The CousCous Equation

Posted in Food and Drink, Rants And Rambles on January 18th, 2010 by Coffee

You must have seen a movie or read a book or something where a computer or robot or something is brought to its knees by a seemingly simple logic puzzle or something.

Last night that happened to me. Making couscous.


You have to be a bit careful making couscous. It’s all to easy to end up with something that’s just all glug and no  crunch, or all too crunchy and inedible. Or too oily and yucky. For something so simple there are quite a few potential pitfalls. So it really pays to follow the instructions on the packet, as they really should know the exact quantities of stuff to get perfect results.

The packet instructions: “Allow approximately 45g of couscous per 80g cooked serving. Place 250g of couscous in a large bowl with 400ml of boiling and 1tbsp oil”…

Ok, so there were 2 of us, so we needed to have 90g of couscous, so that means we need, um some water, so half what they’re saying is, um, 200ml but that’s for 125g which is still too much for just 2 of us, so we need a bit less, so that’s um, oh I give up!!! My brain’s overheating! Where’s the spreadsheet?!

Why don’t they just give instructions with a nice figure for each serving?! It would stop my head exploding anyway!

But for the record, after a lot of head scratching, the final result was probably some of the best couscous that we’ve ever made, doing us proud for dinner and lunch today.

I ended up using 300ml of water. I’ll leave  it to you to work out how much cous cous that was!

If it walks, talks, smells, and looks like a duck…..

Posted in Geeky Tech Stuff on January 14th, 2010 by Coffee

My new ‘puter had been giving me bit of grief the last couple of days. It would lock up completely, or just shut itself down and refuse to restart for a while and all sorts of other crazy stuff. All the symptoms would normally have made me suspect that the CPU was overheating, but I ruled that out based on the fact that:

  • the motherboard is meant to have a temperature sensor on it that beeps if there is an overheat;
  • the desktop temperature gauges didn’t show any temps high;
  • the CPU heatsink wasn’t feeling hot at all;
  • there was no hot, burning smell coming from the inside of the box!

So I tried all sorts of other things to narrow down what else it could be. Taking bits out, changing all sorts of settings etc, etc, etc… No luck. Still freezing now and then.

Today I finally gave in and took the whole motherboard out and prepared to replace it with another lower spec spare. Just before I put the other one in, I noticed that one of the CPU fan corner clips wasn’t fully locked down. Clicked that properly into place, put everything back in the case and connected everything up, and voila! So far today it’s been a nice, stable machine again. Fingers crossed, but it looks like it’s all fixed now. So it’s entirely likely that it was a CPU overheat issue after all!


For a hint at the moral of the story, see the post title!

I have to say though that I am absolutely amazed that the box is still functioning at all! Only a couple of years ago if the heatsink was as loose as this one was today then there would be lots of smoke and burning smells coming from the case. It’s happened to me twice before. Indeed it’s how I managed to come by the need to get a new PC this time around. Modern CPUs and motherboards are obviously just incredible! I won’t be trying to push them too hard just to see what they can take though… Stable is good.

Cauliflower post fallout…

Posted in Food and Drink on January 14th, 2010 by Coffee

Thanks to Lennon and/or Kim’s comments on the previous entry we gave the cauliflower risotto another go last night. And it was yummy.


This time I even managed not to burn the anchovy and bread topping, so that was yummy too. (Last time we had to scrape it off and shove it far, far, far away from anything we wanted to eat)… We still got things just a bit wrong with the recipe as we assumed we knew what we were doing, but caught things just in time and managed to get back on track pretty quick. It helps if you read the whole recipe first sometimes!
Next time I must remember that if the food’s whiteish, use the blue plates though!


Posted in Food and Drink on January 10th, 2010 by Coffee

I guess that’s what they do. Or something very similar! We seem to have to have one in the fridge at all times anyway.

I can’t think of any other reason why we have to have one on call, slowly turning a weird kind of yellowy brown in the bottom of the fridge. But apparently it’s vital we have one. Even pointing out the fact that out of the 6 cauliflowers we’ve purchased in the last year we’ve thrown out 5 and a half didn’t stop one being added to the trolley in the supermarket….

What do you do with a cauliflower anyway?! I think it’s been almost decade since I cooked cauliflower cheese, or any of the more traditional cauliflower dishes. We’ve occasionally made a bit of a cauli curry, or cauli risotto that haven’t been too bad (especially the curry), but cauli hasn’t really been a kind of must have, store cupboard ingredient in my head at least.

But I’m determined that this one isn’t going to join the others in the great big rotting brassica heap in the sky. Or on the ground even. What it’s going to become I have no idea yet. I’ll try to remember to let you know. But in the meantime, if you have any great ideas, let me know. Please!

Barcode update

Posted in Geeky Tech Stuff on January 6th, 2010 by Coffee

Because I know you’re dying to know, I can confirm that I now can indeed scan a CD, DVD or BD disc barcode and get any details I consider relevant.

You can breathe again now!

Now to work out what to do with the info!…

I’m a little bit let down…

Posted in London on January 6th, 2010 by Coffee

Well, we did get a bit of snow last night. But I’m talking just a bit. Dammit!


I did have to go for a walk in to try to find a decent photo (didn’t manage that) and to hear the lovely crunch, crunch, crunch you get walking on fresh snow. I can tell you that it’s definitely cold enough for snow! It was freezing! I had my first taste for a while of the annoyance that is wearing glasses while wanting to cover your mouth and nose with some scarf… Foggy vision, or frostbitten nose? Which is worse?

It is still snowing a little on and off now though. But when I say little I mean 2 flakes every 10 minutes.

I want more!!

Update: 4:30pm

We have indeed had a bit more!


It dumped down from about 3 to 4pm, so I just had to go for another walk. and it was great. Fresh snow to crunch through, and no one around (I like working at home days…). Magic!  Guess we’ll see what tomorrow morning brings…

I’m a little bit excited…

Posted in Rants And Rambles on January 5th, 2010 by Coffee

Apparently this could be even better than the fall we had at the start of this year! There’s certainly a bit of chaos outside London already…


Just me and my barcode scanner….

Posted in Geeky Tech Stuff on January 4th, 2010 by Coffee

Those of you with eagle eyes may have noticed that in the picture we posted earlier of on the stack of goodies that santa was a grey handle looking thing. My new friend a barcode scanner!

Normal question about now is “A barcode scanner?! What the hell do you want a barcode scanner for?!”

And it’s a pretty reasonable question! On its own it’s pretty useless, but with the little program I’ve managed to throw together tonight I can now scan the barcode on any of my books and, courtesy of a large online retailer, the title and author (plus a whole lot of other info if I want it) is magically returned to me to do what I want with! It should even work for DVDs and CDS too, with minimal extra work. And let me chuck them in a database. Or whatever. The final use has yet to be determined, but it’s been fun so far!

Although getting everything up and running with said retailer took a bit of jumping though hoops. You might have noticed that the books on the right sidebar haven’t been updated for a while. That’s because they made getting the info just a bit harder a while ago, and so the scripts I was using to get the details before stopped working. Hopefully now I can get around to fixing that too!

Yes, it’s winter here and little things keep us entertained!

More holiday entertainment…

Posted in Rants And Rambles on January 2nd, 2010 by Coffee

The puzzle we mentioned in the Christmas day entry kept us entertained so well for a bit that we thought we’d break out another one. This one had been sitting in its plastic wrap on the shelf in the spare room for some time, sulking. And about 3 minutes after opening it we realised why!

If the blue pieces on the previous ones were the ones to start with on the old puzzle, they were the ones to avoid on this one!  Even the edge took us about 3 hours!! And the whole puzzle took 4 1/2 days to complete. In the end the only way we could seem to make any progress was to try every piece in every place until something looked like it might almost fit.


When you look at this pic you will be saying “it doesn’t look that hard”….. well believe us it was and it almost got the better of us on a number of occasions and was very close to going back in the box without being completed. But we managed to persevere. (In our defence it was a Van Gogh and if you have seen any of his paintings you will know what his brush work is like, which made  for some hard puzzling).

There was a huge sense of relief when it was finished!

In case you wanted to see the previous one completed, here it is too:


A lot easier!

But we might give puzzling a miss for a bit now…