food Imported From Epistula

Recipe – Chickens In Blankets

You will require:

  • (x is the number of people)
  • (2x) wide slices of bacon
  • x large chicken breasts
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Oil (Vegetable/Sunflower will do, or use butter if you prefer)
  • Tin Foil
  • An Oven
  • A Baking Tray
  • An hour.

    Preheat the oven to somewhere medium-low, ensure your chicken is defrosted.

    If your chicken is not defrosted, defrost your chicken.

    Tear off a piece of tin foil large enough to cover all chicken-breasts when lined up on the tray twice. That is, where len is the breadth of the breast, 2(len*x)+mzrk. Where mzrk is a random length that accounts for being able to do with said tin foil everything we are going to do with it. I really suggest you read this recipe fully before you try it.

    If you haven’t read the whole of this recipe in the last few months, and are using it to create this dish, manufacturer 1 (One) cup of tea, cover the chicken with cling-film and sit down and read the recipe.

    Place the baking tray somewhere safe
    Put the tin foil on the baking tray
    Pour some oil on the foil.
    Put the chicken breasts close together (as in, lined up) on the oil on the foil on the tray on the surface.
    Put the basil on the breasts on the oil on the foil on the tray on the surface.
    Put the pellet with the poison in the flagon with the dragon, and the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.
    Um. Hang on a sec.
    Right, lay the bacon on the chicken one rasher per breast
    Sprinkle Thyme over the bacon that’s on the basil on the chicken on the oil on the foil on the tray on the surface.
    Wrap up the whole kit and caboodle in the tin foil, crimping the edges shut if you feel like it.
    Put the baking tray in the oven for an hour.

    Take it out, cut it up, serve it with peas, potatoes and Stuff. OR:
    Sod it all and go out for pizza.

food Imported From Epistula

Christmas Fracture

a recipe, by Aquarion & Lonecat

Decide to make apple crumble. You will require:
Apple. Note singular. Large. Not as many as you thought you had.
Flour. Ordinary. White. 6oz thereof.
Caster sugar. Much. Realise you have no castor sugar. Use granulated instead.
Margarine. Yellow. 3oz. Not really much we can say about this one.
Spices. Ones that will go well with apple.
Small number of sultanas to add to the flavour, but see below.

In the beginning, take your flour. Carefully measure it out onto the scales. Look carefully at the sieve and decide whether to sift or not. Resolve that life is too short. Add the margarine, take a fork and rub in. Do not, repeat not, use your fingers. Why on earth do people feel the need to use their fingers? All that happens is you get covered in loads of gunk, and it’s not like it works any better. In fact, the margarine will stay cooler if you use a fork, which is a major consideration if you’re making pastry. We’re not, but I think my point holds.</rant>

Where were we? Oh yes… Weigh your apple. Note that it is far less than the required 1 and a half pounds of fruit, and add sultanas until it isn’t. While this is being done, the other chef can add the required amount of sugar to the crumble. The required amount being 3oz. Actual amount added: unknown. Possibly 6oz. Decide not to worry about it and carry on.

Peel, core, randomly chop and slice your apple. Realise that resulting weight of apple is even less than apple plus core and peel. Think about adding more sultanas. Remember that this is apple crumble, dammit. Was apple crumble, dammit. Decide to leave it as it is.

Place sultanas and apple in a 1 and a half pint casserole dish. Add further 3oz of sugar and stir. Attempt to add 2 tablespoons of water. Note complete lack of any kind of tablespoon within kitchen. Add approximately three soupspoons of water. Roundly curse person who stocked kitchen. Sprinkle random spices over fruit. We recommend cinnamon and nutmeg, about half a teaspoon of each. Discover job is complicated by the size of the spice jars, which are too small to get a teaspoon into. Mutter nasty things about spice manufacturers and approximate measures. Stir again.

Sprinkle crumble over fruit. Shake bowl until level. Remember you forgot to preheat the oven. Realise recipe book predates the invention of the centigrade scale. Discuss merits of programming temperature converter on laptop. Take a guess at 180oC and turn on oven. Insert dish into oven. Have a brief panic that it’s not going to fit. Find that it will. Stop panicking.

Occupy yourself, and possibly someone else, for about 40 minutes.

Remove dish from oven, with aid of oven gloves. Put on hob to cool. Decide to make custard while it’s cooling.

Rock Custard.

Get out custard powder and milk. Pour small amount of milk into measuring jug. Attempt to add a tablespoon of custard powder. Once again curse the person who stocked this kitchen. Add a severely heaped dessert spoon of powder, and attack until non-lumpy. Recall that powder contains cornflour, something that when mixed with water forms a substance that is liquid when left alone, but solid when put under pressure. Realise that this is why it’s so hard to stir. Add milk up to half pint mark.

Discover that custard can be microwaved. Make ‘Yay’ type noises. Walk up to microwave. Attempt to guess age and generation of microwave, and thus possibly the amount of time to put the custard in microwave. Decide low power, and therefore 7 minutes. Note you have to stir it at half time, and place jug in microwave.

Press ‘high’ temperature setting. Type into keypad, ‘330’ for three and a half minutes. Press start. Witness nothing happening. Keep pressing start button. Continue witnessing lack of things happening. Press cancel. Note that microwave clock appears to read 3:30am.


Repeat previous actions. Note clock now reads 3:31am. Repeat actions, using real time instead of 3:30. Note clock now reads, ‘ERROR’.

Swear more.

Remember that this isn’t your microwave.

Realise you’ve run out of swear words.

Type in ‘330’ and press start. Make ‘yay’ type noises, as a small jug of yellow liquid rotates on a turntable.

Occupy yourself, and optionally someone else, for three minutes.

(A note here, we are ommiting for the sake of time a whole series of pressing buttons on the microwave to attempt to get the clock back to normal, and even possibly start the bloody thing working. It should be mentioned that at no point in the orginal sequence did we press the button clearly labled “Clock”, but at various times over the next ten minutes set the microwave to automatically start at 3:30am tomorrow, Automatically heat potatoes, set the clock time to 03:30 again, and make continuous beeping noises. I refuse to be beaten by any piece of technology smaller than me. The clock read “03:40” when we got the stuff heated. Note ends.)

Return to microwave. Observe that custard is attempting to leave the jug. No longer trusting the buttons on this thing, press the button that opens the door. Rescue boiling yellow liquid from a fate worse than death. Receive no medals for this. Attempt to stir custard, as suggested on packet. Realise that, against all probability, the cornflour appears to have multiplied. Stir vigorously. Add more milk. Repeat previous instruction. Give up on custard. Decide to eat it as it is. Discuss the possibility that, in 2000 years, archaeologists will discover remains, nod sagely, and call it ‘The Custard Age’.

Return to ‘crumble’. Take spoon, and push onto crust. Note lack of typo in previous sentence. Retrieve hammer and chisel from place of resting, and apply them to the crust. Make a note to send broken hammer and chisel to the nearest repair shop. Retrieve blowtorch…

Once crust is breached, spoon portions into bowl. Observe that crumble is not exactly crumbling. Note that it smells very nice and christmassy. Decide to rename this, ‘Christmas Fracture’. Poor over very thick custard. Eat, while discussing the possibilities of putting this recipe on a website. Realise you have a huge amount left over. Decide to have it for breakfast tomorrow.

Wash up the custard jug.

Write up a recipe.


Imported From Epistula intertwingularity useability

XML is the new black

Originally posted to Alt.Fan.Pratchett .

No. The future is not XML for presentation, the future is – or should be – XML for storage, and appropriate formats for presentation.

Right now, that means HTML4 + CSS for web, HTML4 + Tables for old web, PDF for print, MP3 for speech, VRML for 3D. All of these can – and should – be generated from an XML format using XSLT transforms. This completes the ideal of separating content from context and design, leaving the method of display up to the displayer or – in some circumstances – the user.

The attempt to create a one-size-fits-all modular presentation specification (Which is what XHTML 2 and CSS 3 attempt to do) is doomed, because XML Documents are breaking down the standards into mini-standards (This is how you draw equations, this is how you draw vectors, this is how you understand text, these are where to put text) (And CSS as a method of display is still broken as of the latest revisions, because you still cannot tell something where it should be displayed vertically, as in, this goes at the *end* of the document. Furthermore it offers no support for important contextualized information in any media that isn’t screen. When CSS offers me the ability to place something at the top or bottom of each page, or even at the bottom of *any* page, I’ll reconsider my position on it, but while you cannot put page numbers on a printed document – not an actual physical problem, but an example of a lack in the way they are thinking about it – It’s not useful as a print medium format) (XML is a series of smaller standards…) which means that there is no longer any possibility of any browser in the future being fully compliant. First, because in order to support *any* given XML document for display, you need to understand every namespace it uses, and with thirty different namespaces in a complicated document, all different versions and some newer than the browser is, how do you plan for support for these? The only things that will render understand any given XML document from a source are those things developed by the source itself which knows what it needs to understand. The future will therefore be locally stored XML documents which are then converted for the user into a standard, /inclusive/ document type which the user can understand. If the user wants to print it, it can be sent as PDF. For a hyperlinked text document, HTML4 is done, For publishing at O’Reilly it would be converted to – and sent as – DocBook, Mobile users would get the salient details by WAP, WebTV people might see it rendered as a flash animation, but it all comes from the original XML document with no additional work on a per-document basis being done by the creator, just one XSLT stylesheet per media.

That’s the future.

Imported From Epistula PHP Projects


New software release for all y’all, and it’s not even a weblog-related thing. Be afraid.

It says on my About page that I “write things to put things into databases and take them out again.” and MusicDB is no exception. It’s entire purpose in life is to put things (In this case, references to MP3 files) into a MySQL database, and then take them out again according to the criteria you specify via the command-line or web-based client.

It’s in Perl, and SQL, and PHP. It runs my somewhat excessive MP3 playlists, and it’s reached 1.0 and been thrown into the universe with nothing but a GPL to it’ name. Go have fun.

Imported From Epistula MLP

Gender Test

I don’t do these often any more, but this one caught the imagination of a group I associate with, so it appears. According to the Sex And Gender Explorer Test I’m a “Quite Masculine Androgynous Cross Dresser”.

I find this amusing, mostly due to the fact that every conclusion it drew from my answers was wrong, and seemed to stem from the fact that I like stories and not car repair.

I hate people who use stereotypes to judge, but this is scary. The site presents itself as a serious resource on the subject of Gender Identity stuff, yet as far as I’ve seen, only people who already know about this aspect of themselves get the results they were expecting. Apparently nobody is allowed to be a normal, straight person (Male or female) in their (the site’s) world.

And that’s scary.

Design Imported From Epistula

Once again

I’ve redesigned again. Taglines are back, and I still think the blogroll is taking too much space. This needs fixing.

Broadband comes tomorrow, when life will be back to normal. Currently I’m surfing the web over a 28.8k modem, which sucks in facinating and horrible ways.


Imported From Epistula Personal

In Brief…

I’ve read 30 of the Top 100 books. I can’t help but wonder, though, why Harry Potter I – IV is four books, where LoTR & His Dark Materials et. al. get condensed into one?

Still no ADSL. Still got squatters, though now have bed, thus one out of three.

The world is conspiring to keep my offline, so I have sought refuge in West Wing DVDs (Which is a fantastic series), Tropico 2 games, and experiments in PSP.

For some reason I’m not pinging this month. Why escapes my leet hacker skillz for now, so I’ll sort that out when I’m back properly.

Oh, and I’ve got LoneCat playing Dungeon Siege, though since it only works on my computer and not hers, this may be a tactical error on my part…

Imported From Epistula

…and relax

Busy Busy Busy.

Saturday started early, when at 6am we discovered that the contract my parents were due to sign had to be witnessed. At 6am this was a complication, so instead of the Plan (which was for me & LC to wander up and do the contract thing and parents to follow after) Mum drove me up to Reading at half seven in the morning. We got to Reading. We parked. We found the place. We signed the contracts. We have a flat.

We found the flat.

I’m not sure what I can say about the new flat. To say it isn’t quite as nice as the old house is to do the old house a disservice. The carpets are uniformly horrible and stained, the paint work patchy and scratched, the kitchen cupboards are bowing, the fridge last saw daylight in the seventies, and the oven barely works (and is the type where you have to reach over the rings to turn off), and the people in the flat above are occasionally noisy. I suspect I’ll be more impressed with this as a place to live when we have furniture – this place is unfurnished – but for now by HappyBunnyometer is set to “Watership Down – Bright Eyes Bit”. So we brought a couple of boxes of my stuff down from the storage place (Getting terribly lost on the way back in), tried to find a supermarket (Getting terribly lost on the way around), and then gave up on the day and went to the AFP Green Man Meet instead, and met Marco, and a Good Time Was Had By All.

Sunday was spent waiting for LC’s parents in the morning (Who are good, because they brought LC’s Futon down as well as the rest of her stuff, so I’m not sleeping on the floor anymore until we have furniture. Not that I shall be sleeping on the floor then, but anyway. Then finding the Supermarket again (We’d managed to find Sainsbury’s the day before. Not when we were looking, natch, but when we were walking to the station to get to London. Gah). Then AdrianO wandered down with the stuff he had been storing for us, and so I had my computer back. That was Sunday.

Monday was interesting.

Monday morning I wandered out to a phone box to get our land line connected (Because Calls Are Free When You Phone BT. But not if you are on a mobile they aren’t, and a half-hour queue at 20p per minute is not a good thing). At 11:00 I put though the order. At 13:15 they sent me a text-message saying the phone line was working, and at 13:45 we got our very first wrong number. At this point it was tipping it down with rain, so I decided to do the indoor bits, like changing the address of my credit cards. Whilst doing this, I heard drips falling into the sink. Suspecting the tap to be leaking, I went to turn it off. I discovered to my surprise that the tap was not leaking. The roof was.

Now, you may think that I should not have been surprised. After all, given the description above of a flat that hasn’t been polished in a while, it wouldn’t be too surprising, right?

Yeah, but this is a ground floor flat and the roof is leaking.

So I phone Vanderpumps. “We’ll get someone over” they say.

A couple of hours later:
“This is Reading Maintenance. Someone will be over tomorrow”
“Er, the roof is starting to bulge. I’d appreciate it if you could do it today”
“I’ll see what I can do”

Pause for about a half-hour. Then:
“Hi, This is Reading Maintenance. Someone will be without in about 45 minutes. It would be quicker, but he has to pick up the keys from Tilehurst for the flat above.”
“Can’t he just ask them to let him in?”
“The flat above is vacant”
“Um”, dynamically stated your resourceful hero, “No it isn’t.”
“According to our records, 64 is vacant”
“Then it looks like Vanderpumps have a squatters problem then, doesn’t it?”
“Um” said the maintenance people “Yes. I’ll let them know”.

The previous day we were called upon by a gentlemen from upstairs, who mentioned he was moving out today and that if we wanted we could buy his furniture dirt cheap. He offered us a wardrobe and matching cabinets. Long term readers of this saga might remember that we originally wanted the flat above us – the one he is living in – and so I recognised the description of the furniture that was in that flat when we viewed it. I declined.

So, what we had suspected (after seeing the tenants – and yes, that’s judging by appearances, and I’m sorry – and the torn bit of paper on the door that mentioned squatters rights) was really true, the flat above was being squatted in.

I wasn’t surprised, really. The flat had been empty since January, mostly because the landlord has priced himself out of the market. The rent for that one is more than this one, and this one is too expensive for what it is, or rather the state it is.

Apparently, when the gentlemen – and his dog – had moved out the previous day, he had taken his washing-machine (I’m paraphrasing here. The flat – when we saw it – had had a washing machine. That will teach the landlord, because if he had accepted our original offer we’d have moved in there, and he wouldn’t be down a washing machine. But I digress) but hadn’t unplumbed it properly, flooding the back of their kitchen and then – eventually – ours. It’s repaired now, and Vanderpumps are working to evict the people above (I didn’t suggest this. They aren’t bad neighbours, they only are loud in daylight, they’re friendly and everything. As I said, I more or less knew they were squatting when we saw the notice, but it wasn’t really a problem).

So, we have a phone line (Although LC’s laptop is the only Internet connection right now until my modem makes it down. Broadband in 9 days) and we have a house, and LC has a – albeit temporary – job. Things certainly could be a lot worse.

Imported From Epistula


So, Kathy has moved to her shiny new at, and everything has finally happened to put me back in a home 🙂

Tomorrow at 9:30 I will be in the offices of Vanderpump & Wellbeloved signing my life away for the sake of a roof. This is going to require me catching a train at twenty to seven tomorrow morning (===yawn===). What this will do to the flow of Interesting And Enlightening articles spinning your way though the medium of Aquarionics, I’m not sure. It’ll be a little while before we get ADSL back. Nevertheless, I shall see you soon 🙂

Aquaintances Imported From Epistula

Aquaintances Next

Aquaintances now works, but there are a couple of things it doesn’t handle well, and I’d like to make it handle better.

A downside of storing articles as checksums of the content is that if an article is edited, it immediatly moves to the top of the list. I should probably checksum some other detail, like the GUID if supplied, or the link, but then I wouldn’t detect edits at all. I could generate a checksum of the GUID or link (Not title, Some feeds don’t supply titles or their titles aren’t unique), save it as that, generate the file, check the checksum against the checksum as the existing file (if it exists) and then magically highlight changes. Hmm.

RSS Parser
Either edit “Mark’s” to return all the stuff I want or make my own.
This is where it gets complicated. I want to associate categories to Epistula’s category set, meaning I could associate “Nick’s Virtual Culture”: category and “BB’s Metablogging”: category with my own “Metablog”: category. This would enable me to start on the “crossreferencing theory”: I was talking about, but also mean that if I was in a hurry, I could just see posts on the stuff I’m really interested in.
News Feed
With a little work, I could make it so that I could put a symlink in my newsserver’s directory and read all my feeds by NNTP. That’s one of the nice things about the flat file format :-). With a little more work, I could track those weblogs which allow comments sent as email, or have comment feeds per entry, and turn them into threads on the server.