Ember coffee mug

I’ve always been a big proponent of technology. In our every day lives we use technology to help us out and get by. In December 2015 I backed the Ember coffee mug on IndieGoGo

It has taken A LONG time for this product to become a reality. But it finally arrived, after much coaxing.

Essentially like all kickstarter or indiegogo projects the founders had set rather unrealistic goals and deadlines due to their lack of manufacturing, logistics and compliance knowledge. Each of these areas are extremely complex areas when you’re dealing with a product that you aim to ship internationally. I guess they just didn’t know. And to be honest this seems rather typical of everything off kickstarter.

Now the review.

The product arrived in very “applesque” minimal packaging, a big plus in my book, here are some photos:

ember mug packaging

the mug

Whats it like to live with?

Well here’s what it looks like in the back of a BMW 5 series, snazzy eh?

Ember mug, in the back of a BMW

The lid, the iphone app, it’s ergonomic design etc are all exquisite. i.e. it’s rather well made and this is quite surprising as much stuff I’ve backed has ended up being cheap tat. But this is quite the opposite.

The capacitive touch logo is nice, it has a number of functions which differ just by the mode it’s in and whether it is on or off. You can touch it 3 times and it’ll tell you it’s name. In this case I called it the ‘CAFFINATOR’, you can see battery life, current temperature, whether it’s cooling or heating for example and turning it on and off.

All in all it has been a very good device from a functionality and ease of use point of view. The lid is very well designed with a push-push open/close function. Your hot beverage comes out quite nicely and it does not leak. But take care to not overfill it as it will leak in this instance.

The last few pictures and a very quick video of it telling the world it’s name!

ember battery charging logo

The Caffinator:

The only downside so far has been the battery life. I thought I’d read somewhere that it could keep a beverage at temperature for 8 hours but this is rather unrealistic. At best you’ll get about 90 minutes out of a charge. This is not an issue if you use it in the same place all the time and you can pop it on it’s charger. But for me this is great device. Well worth the 129 USD price.

Childen

I’ve been inactive for some time. Mainly due to life, the universe and everything. I now have 2 kids, Ethan who is almost 3 and Alex who is just 7 weeks old. It’s been fun for the last few years 🙂

Tweetdeck breaks when you dist upgrade from ubuntu 8.04 to 9.04

If like me you’ve been using LTS 8.04 for a while in work, at home or for play you may have been doing so for stability reasons.

This morning I got into the office and I was annoyed at some of the things that 8.04 was falling short on so I decided to dist-upgrade.

The main breakage post upgrade was tweetdeck, it kept saying that my ELS was corrupt and I’d need to re-enter my details. However then it would say that “A small number of people have problems with tweetdeck, we’re working on this”. I was stumped.

Easy fix was to remove Adobe Air, remove the .appdata/ folder in my users home directory and do:

# sudo dpkg -r tweetdeckfast.f9107117265db7542c1a806c8db837742ce14c21.1

This will remove tweetdeck from your system.

Now re-install Adobe Air and Tweetdeck and you should be back in business.

My version of chicken marsala

The background behind this post is important I guess. I went on holidays with Tara and her family earlier this year (for her sisters wedding) to the USA. We booked various hotels in different areas for the 15 days or so that we were going for. Tara is my girlfriend whom I’m going out with now for over a year.

While in the US we visited some of her relatives and we spent quite a bit of time in her aunt Tereasa’ house. Now Taz had given her fair warning that I’m fairly picky when it comes to food (those of you that know me well, know how bad I am!!) so she was all set for meat and chips. However while there she made this absolutely stunning dish called “Chicken Marsala” and I had seriously never tasted chicken as good before.

So when we came back I kept thinking about this great meal I had while I was away (I had many other great meals in her house, but this one sticks out the most) so I had to go about trying to make it.

First off, my only issue was really finding Marsala Wine. Thankfully O’Briens in Carlow had it stocked, a bottle cost me 12.99 which to me was a bit steep. But I got it and off I went.

I’ve tried it 4 times now and I hadn’t been able to successfully “make it the right way”, that was until today. I’ve got the correct measures down (be they a bit unaccurate for sharing) and I had the most beautiful chicken marsala again tonight. Tara concurs that it was excellent (not just said so, she ate the lot!).

The following receipe was what makes an excellent chicken Marsala (for 2 or 3, depending on what you serve with it)

  1. 3-4 chicken breasts, thinly sliced.
  2. real butter (10gramms) and olive oil (smallest amount will do)
  3. flour
  4. mushrooms
  5. chicken stock cubes, knorr seem good
  6. half a cup of Marsala Wine *
  7. 1 cup of chicken stock *
  8. A wide deep frying pan (*) or skillet

The process:

  • Put 1.5 chicken stock cubes into a cup, fill with boiling water and stir, this is now your chicken stock.
  • Cover a baking tray with flour, add salt and pepper and then cover all the pieces of chicken in flour. Heat the pan, after putting some of the butter and olive oil in, to the point just before the butter starts smoking (this is crucial) and then put the chicken on to it for approx 2-3 mins either side
  • Take the chicken off and take the pan off of the heat for a minute. Put the chicken somewhere to keep it warm and where you can gather the juices from for later.
  • Put the pan back on the heat and place the mushrooms onto it (obviously you can chop them what ever way you prefer) and cook them for 5-6 minutes or until their own moisture/juice starts to show.
  • Immediately after the mushrooms own juices starting to show add the chicken stock. You’ll now cook the mushrooms for around 5 minutes on a medium heat in the stock.
  • After 5 or so minutes have elapsed turn the heat down and now put the chicken back in, let the whole lot simmer for around 2-3 minutes and then add in the half a cup of marsala wine.
  • Let this now simmer for 10 minutes on a low heat

* the measurements for the stock and wine I’ve used are because my frying pan is wide but the sides are not very high and it can’t support a lot of sauce/juices. Ideally use a pan with high sides and double up on these measurements so that you end up with quite a bit of the juices to place over your veg, potatoes or rice.

You can now serve the dinner to 2-3 people.

Enjoy this, I’d like to welcome comments on this post if anyone tries it out 🙂

Nokia N95 is the winner for best phone since sliced bread!

It’s official. Well unofficially official. Myself and Michele went to Vodafone and got us some Nokia N95’s. I’d been fairly happy with my N91, but me having thick thumbs… I found the keypad a bit of a chore to use. Also the N91 was sooo fricken heavy, mostly because of its 4GB microdrive but the N95 weighs in at 120gramms.

Good things about the N95:

a) Web browser rocks, it’s a version of Safari apparently and it renders our site, crazy DHTML menus and all, very well. I used it a fair bit over the weekend and I like it. Most sites look as one would expect.

b) 5Mega Pixel camera, wow. That’s about all I can say. This small little device that weighs a lot less and is physically smaller than the N91 has one of the best cameras in the phone market. Not only does it have a good resolution, it is also designed so that it can be used as a normal camera. The up/down volume bottons are for zooming, then there’s a gallery button and the all important photo snap button and you can do this while the phone is on it’s side which allows you to make use of the large 2.6″ (240 x 320) screen.

c) Other misc features: Wifi which works very well, Bluetooth which seems quite compatibable with tonnes of devices including heaps of car kits etc, infra red which now is mostly not used, but hey it has it, 3G support which works very nicely, MMS and txt message support etc.
d) Digital music player – supports MP3/AAC/AAC+/eAAC+/WMA/M4A with playlists and equalizer.

e) It’s mighty pretty, I like it a lot.

f) It takes those new mini-SD cards that are super small

g) GPS, which works well. Friend mentioned getting route 66 software for it which I’m going to look into this evening.

Faults:

a) Battery life

b) Battery life

c) Battery life

Yes, overall this is a fantastic phone. The battery life is pretty poor. Just incase anyone asks, I’ve 3G off most of the time along with bluetooth, wifi scanning etc. About 1 day of use is all I’m getting. This makes me not want it. But all the other cool features save it for me.

It’s a deadly phone, get one.

PHP4 EOL?

So I noticed on an IRC channel today a bit of buzz around PHP4 going EOL. Bye bye php4, with that announcement in mind, we’re going to discontinue PHP4 support at the end of the year also. In the mean time we’ll simply encourage our customers to make sure their applications work in PHP5. At this stage in the game there should be little or no applications that are still maintained that won’t work in PHP5.

The news was also posted on PHP.net

Vodafone E220 3G usb

I got one of these a while ago and I had no joy getting it working. I was at the time running Ubuntu LTS, but I’ve since upgraded to Edgy and I’ll move to feisty at some point.

To get this working there are a few short steps to take:

sudo rmmod usb-storage
sudo rmmod usb-serial

then run:

lsusb

In my case I get the following:

Bus 001 Device 005: ID 12d1:1003

modprobe usbserial vendor=0x12d1 product=0x1003

Once you’ve got this far things should be heating up.

run the following commands:
mknod /dev/ttyUSB0 c 188 0
mknod /dev/ttyUSB1 c 188 1
mknod /dev/ttyUSB2 c 188 2

This creates the devices that you need to use with wvdial

The wvdial.conf that works for vodafone Ireland, for me anyway, is as follows:

[Dialer hsdpa]
Phone = *99***1#
Username = vodafone
Password = vodafone
Stupid Mode = 1
Dial Command = ATDT
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0
Baud = 460800
Init2 = ATZ
Init3 = ATE0V1&D2&C1S0=0+IFC=2,2
ISDN = 0
Modem Type = Analog Modem
Init5 =AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","isp.vodafone.ie";

So there we have it. This is 100% working on Ubuntu Edgy with Vodafone Irelands Huawei E220 with a 2.6.17-11 kernel.

Promise Raid cards?

Yes the saga continues, only 4 years later. A few years ago we dabbled with promise cards. A) they were cost effective, B) they apparently had a good feature set and C) Our vendor at the time recommended them.  Long story short, they sucked. We used the TX2300 I think then. Over the past while we’ve been using another vendor that is local to us instead of just using Dell and HP so we can diversify. They were raving about the new Ex series of cards so we got an Ex8350 card off them and put it into a quad core server with plenty of ram etc.

Initial findings:

Redhat EL 4U4 supports the card. Yaay. However the kernel on the install cd didn’t. Promise had no driver for U4. We contact redhat, follow instructions, nothing. Redhat come back at 09:06 the following morning with a new driver disk that is untested, but hey it worked! Horray. Installed RHEL 4, upgraded to latest redhat kernel and all looked great.

The card performed quite well during initial testing. Compile times were up on other systems and uncompressing tar.gz files etc was very quick. I wasn’t sure if this was the quad core or the raid card/disk performance but I gave the raid card the benefit of the doubt.

Things started to get a bit hairy after 2 weeks or so. The server was our latest shared hosting box, which is a beast in comparison to some of the older machines with 4 cores on the cpu. It started showing high load averages even when it wasn’t particularly busy. A closer look and see a huge amount of IO wait. I think nothing off it but keep an eye on the server. Last friday it had a serious brain fart, a simple untar job of a 200mb file brought the load to over 200 and poor Niall had to look after it.

Another week has passed and it has another brain fart, this time input/output errors for almost all binaries on the file system. Now this brings back vivid memories of our first ever shared server from years ago with the card in it that I mention above. So Promise cards suck. Redhat support is second to none. Infact Redhat are bloody brilliant, never has a vendor been so usefull or quick to help me out on an issue before.

I’m getting a new Nokia N91

So I decided to upgrade earlier in the month so I’m just awaiting delivery of my new Nokia N91. It has 4GB of onboard memory for storing music, files etc.

Audio stuff:

It’ll play pretty much any of the following audio types, pretty exhaustive list wh00t! MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, Real, WAV, WMA, M4A, AMR-WB, True Tones, AMR-NB. It can also record audio in several formats so it can be used in meetings etc, pretty damn handy.
One of the things I like about it is that it has dedicated buttons for controlling music. A lot of other mobiles share this function with other normal keys which can be a bit limiting at times.

It also has an FM radio with a feature called visual radio – this appears to be where there is a visual channel along with audio where supported by the radio station that gives you updates on whats on now, whats on next etc. Looks semi interesting.

Video and Display:

Regarding video, it’ll play back the following formats  3GPP H.263, MPEG4, RealVideo which is pretty good also. The display is 176 x 208 with 262k colours. Pretty snazzy, looks a fair bit better than my current Nokia 6680.
The camera is 2Mega Pixel which is good for a phone. Considering it isn’t too many years since cameras were using this and my current phone takes ok photos with its 1.3Mega Pixel camera.

Connectivity:

  • 3G – that’ll be turned off thanks, however it could be handy at times where I’ve no other options.
  • WLAN – hahahahaha. I mean… wow great. 🙂
  • USB 2.0
  • Bluetooth

I won’t comment on the brower etc until I actually get a hold of it. I’m looking forward to it though, as it has all sorts of funky features that I want to explore and perhaps make use of.

I will post a review of it in a few weeks once I’ve gotten used to it and broke it in a bit.