Wednesday, 29 February 2012

How to make cheese straws

This morning I finished writing up the cheese straw recipe I did yesterday. My recipes website is only for sweet stuff, so I thought I may as well put it on this blog. The recipe is the same as for making flaky pastry, except you put cheese and pepper in it as well. You can also use mustard as well if you like.

Cheese Straws Recipe

Cheese Straw

Cheese Straws are strips of flaky cheese pastry, making a delicious savoury snack.


  • 200 g (7 oz) Self raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 150 g (5 oz) Butter or Baking margarine
  • Water
  • Extra mature cheddar cheese
  • Ground black pepper
  • Egg (beaten) to glaze


Weigh the margarine and split into four equal pieces. Put three of the quarters to one side. Cut up the other quarter and put in the blender on top of the flour and salt.

Blend the flour, salt and marg together. When well blended, keep blending and add in a bit of water. Wait about 30s then add some more water, repeating until the mix clumps together.

Remove the pastry and roll out on a floured surface. Roll out to about 3mm thick. Cut one of the margarine quarters into thin slices and spread over the pastry. Add grated cheese and grind a small amount of black pepper over the pastry.

Fold the top third of the pastry over the middle third, then fold the bottom third up. Fold up the edges and roll out again. Do the same thing, covering with margarine, cheese, and a small amount of black pepper, then folding it up two more times.

After folding it up for the third time, put in the fridge for at least half an hour to cool.

Switch the oven on to pre-heat at 200°C (180°C fan oven or 400°F or Gas Mark 6). Take the pastry out the fridge and roll out to about 8mm-10mm thick. Cut into slices, and place the slices on baking sheets.

Brush the cheese straws with the egg, then cook in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Leave to cool on the trays for about 10 minutes then move to a wire rack.

The rest of the morning I looked for a subject to write an article on for my photo tips website, and then started writing the article.

In the afternoon I did some Ukraine holiday planning, cut out some pogs in Photoshop, and did some more work on my ebay wordpress plugin.

In the evening I watched an episode of Boukengers and then the England v. Holland game. Most of the game was quite boring, but when I popped out to the loo, Holland scored two goals. Typical. The final score was 3-2 to Holland, though one of England's goals should have been offside. I thought England player better than they normally do.


This morning I wrote an article for my photo tips website.

In the afternoon I did a bit of work on my ebay wordpress plugin. I was working on converting the response returned by the ebay API would match that returned by ebay's RSS feed. That way you can use either the API or RSS and access the information through the same properties. For both of them I was loading the XML using SimpleXML, but I found that I got an error (

Warning: It is not yet possible to assign complex types to properties
) when I added DateTime objects as properties.

Doing some googling I came across this post: classes inheriting from SimpleXMLElement cannot have properties, and it seems that you can't do this with SimpleXML objects. So instead I decided to add the relevant properties to a stdClass object. After doing that I found that all the properties that were just copied from the SimpleXML object to the stdClass object were of type SimpleXMLElement. Doing more googling, I found that you need to typecast the values of SimpleXMLElements if you don't want them to be of type SimpleXMLElement.

For the rest of the afternoon I did some cooking.

In the evening I watched a youtube video of some teenagers that had been to the dentists and were really out of their heads on whatever drug it is they give you at the dentists. My guess is that after the success of the original video where someone filmed their kid in the car coming back from the dentists, now other parents have started to film their kids when coming back from the dentists as well. Anyway, it was quite a funny video.

After that we watched Tai Chi Master. Mauser had bought it a week or so ago on DVD (called Twin Warriors) but the DVD was an English dub, which was unbearable to watch after about 1 minute. Thankfully, he managed to find a Cantonese version he had downloaded previously, which we watched today.

The film was very good, and the main theme sounds like the Wong Fei Hung (Once upon a time in China) main theme.

Then I finished making Cheese Straws, and wrote this blog post.

Friday, 24 February 2012


This morning I uploaded the panos I processed the last couple days to my photo and pano websites. After that I started writing a blog post for my photo website.

In the afternoon I finished that and wrote an article for my photo tips website.

In the evening I watched Once Upon A Time in China 3, which I had actually already seen before. (It has lots of Lion dance fights).

After that I started work processing another pano and listened to a bit of my Scatman John album I received from Japan today. The lyrics of some of the songs are really amazing, I think Scatman John could easily give Rebecca Black a run for her money.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Pano processing

Today I was working on some panos from Hakone.

In the evening I watched Bodyguards and Assassins with Mauser and Bo. I thought it was really good. Similar to Once Upon a time in China 2, it was about the visit of Sun Yat-Sen to Hong Kong. I think that probably if I hadn't seen Once Upon a time in China 2 and read a bit about the revolution on Wikipedia, I might have found Bodyguards and Assassins a bit harder to follow.

The first part of the film is just setting up the characters, and it seems like the film is going to be a historical drama. I thought it was done very well though, with good acting, story, and cinematography. But then later in the film we get a lot of really great action sequences and fights. I also really appreciated the revolutionary propaganda aspect of the film, and thought it was put across very well.

Both Terminator 4 and the film we watched today were streamed on the Lovefilm website (Mauser has a subscription). The quality is pretty good considering, the only thing I noticed really is that smoke / gradients can be quite blocky.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


I had a strange spam comment on one of my blogs today (marked as spam by Askimet):

It’s one of my farovite places in Korea. The spring and fall are some of the best times to go, since the flora comes alive! I’m glad you enjoyed this presentation. I had a blast making it!

The odd thing is that it's on topic, and it seems strange that spammers would be purposefully targeting posts about Korea. The other odd thing is that the poster's name was given as Harry, and website link as, which links to a profile page of one of the members of the pop group One Direction (unless it's a fake profile). I don't know why a spammer would do that.

It is spam though, as well as Askimet picking it up, the line I’m glad you enjoyed this presentation. I had a blast making it! doesn't make sense. Also, One Direction are an English group, so if it was really one of them commenting they wouldn't use American terms like farovite and fall. (Though I must admit I do write in US English on some of my blogs).

This morning I finished processing a pano, then spent the rest of the afternoon and first part of the afternoon uploading it, along with 3 other panos.

When I checked one of the panos on the map on my photo website, I found that the marker for the photo was staying there when I zoomed out, instead of clustering. The cluster marker was loading, just the un-clustered marker wasn't being removed. So I spent quite a while looking at my code and stepping the javascript using Chrome's js debugger, but there didn't seem to be any problem.

When I checked it again, it was now working okay. I really don't understand how the marker didn't get removed the first time I checked. It seems hard to believe that the browser would skip some javascript logic. But it is also equally strange how the logic worked correctly on subsequent reloads.

After that I started work on another pano.

In the evening I watched Terminator 4 and Winter Watch.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


This morning I was hoping to write another article for my photo tips website, but ended up having to spend most of the morning doing housework. After that was done I started writing the article, and finished it later in the afternoon.

In the evening I watched an episode of Boukengers with L, did some work on my ebay wordpress plugin, and took some photos for a slit scan style image of half a lemon slice.

Monday, 20 February 2012


This morning I read a thread on the Nikonians forum about video in DSLRs, and whether anyone used it. The argument was that it would be nice to have a lower cost DSLR that didn't include video. However, a couple of posters (who seemed to be well informed) said that adding video adds very little cost to each unit. In fact, one poster suggested it could lessen costs - if the company sells two or three times as many units with video than they would without, the R&D costs will be much lower per unit.

I also added some more panos to and started writing an article for my photo tips website.

In the afternoon I finished writing the article and did a bit of work on my wordpress ebay plugin.

In the evening I watched Iron Monkey. It was quite heavy on the string-fu and numerous bits of fights were sped up, but I thought it was very good. After that I made some orange cookies with L, and that took the rest of the evening.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Trying to fix an init script

This morning I updated my pog website and went to church.

In the afternoon and first part of the evening I tried to modify the init script for nginx on my webserver as it wasn't working properly. The problem was that to check whether nginx was already running the script did status nginx, which gave a long list of pids as there are various users running nginx on the shared web server. Since it returned data, that meant the script thought nginx was already running, even when my instance of nginx wasn't running.

I'm pretty sure I've fixed it now (and also found and fixed some problems with my php-fpm init script). I changed the script so it gets the pid of my nginx from the pid file, then does a ps for that pid and greps for my nginx location. If that returns text, my nginx is running, otherwise it isn't.

For the rest of the evening I processed a pano and read some camera websites.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Working on an article

I spent most of today working an article for my photo tips website.

Before lunch I also cleaned the bird feeders. After lunch I topped up the pond.

In the evening I watched Once Upon A Time in China 2 with Mauser and Bo. It was quite good, and surprisingly Communist propaganda-fied. I had thought that the communists would have been anti the revolution, since it put in place the government they fought against. But after reading wikipedia, it seems that actually the revolution was done with good intentions, and the main leader seems quite communist. But the revolutionaries agreed to allow an ex-Qing general to be president if he forced the emperor to abdicate, and things went downhill from there.

The film was both pro-revolution and anti religion, which were the things that made it seem like communist propaganda to me. It is much more an entertainment film than a propaganda film though.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


This morning and for the first part of the afternoon I was trying to do some product photos for a review for my photo website blog. For one of the shots, I was trying to photograph the item on glass with a light on the background behind it. (The positioning of the object meant you could photograph it standing up on a surface like you would with a normal product photo).

Unfortunately, the glass slipped off the stools I had it balanced between, smashed, and also damaged the mount board I was using as the background. So I had spend a while clearing the mess up.

From Rusty's blog

For the rest of the afternoon I made a couple of cakes with L. We had two egg yolks in the fridge left over from making a Lemon cake a few days ago. So I had been looking for recipes that use egg yolks, and found one that needed three egg yolks. But when I got the egg yolks out of the fridge, they didn't look that great.

So rather than risk it, we threw them away and used yolks from three new eggs. But then that meant that we now had three egg whites. So L found a recipe that used egg whites. I think it was meant to come out similar to angel cake. But actually it came out very flat, so we decided to change it to a giant Jaffa Cake recipe.

But we don't have any orange marmalade, so actually it will be a giant Strawberry cake.

In the evening I watched The Soviet Story. It was quite good, but the way it was filmed, and especially how it was narrated, made it seem like some badly done propaganda. After that I watched the last part of Everything is a remix:

Everything is a Remix Part 4 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


The other day I copied the GPS tracklog for a walk I'd done to my PC, and saw there was another tracklog saved on the GPS as well. It was from when I'd put my GPS on and then decided not to go out. But I forgot to switch the GPS off, and just left it in my bag. Despite being still all the time it was switched on, the tracklog shows quite a bit of movement. Here's a close-up of some of the tracklog:

This morning I was working on an article for my photo tips website. I wrote the main points for the article yesterday evening, but it still took me all morning to flesh them out to a full article.

In the afternoon I did a bit more work on my ebay wordpress plugin, and on recipes for my recipe website. After that I tried to find if an image was causing Windows Movie Maker to crash.

In the evening I watched the last episode of season 1 of Star Trek Enterprise with Mauser and Bo. After that I finished off my flash stencil thing. Then I started writing a blog post for my photo website.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Making a cake and watching football

This morning I started preparing my pog website update, then went to Church.

After Church I cooked dinner, then me, Mauser, and Bo watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise. I updated my pog website, then me and L made a cake.

In the evening I watched the African Cup final, which was quite a good match. It was Zambia vs. Cote d'Ivoire, and Zambia ended up winning 8-7 on penalties (the match finished 0-0 after extra time).

Annoyingly I didn't get to finish the descriptions or upload my panos today. So although I'd finished processing them yesterday, they will now have to wait until at least tomorrow before I can put them on the web.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Pano processing

This morning there was a really nice hoar frost covering everything. But I got up quite late (about 8am), and by the time I'd had my breakfast, done the washing, taken a few photos in the garden, and put food out for the birds, the frost had started to melt.

So I decided that rather go out and take photos of trees covered in half melted frost, I'd stay in and work on processing the panos I took yesterday. It's kind of annoying because the same panos I took yesterday would look a lot better if I'd taken them this morning. As well as the hoar frost making the trees look much nicer today, the sun was also clearer rather than shining through hazy clouds. (Sun shining through hazy clouds usually just results in a large lump of sky being blown out white in the photo).

In the evening I also watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise with Mauser and Bo and played on Secret of Mana with them.

I managed to finish processing the panos I took yesterday, but I haven't finished doing the descriptions for them all.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Going on a snowy walk

It snowed a couple of inches overnight, so before breakfast I went out in the garden to feed the birds. Mrs blackbird swooped down, first landing on top of the bird table roof, and then moving to the washing line, squawking like GIMME SOME FOOD!. I did throw some food towards her, but she wouldn't actually eat anything until I went back inside.

I put out some general bird seed, and also some mealworms and sultanas. I think the blackbirds prefer the mealworms and sultanas, while the sparrows prefer the seed.

The weather was sunny (well sunny and cloudy) this morning, so I went out on a walk. On part of the walk I saw there was a manure pile with lots of birds on it. There must have been about 20 robins, 5 dunnocks, and a few black birds.

I got as close as I could (it was on the other side of a fence. Unfortunately the longest lens I had with me was my canon 100mm macro, which was too short. So I didn't get any good photos, but I did enjoy watching the birds for a bit.

Just as I was taking a photo of a Robin, he jumped away. Despite the camera using a shutter speed of 1/400s, the Robin is still quite visibly blurred in the photo. So they must jump pretty fast. This is an extremely heavy crop:

This Robin (on the left) had an interesting breast, much whiter than the other Robins, and with dark streaks:

And here is a Dunnock:

The birds were eating insects from the manure. I did wait around for quite a while hoping that a bird would land on a post next to where I was standing, but they never got very near me. A 500mm lens might have been okay to get some reasonable shots.

In the afternoon I sorted and geo-coded the morning's photos.

In the evening I watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise with Mauser and Bo. I read some photo websites and started processing one of today's panos.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Pano processing

This morning I did some recipe website work. Then I checked my flickr and found someone has added me as a contact. I checked their photostream / profile and they have plenty of good photos and seem to be interested in the same things as me, so I added them as a contact as well.

Looking at their photos, I found this Extension tube hack for reversed lenses. I had seen such a hack previously and was hoping to do the same someday so I could have an MP-E equivalent in Nikon mount. (Reversed 18-55 lens with extension tube hack).

But reading the comments on that page, they pointed out that the aperture is mechanically controlled in Nikon lenses. I had forgotten that, and that fact would make doing the extension hack pointless for me. The only reason I wanted to do it was so that I could shoot with the lens wide open for focusing, and then the camera automatically stops it down when taking the photo.

The hack would probably work with aperture control for canon lenses, but since I already have the MP-E and don't have any canon extension tubes, I'm in no hurry to try it.

The rest of the day I processed a couple of Scotland panos.

Here's a rubbish picture I drew to check the pressure sensitivity of my wacom tablet was working. (Often it doesn't work in Photoshop when I first plug it in and I have to restart Photoshop, and sometimes even then it doesn't work. So I always test it before opening large files rather than opening the file only to find I have to close it again because the pressure sensitivity isn't working.)

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Trying to make a video

This morning I was happy to find that Photoshop had finally finished exporting the animation / video it had been processing for much of yesterday and overnight. Unfortunately, there was no video file on the Desktop (where I had told it to save), so I assumed that it had just given up / broken.

So I tried Adobe Premiere to see if that would work. It took ages to import the images, then after that there didn't seem to be any easy way to add all the images to the timeline and change the total speed of the whole thing.

Next I tried Windows Movie Maker. This loaded all the files, let me choose the duration of each image, and wasn't super slow! But when it came to exporting the clip, I clicked to change the export settings, and it crashed. The 'More Information' link brought me to a Windows Live Movie Maker support forum thread, which requested that people include certain logs and reply with them as a private message.

Then, when I was preparing all the logs needed for the Windows Live Movie Maker error report, I found that actually Photoshop had saved the video okay afterall. For some reason the file was not visible on the Desktop, but was visible if you browsed to the Desktop in Windows Explorer.

By this time I'd already all the necessary crash report logs for Windows Live Movie Maker, so I thought I should post them to the forum. But, there didn't seem to actually be any way to send a private message, so I just posted asking how to send a private message.

I did some more work on the article I was doing the video for, and found that I needed another video, this time a screen capture video. So I shot the video using Wondershare Demo Creator and used my Olympus LS-5 to record the sound. But when I reviewed the video, the cursor appeared as an hourglass whenever I was in Windows Explorer, which was no good.

I have had this problem with Wondershare Demo Creator before, when recording a video of me using Photoshop. The problem then was only existent in Photoshop x64, in the 32 bit version the cursor appeared properly in the video. So I thought that maybe Wondershare Demo Creator just always shows the cursor as an hourglass when recording activity in any 64 bit program.

I tried finding a 32 bit version of Explorer. Instructions I found on the web said that the 64 bit version is C:/Windows/explorer.exe, while the 32 bit version is C:\Windows\SysWOW64\explorer.exe. It doesn't make sense to me that a 32 bit version would be in the SysWOW64 folder, but that's what the instructions said. Unfortunately, neither one made any difference, and Wondershare Demo Creator would still record the mouse cursor as an hourglass when using them.

I did try searching windows for files names explor, there are quite a few explorer.exe files stored there. The explorer.exe files stored in C:\Windows\SysWOW64\ and C:/Windows/ were both different sizes. And all the other explorer.exes the search found were the same size as one or the other. So probably one is a 32 bit version and one is a 64 bit version. It's just that Wondershare Demo Creator didn't like either of them.

So I tried finding a different screen recording program. I found one recommended called screencast, which I have used before and not found much good. However, I thought it might be improved, and so might as well give it a try.

I downloaded it, and on first try it played back the recording really fast. After a couple more tries I got the speed recording at real time. I tried putting the recorded clip into Adobe Premiere, but it got really messed up and full of strange artefacts.

So I tried a few more different settings in screencast, one became really strange colours when put into Premiere, and another resulted in footage that kept jumping back and repeating itself every second or so. In the end I did get some reasonable footage out of it by recording at 50fps and using the Cinepak codec. Even at 50fps though, the footage seems quite jumpy, more like 10fps or something.

All this recording and testing took most of the afternoon.

In the evening I watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise with Mausre and Bo, then wrote this blog post.

The rest of the evening I looked at places to visit in Ukraine.

Monday, 6 February 2012


Most of today I have just been waiting for my computer to process a video. Very annoying as it makes the computer slow I can't seem to copy / paste files from the desktop while it is working.

In the morning I also made an orange and cinnamon fruit cake. in the evening I watched an episode of Trek and a Western called Ride Lonesome with Mauser and Bo.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Finally getting some snow

This morning I was just getting my pog website update ready for tomorrow.

In the afternoon I wrote a blog post comparing some image resize programs for my photo website.

In the evening I watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise with Mauser and Bo. After that I did some flash stencil making with Bo while Mauser did some painting.

In the afternoon it started snowing here, though only very lightly. We hadn't really had any snow so far this winter. Then later in the evening it started to snow more heavily.

At about 10pm it looked like this outside:

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Setting a set amount of time for each task trial

Today I decided to try making a set list of tasks and times to do them for the day. I didn't think it would make me any more productive than usual, but I have seen it suggested in a lot of places. So thought I should at least give it a try.

I can't say that it made me any more productive than usual, but possibly it did. Most of the tasks took longer than I had anticipated. I didn't over-run the time limit I had set, but rather left them unfinished and took a break / went on to the next task.

I will try the same thing again tomorrow, and since I didn't finish most of the tasks, tomorrow's list looks much like today's. I think that doing different tasks throughout the day rather than doing one single task for a long time until you finish it helps to alleviate boredom somewhat.

I used a kitchen timer for timing each task. I think the loud ticking sound does help to keep you concentrating on the task at hand, rather than letting your mind wander. But when you are trying to think, the sound can be distracting.

In the evening I watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise with Mauser and Bo. Then I tried setting up Blog Content Buddy (yes, that's an affiliate link) on one of my domains.

It took me ages just to get the wordpress site active. The problem was that when I tried to login, it would just return me to the login screen. Eventually I found the problem was that the new blog domain name needed adding to a domain mapping table in the wordpress database.

On the front page of the Blog Content Buddy website it says:

  • Got a few WordPress blogs or domain names that you've been neglecting?
  • Our plug-in posts well optimized, highly-unique content (not the usual garbage) to your blogs.
  • Search engines love our unique content - which includes your affiliate links that turn clicks into cash!

But when I had signed up to the system, I got through to their training, which indicates that you actually need to write quite a few blog posts and do quite a bit of work yourself. So it's not actually something you can just quickly throw up on a spare domain you have.