Turn off Internet week

This is turn off TV week, but since we don’t own one, we will turn off our real time waster: The Internet. Well, not the whole Internet, just the bit that connects to our house. Personally, I think one week is not enough. It takes closer to 4 weeks to form and break habits, and one might just give you a hankerin’. Yes, the Internet is a bad habit in our house, and we need to take it down many notches.

I will still be somewhat connected at work, since that is sort of my job, but it will be greatly reduced. At home we might allow checking of email, but even that is on the chopping block. Perusing blogs is definitely out, so the best bet for connecting with us is a phone call.

I will leave you with a challenge to shut off whatever is the greatest distraction from thought in your house, whether TV, radio, magazines, newspaper, netflix, or Internet. Step back, see what fills the void. Enjoy the silence and space.

ity-bity feature

Recently B and I have been getting almost all our blog fixes via google reader. I stumbled on it a few weeks ago when I was playing around with searches on Google, looking through robot.txt files to see what some websites don’t want indexed. I looked at Google’s own robot.txt file, and noticed a bunch of sub directories that I had never seen before, one being “/reader”. I had a look and thought it was rather nice! Up till then I had been using my.yahoo.com for watching blogs and feeds, and was not that impressed. It was clunky, and sometimes it took hours to be updated. It seems that Google reader was released back in October, and did not get such great reviews. I am glad I found it later, now that it seems to have settled down into a nice little service. What does it do? You pump in the URL of each of the blogs (or other sites that offer rss or atom feeds) that you read regularly, and it tries to autodiscover the feed. If it does, it gives you a chance to subscribe, and shows you all the recent posts. Once you subscribe, any new entries will show up on your reader home page. This means you don’t have to visit every blog/site in order to find out if they have updated. Now, some sites can be tricky to find the feed for. Here are a few hints:

  • Try appending ‘/atom.xml’ to the end. This works best with blogger sites
  • Try appending ‘/feed’ or ‘/?feed=rss2’ to the end. This works with WordPress sites
  • Try adding ‘index.rdf’ to the end. This works with sites that might use older rss implementations
  • If none of those work, you can try ‘/rss.xml’, or ‘/?feed=rss’

You can also subscribe to the comments, so that they also show up in your reader. This is a little trickier. Some sites have a link that says ‘Subscribe to comments’, others don’t even offer that feature. Blogger sites only offer comment feeds if the site author (or a friend) is geeky enough to figure out how to set it up. If you want to know, email me. To get WordPress comment feeds, try appending either ‘/?feed=comments-rss2’ or ‘/comments/feed’. So there you go, a web-based feed reader.

Now, the ity-bity feature? There is now a ‘Favorites’ link on the menu bar that lets you take a peek at my favorite posts from my favorite blogs. It only goes back a few days, so there is not much there yet. It is easy for me to look through and remove things that are no longer appealing. Enjoy!

Beans and photosnaps.

I took a break from roasting during a particularly unfriendly spell of very cold weather. I am not sure if the beans would have even roasted with ambient temperatures around 5°. I admit, just before the temperature dropped, it was up in the 50s, and ideal for winter roasting. B even reminded me that it was a sort of last chance to roast for a while, but I declined. So lately we have been drinking some of TJ’s Ethiopian. I kinda like it, but B does not.

Last night I got back at it, and roasted up a batch of a blend I am working on. It is a sweet base of El Salvador Santa Rita, with some distinctiveness from small amounts of Yemen Mocha and Sumatra Mandheling. The first batch was a little heavy on the distinctiveness, so last night I added more Santa Rita. I am looking for a mellow and sweet blend with some chocolate and musky interest.

As I roasted I recalled a recent conversation with Nathan about the difficulty of photographing roasted coffee beans. They are always dark, and if you put them on a light background, the contrast throws the light metering and white balance off. So I thought it an interesting challenge for Max. The best results were achieved using a flash, with a darker background.

I was also trying to see how all the automatic settings fared in a low-light florescent environment.

Not too bad, I think.

Dreams taxes and Max

A few months ago I posted about a trade-in immediately followed by a reversal. It really was a good thing. Since then I have put the dream of a digital SLR at the back of the dream queue to wait for it’s number to be called. The numbers were being called randomly, so it was unclear how long he would have to wait. Recent events, including, but not limited to, root canals, and hoods flying up while driving at high speeds seemed to indicate that the wait could be long indeed. Fortunately, we are very limited in our perspective. It is early tax season for those of us who have no equity or investments and we bagged a great refund this year (not sure how to calculate the points on these babies, do you go by the amount, or the number of corners on the check?). If you are confused by that, remember that we live in one of the deer-hunting-est states in the union. Ok, so the number 723 was called, and it was exactly the number that Mr. Digital SLR had between his anxious fore-finger and thumb. By the way, his name is really Max, not Digital SLR. He comes from a prestigious yet recently extinguished family line (ok, maybe not extinguished, just adopted out). If you are interested in stalking him, there are plenty of resources out there. His mighty works are beginning to show up in the gallery.

Mediocre blend (Now with PNG!)

I did some more roasting yesterday. I did a batch each of Kenya Kiangundo (huge beans) and Panama Bouquette. Both should be great on their own. The Kenya is roasted full city+ or so (a little darker than I intended) and the Panama is full city. Someday I will get serious and buy a thermometer to guage the temperatures. And a stopwatch. Ok, maybe not. I kind of like the intuitive roasting, where the cues are subliminal, and you just know that the roast for this particular bean should be just a tad darker. But then again, that is how I feel about just about everything.

I also threw together a blend of coffees that I don’t really get excited about on their own. It consists of El Salvador Everest (a peaberry), Ethiopian Sidamo, and Papua New Guinea Agoga. In case you are wondering if the blend turned out exceptional, it didn’t, but it was alot more rounded than each would be on it’s own. To tell the truth, it was more of a way to use the PNG in a blend that would be palatable. I have nothing but trouble trying to get the PNG to taste good, so I though maybe it would work out in a blend that I did not expect a lot from. In that sense it was a smashing success. It truely was a mediocre blend, which we will drink without comment.

Listen to me

Well, besides Radio Paradise and my own little iTunes station I listen to last.fm where I tell them what music I like, and they make me a custom station. If you happen to have broadband and use last.fm, you can find me as Samaritan and listen to my personal station. Current band list:

B-Tribe, Bettie Serveert, Conjure One, Delerium, Dido, Eastmountainsouth, Fiona Apple, Gabriel Rios, Jeff Beck, Jem, KT Tunstall, Kasabian, Kirsty MacColl, Mich Gerber, Michelle Shocked, NAMASTE, Nikkfurie, Ollabelle, Portishead, Thievery Corporation, Turin Brakes, U2, Yello, Zero 7, dZihan & Kamien, Emogen Heap, Morcheba, Afro Celt Sound System, Cibo Matto, Emiliana Torrini, Lulu Mushi, Sufjan Stevens