Thursday, June 25, 2009

Obama putting gays back in the closet

After making strong promises to the gay community on national television, such as the repeal of the military Don't ask don't tell policy, and the repeal of the Defense of marriage act which he once called abhorrent, and getting elected on those promises, Barack Obama now no longer wants to say anything on the subject matter. Except in private, secret meetings. In other words, he would much rather have us keep quiet, in the closet. Those times have passed, mister President.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Naked DSL and Cable Internet without TV

These days, I make most of my telephone calls either from my (pricey) cell phone, or over the Internet. I have little need for my landline telephone line. Except I'm forced to pay for it because it is required to have DSL service with my current Internet service provider. The service runs over AT&T landlines. While AT&T has made "naked DSL" available to its customers, this only applies to those who subscribe to the AT&T internet service. Not to other internet services running on the AT&T cicruits. So, I'm subscribing to a $7.28 measured rate service. To which $6.88 of various taxes and fees are added, for a total of $14.16. For a service that I don't want or need. For over 7 years. This should be against the law.

Lately, I have been thinking about switching over to cable internet, because much higher download and upload speeds are available. However, once again, one is forced to purchase unwanted basic cable TV service when ordering cable internet from Comcast. I get my TV service by satellite and over the air, and have no use for cable TV. It appears that Comcast is now relaxing this requirement to purchase basic cable, but only for one of the lower speeds, and for a temporary introductory period of 6 to 12 months. After that, the monthly rate more than doubles, due primarily to the extra added cost of the unnecessary basic cable TV service. Once again, this bundling of service should be against the law.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Murder by the state : people with HIV to be terminated in California

The governator's proposed California budget includes $55 million of cuts to the AIDS drug assistance program. This program serves 35,000 people in California who are either uninsured, underinsured, or uninsurable, and need to take their HIV medications daily in order to survive. Any missed dose of medication can lead to drug resistance, and the medication stops being effective. This ultimately leads to the need for even more expensive medication, or to death.
With this new budget proposal, the governor is quite explicitly proposing to murder 35,000 HIV/AIDS patients by way of withholding their treatment. The cost of an HIV regimen typically starts at about $1,500 per month and most people on ADAP had no other way to pay for it.

The size of the annual California budget deficit is $24 billion. These ADAP cuts represent less than 0.2% of the state deficit. Apparently, there must be some higher priority than California citizens' life in the rest of the budget.

What distinction do these 14 countries share ?

The USA, Brunei, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, Sudan, South Korea, Tunisia, Turks & Caicos Islands and the United Arab Emirates.

Stumped ?

They all still ban foreigners from visiting and migrating specifically on the basis of an HIV-positive status.

And how do they find out who is positive if the person does not declare it, you might ask ? By random bag searches at the borders. Anyone found with their HIV medications, which have to be taken at least once daily without fail, is sent back.

Rice recipe with pressure cooker and induction cooktop

I am a big fan of rice. But not of the time it usually takes to prepare it. A few years ago, I bought a rice cooker from Costco. It took over 45 minutes to steam just a couple cups of rice that I wanted to have for dinner. Everything else in my meal was ready long before. I found this unacceptable. The rice cooker went back to Costco.

So, in 2006, I purchased a pressure cooker. This is a 6qt model from the Fagor Splendid line. It is relatively inexpensive, and made in Europe. I bought it at a local retail store in Santa Clara.

Having remodeled my kitchen the year before, I was the proud owner of a Kenmore 30" induction cooktop model 42800. I decided to experiment with the pressure cooker and this cooktop to get rice much faster than any steam rice cooker can. This article is about my current recipe. The total cooking time is only about 6 minutes.

Ingredients :
1. rice . I chose some Basmati rice from Costco. I have been using 1 to 5 cups with this recipe, I haven't really tried more.
2. water. With the rice I chose, I use 1.5x the volume of rice. This will vary depending on what type of rice you purchase. But once you know the correct volume, you need to measure exactly, as measurement errors are sure to make your rice either burn or be wet.
3. chicken broth cubes, 1 to 2. I use some Knorr brand.
4. PAM cooking spray
5. herbs. I use some thyme mostly.
6. olive oil .
7. salt
8. pepper

Steps :
1. spray the bottom of the pressure cooker with PAM . This is very important to avoid sticking. If you forget, washing will be much harder.
2. measure water volume and pour it into the pressure cooker
3. put the pressure cooker on the strongest burner and start boiling. On the Kenmore unit, this would be the top-left one. I use the highest P booster"setting.
4. mix in the chicken broth, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme
5. while the water is boiling, wash the rice.
6. since induction is so fast, the water will probably be fully boiled in 1 minute, before you are done washing the rice :) Pour the rice into the boiling water as soon as you can.
7. put the lid on the pressure cooker and close the valve
8. wait until a significant amount of steam starts to release. This will take about one minute typically.
9. turn down the cooktop setting a little bit, to the 9 setting (non-booster) and let cook for exactly 2 minutes. Don't use an analog timer or watch for this. You need to be exact and use a digital one.
10. turn down the setting a little bit more to 8, and let cook for exactly 2 minutes. Again, use a digital watch.
11. turn off the cooktop. steam should stop releasing immediately.
12. turn the valve to release all the steam. This will take about a minute.
13. open the pressure cooker
14. serve.
15. clean the pressure cooker. This is the worst part, since it is not dishwasher safe.

Personally, I find the resulting taste and consistency of the rice to be much better than what I obtain in the rice cooker. And of course in less than 10 minutes of total preparation, versus over 45 minutes with a rice cooker.

Disclaimer :
I have a lot of asian friends. Not all of them agree that this rice tastes better than when made in a rice cooker. Some cannot tell the difference.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Share on ovi disaster

I guess some things in life are too good to be true.
The web site Share on ovi , operated by Nokia, had been offering unlimited image hosting, for free. It included such great features as the ability to retain the original picture size and let viewers see it, as well as on-the-fly resizing, sorting by shooting date, creation date, etc. It was everything I wanted in a picture hosting site, and for free ! I uploaded about 4GB of pictures from my Pentax K200D DSLR to ovi in the past year. Only to find out that the site no longer has any of its useful features. Viewers can only download a very small reduced picture, all the sorting is gone, etc. There isn't even an option to pay to get these features back. They are just gone. So, I'm now faced with the prospect of finding a new picture host. It probably won't be a free one. But I hope it's one that won't become useless soon after I start using it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pinnacle studio 12 vs 24-bit audio

When editing my piano videos, I found out the hard way that WAV files recorded in 24 bit could not be added to the videos. Only those recorded in 16 bit worked. I hope that helps someone else trying to do music videos with Pinnacle, since the limit doesn't appear to be documented anywhere.