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How to Make Delicious Chicken Tenders

posted on 2011-01-28 00:20:32

For about two years I've been occasionally throwing parties to play video games or watch TV and movies. Over that time, I started luring people in with the promise of Fried Chicken and I think I've refined this recipe enough that it's pretty good. There are a good number of other things I cook but they tend to be stolen recipes (say from the Pioneer Woman or Alton Brown) and this is the only one I can come close to calling my own. At any rate, here we go.

This recipe makes ~3 lbs of chicken tenders which works out to between 18 and 24 pieces. There are three parts to these tenders. There is a hot sauce we'll marinade them in, the breading and the tenders themselves. Aside from the list of ingredients you'll need a deep frying pan, tongs, a mixing bowl, the usual measuring cups and some gallon freezer bags. I tend to get a bag as close to ~3lbs as I can of Chicken Tenderloins the same day I plan to cook them and leave them in the sink to thaw for 4-5 hours before I cook them. The breading and hot sauce don't take very long so they can be done early or just before cooking the chicken.

First comes the sauce...

3 Tbs. Butter
3 Tbs. Olive Oil
4 (large-ish) to 6 (small-ish) cloves garlic, minced
2 Tsp each: Cayenne Pepper, Sea Salt or Kosher Salt, Black Pepper
2 Bottles of Texas Pete Buffalo Wing Sauce. Approx 18 oz. each.

Start by melting the butter and olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic and sautee it until golden brown. Mmm...Garlic

Normally I'm good and mince (or talk someone else into mincing) fresh garlic but I was lazy and used some of the pre-minced stuff this time. You'll be pretty distracted with other aspects of the hot sauce anyway. CHEATER!

Next you'll want to get 2 teaspoons of Cayenne Pepper, Sea Salt or Kosher Salt (Kosher here) and Ground Black Pepper ready along with 2 bottles of Texas Pete Buffalo Wing Sauce.
Flavor Country Add the spices once the garlic is golden brown, then pour in the first bottle of Texas Pete and stir. Stir Once it's blended nicely, add in the second bottle of Texas Pete and stir occasionally until it begins to boil. You can have a taste if you like but your nose should give you fair warning of what you're in for. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes, then remove it altogether and allow it to cool. This will make enough for at least 2 batches of tenders, probably 3 or 4. The sauce is excellent on a few sides as well and refrigerates fine so I just try to keep some on hand. Yummy Hot Sauce See? Plenty. That's got to be 4 cups at least.

Now let's prepare the breading...

3 Cups Flour
4 Tsps. Kosher Salt or Sea Salt
3 Tsp. Paprika
2 Tsp each: Garlic Powder, Cumin, Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper
1/3 cup Buttermilk

The breading is good because we just the throw the damn spice rack at it. Here's our cast of characters. The Cast Start by putting 3 cups of flour in a mixing bowl and then add the other spices but hold off on the buttermilk for now. You should have a lovely splash of colors in there. Flour and Friends Now stir gently with a fork until the flour appears blended. Before you start cooking the tenders, slowly pour in the buttermilk while stirring with the fork. Better Flour + Buttermilk = Breading This will help the breading adhere to the tenders and makes a wonderful difference in how consistently your tenders retain their breading.

Finally! Let's make some chicken.

~3 lbs. Chicken Tenders/Tenderloins
1 Cup Hot Sauce
3 Tbs. Cornstarch
A bunch of vegetable or canola oil.

This is the gross and rather unpleasant part. We're going to reach into our bag of mostly thawed chicken tenderloins and drop them into a gallon freezer bag filled with a cup of Hot Sauce and 3 tablespoons of Cornstarch. Oh, did I forget that part? Grab a gallon freezer bag and mix those two together in it. Then set the two bags up in your sink and you're ready to go. The Setup Get some warm to hot water running, take each tenderloin out of the bag, give it a little rinse to make sure it isn't stiff and at the very least has all the ice off it then plop it in the marinade. Once you've done this with all the tenderloins, seal the bag (I recommend Ziploc) and shake it around a bit until everything seems well coated. Once that's done you'll want to marinade the chicken for 1-2 hours at room temperature. Lay them down flat and even somewhere and set a timer. Go do something useful. I suggest writing code or making good playlists. Do Something Else

Once the tenders are almost done marinating you can go ahead and start heating the oil and cooking other parts of the meal. It'll take 20-30 minutes to cook 3lbs of tenders 3 at a time once the oil is hot. As a side, I heartily recommend some Crispy Crowns. No Tater Tots aren't good enough and no, Kroger brand knock-offs won't quite work. Ore-Ida, contact me for payment details. Subtle Product Placement

Put your deep frying pan on the stove, add several inches of Canola or Vegetable Oil and set the stove to medium. Now we'll start breading the tenders. Pick them up from the bag and give them a little shake to drip off any excess marinade, then toss them into your mixing bowl and shake it around a bit. It's all in the wrist. Also, if anyone wants to buy me a Lumix GF1 I'll take better pictures. Promise. After the black box shaking magic, you'll get some nice, well-breaded tenders. If you're not satisfied feel free to use your hands to lightly rub or pat some breading into them. Then lay them on some plates with paper towels. Output

About now it's time to test if the oil is hot. Toss a little pinch of breading in and you should see this happen: The Oil is Hot! If it did, you are now "Go for Chicken". Lower 3 pieces in with the tongs and get excited. They should bubble up somewhat substantially. We are go for Chicken I tend to cook them about a minute and a half a side. After 3 minutes (or a little more, use your own discretion) is up, take them out one by one with the tongs letting any excess oil drip off before placing them on a serving plate to cool. Let me know if you have any suggestions for improvements. Decadence

From Distro-Hopping to Good Easy

posted on 2008-07-07 17:47:20

Linux is a complicated beast. Unlike Windows and Mac there are literally hundreds of different competing versions or distributions vying for attention and often catering to a specific niche. Beginning Linux users are often all waved towards the two or three most popular and general-purpose distributions and with good reason. While three distributions in particular (Ubuntu, Fedora, Suse) seem to dominate and are good places to start, I have often experienced a desire to see what else exists with Linux since there is so much in the way of choice. Additionally, Linux distributions tend to have one release or more a year while Windows and Mac tend to see a new version only every few years. The three distributions I mentioned earlier all strive to issue a new release every six months and they all do so at roughly the same time often with no more than a month separating them.

While this may at first seem undesirable there is no pressure to upgrade but there is also no cost to upgrade (remember, they're free!). Some upgrades have a few more bugs or new features than others but upgrades tend to be relatively safe and easy. Moreover, because of the regular releases large changes happen gradually and there is little to no learning curve. It's also worth noting that upgrading does not require you to reinstall the operating system. It's usually just an hour or two of downloading and a reboot.

So, "Distro Release Season" comes twice a year if you use Ubuntu, Fedora, or Suse. That's even better than Christmas! However, this release cycle rather disappointed me. Ubuntu's Hardy Heron was a bit buggier than I'd like. Fedora 9 seems better and better every time but they still lack a few software packages I want. To be honest, I've never been interested in Suse much. I'd also been meaning to move to a more stripped-down version of Linux for a long time. Ubuntu and Fedora come with a lot of bells and whistles that I may not necessarily need and that slow my system down.

It was time to try something new and, this season, I decided to go with Arch Linux. I won't go too deeply into my decision to use Arch. There are a lot of very good things about it and though it's not easy the way Ubuntu is, it's simple and worth the effort you put into it. You can make it into whatever you want it to be and that's precisely what I've done. I've spent about a week setting it up to perform as I'd like and with the programs I'd like. I've documented the entire process and will post that here as my personal "Good Easy". A good easy, for those who haven't heard of one, is a detailed description of someone's computer configuration. One reason I'd like to do one is that it's handy in case I have to duplicate it at some point in the future. It might be nice to do a Good Easy for my server at some point as well. I detail a bit at the end how to turn your installed system into a Live CD. I plan to do a little bit more work and remove personal data to turn that Live CD into something I could distribute at some point though mostly just to a few nerd friends. I wouldn't expect, or want, to take users from the wonderful Arch Linux after all.

My Good Easy...

The installer may look a bit scary but it's not too bad. I would recommend partitioning your drive beforehand with Gparted or reusing existing partitions.

Set the mountpoints for ext3 partitions and the swap space. I'd hold off on NTFS partitions until later.
Install packages selecting base-devel packages and sudo, wireless-tools, ntfs-3g, netcfg and openssh. Go to configure system and allow automatic hardware detection and usb boot devices. In rc.conf, set hostname and timezone, then set eth0="dhcp". We'll be adjusting this later but that's enough for now. In locales make sure that the locales you want are uncommented, then write and exit. Set the root password and nearest pacman mirror then return to the main menu. Install grub to your boot drive once you've added any necessary boot entries. You're done with the base install! Reboot and login as root.

Some Basics (A new user, ssh, sound):
Add any partitions to /etc/fstab that you didn't initially and create mountpoints for them. Use ntfs-3g for NTFS partitions.
Insert 'sshd: ALL' rights for ssh to /etc/hosts.allow and add sshd to the daemons list in /etc/rc.conf, then run the adduser command and give wheel, storage, audio, video, optical groups to the new user. Edit /etc/sudoers and comment out the line for the wheel group. Logout by typing exit at the command prompt and try logging back in as the new user.

To get sound working, run sudo pacman -Sy alsa-lib alsa-utils, then run amixer set Master 90% unmute and amixer set PCM 85% unmute and sudo alsactl store.

Then add alsa to the /etc/rc.conf daemons list.

GUIs GUIs GUIs! ...and a login manager:
Install the xorg group with sudo pacman -Sy xorg then check drivers with sudo pacman -Ss xf86-video and install one appropriate for your video card. For a window manager, install xmonad, openbox, gmrun, xcompmgr, openbox-themes and obconf like so: sudo pacman -Sy xmonad openbox gmrun xcompmgr openbox-themes obconf. For a login manager, install slim, archlinux-themes-slim and slim-themes with pacman and add slim to the daemons
in /etc/rc.conf. Then edit /etc/slim.conf to set themes to archlinux-retro,subway,fingerprint and set sessions to openbox,xmonad.
I use Openbox as my Window Manager at this point but hope to experiment with Xmonad down the line.

To get menumaker installed from the AUR (Arch User Repository) follow these instructions (you probablya want this):
mkdir -p ~/.config/openbox and cp /etc/xdg/openbox/* ~/.config/openbox/
mkdir ~/builds
cd ~/builds
wget && tar -zxvf *.gz
cd menumaker && makepkg -s && sudo pacman -U *.pkg.tar.gz && mmaker -vf openbox

For a system tray, I recommend stalonetray. Install it like so:
cp /etc/stalonetrayrc ~/.stalonetrayrc
nano ~/.stalonetrayrc
and change fuzzy_edges to 1, transparent to true, and icon gravity to NE.

I use the following pack so that I have icons for things but you may prefer another.
mkdir ~/.icons && cd ~/.icons
wget && tar -zxvf Crash*.bz2

nano ~/.gtkrc-2.0 and insert
# ~/.gtkrc-2.0
gtk-icon-theme-name = "Crashbit"

I add a run command to the Alt-F2 key by modifying the configuration files that come with Openbox.
nano ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml and add this to the keyboard section:


xscreensaver-command -lock

It's nice to have good wallpaper but I get bored with backgrounds after a while. What I do is dump a ton of good wallpapers (try Desktopography, for example) into a Wallpapers folder and then have the script run each time I login (or if I suddenly want a new wallpaper). Start off by making the script.

nano ~/ and add
ALIST=( `ls -w1 /home/yourusername/path_to_your_wallpapers` )
let "number = $RANDOM"
let LASTNUM="`cat $WALLPAPERS/.last` + $number"
let "number = $LASTNUM % $RANGE"
echo $number > $WALLPAPERS/.last

feh --bg-scale $WALLPAPERS/${ALIST[$number]}

Note that those ` are backticks not single quotes('). I got a little tripped up by that. To make the script executable do the following.
chmod +x ~/ && touch path_to_your_wallpapers/.last

I also like to run conky to monitor CPU usage, the current song playing, whether there are updates and other such things.
nano ~/.conkyrc and insert the following.

# Use Xft?
use_xft yes
xftfont Terminus 8

# Update interval in seconds
update_interval 1

# This is the number of times Conky will update before quitting.
# Set to zero to run forever.
total_run_times 0

# Create own window instead of using desktop (required in nautilus)
own_window yes
own_window_transparent yes
own_window_type desktop
own_window_hints undecorate,sticky,skip_taskbar,skip_pager

# Use double buffering (reduces flicker, may not work for everyone)
double_buffer yes

# Minimum size of text area
minimum_size 512 16

maximum_width 1560

# Draw shades?
draw_shades no

# Draw outlines?
draw_outline no

# Draw borders around text
draw_borders yes

# Stippled borders?
stippled_borders 0

# border margins
border_margin 6

# border width
border_width 1

# Default colors and also border colors
default_color 738A88
#default_shade_color white
#default_outline_color black
own_window_colour 3C4746

# Text alignment, other possible values are commented
#alignment top_left
#alignment top_right
alignment bottom_left
#alignment bottom_right

# Gap between borders of screen and text
# same thing as passing -x at command line
gap_x 8
gap_y 8

# Subtract file system buffers from used memory?
no_buffers yes

# set to yes if you want all text to be in uppercase
uppercase no

# number of cpu samples to average
# set to 1 to disable averaging
cpu_avg_samples 2

# number of net samples to average
# set to 1 to disable averaging
net_avg_samples 2

# Force UTF8? note that UTF8 support required XFT
override_utf8_locale yes

# Add spaces to keep things from moving about? This only affects
certain objects.
use_spacer none

# Append this to TEXT on laptops...| ${color FCFCFC}${battery_percent}

${time %H:%M} | ${exec date "+%A %e %B"} ${color} | cpu: ${color FCFCFC}${cpu}%${color} | mem: ${color FCFCFC}$memperc%${color} | down: ${color FCFCFC}${downspeed eth0}kb/s${color} | up: ${color FCFCFC}${upspeed eth0}kb/s${color} | uptime: ${color FCFCFC}${uptime}${color} | root drive: ${color FCFCFC}${fs_used /} / ${fs_size /}${color} | music: ${color FCFCFC}${mpd_title 32}${color} | updates: ${color FCFCFC}${texeci 3600 perl ~/scripts/arch-updates/}

I should also note that the all of the stuff under text should be on one line.

To check for software updates we need to do a little more work.
mkdir ~/scripts/arch-updates && nano ~/scripts/arch-updates/ to insert:

#! /usr/bin/perl -w
use strict;
# November 15, 2006
# Daniel Vredenburg (Vredfreak)
# This is a program that checks for package updates for Arch Linux

open (MYINPUTFILE, "/home/yourusername/scripts/arch-updates/updates.log") or die "No such file or directory: $!";

my $i = 0;
if (/^(.*)\/(.*)(\..*\..*\.)/) {
#print " \n";

if ($i == 0) {
print "up to date";
} else {
print "available ($i)";

Thanks again to Daniel for this script. Make the script executable next.
chmod +x ~/scripts/arch-updates/

There's yet more to do for the update notifications.
nano ~/scripts/arch-updates/ and insert:


# This issues a command to 1. Sync the package database,
# 2. Check for upgradable packages, 3. print the URL of any possible
# The output of our command gets written to updates.log, which we will
# to parse to see if there are any available updates.

pacman -Syup --noprogressbar > /home/yourusername/path/to/updates.log

touch /home/yourusername/path/to/updates.log && sudo cp ~/scripts/arch-updates/ /etc/cron.hourly/
Thanks again to Daniel Vredenburg (Vredfreak) for this great script.

To tie it all together, we'll now write the startup script that tells what window manager and programs to start on login.
nano ~/.xinitrc and add this:
#xcompmgr -cC & ;;uncomment this if you want compositing enabled (for true transparency, drop shadows, etc.)
~/ & ;;the wallpaper script
xscreensaver -no-splash & ;;a screensaver program
thunar --daemon & ;;to keep the file manager checking for flash drives, cds, etc, being plugged in
/usr/lib/wicd/ & ;; a networking and wireless client


case $1 in
(sleep 1 && stalonetray) & ;; start the system tray
conky &
exec /usr/bin/openbox-session
/home/redline/scripts/dzconky &
exec /usr/bin/xmonad

This script will log you into the twm window manager unless you hit F1 at the login screen. If you do, it will toggle between Openbox and Xmonad as the window manager.

The Good Easy:
The following command will install most of the cool and useful programs in the known universe including a bunch of programming languages, a version control system, IM client, Movie and Music players, and of course Firefox. All we're down to now is fine tuning and (optionally) making a Live CD of the installed system.

sudo pacman -S mercurial xarchiver pidgin feh rxvt-unicode firefox flashplugin gforth ruby lua erlang ghc python sbcl drscheme emacs thunar mc xmonad xmonad-contrib openbox mplayer mplayer-plugin mpd ncmpc sonata codecs dzen2 transmission rtorrent conky epdfview libnotify libdvdread libdvdcss libdvdnav lynx dvd+rw-tools ttf-ms-fonts ttf-dejavu terminus-font zip unzip hicolor-icon-theme xchm scrot gqview stalonetray xscreensaver virtualbox thunar-volman qt3 sdl amule transset-df

Configure thunar-volman by opening thunar and going to edit->preferences->advanced, then enabling volume management and
clicking configure. This will finish enabling you to hotplug flash drives, cds, dvds, etc and have them automount properly.

Virtualbox was one of the programs installed and will enable you to try out or use other Operating Systems as VMs like VMWare or Parallels. Enable it for your account with the following:
Run sudo gpasswd -a yourusername vboxusers and then add vboxdrv to the modules section in /etc/rc.conf.

MPD and Sonata are the music players installed. You could write a book on all the different ways to use MPD (including as a home music server!) but for a lone workstation the following configuration works well for me.
sudo cp /etc/mpd.conf.example /etc/mpd.conf
sudo nano /etc/mpd.conf

Change the user from mpd to your username and change the music and playlists directories making sure they are uncommented, then run:
sudo chown -R yourusername:users /var/lib/mpd/*
sudo touch /var/run/mpd/
sudo chown -R yourusername:users /var/run/mpd/*
mkdir ~/Music/Playlists
mpd --create-db
sudo chown -R yourusername:users /var/log/mpd/*

Add mpd to the daemons list in /etc/rc.conf, then run nano .config/sonata/sonatarc and add your username and password to the audioscrobbler section and set use_audioscrobbler to True if you want to enable it to scrobble your tracks to Last.FM.

There are a few programs we'll have to build ourselves to use. Our CD Burner, Xfburn is a good example. The following commands should get the job done.
cd ~/builds
wget && tar -zxvf xfburn.tar.gz && cd xfburn && makepkg -s && sudo pacman -U *.pkg*

I use MIT-Scheme because I like it's interaction mode in Emacs and it's good for the SICP exercises. This program takes a few HOURS to compile though even with a powerful system and it can't be compiled on a system with less than 512mb of RAM, maybe less than 1GB. At any rate, you may not need it. If you do, I advise doing this:
cd ~/builds
&& tar -zxvf mit*.tar.gz && cd mit-scheme-c-20080130/src && etc/ && make install && sudo cp etc/xscheme.el
/usr/share/emacs/site-lisp/ && cd /usr/bin && sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/mit-scheme scheme

Then nano .emacs to insert (require 'xscheme) and save and exit.

I don't have an iPod. If you do you can probably just sudo pacman -Sy gtkpod and be in good shape but I use gnomad2 to load my music player with songs. To get it:
cd ~/builds
wget && tar -zxvf gnomad2.tar.gz && cd gnomad2 && makepkg -s && sudo pacman -U *.pkg*

Then sudo nano /etc/sudoers and insert this below %wheel All=(ALL) ALL:
%wheel ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/gnomad2
%wheel ALL=NOPASSWD: /sbin/reboot

This will make it possible to add menu entries for gnomad2 and to reboot the system that don't require passwords to be entered.

To setup wireless install wicd with sudo pacman -S wicd.
Disable the network daemon and any network interfaces wicd should manage, then add hal and wicd to the daemons list in rc.conf and run sudo gpasswd -a yourusername network.

To create a mercurial repository so I can hack code and do a bit more work on the menu I run
cd ~ && hg clone
mmaker -vf openbox

Fiddly Stuff:
Now, we're done with most of the serious business. From here on out it's mostly fiddly stuff. Fixing application settings to my preferences and so on. You've come this far though, why not go all the way? :-)

I adjust some commands to menu.xml to make my life easier. This menu is the one that shows up when you right-click on the desktop, by the way.
nano ~/.config/openbox/menu.xml and change the execute command for emacs to urxvt -e emacs -nw and the execute command for gnomad2 to sudo gnomad2. I'd also suggest adding an item that executes sudo reboot.

Make urxvt windows borderless and enable mouse control of window transparency by editing rc.xml and inserting:


beneath and inserting

transset-df -p --inc 0.2

transset-df -p --min 0.2 --dec 0.2

beneath the frame context in mousebindings.

To get dzen to display something useful in Xmonad pipe our already finished conky script into it like so:
nano ~/scripts/dzconky and insert:

conky | dzen2 -e -h '16' -w '1560' -ta r -fg $FG -bg $BG -fn $FONT

And then make it executable...
chmod +x ~/scripts/dzconky

The Xmonad config file will still need to be modified to work with that properly. I may or may not address that in an upcoming post.

The last thing I do is set the Openbox theme to Onyx with Obconf and go crazy perfecting my ~/.config/openbox/menu.xml file.
It's a bit big to quote here so I'll link to it as a sample. Here it is.

The cool part of this is as least partly that after building your own version of Linux from the ground up (with some help from Arch's package system) that you can make a Live CD out of it and give it to your friends. Hopefully you won't leave personal information or data on it though. Then again, if you're using it as your own personal install CD there's no better way to go. Here's how to do it.

sudo nano /etc/pacman.conf and insert this:
Server =

then sudo pacman -Syu && sudo pacman -S larch larchin larch-live larchify dosfstools.

Finally, sudo ./larchify / to generate a restore/live cd image and burn it with wodim -v dev=/dev/cdrw /.larch/mylivecd.iso. Done and Done! Here's how it looks for me with everything finished. Click on the title of each picture for the high resolution version.

(Editor's Note: These pictures actually show the not quite finished system sans-transparency and the conky updates script. Also, at present wired connection users might as well not setup wicd as it won't autoconnect on boot though you can connect through it. Just leave dhcp enabled for eth0 in rc.conf.)

Clean Desktop:
Clean Desktop 07/07/08

Slightly Dirty Desktop:
Slighty Dirty Desktop 07/07/08

The Obligatory New House Post

posted on 2008-06-04 19:36:53

Well, I've been talking about doing this for a while but I'm just now getting the time to sit down and do it. For reasons of security, this will not be a full photo tour of the house. Only a few photos of the interior and exterior. If you want to know where I live (the address to drop by or what have you), do feel free to ask. Particularly, It's easier to get me to tell you if I already know you somehow.

So, living in the house is really nice. I like my roommates, I like the location, I like the price, I like the Static IP from my ISP that keeps this website up. I'm in the basement of the house and I think that's awesome. One reason is that it stays pretty cold down there and I like it relatively cold. Another is that the downstairs is just a bedroom, bathroom, and a combination kitchen/living room with a washer/dryer room off to the side. I think of it almost like a studio apartment separate from the upstairs and that's perfect for me. We also have newer appliances than the upstairs folks. The biggest problem is just keeping it clean, mostly because my roommate Ben has some...deficiencies when it comes to taking care of himself (cooking + cleaning, frankly). I knew that from rooming with him at Oglethorpe though so it hasn't been a surprise. Any messiness in these photos beyond the floors needing to be mopped I attribute to him. :-)

Beyond here there be dragons...or something like that. Click for the photo tour.

So, this is the house from the outside. Innocent Home

It's a cozy place to hang your head. While you're wondering about the exterior I'll just mention that we have a fabulous screened in porch and patio in the back...


And the basement generally looks something like this when I come home. At least the couch and chair are comfortable.

Perhaps my favorite thing in the house and certainly something my roommate and I have enjoyed discussion and heated debate over is the library. We have a bookshelf each stocked with pure goodness (according to our own tastes, of course). We've argued about more than books though. I recently attempted to rigorously argue that books should be sorted categorically on the shelves as opposed to by size or author. Clearly, we have way too much fun being nerds. For future reference, his bookshelf is on the right and mine is on the left.

Sexy Shelves

Clearly, mine is better. The top shelf is devoted to The Watchmen (Don I've contemplated buying you a copy. You should definitely read it...), skateboarding photo annuals, video game strategy guides, novels and biographical works of individuals and companies. The second shelf from the top is devoted to popular science, political science and philosophy, essays, short stories and poetry.

Top 2 Shelves

The third and fourth shelves are quite excellent themselves. The fourth is certainly the pride and joy of my collection thus far being my programming shelf. The gold book that's somewhat difficult to read is Dasgupta et al's Algorithms, by the way. The third shelf is devoted to Open Source, Intellectual Property Law and Mathematics. I'm planning to write articles soon on "ideal" self-study undergraduate book collections for Computer Science and Mathematics. Keep an eye out.

Bottom 2 Shelves

With that out of the way let's proceed into the bedroom dungeon.

The Bedroom Dungeon...

To be honest, I sleep here maybe once every few weeks hence my bed being unmade. I'm mostly upstairs with one of my, er, roommates whom you ought to know by now... (hint). I have the far bed and Ben has the near one. It's hard to tell in this shot but his side is vastly dirtier than mine especially with regards to things on the floor. I'm omitting other photos to avoid embarrassing him (read: BANDWIDTH USAGE!!!). Let's proceed to the kitchenette thingy...

Kitchenette thingy...

And from here the fridge is behind you and the kitchen sink is to your right (I'll spare you). The bathroom I've succeeded in keeping clean but you don't get to see it unless you come over. What you will see, in all likelihood, is me trying to stay productive and have fun at my usual workstation spot. I look forward to seeing you.

The Usual Spot...

Encounters with an XO

posted on 2008-04-15 03:28:56

So, I recently received my OLPC XO. After playing with it a bit I'm pleased with it but I don't think that has terribly much to do with the device itself. I didn't really buy it to support One Laptop Per Child though I think the idea of a small, comprehensible system would go a long way towards engendering a new generation of hackers the way something like the Commodore 64 or Amiga did. OLPC: Way more hardcore than your middle school's Laptop Program. It is a goal I can identify with and support but I did this because I think it's a neat piece of hardware produced by passionate people. It may not be the next Lisp Machine but it's pretty cool nonetheless.

I was ecstatic when I got the thing. Naturally, I fiddled with the initial setup a bit but quickly wanted to move on to other things, namely emacs and lisp since I'm working through SICP at the moment. It was trivial to use yum to install emacs-nox and also quite straightforward to set up quack. What surprised me was how easy it was to compile Gambit on the XO as seen on Bill Clementson's blog.

Once that was done two things really started to eat at me. 1) I wanted to try getting a Debian-based install running on the XO. 2) I wanted a different Window Manager. I just am not comfortable with Sugar for some reason and I definitely wanted a browser with tabs. Looking into getting Debian going on the XO made me realize that getting a developer key was my first priority and I'd advise anyone with an XO to do it. Then you can play with the Forth prompts at boot, etc.

As for Window Managers, I've always had a bit of a fetish for them. Of late, I've been meaning to try out a tiling window manager and I got my choices down to ratpoison (which has the most bad ass supported hardware page ever), dwm, and Xmonad. For a variety of reasons, I'm itching to try Xmonad on one of my boxes soon but that will have to get in line behind setting git up on my blog server. At any rate, Xmonad is pretty awesome and it runs on the XO. I'm not sure how much of it is Haskell Voodoo and how much of it would be beginner-friendly but I'm sure that a full-featured 1200-line Window Manager has something to teach. I'll be keeping my eye on the upcoming book. More on all that later.

I read somewhere on that they'll rebase a later build on FC9. I hope it's started before F10 hits and I hope that by F10 the 'Good Haskell Support' ticket gets completed. Long story short, I ran olpc-update debian-big on the XO and found that it's not really what I'm looking for. I'll probably later get Xubuntu Hardy on a Flash Drive and then replace the Window Manager with Xmonad but until then Sugar will be fine.

So, aside from my inane banter, is the XO any good? Well, good for what? The stock configuration is good for a limited set of uses but I imagine it'd be great for kids or if, like Luke Gorrie, you're hacking Forth.

An oft overlooked ability of the XO is it's SD expansion slot. If I was looking to do serious programming on it I'd slap the biggest SD card I could in there and hit the road. As long as what you're doing doesn't eat processor and RAM like crazy and you can port your tools over, it's a great travel box. Your hands will get used to the keyboard...eventually.

Ready for a New Year?

posted on 2007-12-29 07:20:24

I am. 2007 was more trouble than I was really looking for. I'm certain that 2008 is going to rock hard though.

Part of that is that I've been cleared to work at TVS full time starting in January. That's one thing off my mind. I'll have more details when I return from my trip to Montana on the 9th. I leave next Wednesday, if you're curious.

I've got a lot that I've been taking care of and still have to take care of before the trip. So sorry for being distant. And the blog silence. Things are picking up though. I also have a slew of interesting projects to drone on about in the New Year.

Before all that though, a Xmas Recap. Xmas was great.

Happy Xmas 07

You had this much fun too, right? I'm finally moved back into my room. Most importantly, my digital life is all pimped out.


See? I've been working on pulling so much power from one outlet that I kill the house. Unfortunately I've only succeeded in dimming the lights. Just kidding. Well, about the trying to part anyway.

Before I get any questions I should note that the iPod is Dad's. I haven't converted yet. Additionally, the old Nokia has been replaced. The setup is great. I can switch between the laptop, desktop/server, and PS3 on the LCD. Presently I keep the speakers tied to the PS3 at all times but I'll probably buy an adapter to share them across the devices. Eventually I'll get around to doing the same for the keyboard and mouse. Fear the cable nesting that will occur.

Cable Mess and Electrical and Heating Disasters, Here I come!

Now, on to projects. Of course, I'm going to start programming first and foremost. I've decided I ought to progress in the following order: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, then Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming, and finally How to Design Programs. On the side I'll be working on Rosen's Discrete Math, Spivak's Calculus, and maybe Strang's Introduction to Linear Algebra. If I manage to work through even half of that this year that would be pretty good stuff. So far I own the following programming texts.

There should be a sign: SICP Coming Soon. Right next to the Sipser. Yep.

SICP is in the mail along with Discrete Math. I'm planning on ordering Spivak's Calculus and Strang's Linear Algebra later on.

Besides programming though you've got to have some stuff up your sleeve and I certainly do. I'm going to set this PC up for recording work and get some guitar doodles down at some point, just for fun. I also am filming virtual footage for a skate video. It makes me the biggest nerd possible but I don't mind. I've got 1 minute and 40 seconds of decent footie so far and some friends working on parts. Beyond that I'm going to work on getting Linux up and going properly on the PS3 and getting the speakers and input devices shared between all my systems as mentioned (probably with a KVM). I also will look into getting my PS3 to behave as a legitimate media server. Finally, I'm looking at getting my website server moved to a VM and run off my desktop. I've got the VM up and we'll see about performance issues and other testing soon.

I'm collecting Course Materials for SICP at the moment and have to run to take care of some of today's other nonsense but I'll be back for more soon. Peace!

Unless otherwise credited all material Creative Commons License by Brit Butler