Fountain Pens

I have been using a median tip Lamy Safari fountain pen for several years. I enjoy how the pen writes – the easy flow of ink is a delight to see as apposed to the hard push I need for the cheap ball points at work. I also like not having to throw plastic pens away. But, the medium tip flow of the Lamy Safari tends to produce a thicker line than I like. I purchased a fine tipped Lamy Safari. It produced a finer line and my letters were clearer but I always felt that pen was scratching the paper. I missed the smooth flow and writing was not so much fun. But, I persisted with the fine tip until I could not.

The other problem I have with the Lamy Safari series, is that the cap of the pen sits on by friction only. This is not good. There have been several times where the pen has fallen out of my pocket because the cap came off. Unfortunately, the last time this happened, the fine tipped Lamy Safari hit the floor, nib first. It was horrifying. No matter what I did, I could never fix it properly.

So I went on the quest for a new fountain pen. It had to be an inexpensive, because I do not live in a protected work environment. I noticed the TWSBI Eco . Secondly the price is right. Unfortunately was a little higher in Canada specially with shipping and handling. but, Wonderpens is an excellent company to deal with. They are a brick and mortar store in Ontario. Their shipping costs and prices are less than the store in town.

The TWSBI provided a delightful writing experience. The TWSBI medium tip pen creates a finer line than the medium Lamy Safari. I was pleasantly suprised with how the pen flows smoothly along the paper. The ink supply is much much larger than the Lamy Safari and as the body is clear plastic, the remaining ink can be seen at a glance. Filling the ink depot as a matter of priming the pump and then just twisting it all the way up. One concern I have is lubricating the pump when the time comes. The pen comes with silicon grease and a wrench. But the instructions I’ve seen online seem to indicate that this is a trivial matter.

With its smooth flow and secure cap, my current favourite fountain pen is the TWSBI Eco. The Lamy Safari medium tip in a favoured backup.

Udon miso noodles

By Keshava Sabanathan
 • 1 Tbs of miso • 1 Tbs of soy sauce

 • 1 Tsp of rice viniger

 • 1 tbs of honey

 • 1 tbs of oil

 • ½ tsp of salt

 • 2 packs udon noodles

 • 1 bell pepper

 • tofu

 • 1 onion

 • mushrooms

 • 1 shredded zucchini

Put oil in the frying pan. Add all vegetables and tofu. Put in the frozen udon noodles.Cook for 20 min. Stir in the sauce and add salt 

Comparing Dictation from AT2020 Microphone to ipod

I wanted to compare the new Dragon Dictate 5.0 using both the newly acquired AT 2020 compared to just an iPod. I spoke into the AT2020 as I normally would in a quiet room. I then held the iPod from my face and I spoke into it calmly, without any attached microphone. I was quite pleased with the transcription results. I compared the results to the same passage that I typed. I think that I had more errors typing the passage that I actually did have in transcribing the passage, with either technique.

I suspect, the improvement in transcribing is more likely the result of whatever changes in code were made to Dragon Dictate 5. In comparison, Dragon Dictate 4, using the same transcription file from the iPod, had an error rate of 7.1%. So Dragon Dictate 5.0 is truly much more accurate than the previous version and seems much more tolerant of microphone quality. However, the tendency not to show correction windows when appropriate is annoying.

Overall, I think Dragon Dictate five is a better product. I think Nuance was trying to achieve a lot with this version. The application no longer acts as an application but as as a service. It also seems more stable in my machine. Unfortunately, there are times when it does crash. But unlike the previous versions, I seem to be able to use Dragon for several days in a row without having to shut the machine down. In the previous version, the longer the machine stayed on, the more likely Dragon was clinical.I think the programmers also believe that their engine was much better at transcribing than the previous version. While I think this true, I also think the users would’ve been better served by having more choices in the correction window.

Errors from the AT2020

  • possessive one’s was missed
  • two commas were missed but this was user error – I forgot to speak them
  • missed one dash
  • spelt 10th as tent
  • 3 errors/224 words or 1.3 % error

Errors from the iPod alone without a microphone

  • possessive one’s was missed
  • , instead of a dash (operator error ?)
  • that instead of the bad
  • spelt 10th as tent
  • and instead of is a
  • 4 errors/224 or 1.7% error

Dragon Dictate 4 with iPod alone with a microphone (same transcription file)

  • One’s success
  • of instead of are
  • deeply instead of daily
  • convenient instead of good in you
  • Completely missed the last sentence: 12 words
  • 16/224 or 7.1 %

Life as a Dictater… or Getting Dictation to Work

I have been struggling with Dragon for Mac for a few years.I was ready to quit Dragon after my initial frustration. I could not get the thing to work and I was mad after having payed over $100 for the software. But listening to the sound files I found that the Apple Router created interference with the Dragon headset. Placing the router further away from the computer saved my sanity. Dictation worked well enough but not enough that I would trust it. Besides, I “thought” with my keyboard.

At some point the headset that came with my Dragon software stop working. I upgraded to a Plantronics audio 628 exterior USB headset. It worked fairly well for a number of years. It was better than the original headset that came with Dragon and it was less cheaply made. But transcription never worked as smoothly as I thought it could. Afterc listening to the Mac power users, I was sure I could to better. One of the hosts , David Sparks had dictated serveral books. What was he doing that I was not .

I finally read the book by Monica Leonelle: “Dictate your book”. But I never quite believed it. I always thought that my Plantronics headset did a good job in terms of rendering sound. Then I listened to an interview Monica Leonelle on the Creative Pen Podcast . That gave me the impetus to replace the headset with an AT 2020 condenser microphone.

It has made an incredible difference in how smoothly the dictation occurs. My words seem to flow much faster and smoother. I no longer have to distrust my software quite as much. The equipment that I used:

The next mental hurdle is getting over the ingrained habit of thinking with the keyboard.

Loss of function

It seems that Circus Ponies Notebook is out of business.Aperture, which I find suits my needs perfectly well, is not supported in El Captain. Lightroom, which is its nearest competitor has a horrible user interface and I am sure will eventually go to a subscription only model just like every other Adobe product. YNAB 5 is going for a subscription model. Your personal financial data does not belong in the cloud. The new version of Dragon Dictate 5 is less than spectacular. It’s better than when it first came out, but it offers fewer choices for correcting mistakes. Since I use a lot of non-English names, it makes it much harder to do any kind of personal writing. Nuance is also pushing Dragon Dictate 5. I received more phone calls trying to sell this edition than before; this is even after I bought Dragon Dictate 5. They must not be liking the backlash of users that are displeased with their new version. I wonder how long it will be before they decide to go to a subscription model as well.The more time that passes, the less functional my software becomes and all I want to do is maintain what I have.

I almost want to freeze this Mac in time. Disconnected from Internet and keep the functionality that I have. Of course I need the Internet for some of the functionality. George R.R. Martin wrote “The Game of Thrones” in Wordstar. Perhaps, he had the right idea. Maybe keeping things old-school and text based is a better way to go. I know I won’t go this route and I say these things out of frustration and anger. Whether this is sad and depressing but perfectly good tools are cast away. Newer and supposedly better tools have no added functionality and are just a disguised way of getting more money in the pockets of companies.

Change the CAPSLOCK to “Hyper” on press and ESCAPE on Tap

Please see:

http://brettterpstra.com/2012/12/08/a-useful-caps-lock-key/

for the original code and explanation of how to change the CAPSLOCK to “Hyer” on hold and  ESCAPE. The names of the tools have changed to Seil(https://pqrs.org/osx/karabiner/seil.html.en) and Karbiner(https://pqrs.org/osx/karabiner/index.html.en).

To keep the CAPSLOCK  function:

http://brettterpstra.com/2015/12/18/a-hyper-key-that-can-still-yell/

Read more of this post

No Knead Bread

No Knead Bread

This has to be the most forgiving and easy recipe for bread making. It is so simple and forgiving that I often don’t want to tell people how to make it. That way I get to maintain the authority of a “baker”. But, the recipe is too good not to share.

History

The recipe was first introduced Jim Layhey and popularized by Mark Bitman. The goal of the recipe was to produce crusty bread that was porous inside without having to use a steam injection oven. It succeeded.

There have been many variations since. But, the best description of the recipe is here from Simply so Good. This is a easy recipe to follow- and the pictures are useful, but I have made a few modifications to make things easier.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of water (or more if needed, usually slightly warm)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of quick rising yeast (if you want it to rise faster, use more yeast.)

Mix the dry ingredients in a wide mouthed bowl. Add the water gradually, to ensure good mixing. This will form a sticky dough. If the water is insufficient, I will slowly add more water till I have incorporated all of the dry ingredients. Once formed the sticky dough slowly slides in the bowl like slime. If you have made bread before – do not be discouraged by the lack of stiffness and the wetness of the dough.

I put the uncovered bowl in the oven and let it sit for 12 hours or more. In a pinch you can use 1 Tablespoon of yeast and let it sit for 2 hours, but I think the flavour is less complex when the dough rises too quickly. When the dough is ready, it will be very bubbly and jiggle like Jello. I used to place the dough on a wax paper and coat the surfaces with flour or corn meal, then fold the dough and let it sit for 1-2 hours. Now, I simply form a ball (be gentle as you don’t want to break down the bubbles) with the dough still in the mixing bowl. I then coat the sticky surfaces with corn meal.

I coat a small amount of oil on the bottom and sides of a steel pot. Place the dough in the steel pot. Many recipes will call for preheating the pot in the oven before adding the dough – I find this unnecessary and just complicates the workflow. Preheat the oven to 450 Celsius. Bake the steel pot with the lid on for 30 to 40 minutes. Take the top off and bake for another 15 minutes to create the thick crust.

Hope

Hope

Canada recently elected a new leader – another Trudeau.
After such a hopeless time under Harper, we finally had a change – I hope.
I remember when Jean Chretien signed Canada up for the Kyoto Protocol.
To my utter horror, Steven Harper widthdrew Canada from the treaty.
This act summed up the Harper regime.
Harper was only thinking of the here and now.
There are people that said he was a good PM.
He had kept Canada stable during volatile economic times.
However Harper’s vision of the future included muzzling the truth.
He did not allow Canada’s scientist to publicly speak about their work .
This was a government that knew the truth and decided nobody else needed to concern themselves.

Based on data for the first 10 months of the year, “We feel very confident… that 2015 will be the warmest year on record…What we call a cold year now would have been considered a record warm year before 1997,” said Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organization.

This world no longer has time to act like ostriches.
Harper and leaders like him may be good in the short term.
But they have no vision for the future.
I think in these modern times, where the call to do more shopping seems to be an act of valor, we need to realize the last thing the world needs is one more shopping mall.

We do not inherit the earth, we borrow it from our children

Thinking ahead seven generations should be mandatory for any undertaking.

Saving this world for our children is something worthy to aspire to.
I hope with the climate talks in Paris we can have hope again.
I hope that my child can live in world where people are not living in poverty and ignorance – both material and spiritual.
I hope that my child can live in world that has room for tigers and bears, trees and beauty.

Using Live Comp On EM 10 for Fireworks

We had our Beaumont Daze yesterday and it was an excellent opportunity to try the OMD EM10 live comp function. The live comp function differs from Bulb and Live Time in that it only includes exposures that are brighter than the reference photo; this means that it will not overexpose the background or previous exposures.

To photograph fireworks I:
+ turned Noise Reduction off(note not noise filter; Look under the E menu)
+ Placed the camera on a tripod (on a side note, because the EM10 has a LCD screen that slides out, it did not matter that the travel tripod I chose was shorter than I was. I was comfortable able to view the screen.)
+ Turned the dial to Manual Mode
+ Turned focus to manual and focussed to a distant point
+ selected an aperture f11-f20 (You need a small aperture to handle the bright lights)
+ Turned the Shutter dial until Live Comp came up
+ Hit the menu button and chose the time for each capture
+ since the area I was had enough stray lighting, I chose 1 second
+ Pressed the shutter once to get a reference photo
+ Pressed the shutter a second time to start the Live Comp

The picture develops on the screen. When you like what you see, hit the shutter again to stop taking photos. It is important to have noise reduction (note not noise filter) turned off, otherwise composing the picture can take along time. This was significantly easier than taking long exposures with the Nikon D7000.

P6200819
P6200823
P6200824

I am not a Coder – Why Would I Learn Vim?

I have been trying to learn Vim. Why would I want to learn the 20-year-old editor? What are the deficiencies of modern editors that make me want to choose something so ancient ? Efficiency of movement. Vim was created before the mouse, so it has much more efficient cursor movement and text manipulation shortcuts. Vim’s commands are snippets of text that have meaning, grammar and structure .The commands are “composable” . This means that you can figure commands out based on a logical structure without having to memorize arbitrary keyboard combinations or codes.It is almost like lego for editing.

Learning Vim commands is not easy.But, small snippets of text with a consistent grammar are easier to remember than abstract keyboard shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts are abstract because they have no meaning by themselves. Mac Os X keyboard shortcuts for cursor movement are not as powerful as Vim movement commands. There is no way to move or manipulate sentences as a unit. You can jump by words and paragraphs but not sentences. There are Emacs keybindings, but they require holding down the CNTR key. I wanted to avoid having to press multiple keys. This is hard on the fingers and not at all pleasant when trying to write with a DVORAK keyboard. But, why all this keyboard magic, what is wrong with the mouse?

The mouse is easy to use. It does not require much training, but it requires more precision. Carefully having to select between words is easy enough but it gets tedious. I seem to work slower with a mouse when editing text. I do not know if this is an illusion or not. But, I just don’t like the strain of switching between the mouse and the keyboard. Is this more efficient than taking the time to remember keyboard shortcuts ? I think once a shortcut is memorized, it is much easier and faster to stick to the keyboard rather than reach for the mouse.

There is no easy way of integrating Mac Os X terminal Vim and the system clipboard. Of course the file system is inaccessible with anything but the CLI. There are concerns about formatting which I still haven’t quite figured out yet(extra tabs and spaces appearing). I will also hit some mysterious combination of letters and the text rearranges or disappears.I wonder if the time I’m spending learning Vim is not better spent actually writing? Since using MacVim instead of terminal Vim, my concerns about integrating the editor into the Mac Os X are unfounded and I get to use Mac Os X keyboard shortcuts (the very thing that I said I wanted to avoid -turns out I don’t want to avoid them that much, but would prefer not to have to use keyboard cursor movements.)

I am enjoying the experience of editing in Vim. But, I’m anything but efficient.This is more a matter of learning and experience, but is the payoff of learning this system worth the effort? Perhaps, I would be even more efficient if I just spend more time writing rather than having to fiddle with a 20-year-old editor. But, editing with Vim is almost like a game; what magic combination of codes do I need to make my change?

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