Kamilah Taylor
I know, I've been in a crazy baking mood. The problem is that I go online and see these yummy recipes and then I start craving the end product. That's how I ended up baking lemon bars for our movie night (2010: The Year We Make Contact).

So the key to good lemon bars is apparently the lemons. You should use freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest. Lemon zest is from the outer skin of the lemon. You get it from using a lemon zester, or if you're a poor grad student like me, from using a grater and grating the outer skin. Make sure you don't get the inner white rind, it's very bitter, and zest the lemons before squeezing them.

From Randomness

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Kamilah Taylor
From Randomness

I'm not entirely sure where I get these whims from, but for some reason (I blame it on that joyofbaking site) I've been in a baking mood. Even more arbitrary, I had this hankering to bake my own bread. I had lots of time to kill last night (I was watching the Republicans whine on C-span, yay health care!), so it seemed like a good time to try my hand at baking with yeast.

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Kamilah Taylor
Get ready for what may be the most exciting piece of Deathly Hallows news we've gotten in a while! I stumbled upon these two articles today(here and here), and there are some tantalizing bits about what to expect from the finale. Apparently quite an extensive preview was shown at ShoWest 2010, and I've got to say, it sounds epic. Finally!!!! I really hope they don't screw up these last two movies, because I'm sure it'll be a while before we can get the remake. I loved the impression that it's really set up as Voldemort, the Death Eaters and even the Ministry all against Harry. Quibble:
The footage ended with what might be the final confrontation with Voldemort as he asks Harry, "Why do you still live?" to which he gets the response, "Because I have something to live for."
Ralph Fiennes delivering that line sounds like it'll give me chills, but I hope Daniel Radcliffe delivering that line doesn't end up being another cheesy movie thing.

Other than that, November couldn't come soon enough!

Edit: I also, of course, found more info here.
We saw little bits of everything, from the seven Harry Potters escaping from the Dursleys house (totally surreal) to the attack at Bill and Fleur's wedding to the escape from Gringotts on the pale dragon and even Hogwarts on fire. With unfinished effects it's hard to really say how it all looks, though some of the most effective moments were the simplest -- Ron and Harry's fight in the tent, Harry visiting his parents' graves, running away from the Snatchers in the woods, Harry defiantly telling Voldemort that he stays alive "because I have something worth fighting for."

...the first scene of the extended trailer was Harry and Voldemort's confrontation in the woods outside Hogwarts. Harry, bloodied and visibly terrified, approaches a cold Voldemort (flanked by Bellatrix Lestrange); Voldemort taunts Harry, "The boy who lived, come to die."

They said that Radcliffe's delivery was defiant and very effective, so now I'm just excited! Please don't disappoint me David Yates!!
Kamilah Taylor
I'm finding an interesting application of operating systems to coding and debugging my little robot -- tentatively named HAL 0.

Interestingly, the NXT not only supports multithreading, it can have up to 255 threads. NXC (Not eXactly C) calls these threads tasks. We also have to deal with mutexes, which is necessary when you consider the consequences of having parallel threads all trying to control the motors.

My understanding thus far is that
(1) You always have a main task. This task is executed first, sets what sensors are connected to which ports, and can determine the order in which the other tasks are started.
(2) If you want task 2 to start after task 1, you can start it off with a Follows(task 1) command. I suspect, however, that this is part of the problem I'm having with switching mutexes between tasks. Unfortunately the StartTask command doesn't seem to work and since NXC is kinda like C, I can't use a StartTask(task 2) command in task 1 because task 2 hasn't been defined yet. Oh the joys of C.

In the course of writing this post, I've had a bit of an epiphany, so I may edit this post later today...
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Kamilah Taylor
I found a great site for baking recipes, http://joyofbaking.com/, and I've been putting their recipes to good use - at least I think it's been good. So far, I've tried their biscuits and scones. I seem to have managed to not take pictures of the scones, so I'll just have to make more this weekend. But for now, biscuits!


From Randomness



From Randomness

The main trick to making biscuits is using really cold butter and not over mixing or over kneading the dough. In fact, my biggest baking tip is to bake with cold butter. If you microwave the butter or use margarine, then you've completely killed the recipe and you're better off using a mix.
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Kamilah Taylor
I think I just found my dream gadget. It's a little bit out of my price range, but it would shave off $80,000 dollars! That's the pitch I'd sell to anyone I'd try to convince to buy this, though I have sneaking suspicion that someone will be me.

Enter the Yamaha AvantGard. This baby was made to replicate the experience of playing a grand piano at a fifth of the cost, half the size, and a third of the weight - and without the need to tune! Consider the following (according to PopSci):

Grand Piano:
  1. $100,000
  2. 9 feet
  3. 1500 pounds
AvantGard:
  1. $19,000
  2. 4 feet
  3. 450 pounds
I've long been a fan of Yamaha's digital pianos, so the choice seems clear to me. Not many of us have the money for an acoustic grand piano. And yes, I know that the experience is not quite the same as an acoustic for the pianist, but it's so damn close who the hell cares? There's a price difference of $80,000! I say bring on the future of digital piano technology, though I admit that if I were able to, I probably would buy an acoustic.
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Kamilah Taylor
It has a strange name, but who cares, this tool will apparently help you debug your c/c++ code! And after the all nighter I just pulled, I must say I wish I'd known about this before when I was diagnosing that stupid segfault (c++ shall be the death of me). Big plus: it will work on Mac OS X, but unfortunately it won't work on Windows. Will report back on how useful Valgrind actually is, since I apparently will be spending a lot of time with good old c++.