December 29th, 2012

Cadbury bunny - eyes ahead

Future pasta

In March 2013, the Royal Mail will offer a set of eleven first class (and four second class) stamps, which will be of interest to one or two friends. Yes, eleven. =:) The official page is here, including the option to register for updates, and a "chance to win". And also as part of the show's 50th anniversary celebrations, it seems there'll be a series of events at the BFI, including Q&A sessions with current and former Doctors, though perhaps not with William Hartnell, as the ContactMusic article claims. ^_^;

If you've been holding off supporting Elite: Dangerous for want of a Mac version, well, here you go. ^_^ But first, it needs funding! Nudge your existing pledge up, if you can - there are a few new pledge levels available, too. Spread the word! (Encouragingly, the trend has been nosing upwards lately, despite Christmas right in the way!)

If you're in the UK, and haven't yet seen Safety Not Guaranteed, it apparently finally has a UK release! Well, of a sort - looks extremely limited, given Odeon lists a mighty four locations, as an example: Covent Garden, Manchester, Kingston, and Norwich.

The New York Times' paywall appears to be working. Whilst advertising revenues continue to decline, subscription income is rising faster.

If you've wanted to strip the DRM from iTunes video purchases (in our case, to play on the 42" LG TV in the main room, without the need to hook Dandelion up), I recently discovered you can - just search for "Requiem 4.1", the current version, and possibly the last. (The author's moving on to other projects, but with the source being open, it's entirely possible others will take over) I should note that, unlike many other ersatz utilities, this introduces no loss in quality - it doesn't re-encode, only removes the DRM, so the encoding itself is left untouched.

Points to note:
- it's available as pre-packaged OS X and Windows applications, and the Java source.
- as 4.1 was released before iTunes 11, the application's unaware of 11 and conservatively says it's unable to help with that version. Reportedly, it does still work fine with 11, but you need to run it from the command line.
- if it's launched by a double-click, it assumes behavior I personally wouldn't expect: it doesn't wait for files to be given to it, but rather, performs a search for all affected files, and queues them up for processing. As this can take around four minutes per episode, this might take a significant amount of time. You may well prefer, as I do, to leave it in the Dock, and just drop a file or directory onto it when desired - that'll cause it to only work upon those files.
- on a local (rather than AppleShare) volume, the original files are automatically moved to the trash. I haven't experienced any failures in the process, with several 1080p TV shots and films processed, but you might want to run a quick check on the output, just to be sure, before finally deleting the originals. (Though, I suppose it's easy enough to re-download them if necessary)

The other night, we watched one of the Blu-Rays I'd given the housemate: Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, a Chinese action adventure/mystery/wire-fu epic. It was, unsurprisingly, much fun. ^_^ The cinematography was frequently stunning, although the lighting in the second half often fell short, with a distinctly "video" quality.

I made bread! Again. ^_^ As ever, using the recipe ionotter offered up a while ago - very easy, and so worthwhile. In brief, the four ingredients you need are:

- 500ml water, about body temperature
- 1100ml flour
- teaspoon of yeast
- teaspoon of salt

(The proportions aren't critical - basically, a measure of water, and a little more than double that of flour)

Mix the yeast into the water first, if required. (Most do, some are fine with just mixing straight in; whatever the instructions recommend) Combine everything to make a fairly stiff dough - it shouldn't be too wet, else the bread'll be too moist after cooking, leaving it heavy. (As long as you can shape it into rolls or whatever you're wanting, it's fine) Once you've got it all into a dough, leave it somewhere on the warm side for a couple hours - it ought to be able to rise quite nicely, so be sure you've used a bowl it's not going to make a dramatic escape from. =:)

At this point, you can either bake it straight away, or pop it into the fridge for up to a few days - it'll keep quite nicely until you're ready. Prepare a tray with some sprinkled flour or cornmeal, to help get the bread off after baking, and set the oven for about 230C (220C if fan-assisted), or 450F. If you want a particularly good crust, also put another tray into the bottom of the oven now, and get half a mug of water ready.

Once it's up to temperature, pop the dough in; and for extra crustiness, also toss the water onto the lower tray, to bring up plenty of steam during cooking. It'll be done after about 30 minutes. You'll want to leave the bread for a few minutes before trying to get it off, let alone eating, but it'll soon be ready and waiting. ^_^

Now, that's just for a basic bread - as you'd expect, you can add all sorts of extras, if you want to. Garlic and rosemary's a great combination, as is simply a good bit of mature Cheddar. One that I found worked surprisingly well was some cheap ham, chopped up very finely, and Cheddar. =:9 Whatever you add, you'll probably want to play with the proportions, to get it to just the right level you like. (It can take a bit more than you might expect, so you don't need to be too sparing) Bear in mind you can make this bread very crunchy, so.. be prepared to get what you wish for, as they say. =:)