Archive | February, 2013

Kiwi Berries

27 Feb
Sitting innocently on a table

Sitting innocently on a table

I was at Coles yesterday and came across Kiwi Berries. Having never seen these before and them being relatively cheap (for berries, $3-$4) I bought them.

Really, they were just like bite size kiwi fruits with less fur.  They still had those slight tart taste that kiwi fruits have (that set off my sugar craving). The white bit in the middle, which can be a bit tough in full size kiwi fruits, was not noticeable in the berries.

What it looks like inside

What it looks like inside

I wouldn’t buy these again as a snack. Mostly because I don’t care for Kiwi fruits as a snack (sets of sugar cravings), and these were more expensive than normal kiwis. If I was doing some sort of decorating where I need small green eggs or discs that taste like kiwi, sure these would be perfect.

Review: Brisbane Food

25 Feb

I’ve been in Brisbane visiting the Puppy since last Friday. We haven’t really done much in Brisbane other than eat, to the point we were struggling to remember where we had ate. For a future reference, this is what we ate:

Friday: Arrived from Newcastle. As I knew I would need to wait for an hour or so at the airport, I found a nice isolated spot near gate 30 and caught up on the two newest episodes of Girls (S02E05/6). At the cafe I had a coffee (I know nothing about coffee so I won’t bother reviewing it) and spiced fries with aioli. Spiced meaning paprika. With lots of salt. So nice enough, but left me feeling somewhat dehydrated.

That evening we went down to the markets on Queen’s square. Lots of wonderings. We shared a langosh and later I had some some barramundi nachos from Guzman y Gomez. I seem to remember them not having cheese on their nachos. These had too much cheese.

Saturday: I had the left over nachos for breakfast. Later Puppies was hungry so we headed up to Ruby in Padington. We shared a haloumi and potato rosti with two poached eggs, bacon and a chunky tomato sauce. The eggs were poached well and all the flavours went well. Puppy had a breakfast dessert consistiting of a nutella sandwhich made with brioche turned into french toast topped with maple ice cream. It was a good french toast with the right amount of soggyness. We both expected the ice cream to hand maple lumps in it, instead it seemed to be vanilla ice cream with maple syrup poored over the top. The service wleas very eager to take away plates and glasses. As soon as you crossed you cutlery or there was no visible colour left in your glass, it was gone.

We didn’t need anything until dinner when I realised by sugar levels had gone completely out of wack. We headed to a near by pub where I got the 15 minute special steak (medium done, red wine jus with coleslaw guaranteed to be out in under 15 minutes). If I had been paying more attention I would have gone for the non-timed special (same price, I just prefer medium rare, maybe a mustard sauce and a garden salad). As it was it was just what I needed (big bit of meat quickly). Puppies had a chicken parmigiana which he said could do with more sauce.

Sunday: An early breakfast at Scout. Here I had smashed peas and zucchini on toast with a fried egg. Puppies had the welsh rarebit. I really liked my peas, they were nice fresh and lemony. I would have rather it all with a poached egg, but then I think nearly everything goes better with a poached egg. Puppies welsh rarebit was good. Maybe a bit too much mustard.

After bell ringing on Sunday, we went over to  Tognini’s Bistro Cafe. Puppy had a chocolate mudslide shake and I had an Zinger juice. The mudslide promised to be chocolate syrup, chocolate icecream and milk (which may have also been chocolate). The chocolate icecream was a good ice cream but it was let down by cheap sugary tasting chocolate sauce. My Zinger was exciting. It was apple, ginger, probably something else (lime?) and cinnamon. It came out as bright green with crushed cinnamon stick springled on top. It was a nice .and refreshing. The cinnamon didn’t pay much of a role until I was crunching the ice at the end. Cinnamon flavoured ice is surprisingly nice.

Sunday night was our exciting fancy dinner at Dukka.

Monday: Feeling bleghy with no food in the house, I headed back to Scout. This time I had smoked salmon on potato panckaes with a sticky chai. The potato pancakes came out warm with a good portion of salmon. There was some sneaky dill hiding in this dish which I fished out. The sticky chai was definitely more spicy then sweet, would have it again.

That night puppies and I didn’t feel like extending ourselves and headed out to Hog’s Breath.

Tuesday: Feeling a bit poor from the last few days, so we are actually go to eat at home. Grandma spinach and sausages for dinner tonight.




Review: Tukka

25 Feb

Puppies and I have had our eyes on Tukka for a little while now. We found it when I visited him in Brisbane, didn’t have a chance to eat there until last night. I have to say it was one of the more exciting meals I’ve eaten in while.
We knew that it was an Australian cuisine restaurant (i.e. kangaroo, emu and crocodile is on the menu with a range of other Australian native fruit and spices). There are very few foods I question the wisdom of eating (brains is the one I can think of of the top of my head). I came across an unexpected one though last night: possum. I can’t think of any good reason not to eat possum, I just thought it wasn’t something done. I supposed it was illegal, like eating horse meat. I’m not sure at all why we can eat Possum, but not horse.

In the end, I didn’t get the possum (Confit of Tasmanian possum with a baby beetroot salad and a liquorice and rhubarb emulsion, pastly because liquorice doesn’t appeal to me and mostly because the “Vanilla cured crocodile with a necterine and strawberry salad and a lemon myrtle dressing” was far more tempting. The “Seared Queensland kangaroo fillet, sweet roasted peach cheeks, boulangerie potatoes and a Davidson plum jus” was tempting for the main, but as I had already decided on the croc + fruit for the entree, I didn’t want to double up on the fruit. Instead I went thing “Seared Marburg emu fillet, baked truffled polenta, braised spring onions served with a red wine butter and horseradish cream”. Puppies had the “Native platter: Our signature selection of native game meats, fruits, nuts, berries, spices with damper and dips all prepared in house by our chefs” for entree and “Crispy skinned sous vide pork belly, caramelised onion and pear puree served with a muntries and baby herb salad” for main. The latter really being an entree, that he got as a main.

By far, my favourite dish of the night was Puppies’ native platter. An assortment of about 5 different fruits, 5 cured native meats along with a  salad, damper, dipping oil and dukka made for an exciting time. Most of the fruits I had never tried (and unfortunately I’ve forgotten the name of). There was definitely some quadong there. Most of the fruits had quite a sharp taste, but each with their own distinct flavour. The meats included emu prosciutto, pepperberry cured crocodile (tasty!), another crocodile (also tasty), some seared kangaroo and I think something else. All but the prosciutto was definitely on the chewy side. The salad was a mixture of rocket, macadamia nut and some other nut. I remember it as being nice, not anything out standing about it. The damper came hot with some macadamia nut oil and dukka. I’m not really a fan of the taste of bicarb that comes with damper. So while it was nice with the additional spices added to it, it wasn’t for me. The dukka was different. Not so nutty compared to others and with a surprising kick of mint.

My own, vanilla cured crocodile was disappointingly not vanilla-ish. The nectarine and strawberry salad was extremely good with the dressing being nice and tart. My main, the emu was much more enjoyable. The red wine butter and horseradish cream came as a disc on top of the emu: within minutes it was melted. I did find the polenta overly salty, but having rarely eaten it I’m not sure if that is typical. Puppies pork belly was nice. For me it was pork well cooked, not something I can get excited about. The salad it came with included muntries which are little green berry like fruits that taste vaguely of apples.

Next it was dessert. We really liked the look of ALL the desserts, but decided not be pigs. For me it was a toss up between the “Profiteroles filled with macadamia liqueur custard with a warm chocolate sauce, double cream and toasted macadamia nuts” and “Spiced stone fruit poached then served with a vanilla cream mousse, violets and a watermelon and native mint granita”. Puppies was choosing between the profiteroles and “Deconstructed finger lime tart served with toasted meringue and lemon myrtle sherbet”. In the end I went with the profiteroles and Puppies with the finger lime tart.

My profiteroles were, well, profiteroles. Definitely filled with macadamia liqueur, more cream than custard. The chocolate sauce was nicely cocoa-y rather than sweet. The deconstructed lime tart was a bowl of lime custard, some biscuits, very tart sherbert and a blob of egg white that was given the blow torch treatment. Each component was nice, but I think I would rather them together in tart form.

The service was very good. When shown to the table, a chair was pulled out for the lady (so I pulled out my own chair). We didn’t wait overly long for any particular course, although we were waiting for water at one stage. The staff were attentive and could answer any questions.

So that was our meal. I realise I sound overly negative here, but I did really really enjoy it. One of the most enjoyable meals I’ve had in a long time.

Maths != Smart

22 Feb

I like maths. It makes me sad that it is a subject almost universally despised. Well maybe not despised, but unfairly put up on a pedestal. Something that only the elite, the cream of the crop can reach. That you have to be smart in order to do maths.

That is really bull shit.

First, doing maths doesn’t mean you are smart. When people find out I do maths they often say “You must be really smart” and will mean it as a complement (the other time they will say “Oh, I was never good at maths”). Initially this really annoyed me as I don’t think of myself as a Terry Tao, and would try to explain that really, I don’t think I’m smart. However, I know that just because I’ve completed a bachelors degree I’m roughly in the top 30% (if you accept the fallacy that being university educated is being smart). I have no idea what percentage I would be in for completing a PhD. So yes, I’m probably what most people call smart (Impostor syndrome is a bitch). But, these people that call me smart just know I do maths, they don’t know what level I’m at.

I think of friends I did my undergrad with like Cynthia and Boyd. These two both completed their degrees and they worked damn hard to get it. They didn’t just go the lectures and tutorials and everything magically made sense. They spent (well Cynthia did, I think Boyd just failed and eventually passed) large amount of time with the lecturer trying to understand the content. They really had to work hard in order to complete their assignments. They weren’t “smart”, they worked hard.

Invalidating all their hard work by calling them “smart” is just insulting.



Gnome be gone, come on Cplex

20 Feb

It lasted a grand total of two days. The extensions were nice, but they weren’t nearly enough for me to stop being continually annoyed about the clock being in the wrong spot. Just a matter of:

sudo apt-get remove gnome-sessions

And a reboot. Well more or less. My login screen is still gnome like (which I actually prefer). The other issue is that the default cinnamon desktop picture is shown when I log in. Not really an issue, but I don’t think it should and it takes a while for it to go.

Now onto installing cplex properly. I’d forgotten what a drama it could be. Here is the download location (took me ages to find it), now trying to get their java applet to actually set everything up.

Update: on setting up cplex. The permissions on the downloaded binary need to be updated (e.g. cmod 766), then sudo ./cplex… (sudo as you need permissions to write to certain default paths)

Linux Playing: Gnome 3

18 Feb

I normally work using some variant of the Pomodoro technique. I work for 25 minutes, sort of take a 5 minute break, repeat 4 times, take a half hour break, repeat the whole thing. The official Pomodoro technique involves having tasks, allocating a certain number of time blocks for tasks and keeping track of how long you really spend. However, I’ve found that paper to do lists work better for me (I like crossing things off it), but a computer timer is better for me (I’m in a shared office and have head phones on most of the time). I’ve never really reconciled the two, and besides if I’m getting work done I’m happy.

In short, I need a timer. Preferably a timer that will time for one time length (25 minutes) and then automatically start another (5 minutes), so not a standard timer. I gave Tomighty a go. I liked it, even though it used java. But then when I unplugged my laptop from my larger monitor  the numbers weren’t displaying properly anymore in the toolbar. And I had the java runtime environment in the background. Things that I could fix up by working out how to use Java properly and by refreshing the screen, but I went hunting instead.

I discovered that Mint Cinnamon has an app store, which had a timer that looks almost good enough (it didn’t automatically start a break timer), and in the comments there it referenced that there was a pomodoro timer in the gnome extensions. As far as I’m aware Mint Cinnamon is built on gnome 3 (but made to look like gnome 2), but apparently it isn’t the newest version of Gnome as I couldn’t install the extensions. However by using:

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

(There was something else, I’m sure, can’t remember).

And logging out and back in I could get all the gnome extensions I wanted. However it  came at a price. Gone is my pretty Cinnamon, it is replaced with  a somewhat confusing gnome. I’ve spent a day using it, well I’m using it.

It seems slow in comparison. Programs that I remember just appearing in Cinnamon take their time in Gnome (things like Terminal). Programs aren’t so easy to find if you don’t know what they are called (when I hit the windows key, there use to be a button to display all the programs, like what Android has, but it has disappeared) and they aren’t ogranised nicely into categories.

The worse thing is that the clock is in the top middle centre. I’m fine with the main tool bar being at the top. Just have the clock in  one of the corners. I’m constantly finding myself looking at the top right hand corner, than the left before remembering that it is in the middle. Just then I confused my Pomodoro timer with the clock (I was sure it couldn’t have been 7:17).

All in all, I can use gnome, it is just annoying me greatly. The only reason why I’m still using it is that I really like the extensions. It was nice that my pomodoro extension started up as soon as I booted up. I’ll give it another day. If I don’t like it by the end of the day, back to pretty cinnamon and I’ll give tomighty another try.

Linux Playing

17 Feb

In the last week I’ve been attempting to transition from Windows to Linux. I’m working on some code that is all set up to run on Linux and I really would like to use a proper IDE to work through it, rather than my current work though which is writing the code in NotePad++ and ssh-ing into the server. The other reason why I would like to set up in Linux is that the university’s Windows image is bloated and eats too much of my 2GB of memory.

Last time I tried to use Linux, one of my favourite bits of software, Rescue Time was not easily working. That combined with not HAVING to be in Linux meant that I never spent much time in that partition. Now, as I’m moving to a new project, I’m determined to get there.

I knew I didn’t like the new Ubuntu interface, had heard good things about Mint, liked the look of Cinnamon, so decided to go with that. I first tried to set it up as a virtual box, lack of memory and a bloated windows image prevented it being usable. Went with the dual boot root.

Setting up the dual boot was odd. University laptop (still under warranty and they get grumpy seeing non-windows software) that is bios passworded, and the boot order will do the hard drive before a CD. Thankfully, Mint doesn’t come with an installer you can start through Windows. First you need to decompress the .iso, then there is an .exe you can run. This is the bit that confused me. At first it looked like it was just a partitioner. I didn’t realise that I had to reboot the computer to get into Mint. Once that was done it all went smoothly.

I really like the layout of Cinnamon. The start menu has everything categorised and had the search bar that I love from Windows Vista/7. The tool bar was nice and small and I could easily add on quick launch icons.

Setting up most software wasn’t an issue. Rescue Time I had to manually add it to the start up list. Latex seems to work differently and won’t download single packages on the fly. Instead all the tex packages are divided up in lumps, like tex-live-science and tex-live-extras. Couldn’t work out where the elsarticle class was hiding, so eventually just got tex-live-all. Now I can easily draw chess boards and musical notation.