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Before we start...

Today's entry is a random hotch-potch of stuff from this weekend, which I should have probably put up on Saturday and/or Sunday, except I was catching up on fansubs of "Highschool of the Dead, a great zombie-horror animé. Okay, there's a bunch of ecchi fanservice, but even so, it is shaping up to be a nice series. It's also pretty cool to be broadcast in Japan one day, and have a sub'd version arrive two or three days later! I hope this one gets licenced over here in the West soon, though I'm pretty sure it will.
One, however, that might be less likely to see Western eyes on TV/DVD is "Shiki" which is, um... Pretty weird. If you can take a whole load of traditional Japanese culture and mix it with something David Lynch might have directed, then you'd be close...

Well, here we go!


Can openers and a leftie rant

It ain't easy being left-handed.

At work, the girls often ask why, when stripping a table of the cling-film laid upon it, I would prefer to rip the stuff off rather than cut it. Those that take up my offer of doing a bit for me, but only using your left hand tend to understand. The moulded scissors are beyond unconfortable so I'd rather not use them. And then there's the problem of blade alignment. The scissors, if they had a unihand handle, are set in place to be used by a right hander. A leftie will have difficulty seeing the line to cut along, and because of how they're held in the left hand, it tends to work in a way that separates rather than closes the gap, leading to a less effective cut.

But don't get me started on can openers. Bloody nightmare. This, coupled with the tendency in modern times to wrap a stress-bearing mechanical part in flimsy plastic means if I managed to find a tin opener I could actually use, it would disintegrate in a few months. Horrid horrid things. But you still come across products that don't have a ring-pull lid. Strangely a startling number of British imports - such as Branston baked beans come without ring-pull tops.

So I was pleased to see this at a vide grenier:

Electric can opener

Okay, it was covered in gunge and needed a complete strip-down to clean it, plus the cutting blade is a bit blunt. That said, it marches (as the French would say) infinitely better than my half-assed attempts at getting cans open.
I simply hook the rim of the can between the cutter and cog wheel. Squeeze the handle and the can turns around, slicing open the top of the can.

To continue the left-handed rant, what the hell is with teaching kids to write like a spaz? Turn the paper ninety degrees to the right, arc your arm over the page and write towards yourself - what, is this some sort of right-hander conspiracy to disadvantage us, as if scissors and can openers weren't enough? Sure, we've only just come out of an era where schools would actually tie kids left hand behind their back as left-handedness was "a sign of the devil", and we also have the Latin dexter and sinister (despite repeated studies showing lefties are more dextrous and often way better at three dimensional visualisations). So outright cruelty is no longer really acceptable so instead, we get taught the most disadvantagous method of writing possible.

I should point out here that I do not write like that. I transitioned from an American school (when I was really young) to a British school and managed to miss the formative handwriting as Brits learn these things earlier (could explain why a lot of Americans have poor handwriting?). My British teacher wanted to teach me to write all messed up, but as I'd already started to teach myself I wasn't much interested, so the teacher quickly gave up and I was more or less left to my own. It was a big thing to progress from pencil to a big orange Berol felt pen. I think I was given mine out of sympathy practically just before leaving junior school. But, at the end of it, I write very small and I tilt my hand counter-clockwise a ways so it can glide below the paper. In other words, I write normally with my left hand!

My final leftie rant - what's with the back-to-front clocks? The passage of time is the same for everybody, and arms that move tell this in a traditional manner that has suited the world for centuries. To have a clock that runs in reverse is just a piece of daft affected pretentiousness.


Mini cooker

I had been cooking, asides from microwaving stuff, using a little camping stove. The one that has those cannisters that poke up from below. This, however, presented numerous problems. The first is that it was pretty poor at heat transfer. A big enough flame that, amazingly, failed to properly heat what was on top. And once the bottle was less than half full, the power of the flame dropped right back. I had to give the thing a vigorous nudge every thirty or so seconds to get anything cooked.

Time to upgrade. We have two options. Dig our old gas cooker out of retirement. This would need new propane bottles (as in the big ones), new pipes and washers for the outside arrangement, and a new rubber pipe for the inside link between the safety switch and the cooker. Oh, and possibly a new safety switch...
...or find another option. For around €25, the other option was a basic gas mini burner as shown here:

Making salmon fish fingers on the mini gas cooker.

The gas cartidges are a little pricey (€3.50 each), however they can come out when the cooker is not in use (unlike the piercey-hole version) and they are dead easy to replace - open the flap on the right and slot it in. The lever activates the cartidge (it is like an aerosol - deodorant, that sort of thing) and the knob selects the intensity of the burner. All the way around 'clicks' to light the flame. Couldn't be simpler.
The rated output is 2.2kW, and as you can see I only need it half way to fry some salmon fish fingers. It's such a difference to the previous arrangement!


What did I do for my summer break?

Asides from watching lots of animé and some work in the garden (take a look at my entry of 2010/07/26 to get an idea of what I mean when I say garden - everything you can see is our land!), I also had some time to do work on my FileStore emulator. You know, that one where I try to emulate a barely-known custom 6502-based system in VisualBasic. Why? Good question... ☺
The process of checking every single opcode is tedious.

I go back on Thursday, before the rest who start the following Monday. As a small consolation, two of the Quality Control girls (who obviously didn't hide quickly enough) will assist us. But, as green hats (higher ups) are involved, we are forced to work to their hours. So for Thursday and Friday myself and my cow-orker begin at 8am. And the weeks/months/years/decades (or so it feels) following? 9pm to 4.30am. Gee, thanks for the consideration!
Still, it is worth turning up for the 8am start just to see how the QC girls will cope. Will either of them have the balls to climb a ladder to sort out the evaporation units (some three metres up, looks scarier when you're up there)? Do they understand basic physics regarding spraying the ceiling of a freezer when you're standing under it? Some sick twisted part of my mind is hoping for some fanservice ☺, but to be honest I think it'll be a case of them doing something mundane for the day... and not like Fl.... name omitted who took great gusto on a hot summer day of washing down the outsides of the windows, with all the jiggly bits ajiggle blissfully unaware that 'cos you couldn't see in didn't mean you couldn't see out. I'll say she has a nice shaped body...
Though, ye Gods, 8am. If random QC girl gets a soaking, strips naked and stands in the draught of an oven to try off, would I even remember any of it? <sigh>!


Wine oddities

I managed to get Wine installed the other day. Remove foil, pop cork, empty bottle...

No, seriously, Wine as in the Windows emulator for Linuxy machines. It was, actually, about as simply as foil-cork-drink. The hardest part of the process was finding it in the ridiculously long list of things you can download and install via Ubuntu's package system.

Ubuntu screenshot - folders.

I didn't try much, though I was pleased to see that Jiten (link) worked well:

Ubuntu screenshot - my Jiten application.

It was a slightly different story with VeroDes (link). Installation was pretty simple:

Ubuntu screenshot - installing my VeroDes application.

However, things aren't quite so rosy when it comes to using the software. For some reason, it all comes out on a black background:

Ubuntu screenshot - VeroDes not quite working...

This is doubly odd when you consider the component editor does work:

Ubuntu screenshot - VeroDes, this bit works..?

As VeroDes works on Windows from W98SE to Vista (no reports of use on Win7), I will say that the fault is Wine. Perhaps one day if I have time/inclination/disc space (it is a 1Gb 'persistence' file), I will see if I can get VB itself running to try different things to see if I can keep both Windows and Wine happy?



I had an email asking if I'm being paid by Satsuki to say good things about them. Yeah, like this b.log gets enough traffic to make anybody feel crazy enough to want to offer moolah for a good mention! The idea, actually, is insulting to both Satsuki and myself.

I believe that if you discover something that pleases you, you should share it with your friends. The company provides good service and has a decent range of products. I place an order monthly (I'm addicted to Oyakata soy flavour noodles...).

To put this into context, here's the "funny foreign food" section of my local supermarket:

Asian food at my local supermarket.
This is it, the entire "asian" section. Seaweed in a can, coconut milk, a dozen types of soy sauce, crunchy asian spouts&veg mixes, "nuoc-nam" whatever the hell that is, noodles in a pot in a choice of two flavours (beef or curry), dried soups in icky flavours, litchis in a can, chinese egg noodles, rice noodles, and rice-based crisps.
On the shelves below this, burritos and such to cover the me-hee-can demographic.

Perhaps now you can see why I like Satsuki. It's just a shame Nico doesn't run an actual shop, and that I don't live next door. But, still, for looking for something different to my usual selection of foods, I think I've done pretty good. Soy is nice. So at least I know if I ever make it to Japan, I will be able to eat something!


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Paul, 9th May 2012, 07:13
Any news on VeroDes under wine? 
Although I can run VeroDes on a windows box, I am trying to keep all of my design sw under one roof (i.e. Linux) 
Second Q (but related) how do you change/configure the colours? 
I was thinking that maybe a different colour palet for VeroDes might help in the 'turning black' problem 

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