Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Chilling Stuff

We bought a new fridge recently. New us, not new as in just laid. All the same, the wonder of Ebay allowed us purchase a second hand Fisher & Paykel E440T 447 litres Iridium Stainless Steel fridge, to give it the full name on it's pedigree papers. So far I'm quite impressed with it. The thing is, this fridge gives me the impression that it takes the task of keeping my food coolish very seriously.

For example, I had a
chilly bin/esky full of food from the freezer unit in the fridge in our old place, and was about to load it into the new fridge, which had been installed and switched on only 30 minutes before. I opened the fridge door and began to place items into the fridge, and noticed a strange sound. It was a very faint cracking sound, almost as if the fridge was saying, "You know what you're doing here, buddy?! 'Cause thats permafrost melting, ya know! Think global warming and icecaps dying. So hurry up, ok!"

Well, I disregarded the warning and kept loading at a leisurely pace. After about a minute the fridge began beeping, as if to say, "I'm beginning to lose my cool here, mate. Close the freezer door and no one gets hurt!"

Finally, after about 2 minutes of me loading, all the lights in the fridge went out and the beeping became continuous, as the fridge attempted to convey a final warning that if I didn't close that flipping door this instant, there would be hell to pay, or at least uncool food.

I finished and closed the door, and was immediately greeted with the sound of a small but very intense turbine winding up to high speed, doubtless blasting the interior of the freezer with freshly ground snowmen and essense of polar bear. The noise seemed to convey a message, saying "Great, now I'm going to have to work overtime. I mean, this is what you've pushed me to, buddy. Listen to me work. It's not like I've got nothing else to be doing here, ya hear. Loser!"

I like that in a fridge. Most of the time it just sits there placidly, looking all silver and calm. But get it narked and it really lets you know that keeping this food cold is a sacred mission, so just get out the way.
If you've got any other questions about this fridge, let me know.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Red Light District

Given I have neglected this blog for some months now, I thought you might need something a little more than the normal mundane title to shake you from your torpitude. Hence the somewhat misleading title. Monster and I happened to be in Singapore recently, and after a bit of research decided to stay in the a hotel named "The Scarlet Hotel". It's one of several new boutique hotels in Singapore and was, apart from our taxi drivers having some difficulty finding it, pretty good.

The Scarlet is in fact a converted row of shops that slope gently down a little crescent near the Big Red Pagoda in the Chinese Quarter. The internal walls between the old stores have been knocked out, and hotel rooms installed, creating a rather unusual hotel in which the corridors follow the slightly sloping, slightly curved path of the street outside.
Each room is decorated with real attention to detail, the styling being at once evocative of a French palace mixed with modern touches. Its a little hard to describe, but picture brocades and velvets mixed with dark wood and sharp lines. Very cool.

One thing that really impressed me was the room service. We arrived in the early morning, about 3ish, after spending 7 hours on a Tiger flight (not at all fun ... more on this on a later date, but unless you are blessed with very short legs, and I do mean legs no longer than about 6 inches, or have recently escaped from several years incarceration in a mid sized esky, avoid Tiger like you would any other dangerous animal) and ordered some tea from the in-room menu. I was informed over the phone that the bar was closed and they wouldn't be able to mix me a drink. 3 minutes later the concierge called to say they had found someone who knew how to mix drinks and was it OK if they still sent it. Within 15 minutes we were tucking into a rather nice meal, grateful to have escaped bits of card mascarading as food on the air flight. Any hotel that can rustle up a decent meal at that time gets kudos.

On our first time there we were upgraded from their Deluxe room to an Executive room. Very nice. However, they neglected to tell us this, so on our return trip when we got the room we had booked, a Deluxe room, we were a little confused. The Executive rooms are large and, well, roomy. They are very stylish and ornate. The Deluxe rooms are much smaller and simpler in style. However, they are still pretty comfortable.

One final comment. The staff didn't seem ultra keen to help us haul our luggage down to our room ... so if you do ever decide to stay here (and we would recommend it), make a point of telling the staff you want a porter to take your luggage up ... They might not think of it otherwise.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Now for something a bit more high brow

Too much rank silliness, really. Coffee, safaris and the weather. Nope, today we are posting something a lot more intellectually stimulating. Allow me to recommend to your perusal and careful attention a fascinating article entitled “Why does Fiat Money seemingly work?”. Even if you passionately disagree with the rest of this article, it’s a interesting read.

Now some of you will be wondering what fiat money is. I can see you all now, squinting, head cocked, thinking extra hard, with a little thought bubble above your heads enclosing a picture of a $5 note with 4 wheels and a Fiat badge in the place of queen’s head. Nope. Fiat money or currency, is money which derives its value from the fiat or command of a government or other authority. The dollar bill is a great example of fiat money. As a piece of paper or plastic, pretty much worthless. But valuable because the government says it is.

The article recommended discusses both the origin of the fiat currency, its history, and most significantly, its fragility. In the view of the author it must eventually fail. Here are a few tantalising quotes to whet your whistle (or spike your spyglass if that’s more your thing).

“Since the central bank’s balance sheet is largely composed of government debt, it has an incentive to manage the public’s ‘inflation expectations’ and inflate the currency as inconspicuously as possible.”
“…free market tends to consistently lower the prices of goods and services over time. That is the logical result of increasing productivity. This is why the widely accepted tenet that we "need some inflation of the money supply to enable the economy to grow" is a complete lie.”
“In a nation of debtors, inflation is the politically most palatable form of monetary policy – after all, everybody is focused on the short term (politicians and bureaucrats on their terms of office, consumers on their debt and their desire to buy more things they don’t need with money they don’t have, and so forth). No one considers for a moment, that in the long run, this policy means ruin. Over time, the middle and lower classes will see their real incomes and living standards shrink ever more, while the true beneficiaries of inflation – those who get first dibs on every dollop of newly created fiat money – amass more and more of the wealth that is stolen from its producers by inflation.”
Have a read.

Now for the digression. For those of you who are not Christadelphians, this could be a little much. If so, leave me a comment, and I will either explain further or not. Anyways … I’ve always wondered about fiat money. The Lord, in the Olivet Prophecy, told us that the believers would be eating and drinking, buy and selling, oblivious till the very day they were taken away to the judgment seat of Christ. This language has, to me, always implied a time of incredible economic prosperity. Why would the believers be unconscious of the nearness of Christ’s return if the times were bad. Rather, in bad times, the faithful are watching and aware of the need for and the real nearness of Christ. It’s in good times that we forget.

Coupled with my view that Christ would return in prosperous economic times, I feel that the removal of the believers will be marked by the beginning of some very bad times for the world at large … a time of trouble such as never was will dawn. I think that this time arrives when for some reason, and I have no idea about the actual mechanics of this, the world realises that dollars (fiat money) are really worthless. Such a realisation, experienced simultaneously globally, could easily destroy the worlds economy in a matter of days. And the article above shows how this could happen. As the author states
“Government mandated fiat currency simply does not work in the long run. We have empirical evidence galore – every fiat currency in history has failed, except the present one, which has not failed yet.”
When then? Soon.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

All Quiet on the Wild Weather Front?

Not! I haven’t posted on this subject for some time, mostly because with the sudden hype storm around global weather patterns triggered by “An Inconvenient Truth”, it seemed a bit a bit of a moot point. Which brings me to another subject. What is a "moot"? I’ve always suspected it was a small but vicious type of canary, typically distinguished by its sepulchral colored plumage. Anyway (awkward pause), this weather we have been having. It continues to be unusual. I’ve be chronicling the strangeness of the weather for some time now (Sept 05, Aug 05, Oct 05, Mar 06, June 06 and, just to be confusing, Jun 06). Here are a few more to add the collection … More records falling.

OK, that’s enough for the time being. Surfice it to say that the weather is crazy … still.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Safari still all up the "WebURLProtectionSpaceProxyHTTP"

Apple have whipped up a new version of their Safari for Windows browser. This one supposedly resolves a bunch of security issues identified in the first beta release. However, it still doesn't resolve the issues that I am experiencing ... As mentioned in my previous post, the first release Safari asked for authentication to log into the WebURLProtectionSpaceProxyHTTP proxy for any page I go to. And then when I put something in it crashed in a rather ungraceful way.

Well, I've downloaded the new release, version 3.522.12.2, and given it another try ... and magically, with the smoothness and slick presentation I am coming to expect from all Apple software, it crashes again, giving me the following descriptive and helpful error messages (see image right).

To be fair, I notice that the Apple site does say that support for NTLM proxies is still coming.
All the same, for a company that prides itself on the slickness and the ease of use of it's products this is not impressive. And yes, I know this is in beta ... but depending on IE for proxy information when IE is the product you're product is trying to supplant is hardly a winning move. So far, F+. Must try harder.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Safari seems a little lost

OK, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a bit of a closet Apple fanboy. And so the first thing I did this morning on discovering that Apple had released a beta of Safari for Windows, was download and install it. On opening the app, I got the following screen.

Not the most encouraging of starts, but hey, I'm an optimist, so on we forge.

I did a search on the goog for "WebURLProtectionSpaceProxyHTTP" to find out what sort of a proxy server it was. Nothing comes up. Wow! The Interweb doesn't know about something!

So then, I put in a dummy username and password (yes, I know this probably is something to do with my local proxy, but given Safari wants to send my password in the clear, I want to know what's goi
ng on before I click "pwn me"). And here is what I get ...

A bit sad really. Sure, this is a beta. But beta is still the last software phase before a roll out ... The last gasp chance to catch any problems. I can't even get to a web page, let alone browse. One would have thought Apple would have handled the basics, like proxies and passwords. Anyway, let me know what you think and if you have a better experience, great, I'm jealous, now go away.

Other notes: See also this blog from Errata Security, this from Aviv Raff, problems also Slashdotted.

Update: gothick, a poster below, suggested that this might be something to do with an NTLM proxy. If anyone gets any closer to the truth with this, feel free to drop me a comment here. Another thing I've since noted is that when I checked the IP provided, I couldn't get it to didn't resolve.

Update 2: Sufferers ... you are not alone. Snowy_River writes of the same problem on MacRumours. Check out the comments below as well. Anonymous comments that changing the proxy settings in IE affects Safari on restart ... which if true has to be the weirdest coding decision ever ... Apple depending on Microsoft for it's security (proxy) info!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What sort of Coffee

I'm embarrassed to report that if I were a coffee, I would be an Irish Coffee! Whatever one of those is ... It must be true because I read it on the internet. Doubtless it's based on loads of research, and is the product of a number of large and weighty documents, presented by people in white lab coats with glasses and wise looks on their faces, peer reviewed by experts in the field and blessed by Tibetan monks. Anyway, for what it's worth, here is the formal analysis of my personality ... as a coffee.

Strange note : According to this, I'm not really addicted to coffee.

You Are an Irish Coffee

At your best, you are: wild, spontaneous, and outgoing

At your worst, you are: too extreme and reckless

You drink coffee when: you want to keep drinking booze

Your caffeine addiction level: low

Anyway, you can check it out for yourself here (although given it's assessment of me, I wouldn't place any more trust in this than I would the store assistant's assurances that, "No, it really suits you") . If this isn't your cup of tea, have a look at my last coffee related post.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I've Been Everywhere, Man

Every time I look at my passport I get this kind of warm glow. I open it up and finger the pages, feeling pleased at the number of stamps and number countries represented inside. Anyway, I was browsing the interweb the other day and came across a tool for mapping where one has been. So I did. And now I feel defeated. So many countries, so little money.

Anyway, you can create your own here. Have go, and I hope your map looks even more miserable than my own ;)

PS Drop me a comment, and let me know the coolest place you have ever been. If I get enough comments, I will post a list of them.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Making Perfect Milk with Miss Silvia

Actually, the perfect bit was just a hook. I'm not at all confident that I am yet making perfect milk with my Rancilio Silvia, but I thought that I would write down some of the things I'm doing in my pursuit of a better cup of coffee. This article is probably of little interest to those who don't like coffee, so I won't feel offended if you push off at this point ... honest.

  1. The first thing I am doing is trying to give myself a little more steaming time to get the milk right. I keep my milk chilled and the milk jug in the freezer. I reckon this gives me a few extra seconds to get the milk right before it's "cooked".
  2. Next, I am making sure that the steam is dry before starting steaming. At some point after flicking the steam switch on and before the heating light has gone off, I am turning the steam handle and letting it run into a spare jug or cup. I do this till the steam runs dry.
  3. Once the steam light is off, I am pouring my milk into the jug I have just removed from the freezer and beginning steaming. To start with I steam to get as much volume as possible while not letting the bubbles get too big. I'm aiming to have the steam wand just below the surface so it makes a sort of slurping noise, while having the steam wand at the lower left corner of the jug so that the milk swirls round the jug in a fast whirlpool. If the bubbles start appearing to large, I lower the steam wand a little.
  4. While doing this I keep my hand under the left hand under the jug to measure the heat. Once it's too hot to touch I assume the milk will be at perfect temperature with another few seconds steaming.
  5. I am aiming (for a latte anyway) to get milk where the volume has almost doubled, but I can see no visible bubbles. The surface of the milk should have a velvety sheen. If I get these two factors, plus the milk isn't too hot, I figure I have done a good job.
Thats how I do it anyway. Let me know if you have any tips for me, or you do it differently.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Real Coffee Hit

Sure, coffee is a drug. Mostly safe, but a drug all the same. Mind altering, delivering positive feelings like "mmmm, nice coffee" and "ohhhh, I feel awake now" and so on. But given its street price is somewhere around $3 a hit, and its not just sold by heavily tatoo-ed men at night clubs and and rarely sold by seeding looking individuals in parked Monaros (a type of iconic/infamous Australian car for those of you out of town), I've not felt too guilty in obtaining and taking this particular drug. Granted, thats not much of a rationalisation, but its still only $3 a cup. Well, no longer. Check this one out! $50 bucks a cup. If I get hooked on that stuff, I could just find myself nipping over your back fence with your DVD player and CD collection. Dave Barry has something to say about this in an article delicately entitled, "Java weasel makes fine poopacino". Read and enjoy friends.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

World's Biggest Cubby House

I've often felt it would be nice to have a little log cabin somewhere, a place to get away from it all. I guess in a way, there is a touch of nostalgia in the idea of the log cabin, looking back to those fantastic autumn days building a cubby house or a tree hut. However, this gentleman has taken it to an ridiculous (and totally awesome) extreme, as reported in the Daily Telegraph! Rather than bearing any resemblance to a tree house or cubby, this more closely resembles Sarumon's Tower in Mordor, picked out in timber. Awesome. Actually, the other thing this reminds me off is the Bell Tower in Perth ... or as I like to call it, the Hell Tower. Putting WA on the map (for amazingly sinister architecture).

Footnote: No picture for the cubby as I am confident that the picture out on the web is owned by the Telegraph. Let me know if you find a good picture of this so I can post one.

Also, if you got here looking for the world's largest house, follow the link.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Bible on a Budget

As many of you will be aware, E-Sword is a fabulous tool for Bible Study, and is made even more fabulous by its free-ness. The free modules available with E-Sword are what puts it in a league of its own, many of these being costlessly available on the E-Sword site itself. However, for those of you looking for a little more, I thought I would give you the list of a few of the additional modules that I have found on my travels - the ones that I really like.

  • TDNT - For those of you with no memory for acronyms, this is the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. It's an abbreviated version, sadly, but a good start all the same.
  • TWOT - Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament - This is the gold standard dictionary for Old Testament words. It's keyed to Brown Driver Briggs, so you will need that first. For this one, you will need to sign up for an account at and then, once logged in navigate to the Downloads section and from thence down to E-Sword Dictionaries. Get this one!
  • Strongs with Tenses - Again, this one is to be found on Navigate as for TWOT.
  • Amplified Bible - A free version. The one on E-Sword is not free.
  • Rotherham's Emphasized Bible - For those of you who want a version you can really get your teeth into.
OK, that's 5 I like for starters. If you've found some others that you really like and they are not on the E-Sword site, drop me a line and I will add them to this post (eventually ;). Actually, I won't be surprised if nobody reads this post.