Open Things

I’d like to start by directing you to the left hand side of the blog (providing you’ve come in on the front page, I guess). Yes, it’s a list of my books that you can purchase from all good retailers. Currently, it’s just Instant Zepto.js, but who knows what the upcoming months will bring (well, I suppose I do, so don’t get too excited, but something might join it there eventually)?

My first conference as a proper tech person this week - All Things Open, a celebration of all things Open Source. The most surprising part of the conference? That the most interesting talk was given by a Microsoft employee. Who’s also the current President of the Apache Software Foundation. That he was British was also a surprise, but not quite as the presentation itself, which was a thirty minute talk that left you feeling that they’re trying hard to be friendly with the Open Source movement. In any event, it was better than the rah-rah-we’re-awesome keynote provided by Google. Anyway, it was a good day out, and I even managed to find another beer that I can drink. The common property of these beers seems to be including a lot of fruit (so far, strawberry, raspberry, and apple seem to work).

I’ve also been testing out a new chocolate mold, a prototype I’ve had laser-cut from Ponoko. I want to offer a ‘flight’ of chocolates for ordering this Christmas (because nothing signifies a hipster chocolatier more than calling a sampler a ‘flight’, does it?), and for that I want a way of making lots of bars quickly. So the mold is little more than a block of acrylic with rectangular holes punched up of it, but it works pretty well.

caramelized hazelnut bark

Never serve Neko Case Tabasco sauce. Ever. Consider this a pubic service announcement.

And yes, somehow I ordered twenty-four packs of ramen today. I’m planning on hibernating this winter, obviously.

Cruise Control

Cruise control is really nice. That’s what I’ve learnt over the past weekend of being behind the wheel again. Also, despite saying that not being able to drive in Britain means I’m coming in as a somewhat blank slate, I still managed to drive on the wrong side of the road at some point. Oops.

(thankfully, it was at least a quiet road)

As for the weekend’s main activity, well, it was mostly baking, borne out of Tammy asking the question: “Where do you get good pie in Durham?” and then deciding to make it ourselves. Below we have a modified chocolate chess pie, a mincemeat tart with homemade mincemeat (somewhat hampered by Americans not having the right ingredients available, but oh well), and an attempt at a Heston Blumenthal lemon tart. All turned out pretty well, especially the mincemeat and chess pies, which I made using a Pierre Hermé pâte sucrée recipe. The lemon filling of the Heston tart (complete with blowtorched sugar!) is wonderful, but the pastry doesn’t quite work. Next time I’ll just make it with the Hermé dough.

Pies!

Interesting things going on at work, but the magic armour of NDA is applied to all of them. Though I think I’ll be explaining closures in JavaScript in the weeks to come…

Oh, X-COM

About an hour ago, I deleted X-COM: Enemy Unknown from my iPad. I like to think of this as a preventive measure; since downloading it on Friday evening (it was half-off, and I thought I’d chance it on my aging iPad 3), I have spent almost every waking moment playing it, throwing everything else I had planned to the wall. So it’s now gone until I am about to step on the plane home for Christmas.

(any suggestion that the deletion had anything to do with the mission where my squad met a Sectopod for the first time and got wiped out in two turns is a rumour that has no basis in fact. And I will beseech you not to slur my name in such fashion. And besides, I managed to get the memory of the iPad to fail and thus replay enough to rescue two of my squad. So there)

Next week: iBeacons, the House of Pi gets an upgrade, and a visit from a great friend!

But first, Avocado, Baby.

Missing - One Year

And all of a sudden, it’s October. I remember July like it was yesterday, and feel like the summer just breezed by without really saying hello or coming around for tea. Having said that, the leaves may be falling, but it was still 32C here yesterday. It’s not right.

(I’m also a little worried about how I’ll adjust to the temperature when I go home for Christmas. Having spent two years here now, will I freeze to death? Run cowering at the sight of snow? Or just wear a nice big thick wooly jumper and eat five hundred mince pies? I’m hoping for the latter, myself. Oh goodness, it’s only a couple of months until I’m back in the presence of radiators. How I have missed your adjustable slabs of white hot metal and your hiss late in the evening when the heating bursts into life!)

But anyway, October. Plans need to be formed about Christmas chocolates, contractors need to be found (and to consider small claims court for our June mistake on that front), ideas for the next year here in Durham - the house, friends returning from trips away, family coming next April, and how different the city will look next October as the regeneration tide gets higher. But not all the boats are lifted.

After much, much procrastination, I have a learner’s permit again, so I can drive if I have a responsible adult in the car alongside. That’s something that needs to be sorted out too - I’ve lived in the US for two years and haven’t had a car. I survived! (Thanks to friends with cars, mind you) But now, I think it’s time to give in.

I’m being bitten by bugs as I sit out and watch the leaves fall, a mixture of Summer leaving and Autumn coming. Which means hot chocolate soon, everybody!

Instant Zepto.js Now On Amazon!

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Missing The Stairs

I miss the stairs. Having lived for over thirty years in houses with stairs, one of the big adjustments in the new house (I say new but you know what I mean) is that everything is on one level. On the one hand, it’ll be great for Bonnie*, but I miss the space and separation that two levels provides. This is probably not helped by watching Grand Designs and seeing people render three-level brutalist pieces. I will try to limit myself to thinking about remodelling the bathroom in the upcoming year. EVERYBODY WANTS A NEW AESTHETIC BATHROOM.

*(okay, Bonnie has decided that she actually wants a Huf Haus, and may leave me room to live in this house after she’s taken up the back garden. Maybe)

It’s been a quiet week, and a quick one. My main achievement this week was lopping a webapp’s JavaScript code in half using the old faithful Mustache.js. Oh, and one other thing, but that’s for a separate blog post, I think. However, their has been some further news on the Kokyu/Motorco split. While I was writing it up last week, Flip, the owner of the truck, posted over at Carpe Durham, and it sounds like it wasn’t a happy break:

I don’t want to go into too much detail, as I have been playing phone tag with peeps at Carpe Durham to provide more info. I would like to say that the two announcements are related only in the fact that we were asked by Motorco to vacate the premises by Oct. 15.

This was followed up with a slightly more amicable interview in today’s News Observer, which spends some time reminding us that Motorco hasn’t played friendly with others in the area in the past, either (the blocking off of its car park in order to prevent people parking for Fullsteam, for example). It’s odd when Greg Hatem comes off as being the more reasonable person in a story…

Deadlines

It seems to have been a week of deadlines. From making cakes, writing a story, coding apps, making sure my galley proofs for my book were fine before it gets sent to the printers, phoning Durham up to convince them that a bill they sent to the house is no longer our responsibility, and the dreaded macarons, there’s been time-limits all over the place. I’m looking forward to a more laid-back week to come. Though having said that, it’s rewarding to get everything done (and while I curse their existence while making them, the macarons are popular! Also, it was a birthday request for a friend I hadn’t seen in quite a while, so how could I say no?)

And, a by-product of the weekend’s baking: salted caramel ganache. You will see it again, trust me.

Things are a-foot in Durham as well. The DIY area of the city, centred on Rigsbee Avenue, has been the place for food trucks to hang up their berth for the past few years. We knew that things were going to be changing with the opening of The Pit next to Fullsteam sometime this Autumn, but this week, the other shoe dropped: Motorco is going to be serving food shortly, too. Given that Kokyu seems to be anchored to Motorco almost every evening of the week, we were wondering what was going to happen to them. Then, the other other shoe dropped (yes, three legs!): Kokyu is about to launch a Kickstarter to set up a restaurant and commissary kitchen somewhere in Downtown Durham.

While a restaurant doesn’t seem too crazy, another commissary kitchen that close to The Cookery is a little surprising. We’re also wondering just where in downtown they plan to put all this, given that trucks are going to need quite a bit of space for parking. If only the old bus station was still available…

Catch Up

And just like that, it’s been two weeks since I posted anything here. Oops. Which means lots of updates, because surely many exciting things have happened in the meantime?

Hmm.

Well, okay, my book should be heading to the printers this upcoming week, so that’s somewhat exciting. My second book publication! The first in English! I can read this one! I will, obviously, let you know the moment that you can order it, because I know a large portion of my readers are dying to know how to get started with developing with Zepto.js. Okay, maybe one of you. Or two. That’s not going to help my royalties!*

* (Hahahaha, he thinks he’s going to get a royalty payment! - Ed.)

In other news, it looks like the damage to my CDs wasn’t quite as extensive as I thought a couple of weeks ago. While I’ve lost over 300 CD cases, I only seem to have lost about 20-25 discs. Unfortunately, they were things like the limited edition New Order and Saint Etienne reissues (including, yes, including Boxette. I almost teared up at that one), which combined with the destruction of Transformer boxes (look. Look at this auction) does mean that there was quite a bit of damage done, even if it wasn’t as catastrophic as originally perceived. Negotiations are continuing on that front.

While I still deserve to be poked with sticks over my constant delaying, I did, finally, meet up with Joe of Joe’s Diner today. On first look, his space looks almost perfect for chocolate working at the weekend. Which is potentially good news! If nothing else, it should mean that Christmas chocolates and other assorted confections will be available again this year, and also opens the prospect of a more sustained production line in the near future. We still need to hammer out some of the details, and there will be a testing session before the Christmas run (you see, we learnt from The Cookery debacle of last year!). I’m hoping that the testing session will result in a super-rare limited edition two-piece chocolate package which we’ll pass around town to see if we can drum up some interest in selling more. One hopes.

And yes, it’s not quite having the stork drop off a baby at the door, but as of this evening, we’re de-facto guardians of an 18-year-old. Only two years until the terrible teens are over!

The Rodeo Is In Town

Moving to East Durham must have addled our brains. Though I vaguely knew that there was a Food Truck Rodeo down in Central Durham this weekend, I completely forgot about it until this morning at around 10:30. And then I was out of the house at 11 in order to get there before the 12:30 start time. A few tips for the next rodeo, especially if it’s your first:

  • The best time to go to a food truck rodeo is before it starts. Most of the trucks will be up and running at around noon. If you go later, even around the announced start, the lines will be building up. At around 2pm, you might as well go somewhere else.
  • Why not go somewhere new? American Meltdown is always going to be out and about. Chirba Chirba too. Skip their queues and visit them when they’re next at Fullsteam - try one of the newer trucks!
  • on that bent, Chai’s Global Food is pretty good - I’m sad that I didn’t have enough room for their ramen burger special, but the bulkogi taco and Momofuku-esque pork bun were rather tasty!)_
  • Pace yourself! One thing that the rodeos could do a little better is recognize that there’s always about 50-60 trucks about at one of these events. You want to sample as much as possible, but most of the trucks only offer their usual full-meal venue. It’d be great if there was a food truck flight option that saw the trucks offering much smaller sample options. In the meantime, go with a bunch of friends and share.
  • Bring water! When I left the house, it was a warm temperature, but there was a good breeze. By the time I got to DCP, the temperature seemed to have risen by about five degrees (Celsius!), and I was sweating horribly. If you plan on making a day of it, water will prevent you from either dying or becoming destitute by buying bottled water over and over again.

All in all, it was a good diversion after discovering that the mold has destroyed a lot more of my CD collection than I initially realised.

I Believe It's Pronounced I Told You So

Thanks to everybody who came by to the house last night! If you weren’t there, why not? We had barbecue, chocolates, and a fire that raged two storeys high; you missed out, it seems.

New job has begun; super-secret and I can tell you nothing. Sorry about that. It was nice to have an official Twitter welcome, mind you!

The house is nearly resembling something that could be described as ‘almost there’. We have an IKEA run this coming weekend, wherein I’m going to attempt to buy storage units to finally get my CD collection out of the boxes it has been living in for the past two years (and hopefully the mold has been killed stone dead by the rice; that’s Sunday and Labor Day’s job (and yes, Labor Day - as it’s their holiday, I’m deferring to their spelling)). We even have half a pot rack up! (rack is up - we just need to get things that allow us to attach the pots to the rack)

Not much of an update this week, sadly. I think I pre-empted myself by blogging about USCIS mid-week. All my anecdotes used up by Tuesday.

If I haven’t phoned Joe about the commissary kitchen by the end of next week, you all have permission to poke me…