Kamilah Taylor
There's a depressingly low amount of advice online on how to communicate with your iRobot Create robot on Mac OSX, so here's my tech tip of the day.

First there's connecting to your Create over bluetooth. This isn't too hard, simply open the Bluetooth Explorer, find the Create (it'll have a name like ElementSerial), pair and then connect. Easy. Of course, don't forget to plug the BAM bluetooth adapter into your Create and turn it on before.

Next there's the issue of sending commands. iRobot recommends that you use RealTerm, but unfortunately that's not an option for us Mac users. So I went through a series of free options. The one that I wanted to like the most was using the screen command in the terminal. Unfortunately, I could connect but I couldn't type and send commands once I was connected. This happened when I tried some other free programs too (including the every popular ZTerm), so that was a bust.

The key was trying Serial Bridge. Now this isn't a free program, and I really wanted a free program, but it had a 30 day trial, so I figured I'd try it out. It's actually a combination of Serial Bridge + Apple's Apple Script. This, after some configuration, worked out perfectly! As an added bonus, Apple Script is super easy.

  1. Download SerialBridge, fill out the form to get the code for a free trial, and Install. This is a dmg so it's pretty straightforward.
  2. Open SerialBridge and go to File to create a new connection. I just called mine New Connection.
  3. Make sure the settings are 57600 baud, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, 0 flow. Save and you're now connected!
  4. Next I worked off one of the example files that came in SerialBridge. Just edit the byte list to one of the examples that come with your Create. For example, byte list = {128, 132, 139, 2, 0, 0} turns on the Play LED on the Create and turns off all the other LEDs. You can delete or comment out the rest of the file, comments are pairs of (* and *).
  5. Now, press the run button in the Apple Script editor. Success!
Once I got this working, this got me thinking that there must be a free way to send Apple Script files over a serial port connection. Do you know of any? I've fiddled around with a couple of stuff but nothing's worked so far.
Kamilah Taylor
Continuing the theme of custardy pies, this pie is ridiculously easy to make. It barely requires any baking (just the curry infused graham cracker crust, easy as pie)! I stumbled upon this recipe after getting a request for a banana cream pie. Not being a huge fan of bananas, I was looking for a twist on a standard banana cream pie and found this recipe. As a Jamaican, everything's better with rum, especially some good Appleton Estate Rum.
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Kamilah Taylor
Music I'm eagerly anticipating: Adele's 21. You can actually hear the entire album online courtesy of npr. I love Adele's voice and her previous album, 19, was one of my personal albums of the year.

In a bit of a guilty pleasure, I'm also really curious to see what Lady Gaga has done with her new album, Born This Way. Apparently the first single will be released on February 11th , which (not coincidentally) is 2 days before the Grammy's [she will of course be performing the song at said award show]. Stefani Germanottta is, if nothing else, a publicity genius.

Edit: Apparently today was my day for finding new music. Check out PJ Harvey's Let England Shake, also courtesy of npr. The album comes out on Feb 15th. I sort of stumbled upon this and am unfamiliar with her previous music, but I love love love the track Written On The Forehead, which samples the classic reggae song Blood and Fire by Niney the Observer while Harvey croons about the end of the world...you have to check it out!
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Kamilah Taylor
Mmm pie. Pumpkin pie is such a quintessential fall pie that I thought this was an excellent second pie. I was very happy with the filling, but wasn't thrilled with this crust paired with this pie, which lead to 2 more pies. The recipe is from my favorite baking site, joyofbaking.com.
Now the crust is what you call pate brisee, french for short dough, because of the high ratio of fat to flour. The most important thing to remember is that butter needs to be really cold. I didn't have access to a food processor when I was making this, so I actually used a frozen stick of butter and then grated it using a cheese grater. This allowed me to be able to combine the flour with the butter and ice water without over mixing, which leads to a tough less flaky crust.
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