Monday, April 27, 2009

Murder! Or is it?

I recently discovered that many of my friends do not know of one of my favorite movies of all time, Murder by Death. So I write this post to introduce them, and all of my loyal readers, to one of the funniest movies of all time.

Murder by Death is a spoof of a handful of classic mystery characters. Agatha Christie's Miss Marple is replaced by Jessica Marbles. Instead of Sam Spade, Peter Falk does a hilarious rendition of Sam Diamond. And my personal favorite, the Thin Man, makes an appearance, or rather his alter ego, Dick Charleston does. Milo Perrier (Hercule Poirot) and Sidney Wang (Charlie Chan) round out the detective offerings. Pitted against them is Truman Capote as Lionel Twain and his blind butler Jamesir Bensonmum, played by Alec Guinness.

The plot is simple, the five detectives are invited to Mr. Twain's house for dinner and a murder. What they don't know is that Mr. Twain is determined to get the best of the detectives. His mechanical contraptions and sometimes plain outrageous schemes keep them guessing. The detectives further complicate the situation with their own idiosyncrasies.

One of my favorite things about this movie is how many quotes it has, which persist far beyond the movie itself. Geek husband just has to say "Shh shh, cow talk again." and I get the giggles. If I every meet someone named Jamesir in real life, I probably will not be able to contain myself! Imagine introducing yourself as Jamesir, to someone who you're addressing as sir, and you'll get the picture. I could list a dozen more, but I don't want to spoil it for you :)

Join us at 22 Twain's house, for dinner... and a murder!

Fast Food Follies: Baked Potato Soup

I took this to lunch one day last week and my friends were amazed that I made potato soup so easily. The secret: bake the potatoes first. Whenever we have baked potatoes with dinner, I bake a couple of extra and mash them, or turn them into soup.

Here's what you need:
1 potato per bowl of soup
Milk and/or chicken broth
Onions if you have em
Toppings: Bacon, cheese, grilled chicken, green onion, anything that's good on a potato

Here's how you make it:
Bake the potatoes.
If you're using onions, chop them up so that they are bite sized (or smaller) and sautee in the soup pan with a little butter, until golden.
When the potatoes are done carefully (they'll be hot) scrape out the insides into the soup pan. Add enough milk and/or chicken broth to make soup. I often use all milk. You can vary the consistency to your liking - thick or thin is fine.
Warm up in the pan until everything is hot. Season with salt and pepper.

Top each bowl with your favorite potato toppings. I love bacon and cheese!

PS: Yes I use baked potatoes to make mashed potatoes :) Why? It's easy! No peeling necessary! And to me they are just as tasty.

Friday, April 24, 2009

RIP Geociites

In the early days of the World Wide Web, there was no Facebook, there was no MySpace, and Twitter wasn't even a thought in anyone's imagination. There was however, GeoCities. Web pages for anyone with a little time and a little HTML knowledge.

Yahoo is retiring GeoCities, and will soon be closing the service all together. In this sad time for Internet pioneers everywhere, let us remember fondly the forefather of social networking. The king is dead. Long live the king.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cost of Spam

Every morning I wake up, check my email, and delete 100 or so spam messages. It takes me maybe 3 minutes to sort through all of my email and delete the spam. My spam catcher takes care of the bulk of my spam, and I do the rest. I have pretty much accepted spam as a normal part of using email. Until recently when I read a statistic that I find alarming: spam wastes $3 billion a year in electricity. That's enough electricity to power 2.4 million American homes.

I am stunned by this huge energy waste. I am also conflicted. I believe in network neutrality. All traffic on the Internet should be treated equally. In other words, my World of Warcraft game gets the same priority as my husband's streaming hockey playoffs from online as the guy next door downloading a large file. That also means that, from a network standpoint, spammers have the same right to the bandwidth as I do. If we make regulations to limit spam, I think it would be easy for them to be used to discriminate against other types of traffic as well.

So what's the answer? I don't know. McAfee is promoting aggressive spam filters. I certainly notice a difference with my spam filter running, but I'm not sure they're smart enough yet to be an end-all solution. If you're curious about how McAfee got their spam-electricity cost numbers, check out the summary report. It's an interesting read.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fast Food Follies: Red Curry Chicken

I love Thai curries. They're delicious, and easy to make, great on the spot, excellent as left overs.

Red curry chicken is one of my favorites. I started with this recipe and modified it a little to suit my taste.

Here's what you need:
1 lb boneless chicken breasts or thighs
1-2 handfuls of vegetables. Onion, carrots, and zucchini are my favorites, but any mixed veggies will do.
1 13oz can of coconut milk
1-3 tablespoons of red curry paste. Less for a milder curry, more for a spicier curry.
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar (Palm sugar is traditional, but white sugar works just as well.)
2 tablespoons lime juice
4-5 kaffir lime leaves. Optional, but great if you have em.

Here's how to cook it:
Cut the chicken and veggies into bite sized pieces.
If using kaffir lime leaves, shred them finely. A kitchen scissors works great for this.
In a pan, heat up a little oil and add the curry paste. Stir the curry paste around until it gets fragrant.
Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, kaffir lime leaves. Stir until mixed.
Add the chicken and vegetables. (If you're using any vegetables which cook very quickly you may want to hold those back and add them after the rest has cooked for a few minutes.)
Bring to a simmer and cook until the chicken is done.
Stir in the lime juice.

Serve over jasmine rice if you have it, or any sort of rice if you don't.
Enjoy :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Geek Surfing, Volume 1

Need a little geek reading? Check out some of these articles!

I was a little disappointed to hear that Marble Saga Kororinpa does not make full use of the Balance Board. After reading this review however, I am curious to see what the game has to offer.

All the practice with the wiimote should make it easy for me to mow my lawn when these are readily available.

My friend Geoff would totally dig this show, Star Wars: Musical Journey. It was successful in its debut enough to come to the US, so maybe he'll get the chance to see it :)

In tech news, if you're waiting for a Dell smartphone, don't hold your breath. Apple fans can take heart in the fact that Steve Jobs still has his fingers in the apple pie.

My husband the sports geek would find these baseball cards amusing. I've spent so much time in card shops that I think they're pretty cool myself.

Worried about Conficker? The best way to test for it is to view the Conficker Eye Chart. For a good explanation of how it works, try this article.

Yelp, a site which features user ratings of restaurants and other venues is bowing to pressure and allowing the businesses to post their own comments. I don't have a problem with this in principal, but I have a hard time believing it will work out much better than any celebrity vs. the press.

I'm fully convinced that produce is best obtained from a farmer's market or grocery store. If you're the home gardener type, Lifehacker suggests this potato growing method.

And last but not least, the ultimate in geek clothing: a suit which makes you stronger. Personally, I think I'll wait it comes in pink :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Social Networking & U

I read this article yesterday which discussed the pros and cons of social networking online. It seems Twitter, Facebook, and all the rest of the social networking opportunities are sending people into overload. People are finding out a little too much about each other, a little too often. Some even experience a paradoxical effect whereas they fear being away from their social networks, yet crave the break. I counter with the idea that social networking is a wonderful tool when used wisely.

The number one tip I have for social network is: Use social networks in a way that works for you. In the rest of this article I'll outline some ways to do that.

Don't try to be everywhere at once. Sure you could have a My Space page, a Facebook page, a Live Journal, a Twitter feed, be on half a dozen different IM services, and don't forget email and cell phones. In reality, who could keep up with all that?!? Choose the services that make the most sense for you, and go with those. If you find yourself not using something regularly, consider withdrawing from that network.

Don't be afraid to tell people how you would like to be networked. Fans of a particular social network will tell you that you need to be a part of their network. I feel a little differently. A network that works the best for me, may not be the one that works best for someone else. That doesn't make the network good or bad, it means that it doesn't fit my needs well.

When you need a break, take a break. The world is not going to end if I don't check my email for 48 hours, or my Facebook page every day. When I'm going to be incommunicado, I let people know that nothing's wrong, I'm just having a networking-free weekend, vacation, or whatever. All the messages will be there for me when I get back.

Separate work and personal networks where appropriate, and set boundaries for each group. I actually maintain three groups of personal networking venues, with different guidelines for each one.

The first are things I use specifically for work purposes. That's mainly my work email. I keep work and personal networks separate for two reasons. One is that anything I send from my work email address is part of my professional identity. I may be a goofball, but I don't want everyone to know that all the time! :) The second is that when I am on break from work, I often put up an automated email response and ignore my work email. I love my job, but I do need distance from it at times as well.

The second group is my personal networks. This includes a personal email address, my cell phone number, and Google Talk. My friends know how to reach me on these networks. I'm fairly careful of who gets into my personal networks. Lots of friends have my email and cell phone numbers, but they're all my friends - people I want to talk to, and people I trust to understand if I can't talk when they call or respond instantly to their emails.

My third group is what I call my public identity. These include people I know from work, my friends, plus lots of you who I only know through comments on Long Live Geeks. The important differential about my public identities is that I only post things that anyone is welcome to know. If you want to friend me on Facebook, go for it. Here's the link. I post random status updates, the funnier the better. Facebook is spreading through work, and I have no problem with that either. Work is part of the public. I check Facebook once or twice a day, but if I were going on vacation or otherwise needed a break I'd simply put a status update which says I'm away and ignore it. The second part of my public identity is this blog, and the associated Twitter feed. I mostly post links to geeky articles on Twitter, and anyone is welcome at LLG and to follow me on Twitter.

Long live geeks with social networks :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Update on the G1

The short version: I still love my G1! Best phone and mobile Internet device I've ever had!

The longer version:

I do occasionally use my G1 as a phone, and it's been one of the better phones I've had. The speaker is quite clear. Other people seem to have no trouble hearing me. I get a good signal everywhere I go regularly. Occasionally I forget the red button hangs up calls and cut people off, but that's totally my bad :)

As a texter, it out classes my last phone with an alpha-numeric keypad. The buttons are small, but they are well spaced and I rarely miss anymore. When I got the phone I suspected that the "dead space" between the keys would make a big difference, and indeed it has. My last phone had keys which were flush together, and I hit wrong ones all the time.

As a mobile mail device, it works great with gmail and not so great with other email providers. I have pop and imap servers with my main email account (which is not gmail). I tried the built in mail client and found that it was slow to update. I then downloaded the K-9 email client from the Android market, and found that it is a little better. When it's open, it responds well to my instructions and downloads email swiftly. It does not however let me know when I have mail. It might do so for a few hours after using the client, but not indefinitely.

As a mobile web browser, I couldn't be happier! The web client is totally awesome. I haven't seen a page it can't render well. I've never gotten an out of memory warning (which was a common occurrence on my last smartphone). I've looked up products on Amazon, accessed my work's website, checked basket ball scores, and of course referenced Wikipedia, all from my G1 :)

As for the app market, I've found a lot of great apps, but I'm still waiting on others. I would like to be able to access either Google Docs, or word files, on my phone. I have a couple of note taking programs which work fine, but they do not save files in universal formats. I use Open Office at home, word at work, and Google Docs in both places. I would like to be able to save files in a format which will go with me wherever I need it.

As a gaming device, I've found ample games to fill my spare moments with, and some that keep me coming back for more. Two of those I've reviewed already, Coloroid and Parallel Kingdom. More reviews will be forth coming, and hopefully more great games as well :)

The only think I would really like to have right this moment: 3G data speeds in my area. When T-Mobile announced their webConnect wireless USB modem last month, they also said they would be doubling their 3G markets by the end of 2009. At this moment, I'm not holding my breath. I live about 35 miles away from Pittsburgh, and I wouldn't be surprised if we're not on the 2009 list. I knew 3G was going to take a while when I got the phone though. So I'm not complaining... too much ;)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fast Food Follies: Garlic Bread Sticks

Last weekend I mixed up another batch of the olive oil dough I used when making pocket sandwiches. On Monday I decided I really wanted garlic bread sticks, and the dough was the prefect starting point.

Here's what you need
Bread dough, about two hand fulls for a large pan of breadsticks
2-3 tablespoons of butter
1-2 tablespoons of garlic powder (You could also use fresh garlic, finely chopped.)

Here's how to make them:
In a small bowl mix up the butter and garlic. If the butter has been in the fridge, it helps to microwave it for a few seconds first to make it softer.
Place the dough on a greased or floured surface and flatten it into a rectangle. Aim for 1/4 of an inch thick. It doesn't need to be perfect.
Spread the butter and garlic mixture on the flattened dough.
Cut the dough into 1 inch strips. Twist each strip a couple of times and place it on the baking pan.
Let the sticks rise for about half an hour. During the last 10 minutes of the rise, preheat the oven to 450.
Bake the breadsticks for 20 minutes, or until they are golden on top.
Enjoy!

They were delicious, and kept well for a couple of days.