Archive for October, 2010

Onkyo TX-NR1008 AV Receiver; Amazing Features, Awful User Interface

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

tl;drThe Onkyo line of receivers offer an amazing set of features and excellent quality for an extremely reasonable price. The user interfaces of such equipment continues to suck. There is a web server.

As a part of our latest remodeling efforts, we are taking the “down to the studs” opportunity to mount a TV on the wall and have a couple of wall mounted dipole speakers installed in the proper spots to create a pretty good surround sound based media consumption experience.

As the last time I upgraded AV equipment was well prior to HDMI becoming standard, this also requires a new AV surround sound processor with HDMI switching capabilities.

Thus, this is some random notes on the experience and a sort of in line review of Onkyo’s 1008 Network Ready AV receiver.

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When is a Leak not a Leak? Using Heapshot Analysis to Find Undesirable Memory Growth

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

The other day, I was in need of a Cocoa application that launches quickly that has a standard document model. At random, I chose the rather awesome Hex Fiend. As I often do, I also had top -u -o pid running in a Terminal window.

And I noticed something odd. As expected, the RPRVT of Hex Fiend was growing on each cmd-n. However, the RPRVT was not decreasing the same amount every time I hit cmd-w.

That ain’t right. Or it might be. Beyond evidence that a memory use problem may exist, top is a horrible tool for determining if a problem is real or what the actual problem might be.

In this case, the issue looks like a simple memory leak. Hex Fiend is allocating and retaining some set of objects, but not releasing them. The easiest first step is to use the leaks command line tool:

% leaks "Hex Fiend"
leaks Report Version:  2.0
Process:         Hex Fiend [3435]
Path:            /Volumes/Data/Applications/Hex Fiend
Load Address:    0x100000000
Identifier:      com.ridiculousfish.HexFiend
Version:         2.0.0 (200)
Code Type:       X86-64 (Native)
Parent Process:  launchd [122]
Date/Time:       2010-10-16 20:47:09.935 -0700
OS Version:      Mac OS X 10.6.4
Report Version:  7
Process 3435: 22980 nodes malloced for 2600 KB
Process 3435: 0 leaks for 0 total leaked bytes.

OK; whatever the problem is, it isn’t “leaked” memory in the traditional definition of “leaked memory”.

That is, whatever memory is being allocated and never released is still being referenced somewhere. Maybe a circular retain. Maybe something that has a weak reference from the rest of the App’s object graph such that leaks can’t detect.

In other words, this isn’t just a simple memory leak and it will require more advanced tools to fix.

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Delicious Bread Anytime

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

King Arthur Flour — an awesome company that makes excellent products — has the single best explanation of no knead bread I’ve found. Seriously. Go read that. Make it. Then get the book I mentioned below to expand beyond the basic loaf.


Not long ago, I took on bread making and have had great success.

However, I don’t make bread that often because, by the time I decide I want some with dinner, it is typically too late to actually make it in time!

A friend had raved about a bread recipe that involved no kneading and keeping the dough in the fridge for use anytime, claiming the result was fantastic bread with less than 2 hours from fridge to table.

In particular, he recommended the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. With access to Crackazon Prime on my iPhone, I ordered the book.

And damned if it doesn’t work. At left is the first loaf I made using this technique. In the toaster oven, even.

The base recipe basically involves mixing — but not kneading or working — a dough from a base ratio of water, flour, salt, and yeast. This then goes into the refrigerator (I’m using a six quart Cambro food container
) for at least a day, and will keep for up to 2 weeks. As it ages, it will apparently take on more of a sour dough flavor.

When you want bread, you dust the top with flour, rip off a hunk of dough, let it rise on your pizza peel for ~40 minutes, and then bake it at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

End result? A delicious bread with a crunchy crust, excellent texture, and great flavor.

The introduction to the book is a bit smarmy, what with the claim of a “revolution in baking, blah, blah, blah”, but the rest of the book is awesome. The first couple of chapters discuss ingredients and tools quite clearly while the next chapter lays out the base recipe.

From there, the rest of the chapters are full of all kinds of other bread and bread-like recipes.

Annoyingly, the recipes are all in “cups” and “tablespoons”, not weights or ratios.

So, if you do get the book, the base recipe is 708 grams water, 12 grams yeast, 25 grams salt, and 812 grams flour. Yes — it is supposed to be considerably wetter than a “normal” bread dough.

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Death on the Coast; Nature at its Stinkiest

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010
Dead Blue Whale & Fetus

What is often lost in all the nature documentaries is that every critter must die eventually. More often than not, said deaths are generally brutal.

One of our favorite beaches is Bean Hollow State Beach south of Half Moon Bay along the northern coast of California. Dog friendly and abundant with wildly different environment ranging from sandy beaches to monumental rocks, to flats full of tide pools with the occasional freshwater pool.

While visiting, it was mentioned that the southern entrance to the state park — we have always stuck to the northern (but will head south because of the awesome beach) — led to an alcove where a dead whale had washed ashore.

This was, of course, far too tempting of a site for Roger to resist, so down the road we headed.

What we found, though, was absolutely monumental. And stinky. Very, very, stinky.

Dead Blue Whale

The creature that had washed up was huge. Hundred+ feet long and 80 feet long, 75 tons, and clearly dead for a while as there were bits and pieces here and there.

And the smell. We made the mistake of parking down wind. Doh!

Roger made it just about 2/3rds of the way to the carcass before heading back to the car.

After we hit the road, we drove upwind and found a path that we could walk upon to overlook the scene without having to smell it.

Regardless, the stench stuck with us on the drive home. Or not. It may have largely been Ruby’s (the Dog’s) wet doggy stench from having waded in a couple of swampy puddles.

Dead Blue Whale Fetus
Blue Whale Guts & Fetus

Sadly, it wasn’t just the one adult whale. On the shore was a whale fetus — I hesitate to say baby since it was so relatively small and pale — that was also dead.

Clearly, this was a mother whale and baby. Given the presence of the floating mass of intestines and the general destruction of the carcass, the whale likely didn’t die naturally. My completely uneducated guess is that it was hit by a cargo ship, an all too common death amongst these magnificent creatures.

I’m pretty sure this is a blue whale.

Sad though such a death is, I can’t help but consider — and explained to Roger — the unbelievable energy source such a carcass is to that particular coastal area. If the carcass were left to decay in that location, it would both take years prior to being fully decayed and those many tons of flesh and bone would likely grossly increase the population of crabs, birds, and other critters.

I’m going to try to contact the park services to find out what they might do– if anything. If the carcass is left to lie (or blown up to accelerate the process), we will revisit the site in the near future to see what the critter density looks like.

Apparently, this is the first blue whale to wash ashore in Northern California in more than 30 years. The Santa Cruz Sentinel has an article about the event.