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Backup delicious and lj

Here are crontab entries to back up your delicious and lj posts from a unix box on a daily basis:

30 6 * * * /usr/bin/wget -O /backup/web_services/delicious/delicious_`date +\%F`.xml http://del.icio.us/api/posts/recent?count=100000
30 6 * * * /usr/bin/wget -O /backup/web_services/lj/lj_`date +\%F`.xml http://www.livejournal.com/users/<USERNAME>/data/atom

This requires that your put your login information in .netrc (reminder - chmod 600). See man netrc for more info on that. Obviously, the directories you're backing up into must also exist.

This is particularly timely given the recent outages that del.icio.us has had.
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(no subject)

I realized that I never posted here my review of our wonderful Per Se meal back in May. So here it is:

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It's not so much a restaurant as it is a very well oiled food perfection delivery machine. Not everything was 100% perfect, mind you, but the things that weren't were mostly of no consequence (or wrong only out of convention and not in the sense of being, say, inferior in any way), and only served to add character to the things that were. More on that.

I can't remember the last time going out to eat gave me the giggles.

To say that the food was exquisite is missing the point - it's just in a different class altogether. Every bite is full of both genius and playfulness. Keller's lighthearted flavor fugue is all over the place, and it shows. For example:

Bread. They start with a choice of three kinds of bread - 9-grain, "simple" country white, or a french bread roll, with two kinds of butter. All great. But then later, they bring out something else - "this is the only bread we make here". It's a "Parker House roll", little quatrains of fleur de sel crusted puffy cubes. Imagine a pretzel crossed with a croissant, and you're mostly there. But it doesn't stop. At the end of the explanation of the bread, the service captain tells us "we'll revisit this later". The dessert course has a bunch of amazing simple things on the plate; one of them is a little puddle of cream. "Remember I said we'd come back to the Parker House rolls?" The cream is '"Pain au Lait" Coulis', and it's made out of the rolls. They pulverize them in a food processor, then cook them down in a process I don't entirely understand. But it's outstanding.

Wine. The wine was reasonably priced. We had a bottle of Neyers 2002 Chardonnay ($50), which was great. The captain recommended individual glasses of sharper whites (which I don't remember) for the second course, which we did and was the right decision. The bottle went with everything, one bottle lasted the meal, and it hit a perfect match with the lobster course. The wine list is a staggering book of much more expensive choices, but I think this was a fine selection.

They have over 200 kinds of plates, most of which were custom designed by Chef Thomas with Limoges. This attention to detail is in every aspect of the meal.

We each started with the Per Se cocktail - ciroc vodka with a white port, glasses washed with a fruity liquor, and garnished with two red grapes. Extremely refreshing, and smooth.

A note on the service. About halfway through the meal, we got fairly confused about who was doing what and had to have it explained. There were no fewer than 6 people involved in various parts of our meal - the waiter, the sommelier, two or three servers, and also a service captain to top it all off. They were very well coordinated, and the service was exceptionally attentive and, for lack of a better word, bright. I felt like everyone was extremely proud of their job, and rightly so.

Shortly after drinks, we ordered, and Chef Thomas's signature amuse-bouche was presented to us - salmon tartare "ice cream cones". A black sesame tuile filled with onion creme fraiche, topped with salmon tartare. Delightful and fresh.

** Course 1:

"Oysters and Pearls"
"Saybayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Iranian
Osetra Caviar

Fantastic! Thomas Keller talks a great deal about the texture of luxury in his cookbook. Strain strain strain. This is it. A sweetish custardy pudding with droplets of oceanic salty goodness.


** Course 2:

Anne:
Marinated Holland White Asparagus
White Asparagus Terrine and Garden Mache

"I feel like I'm eating Spring."

Adam:
"Peach Melba"
Moulard Duck "Foie Gras Au Torchon"
Frog Hollow Farms Peach Jelly, Pickled White Peaches, Marinated Red Onion, and Crispy Carolina Rice

"I feel like I'm eating a big fat duck liver."

In a sea of a meal of the best things I've ever tasted, this stands out. Wow. Foie gras and peaches. Perfectly smooth, fruity, creamy, and surrounded by crunchy crisp bits.

Another note on the service here. Two of the aforementioned minor imperfections in the service were on this course. First, the server spilled some of the rice crispies on the table while spooning them into the bowl. Unforgivable. Second, they served this with three slices of melba toast, and were about 45 seconds after I thought "they really should have served this with more toast" with offering more. They were going for a surprise, but missed it. Terrible.
As you can see, the service was less than outstanding. :)

** Course 3:
"Pave" of South Florida Cobia "A La Plancha"
Fava Beans, Chanterelle Mushrooms, and a Preserved Meyer Lemon Emulsion

I wasn't familiar with Cobia before, but I think this was the most well-balanced fish course I've ever had. The texture was great, perfect crust, a little citrus.

** Course 4:
Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster
"Cuit Sous Vide"
Wilted Arrowleaf Spinach and a Saffron-Vanilla Sauce

Yeah... It's just indescribably good. I can't even try.

** Course 5:
Pan Roasted Cavendish Farms Quail
"Puree" of Spring Onions, Apple Wood Smoked Bacon "Lardons" and Split English Peas

This seemed a little out of place to me, seasonally. But it was still amazing.

** Course 6:
Elysian Fields Farm "Carre D'Agneau Roti Entier"
Grilled Swiss Chard Ribs "en Ravigote", Roasted Sweet Peppers, and a Nicoise Olive Sauce

I think this qualifies as a "main" course. Lamb is all good.

** Course 7:
"La Tur"
"Gelee de Pomme Verte", Satur Famrs Red Beets and English Walnut Short Bread

Cheese course, a wedge of something creamy with tart apple gel and beets. Anne doesn't like beets, but I found this very refreshing.

** Course 8:
Napa Valley "Verjus" Sorbet
Poached Cherries and Cream Cheese "Bavarois"

Sorbet course. My palate was refreshed!

** Course 9:
"Tentation Au Chocolat, Noisette Et Lait"
Milk Chocolate "Cremeux", Hazelnet "Streusel" with Condensed Milk Sorbet and "Sweetened Salty Hazelnuts" and "Pain au Lait" Coulis

Formal dessert, basically a chocolate mousse with puddles of creamy things, and the Parker House bread pudding.

** "Mignardises 1"

Anne:
Creme Brulee

Anne really liked this, but I found it, to my surprise, to be too smooth. It's the texture of luxury, but I still think that Le Cirque has it beat. It was quite delicious, but it wasn't right for me.

Adam:
Hazelnut Panna Cotta w/ Apricots

This is Keller's take on yogurt with fruit on the bottom. Yummy.


** "Mignardises 2"
Assortment of cookies & chocolates
Rosemary / Thyme chocolate

Here, I had an espresso, and we both had white tea. I'm quite pleased that more restaurants seem to be offering high-end teas.

The cookies were tasty and buttery, but the standout here was the filled chocolates, particularly one with a rosemary and thyme cream.


So, that's it. Afterwards, we got a tour of the kitchen, which is like some sort of serene temple.

I had a fabulous time. Previously, I didn't really feel up to the task of tackling any of the recipes in the French Laundry cookbook, but now I feel like I have some idea of where they're supposed to go. This is unmistakably one of the standout meals in my appreciation for the art of cooking.
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My take on the debate

Better than I'd expected, not as aggressive as I'd hoped.

I'd have paid real money to see Kerry come out with "You're against nuclear proliferation?!? You can't even fucking PRONOUNCE it!".
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Ideas for RNC protesters

I think it would be great to get a few hundred thousand people out on the streets carrying signs that say... nothing.

A blank white paper sign says, I think, far more than any sort of protest message could.

  • It's emblematic of the lack of a coherent plan in our current semblance of government.
  • It represents curtailing of free speech rights.
  • It will leave TV viewers wondering if the signs have been edited out of broadcasts.
  • It will leave the protest up to the imagination of the viewer.
  • It's a hook to get people thinking.
  • No one can possibly complain about the content.
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(no subject)

This comment on an <a href="http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/8866">Ask Metafilter thread</a> pretty much exactly sums up everything that's wrong with social software services.

I used LinkedIn for a while, and it was cool at first. It's meant to help you find people with specific interests or skills within your broad business/social circle, so you can look for an "information architect" or "marketing expert", and find a resource that's also within a degree or two of someone you know well.

Pretty quickly, though, I ran into what's got to become a systemic problem on these things--someone I know got joined to some kind of mad link whore, who had like 1,000 1st-degree links.

Now all of a sudden, this guy's just two degrees away, and my "3rd-degree" network jumps to 1,200 people. Since half the people he links to are link whores as well, my fourth-degree network is like 10,000 people, and the whole thing is totally useless. Every search gets 500+ hits, and they're all through some guy I definitely don't want to know.

You know what I call the remaining list of people who are all within one or two degrees of connection to me? My friggin' address book.

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Brief intro to RSS for non-techies

An RSS feed (and I use that as a catchall term for several syndication formats, including different versions of RSS and Atom) is just an XML file, usually served by a webserver and updated reasonably dynamically. The idea is this - each piece of "content" is an item in the feed, tagged with a unique ID and a datestamp. Programs reading the feeds (RSS aggregators) can grab the feed, then they typically compare the items to the ones you've read before, so you only get the new items displayed.

Yes, it's an alternative way of reading blogs (and news, and weather, and whatever), but it's also a centralized one with some advantages. I now have 90 feeds - there's no way I could keep up with that much without an RSS reader.

Specifically:

1) It only shows me the new stuff.

2) It allows me to set up folders so I can break new content to read into logical chunks that I can deal with when I have time.

In short, it lets me read 90 feeds daily without hitting each one separately, and does the work of trying to figure out what I've already read. The rest of the potential remains to be seen.

There are RSS readers for desktops, but I use a web-based one (bloglines.com) so I can maintain state between home and work. Registration is free. Bloglines also recently added some new features, including easily maintaining your own blog made up of interesting stuff (which people can also subscribe to using RSS).

As far as good feeds, you can check out my feeds at http://www.bloglines.com/public/fields, and bloglines also has a directory of popular feeds once you make an account. If you have a bloglines account and you're browsing my feeds, you can subscribe to them directly from there. Web searches for "whatever + rss" seem to work pretty well. Many pages also have an orange "XML" or "Syndication" icon with a link to the feed.
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(no subject)

Salon article on opening up your home network for plausible deniability for copyright infringements with your IP address attached:

http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2004/05/18/safe_and_insecure/index.html

This article has some good points, but doesn't pick up on the critical one. If you really want to do this, there's no need to open up access to the machines on your home network. Set up two wireless routers, chain them, and connect your computers to the "inside" one. That way, the outside world can connect freely using your outbound internet connection (and public IP address), but your other machines aren't vulnerable to port scans on the open wifi channel. Since your internet connection is likely much slower than even the slowest wifi network, you can use a really cheap 802.11b router for the outside connection.
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(no subject)

I had an idea that I think might address some of the privacy concerns with leaving RFID tags in consumer items. Taking the tag out of the item isn't a good solution, because there are obvious benefits to having items tagged once you get them home (clothes with washing instructions, etc...).

Would it be feasible to construct a type of tag that would have a very small effective range (say, 1-6") with small numbers of them, but if you get a lot of them together, they amplify each other's signal?

So - a whole box full of razor handles could be scanned from a few feet away in the warehouse, but one tag attached to a razor in your bag couldn't be scanned easily.

You could also construct two-part tags for theft prevention, where one half has just one tag, which you leave attached, and the other half has a whole bunch which breaks off and is reused by the store.

Any thoughts on this?