Archive for May, 2006

Apple: 3rd anniversary

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Three years ago today was my first day as an Apple employee.

So far, it has been a blast. And I’m betting that there is zero risk of getting bored anytime soon.

Core Data / Array Controller: Edit on Insert

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

I’m writing a silly little Cocoa app to track my weight over time, trend line and all. Because, well, no task can be done without writing some code… right? right?!?!?!??

The app draws a graph of the weights in a window and allows the user to add new weights in a drawer with a simple table containing two columns; date & weight. Given the simplicity of the data being entered, I had no desire to have a detail view at the bottom containing date/weight fields.

Hooking a “+” button directly to the NSArrayController worked fine, but then the user had to click on the blank row in the table view to start entering data. Bad UE.

Fixing it is easy as long as you remember that you cannot use the target/action methods for adding items to the array controller because they attempt to do a bit of auto-editing setup themselves.

Simply create a action method like the following and make the “+” button fire said action method:

- (IBAction) insertNewWeight: sender;
	NSManagedObject *insertedObject = [weightEntryArrayController newObject];
	unsigned newRow = [weightinator rawWeightCount];
	[weightEntryArrayController insertObject: insertedObject atArrangedObjectIndex: newRow];
	[weightEntryTableView editColumn: 0 row: newRow withEvent: nil select: YES];
	[insertedObject release];

This will cause the new entry to be inserted right after the last row in the table view with the cell in column 0 (my date cell) having all contained text selected and ready for editing.

Updated: Yup. I forgot to release the new object.

Updated: Nahh… this isn’t an original idea. It is just a Cocoa/Desktop-App form of the Google 15 widget for your Google Home Page. That one has two faults; it doesn’t work in Safari (fitz is working on that) and it doesn’t work for folks that weigh themselves once a week (such as Weight Watcher participants).

Lesson from a five year old…

Monday, May 15th, 2006
King of the Caterpillar!

Sometimes, you just have to claw your way to the top, stand up, and roar.

Easy & Incredibly Yummy Roast Salmon

Sunday, May 14th, 2006

Yeah — another BGE recipe. A number of folks have indicated that they like reading these as they spark culinary ideas of their own. As well, this recipe is quite simple and could easily be adapted for a regular grill (gas or otherwise) or oven…

Salmon ready for the Egg

This weekend’s Big Green Egg adventure was a whole Salmon. In the last Salmon episode, I mentioned that I wanted to try cooking the salmon open faced to maximize the smoke exposure and ensure that the salmon cooks more evenly. My concern being that the salmon would dry out too much.

I needn’t have worried. The key was in the preparation. The salmon was large enough that cooking it open face would cover the grill. And, of course, transferring a salmon covered in goodies to a hot grill is rife with spillage potential.

The key is to pull the grilling grid out of the egg, clean it, then prep the salmon directly on the grid. Once prepped and the egg is hot, the salmon on grid can be easily dropped into the egg. Helps to have a grid lifter.

Egg Ready for the Salmon

After yanking all the bones out of the salmon and splitting it into two halves, I flipped it to skin side up and applied salt and oil to the skin. Then, back over it went for the toppings to be applied.

I then sautéed onions and oyster mushrooms in about 3/4ths of a stick of butter. The result was poured over the top of the salmon. On top of that went sliced heirloom tomatoes and fresh dill. I then tossed some salt, pepper, and budapest paprika over everything.

The Egg was preheated to about 225 degrees, with a generous helping of hickory chips and fresh apricot branches on top of the coals. Lots and lots of smoke is was being produced.

Incredibly Tasty Smoked Salmon

The prepped salmon (already on the grill) was then placed into the egg. It was slow roasted until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the meat hit 130 degrees. I then pulled the salmon out of the egg, grill and all, and let it sit for 10 minutes underneath a tent of foil.

The end result was amazing. Just incredible. I’m amazed that I was able to produce such a result given my lack of culinary training or background.

Every bit as succulent and tasty as the first two salmon, but cooking it open faced led to a much more intensely smoky flavor. Because of the egg’s engineering and the amount of moisture in the salmon, butter, and veggies, there appears to be no risk of the salmon drying out during cooking.

Update: Stefan wrote in with a suggestion to lay off the paprika. Actually, I have been. I never use regular paprika, opting for either home made chile powder or certain kinds of very finely ground dried peppers. In this case, I used what my family calls “Budapest Paprika”. It is a fine ground dried pepper that my parents grow. It has a wonderful flavor; not spicy at all as it is more sweet with an almost tropical fruit flavored overtone.

Kimber Kable: Another company loses my respect & business

Saturday, May 13th, 2006

Back in the late ’80s, I used Kimber Kable speaker cables. Good stuff. Reasonably priced. Sounded great. No hokey electron snake oil marketing crap.

Looks like times have changed.

Kimber is now offering a USB cable. But not just any USB cable. This USB cable is optimized for audio use with extra fat conductors, nitrogen infused polyethylene signal conductor dielectric (huh?), and gold connectors.

All for the price of 29 pounds for a half meter length of cable.

Sigh. Idiots. Yeah, the rise of digital devices has been tough on premium analog technology companies, but that doesn’t justify going the snake oil route.

Maybe I’m just jealous that these people are likely successfully selling $4 cables for about $60. Nice profit margin.

Daring Fireball: Subscribed.

Friday, May 12th, 2006

I ponied up the $29 and bought a subscription to Daring Fireball.

I was thinking about John Gruber’s adventures into trying to make a living through self publication. A ballsy move. I want him to succeed.

However, I did not buy a subscription because of that. There is no point in purchasing something because the idea is good if the resulting product is sub-par with no signs of improvement.

No — I bought a subscription because John’s product is worth the $29. Not only is he a good writer, but he actually investigates the subject at hand. Many so called professional journalists don’t do anywhere near as much research as Gruber.

DF also helps me with my day job. Gruber’s technical analysis of various subjects often provide clues or sparks ideas that improve the work that I do. Bugs have been filed after reading a DF post.

All that, and he is a damned entertaining writer, too.

Ruby & The Bee

Thursday, May 11th, 2006
A bee might be yummy!.jpg

One of those extremely large, jet black, wood boring, bees wandered inside today. Ruby found it to be one of the most interesting little beasties to have crossed her rather short life path.

Much cuteness followed.

Beyond this photo, I also snapped one I call “The Hand of Puppy“.

She is growing like a weed. Already just about the same height as Janis at 5 months of age.

Does a GPS have an expiration date?

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

I have taken up riding my bike to/from work. Beyond being good for my physical health, I’m finding it to be quite the boon to my mental health, too, as it provides a pleasant, non-mentally intensive, break between home/work.

According to my GPS, I had an amazing ride home yesterday. Averaged 95 mph with a peak speed of 165 mph.

It seems that my rather ancient Magellan Map 330 GPS has gone off the deep end. In particular, it often powers up to display a time that is many hours off of “now”. This appears to cause locking on to satellites to take a really really long time.

Once locked on to enough satellites to go into the supposedly accurate 3D mode, the unit never shows 0 MPH. I can be sitting at an intersection and the unit shows my speed drifting between 2 and 10 mph.

The unit had been updated to handle the GPS time tick count rollover. Beyond that, it hasn’t had an update in many years. Of course, given that it is a 10+ year old device, I’m wondering if there are parameters that could effectively “drift” due to accumulated inaccuracy, causing the unit to yield bogus information.

Funny, this morning it seems to be behaving in a slightly more expected fashion.

Given that Garmin has announced Mac compatibility in future products, it is about time for an upgrade anyway.

Update: Odd. Now it is behaving correctly. On the ride in, it dropped to zero at intersections and my average speed was 11.4mph (which includes time spent stopped waiting for lights) with a peak of 24mph. Not bad given that I’m commuting on a mountain bike. I actually prefer commuting on such a behemoth; the goal is to get in shape and all that extra resistance does a body good.

Air Hogs R/C “Aero Ace”

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

Clearly, there has been a major manufacturing breakthrough in the whole commodity remote control toy market in the last couple of years.

Today, Fitz chatted me out of the blue and basically challenged my purpose for living unless I immediately headed to Target to pick up an Air Hogs R/C Aero Ace.

So, I did exactly that and I gotta say these things are damned fun!

The Aero Ace is a bit of foam molded into a biplane design that sports a propeller per wing. Their are no remotely controllable surfaces. Instead, the wireless remote features throttle and steering where anything beyond abut 30% throttle gives you lift and “steering” is defined by differing the speed with which the two props spin.

In other words, if you have zero throttle you have zero control.

Ben and I initially flight tested an Aero Ace in the Apple Quad. There was just a bit of a breeze and it was more than enough to send the Ace sailing like a slightly aerodynamic wad of paper. We quickly discovered that the Aero will recover controllable flight after a head-on with a tree or building; it is just a matter of steering immediately away from the next obstacle.

Clearly, this is a device that prefers still air.

So, we gave the Aero a spin inside. Given a big space, the Aero is an incredibly fun toy to fly around. The controls are exceedingly soft; slow and smooth is the key. Given that, it is possible to do banking climbs, dive bombs, and weave in and out of obstacles. That the plane is made of soft materials means that neither it nor the surrounding environment will be damaged through numerous head on collisions.

Easy to control? Nahh… not really. Quite the challenge in that the amount of forward throttle changes when you attempt to turn one way or the other. Total blast to fly, though. At $30, the plane is a bargain and — when it inevitably breaks (it is made of styrofoam after all) — you have a really simple and very versatile light weight R/C circuit to hack into something else. Target has ’em, though after flying this thing around Apple a bit, I suspect that the Cupertino store is running low on stock.

Random Bits of Good News

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

In no particular order:

Disney is severing at least some of its deep and long-standing marketing ties with McDonalds. It seems that part of the motivation is because marketing food based poison to children does not fit with Disney’s family friendly image. While that is most likely just PR spin and the real reason is because Disney wants a non-exclusive agreement, that it is getting some main stream press is definitely good. Our children (and most of the rest of us) are fat and unhealthy.

The vatican’s astronomer has made a statement on creationism. In particular, the statement basically indicates that creationism is a destructive myth akin to paganism and that the church and science should communicate openly and without animosity.

“Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism – it’s turning God into a nature god. And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do.”

I’m not a fan of organized religion, but I do fully recognize the power it has over people. That the vatican would back such a statement gives me some hope that some of the incredibly stupid efforts to destroy science education in the United States might be quelled. If not that, then maybe some of the resulting splintering of the church will lessen their power in the world just a little bit.