Sunday, December 4, 2011

Feeding the Eris Gingerbread

My HTC Eris is coming up on two years old and I decided it was time for a change.  Tiring of waiting for the Nexus, and aggravated by laggy phone experience, I decided to try the root and ROM route.  And now this is what I have: gingerbread 2.3.7 and a whole new outlook on life.

Not too shabby, eh?

So how do you get there?  Pretty easily it turns out.

Step 1: Backup your phone.  I used Titanium Backup to backup everything, then copied the backup folder over to my PC.  I didn't concern myself too much with stored information such as addresses since I save everything to my Google account.  It might be helpful to make a list of apps you've downloaded, because you will need to reload them from the marketplace.

Step 2: Root your phone.  Download the one-click Eris root app. If you have the stock version 2.1 on your phone, as I did, there is no reboot option - when the directions say "reboot", simply power the phone off and then back on.  I found this video on YouTube helpful (however, don't bother trying to load Rom Manager on your phone, it is not supported on 2.1 - as I discovered).

Step 3:  Choose a ROM.  I chose the Condemned CM 7.1 ROM, which is based on Android 2.3.7.  I chose the "vanilla" CCM ROM.  Download this ROM to the root folder of the phone's SD card. Shut the phone off and then restart it,  holding down the power and volume up keys.  This will load the recovery screen.  Next, follow these steps as cribbed from the HTC Eris: Full Update Guide.
  • Once you enter Recovery, maneuver by scrolling up & down with the trackball.  Use the trackball button to select options.
  • Select the option to create a Nandroid backup 
  • Select Wipe, then Wipe data/factory reset.  
  • Select Flash zip from sdcard.
  • Select the
  • Once the installation has finished, select Reboot system. The HTC Eris now should boot into the new ROM.
It will take a few minutes for the phone to start back up again.  Eventually the phone will come back to life and brings you into the home screen and will ask for your Google username and password.  Once that is finished you can go about the process of reinstalling your apps from the marketplace. 

After playing around with themes and wallpaper I finally settled on the landscape wallpaper as displayed above, which I downloaded from here.  I missed the HTC clock/weather applet but couldn't find a replacement I liked.  Instead I went minimalist, and used the BeWeather applet to display the weather using the smallest size available.

So how is it all working?  In short - it's like having a new phone.  It's much more responsive, the battery life is better, and the revised apps and interface are all improvements.  The Car Home applet is a great idea and much appreciated.  No complaints about the apps so far, they seem to be nicely refined from 2.1. The only thing I miss is the old friendly HTC weather applet I mentioned above.  But in its absence I am enjoying the pared-down aesthetic.

A hearty thank you to all the folks who made this possible, you are doing amazing  things.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You Are Now in Bedford Falls

Last Monday I hurried to join a man crossing Mass. Ave. in Central Square, hoping in both safety in numbers and in the efficacy of his bright fluorescent vest to ward off evil.  We struck up a brief conversation as we warily watched the oncoming traffic come to a sudden stop.  We joked about the accident that could have been.  Laughing he made a quip about collecting on his life insurance if he was hit by a car, to which I reminded him he wouldn't be around to collect it himself.  And to this he replied, "as my wife says, I'm worth more dead than alive."  And this instantly made me think of the late, great George Bailey of It's a Wonderful Life fame.

I had never seen nor heard of this movie until I was in my mid-twenties, when all of a sudden for several years it was constantly on TV at Christmas time .  There seemed to be no escaping it.  It was a great movie, but I didn't really get it. I have to admit I didn't have a lot of sympathy for George Bailey.  Sure, he always seemed to get the bad break when he was ready to escape Bedford Falls and see the world.  Chance, luck bad or indifferent, his reasonableness and willingness to sacrifice for others ended up putting him in a tough spot time after time, even if the bank examiners decided to break for Christmas Day and let him sweat it out another day.  I have to admit that in the arrogance of my youth I made fun of the poor man.

Of course, that was before I ended up in Bedford Falls myself one day.  It was quite by accident, just like George.  But all of a sudden I was a middle-aged man like George, who had had dreams but was instead living a rather ordinary and boring life.  What happened?  What went wrong? How did I end up like George, the very man I mocked?

You are now in Bedford Falls.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sardine Redux

Thanks to popular demand I have a couple of sardines to review today.  Both interesting in their own way, yet very different.

First off let's present the star of  the show: Coles's sardines, a smoked Portuguese sardine in olive oil.  These unexpectedly showed up at my local Shaw's. These are indeed the highest quality sardines I've been able to buy so far, about $1 more than the better quality King Oscar cans. 
Take a look at the contents, how neatly snuggled they are up against each other in their genuine smoked little skins.  How handsomely bronzed they are. Qualitatively these play in the big leagues.  The flavor and texture are outstanding.  Be forewarned, however, they are quite smoky.  I think they would be a very interesting substitute for a smoky bacon in some recipes, and these could make for a unique and surprising dish.  This is an idea worth exploring.

The second review is of a more pedestrian, but still a good eating can, these inexpensive Goya sardines in olive oil, imported from Spain.  They cost a mere $1.99 at Shaw's.
Could these even be the same species of fish as in the Cole's can? It looks like there are three sardines in this can!  In fact there was one other hiding underneath, for a total of 4 sardines. These are the brawny big brothers to the more delicate Cole's clan. Calling these sardines is a bit of a insult to the brethren of sardines.  These things are huge.... Nonetheless, despite the bigger size, they are meaty and the texture is good.  The meat is not too dry, the olive oil helps out here.  The eatin' is of acceptable quality and the price is right.  They make a decent quick lunch, and I recommend them.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sharing Stuff with Windows 7

Homegroups suck. Maybe it's just me. But I don't get it. Under older versions of Windows you enabled file and printer sharing, made sure everyone was in the same workgroup, and you were good to go.

So forget the homegroup. Who needs another password? And what do homegroups do for you that the old system didn't do?  If their aim was to make it simpler, well forget about it. It's not. So here's how to bypass this homegroup malarkey.  I'm writing this so I can remember these steps again when I have to do this again in 6 months.
  1. Decide upon a workgroup name and assign all your home PC's to it.  In Windows 7, you can rename it from "Workgroup" to something a little cleverer.  You are clever, aren't you? Of course you are. In the start menu, click on Computer -> System Properties tab -> Advanced System Properties -> Computer Name tab, then click the Change button.  You can rename your PC here as well.  You have to restart the computer for the workgroup assignment to go into effect.
  2. If you have a wireless connection (maybe this works for wired connections as well, I dunno) right-click on the tray icon and select Open Network and Sharing Center.  An alternative way to get there is to click on the start menu Control Panel,  then...well, here it depends on whether your are looking at the Category view or the Icon view.  If it's the Category view, click on the Network and Internet link.  If you have the icons view open, click on the Network and Sharing icon.
  3. Now, on the left hand panel click the Change Advanced Sharing Settings link.
  4. And now, we have finally arrived at our destination. Here we update the settings for sharing.  Did you leave breadcrumbs along the trail so you can find your way home?  Not to worry.  You can always click your heels together three times and return home to Kansas, unless you never left.  Good luck with that.  
    1. OK, here's what to check, some settings may already be set as listed below, but as I don't remember how they were originally set on my PC let's make sure nothing is missed.
    2. Turn ON Network Discovery.
    3. Turn ON Network and Printer Sharing.
    4. Turn ON sharing so anyone with network access can read and write files in the Public section (optional, but why not...good for troubleshooting)
    5. Media Streaming - mine is OFF.  I don't know if this is useful or not. Change as you see fit.
    6. ENABLE file sharing for devices that use 40- or 56-bit encryption.
    7. Turn OFF password protected sharing.
    8. USE user accounts and passwords to  connect to other computers.
  5. Click the Save Changes button.
  6. Start sharing.
Fortunately you only have to do this once.   Until you get a new PC and can't remember how you did it before.  Now you only need to remember where this link is.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Little Fishies, Goodbye

Last year I decided to explore the world of sardines. I wrote a short piece in my blog about my first wave of tastings.

I had plans to publish my findings in a series of follow-up postings, grouping them into a best, good, and unacceptable, complete with photos of boxes and the contents. In the end I would have a nice little guide to sardines, with most everything one would want to know.

As the spring and summer rolled along I bought sardines wherever I found them - from grocery stores, food coops, TJ's, WF's, etc.  I took pictures and sorted and organized them. I was all ready to roll with the grand story. But then one day I lost all interest in the project.  I suddenly had enough of sardines. I deleted my pictures. I discarded every material piece of evidence. That was it.

But it has always bothered me, just a bit, that I never tidied up the loose ends here. So I will pass along my quick hits.
  1. Sardines packed in sauces - don't go there.
  2. Skinless and boneless sardines are typically dry, even if packed in oil. They may be useful as a part of a dish, but I don't recommended them as a snack out of the can.
  3. Sardines packed in water are bland.
  4. Sardines packed in soybean oil or any other industrial oil are not worth eating.
  5. Sardines packed in olive oil are usually better, but not always, depending on the brand.
  6. Like so many other industries, loss of the small factory leads to ever more blandess and mushy soft fish.  Bumblebee, I'm looking at you.
  7. My favorite: King Oscar two-layer sardines in olive oil. Yes, King Oscar is also owned by Bumblebee and they are now packed in Poland. However, these are the best of the commonly found cans.
  8. And lastly - googling sardines will net you enough quirky blog entries to fill up many an hour you will never see again.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Miracle of Bin 444

Bin 444 is a cabernet sauvignon bottled by Wyndham Estates in far-away Australia.  A quick trolling of the Internet reveals this winery is located in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales.  This doesn't mean much to me because I have never visited the Hunter Valley, or New South Wales, or even Australia for that matter, but now I have good reason to: the Miracle of Bin 444.

The bottle upon which the miracle was visited was 1.5 liters of the 2002 vintage.  We purchased it at our local wine store on the recommendation of our local wine store guy (alas, he is no longer around to give us his sound and excellent advice) for a Christmas party back in 2003.  We never got to that particular bottle that day and it languished in the cellar for another 6 years until it was called into duty at the Great Ladies Bonfire Party of September 2009.  And even then it was not fully consumed, about half of the bottle was left over.  I must have had a taste and deemed it worthy of holding onto, maybe for cooking purposes if naught else, as I vacu-vinned it and put it up in the cabinet over the refrigerator.  Other bottles were in time called forth from said cabinet over the following months and the bottle of Bin 444 slowly sank into the back of the cabinet, forlorn and forgotten until one day when it was remembered and pulled out to help marinate some steak tips.

I re-corked it with the vacu-vin and left the bottle out on the counter, not intending to drink any.  However my wife poured herself a glass the next day at dinner time and asked what was up with the bottle of port I had left out?  What bottle of port I asked?  The bottle of Bin 444 she said.  That's no port says I - Well try some says she.  So I will says I, and I pours myself a glass.

Wikipedia defines a miracle as "an act defying the laws of nature. Sometimes an event is also attributed (in part) to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature."

And well, by God and by Wikipedia it was a miracle. The laws of nature had been subverted if not interrupted.  Instead of a miserable vinegary unholy stinking glass of yecch (I exaggerate for dramatic effect, this is the fate I imagine for most wines which overstay their visit upon this vale of tears, or so I believed) I held in my hand a glass of Bin 444 which tasted like a tawny port, all mellow with a bit of caramel.  In fact it was damned good!

So how did this come about?  The vacu-vin must have done some good in removing all or most of the air from the bottle.  Was the conversion caused by oxidization?  Another fermentation?  Maderization?  I have no idea, I just learned those terms by doing an Internet search on Google.  But in any event, the label writer did not lie when they wrote that "the Bin 444 can be enjoyed now or will reward medium term cellaring". 

So we bid a fond adieu to you, our now empty bottle of 2002 Bin 444.  While you were not the Miracle on 34th Street, or the Miracle on Ice, and not even closely related to the Miracle of Compound Interest, you were our little miracle, and we thank you for the quirky pleasure you brought into our lives.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Post #12 - Gingerbread yogurt bread

Thinking of cream means one thing leads to another.  Well - I suppose it doesn't have to but it did.  When I play word association football with cream I immediately say "gingerbread".  Can you say gingerbread?  I knew you could.  Well, let me tell you about my little gingerbread experiment.

I searched the cookbooks and didn't find exactly what I was looking for, but in Fannie Farmer I found a sour cream gingerbread recipe I used as my baseline.  I subbed yogurt for sour cream, added some currants as an inspiration via Lafayette's favorite gingerbread cake, and voila, out of the oven came a wonderfully tasty and moist little gingerbread cake.

Recipe, with notes:
1/4 pound butter (I used salted)
1/2 cup sugar (recipe called for a cup, hahaha)
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup yogurt
2 eggs
1.5 cups flour (I used .5 cup of cake flour and 1 cup organic whole wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1.5 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup currants (would have used raisins if we had them)

Took about a few minutes shy of 40 at 350 degrees to completely bake.  And here it is, with it's lil' buddy sitting right beside it.