Where was I last week


Well, it’s doesn’t seem like a week has passed since my last update, but it has. I didn’t get to bottle my beer the last weekend, but got a chance on the weekend that just finished, and I also got to setup some carpooling for work.

Most of last week is long forgotten now, but I did my first ride-share on Friday, having a passenger named Jordon, who needed to get up to Fredericton to finish up some stuff for his passport. The weather tuned crappy, so I decided to leave Fredericton early, and it took almost 2 hours to get home due to the snow, rain, and sleet.
Using the power of a Facebook group and Kijiji, I was able to arrange for a full time passenger for this week, along with help a young lady get home from Fredericton tonight. My passenger this week has his own car, but it was damaged last Friday morning and is currently not road worthy, so for now I get to drive into Saint John to pick him up. I am also thinking that we might be able to get one or two additional people into the pool to save on costs.

On the weekend, I happened to enter a random Facebook contest put on by the Saint John Sea Dogs, the local major junior hockey team, who also happen to be the 2011 QMJHL and Memorial Cup champions. Yeah, I won 2 tickets for the game on Sunday, which the Sea Dogs managed to win 6-3.

I also re-tested my Mr.Beer mix to see how it was doing, and decided that it was ready for bottling. Luckily, the bottles were still sealed with the sanitizer, so I was able to use them. I added 2 1/2 teaspoons of sugar, since that was the recommended amount for the 1 litre bottles, then fill them up to just about where the neck starts. I have some pictures, I’ll get them added later. The bottles have been placed in storage, again in my office due to the nice 21’C temperature that it likes to hold. The bottles should take between 7 and 14 days

Mister Beer

to fully carbonate, and at that point they are ready to drink, though I plan to condition them at least another month. While I wait for my home brew, I picked up some Mister Beer bottle brew, which is the easiest home made beer ever… just pop in the yeast pill, wait 10-14 days (store between 20 and 24 Celsius), then chill for 12 to 24 hours and it’s ready… easy as that, and it tastes decent too.

And to end off on a fun note, I picked up a celebrity follower on Twitter today! My new follower? It’s Amber MacArthur, you’ve probably heard of her. If not, check out her page, her facebook, her twitter or Google+.


Tinker gets out for some fun in the snow

I noticed something this weekend on Youtube, and figured why not join the crowd. Videos of animals doing cute or silly thing, tend to get a lot of views.
My answer to this? Take Tinker outside to have some fun in the snow and capture it with the camera, and for those who do not know, Tinker is our 3 year old smooth hair Dachshund. She is not quite a full size, and just a bit to big for a mini, so she falls under the category of a tween (and thankfully, she is not a Twilight fan). She is also a dapple pattern, not the more frequently seen Red, Black or Tan colours.
For a camera, I used the Canon PowerShot Elph 300HS that I bought last spring before my trips to Washington DCChicago IL, and Kolkata India. I really like this camera for it’s ease of use and size. It also has the ability to shoot in 1080p HD and do to slow-motion at 240fps at 320×240, which is really fun to play with.

Since it has recently snowed, I figured why not take Tinker out and have some fun.

Here is Tinker on the deck, and I’m part way up the hill in the back yard calling for her, but she doesn’t want to jump off.

Here she is running through the snow, using my footprints as a guide.

Here she is trying to figure out how to get down the hill to mommy, without having to run through the snow.

Here she is plowing through the snow, running down the hill to mommy.

And finally, I had to get a slow-motion capture of her running back up the hill.

She was starting to get cold, so I called it a day… next time, I’ll make her wear her coat.

Beer bottling day has arrived…. or not.

I have waited the 14 day period to let me Mr.Beer keg ferment, and am ready to start bottling my beer. Now, I have had the keg resting out of direct sunlight, in the only room that I know will stay between 20’C and 24’C, my office, as having 3-4 computers always powered on does generate a decent amount of heat, and I only set the thermostat to 16’C just in case, though I did have to keep the door closed over night to keep the heat in. I checked the keg with an LED flashlight to check on the state of the contents, but it’s hard to tell the cloudiness inside the brown keg.

[singlepic id=7 w=320 h=240 float=left] Now the instructions directed me to sanitize the bottle that I would be putting the beer into, and lucky for me, the Premium Gold Edition of the Mr.Beer kit, came with 8 1 litre bottles. So, using the remaining sanitation mix, I prepared 4 litres of cleaning mixture and filled each bottle half way, capped them, and shock the crap out of them, before letting them sit for 10-15 minutes in the sink, and then shaking them again just to make sure the sanitizer had made contact with all surfaces.

[singlepic id=6 w=320 h=240 float=left] At this point, I brought the keg out of hiding, in preparation to dispense the beer into the bottles. I was able to see a nice layer of sediment built up along the bottom of the keg, and double check the clarity of the contents, and it did appear a tad cloudy, so I would have to draw a sample to verify that. If you look closely, you can see how far up the beer mixture is in the keg, just shy of 2/3’s full.

Here is a good look at the sediment.
[singlepic id=8 w=320 h=240 float=left]






And here is a look at my sample, after I took a taste test.
[singlepic id=9 w=320 h=240 float=left]

You can see how cloudy the beer still is, and I was able to detect a some sweetness in the taste, but it did almost taste like flat beer, which is what I am aiming for. Now, I’ve never tried the Cowboy Golden Lagar before, so I’m not quite sure of what the taste should be, but I’m guessing something close to flat Budweiser.

Well, with the beer not quite ready, I’ll put the keg back into storage for 2-3 (probably more like 7 days), then do a sample draw again to check for cloudiness and taste. For now, the sanitized bottle will remain sealed. For now, you will just have to wait another few days, just like me.

 *All pictures in this post are mine. I took them with my camera. If you want to use them for your own non-commerical use, go right ahead.


SOPA / PIPA, and Gasoline too!

In Soviet Russia, Internet is a lie!
In Soviet Russia, Internet is lie!

Hopefully today’s ‘Blackout‘ by some of the biggest and most popular sites on the internet has brought more attention to the proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)and it’s senate counterpart PIPA (Protect IP Act)bill, that will effectively push the internet as we know it back 20 years, or as I like to call it, Dark Ages Online*.
I’ll give you my take on SOPA, and for the longer (and professionally written) opinion, check out this article from Gizmodo.
Basically, SOPA is designed to give motion picture, television and music companies the right to have any website they find that may contain copyrighted content, shut down. This is primarily designed to stop piracy, but has the potential will really give the MPAA and RIAA  free reign to do shut down legitimate websites without just cause. A good example of this would be a Youtube video of, let’s say a baby, dancing to a music video, let’s say for Beyonce, that you happen to record with your camera, then upload to Youtube. Now this video gets a lot of views, lets say 26 bazillion!, and also gets noticed by the RIAA. They would now be able to contact Youtubes hosting provider and have the site, not just the video, but the entire youtubeverse shut down. I call shenanigans!
Now take that last paragraph and multiply it by all websites that are hosted in the US, or use the most popular domain suffixes, think of .com, .edu, .net and .gov, and you will probably find that it works out to more than sixty-six percent of all the internet as we know it. These websites and domains could be shutdown.
Americans, please write to your congressional representatives and let them know that you will not stand for this. Everyone else, contact all your Amerifriends and educate them about SOPA, PIPA and internet freedom!
Btw, such a video does exist… and have like 26 bazillion views.

Oh yeah, I did mention Gasoline. My fill up wonders continue. I filled up on Tuesday, January 17th at my regular Esso in Fredericton, at my normal pump (Lucky number 7), and with a temperature hovering right around freezing… yeah, pump only stopped on me once. If you’re lost, see my previous musings about Esso pumps hating me and the further woes of filling up.

*Dark Ages Online – I should make a game about having dial up internet 20 years ago… maybe an MMO! Patent Pending!

Return of the Mac(roSoft) scammers.

Phising for Phools

Tonight, I got that now famous Windows scam call. Here goes the play-by-play, as best as I can recall.

Time: 6:43pm Atlantic Standard Time. (Try to picture the clock from 24 here…)

‘Riiiiinnnnnggggg…. Riiiinnnnnnggggg’

Me: Hello?

(Nothing for 10 seconds)

Me: Hello??

Caller: Hello, can I speak to Mr. Lich (Lady caller, with Indian accent)

Me: (Mr. Lich? like in Warcraft or something) I’m sorry, you must have the wrong number.

Caller: umm, can I speak to the owner of 506-555-1212* (*not my real number)

Me: Speaking

Caller: Sir, I am calling from technical support, your computer is infected… blah blah blah… memory… files… virus… hard drive… internet…yadda yadda yadda** (** I bunch of meaningless technical babel meant to confuse most people)

Me: Oh my, and you are calling to help me?

Caller: Yes

Me: Ok, please go ahead.

Caller: Please turn on your pc

Me: Ok

At this point, I start a remote session to my Fedora 14 server, that I use for web design, ftp, and downloading files into a ‘safe’ zone. I wait 1-2 minutes to fake a slow start up… For reference, this is what my ‘Start’ button looks like in KDE.
Fedora Logo

Me: Ok, my computer is on

Caller: Down in the lower left hand corner, can you please to click on the Start Options button

Me: Ok, the one with the letter ‘F’ on it?

Caller: Yes, the Start Options button.

Me: In the lower left with the ‘F’ on it

Caller: No sir, with the Windows logo on it

Me: Mine has an ‘F’, like the Fedora logo

Caller: Sir, you have Windows?

Me: No, I have Fedora

Caller: Please hold sir.

(Put on hold for a minute)

Caller: Sir, so you have Fedora as your browser in Windows, right?

Me: No, I’m pretty sure the Fedora is my operating system

Caller: It is not Windows?

Me: No, I’m pretty sure it’s Linux.

Caller: ummm… please hold

(Put on hold again… really?)

Caller: So, you don’t have Windows?

Me: No, I use Fedora, and it is Linux

Caller: I have never heard of it (Me: What???? never heard of Linux? Fedora? WTF!!!)

Me: You can look it up at fedoraproject.org

Caller: Ok, thank you sir, fedoraproject… I can not help you with your computer, please have a good day.

Me: You too, and good luck.

‘Hang Up’

Hahaha, scam fail!
Now to prepare for the next round… Windows XP virtual machine, here I come!

Gas, Why do you hate me so

Gas pump

In my previous post, I mentioned that I am having great fun with Esso pumps when it is cold out. Now that temperatures have been going up and down like a good roller-coaster around here last week, so of course when I need to fill up again, it’s just above freezing.
With the limited selection of stations I have on the way home from work, I decided to go against my better judgement and roll into an Irving. The prices were still pretty close to what I would pay without my SpeedPass, so it was’t too much of a hit to the wallet.

Now to jump a little from the main topic, I own a 2008 Ford Escape. Not the best on gas, and it has a surprisingly small gas tank for a vehicle it’s size. I like it, a lot, handles well in bad weather and a rather decent ride for my drive to work, which is close to 100km away… making my round trips daily almost 200km’s, leading me to have to fill up every other day (though I could get away with 2.5 trips, the gas is almost 10cents cheaper in Fredericton). I decided that to get an idea of my fuel consumption and how much I am spending, to track all my fill-ups using Fuelly, which allows you to input your odometer reading, the fuel amount and cost per litre to give you figures on your L/100km and M/Gallon, along with tracking your weekly, monthly and yearly costs. Below is a banner that represents my Escape since I bought it in August 2011.


It should link you to my profile, where you can see how far I have driven, how much I spend on gas (I really need to explore car pooling…) and some consumption analysis.

Now back to the gas bit, I stopped at the Irving and filled up self service, and even their pump stopped on me 4 times while I was filling up, but at least it let me squeeze the pump all the way, unlike the Esso pumps. To get better data, I will need to try the Irving again when it is minus 10 or so, just to see if the pump stops more frequently, and I need to try the Esso again with the temperatures at or just above freezing.

Now to go make some fun YouTube videos of my dog…

Why do Esso pumps hate me so?

Gas Station in the winterSo it seems when the temperature outside drops below freezing, that the gas pumps at any Esso gas station start acting really funny… Normally I can fill up my 2008 Ford Escape by just inserting the fuel nozzle and squeezing the handle all the way up, but not when it’s cold.

I’m going to back track a step here, so you understand why I prefer to fill up at Esso. I travel back and forth for work, close to 200km daily, and with the small fuel tank on the Escape, I end up having to fill up every 2 days, though I could do every 2 1/2, I don’t. I have found that filling up in Fredericton to be the first step in saving some money, as they have a Costco that has a gas bar that helps keep gas ~8-10 cents cheaper then the Saint John area, and I also have a SpeedPass, which at most stations will save me an additional 3.5 cents per litre.

Now back to the good part…  When it’s cold, if I squeeze the handle to full throttle, the pump will shut off, much like it does when it detects or thinks that your tank is almost full. So I will try again a few times and it will do it again, this does not make me a happy person when it’s minus 15 without the wind chill. I end up having to barely squeeze the handle, to the point that the gas is flowing so slowly that it takes almost 15 minutes to put 50 litres into my tank.

So, being the intelligent person that I am, I decided to do some experimenting.. I have filled up using 4 different pumps at the Smythe Street Esso in Fredericton, 1 pump at the Scholten’s in Grand Bay and 1 pump at the Esso just off the highway in Oromocto to see if I would get any varying results… nope. Next stop will be to try a different brand all together, as long as it is not Irving, I suspect that 10% ethanol isn’t the only crap they are adding to their fuel. Post that, I may have to consider the issue being the Escape.. but I’ll look at that pending more testing.

Unleash the hounds!

Something that is missing from this city, and this province… Weiner Dog Races!
Being an owner of a Dachshund, I can confirm that they are little tubes of energy… except the mandatory ~18 hours of sleeping (at least, that’s probably the number of hours that mine logs everyday).
I wonder how much effort it would take to organize a Dachshund race, or maybe a Weiner day in Saint John, Fredericton or even Moncton.

Here’s what a Weiner dog race looks like, just for reference.

I’m sure Tinker would enjoy it.

Mr.Beer, round 1 begin!

Mr.Beer Logo

So, I picked up a Mr.Beer Premium Gold Edition kit from Amazon.ca just before Christmas, and it arrived last Monday.
After lunch today I opened up the kit and decided to start the process. Step 1 was to sanitize… everything, the mini keg, the can opener, a few spoons and a measuring cup. Step 2 was to create the Wort in a large sauce pan using some water and the ‘Booster’ which appears to be corn starch, bring these up to a boil and then mix in the HME, which is the ‘Hop Malt Extract’, which was some funky glue like substance that was really dark brown.

Here is what my first batch of Wort looked like.
[singlepic id=4 w=320 h=240 float=left]

Once the Wort was ready, I prepared the keg by adding in 4 quarts of nice cold water (keg warns about pouring the hot liquid into the keg without it) then added in the Wort mix into the keg and stir well. Had to top up the keg, with an additional ~3.5 quarts or so, again with cold water, until I hit the 8.5 quart mark on the keg. Added in the brewers yeast and waited the 5 minutes that were instructed, then stirred in the yeast and capped the keg.

Here is what the keg with the Wort and yeast looked like, just before I stirred in the yeast and capped the keg.
[singlepic id=5 w=320 h=240 float=left]

Now the keg is placed in a spot where it will stay between 20′ and 23′ Celsius, which is my office (Computer heating… can’t be beat), and it should be ready for the bottling stage in 7-14 days, though I’ll probably give it the full 14. And in case you are wondering, I decided to start off with the Cowboy Golden Lager.  I have also decided that I will have to order more bottles, and possibly another keg so that I can always have a batch on the go and a few ready to drink.

I will update more on this when I get to bottling.

New build of Serviio – 0.6.1

A new build of Serviio has been released. 0.6.1 rolled out this past week with a few nice changes and updates. I’ve been using Serviio for the last year and have found it to be one of the best DLNA services available for Windows and Linux.

Some of the highlights that I like.
– Stream online content like Youtube or Hulu
– Less disconnects
– Better transcoding support

Full release notes for the new version can be read here.

And you can download Serviio here.