Outstreched arm

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Isaac image browser on SourceForge

Thanks to the hard work, perseverance, and endless kvetching of my old buddy Ivan Voras, we've launched a SourceForge mini-website for Isaac image browser, my old PHP project which is now being managed by the abovementioned and yours truly.

Isaac is a PHP script that, when dropped in a folder on a PHP-enabled server, creates an on-the-fly gallery of images (with thumbnails) and allows for navigation of all the files in the folder. I created it as an easy way to exchange photos, mockups, and files with my online friends. Think of it as a very friendly and image-oriented server directory listing.

This was written very sloppily when I was first learning PHP, and Voras rewrote it entirely some months ago. We hope to continue work on it at a steadier pace now. I still get email from perfect strangers who stumbled upon the script who knows where - to those, I apologize for all the buggy early versions that saw the light of the web.

Go see it, webdev-savvy friend or visitor...

Friday, November 25, 2005


Happy Xgiving, everyone!

How was yours? Have you had to make turkey soup or turkey jell-o yet? I myself enjoyed an Unturkey feast. It was very delish - I recommend it over Tofurkey (a brand that has rather disappointed me; the only product of theirs I like are the peppered tofurkey slices.) My leftover strategy was to make melts. Here's how:

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a saucepan. Add 1 tbsp flour and stir immediately to blend. Add a warm (perhaps microwaved) cup of milk and keep stirring until everything incorporates. It might take a while, and remember: things blend better if they're at the same temperature. Once it's smooth, simmer over low heat, stirring often, until your bechamel (that's what you're making!) thickens. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp paprika and salt to taste. Stir. Now shred or slice your (un)turkey and top a slice of sandwich bread with it. Spoon the sauce over this, top with swiss cheese and more paprika, throw on another slice of bread, and toast in the oven for a few minutes (until the cheese melts). Serve with leftover beer, chips, pumpkin pie half-slices, cranberry-stained pickles, etc.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Johnny Be OK, I Suppose

My recent music noodlings, programmery, and cookery have adversely affected my moviewatching, which is a shame if only for the unusually high number of movies getting good reviews in the past month or so. With Capote and Jesus Is Magic tragically unavailable in The Bay, I saw two longawaits this weekend. Here's the first one:

While I have absolutely nothing in the world against Johnny Cash, I could hardly be called a fan - it's as if I were raised in a jungle where they only played Elvis and Buddy in the 50s (plus, I was born in the 80s, so I don't know anything about those two either). I was thus interested in the biopic Walk The Line mainly for the film of it, and not the music. Well, it's a fine piece of acting and directing and everything else film-y, but it's a, uh, biopic, and those seem to come with legally mandated story arcs.

I loved Kinsey, for instance, but there were times when I would have rather seen things get dropped or given more screen time than their importance in the real guy's life called for simply because they worked (or didn't work) as cinema. I really don't know if biopics should be truer to life or art, and it's entirely possible that choosing the latter isn't always smart anyway.

Back to Walk The Line, and I will assume you're familiar with or can at least imagine the rough outline of Cash's early career - he rises from ignorance and poverty to fame (a reasonable replacement for an education) and riches, and descends back down via drugs and debauchery. Even if you're like me and this is the first time you've actually heard Cash's story told, it's your typical rock star curve - you remember Kurt Cobain, right? Anyway, the most biopictorial moments here have to do with his descent - when, following all sorts of downgrading steps culminating in detox, he tells his life-love June Carter that he's "nuthin'", she comes back with "you're not nuthin'!" Though it was unsaid, I could hear Johnny clearly say, "It's not that I'm not nuthin'!"

But I'm being catty. Actually, my summary point was going to be that I was surprised by how much I took to the music in Walk The Line - there's a lot of it, and not a second too much if you ask me. I know saying you actually kinda like Johnny Cash is like sheepishly admitting a fondness for chocolate, but it's true. Not knowing much about this sort of stuff, I can only say that Joaquin Phoenix, doing all his own singing, projected a voice far too powerful for his prettyboy looks.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Xmas wish list!

Welcome to my second annual Xmas wish list. Like I said last year, I could argue for or against wish lists, but I feel that since people end up buying you presents anyway and since they normally have a hard time figuring out what to get you, a wish list doesn’t hurt.

On to the Froogle wish list...

This year I've added a lot of music-related items since I've decided to pick up piano and bass guitar. Gift certificates to Sam Ash or Guitar Center are thus welcome. Also feel free to pick out other musician-y items I didn't bother researching - mics, books, DVDs, etc. You know my taste!

I will keep updating the list starting today... Let the happymaking begin!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

When web developers complain

So what's everyone's pet peeve with CSS? Mine include:

Can't define variables. If one of the points of style sheets is to make site-wide style modifications easier, why do I still have to search and replace when I decide to go with teal instead of orange? I should be able to specify values like $highlight = #ffeecc; $smallMargin = 10px

Can't specify more than one property in a single definition. Again, to reduce redundancy, I should be able to say border-color, background-color: Red.

But one minor thing that irks me every single time I have to type it is:

white-space: nowrap

So let me get this straight... You take "whitespace", which is a valid word with no hyphenation, and you hyphenate it. Then you take a non-word like "nowrap" and instead of hyphenating it like "repeat-x", you make it into a single word? Dude... weak.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Unemployed Shepherd's Pie

I dined recently at a British pub called The Moon Under Water in downtown St Petersburg (if you visit, make sure you get the hokey story of where the name comes from). I had readied my palate for iceberg lettuce or tea - the only vegetarian things I expected to find at a British restaurant - so imagine my surprise when I found that their shepherd's pie was not only meat-free, it was made with soy protein; I highly recommend it.

This inspired me to prepare my own vegetarian shepherd's pie, so here it is in not-so-pie form. You will need:

- An oven-safe soup-friendly bowl; you will be eating the "pie" out of it
- 1/4 cup Morningstar steak strip-style soy protein
- 1/4 cup burger-style soy protein
- 1/2 cup canned or mixed vegetables
- 1 cup mushroom gravy (available in cans)
- 1 potato
- 1/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese
- some milk, oil, butter, red wine
- garlic powder, chopped parsley, black pepper, paprika

Sautee the two "meats" in oil and wine, adding parsley and garlic powder. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the vegetables and mushroom gravy, 1/4 cup of water, stir and let it simmer until it thickens.

Meanwhile, cube and boil the potato in salted water for about 20 minutes or until it's poke-soft. Drain it, remove the skin, add milk, butter, a little parsley, and half the cheese. Mash, cover, and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Pour the thick soy and veggie stew into the oven-safe (make sure of this!) bowl and let it rest for a minute. Carefully spoon the mashed potato on top of the stew, covering it to the rim of the bowl. Sprinkle some paprika on top. Cover the bowl loosely with tinfoil, making sure it doesn't stick to the mashed potatoes. Using oven mitts, place the bowl on the center rack and bake for about 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the stew isn't pouring out of the bowl. Remove from the oven, lose the tinfoil, top the "pie" with the rest of the cheese and more paprika and return to the oven for about 7 minutes or until the cheese melts nicely. Let cool for a few minutes and serve with fresh bread and a spring salad.

Like many stews, this may even benefit from being eaten as a reheated leftover. You could also add facon (bacon-style soy), green beans, or peppers to the stew. (Why would the shepherd be unemployed, you ask? Because she's vegetarian, duh!)