Monday, July 30, 2007

I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords

Google search, besides searching for content in websites, incorporates various functions that activate either based on a prefix or on the form of the search request. I knew that these functions were present and used some of them at one time or another. The functions I used was address lookup by entering the phone number, calculator, maps, site information, word definition and currency and measurement conversions. Now all of these functions are not really related to any outside company and are not something unexpected.

Recently, I tried a new kind of search with surprising results. Having in mind the different functions that at incorporated into Google search, I decided to type in a UPS tracking number. I was quiet surprised when Google redirected me to the UPS tracking detail page. Usually, when I want to lookup the progress of my package, I have to go to UPS website, enter tracking number, click agreement box and click submit. I very much don't enjoy all that typing and clicking. Now, with the power of firefox and Google, I can just type in the UPS number into the search box and press enter. I looked up on Google's search help what else can google do. Google can give you weather if you search for "weather zip". You can enter FedEx and USPS tracking numbers for tracking information. You can look up UPC codes, vehicle ids and patents. Besides these there are also unlisted search patterns.

Some may say that these services are evil in some way or another, that Google is becoming a monopoly, I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords. The more services are integrated into Google search, the better.

P.S. as I was writing this, I tried to search for "show times transformers". Above the search results, Google presented me with a link to the Transformers trailer, movie length, average rating and link to collection of review from different sources and a form input to enter my zip code. After I entered my zip code and clicked submit, I was presented with a page within Google that showed 13 closest movie theaters and show times for the movie. I love Google!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Three weeks

Finally the three weeks are over. Now I can go back to listening to kawaii radio, eating meat and being able to trim my moustache which is getting in the way of my eating.

Tisha B'Av was ok. After coming home from shul, caught up on my webmanga and read Komanda by Yuriy Pogulai. After ma'ariv, we had some cake and drinks in shul. When I came home I had a beer, just like last the fast. I like being different. I wonder, am I the only person who thinks the tune of Eli Tzion is that of a war hymn. Each year, when we sing it, I imagine an army of Jews walking down the streets and killing anti-semites.

Of all the prohibitions during the three weeks and omer, the hardest for me is music. I don't shave and only trim my beard Fridays when I'm not too lazy. Music, however, is my daily companion. I'm listening to kawaii radio or some other music when I'm at home or working and I have my Creative Nano for when I'm outside.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ike Ike

My son Shlomik loves music. When he was less than a year old, Бременские Музиканты (Bremenskiye Muzikanti) was all he needed. He could watch over and over and really loved music and singing. A couple months ago I found the cartoon По Дороге с Облаками (Po Doroge s Oblakami) about which he's also now crazy.

Recently I introduced Shlomik to something different and the result is amazing. I often listen to Kawaii Radio on Winamp. Unlike other Japanese radio stations, they only play songs from anime. One song in particular that I decided to look up on YouTube was Ike Ike by Hinoi Team. The moment Shlomik saw the video and heard the music, he was hooked. He learned how to pronounce Ike Ike and is asking for it constantly and after he finishes watching the music video, it's around three minutes, he says "more." He loves the video so much that he even tries to mimic the moves, or at least claps. If he dares to learns more of the lyrics than I, no more Ike Ike.

Hinoi Team have another song, Night of Fire, which is fun to watch but not as good. I saw some of the other music videos, but they weren't even as good as Night of Fire. Shlomik also responded well to Shangri-la and Asu e no Brilliant Road by Angela, though nothing comes close to Ike Ike.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Facebook news

I recently created an account on facebook. I entered my profile, uploaded a picture and searched for any friends and friends that already have an account. Then I set to doing what I do best, well, one of the things I do best, using my powers of persuasion and annoyingness I managed to force a lot of my friends and some of my family to join. I also created two groups, one, "Family Levitansky" I mentioned before and it's a group for my extended family. The other group is "Jews who love anime" and so far I got nine members.

Facebook is a great alternative to myspace. I created an account on myspace but don't have any real interest in using it. Besides the core problems of bad design, allowing users to set background music and background pictures which make the whole page unreadable, there's the spam factor. The moment you join, you'll get invites and messages from other users advertising porn and not the safe kind. Altogether, the idea you get from myspace is that it's a place for infantile teens and nothing more.

Now, on to the main point of this post. Whenever one of your friends does something like update profile, join a group, become friends, you get a news item on your homepage. One of my friends, in an attempt at humor, entered thinking as on of his Activities in his profile. Later, deciding that it's not as funny as he thought, he decided to remove it. Now this is the news item that me and his other friends saw on their homepage, "...has updated his profile. He removed Thinking from his activities." That is gold. That's what I call hilarious. My only regret is that the staff of facebook never saw what kind of a sense of humor their creation has.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Dafina: Revision n

Most of my recipes are not static, they evolve. Just because I like the way something came out, doesn't mean it can't be better or different. The recipe that changes the most, probably because it's used weekly, is the one for dafina (sephardic cholent).
I don't remember where I got the original recipe. Maybe it was online. Maybe it was by talking to people. Probably a mix of the two. Whatever the case, the recipe has been changing over time as I added or removed ingredients based both on my seeing what my friends put into cholent and my personal experimentation. This week's dafina consisted of the following, the order is layer based:
  1. Chopped onion and garlic
  2. Cholent meat
  3. Bottle of beer
  4. Hot paprika, cumin, salt, cinnamon, shawarma spices, black pepper, honey, cayenne pepper and whole black pepper
  5. 2lb bag of frozen spinach
  6. Rice and barley
  7. Veal tongue (or jachnun)
  8. Sweet potatoes
  9. Whole eggs in shells
  10. Dates
  11. 1 fresh ginger root
The last five ingredients should be arranged as the top layer unless your crock pot is small and if it is, use your own discretion. Add water until it at least covers the rice and barley, though you can add as much as the top of the eggs or even more.
There you have it, my current dafina recipe. The taste is sweet and the consistency will be based on the amount of water added.