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My family Christmas Cookie recipe

img_7702Tomorrow I have 11 kids coming over for a baking party. It will be nuts. Here is the family Christmas Cookie (Anise Cookie) recipe we’ll be using.

—————–

2 sticks of butter

2 cups of sugar

3 eggs

1.5 tsp Cream of Tartar

1.5 tsp of Baking Soda (dissolved in .5 tbl of milk)

1 tsp of Salt

1 tsp of Vanilla

1 Tsp of Anise

3.5 cups of flour (plus maybe .5 cups during the rolling process)

1) Use softened butter in sticks. Let it sit out awhile or nuke it 20 seconds (do not melt). Mix the butter and sugar together quite well in a bowl.

2) Add and mix milk/soda, egg, Anise, and vanilla.

3) Add salt, cream of tartar, flour.

Mix the dough so it is mixed and ‘rollable’.

On a floured mat, roll the dough, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking to the rolling pin. Get the dough to about 1/4 inch

Cut the cookies with cookie cutters or with a knife to make the shapes you want. Reroll unused dough until you have no more (p.s. I eat the dough but it is very sweet).

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet (nonstick ok) at 400 degree for 6-8 minutes–basically until the bottoms start to turn slight brown. Do not overbake. You can underbake a bit (say 5 minutes in a very hot oven) but make sure you let cookies set a minute or two before trying to remove them from the pan (or they may break up).

Use store bought frosting (I used Duncan Hines–worked fine) to cover them and then colored sugars to decorate.

Store in a ziploc bag to keep the freshness as they do harden quickly.

Tesla Model S sedan rolls off the production line and into the driveways of CEO Elon Musk and VC …

Tesla Model S sedan rolls off the production line and into the driveways of CEO Elon Musk and VC Steve Jurvetson. 

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk assured his investors at their annual shareholders meeting Wednesday that the company's long-awaited second car, the Model S, is almost here. In fact, it's sitting in his dr…

HSBC ‘Lonely Boy’ Rugby Commercial. I still like it.

Eventhough the Rugby Sevens have long since passed, I’m still watching the commercial. It was filmed in front my friend’s house in a funky part of Hong Kong with narrow streets and lots of little restaurants. Now I’m hungry just thinking about the street food over there.

Downloading FIFA 11 for the iPad

WTF? Where have I been? Oh yea, that’s right, I’m a parent now with no time for anything.

But while poking around the app store I realized that EA has pushed FIFA ’11 onto the iPad. FIFA ’96 was a hidden joy I discovered back in law school and now the fact I can start playing again is pretty exciting (I gave up the Playstation when the kids were born).

Take a look at the trailer. Note that they don’t even both showing Spurs on the trailer. That would make people not buy the game if they knew they were going to lose everytime.

Apple Store Hong Kong would show how retail should be done to those who think they are shopping kings.

How to buy retail

“Shopping is the National Sport” of Hong Kong, so the joke often goes. But after purchasing items in Hong Kong and the US, you have to ask if this is the national sport, why is it done so badly here in Hong Kong?

The actual process of purchasing an item, say an iPod, here in Hong Kong is an exercise in silliness and bureaucracy, and most important, a total waste of time.  Sliding into a large retailer like a Fortress or a Broadway (think Best Buy) will require some of the following steps:

  • Ask to buy an iPod
  • iPod is taken from the shelf to a counter space near cashier.
  • Person fills out, by hand, a large 8×10 inch piece of paper saying you are buying an iPod.
  • Clerk asks if you want to open box to see if it works (?)
  • You sign this paper twice.
  • You hand over payment.
  • Payment is taken by salesman and given to a cashier in a back room.
  • Credit card receipt is prepared, which you also sign.
  • Big piece of paper, credit card receipt, and credit card are all handed back to you with a bag carrying your item.
  • You separate card into your wallet and fold mis-sized receipt into pocket.

What a pain in the ass.  It takes nearly 2-3 minutes to buy something and in the end you have two receipts (usually neither of which you can use for a return anyway) and it’s all in your hand, requiring you to fold or throw in the bag (after you take out your card).  For a country that prides itself on shopping, this smacks of buying something at a country market in rural England in the Victorian era.

Now compare this to an iPod purchase in an Apple Store in the USA.

  • Ask for an iPod
  • iPod is taken off the shelf.
  • Clerk scans iPod barcode with handheld scanner at your location.
  • You hand clerk credit card.
  • He asks if you want email receipt (you say yes)
  • He gives you iPod and you leave store.

Total time, about 30 seconds.  You don’t move.  It’s all done right where you are and you are out the door.  The receipt usually hits your email before you even exit the store.

So I sit and wait and pray that Apple opens a formal store in Hong Kong, not necessarily because I need more access to the products, but because I don’t want to go through the Faulty Towers process of purchasing something.  I just want it NOW so I can get on with my life.

End of rant.

Haiti People Finder: Technology in Chaos

Google is offering a “Person Finder” solution for websites to help folks stay in touch with those who are missing in the Haitian earthquake disaster.

This simple code allows you to have a I’m am Lost I am Found kind of solution to any website (though it is acting up a bit at the moment).

Here is the code:

<iframe
    src="http://haiticrisis.appspot.com/?small=yes"
    width=350 height=300 frameborder=0
    style="border: dashed 2px #77c"></iframe>

Some other interesting tech bits today:

Haitian Twitter information.

CrisisCamp, using technology to help those in need, are meeting in many US cities.

Buying a Drobo

Time to take the plunge. The price has dropped and I get a free wifi card for my camera so what the heck.

UPDATE:  After a day of hell, the Drobo has worked flawlessly for me (hint: never plug it in to the front Firewire ports as there is not enough power there.  It must go in the back FW or USB ports).  I have it set up as a media center repository with about 2TB of data right now (and much more coming soon, as I move some other data onto it before the big move)

How to find an elderly Chinese woman in Chinatown.

“She’s coming in on the 12:30 bus to Chinatown” the wife said.

“Ok, where does it drop off?” I reply.

“I don’t know. Look it up”.

“There are like 5 different Chinatown buses with 5 different stops.”

“I’ll find out the name of the bus, ok.”

“Ok, so what does she look like?”

“She’s Chinese”.

“Great, a Chinese woman in Chinatown. That’ll be easy. What does she look like?”

“I don’t know.”

“Ok, what’s her name?”

“Ms. Yang”

“Ok, so I have to find a woman named Ms. Yang somewhere in Chinatown. Great. That narrows it down, not”

“She’s wearing a red coat”

“A Ms. Yang in a red coat. Ok. Again, not much help. What’s her first name?”

“I don’t know. She’s elderly though, that might help.”

“Ok, an elderly Chinese woman named Ms. Yang arriving on some random Chinatown bus today. I have to find her.”

“Oh, she’s carrying a sword.”

“Um, what?”

“A sword, for her Tai Chi practice. She has a sword.”

“So, an elderly Chinese woman in a red coat named Ms. Yang and carrying a sword in Chinatown. That I think I can find”

“Told you it wouldn’t be that hard.”

“What if I get the wrong elderly Chinese woman in a red coat carrying a sword named Ms. Yang. Not sure I want some random weapons wielding old lady to be our children’s nanny.”

“Mary Poppins had an umbrella. Ms. Yang has a sword. Same thing, different culture.”

Life is pretty strange.

Silly MYSQL limit examples

This is a common example for mysql limits. I think it is even in the official documentation (which is repeated all over the net).

SELECT * FROM `your_table` LIMIT 5, 5

This will show records 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10

Why silly? Because is it the first 5 or the second 5 that is the place you start, and is it the first five or the second five that is the number of rows to show? Yes, I know the answer, but for newbies they just stare and this and say ‘great, but why’. An example of that would be better would be:

SELECT * FROM `your_table` LIMIT 15, 4

This will show records 16, 17, 18, 19.

This gives a user a chance to think backward, apply a little math if the direct explanation is not present. Sometimes the guys who write these manuals aren’t thinking like a person who actually needs the manual for help.