Friday, September 14, 2007

Pleasures of the Season

It may still be in the 90s in Austin, but I'm enjoying the influx of fall foods. In particular:

Pumpkin. The Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks and Pumpkin Empanadas at HEB. I need to visit Amy's Ice Cream to see if they have their Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream yet.

Apples. I'm a Granny Smith eater -- I like my apples tart and crisp -- but the variety available at my local HEB tempted me to try the Macintosh (a bit mealy and nothing outstanding in taste) and a Honeycrisp (as crisp as a Granny Smith, but sweet and juicy --- a winner!).

Incredibly Smart Image Resizing

Ben just pointed out this incredibly image resizing presentation from SigGraph to me

via Digitization 101. (Dr. Ariel Shamir and Shai Avidan wrote about this technology in ACM Transactions on Graphics, Volume 26, Number 3, SIGGRAPH 2007.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Checking my email last night, I see the following:

Library Items on Loan

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 4:07 PM --
September 2007
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 Due 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 Due

(Hover over dates to see titles; click Due to go to the library.)

Suggested Book (beta)


The Volumetrics Eating Plan: Techniques and Recipes for Feeling Full on Fewer Calories by Barbara Rolls

Editorial Review - Watch for flying pigs: here's a weight-loss plan that's sensible and simple. And for those of you who can only think of bacon when the word "pig" is mentioned, prepare to go hog wild: the Volumetrics plan is designed to let you indulge in your favorite goodies every now and then, so you're much more likely to stick to the program. Developed by a nutritionist who has worked with the National Institutes of Health, the Volumetrics plan focuses on foods that are low in "energy density." In o...(more)

Find in a Library | Buy this book

Due Within 3 Days(8)

Library User Title Due Date
AustinSaraBig machines Wed, Sep 12
AustinSaraBig machines Wed, Sep 12
AustinSaraDaddy hugs 1 2 3 Wed, Sep 12
AustinSaraMiss Spider's tea party Wed, Sep 12
AustinSaraThe little engine that could Wed, Sep 12
AustinSaraThe night of Las Posadas Wed, Sep 12
AustinSaraTrouble on the tracks Wed, Sep 12
AustinSaraYellow umbrella Wed, Sep 12

Not Due Yet (7)

Library User Title Due Date
AustinSaraA whole new mind : moving from the information age to the conceptual age Sep 29
AustinSaraIt's all too much : an easy plan for living a richer life with less stuff Sep 29
AustinSaraOnce-a-month cooking Sep 29
AustinSaraPower, money, fame, sex : a user's guide Sep 29
AustinSaraSleepless in America : is your child misbehaving or missing sleep? Sep 29
AustinSaraSurvival of the prettiest : the science of beauty Sep 29
AustinSaraThe story of French Sep 29

Holds Not Ready Yet (2)

Library User Title Status
AustinSaraStumbling on happiness Place 1
AustinSaraThe portion teller : smartsize your way to permanent weight loss Place 1


User Library Overdue Due Within 3 Days Not Due Yet Total
(c) 2003-2007 JANDI Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Do not reply to this email address.
Elf notices are provided "as is", "as available" and without warranties.
All library fines and charges are the responsibility of the cardholder.


Oh, I have library books due today! This is a pretty darn useful service, since keeping up with the library book due dates is not that easy (did you know that they no longer stamp the due dates on the inside of the covers???). Not to mention it reminds me of what books I have on hold.

They deliver notices via email or RSS feed (or both!)

How does it work? The website doesn't say much, but I'd guess they use your login to the library site to scrape the account status page into their DB, which they then use to generate emals and rss feeds. They actually do a real time check when you click through the rss reed link. (It seems to be an asp/.Net application.)

How do they make money? I'm guessing the amazon affiliate linked recommendation on the right side of the email/webpage. They have pretty good data to do this with, so maybe it will work out to a reasonable income stream for them.

Business Idea/Feature for them or someone else: Tie your Amazon wishlist into your local library to request/put holds on your wishlist books, one or two at a time. (This is basically what I do manually.)

So, if you use your public library, go check it out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Portabella Shortstacks

Many years ago, Austin had a shortlived restaurant called the Mustang Diner. The Mustang Diner featured a number of diner-inspired dished, but with a haute cuisine twist. Ben and my favorite was the Portabella Shortstack -- a pile of mushrooms, pesto, ham, and cheese that vaguely resembled a stack of pancakes.

After the Mustang closed down, we attempted to recreate this yummy dish without much success. Tonight, however, I nailed it. Reproduced here, for your culinary enjoyment, is my recipe:

Mustang Diner's Portabella Shortstack

For each shortstack (serves 2-3 as an appetizer or 1 as an entree):

2 Portabella mushrooms
Italian dressing
2 teaspoons pesto
2 slices proscuitto
2 slices provolone

Marinate 2 portabella mushrooms in Italian Dressing overnight.
Grill each mushroom on a George Foreman Grill for 5 minutes.
Spread a teaspoon of pesto over the gill side of each mushroom.
Top with a slice or two of prosciutto.
Cover with a slice of provolone.
Broil mushrooms until cheese melts and starts browning.
Put one mushroom stack on top of the 2nd to form a "short stack"

The key to this recipe is the George Foreman Grill -- you want the mushrooms to be well cooked before you start assembling.


Wordie. Like Flickr, but without the photos.

I'm not sure what to make of this, but I put my "word watch" words in to see what I could do with them.

Great, simple design. (And I know how hard those are to do...)

(Of course, it's built on Rails...)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

books read: Keeping House

I've been wanting to record the books I read somewhere, so I'm going to try blogging them.

Finished Sunday night: Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life. I enjoy contemplative books as part of my "winding down for sleep" routine, and since I enjoy "life hacking" this one was particularly appealing. Housework is one of those things that has to be done, so developing a spiritual attitude on the topic improves my attitude and makes it more pleasant.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rails Envy Commericals

If you know what Ruby on Rails is, you should check out these commercials by Greg and Jason.

Based on the Apple ads, they compare Rails with many of the other web development tools out there. Here's the one comparing it with Java:

I met Greg and Jason this weekend at Lone Star Ruby Conf, where they premiered the ads with Python and Django. (Hilarious, both.) They aren't posted on their website yet, but will be in the coming weeks.

Great example of someone coming up with a clever idea, executing on it, leveraging their network (friend with a film degree) and free technology (it's a blog and youtube), and then putting themselves out there and emailing the RailsConf organizers to see if they wanted to show some of the videos. Instant fame, at least in the Rail community. And since they are a custom web house, it's great brand recognition and advertising for them.