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September 13, 2010 / johndahlman

WOW! WOW!WOW! The DTV Shredder

My inner child just wet himself. I want to play paint ball on one of these.

August 28, 2010 / johndahlman

Pearls Before Swine explains one of the great mysteries.

Happy weekend everyone!

August 16, 2010 / johndahlman

Finally Something Useful: Saturday Throwback: Save Money on Seasonings – MYOM (Make Your Own Mix)

Every Saturday, we post a piece from the CHG archives. This one is from February 2008.

The more I learn about saving cash on food, the madder I get with myself when I knowingly waste money. While this holds true for every aspect of grocery shopping, it’s double the fury when it comes to McCormick-style seasoning packets. Why? Well, almost any pre-packaged spice mix, rub, or powder can be made at home for a fraction of the price. Oftentimes, it’ll taste better, too.

Case in point: I’ve been running out of chili powder for almost a month now. It occurred to me several times to buy some, but always in places like the Q Train or the bathroom at Barnes and Noble. Finally, last Wednesday, I couldn’t wait any longer. My Turkey Chili with Beans needed a massive ¼ cup of the stuff. Pressed for time, I scrounged up a few dollars and hightailed it to Key Food, where naturally, they were all out. Rendered temporarily insane by sheer desperation, I bought a single packet of McCormick Original Chili Seasoning Mix.

It cost $2.39. ($2.39! Seriously! Not kidding! I just about choked.)

Slightly perturbed, I raced back home and immediately Googled homemade chili powders. Turns out, this Recipe Zaar mix could have been made under five minutes with spices I had lying around. Plus? PLUS? My calculations put it at a grand total of $0.18.

Needless to say, duh.

Yet, there was a silver lining, as a post was born. Listed below are roughly 33 recipes for 21 common seasoning mixes. Also included are five excellent Master Sites, in which you’ll discover dozens more concoctions beyond your wildest, spiciest dreams.

With the exception of Essence of Emeril and the Recipe Zaar Chili Powder, I haven’t tried any of these, so I’m referring them blindly. Also, I didn’t include any barbecue rubs. This is for two reasons:

A) There are approximately a billion available all over the web, and

B) I’m a born and bred New Yorker. I don’t wanna embarrass myself claiming to know anything about BBQ. (Bagels and pizza? Another story.)

Enjoy, and please go crazy in the comments section if you know of any other resources.

Master Sites
All Restaurant Recipes
Budget 101
Recipe Goldmine: seasoning search part 1 and part 2
Recipe Zaar: herb & spice mixes and marinades & rubs
Top Secret Recipes main page and search function

Adobo Powder
Chef Michele

Chili Powder

Chinese Five Spice Powder
Chow Recipe Source

Curry Powder
Alton Brown/Food Network

Emeril’s Essence/Creole Seasoning/Bayou Blast
Emeril Lagasse/Food Network

Fajita Mix
Townie Blog

Garam Masala
All Recipes
O Chef

Herbs de Provence
The Epicentre
Recipe Land

Italian Seasoning

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
All Recipes
Astray Recipes

Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
Group Recipes

Lemon Pepper
Fabulous Foods

Mrs. Dash

Mulling Spice
Mom’s Budget
Price Smart Foods

Old Bay Seasoning
Busy Cooks
Cooking Cache

Paul Prudhomme Seasoning (Cajun Meat)

Paula Deen’s House Seasoning
Paula Deen / Food Network

Poultry Seasoning
All Recipes
CD Kitchen

Pumpkin Pie Spice
Post Gazette

Shake and Bake:
All Recipes
Food Network

Taco Seasoning
All Recipes
CD Kitchen

Stumble Upon Toolbar

I love to cook but just can not bring myself to buy those blends. Here’s a start at everything you need to make your own.. Fer cheap!

August 13, 2010 / johndahlman

LILEKS (James) :: The Institute of Official Cheer.

Wow, Summer makes me even lazier. Go fig. Here’s one of my favorite site/blog/feed/stuff sites. Make sure to have a look at The Gallery Of Regrettable Food. The rest is pretty awesome, too. Make a big pot of coffee, knock back a whole bag of No-Doze and settle in for a marathon geek session. Happy Friday the 13th. You weren’t going to do anything else anyway and you know it.

August 4, 2010 / johndahlman

Accelerando – Charlie’s Diary

This free ebook edition is made available by kind consent of my publishers, Ace and Orbit, under a Creative Commons license with certain restrictions attached. In particular, you may not create derivative works or use the work for commercial gain.

(We hope that if you enjoy the ebook you’ll consider buying a copy of one of the paper editions, but this is the only reminder you’ll get. I’m not into shareware with nag screens …)


The book is available for reading in HTML, with minimal markup (to make it easier for web clipping utilities to digest it). In addition, ebook editions are available for download:

ePub format ebook

MobiPocket format ebook

Aportis Doc format ebook

Rich Text Format file

Confused by this singularity thing? Read the nifty hypertext guidebook here! (Javascript required).

On beginnings

The Science Fiction Book Club re-published “Accelerando” in 2005, and then-editor Andrew Wheeler asked me if I’d like to write a short piece explaining the origins of the book and giving something of a feel for it. “How much space do I have?” I asked. “700 words or so,” he said, “there’s no hurry.” This struck me as being a little short – I could easily burble on for 7000 words instead – but I buckled down and wrote a 700 word explanation and mailed it to him. And got a reply along the lines of “I was wrong about the length; I meant to say 70 words.”

Well, after I finished chewing my beard Andy got his piece. But there’s an international word shortage and I figure recycling is the wave of the future, so here’s the original 700 word explanation, fleshed out slightly; make of it what you will.

“Accelerando” is a creature of its time, and that time is the late 1990s. I spent most of the 90s on a kind of sabbatical from writing fiction (my first love), with my head stuck up the fundament of the software industry. In the early 90’s I worked for SCO (back when it was a UNIX company, rather than the unholy terror that came back from the dead to haunt the free software movement). Then I discovered the web, back around 1993. I remember a wee daily email bulletin titled “what’s new on the web” that came from an address at NCSA; I used to visit all the interesting new web sites every day, until the volume grew too great some time in late 1994. I was supposed to be writing UNIX manuals, but I distracted myself by learning Perl – and was inadvertently responsible for the development of the robot exclusion protocol (by writing a web spider that annoyed people who knew more about what they were doing than I did). I moved to Scotland to join a web startup that went bust, freelanced for a couple of years while writing a web architecture book, landed myself a magazine column about Linux, and joined another start-up that turned into a successful dot com, went public, and much to my surprise is still in business.

The last sentence covers a multitude of sins. I signed on with the company two weeks before its official formation, and left two months after the IPO – three and a half years later. Along the way I bolted together about thirty thousand lines of object oriented perl that swallowed credit card numbers at one end and talked to obscure British banking systems in strange protocols. And it had a psychotherapy bot wired into the middle just to help me de-stress when things got too heavy, which was almost every other day, because …

You’ve probably never had to work inside a business that’s growing of 30% per month. Take it from me, it’s an experience you don’t need. Especially when you’re not a brilliant programmer, you know damn well your code has bugs in it – it’s actually a prototype that they pressed into service six months too early – and it’s handling millions of pounds of other people’s money. If things go wrong they scream at you. And exponential growth means the workload is always growing faster than the budget for hiring minions to do the donkey-work. At first it’s fun, a buzz like a caffeine high: but it goes on too long and you get old and feel stupid, and at some point you find you can’t stop running because your feet are locked to the treadmill and there’s a wall of spikes right behind you.

The germ of “Accelerando” dates to that time. To be specific, it dates to a particularly bad month in early 1999, when I was trying to brainwash Datacash into talking to a French credit card system (and if you think obscure 1970’s-vintage British credit card protocols sound awful, you’ve never dealt with the French equivalent). I was under a lot of pressure, not aided by the French bank programmers not actually wanting to expose the guts of their communication protocol to, gasp, developers who were trying to communicate with their servers … things were not looking good. One Thursday when things had been not been going well in an especially emphatic manner, I wandered over to my boss the CTO’s desk and said, “I’m taking tomorrow off.”

“But what if we need you – ” he began.

“I’ll be in Amsterdam.”

He looked at me. Then he did a double-take: “Amsterdam. Okay.” I hadn’t taken any vacation time in the preceding year, my caffeine intake was measured in the direction of gallons of coffee per day, and I was developing an uncontrollable facial tic and a tendency to jump at loud noises. “Take tomorrow off.”

This was very sensible of him. Most directors of a company that’s going public in six months and has a server development team consisting of 1 (one) geek who is developing an incontrolable facial tic and demanding days off in Amsterdam might actually get a little bit nervous about the idea of said server development team fleeing the country on short notice. But my prepared fallback position to taking a long weekend somewhere with lots of beer and no French bank managers to scream at was to try to quit on the spot, and if that failed I was going to spring a full-scale nervous breakdown … and it probably showed.

“Just come back on Monday,” he said.

I think I nodded, but maybe it was just the caffeine pulling my strings.

Anyway, I was wandering around Amsterdam the next day – on a rainy Friday – trying not to fall apart at the seams. I’d spent the whole night lying awake, looping on re-drafting my resignation letter, and I had the shakes. Then my phone rang.

“What’s gone wrong?” I asked, my heart sinking.

It was my boss the CTO. “The French fuckwits,” he said.

I got that sinking feeling. “What have they sprung on us now?” I asked.

“Their parent institution is so unhappy with them that they’re being shut down! I thought you might like to know …” (In the background, I could hear the entire office cheering.)

I immediately headed for the nearest pub, and my girlfriend and I celebrated in time-honoured fashion. For a couple of bright hours in the middle of a rainy afternoon, the high pressure bubble in the core of the dot com boom actually looked like an optimistic, cheerful place to be. And something about the sudden release of stress took root, and began to germinate. I got far enough away from the coal seam to blink, look at it in amazement, and ask once more the classic science fictional question, what happens if this goes on? What happens if you keep piling on the changes? What kind of person can actually live on the edge of a singularity, keeping pace while all around them the world is melted down and re-forged monthly, daily, hourly?

I pulled out my Psion 5MX and scribbled a brief paragraphs about a very strange guy named Manfred. Then I proceeded to get side-tracked by beer for the next couple of days.

It took me nearly five years (until early 2004) to finish answer the question. The soil in which the seed sprouted had long since withered, the bust following the boom; the dot com IPO didn’t make my fortune, but it left me with “Accelerando” by way of payback And I’m not unhappy about that outcome.

I’ve been a a bit quiet the past while. Sorry ’bout that. So here you go…
A great book, for free! In all kinds of digi formats. Mmmmmm, I love the smell of electrons when I crack open a new e-book. Is it just me (probably) or is the term e-book really, really, really lame? It is, isn’t it? I hereby suggest we rename them OOKs. In honor of The Librarian. Don’t know the librarian. Get thee to some Terry Pratchett books post haste! That’s enough of this. I still love the smell of fresh electrons.

July 18, 2010 / johndahlman

This is so very cool…

I try not to re-blog blogs, but this is too cool not to.

July 16, 2010 / johndahlman

Because life is too short…

Happy almost Friday….