Tuesday, November 26, 2013
- Honor Thy Tux: Linux Foundation Membership Drive Is Also for the Birds: Associations Now - RT @jennifercloer: Honor Thy Tux: Linux Foundation Membership Drive Is Also for the Birds via @sharethis
- Albany Dish-HarvardX: SPU27x
- Obamacare Is No Starship Enterprise - Bloomberg - "But at the end of the day, when people are demanding that you do the impossible, your job is to explain why you can’t. The ability to manage the expectations of nontechnical users is actually an important piece of domain knowledge for technical people; if you flub that, you’ll fail just as surely as if you get the hardware or software wrong. And, of course, on the other side, nontechnical stakeholders should make it their business to find out what is possible before, not after, they commit to designs and deadlines."
- Please Don't Let Me Make Calls on the Plane | MIT Technology Review - “@techreview: FCC Tries to Walk Back Airline Calls ” << This--however much libertarian in me sez it's not FCCs biz
- Marginally Interesting: How Python became the language of choice for data science - RT @AbeGong: Two good posts on why python is becoming the lingua franca for a lot of #dataScience
- » Blog Archive » The homogenization of scientific computing, or why Python is steadily eating other languages’ lunch - RT @AbeGong: Two good posts on why python is becoming the lingua franca for a lot of #dataScience
- Storage and the 'big data' opportunity: what went wrong? - "Note EMC has moved most of its big data initiatives into its notably non-storage carve-off Pivotal, and is now toning down the big-data message in its overall marketing."
- Red Hat, Rackspace defend OpenStack against analyst's barbs | Openstack - InfoWorld
- 25 PR Habits That Drive Reporters Nuts | Digiday - “@TechJournalist: RT @gigabarb: 25 PR Habits That Drive Reporters Nuts - Digiday ” Fully agree w most of this.
- Scientists banish NAS sprawl with Red Hat scale-out NAS software - TechTarget - RT @RedHatNews: Scientists banish NAS sprawl with Red Hat scale-out #NAS software #Storage
- How to Sell When 97 Percent of Your Calls Now Go to Voicemail - Business 2 Community
- Whither OpenStack? | Speaking of Clouds - Distributed applications and virtual infrastructures - "tl;dr OpenStack’s sweet spots seem to be SaaS providers and carriers. Public deployments will struggle; private clouds are difficult and may be ephemeral." -- Without getting into all the details, a lot of this post is premised on a belief that public clouds conquer all. A point with which I disagree, for significant use cases.
- Google Plus Hangout Mastery - Helping you Master the Art of Google Hangouts and Hangouts on Air
Around the beginning of the year, Matt Maroon wrote a piece called The Minimum Viable Kitchen. The title was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek reference to the minimum-viable-product startup idea even though the kitchen, as described, wasn't really minimal. Don't think of Asian street food vendors sweating over charcoal grills. Rather, as Matthew describes it:
This post lays out the Minimum Viable Kitchen (MVK) for creating gourmet food. It’s aimed at the person that wants to make truly great food, but isn’t quite sure where to get started or how expensive the commitment will be. As it turns out, you can assemble all the kitchen equipment you need to become a great chef for under $1000. This post isn't trying to convince you to become a great chef or a foodie, but if you are already so inclined, it will help you get started.
It's a good post and I recommend it. Here's my take which I've been meaning to write for a while. Some context and a few caveats first though.
I'm assuming that you have a kitchen--which is to say an oven, stovetop, dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave. (A microwave is more a handy tool for warming than cooking but it's so universal that it factors into some recipe prep too.) I have some opinions about those if you're starting afresh but I'm not going to get into those here. I'm likewise going to aim this post at the hypothetical reader going from $0 to about $1K--although I probably wouldn't actually recommend even the Twitter IPO winner just running out and buying everything. I'm giving a lot of opinions about what works for me but especially pots and pans and utensils and knives are best built out incrementally based on preferences and cooking habits.
In the same vein, I'll be leaving out a lot of little things that may be useful based on your particular cooking preferences; I'm trying to keep things general purpose. So I won't include a lobster pot or accessories even though these are things that I personally use on a regular basis. I'll also be doing a follow-on post on some bigger "add-ons" that I personally find useful but are probably too specialized for the general case.
Also, a bit of context. I do a lot of cooking but not a huge amount of baking so this list is probably a bit light on baking pans and other accessories which could be a whole separate post. I'm also leaving out various small appliances that aren't really related to cooking. So no coffee machines or toasters. Nor do I go the modernist route in this post although I do have a DIY sous vide setup as well as a copy of Nathan Myhrvold's Modernist Cuisine at Home. Finally, this post is about gear but putting together spices and other staples will be an equal part of building your NMVK.
Here's where I'm probably most going to disagree with Matt. I really can't imagine trying to start someone out with Thomas Keller, even if it is his "simplified" Ad Hoc at Home. Modernist cuisine (i.e. using water baths, whipping siphons, and the like) may well be all very cool and so forth but--call me old-fashioned--I have trouble imagining all but the most uber-geek entering into cooking that way. (And you still need the traditional stuff anyway.)
If I had to pick one, it would be Cook's Illustrated The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition.
The Cook's Illustrated crew, headed by Chris Kimball, is something of a mini-industry. They have shows on public TV, magazines, a Website that they actually succeed in getting folks like myself to subscribe to (something many newspapers would sincerely love to accomplish), and a passel of cookbooks that profitably rework and repurpose large swaths of content.
The central conceit of Cook's Illustrated is that everything from recipes to techniques is tested, tested, tested. They're also probably the best-known example of the modern "cooking geek" approach in that they investigate and explain why particular techniques work or don't work. (Alton Brown is another author who focuses on the science of cooking but without the obsessiveness of Cook's Illustrated.)
The Best Recipes is an encyclopedic work and it does a great job of breaking down and illustrating how to do things in the kitchen with something over 1,000 recipes in all. Because it does so much more than just present a bunch of recipes, this has become my go to reference for how to do things in the kitchen and a starting point for how to handle a cut of meat or other ingredient. If there's a knock on Cook's Illustrated it's that the whole "we tried 50 different ways of boiling an egg" shtick can get a bit old after a while. More to the point, I find it can result in recipes that are a bit fussy with three types of cheeses grated three different ways and the like. Also be forewarned that large quantities of cream, butter, and the like often seem to play heavily into getting the best tasting result. Still, overall, a great reference and a good bargain given its size.
A few other possibilities.
Ruth Reichl's Gourmet Today: More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen capped a long string of cookbooks from the late, lamented Gourmet magazine. It reimagines recipes for the ingredients now available (in moderately cosmopolitan urban settings).
Amanda Hesser similarly reimagined the long line of cookbooks from The New York Times with The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century while very much maintaining a link to Times recipes of year past.
Of course the Internet has tons of recipes. And, for my readers, learning about the underlying science in books like Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen and Jeff Potter's Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food may be more interesting and useful than recipe books. (Though I still have large shelves of those--albeit with older books generally rotating into newer ones.)
Knives are key. In fact, I've found that since spending the money on some decent knives and learning how to keep them sharp I don't use a lot of my electric chopping gear nearly as much. It's still good stuff to have, especially for larger quantities. But, by the time you factor in cleanup, it's really faster and easier just to chop up the onion--and more consistent besides.
The following is my idiosyncratic list of the four knives that I use most frequently. There are cheaper knives out there; Victorinox gets good reviews. There are also much more expensive knives out there. The Wusthof Classic line just feels good in my hand. Others I know swear by Shun. This is one area in particular where I would recommend starting out small and building incrementally rather than buying one of those knife sets. (I'd also mention that I seem to be a knife rather than a cleaver person for whatever reason.)
Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Cook's Knife ($119--I know, I know sticker shock but I use this daily)
Paring knife. Here's an example Victorinox Swiss Army 3-1/4-Inch Fibrox Straight Edge Paring Knife. I use this type of knife a lot but I can't say I care a lot about the details because I'm mostly cutting soft fruits and vegetables.
At this point I would recommend a top-notch big chef's knife like Wusthof Classic Ikon 10-Inch Cook's Knife but I'd totally blow our budget just as we were getting started so you might try something like the Victorinox 47521 10-Inch Chef's Knife, Black Fibrox Handle or just go down to a local Chinatown if you have one and pick up a big cleaver. (I prefer the 8" for daily use but you need something bigger for tasks like cutting chickens apart.)
Beyond the basics, I use a relative of the Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-Inch Fillet (which is also useful for cutting very thin slices of smoked ham for instance) and a smaller chef's knife like the WUSTHOF Classic 6-Inch Cook's Knife.
Once you have this expensive metal, you'll want to keep it sharp. Without going into the details of edge straightening and edge sharpening here, I use a combination of the DMT DS2E 12-Inch Diamond Steel Sharpening Rod, Extra Fine Grit and the Fiskars 7861 Axe and Knife Sharpener.
Pots and Pans
Again, this is a collection that you'll probably want to build up over time based on your needs. But here are a few suggestions to get you started. A few of these recommendations are stovetop dependent. You won't want an aluminum pot if you have an induction burner and you probably won't want uncoated cast iron if you have a smoothtop. I personally have gas and these, or pots like them, are things I use on a regular basis. I also mention a couple of things that I don't use regularly but are essential from time to time.
Circulon Contempo Hard Anodized Nonstick 3-Quart Covered Saucepot I don't have this particular pot but the Calphalon I have doesn't seem to be made any longer. I find a 3-4 quart heavy pot the perfect size for lots of things and having two short handles is ideal for deep frying and other tasks where you really don't want to spill something. Note that you don't want to cook acidic foods in aluminum.
Lodge L10SK3ASHH41B Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet with Red Silicone Hot Handle Holder, 12-Inch Real traditional I know. But I still find a well-seasoned cast iron skillet to be versatile for a lot of things and inexpensive besides.
T-fal E9380884 Professional Total Nonstick Oven Safe Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator 12.5-Inch Fry Pan / Saute Pan Dishwasher Safe Cookware, Black Nonstick gets a lot of disdain, in part because you can't brown food in it as well. But it's also great--even compared to well-seasoned cast iron--with sticky foods and delicate coatings. The T-fal line works well, while being inexpensive, which is important given that non-stick will lose its non-stick no matter how much you pay.
Lodge Color EC6D33 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, Blue, 6-Quart Dutch ovens are incredibly versatile and, while Le Crueset is great, you really don't need to pay those prices. You can use this pot for all sorts of soups and stews. I find the enameled version is better for most things than the plain cast iron. You wouldn't go wrong bumping yourself up a size either although the pot will start to get heavy at that point.
A few other things that you may want:
Small (1 quart or so) saucepan. I use this all the time for melting butter and for heating small amounts of sauces.
Another pot in the 3-4 quart range.
A tall six quart or so stock pot in addition to the dutch oven (but probably don't need this to start)
A roasting pan such as Calphalon Classic Hard Anodized 16-Inch Roaster with Nonstick Rack but only if you (well) roast--although it's useful for other things as well.
A smaller skillet
(Unlike with knives, it may make sense to buy a pot set to get at least partially started although it won't cover everything.)
(Mostly) Rectangular stuff
Which, is to say, mostly stuff to bake in.
A couple baking sheets (to put under things even if you don't bake cookies or all the other things you crisp in an oven)
Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 9-by-5-Inch Loaf Pan. These gets used for all manner of quick breads. (Substitute or add muffin pans.)
If you're interested in doing casserole-type stuff, you can probably get started with the above but may want to augment it with a basic set of Corningware such as CorningWare 1083955 French 14-Piece Bakeware Set, White. For quiches, you'll want something like BIA Cordon Bleu 1-Quart Round Quiche, White. And I'm leaving out relatively specialty baking gear such as springform pans--used for cheesecake although not exclusively so.
Utensils and related
I'm mostly not going to go into specifics here, especially given that most people have at least some of these basics and can generally muddle along in many cases without upgrading everything. But here are some of the things you'll want. (See the photo for some of the favorites sitting in my drawer.)
Spatulas. I like metal for my uncoated skillets and something less destructive to use with non-stick.
Silicone scrapers. Silicon eis the bestest invention for lots of--though not all--kitchen uses. (Generally avoid it for pans.) Furthermore, I find myself now using silicone scrapers in place of spatulas when I'm primarily pushing things around (e.g. scrambled eggs) rather than flipping them.
The best ladle (according to Cook's Illustrated--and I agree).
Microplanes, e.g. Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater. For zesting citrus fruits and parmesan, for example.
Slotted and unslotted spoons of various sizes and materials.
Whisks. I'd probably start with something like OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Whisk.
Sieve(s). A basic fine wire mesh sieve (e.g. OXO Good Grips 8-Inch Double Rod Strainer) will be fine for many purposes although when we get into things like advanced soup making, the options explode (see e.g. chinois.)
Mixing bowls. Depending upon what I'm using them for I prefer either Pyrex or stainless.
Scoop. The example in the photo is from Chinatown.
One and two cup Pyrex measuring cups
Thermometers. Data is our friend. Instant read thermometers are especially useful when cooking meat. (Cook's Illustrated favors the ~$100 Thermapen but I've been happy with the ~$20 Polder.) Other types of thermometers are useful for deep frying, making candy, and checking that your oven is at the correct temperature. (You can also use sugar sorta phase change for this purpose.)
Major small appliances
This may be the most fraught area of these recommendations because the items in question are relatively expensive and how useful you find them is going to be dependent on what sort of cooking you want to do. That said, the items I'm going to mention here are fairly universal. As I mentioned earlier, I'll save more specialized gear for a later post.
Food processor. I have an ancient Cuisinart but, based on reviews at Cooks Illustrated and others, this model Cuisinart DFP-14BCN 14-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless Steel seems to be a good choice. As I alluded to earlier, a good sharp knife is still a pretty efficient way to cut up a single vegetable. But a food processor can make quick work of lots of vegetables. When it comes to thin and precise slicing, it's hard to beat a good processor other than using a Mandoline. And you'll need an immersion blender and/or a high-speed blender to better a food processor at pureeing. The bottom line is that, while a food processor may not be the vey best tool for every task, it does well at a lot of them compared to both other machines and manual approaches. And even with a fairly fully-stocked equipment cupboard, I still keep my venerable old Cuisinart on the counter because it's just very convenient for doing many routine things.
Stand mixer. Perhaps you don't see yourself baking in your NMVK. In which case I might concede you could get by shiningly with a cheap hand mixer for those times when you need to make some whipped cream or whatever. (And a hand mixer can be handy now and then regardless so it's not a waste to pick one up.) But, assuming all this cooking stuff is just not a passing fad, you'll probably end up with something like one of these regardless: KitchenAid K45SS Classic 250-Watt 4-1/2-Quart Stand Mixer, White. (KitchenAid makes bigger and more powerful models as well and most still regard them as the stand mixer standard.) Stand mixers are really useful for anything that involves beating lots of air into a mix, creaming butter, or kneading a dough. As a bonus, the KitchenAids also can be equipped with attachments for grinding meat and processing fruit or vegetables like apples through a mill for jam-making and other purposes. This may seem fairly exotic but it's nice add-on to a tool that you'll likely use for more mundane purposes on at least a semi-regular basis.
There are some small appliances that may or may not be useful to you depending upon your interests but I'm going to save those for a future post in the interests of keeping this post to a sane length and our budget within shouting distance of $1K.
Which is probably a good note on which to end. Again, the intention here is not to seriously argue that you NEED ALL OF THIS STUFF. But, rather, if someone were hypothetically going from zero to $1K kitchen, this is--for my tastes and my interests--what that kitchen might look like.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Missing dialogue from Star Trek:
Kirk: "Scottie I need full power!"
Scottie: "We'll need 6 weeks in spacedock, captain."
Kirk: "You've got 30 seconds."
[30 second later]
Kirk: "Scottie, do we have full power?"
Scottie: "Did we spend 6 weeks in spacedock?"
Scottie: "Then you don't have full power, do you?"
Thursday, November 21, 2013
- Why Do I Always Wake Up 5 Minutes Before My Alarm Goes Off? | Mental Floss
- Twitter / PatrickMoorhead: Like I've said, there isn't ... - RT @PatrickMoorhead: Like I've said, there isn't a datacenter slow-down, it's an enterprise slow-down, scale-out speed up. $INTC
- 'Pathetic' Microsoft ad campaign ratchets privacy hate for Google | Computerworld Blogs - RT @ryz86: 'Pathetic' Microsoft ad campaign ratchets privacy hate for Google | Computerworld Blogs
- The 4th Tenet of OpenStack: Open Source Projects Are Not The Same as Products | tentenet.net - “@bryanwche: The 4th Tenet of OpenStack: Open Source Projects Are Not The Same as Products ” << Nice piece!
- High Frequency Dating : Mostly Harmless
- OpenStack Summit, Hong Kong 2013: A recap of demos, sessions and observations | Red Hat Stack
- 'Gravity' Spinoff: Watch the Other Side of Sandra Bullock's Distress Call (Exclusive Video) - The Hollywood Reporter - “@stshank: Interesting: The other side of the distress call from the movie Gravity. A short film: ” << very cool.
- The challenging facing AWS — Gigaom Research - "Amazon Web Services pulled off a successful conference in Las Vegas last week, showcasing exciting new services and big, enterprise customer wins. Our analysis of these announcements and their impact on the industry is here. Looking ahead, it’s clear Amazon has the three and a half trillion-dollar enterprise IT market in its sights. But to get there it faces some considerable hurdles."
- Warning: The Team That Maintains Your Public PaaS Matters | OpenShift by Red Hat - RT @DanJuengst: Warning: The Team That Maintains Your Public PaaS Matters
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
You want to scale like Google, you want to manage data like Facebook, and you want to have the agility of Amazon.com and Amazon Web Services. Or maybe you're thinking "Well, no, because those big Internet giants are really unique. They're nothing like my enterprise, or my organization."
One of the things I want to convince you of is that while those companies certainly are unique, and certainly are not typical, they also in many ways shine a spotlight on where IT is going, and therefore where the IT in your organization is will be going.
IT is also getting more and more central to businesses of more and more firms. It touches more customers, more processes, and more data and his in just in the traditional IT centric industries, like financial services. We also see the role of IT increasing in mining, in agriculture, in heavy manufacturing, indeed, just about everywhere.
While that's certainly a trend, I'd argue that perhaps the bigger trend is just the pervasive use of data in many forms. MIT's Andrew McAfee told an interesting anecdote at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium earlier this year when he talked about how the publishing industry was increasingly moving from a culture of lunches which is to say that people got together over lunch and discussed their hunches about what books were going to sell well and which weren't, and instead is being replaced by a culture where there is more systematic use of data and of course that's driven by Amazon.com and the other Internet businesses.
The resources devoted to given application need to be very rapidly scale up and down. And the applications themselves need to be developed more quickly given that they are both more familiar and are also being more directly connected to revenue than ever before. So agility, flexibility, ability to spin up and down resources for promotions or whatever the business needs are becoming more important than ever.
There is business demand for these different innovations. There are business demands for these new ways of doing business. And traditional IT infrastructure doesn't get you there. What you are left with is what you can call an IT services gap or an IT innovation gap; it doesn't really matter that much what you call it. But the bottom line is, you can't just keep doing things in your traditional way and hope to meet up with these new business demands for innovation.
But even if we look at what's running on those public clouds at Amazon Web Services for example, there is far more Linux than there is Windows. And this just reflects that the open source way is where a lot of the new innovation is happening out there. It's not happening in proprietary software world as much as it is happening in the open source world.
Let's talk OpenStack as an example of how this open innovation is happening. A huge number of companies is contributing to it, and in fact I'd argue that one of the main reasons why OpenStack is such an interesting project is not because of some specific interesting technologies within OpenStack today (although those are certainly there), but rather because such a community of developers and partners and others have gathered around OpenStack and that massive participation is what's made OpenStack so interesting.
Rather I mean hybrid as this combination of different technology platforms, some of which are on premise, some of which are in various types of public cloud providers and you have a choice of which of those different technology platforms and which of those different types of ownership and payment models you want to choose on an individual project basis.
And then IT really manages this entire portfolio that is running in different places. So let's bring this all together. IT is becoming more strategic, because they have to, to deliver these services and capabilities that the business needs. They are hybrid so they are going to be managing services that are being deployed in many different places, and they are achieving that with open source, open standards-based technologies. Now I've been using IT as a single term.
Now I am going to discuss breaking that apart a little bit and talk about developers, IT Operations, and the business. These different constituencies are in fact working more closely together, I'd argue, than they have historically but I think it's still useful to look at the kind of different requirements and mandates for each of those parts of the overall business.
I think this argument can be overstated, but nonetheless it's an important dynamic as we move forward and as new applications and new services are important to more and more different types of businesses.
So what does the developer care about? Well, the developer has all the applications to write, so the developer wants to be productive and part of being productive is having access to the tools that they need to do their jobs. These include getting access to the new innovations that are happening in open source. There's very little in the way of language development these days that isn't open source, so they need access to all that. They also want access to all of their familiar tools as well. They also want to be able to focus on the details that matter.
A lot of the mechanics of getting a server and setting it up and deploying it are plumbing a developer needs to have done so they can develop applications, but it's not actually something that developers care about. They also need ways to integrate this new application development they're doing with existing software and processes within their business.
If we look at this slide, it breaks down the tasks needed to write and deploy an application or at least some of them. The point here is that there are a lot fewer of those steps with a PaaS then there is with a physical server. In fact, even a virtualized server doesn't necessarily help all that much; PaaS is really about getting the infrastructure out of the way of the developer.
What you see here is you've got the OpenShift PaaS on the bottom here. You have the JEE application server on top there; lots of people today are using OpenShift to develop Java applications. And then on top you have the integration PaaS, the BPM PaaS, and the mobile PaaS.
What we're doing here is using various elements of JBoss Middleware portfolio, such as messaging and business rules and so forth, and bringing them into the PaaS environment. What this does is it really enables applications developed with OpenShift to be integrate with existing business processes, with existing enterprise applications, and so forth. We really view Platform as a Service as not something that's just about developing certain styles of new applications but something that can be used as a fundamental part of enterprise application development.
If I had two words, I'd probably use something like relentless automation because if we talk about moving to cloud environments that is really one of the very key pieces, the need to delegate out to end users for self service but then automate that provisioning.
Automate things like scaling. Automate things like security remediation and so forth. Ultimately, this is all about creating standardization because standardization not only reduces the amount of work that's needed to keep environments up and running, but it also creates a much more consistent experience and experience that can be much more federated and while kept under a centralized policy control.
This is typically a complex setup and once you have the thing up and running, you don't want to breathe on it too much, if you would. You tend to keep these production workloads around for a long time, whereas if you look at cloud style workloads, they're much smaller, they're much more modular, they tend to be replicated a lot. That's where that automation comes in and they're just overall much lighter weight. Bill Baker who used to be at Microsoft sometimes refers to traditional workloads as pets. If a pet gets sick, you take it to the vet and try to make it better. New-style workloads, on the other hand are cattle. If the cow gets sick, well, you get a new cow.
That is the model of these two workloads, the stateful and the stateless.
Your cloud-style workloads are a great match for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform.
Then, with Red Hat CloudForms, where you have a cloud management platform, you get common policy and that single pane of glass management on top of both those styles.
Business basically cares about delivery of revenue producing services. The business is also in many cases interested in keeping some abstraction between underlying infrastructure and the application development on top of that. This matters in a number of different environments, but it's perhaps most obvious in a certain types of government procurement situations because often agencies want to run their own infrastructure and contract out to do application development for example and there are some real benefits from a procurement standpoint in keeping those two layers separate from each other and ultimately what we are moving towards here is having a set of services that the business users can consume wherever and whenever they need to.