Please consider the environment before printing this status

Please consider the environment before printing this status.

No, really. Aren’t you a little tired of following this email signature trend, started by someone like 20 years ago? Because yes, this is exactly what I’m going to do – after reading your email, which is by far the most fascinating email I’ve ever read, I’m going to just have an urge I won’t be able to resist to print it out and carry it around with me. Heck, maybe I’ll even scan it after I print it, in case I lost the piece of paper, so I can print it again. It’s not going to be as good as the original, but you can’t have it all, you know.
No, I don’t care that I’m reading your email on my phone, I’m setting a reminder for myself, as soon as I get to the office to print out your email. I don’t know how anyone can go through life without hard copies. Yeah, I don’t buy books anymore, because I read them digitally, and yes everyone I know owns a smart phone, and a tablet, and a laptop, and a smart TV, but yeah – I just wanted to thank you again for reminding me that if I want to carry your email around, I should do it on my mobile phone, or tablet, or laptop, and not print it and put it in a nylon folder in my male purse.
Do you know how much storage space is wasted in this world because a bunch of old ladies still have each and every one of their email close with a picture of freakin’ tree and the words “do not print me”? I’ve got two words for you:
Carbon Footprint.

Boiled Egg Recipe

Ingredients:

Water
Egg
Wooden Toothpick

Directions:

Go straight, turn right, bend down, open the cupboard.

Take a small pot. Put the egg inside first (this is the tricky part, be careful not to crack it). Put the water in the pot, till it covers your egg. Add the toothpick. Don’t laugh – toothpick is important. It will prevent your egg from cracking and spilling. Don’t ask me how.

Put it on the stove. Wait for the water to boil. Give it about 7 more minutes after the water boiled. Take it off the stove. Turn off the stove (this will not affect the flavor of the egg, but is important if you don’t have house insurance). Spill the hot water (careful now). Fill the pot with cool water. Give it a sec to even out the temperature between the egg, the pot and the water. Remove the egg. Peel before eating. Here’s a neat way of doing it:

Humus Recipe

Humus

I was asked for the Humus Recipe I’m using, and generally if you were Hebrew speakers, I’d send you here: http://humus101.com/?p=4 . This is where my recipe started. Nice thing about Humus is that you can make it however you feel like, as long as you and others like the outcome. If you’re American, be warned – there’s a big thing in America about not offending people. If your friend says your Humus was delicious, but then stops returning your calls, you may want to change a few ingredients and make new friends. This here can get you started, and you can tweak it to your taste, culture and what not.

Ingredients (this here serves 4 hungry Israelis):

  • 2 cups of Humus beans (aka garbanzo). You want to buy fresh beans, and try to find the smallest kind you can find. In Israel they’re called “Bulgarian”. The beans you’ll use are responsible for how good your Humus is. If you use canned beans or anything of the sort, please go jump in front of a bus now before anyone else gets hurt.
  • One onion
  • 5 garlic cloves (If you like garlic, you can use more. Up to you)
  • 1 Tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup of Tahini (good brand, something that you like).
  • 2 small lemons
  • 1/3 tsp cumin (use more if you like. I do. But easy on the seasoning)
  • Salt. Easy with that.
Make sure you have a food processor. You can also use a combination of liquidizer and mixer. If you don’t have either, I’ll have a recipe for boiled egg for you next week. That is assuming you have clean water running in your tap.
Here goes:

1) Get those good Humus beans (aka garbanzo). The smaller the better. In Israel they’re called “Bulgarian type”, but wherever you are, just try to get them small.

2) Clean’em up. Put them on a shallow plate, and take out anything that doesn’t look like Humus – rocks, and even beans that are not as beautiful as their sisters. This ritual is important, make sure you only have good-looking humus beans left.

3) Wash the beans a few times, until the water is crystal clear.

4) Take a bowl, put a few tablespoons of coarse salt in it, fill it up with a lot of water, and put the beans inside. The water level should be well above the beans. Use 2-3 litters (100 oz). Put it in the fridge overnight. Go to sleep, or party till morning. 12 hours rest for the humus at least.

5) Good morning, how’d you sleep… Take the beans, and wash them well (we don’t want them to be salty). Put the humus in fresh clean water for a few more hours, in the fridge. The longer you leave the beans in water, the smoother your humus will be. If you wanna just get going now, you can.

6) Wash the beans, make sure the water is crystal clear again, put the beans in a pot with water that is 2 inch higher than the beans. Put the onion and garlic in there too (no salt yet, please). Cook it. Make it boil, then reduce the heat, so it continues boiling (bubbles and all, don’t let it rest). Cover the pot. Every 5 minutes or so, open the lid, and skim the water (meaning, remove any foam or floating humus shells that you can see). We’ll do this part for 45 minutes at least.

7) We’re going to add the baking soda now. What it does is make the beans go soft quickly. It’s a shortcut and you don’t have to do it if you’d like to just keep the pot on the stove for 3 hours or so. I always do it, ’cause I don’t see the downside. Anyways, you add the baking soda in there, and watch the volcano go. My favorite part as a chemistry-set deprived child. Give it another half hour of boiling, during which continue skimming (it will get ugly after you put the baking soda in there, so skip to the best of your ability).

The beans are ready when you can easily crush them. That is, you take a bean, hold it between your thumb and finger, and when you easily squeeze it becomes paste. If it feels a little bumpy, it’s not ready yet. If your finger got burned, then you were supposed to let the bean cool before holding it in your hand (geez, man…) Anyway – after a total of 75 minutes in the water, 30 of which with the baking soda, it should now be ready to go pasty.

Note: If you use the right kind of beans, meaning those small ones, then the bean shells would be gone by now. They leave the beans and float or disintegrate, and so you skimmed them or they’re simply gone. If, for whatever reason, you can see that most beans still have their shells, you want to remove those somehow. You can peel them off one by one if you like, or there’s a trick to it – remove the beans from the water, cool them under water, massage them with your hands (don’t squash), and then put them in the pot again and let it continue cooking. The shells should now be more willing to leave the beans and go where all shells should go – in the trash can.

Moving on:

8) Turn off the stove, and let the pot cool. Once it’s cool, put it in the fridge for a few hours. If you’re in a hurry, skip this part I guess, but the best humus I made were done following the regime to the dot.

9) Take the pot out, and pull all the beans, with the garlic WITHOUT the onion in a food processor. Process…. You are now setting the texture of the humus – add the liquids from the pot into the processor, until you’ve reached the liquid state that you like in your humus. I like my Humus quite “concrete”, so I was tempted to not use any liquids once – it is not recommended, because you end up with something that can easily paint a drywall with. Use at least some liquid, but keep the paste firm – you don’t drink Humus with a straw. Grind for about 2 minutes before starting to add the rest of the ingredients.

10) Add a little tahini. Keep processing on low power. Add the rest of the tahini, then the lemon juice, cumin and salt. Be very careful with the seasoning. If the dish becomes too salty, I’m going to make you start over from square 1, so really – be careful. It’s better to have your guest add a little salt to their own dish. You’ve been warned. Cumin is also salty, by the way. I, for one, use a lot of it, but again – it’s a matter of taste. Cumin can also be added on top of the dish after serving. Better a mild taste, then salt coming out of your ears. Right, enough with that.

Oh, you can also add squashed garlic for a stronger taste of garlic. I love it, but some people don’t.

11) Put the thing in a plastic container, sealed, in the fridge. Some people like their humus hot, so you can eat it now if you want. You can also leave some of the unsquashed beans (now you’re telling me?), with the liquid, and add those in the middle of the dish. See here: http://msc.walla.co.il/archive/270869-5.jpg.

Serve it any way you like, but olive oil is really important, sprinkled on the dish. You can add some parsley or other greens, and I personally like to add cumin on top of it as well.

Pita is also important. Most Israelis keep their Pitas in the freezer, and a minute before eating them, take them out, wrap them in a clean kitchen towel, and throw them in the microwave for 60 seconds. It tastes like it just came out of the oven in the bakery this way, so even the best Humus restaurants in the country use this trick. The downside is that you have to eat the pita within 10 minutes, or it becomes a good replacement for a flat tire.

Humus will be good in the fridge for a few days only, because it has no preservatives in it (yey). If you get green stuff on top, it’s not pesto, it’s antibiotics. Don’t eat it without a prescription. Throw it away and start investigating how come your dish was left to rot in the fridge.

Let me know how it went. Good luck and all.

Another SEO Troll down the drain

I have long been telling anyone who’s willing to listen that I think SEO is evil. I’m not talking about black-hat, I’m talking about any form of SEO that is meant to make Google think that you have just a notch better content than what you actually have in your website. Creating backlinks, duplicating content, buying domains and all that. I have a long long post waiting to be written explaining what I think of the subject, but that’s for another time.

Today I just wanted to share with you an article that I read (Hebrew, sorry. I couldn’t find an English translation. I guess the world doesn’t care enough..), and gave me a fuzzy feeling as soon as read the headline. The feeling got better as I read through it. For those of you who don’t read Hebrew, or don’t feel like reading the usual complaining tone of ynet, I’m going to summarize in my own words:

Basically two guys bought two domains: wikipedia.org.il, and wikipedia.co.il. Both of these guys consider themselves “web professionals”. They were running their own flavor of wikipedia or whatever. One of them apparently did scraping of another site or some other SEO sh*t. God knows. No one cares. I guess they were making a few dozen shekels per month from Adsense on that site, or a few hundred, or none, again – no one cares. Then one morning Wikimedia (the organization behind Wikipedia, owner of the trademark) decided to do some house cleaning, so they wrote a short note to the Israeli registrar (IL-DRP) asking to get their Israeli domains, as owners of the trademark. The registrar carefully considered the request – on the one hand we have the worldwide wikipedia – the non-profit organization which created this amazing tool and is somewhat struggling to survive financially. On the other hand we have two SEO leeches who were taking advantage of the wikipedia brand (luckily for them, wikipedia probably doesn’t posses the attention to sue them for that), and are driving traffic into their sites under false pretenses. I should mention that both sites have a note on them saying that they’re not the official Wikipedia. If you manage to find that note, that is.

5 minutes later, the domains were given back to Wikimedia (YES!!). Reading this brought back memories of home, my childhood, and my father reading me a fairytale where the evil sisters got what they deserved at the end of the story.

I should mention that ynet found it appropriate to twist the story around and make those SEO leeches victims, and wikimedia the big scary giant that steps in and takes whatever they feel like. But that’s just ynet trying to make a sensation.

Upgrading Lenny to Squeeze

Blog Technical Scale: 10 (very)

The cloud hosting that we like the most is rackspace. The new version of Debian came out very recently, and I guess rackspace still haven’t had the chance to create an image for it on their cloud.

I went out to check how to upgrade from Debian 5 to Debian 6, and it was so easy that I thought I’d just spill it out here. Starting with a fresh Lenny install:

apt-get update
apt-get install debian-archive-keyring
apt-get update
vim /etc/apt/sources.list
Now you need to search for all occurences of the word “lenny” and replace them with “squeeze”. Search in replace all in vim can be done like this: :%s/lenny/squeeze/g
and then:
apt-get update
apt-get install apt dpkg
apt-get dist-upgrade

Click through as you’re being asked question (enter, enter, enter)
That’s it. Amazingly easy.
Run this after you’re done to verify:
more /etc/debian_version

 

Credits:
http://www.go2linux.org/how-to-upgrade-from-debian-lenny-to-squeeze
http://neozilon.com/linux/find-out-the-version-of-debian

Redirecting visitors in an old Blogger blog to new location on wordpress.com

Blog Technical Scale: 5 (if you need it, you’ll do fine)

So,

As part of moving the blog to its new location, I was faced with a minor challenge – redirecting users from my old blogger blog to my new wordpress blog.

The task is pretty trivial if you happen to be a programmer – you just add a redirect code in your old blog headers. But I wanted a little more than that – I wanted people to be redirected correctly, so that if they were viewing a specific post, I’d redirect them to that same post on wordpress.

To make a long story short, I found a few posts on the web describing how to do that, but they were either old or were assuming you are hosting your own wordpress. Eventually, being who I am, I decided to crack it myself. I used an old post from laffer.net, that  and was no longer relevant, but provided big help in setting a direction.

Eventually I managed to do it, so I figured I’d share it here. There’s a good chance that this method will cease to work one day, just life the old method laffer.net had is no longer working. But until then perhaps someone will find it useful. Here’s what you do:

1) Go into your blogger’s admin area. Choose the “design” tab, “Page Elements” (where you see the different blocks that your page is made of).

2) Click on “add a gadget” anywhere and choose the html/javascript gadget.

3) In the screen the just opened, paste the code below in the “content” section, and leave “title” empty.

4) Replace the wordpress and blogger urls from my urls to yours (look for etairaz.wordpress.com and itairaz.blogspot.com).

That’s it. You now have a banner on top of your site that tells people they are about to get redirected in 5 secs, then redirects them.

This is *not* SEO friendly, but I couldn’t care less since I’m not one of those SEO crooks (subject for another post). It won’t work on a browser that doesn’t support Javascript, but again – who cares.

Enjoy!

</pre>
<div style="position: fixed; top: <span class='hiddenSpellError' pre=&quot;&quot;>30px</span>; left: <span class=;">30px; border: solid 2px #333; color: #000; background-color: yellow; padding: 5px; width: 400px; z-index: 5; font-family: verdana, geneva, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: large;"></div>
<pre>
<pre>
	<div><strong>My blog has moved!</strong></div></pre>
<div>You should be automatically redirected in 5 seconds. If not, visit
<a class="<span class=">redirectLink" href='https://etairaz.wordpress.com/'> <span class="redirectText" style="font-weight: bold; color: #bb0000;">https://etairaz.wordpress.com</span></a>
 and update your bookmarks.</div>
<pre>
</div>

<script language="javascript" type="text/javascript">
function addZero(numberToPad)
{
	return ("0" + numberToPad).slice (-2);
}

var m_wpUrl = 'https://etairaz.wordpress.com/';
var m_published = document.getElementsByClassName('published');
if(m_published.length == 1)
{
	m_published = m_published[0].getAttribute('title');
	var m_pubDate = new Date(m_published);
	var m_url = location.href;
	var m_lastSlash = m_url.lastIndexOf('/');
	var m_lastDot = m_url.lastIndexOf('.');
	var m_postName = m_url.substring(m_lastSlash + 1, m_lastDot);
	if(m_lastDot > 0 && m_postName.indexOf("_archive") < 0) m_wpUrl += m_pubDate.getFullYear() + '/' + addZero(m_pubDate.getMonth() + 1) + '/' + addZero(m_pubDate.getDate()) + '/' + m_postName;

}
//redirect in 5 seconds
window.setTimeout(function(){location.href = m_wpUrl}, 5);

//change text
document.getElementsByClassName('redirectLink')[0].setAttribute('href', m_wpUrl);
document.getElementsByClassName('redirectText')[0].innerText = m_wpUrl;

</script>

Moving to WordPress

Why did I decide to move from Blogger to WordPress?

Well, I kind of claim that if you have to ask this question, you haven’t tried both blogging platforms. There’s actually no comparison. WordPress is a monster. Blogger is a nice little toy. It’s like comparing a smartphone and an old Nokia. Both support the basic operations of a phone, but the smartphone (WordPress in my example, if you haven’t figured it out yet…) is just loaded with all sorts of advanced options, is much easier to use, etc. etc. etc. Recently I found myself writing blog posts in word and copying them into blogger when I’m done, because the blogger posting interface is terrible. This was the last straw, actually. A  blog’s most trivial feature is the posting feature. If that one is not convenient, it’s kind of a show stopper. I also found myself editing HTML way too often in order to make my posts look like I want them. And I wasn’t asking for much. Something as trivial as opening link in another window, and not chase readers out of my blog is not available through the blogger interface. I’m a software engineer, but hey – I don’t want to write code where I expect the platform to support me.

Not sure why I used blogger to begin with, but the transition is over. There’s a really nice import feature in WP that just “drank” my existing blog almost flawlessly. The only downside I saw is that the theme I had in blogger was nicer.

Welcome to my new home !

 

Update: I wrote a little script that redirect readers from the old blog to the new one, gracefully. In case anyone needs one.