Archive for November, 2006

A Smoked Turkey With An IP Address…

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

After going through the effort of harvesting a Turkey for the first time, I wasn’t going to just throw the damned thing in an oven!

Oh, no. While harvesting the bird, I gave it a name. “Smoky”. Why? Because that was exactly what I was planning on serving for thanksgiving dinner; smoked turkey cooked by way of the Big Green Egg.

Wired Egg Cooking a Turkey

Now, I have smoked a turkey before and it was delicious. I wanted to do better.

So, I started by brining the bird overnight using Alton Brown’s Honey Smoked Turkey Brine.

Once brined, I oiled the bird and placed it atop a Foster’s oil can beer that had its top cut off, 1/3rd of the beer removed, and garlic/onions/hot peppers thrown in.

This was placed in an aluminum tray (to catch the juices for gravy making purposes) and the entire thing was placed into the Big Green Egg that was preheated to exactly 220 degrees.

Exactly? Yes. Exactly. You might notice a few wires in that photo. That is because I recently purchased a Stoker BBQ controller. It included 3 food probes, a cooking grid probe, fan, and computer controller that can be programmed to maintain a particular temperature within the Egg.

The device is amazing. I used it earlier in the week to do a 17 hour cook of a pork leg. The Stoker maintained temperature within a few degrees of 210 for all 17 hours without a problem. Awesome.

The best part is that the Stoker will happily grab an IP address via DHCP if you plug an ethernet cable between it and your home net. You can subsequently control target temperatures, high/low alarms, food alarms and other parameters remotely. Full review in a future post. Cool device.

So, armed with a fully wired turkey in an equally wired egg, I cooked the turkey starting at about 200 degrees (ramped down from the initial 220 quickly) to 400 degrees from about 9am until 4pm. I used lump charcoal and big chunks of maple wood that had been soaked in red wine as fuel and smoke source.

Smoked Turkey from the BGE

Throughout the cook, I glazed the bird with a mixture of honey, dried peppers, finely ground coffee, fresh pears, fresh apples, fresh oranges, salt pepper, and dried rosemary. This mixture was puréed until it produced a thick goop at which point it was brushed onto the turkey several times throughout the cook.

Damn. The end product was nothing short of amazing. Juicy to the core. Smokey throughout. Breast meat like steaks. Just plain awesome. Thankfully, it was a 26 pound bird to start with so I have lots of leftovers.

Some of the leftovers were used by my mom to make amazing smoked turkey soup. Recipe captured and to be posted shortly. The rest will be used to make smoked turkey jerky.

Hex Fiend now open source!!!

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Ridiculous Fish (Peter Ammon) has released Hex Fiend as open source (truly open — BSD style license).

Hex Fiend is an absolutely brilliant hex editor. Beyond being a brilliant hex editor, it is a really really well implemented piece of software. Damned fast. Scales beyond the capabilities of the machine. Works really well and behaves consistently.

Anyone who claims Cocoa is slow needs to use Hex Fiend; it screams.

Even if you have no need of a Hex Editor, I highly recommend checking out the source for the learning experience.

svn co hexfiend

There is also an awesome Wiki describing the implementation of HexFiend.

How to harvest a turkey.

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Update: Seems I ruffled some feathers over on the (free vegan community) web site.

A person called “Adam” posted this along with a link back to this article:

Wow, “bbum”, you really know how to overpower turkeys. What a man! The ladies must truly envy your potential.
I came across this “man,” bbum who has a webpage for instructing others how to kill turkeys with some lovely photos.

He also posted this in the comments of this post:

The negro answers to the racist
The battered wife answers to the sexist
The animal answers to man

A racist is a sexist is an omnivore

Your soul will suffer too–enjoy your turkey.

Adam — if you are going to call me names on your weblog, have the balls to allow comments. Since you don’t, I’ll respond here.

Your claim that I somehow harvested this turkey as a means of proving or improving my manhood is just complete jackassery. If you had actually read this post you would have seen this quote: Personally, I find it hypocritical to both eat a food and be unwilling to acknowledge how said food is produced.

That turkey died for exactly one purpose; to put food on my table. I decided to slaughter the thanksgiving bird myself because I feel it is damned important to be willing to harvest whatever I consume.

Taking a couple of photos and quotes out of context for your weblog, preceding it by false claims about the character of an individual you have never met, not allowing anyone to respond directly on your site, and then following it with an invitation to post drivel over here “in the name of the cause” is just flat out cowardly and, frankly, rude.

Worse, it does nothing good for your “cause”. Your actions leave me with the impression that your site is just another hate-based organization. Too many of those in the world, no need for another.

(Thank you to JonBen for providing evidence that not all of the VegPage community are self-righteous jackasses.)

Original post below.

Turkey's Hanging Until Harvest

Mmm…. Turkey. Yum. See that big dude on the right with the snood hanging down?

That would be our thanksgiving dinner this year. I reserved a turkey with a rather awesome local poultry farmer, Paul Hain, earlier in the season. He raised the turkeys in his walnut orchard. Completely organic.

The turkey needed to be picked up at farm on the weekend before thanksgiving and Paul invited us to come down, tour the farm and participate in the turkey harvest, if we wanted.

Ben and I jumped at the chance. To play a role in the harvest of the turkey — to actually know what happens between “bird eating bugs & grain” to “me eating the bird” — is something that we both feel is important knowledge.

Personally, I find it hypocritical to both eat a food and be unwilling to acknowledge how said food is produced.

Enough of the PC BS. If you don’t want to read about animal slaughter, see pictures of blood, or know how a turkey goes from walking around to ready to cook, don’t click through to the full story.

Read the rest of this entry »


Monday, November 20th, 2006
Spider Web in the Morning

The bay area is slowly shuffling into winter. This typically means 60 to 70 degree days and much cooler night (occasional frost, even, in the South Bay).

And fog. Lots and lots of fog. Typically in the morning and burned off by 10am. The spiders are still active and the combination makes for some amazing bit of natural art.

I snapped this particular image with the flash while the web was gently blowing in the breeze. Not sure exactly how the two interacted to create that particular bit of motion blur, but I like it! I really need to pull out my tripod and a light to try some different kinds of illumination.

Duncan is a Scary Programmer

Friday, November 17th, 2006
Popping Balloons

So, Duncan admitted he is a Scary Programmer today.

He is also a Murderer Of Balloons. In Dark Rooms. Sneaks right up on ’em and stabs ’em with a screwdriver. Night vision or something.

Anyway. Google thinks that Duncan is only worthy of a page 3 mention of Scary Programmer images.

That seems wrong. If you agree, then link on up!

The GPL. Oh, the GPL….

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Update: To contribute to Java — to give changes back to Sun for inclusion in Java — you must sign the Sun Contributor Agreement. It explicitly states: “You hereby assign to Sun joint ownership in all worldwide common law and statutory rights associated with the
copyrights, copyright applications and copyright registrations in Your Contribution, and to the extent allowable under
applicable local laws and copyright conventions,…”

I.e. Sun owns the modifications to the code.

I started writing this in response to Taran’s responses to my previous post. But I think this stands alone.

Taran said:

Actually, it [the GPL] only limits someone’s ability to abuse the rights of previous creators who wrote the software to be distributed as they wished. So… if you didn’t write it originally, write a better mousetrap where you can dose out your source. So it’s limiting to people who want to take advantage of the goodwill of previous developers. OK. I get that.

Let me be utterly simplistic and blunt: The GPL is not a free license very much because it limits your freedom to do what you want with whatever it is that is under the GPL. Period.

The dictionary definition of free:

not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes

This is not a political discussion. This is not an attempt to apply a Fluffy Bunnies Will Lead The World To Peace or a Richard Stallman Is The Bearded Reincarnation of Stalin description to the GPL, the bottom line is that the GPL prevents you from doing many things with your copy of the code (and your modifications) and, thus, is counter to the definition of “free”.

Other licenses — like the BSD and the MIT licenses, for example — do not carry any such limitations. free is defined as not in the control or in the power of another and the GPL quite explicitly expresses control and power over what you do with your modifications to GPL’d code!

Therefore and in light of the definition of the word free, GPL software is not free software. The GPL is free as in beer and not free as in ‘not in the control or in the power of another ‘.

That is all. No political agenda about it (well, beyond the bunnies/stalin sentence). While certainly flippant, none of the above is intended to express an opinion for or against the GPL. It is just fact.

It doesn’t matter if your intentions are good or evil, if you modify GPL’d code, you are quite explicitly limited from taking certain actions and, therefore, your changes are not under your control — are not free!

Now, the argument that Sun is somehow releasing Java under the GPL solely that people won’t “abuse the rights of previous creators / contributors” is laughable. At this moment in time, the only “previous contributors” were either Sun employees or otherwise had a contractual relationship via which said changes were conveyed to Sun. From a Cosmic Karmic Ownership perspective, Sun is making this announcement with a clean slate.

I strongly suspect that if ensuring fair use of previous developer’s work were the only reason for adopting the GPL it would likely be grounds for a shareholder’s lawsuit. Sun is a publicly traded company and, therefore, is ultimately obligated to their shareholders to maximize company value and profitability.

Sun is out to make a profit and “giving away” the JVM under the GPL is a perfect vehicle for doing so. Well, at the least, it is a much better vehicle than the previous one.

It preserves their intellectual mindshare while simplifying the licensing issue and guarantees that any company who still actually wants to own (as in control distribution of) intellectual property that involves modifying Sun’s source will pay Sun money for the rights to do so.

As well, applying the GPL to the JVM has advantages beyond protecting Sun’s intellectual property. As Taran and I both said, it makes it possible to ship a Blessed Sun JVM as a core part of Linux distributions. No longer will the JVM be relegated to some weird “other” category in Debian (and, I would assume, Ubuntu).

All in all, shipping the JVM and related sources under the GPL is a total strategic win for Sun. Congratulations for having the harbls to actually do so!

To put this back into the “free as in beer” terms, it is as if Sun is throwing a massive beer party. You don’t have to pay money to go, you can drink as much beer as you want while you are there, and you can take it home with you as long as you only offer it for consumption at an open party (or you drink it by yourself in a locked room).

However, if you want to take Sun’s beer home and throw a party where you charge a cover fee or have a limited guest list, you are gonna have to pay Sun for the privilege of doing so. I’m betting that Sun is going to be perfectly happy to sell you exactly such a party package.

Sun isn’t in the game of throwing beer busts just for the buzzy benefit of the industry. Sun is out to make money and Sun will be perfectly happy to be your party planner for hire.

Java now Open Source (but not really free)

Monday, November 13th, 2006

John Gruber (DaringFireball) asks:

Open sourcing Java is almost certainly a very good thing for Java developers, and it’s probably a good thing for the world at large. I have yet to see a cogent explanation as to how it’s going to make Sun a nickel, though.

Sun chose to use the GPL v2 for the license.

In other words, Sun chose a license that mandates “free” as in “you can’t own your changes nor can anyone else” and not the BSD or MIT definition of “free”.

If you mess with the source and try to “distribute” your modified compiled version, you are obligated to distribute the source — obligated to give your changes back to Sun and the community.

In other words: If you modify any of the GPL v2 licensed Java related technologies in a way that you feel has value — that you feel boosts your corporate or personal valuation, that you think you can sell for money, or that you provides a competitive advantage within the marketplace — then you have two choices (and the non-choice of non-compliance which I will not address):

(1) You can give your modifications back to Sun and make it available to everyone.

(2) You can negotiate with Sun for a custom license that allows your modifications to remain under your control. Most likely, you’ll be paying Sun for the privilege of actually owning your modifications. Yes, to own your modifications you will need to contact Sun and negotiate a non-GPL license.

There lies one revenue generating opportunity.

Pretty much the same opportunity as they had before, but now Sun no longer has to administrate some custom licensing scheme. While custom licensing was all the rage in the roaring ’90s, this century’s ever increasing stream of litigation has markedly increased the value in going with a known license.

As a result, the default state is now one that is well known to the industry and provides a well understood level of access to Sun’s sources.

Better yet, it brings legions of rabid GPL fans quite thoroughly enthused with the notion of bringing down The Man who does not Abide by The License. Don’t give your changes back, you will be busted. And Java makes this police work even easier, given that it is pretty much impossible to truly obfuscate your compiled Java code and also offer a usable API to use it, plug-in or otherwise.

So, by going GPL, Sun has vastly reduced their licensing administrative costs, effectively hired an effective license enforcement army, and ensured that if anyone actually does something interesting with the technology it’ll either be given away for free or Sun will be paid to keep quiet about it.

A win-win situation, it would seem.

Read the rest of this entry »

iPod owners all thieves?

Monday, November 13th, 2006

“These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it,” UMG chairman/CEO Doug Morris says. “So it’s time to get paid for it.”

I have been an iPod owner since the 5GB 1G. I have over 16,000 songs in my music library and every single one was either ripped from CDs I own, purchased at the iTunes Store, downloaded off of or a handful of random mixes (which, frankly, may contain material with a questionable licensing history — not that I could pay for ’em anyway. If I could, I would).

I do not appreciate being called a thief.

Nice. Must be great being in a business where you can so viscerally hate your customers and still make a buck.

Oh, and can I have a money back per CD that I bought? If I buy a Zune, do I get to pirate Universal’s music at whim because I paid a “piracy tax”? Gee, that is an interesting marketing tactic for MSFT to take.

SHOTD: Michael Graves Shredmaster 20G

Sunday, November 12th, 2006
Michael Graves Shredmaster 20G

Our household receives a truly obscene quantity of mail every single day. Stupid amounts of mail. We also have a policy of shredding pretty much everything that has our name on it that we don’t want to keep. And we tend to deal with the inbound mail in batches.

This leads to a problem. Namely, mounds of crap to be shredded. Now, I have ranted about shredders in the past. And, as a past post suggest, I did pick up the Michael Graves shredder from Target. Still going strong. Ironically, it appears to no longer be available.

My three peeves with said shredder: (1) insanely small capacity combined with overly sensitive “is full” sensor meant that I had to repeatedly reach into the bin to mush down the shredded material, (2) cannot shred into a bag because of the small capacity and the safety switches leading to having to dump the bazillions of small pieces of shredded crap into a waste receptacle (invariably making a mess) and (3) the insanely small capacity led to creating a pile of not-quite-shredworthy stuff next to the shredder during use which, in turn and combined with (1) and (2), made the entire process so tediously stupid that it only ever happened every few months, leading to piles of to-be-shredded-stuff hidden away in a corner.

No more.

Read the rest of this entry »

Will it Blend? Best Use of Technology In Marketing.

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

The folks at Blendtec have done a great job of embracing technology in their marketing. By now, everyone must have seen the Will It Blend? siteand videos.

Brilliant marketing campaign. The reaction is typically “Whoah. That’s hilarious. No, that is an awesome blender. I need one”. I’d bet some of those are even getting past the $400 price tag and actually buying one.

But it gets better. Blendtec now has a weblog named “Will it Blog?”. Of course, the weblog includes an RSS feed. Better yet, there is an RSS feed for nothing but new videos.

Subscribed. And I might just have to make me some cochicken.