Sunday, 5 June 2011

Kindle vs iPad

For the past few weeks I've been borrowing a first generation iPad, I've been using it everyday at home as my laptop was stolen. I also have my own kindle 3G. I just finished the book "The Fires of Heaven" by Robert Jordan; this is the sixth or seventh book I've read entirely on the kindle.

The kindle does have a web browser, although you must access it from the experimental section of the menu. I tried using the kindle to check email and go on facebook but it really wasn't up to the task. The javascript seemed to kill the performance - some pages would render wacky. Visiting mobile only sites was better although I noticed many sites seemed optimized for touch. The kindle really shines when it is treated exactly like a book, it is about the same weight and size as a paperback and just about as versatile. Yes it does need power every now and then; I've found every three weeks or so I need to charge it for a night - but I have used it almost every night. The simple thing of taking it outside and reading a book in bright sunlight is hard to overstate. No back-light, and no glare makes reading a pleasure. The fact you can change the font size, and the typography itself is a clear win of digital technology - when reading while travelling I increase the size dramatically to avoid headaches.

Reading pdfs on the kindle is possible, I read one full book this way but it was far from ideal. The kindle uses a very good text layout algorithm when it has the raw text, this is impossible with the portable document format which results in either seeing the whole page in miniature on the kindle screen or seeing thirds of the page when viewing in landscape mode.

Buying books for the kindle is so painless. The 3G model that I have gives me access to the kindle store in places as remote as Arthurs Pass, and purchasing a book is but a few clicks away. On the off chance you have other ebooks in other formats the kindle has support for quite a range, or the software Calibre will convert between most formats. I had no trouble loading the few.mobi books I had onto the kindle.

On the iPad front, I have to say I was a fan as soon as I saw Steve unveil the thing. As a news reading device, a map, a twitter front end, as a general web surfer, you-tube player, music player, and as a recipe book in the kitchen... it is absolutely superb. I haven't tried an android tablet and I imagine they are everything the iPad is without the apple lock in. The free app "Flipboard" is freaking fantastic. Now that I have my own laptop again... who knows where the iPad fits in. Something used to flick through the news in the morning, and the twitter/facebook feed over a coffee?

For reading technical reports, power-point presentations and the like; the iPad wins hands down. For reading novels with few pictures the kindle is a perfect book replacement. But be careful to charge either of them before going away, I had a brick of a kindle coming back from Kaikora when I forgot to charge the battery in about a month. Two very cool toys!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Pizza


Dough

  • 4 + 1/2 cups of flour (experiment with small proportions wholemeal and the majority high grade bread flour)
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 + 1/2 cups of luke warm water
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoon of yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
Mix dry ingredients first, add wet ingredients and mix to form dough. Kneed for a few minutes, it should be just on the sticky side. Leave in a bowl under a warm wet tea towel for at least half an hour in a warm place. If you have the time leave it for a good few hours for the best result.
Punch the dough down, cut into thirds and kneed each third into a ball. Leave to rise again for at least 15 minutes. Then roll the dough and ideally put into a pizza tray.



Sauce

For pizzas with a sauce topping the quality of the sauce varies a lot depending on how much time and how much fresh ingredients go into it. I have made some really nice pizza sauces that were derived mostly from my garden, and had others that simply combine onions, garlic and chopped tomatoes from a can.


 I have a pretend magic bullet which I just fill by going foraging - spring onion, basil, parsley, mint, onion and tomato (of course). I usually put a bit of oregano, salt and pepper as well. Blend it all up and apply straight to the rolled out pizza bases. On the other end of the spectrum I have occasionally made sauce by combining plain tomato sauce, sweet chilli sauce and bbq sauce.


Toppings

There are many toppings I like, some combinations work better than others but just experiment with what you have. I grate cheese onto the sauce and then apply toppings, although some people swear by putting cheese on last. Mozzarella is best but I often just use whatever cheese we have. 
The main advice would be to apply toppings sparingly! Here are some of my favourites:
  • ham, mushroom, capsicum
  • ham, pineapple, mushroom
  • cranberry or apricot base, smoked chicken and brie


Cooking

This part is easy. Put the pizza in the oven, take it out when it smells good enough to eat! If you have a pizza stone it should be preheated to 220 degrees. Place your pizza tray onto the stone and bake for around 20 minutes. Once the crust is nice and golden, take out, cut and serve.
Enjoy!

A post at last

In the weeks following the February 22nd earthquake I wrote my thoughts and the days happenings into a diary. When I last saw the document it was over 10 000 words and went into great detail about Comfort for Christchurch, the Student Volunteer Army, eq.org.nz and most everything that I got up to. I wrote about my car "Big Brown" being crashed into causing massive damage to four panels. I wrote about the fact the car was then stolen from outside my house, damaged and all. I didn't have theft insurance on my twenty four year old car and the insurance of other party who crashed into my car have refused to pay for the damage they caused.
Something I didn't get to write about was the burglary of my flat the week after that. In total we lost three laptops, a bag, and an iPod. Unfortunately it was a hard hitting reminder to back stuff up. My insurance doubled the excess to $500 because it was theft (?) and now today, two months later, I have a replacement laptop. It is very shiny so I hope it doesn't get stolen any-time soon.

So no thanks to the muppets who took advantage of the chaos around the earthquake, the looters and the thieves. At some stage I would really like to tell the "Comfort" story to thank the amazing people I had the pleasure of meeting through the ordeal.

For now I'd really like to improve my writing so I have decided to do a post-a-day. Random topics allowed, I might put some on bitsofpy.blogspot.com instead of here and I might try queue one or two posts up. I wonder if I'll make it through the long weekend!