Archive for the 'General' Category


I made a simple implementation of Spacewar in Scratch.  Here it is:

Vacuum brewer danger: superheating

Yama vacuum brewer

A couple years ago, I read about a coffee brewing method called “vacuum brewing” or “siphon brewing”.  It uses two linked glass vessels, and a small heat source (an alcohol burner, for example).  Water is placed in the bottom vessel and heated.  When the water boils, the top vessel is connected and steam pressure pushes the water up to the top vessel, where it mixes with the ground coffee.  Then the heat is removed and a vacuum forms in the bottom vessel which pulls the coffee back down again, through the filter.

It sounded really interesting, but It wasn’t until last week that I actually found a vacuum brewer on sale, at the Green Beanery in Toronto.  I picked up a Yama TCA-2.

The instructions were all in Japanese (vacuum brewing apparently is popular in Japan), but from the pictures and a general understanding of how the process works, I was able to make it go.  It’s slow, but I kind of enjoy the brewing ritual.

I’ve used it a few times now, but last night something happened that caught me quite by surprise, and was potentially very dangerous.

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Tool tray for Roland MDX-40A milling machine

Roland MDX-40A

A friend of mine bought himself a Roland MDX-40A desktop milling machine, with the optional ZCL-40A rotary axis.  It was from an E-bay seller.  It comes with a large assortment of tools and accessories.  But they all came in a bag.  Hard to find small items, and not very well protected.

As one of our first large projects on the machine, I designed a storage case to hold all the accessories.

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The lost truth about Martinis

Myth: A Martini is any random concoction that strikes your fancy, served in a conical glass.

Reality: A Martini is gin or vodka, with a hint of vermouth, typically (but not necessarily) served in a conical glass.

It is not the conical glass that makes a Martini.  It’s the ingredients.  And the conical glass sucks anyway:  it spills too easily.

I prefer gin.  James Bond prefers vodka for some reason.  True Martini afficionados seem to think the less vermouth, the better.  Some apparently think it sufficient to merely show the Martini the unopened bottle of vermouth, at a distance not less than 1m.

What is it with restaurants and bars having these big Martini menus, in which all but one, maybe two, of the items in it bear no resemblance whatsoever to a Martini?

Reviewing childrens’ TV from an adult perspective

Like anyone with a toddler at home, our TV is permanently glued to the children’s TV channel.  Treehouse TV.

I watch a lot of these children’s TV series these days.  Enough to form opinions of them.

Big and Small

I like it.  I often wonder why Big doesn’t kick Small’s self-centered ass to the curb.  But it’s funny, with that straight-man/funny-man comic duo thing happening.  And the songs are often surprisingly good.

Thomas the Tank Engine

Somewhat formulaic, but apparently classic.  All the real train lingo appeals to the latent trainspotter in me.  I kinda prefer the earlier ones shot with physical models over the later CGI ones.  They’re primitive, but they have charm.  But even the CGI ones play it pretty realistic, unlike…


An obvious rip-off of Thomas.  I find it very distracting how the CGI trains bounce and flail around all the time.  I just don’t think a 70 ton locomotive should bounce around like a caffeinated chihuahua.


This is actually quite watchable.  Not too formulaic.

4 Square

Episodes are very short, just filler really.  Each episode is one of the four different segments.  I will review each of them separately.

I’ve got a rhythm, gonna review it with ya


Review what the doo-wahs review




Ronaldo, review the segment.  Hup!

Mind-numbingly moronic.  Metito, wipe that ridiculous #$%^%# smile off your face.  Hup!

In the Night Garden

This is apparently the new Teletubbies.  Kinda trippy.  About 15 seconds of story, stretched out to 30 minutes, but can be fun if you’re in the right frame of mind.

The birds… I mean, “tittifers”… are disturbing.  They look like real birds, but they move like they’ve been hollowed out and their innards replaced with jerky robotics.  Way down near the bottom of the uncanny valley.


WTF is this shit?  Crystals, yoga, chanting, meditation, levitating CGI creatures?  It’s a steaming pile of New Agey spiritual mumbo-jumbo.  It’s downright creepy.  The poor human kids that appear in this thing… I expect they’ll be permanently damaged by the experience.


Ron shakes his fist at the irritating show.  Shake your fist!

One of the kids reminds me of a bully I knew in public school.  I dislike it for that reason alone.  But it’s also really stupid.

Wonder Pets

Lame-o.  Mega lame-o.  Painful to watch.  Why do they have to keep singing the same damn song over and over?  Why don’t they use some of that teamwork to whip up some new songs?

3rd and Bird

Not very interesting, not very lame.  Just boring.


Sometimes manages to draw me in, somehow.  I like how the stories explore different parts of the world, different periods in history, different genres.


Weird-looking animation.  3D CG animation but rendered to look like 2D cel animation.  It doesn’t work for me.  And why does she have those four big thick black hairs, in addition to her regular hair?

Guess with Jess

I think this is supposed to teach kids the scientific method or something.  But they never really answer the question themselves.  The cow always hands them the answer.  In real science, there’s no talking cow to give you the answer.

Toopy and Binoo

Seriously trippy.  The people who make this show are getting some really good shit.

Max and Ruby

Pretty formulaic, but can be funny.  Max has some great toys, like the Screaming Blue Alien Gorilla, and the wind-up clockwork lobster that chases him around.

The Wot Wots

I like this one.  I like their crazy steam-punk spaceship.  Somehow I wasn’t surprised when I noticed that Weta is involved.  Probably the same guys that make this stuff.