  • RoundCube – gmail’s only true competition in the OSS webmail space, which is sad in a way. Kinda proves that people care more about “free as in beer” than “free as in speech.” Oh well. It’s not horrible, but it’s not as nice. And I still like it better than Thunderbird.

The big danger, of course, is that I’ll be missing out on gmail’s awesome anti-spam abilities. I’ll just have to see how well it fares over time. (Right now, the migrated email addresses aren’t public, so I’m feeling positive.)

Now that I’m done shaving yaks, I can get back to my schoolwork.

david lowe’s bbc news music 2008

Those of us who live in Commonwealth countries, or travel a lot to them, often inform ourselves via the BBC News World Service, televised BBC News updates, etc. The musical intros/outros as of late have been some fairly good dance music. (I’ve been known to dance to some of them myself, alone in my hotel room.)

I took it on myself to research them today. They’re all composed by David Lowe, formerly known as Dreamcatcher. Turns out it’s incredibly difficult to get your hands on most of them. Aside from one 4-track album (BBC World: The Music, online at last.fm), the only place you can find them is by watching TV or listening to the World Service.

That’s why I’ve put cleaned up 256Kbps mp3s of them online – as a public service for people who like dancing to “apocalyptic rave” music in their underpants in hotel rooms. If the BBC wants me to take them down, I will – but they need to provide for an alternate means to obtain them. These tracks are not on the BBC World: The Music album. These were sourced by off-the-air recordings, cleaned up in Audacity and tagged by yours truly in Winamp 5.54. (You can argue with me over the Genre tagging in the comments if you want. Is it Soundtrack? Or is it Techno? Does it matter?)

If this is your first visit, you probably want this track: BBC News Countdown 2008 Extended Version (3 MB). If you liked that, you’ll probably want the zip file of all 10 tracks (18.7 MB). Contents:

  • BBC News Countdown 2008 – Extended Version
  • BBC News Countdown 2008 – Special Mix
  • BBC News Countdown 2008 – Remix (author unknown)
  • BBC News English Regions Opening 2008
  • BBC News English Regions Closing 2008
  • BBC News Network Titles 2008
  • BBC News Newsline 2008
  • BBC News Wales Today 2008
  • BBC News Reporting Scotland 2008
  • BBC Breakfast News 2008

Oh, and the “apocalyptic rave” reference? Bill Bailey:

howto fix mackie onyx firewire under osx 10.5.5

After upgrading Waynemanor Studio’s Intel-based Mac to OSX 10.5 (10.5.5), I was unable to get the Mackie Onyx 1640 FireWire interface to stream audio successfully to/from the Mac. When playing audio from the Mac to the Onyx (just from the System Preferences Sound panel, selecting the Onyx FireWire 0838 output for system sounds and clicking the Purr sound – no DAW software), I’d get the spinning beachball for ~10s, then stuttering, clicking, popping sound would come out. Actually running my DAW made things worse; the application would hang, and Force Quit didn’t help. (Power cycling the Onyx allowed the Force Quit to work.)

Mackie lists this audio driver rollback (PDF) on their website, but the first try at it didn’t work. Here’s how I managed to finally get everything working correctly under Apple OSX 10.5.5:

  1. Sign up for an Apple Developer Connection account. It’s free, and required to download the software you need.
  2. Download both the FireWire SDK 26 for Mac OSX and the FireWire SDK 24 for Mac OSX.
  3. Mount both image files and install the package files from both (FireWireSDK26.pkg and the confusingly-named FireWireSDK23.pkg). This will create directories under /Developer on your system drive.
  4. From /Developer/FireWireSDK26/FireWireComponents, install the Leopard Final drivers. Reboot.
  5. From /Developer/FireWireSDK26/FireWireComponents, install the FireWireAudio 2.4 drivers. Reboot.
  6. Select Software > Extensions on the left-hand browser. Look for AppleFWAudio, and make sure it is version 2.4.0.
  7. From /Developer/FireWireSDK24/FireWireComponents, install the FireWireAudio 2.0.1 drivers. Reboot
  8. From the Apple menu, select About this Mac, then click the More Info button to start System Profiler.
  9. Select Software > Extensions on the left-hand browser. Look for AppleFWAudio, and make sure it is version 2.0.1.
  10. Go to the System Preferences > Sound panel and try sound output to the Onyx Firewire 0838. It should sound clear as a bell.

I don’t know why installing the latest SDK FW base drivers and the FireWireAudio 2.4 drivers first was required before the 2.0.1 drivers would correctly fire up, but it was. One warning: do not install the Leopard FireWire (not FireWireAudio) drivers from the 24 SDK. This caused my machine not to boot correctly, and I had to repair it using another machine.

Here’s hoping this helps someone out in the wild. I’d post it to the Mackie forum, but the moderators there have yet to enable my posting rights. :(