🎞 Watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros., 2005)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) from imdb.com
Directed by Mike Newell. With Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Eric Sykes. Harry finds himself mysteriously selected as an under-aged competitor in a dangerous tournament between three schools of magic.

📕 Finished reading Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory Mcdonald

📕 Finished reading Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory Mcdonald

There’s some great stuff in the last half of the book about Wheeler’s platform that is eerily prescient of the situation we now find ourselves in with regard to a heavily internet connected world and who owns it. It’s also an odd feeling reading this after experiencing what’s recently happened in the 2016 presidential election and it’s ensuing results.

Fletch and the Man Who
Fletch and the Man Who
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Chris Aldrich is reading “Fix the internet by writing good stuff and being nice to people”

Fix the internet by writing good stuff and being nice to people by Vicki Boykis (blog.vickiboykis.com)
Today’s internet is mean. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when everyone online became a jerk, but to me it seems that the tipping point occurred right when making money off content started being worth more than the content itself. I wrote the following post before the election but never got around to publishing it. Now, it seems more necessary than ever.
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Chris Aldrich is reading “Let’s replace Twitter with something much better.”

Let's replace Twitter with something much better. by Charl BothaCharl Botha (cpbotha.net)(1 day 9 hours 9 minutes 32 seconds)
I love that by following certain people, my timeline has become a stream of interesting and entertaining information. I love that sometimes I am able to fit my little publication just so into the 140 characters given to me.
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Chris Aldrich is reading “How The 2016 Election Blew Up In Facebook’s Face”

How The 2016 Election Blew Up In Facebook’s Face (BuzzFeed)
As Facebook attempted to capture the fast-moving energy of the news cycle from Twitter, and shied away from policing political content, it created a system that played to confirmation bias and set ...

[ hypothesis user = 'chrisaldrich' tags = 'akbf112116']

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Advanced Apple Pie Making Techniques

Making an apple pie should not only make your home smell fantastic, but it should come out looking like a stunning work of art that holds together and tastes good. Here's what the pros know that you don't.

It’s Thanksgiving and you promised to bring something. Something interesting, something intended to impress. Well, it’s the high end of apple season and some of the best fruit of the season is still available right? You’ve decided to make an awesome apple pie! (You can’t slink as low as to buy one of those half-stale, mass manufactured pies that taste like it.)

Among your cook books and the dozens of online sites there are a bevvy of apple pie recipes that are all pretty much the same with the exception of whether or not they’ve got nutmeg. (Hint: double down on the nutmeg and microplane it from a real, actual nut–they don’t really go bad and keep forever. Heck, why not keep one in your pocket for the entire holiday season?!) But somehow the pie never comes out quite right. The crust is a sloppy mess and doesn’t come out flaky the way your great grandmother’s most assuredly did. And when you cut into it, the insides come pouring out and make a huge mess. Served on the plate it looks like a heaping pile of slop.

What’s missing you ask yourself?

Most cookbooks either completely leave out the finer points of pastry making from their recipes or hide them in introductory sections that no one ever reads, because–let’s be honest–who even knew these sections existed?  No one besides me really reads a cookbook do they?

So in a quick synopsis, here are a few pro tips to help your pie come out the way you knew it should.

DO NOT overwork your dough!

This is the cardinal rule of pastry making.

The less you can touch your dough, the better off you’ll be. Kneading bread dough for 10 minutes or more is fine because you want to form a doughy and stretchy network of gluten chains that will make your bread nice and chewy once it’s baked. For pie or pastry dough however, you want the exact opposite. After you’ve used a pastry cutter to cut your flour and your fat together into pea sized bits, stir your dough as little as possible when you add your liquid. If you can get it all together with just five short stirs, then for god’s sake do not use six! If it takes ten or more when you first start practicing, that’s alright, but don’t touch it an eleventh. Whatever you do, don’t knead it together for 10 minutes like you’re making bread or that’s what you’ll end up with.

When working with your dough, keep everything cold.

Old wives tales about baking often insist “You will only make a good pastry chef if you have cold hands.” While I feel this is patently false, the root of the thinking to keep things cold while working your pastry is very sound advice. At all costs you want to keep the fat in your dough nice and cold. Allowing it to melt and mix further with your flour is only going to make things less flaky and will also tend to make a huge, sticky mess. Toward that end, keep everything that touches your dough cold–even your hands if you can help it.

One of the worst offenders is your counter top temperature when rolling out your dough. You take some nice cold dough and put it on a room temperature (or higher because you’ve probably got a stove nearby that’s already preheating) counter top and start working it over. The thinner you roll it out, the greater its surface area and thus the larger amount of heat it begins absorbing from the counter. The fix for this is easy! Just fill a 9×13″ (or larger if you’ve got it) cake/cookie pan with an ice and water slurry and set it on the part of the counter top where you’re going to roll out your crust. Do this for a few minutes at a time to cover the area where you’ll be working. The colder things are the better off you’ll be. Those thick and massive granite counter tops you spent thousands on can now be your best friend with their spectacular specific heat capacity.

A slurry of ice and water in a 9x13" cake pan can help cool down your counter top.
A slurry of ice and water in a 9×13″ cake pan can help cool down your counter top.

Apple Pie Architecture

Wonderful pies you see in shops and stores hold together incredibly well, in great part because they’re in cold display cases. When cut cold they tend to hold their shapes incredibly well. But as everyone knows warm deserts taste better and sweeter. (Don’t believe me? Try microwaving a bowl of ice cream and tell me it isn’t the sweetest thing you’ve eaten.)

But how can you keep the delicious, gooey goodness of your apple pie together when it’s been cut open just minutes out of the oven? Most cooks just heap their pie filling into their delicate crusts, but why? Laziness?

Instead, let’s use the structure of the apples and the sugary filling to our advantage. Layer your apple slices into the crust in alternating circular and radial patterns. This criss-cross pattern will allow them to hold not only all the additional sweetness you can thrown into them, but the structure will hold the thing together.

Layering your apple pie filling: circular apple slices.
Layering your apple pie filling: circular apple slices.
Layering your apple pie filling: radial apple slices.
Layering your apple pie filling: radial apple slices.

Creating this lattice structure will usually hold so well, that a pie right out of the oven can be cut almost immediately and it won’t ooze an ounce.

Just out of the oven and two minutes post-cut.
Just out of the oven and two minutes post-cut.

Take your new-found knowledge, go forth, and bake!

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📖 35.0% done with Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory Mcdonald

📖 35.0% done with Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory Mcdonald

Usually Fletch is the one with all the sharp, ascerbic statements, but in this installment I’m noticing that he’s the tame one and everyone else is somehow playing the part he usually does.

Fletch and the Man Who
Fletch and the Man Who
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Introduction to Complex Analysis–Part 2 | UCLA Extension

The second in a series of two quarters of advanced math focusing on complex analysis

The topic for Mike Miller’s UCLA Winter math course isn’t as much a surprise as is often the case. During the summer he had announced he would be doing a two quarter sequence on complex analysis, so this Winter, we’ll be continuing on with our complex analysis studies.

I do know, however, that there were a few who couldn’t make part of the Fall course, but who had some foundation in the subject and wanted to join us for the more advanced portion in the second half. Toward that end, below are the details for the course:

Introduction to Complex Analysis: Part II | MATH X 451.41 – 350370

Course Description

Complex analysis is one of the most beautiful and practical disciplines of mathematics, with applications in engineering, physics, and astronomy, to say nothing of other branches of mathematics.  This course, the second in a two-part sequence, builds on last quarter’s development of the differentiation and integration of complex functions to extend the principles to more sophisticated and elegant applications of the theory.  Topics to be discussed include conformal mappings, Laurent series and meromorphic  functions, Riemann surfaces, Riemann Mapping Theorem, analytical continuation, and Picard’s Theorem.  The course should appeal to those whose work involves the application of mathematics to engineering problems, and to those interested in how complex analysis helps explain the structure and behavior of the more familiar real number system and real-variable calculus.

Winter 2017
Days: Tuesdays
Time: 7:00PM to 10:00PM
Dates: Jan 10, 2017 to Mar 28, 2017
Contact Hours: 33.00
Location: UCLA, Math Sciences Building
Course Fee(s): $453.00
Available for Credit: 3 units
Instructors: Michael Miller
No refund after January 24, 2017.
Class will not meet on one Tuesday to be announced.

Recommended Textbook: Complex Analysis with Applications by Richard A. Silverman, Dover Publications; ISBN 0-486-64762-5

 

Enroll Now

For many who will register, this certainly won’t be their first course with Dr. Miller–yes, he’s that good! But for the newcomers, I’ve written some thoughts and tips to help them more easily and quickly settle in and adjust: Dr. Michael Miller Math Class Hints and Tips | UCLA Extension

If you’d like additional details as well as lots of alternate textbooks, see the announcement for the first course in the series.

If you missed the first quarter and are interested in the second quarter but want a bit of review or some of the notes, let me know in the comments below.

I look forward to seeing everyone in the Winter quarter!

Michael Miller making a "handwaving argument" during a lecture on Algebraic Number Theory at UCLA on November 15, 2015. I've taken over a dozen courses from Mike in areas including Group Theory, Field Theory, Galois Theory, Group Representations, Algebraic Number Theory, Complex Analysis, Measure Theory, Functional Analysis, Calculus on Manifolds, Differential Geometry, Lie Groups and Lie Algebras, Set Theory, Differential Geometry, Algebraic Topology, Number Theory, Integer Partitions, and p-Adic Analysis.
Michael Miller making a “handwaving argument” during a lecture on Algebraic Number Theory at UCLA on November 15, 2015. I’ve taken over a dozen courses from Mike in areas including Group Theory, Field Theory, Galois Theory, Group Representations, Algebraic Number Theory, Complex Analysis, Measure Theory, Functional Analysis, Calculus on Manifolds, Differential Geometry, Lie Groups and Lie Algebras, Set Theory, Differential Geometry, Algebraic Topology, Number Theory, Integer Partitions, and p-Adic Analysis.
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📖 21.0% done with Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory Mcdonald

📖 21.0% done with Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory Mcdonald

Fletch has a new job, and like usual, the first few minutes of the book throw us right into a riveting high concept. Where we’re ultimately headed is anyone’s guess…

Fletch and the Man Who
Fletch and the Man Who

 

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Owning my Online Reading Status Updates

As of October 30, 2016, I’ve slowly but surely begun posting what I’m actively reading online to my blog.

I’ve refined the process a bit in the last couple of weeks, and am becoming relatively happy with the overall output. For those interested, below is the general process/workflow I’m using:

  1. As I read a website, I use a browser extension (there’s also a bookmarklet available) linked to my Reading.am account to indicate that I’m currently reading a particular article.
  2. I have an IFTTT.com applet that scrapes the RSS feed of my Reading account for new entries (in near real-time) and this creates a new WordPress draft post on my blog. I did have to change my IFTTT.com settings not to use their custom URL shortener to make things easier and to prevent future potential link-rot.
  3. Shortly after I’m done reading, I receive a notification of the creation of the draft post to remind me to (optionally) post my comments/thoughts to the draft post. If necessary, I make any additional modifications or add tags to the post.
  4. I publish the post; and
  5. Optionally, I send POSSE copies to other silos like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to engage with other parts of my network.

Status updates of this type also have a pre-included O-embed with a synopsis of the content if the bookmarked site supports it, otherwise, a blockquoted synopsis stripped from the site’s meta-data is included.

Other near-term improvements may include custom coding something via the available Reading.am hooks to directly integrate with the WordPress Post Kinds plugin to use the URL post pattern http://www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/post-new.php?kind=read&kindurl=@url to shorten the workflow even further. Post Kinds automatically handles the wrapping of the post data in the appropriate microformats automatically. I also want to add a tidbit so that when I make my post I ping the Internet archive with the URL of the article I read so that it will be archived for future potential reference (hat tip to Jeremy Kieth for giving me the idea at IndieWebCamp LA a few weeks ago.)

I had originally played around with using the Post Kinds bookmarklet method directly, but this got in the way of the immediacy of reading the particular article for me. Using a PESOS method allows me to read and process the article a bit first before writing commentary or other details. I may also integrate a Hypothes.is based workflow into this process in which I use the hypothes.is browser etension to highlight and annotate the article and then use the Hypothes.is Aggregator Plugin to embed those thoughts into the post via shortcodes. The following post serves as a rough example of this, though the CSS for it could stand a bit of work: Chris Aldrich is reading WordPress Without Shame.

I was a bit surprised that Reading.am didn’t already natively support a WordPress pathway though it has a custom set up for Tumblr as well as a half a dozen other silos. Perhaps they’ll support WordPress in the future?

These new read post types can be found at the following URL: http://boffosocko.com/kind/read/?type=status?type=link.

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Reply to: little by little, brick by brick

little by little, brick by brick by Liz Round (historygeek)
After Friday’s rather angsty post about feeling unsettled and unsure about my work … I’m pleased to say that I now feel vastly better. I feel more in control, although little may have changed to the average onlooker!

Thanks for the thoughts here Liz. Somehow I hadn’t heard of ReadCube, but it looks very interesting and incredibly similar to Mendeley‘s set up and functionality. I’ve been using Mendeley for quite a while now and am reasonably happy with it, particularly being able to use their bookmarklet to save things for later and then do reading and annotations within the material. If researchers in your area are using Mendeley’s social features, this is also a potential added benefit, though platforms like Academia and ResearchGate should be explored as well.

Given their disparate functionalities, you may be better off choosing one of Evernote and OneNote and separately Mendeley or ReadCube. Personally I don’t think the four are broadly interchangeable though they may be easier to work with in pairs for their separate functionalities. While I loved Evernote, I have generally gone “all in” on OneNote because it’s much better integrated with the other MS Office tools like email, calendar, and my customized to do lists there.

Another interesting option you may find for sorting/organizing thousands of documents is Calibre e-book management. It works like an iTunes but for e-books, pdfs, etc. If you use it primarily for pdfs, you can save your notes/highlights/marginalia in them directly. Calibre also allows for adding your own meta-data fields and is very extensible. The one thing I haven’t gotten it to do well (yet) is export for citation management, though it does keep and maintain all the meta data for doing so. One of the ways that Mendeley and ReadCube seem to monetize is by selling a subscription for storage so if this is an issue for you, you might consider Calibre as a free alternative.

I’ve been ever working on a better research workflow, but generally prefer to try to use platforms on which I own all the data or it’s easily exportable and then own-able. I use my own website on WordPress as a commonplace book of sorts to capture all of what I’m reading, writing, and thinking about–though much of it is published privately or saved as drafts/pending on the back end of the platform. This seems to work relatively well and makes everything pretty easily searchable for later reference.

Here are some additional posts I’ve written relatively recently which may help your thinking about how to organize things on/within your website if you use it as a research tool:

I’ve also recently done some significant research and come across what I think is the most interesting and forward-thinking WordPress plugin for academic citations on my blog: Academic Blogger’s Toolkit. It’s easily the best thing currently on the market for its skillset.

Another research tool I can’t seem to live without, though it may be more specific to some of the highly technical nature of the math, physics, and engineering I do as well as the conferences/workshops I attend, is my Livescribe.com Pulse pen which I use to take not only copious notes, but to simultaneously record the audio portion of those lectures. The pen and technology link the writing to the audio portion directly so that I can more easily relisten/review over portions which may have been no so clear the first time around. The system also has an optional and inexpensive optical character recognition plugin which can be used for converting handwritten notes into typed text which can be very handy. For just about $200 the system has been one of the best investments I’ve made in the last decade.

If you haven’t come across it yet, I also highly recommend regularly reading the ProfHacker blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education which often has useful tips and tools for academic research use. They also do a very good job of covering some of the though in the digital humanities which you might find appealing.

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📖 On page 70 of 206 of The Science of the Oven by Hervé This

📖 On page 70 of 206 of The Science of the Oven by Hervé This

This just keeps getting better and better! This isn’t the fluff on food writing that I supposed it might be based on its title which drastically undersells the overall work. This is a great writer, and the translation is generally excellent. It borders frequently on poetry in its descriptions while maintaining a heavy reliance on underlying science. It manages to maintain enough generality to keep a broad audience while still expounding on the science at play. It will eventually sit in a place of pride on my bookshelf on next to Harold McGee who is one of the few writing at this level.

This does an excellent job of debunking some commonly held misconceptions about food and cooking while simultaneously creating a new vocabulary to make future descriptions and work easier to grasp.

Somehow I had been under the misunderstanding that the author was a chef when in fact he is a physical chemist. And the translator is a poet by trade.

Book cover for The Science of the Oven

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📖 On page 26 of 206 of The Science of the Oven by Hervé This

📖 On page 26 of 206 of The Science of the Oven by Hervé This

His poetry just keeps flowing. This is not only great food writing, this is really great science writing. The introduction has some interesting philosophy both of and on science.

Book cover for The Science of the Oven

 

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Chris Aldrich is reading “Field Notes: Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing”

Field Notes: Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (The WordPress.com Blog)(2016 years 10 months 12 hours 6 minutes 2 seconds)
Automattic heads to Houston, Texas — along with 15,000 other people — to talk women in tech.
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Chris Aldrich is reading “WordPress Without Shame”

WordPress Without Shame by Gina TrapaniGina Trapani (Track Changes)
By Gina Trapani, Director of Engineering, Postlight

 they actually use Medium for their core publication

This is definitely not an IndieWeb way to go!


But not every nail needs a fully-custom hammer.

Ain’t this the truth.

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