March 12, 2011

New recipe: Spicy Rice and Beans

Filed under: food,what's new — Nick @ 11:30 pm
Rice with black beans and corn

I added a new recipe to my recipes section: Spicy rice with black beans and corn. This recipe came from an attempt to make a vegetarian dish out of whatever ingredients I had around the kitchen. Eventually I settled on this combination.

Orthodox Christians and others often abstain from animal products during the season of Lent, so this seemed like a good time to post this. In fact, I made it for dinner this evening (with some asparagus on the side).

February 1, 2010

New Recipes

Filed under: food,what's new — Nick @ 12:40 pm

I added three more recipes to my recipes page: baked macaroni and cheese, spinach soufflé, and an easy fudge recipe.

My kids seem pretty fond of the boxed macaroni and cheese dinners, so I thought I would try some “real” mac and cheese on them. I made Alton Brown’s macaroni and cheese a couple of times. I thought it was pretty good, but the kids were rather nonplussed; they still like the boxed mix better. After some experimentation, I was able to simplify the recipe and change some of the proportions to come up with something that was still home-made but had greater kid appeal.

As for the soufflé: I am fond of spinach, and had been looking for a soufflé recipe that was not too difficult but still tasty. I tried this “easy spinach soufflé” but it wasn’t what I was looking for. It tasted fine, but it was basically just a block of spinach glued together by a little milk, eggs, and cheese. If I want to eat plain spinach, I would just steam it and add a little lemon and olive oil. So played around with it, mostly by increasing the amount of ingredients that make it seem like a soufflé. I also substituted green onion for the garlic, because I thought that goes better with spinach (even thought I am quite fond of garlic).

The fudge recipe is the one my wife likes to use at holidays these days. It’s much easier than some traditional ones, but still seems to taste like fudge. This one is not original with us, but is taken straight from a recipe pamphlet by Eagle Brand® (so of course it must use a canned milk product).

December 18, 2009

Secrets of the Comics Kingdom

Filed under: comics,fun,what's new — Nick @ 8:48 pm

Newspaper websites that show comic strips syndicated by King Features Syndicate (KFS) have been using the Reed-Brennan Media Associates (RBMA) as a source for their strips; one example is the Houston Chronicle comics page for which the color comics come from rbma. Some of the complaints of the rbma-served comics are their small size, occasional flakiness of their server, and inability to directly link to their comics (although that’s certainly their prerogative and I don’t fault them for it).

Some newspapers, such as the Toronto Star, are now serving these comics from a source called the Comics Kingdom. Although their interface seems a bit clunky and script-heavy, they do have the advantage of also providing higher-resolution images than are available through rbma. Moreover, they are (so far) allowing hotlinking directly to their images.

Inspection of the url for images coming from the CK reveals they have the general structure: _size.gif


feature = the id of the strip
yyyy = year (4 digits)
mm = month (2 digits)
dd = day (2 digits)

_size could have values of _small, _med, or _large (525, 665, or 760 px wide, respectively, at least for several strips I looked at)

For example. today’s (Dec. 18, 2009) Rhymes With Orange, large version is:

A little experimentation has revealed a hidden archive that seems to go back to Nov. 1, 2007, at least for several strips that I tested.

Again, for Rhymes With Orange, that would be:

After a bit of poking around, I fond another interesting hidden feature: Leaving off the “_size” argument shows an even bigger picture, one that seems 1200 px wide for
the comics I tested. For example, here is a 1200 px wide Family Circus panel, in all its glory:

Oddly, the few Sunday strips I tested seem to be “only” 1000 px wide, although strips farther back in the archive seem to be bigger.

Oh, one more thing. It seems that it is possible to get a peek at the future. For the last couple of weeks, I noticed that on Saturday they upload one week’s worth of strips in advance.

I stumbled across these features while trying to build a Comics Kingdom strip viewer and also trying to teach myself php at the same time. After a few false starts and a lot of rebuilds, I put together a Comics Kingdom Viewer page in which a user can either select a number of strips to view at once, or else select a single strip for any given date that exists in their archive. I made the output for the multi-strip viewer page “bookmarkable,” so that it should be possible to bookmark a daily reading list. I also made “forward” and “back” links so that one can step through the archive day by day.


November 3, 2009

New Page: Old Family Photos

Filed under: Uncategorized,web authoring,what's new — Nick @ 2:04 pm

I added a new page to the Photo Gallery page: Old Family Photos. At this time, most of these photos were in a photo album that was on display at my Dad’s memorial service in 2004 and were collected from various members of my family. I scanned them for posterity, and I had been meaning to make a web-based photo album over the years, but just hadn’t got to it. At the moment, they are uncaptioned and undated, and are likely to remain so in the foreseeable future, but those who are are most likely to be interested in them will probably know the approximate context.

I had put off making this album because I realized that making this page by hand-editing the html was going to be too much effort, an so I was going to need some sort of automated solution. My web host offers a couple of content-management systems for photo albums; I played around a bit with Coppermine and Gallery, but I couldn’t get them to do what I really wanted or found an easy way to customize the page to make it look like rest of the website. In any case, they seemed more oriented toward photo sharing among multiple users. Finally, I found a simple php script that would just wrap some code around some images I uploaded to a directory, and that seemed to be a simple way to do what I wanted, more or less.

October 17, 2009

Updated page: comics links

Filed under: comics,fun,web authoring,what's new — Nick @ 12:04 am

I just updated the comics page to include a bunch of links to comic strips (mostly ones found in newspapers, although there may be a few webcomics in there if read them, and there are also a few strips that are retired but in reruns).

At first I started making the links using the TABLE element, which seemed logical at the time. I had the idea that could apply the CSS overflow property to the TBODY element to make a scrollable table, but that didn’t seem to work in most browsers. Moreover, after looking over the CSS spec, I’m not even sure that overflow can be applied to TBODY at all.

After that, I decide to use nested list element markup, which ended up saving a lot of lines of code, at least. To save browser space, I gave the list elements a fixed width and floated them so they would all line up. I had to use a few tweaks to get it to look right in several browsers (including some older ones), but eventually I think I got the bugs worked out.

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