Now we’re talkin’

I bought a new USB stick (8GB) for making a bootable stick for Ubuntu Netbook Remix. I tried following different instructions to create it with the Linux’s “dd” command. First it reported errors in data transfer, then after Kory’s help it transferred properly but I was faced with a non-effective bootable stick. I chose to boot off it but it just went right through to the normal boot-up. Gah.

(At this point, I managed to bork something bad enough that I ended up making a recovery stick for the original AA1 Linpus and installed it again. Because this worked, I trusted the problem was not with the stick as such but the creation of the bootable image.)

Today I decided to try it on Windows — and it worked! (trusty Windows ;) )

Not that there was anything really wrong with Linpus (except that I couldn’t install a Pidgin version new enough to support ICQ and updating Firefox would’ve been such a hassle), but there’s something irksome about the super-simplified interface.

Now THIS looks like a proper computer OS:

Haven’t played much on it yet. I’m now retiring to the sofa to do just that.

[edit 8/3/2009] Here’s a sceenshot :)


Disappearance trick

Just yesterday, and several days before that, I had a private swimming pool (or a skating rink if it would’ve frozen) — on my balcony! The drain out there doesn’t do its job efficiently enough and the melting snow created a nice little pond. It started as a small puddle around the drain but yesterday it had reached the door. Luckily, if the water level got any higher than that, it would start going over the sides and wouldn’t get in since the door is higher.

In the photo above, my doorstep is at the bottom of the picture and the water is about 2 feet away. (That was the day before yesterday.)

I lifted the block of ice off the drain in the hopes of opening it but no luck there…

However, this morning(-ish…) the water was nearly gone! There’s only a little bit of ice left in the groove that goes around the balcony. I hope the water doesn’t come back this winter but I’m definitely listing this as something that needs to be fixed. (After the first year they’ll do an inspection and ask the people to report any problems that were noticed during the first year of occupying the apartments.)

I’m glad I didn’t yet have any furniture or flooring on my balcony!

An alchemist

Time and time again I’m amazed by the magic of cooking.

Not too long ago I made Pioneer Woman’s recipe “Grandma Iny’s Prune Cake” where you make an icing from sugar, buttermilk, baking soda, syrup, butter, and vanilla extract. It needs to be boiled for a while but it must not reach a soft ball stage. I didn’t have any idea what kind of stage that might be so I just boiled it until it looked something like in the photos. (I may’ve cooked it too long but anyway. It ended up being a syrupy-looking thing (maybe the caramel stage) and it was easily pourable. And the whole thing was delicious. That’s the main thing.) At first I was sceptical: the thing started boiling, then foaming (all but fluffed right out of the pan) which I think could be the butter’s fault (it wasn’t the artery-clogging kind). But I waited patiently for the syrup to appear. I actually scooped a bit of the foam off because I was afraid the butter was not right for the recipe. Suddenly — very very quickly — the foam went down and it turned into syrup.

Today I decided to try a fudge recipe where you had to boil sugar, cream, honey, and butter to the soft ball stage of 116 degrees Celsius. (I was going to buy a thermometer but forgot.) Once again, the butter started foaming (so it wasn’t the “healthy” butter’s fault although the real butter foams in a lot more controlled manner) and I started doing the water test: drop a bit of the syrup to cold water and once it’s forms into a soft ball when it hits the water, it’s ready. I waited and waited, and stirred. And put a few drops of it in the water — getting only slightly white sugar water. At one point it was still very foamy but a little thicker than it had been before so I decided to try my luck: it actually seemed to harden a little in the water so I took it off the burner, even though I thought “it’s foam, it can’t work”. In an instant (a few seconds, seriously) it turned into something I could really call fudge. Wow! Then I started mixing in the flavours: white chocolate (yummmm), ginger jam (odd but it’s in the recipe — gotta try it), and dried cranberries. Little by little I started believing I may’ve actually managed to do this right. Now it’s cooling down right behind me — I’m just inhaling the smelly goodness since it’ll take a while for it to be ready for cutting.

I only wish I could succeed in normal cooking. It seems I only get the cakes and other treats right, and my regular food comes out bland or just weird. Maybe it’s because dessert-making is more of an exact science?