Late to the TV Party

On the recommendation of a friend I checked out the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time. I started by watching Season 1 via Netflix. While this is a great service it can be painfully slow while watching a TV show. So I did what anyone who has become hooked on a show does, I went out and bought all 7 seasons on DVD. What I discovered was that I missed a damn good show on TV from 1997-2003.

If you’re like me and somehow managed to miss this show the first time around I’d definitely recommend checking it out. Especially if you like Joss Whedon’s other shows like Firefly. The only downside to all this is that I ended up going through all 7 seasons in < 3 weeks.

iPhone 2.0, now 10% more expensive!

Well today Apple announced the new 3G iPhone which I’ve been waiting for. I had planned to pick an iPhone up but unfortunately Apple has raised the price. Wait you say, didn’t Apple also announce a $200 price cut starting the iPhone out at $199 for an 8GB and $299 for a 16GB.

You’re right they give you a small discount, only they didn’t mention that ATT has now increased the data plan cost from $20 to $30 a month. This means you now pay $10 a month more for your iPhone than before. Since you need a 2 year contract over 24 Months you now pay $40 more for the iPhone than you did prior to this “price cut”.

I guess you now get 3G speeds, and GPS so perhaps the $40 increase is worth it. But given a year of time I’d expect costs to go down so more features for the same price should be what we get. I don’t think the dollar’s dropped a whole 10% against the rest of the world in the last year.

Now after seeing AT&T’s price increase I’m not sure I want to get an iPhone. $70 a month is a lot for phone service. I pay $40 or so for my 6MB/s DSL including the phone line so this cell cost seems a bit pricey.

Nerdfest 2008? Should I go?

It looks like Blizzard has decided to host a Blizzcon convention for the year 2008 down in Anaheim Oct 10th-11th. As I’m currently fairly active playing WoW at the moment I’m tempted to go to learn about their upcoming games, try out Starcraft II, and maybe meet some WoW guildies in real life.

I’ve never been to a convention like this and I’m not sure I want to go by myself. My “real life” friends who play WoW are all still at school and hitting up a convention is probably out for them. Anyone out there ever been to something like Blizzcon (Comic Con, GenCon or some other ConCon)? Is this something that’s worth going to by oneself or does it need to be experienced with friends. Something tells me it’s not worth going unless I can drag convince someone to come with.

Can’t Take the Heat? Get Out of the Bay

Well the bay area has deceived me, it’s weather is not as perfect as one is lead to believe. It appears that the highs for the next few days are going to be record setting. That’s right the forecast calls for Sunny (Duh), a super high UV index, and highs of 97, 106, 97 for Wed, Thurs, Fri. Turning on that Intel Quadcore is going to be a bad idea.

I would worry about an expensive power bill if I my apartment had an AC unit, but it doesn’t. What I do have is a box fan and a small window room ac unit from a previous trip to CA. Too bad the AC doesn’t fit in the window and I fear dropping it 2 stories onto someone in the parking lot. Last time I was at the store they really didn’t have any other AC units in stock since it’s still fairly early in the summer.

Given these crazy highs I might have to hang at work or something until it cools off at night. The saddest part is the AC at work is probably cranked so high I need to wear long sleeves and a jacket, so much for shorts.

More Cheese

Been awhile since I’ve posted but I do have a few things in the queue.

I did manage to find more cheese out here in CA. In fact I did find cheese curds at the farmer’s market in Campbell.

Campell Farmer's Market

Curds at the Market

With curds in hand I decided I needed to improve them by turning them properly molten. To that end I ordered a Deep Fryer off In just under a weeks time I had everything I needed to transform the curds into molten goodness.

The Fryer

Deepfryer in hand I was now able to fry some curds. Just in case the curds didn’t turn out I also decided to make some french fries.

Fries Frying

While the fries were frying I whipped up some batter for the curds.

The Batter and Curds

Battering time! As you can see I froze the curds prior to this step so they’re all stuck together.

Frozen Curds Meet Batter

While preparing the curds the fries got done. Golden and delicious!

Golden Fries

Time for the newly battered curds to take a plunge. At this point the batter is still pretty damp and dripping off the curds.

Curds about to take the plunge

Fry time.

Frying the curds

Fried curds all molten and golden. That light stuff floating around them are bits of batter that became detached during the frying. It seems my homemade batter was a bit thick and some of it floated off in the fryer.

Golden Curds

Oops I tried to dump them out but I made the mistake of having runny batter on the curds when they went in. The batter has cooked itself around the fry basket and so the curds won’t come out. I did manage to eat the curds by hacking them out of the basket.

The Basket and Curds Melded Together

I also made some brats for a full WI meal.


Due to the batter melding to the basket I wasn’t able to actually fry all the curds. I ended up freezing a bunch of them for later. Using frozen curds with frozen batter works a lot better when frying. They still ended up as a giant lump since I cooked them to long but at least they came out of the basket.

Golden Curds for Real

A small bit of WI in CA

While browsing around SaveMart today I came across this little transplanted piece of WI:

Spreadable WI Goodness

That’s right, you can buy spreadable cheddar cheese from Kaukauna, WI. Someone told me that they didn’t even sell this stuff out here but it seems SaveMart does. They even had 5-6 flavors of cheese.

Of course this stuff STILL isn’t that wonderful WI treat known as the Cheese Curd. I’ve heard a rumor the Campbell Farmer’s market has them so I need to investigate tomorrow.

Tax Time

This weekend I spent a bit of time doing my Taxes. Unlike what appears to be 90% of the population I don’t use those newfangled computer programs to do my taxes, I do them by hand. In general this isn’t so bad. Other than doing a bit of research to figure out what I could deduct from my move (pretty much nothing), I completed my 1040, and my Minnesota M1NR. Do to my Minnesota residency but employment in WI, I get a penalty this year for not paying estimated tax to MN. I probably should have thought about this ahead of time since I had the same thing happen last year. At least I don’t have to deal with that again.

Now I need to do a CA return which seems to be stupid complicated compared to the other ones. For some reason I have to file a Schedule CA 540NR which is not nearly as straight forward as it should be. I’m not sure why they really care about my 1040 wages since they only get a part of that, and you work out what you actually owe on a sheet you don’t even turn in.

Actually, the worst part of my tax experience seemed to be that I didn’t have any paper forms (well I had a 1040a but needed to file a 1040). The federal government and the states all offer PDFs you can fill in but there is NO WAY to save your work. The best I could do is print the form to another PDF which I couldn’t edit. This made the few Apple Preview crashes a pain since I lost all the stuff on the form a couple times. That and I had to retype the whole form if I want to make a change. After the first crash I moved to scratch paper.

They seriously need some sort of form where you can save temporary work. Maybe they can just let me fill in a form online and submit electronically without paying. But if they let me do that, then Intuit would go out of business. I’m not going to pay some third party $20 so I can submit my taxes online.

Also for fun I gave the free online Turbo Tax a try to see what it came up with. In about the same amount of time (almost more in fact) as doing it by hand Turbo Tax agreed with my hand calculations. The best part was that they wouldn’t actually give you tax advice on the free version. At least the IRS forms list what you can do for certain deductions. With TurboTax you get a blank box unless you fork over your cash. Frankly, I have no idea why anyone pays for that software.

Is the war almost over?

There’s some big news on the whole next gen Hi-Def DVD format. It appears that since Warner dropped HD-DVD the red camp is being hit with a massive attack of bad news.

Ars Technica and others are reporting two pieces of bad news for those of you who support the red discs. Firstly, Best Buy has decided to recommend Blu-Ray over HD-DVD to customers. While they won’t stop selling HD-DVD players/discs at the moment their sales associates will advise people looking for High Def content to head Blu-Ray’s way. While this probably doesn’t directly effect anyone reading my blog as most of you probably don’t take Blue Shirt advice (want a service plan)?

The bigger nail in HD-DVD’s coffin is that Netflix has decided that it will no longer carry HD-DVD. As of now they will not be buying new HD-DVD discs and will be removing the current HD-DVD’s from circulation in the coming months.

Both of these pieces of news mean that people have even more reason to go blue and not red when buying their movies. This will likely drive more consumers into the Blu-Ray camp which is probably a good thing overall. Honestly, neither standard will really catch on as long as both still exist. Hopefully, Universal and Paramount give up their silly ways and start releasing Blu-Rays so I can get Bourne and Serenity in High-Def.

As for those of you who bought Laserdisc 2.0 I hope you enjoy your collector’s items.

The Downside To CA

Sometime between 9pm Friday and 10am Saturday someone smashed the front driver’s side window in my car while it was sitting in my parking spot. They did a pretty thorough job going through my car and stole everything in the glove compartment, and the roadside emergency kit that was in my trunk. They did leave the 3-4 burned CD’s I had in the car. Luckily, I didn’t really have anything valuable in the car that they could take. They did get my car’s manual and registration.

Since the only damage was to the window it’s well below my $500 deductible and so my insurance covers nothing from the break in. It also turns out they don’t cover any items stolen from the car. Now that I know they don’t cover stolen items I think I’m going to have to go find a different provider.

I’m mostly glad I typically don’t keep anything in my car, so at least I didn’t lose anything else. What really angers me is the $255 in damage to my window. I’m sure the items stolen add up to much less than the replacement cost, and it’s not like I really need that extra expense.

I thought I lived in a somewhat safe neighborhood but it looks like that’s not the case. My other worry is that there’s no guarantee that something like this won’t happen again. It’s not like I can do much to prevent someone from breaking my stuff again. Apparently, keeping nothing in the car doesn’t help.

I also attempted to report the whole thing to the police but apparently the Santa Clara police don’t really care. When I tried to call and file a report the officer answering the phone just forwarded me on to an answering machine where I left a message that never got returned.

Make Time Machine Backup To Any Volume

After a long search around the net I found a simple way to make leopard enable time machine for any backup system. This includes backup up to a NFS or Samba share over a network. Simple open and run the following command:

defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

That’s it, after that you should be able to choose your mounted volume in time machine for backup. Now I just need to figure out how to force time machine to backup to a subdirectory rather than my linux home directory. I might have to make an explicit Samba share for that.

Edit based on someone’s comment

If the above command isn’t working for you try using sudo:

sudo defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1