December 30, 2005

excellent recipe for greek cookies

Kourambiedes are those addictive little Greek butter cookies covered with powdered sugar:


We made some last week from the Vasilakos family recipe, and they turned out pretty well. Ours were round, not crescent shaped, but that's just the way our family makes them. Your cookies may vary ;-)

1 lb. unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 T vanilla extract
4 C flour
1 t baking powder
1-2 boxes powdered sugar

Melt the butter and pour into a large mixing bowl. Beat until thick like cream (this took us about 20 minutes of beating with a big electric mixer). Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder, and 2T of the powdered sugar together, and add to wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until a soft dough is formed. If the dough is too soft to handle, chill in refrigerator for an hour or so. Shape into small balls (about 1" diameter is good), place on cookie sheet and flatten slightly by making an indentation with your finger. Bake about 20 minutes at 350F until golden but not browned. Cover a piece of waxed paper with a thick layer of sifted powdered sugar, and immediately place the hot cookies onto the sugar. Handle cookies carefully as they are very delicate and crumbly when warm. Sift more sugar over the top of the cookies to make a nice thick coating. Put individual cookies into fluted paper or foil cups, and sift more sugar on them to cover any holes.

At fredshouse we think kourambiedes are best after they have rested for a couple of days. Also a word to the wise, don't inhale when you eat them because the powdered sugar will get you!

Posted by Gene at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2005

halo: life-size conferencing & collaboration

More news from the day job...


Fig 1. Halo Conferencing Studio (click for larger photo)

HP introduced on Monday a first-of-its-kind collaboration studio for simulating face-to-face business meetings. Brought to life in partnership with DreamWorks Animation SKG, the HP Halo Collaboration Studio enables people -- whether located across a country or across the world -- to communicate with each other in a vivid, face-to-face environment in real time. The offering significantly increases team effectiveness, provides faster decision-making capabilities and decreases the need for travel.

We've been working on this in the lab for quite awhile, so I may be biased. Nonetheless, the Halo conferencing environment is nothing short of incredible. You know how you always cringe when you have to sit through a videoconference? Not any more. Encountering your remote colleagues across the table at life size, in high definition, with good lighting and superb audio, is a qualitatively different and better experience than any conferencing system you have ever used. Did you look at the high res picture? It's not faked or doctored, that's the working system.

Okay, at $500K per room plus monthly network fees it's expensive enough that you can't have one in your cubicle yet. But your CEO is going to want this, count on it.

[more on halo at]

Posted by Gene at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2005

flexible computing

News from the day job:

Yesterday we launched HP Flexible Computing Services (press release), a new utility computing service that provides access to large-scale compute power on a pay per use basis. Initially we're running a few thousand CPUs on the grid in our US and European data centers, with piles of additional capacity in the pipeline. We sure do have a lot of toys ;-)

I'm delighted to see this finally launched; we have been working on it for a couple of years with our friends at Dreamworks, the SE3D animation festival, and other places that we aren't talking about in public. It's still early days for utility computing and there has been an annoying amount of industry hype around the concept, but I feel our new service represents a concrete and pragmatic step toward solving real problems that real people have. Now I guess we'll see how it goes.

Of course this is all just an elaborate but transparent excuse for my not blogging much lately ;-)

Posted by Gene at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2005

firefox: because it's just better

Get Firefox!

Firefox's share shrunk to 8.07% from 8.71% in June, while Internet Explorer grew its market slice to 87.2% in July from 86.56% last month. Okay folks, it's time *you* got Firefox. Mom, this means you. You too, Guido. Firefox is just better; I've been using it since it came out and I'm never going back to IE.

Posted by Gene at 12:17 AM | Comments (2)

February 15, 2005

john & mary, meet jacob & emily

Wow, this is an amazing thing. Name Voyager, a visualization tool that shows the rank of the top 1000 baby names over the last century. I love the progressive refinement that happens when you type in a name, one letter at a time. Lots of interesting things to discover here, in a clever and responsive design that encourages exploration. For example, check out names that start with the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) -- they were relatively popular in the early and late parts of the century, but not at all popular in the middle decades (signalling a postwar affinity for solid, pragmatic, consonant-based names???). Also, it seems that after years of obscurity q, x, and z will finally get their day here in the 21st century. Completely fascinating, almost makes me want to have a new baby to name.

Ah, and there's the baby name wizard blog as well. With all this word-of-net support, I bet the book sells like hotcakes.

[via Steven Berlin Johnson]

Posted by Gene at 09:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 08, 2004

podcast = good

Okay, I'm only a little behind the curve on this one: podcasting is a big deal. As Dave W said today:

If you want to understand podcasting, get an iPod, get the software, subscribe to some feeds. Then go for a drive, ride a subway or an airplane, take a walk, do something away from the computer and take the iPod with you. Listen to one of the new programs. Then let me know if it works.

I do, I have, I did, I did. I did, I did, I did. I did. It does. I listended to a few minutes of Adam driving around Amsterdam listening to the radio. Then I listened to all of Dave's 10/7 morning coffee notes. I got it, loud and clear.

Okay, it's cool. So already with the wish list. I wish that...

1. ...I could deep link from here into the audio. Dave said some stuff around 25:00 minutes in, about how Steve Jobs is humble but Bill Gates is not, and I want to point to that little segment so you can hear it right now. What's the metadata structure and linking model for media blobs? How do we do trackbacks on podcasts?

Okay, it's a short list. I really have to do work now.

Posted by Gene at 09:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 26, 2004

gmail invite karma

Due to your earlier g-g-generosity, I now have some shiny happy new gmail invitations of my own to pass on to fredshouse friends. If you want one, send mail to fredshouse8888 [at] yahoo [dot] com. If we have never met, introduce yourself |-)

Posted by Gene at 03:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 16, 2004

blacklist gratitude

As usual I'm a late adopter, however: I officially grovel before Jay Allen with profuse thanks for his award-garnering MT-Blacklist plugin, which has reduced comment spam around here from dozens per day, to just a few per week. (bow) (scrape) (kiss ground he walks on) Thank you!

Posted by Gene at 11:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 01, 2003

my next toy

I've been using a borrowed hp tablet pc for the past few weeks, and surprisingly I have become quite fond of it. I was not expecting to like it this much, based on my prejudices from seeing earlier efforts at pen PCs, but I was wrong. The tablet use model works really well for me. I like to jot notes on paper, and the writing system has finally gotten good enough. I like that it can be used spontaneously, just flick it on and start writing a few seconds later. It also seems to be informal enough that it is accepted in meetings where laptops would be intrusive. Embedded WiFi and an add-in card for GPRS data mean I'm connected just about everywhere I normally go. My only real quibbles have been the hp's slightly lagging performance and the lack of a pressure sensitive stylus.

I knew that there was a new model coming soon, but it has been under wraps until today, when good old Gizmodo copped the brochure. So I think I'm going to be happy in the near future, especially if EDGE gets here in time for Thanksgiving ;-)

Posted by Gene at 11:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 11, 2003

HP big bang 2

Gizmodo has brief coverage of hp's latest product blitz. From a design perspective, the see-through vertical scanner looks like a real "object of desire"; at last some visual excitement in an hp product. The living room DVD recorder is a step in the right direction, but us dreamers still wish for integrated PVR in the same box (saw lots of them in Akihabara last month, but still waiting for one to show up in the US). Perhaps the most gratifying new product is the photo black/gray 59 inkjet pen, which will make true B&W photo printing a reality. The pen architecture is the same as the current generation of photo printheads; I only hope that hp will issue drivers for backward compatibility on some of the older photosmart printers.
Looks like iPAQ mobloggers will have to wait until October for the new SDIO camera attachment, sigh. It may be worth the wait though, with 1.3Mpixels and video+audio capture. Mounted on one of the Wi-Fi + Bluetooth models, this will be fun for hotspot warriors.

Disclaimer: I work at HP, but my opinions are mine and not my employers.

Posted by Gene at 12:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack