Archive for May 21st, 2007

Gravatar support

I added Gravatar support on my blog tonight. Gravatar is a free service where you upload an avatar image and whenever you reply on some blogs on the web using the same email address you used to register at Gravatar, your avatar will automatically appear next to your comment. Such examples are here, here and here. Update: I added the feature on Gnomefiles too.

Slow-cooked stew in wine

A yummy slow-cooked stew, with your choice of white or red meat. We loved this recipe so much that we had the dish twice in two days: with beef and chicken respectively! The only non-standard kitchen appliance you will need is a slow-cooker, aka Crock-Pot. It’s worth the 30 bucks it costs.

Ingredients (for 2)
* 350 gr of red or white meat of your choice
* 1/4 cup of red wine (white wine will do too)
* 2 baby potatoes (the ones that are eatable with skin)
* 90 gr frozen French green beans
* 3/4 cup of canned chunked tomatoes
* 1/4 cup of chunked carrots
* 80 gr green frozen peas
* 5 button mushrooms
* 1 tbspoon white flour
* 1 stick of celery
* 1 garlic clove
* 1 shallot
* 1 tbspoon of olive oil
* salt, pepper to taste

Execution
1. Turn ON the crock-pot on “high”. Cut the meat in big chunks and place it in the crock-pot. Sprinkle on top of the meat the flour. Replace the cover on the crock-pot.
2. On a cutting board, prepare the vegetables: Slice the shallot, carrots, garlic, celery and cut the mushrooms in half. Place them all in the crock-pot and then also add the frozen green beans and peas.
3. Remove some of the water from the tomato can, and then cover the ingredients in the crock-pot with the chunky tomatoes. Add the wine and 1 tbspoon of olive oil. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper. Stir, replace the cover.
4. If you chose chicken/turkey, cook for 3 to 3.5 hours. If you’ve chosen game or other red meat, cook for 5 hours.
5. Add the washed baby potatoes (with their skin) just 1 hour before you turn off the crock-pot. Serve hot!

The Q&A game

Stormrider & Rania started it, and so I can’t say “no” to the challenge of a Q&A:

Q: The ultimate happiness for you is:
A: Being in my husband’s arms, safe.
Q: What makes you wake up in the morning?
A: The upstairs people.
Q: The last time you laughed hard was…
A: Two weeks ago, on Jay Leno’s “Headlines”.
Q: You best quality is:
A: Objectively bitching.
Q: Your worse quality is:
A: Bitching in general.
Q: Which wrongdoings you could forgive?
A: The ones driven by love.
Q: With which historic persona you feel more alike to?
A: Eugenia Loli.
Q: Your heroes:
A: My husband, JBQ.
Q: Your favorite traveling place:
A: Skiadas, Greece.
Q: Your favorite writers:
A: I gave up reading, takes too much time.
Q: Which quality is most important for a man?
A: Honesty.
Q: Which quality is most important for a woman?
A: Intelligence.
Q: Your favorite music writer:
A: Vivaldi.
Q: The song you sing in the shower:
A: “Always Somewhere” by Scorpions.
Q: The book that deeply changed you:
A: Wikipedia…
Q: The movie that deeply changed you:
A: Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV)
Q: Your favorite painter:
A: DaVinci.
Q: Your favorite color:
A: Black & White.
Q: What’s your biggest success in life?
A: I don’t feel successful.
Q: Your favorite drink:
A: Orangina.
Q: What did you do that you felt most sorry for?
A: Lied against a friend when I was 14, and never got the chance to say that I am sorry (he died young).
Q: What do you hate the most?
A: Pain.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: Computers, cooking.
Q: What’s your biggest fear?
A: Giving birth.
Q: In which case would you lie?
A: If it is for a really good cause.
Q: The quote that describes you best:
A: Don’t fuck with me ‘cause I use no contraception.
Q: How would you like to die?
A: Quickly and painlessly.
Q: What would you ask God if you ever meet Him?
A: “Are you going to clean up your mess or what?”
Q: How do you feel emotionally these days?
A: It could be better.

RE: Mobile is dead!

Ari Jaaksi, one of the important directors at Nokia, recently blogged that the Mobile Internet is dead. He goes on to say that the future is smart devices, like his brainchildren, the N770/N800.

He is right that WAP and browsing full sites via a small screen is a exercise in patience — and therefore dead. He goes on to say that the when you create a small version of something, it doesn’t sell. So, trying to create a small mobile internet, it won’t sell because everyone wants to access the real internet instead. He also says that mobile smart/phones will also die and give their place to even more capable mobile devices, like his N800. Ari is correct in these points. No one wants to eat a fat-free ice cream or chocolate, when the real taste is on their full-fat versions.

While Ari is open minded on these things, he doesn’t go as far as he should go in his thinking. He sees 5 years down the line, but not 15. See, there was a time where WML/WAP served its customers pretty well. But times changed and people wanted the real internet thing. And there was a time that cellphones did their job and everyone was happy, but then times changed again and people wanted more. And there you have it, smartphones appeared in the market. Ari argues that their time will pass again, and devices like the N800 — with a full OS/screen-resolution– will conquer the market. What he FAILS to realize is that his own argument is what will be the death knell of devices like his. You see, who the hell would want to buy an N800-equivalent in 10 years time if it can’t run the full Ubuntu OS? Why have a small, incompatible version of Linux instead of “the real thing”? Just like the internet(s) has become a commodity today, the same will be true for OSes.

This is what Ari fails to realize: that his own creation, the N800 which is ahead of its time today, it’s already a dead idea if you try to envision it having a place in 10 years in the future. Just like WML is dead because today we want access to the “sexier Internet” (his words), in a same way there will be a time where the “N900″ will be laughed upon for not being able to be binary compatible with Ubuntu (or Fedora/SuSE) and not being able to run the EXACT same applications unmodified. No one would want a dumped down Linux just like today people don’t want a dumped down internet.

So basically what I am saying is that Microsoft’s idea, the already *failed* UMPC, is an idea that can work wonders in 10 years time. It’s a product idea ahead of its time. Right now, everyone can get their kicks with a good smartphone or the N800, but in 10 years time, the “internet will be sexier” (his words), and so people will need more and more and more features, features that can only be found in the desktop versions of their OSes/hardware. Hence, the rebirth of the UMPC/phone/kitchen-sink.

Another approach to the same problem of “I want the same functionality in my smartUMPC as I have on my PC”, is to create an operating system like Google tried to do: all user data live on a server, and then different vector-based UIs fit on different devices without dumping down on features. So no matter if you are on a huge 4000×3000 30″ screen or on an XGA 5″ touchscreen, you won’t be robbed of most of the features you need.

Getting social

I got a Facebook account today, mostly because I would like to be more accessible through Mugshot regarding my activities. I just hope that Mugshot’s UI applet gets fixed and more people use it so I can track my friend’s activities in a more sane way.

Regarding ‘Fair Use’

“Why has the Copyright Office rejected the proposed exemption at each triennial rulemaking to date? In her words, it’s because the widely-hacked CSS encryption on DVDs does not actually prevent fair use at all, and those who think otherwise don’t understand exactly what rights fair use grants them.” More here.

What a whole load of crap. We own almost 180 DVDs, and I am only allowed to watch them on a DVD player. What about my PMPs and cellphones? Why can’t I just either:
1. Allowed to rip the DVD for my own personal usage, or
2. Be able to download for FREE an encoded video for my PMP/cellphone for the DVDs I own?

Except the freaking “region code” (which I personally hate more than DRM, because one day I will have to return to Europe), this restrictive “fair use” notion does not sit well with me. From the moment I license a movie through a DVD purchase, I want to have the right to watch it in whatever medium/device I want to. This is not 1985 anymore when people only owned VCRs. This is the 2007 and most people have iPods, have PMPs, have multimedia cellphones, have AppleTVs among other Asian media crappy devices. And as long as the MPAA does not offer an easy DRM-free way to download already purchased movies to ANY format/medium, then they should shut the hell up about DVD ripping and let us rip our DVDs freely (for our own personal/family usage that is). Same goes for Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.

I downright REFUSE to buy the same movie over and over again for my different devices just because MPAA doesn’t have a global system to track my purchases on copyrighted works. That’s THEIR limitation, not mine.

Going Gutsy

I upgraded to Gutsy Gibson 7.10-pre version of Ubuntu last night on my main laptop. Upgrade started at 2 AM and finished at 4:30 AM (I am still sleepy). I wish there was a cleaner way to upgrade to newer versions of Ubuntu. You have to edit files and after a dist-upgrade you still have to do a manual kernel upgrade to 2.6.22. Other than that, Gutsy has a few bugs fixed, and so far I found 3 new ones (bug reports filed).

BTW, this one is a really nice utility, written by an Ubuntu developer: a mono Bluetooth headset connection utility. Too bad that there is a bug in the Gnome’s sound prefs panel and no Bluetooth audio devices are shown there and so they can’t be selected… When (and if) this bug is fixed, A2DP support is added to the utility, and Rhythmbox/Banshee add AVRCP support, my Bluetooth life under Linux will be complete.

Greek salad

Ben Mauer was over for dinner tonight (one of the MonoDevelop hackers), so I took the opportunity to also prepare a Greek salad. And it’s time to share my big recipe secret for the ultimate Greek salad (aka “horiatiki”). ;-)

Ingredients (for 2)
* 1 tomato
* 1/3 of a small cucumber, peeled
* 1/6 of a green bell pepper
* 1/6 of the big kinds of onion
* 1/4 feta cheese (~50 grams)
* 6 olives
* oregano, some lemon juice, optionally a bit of salt
* 3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil

Execution
1. Cut the tomato in 6 vertical slices. Cut the cucumber in round, thin-ish slices. Cut the green pepper in thin vertical slices. Cut the red onion in vertical slices (not too thin). Cut the cheese in cubes. Place all above ingredients and the 6 olives into a big salad bowl.
2. Sprinkle with the oregano, lemon juice and salt. Add the olive oil. Mix well.
3. Preferably serve with hot home-made bread or Italian ciabatta. Kali orexi!

Tip: If you don’t have the time to prepare the salad when also preparing lunch/dinner, after “step 1″ you can secure the bowl with a transparent wrap and place it in your fridge. As long as the “step 2″ ingredients have not being mixed into the bowl, the salad’s ingredients can keep fresh for up to 5 hours!