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Jan. 22nd, 2018 @ 07:35 pm On the depiction of female Twi’leks
Current Mood: okayokay
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So one of my friends was inspired by The Last Jedi to play through Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II. He’s streaming his sessions, so we’ve been (sort-of) following along. And the discussions about the Jedi morality and such inspired him to organise a scenario for the Star Wars RPG (the current iteration by Fantasy Flight Games). We’ve played with him before: he did a game for us that was set at the beginning days of the Rebellion.
This game would be set roughly in the timeline of SW:KotOR2, about a 1000 years before the events in The Phantom Menace. And where we were restricted to the professions in the Age of Rebellion sourcebook in the previous game, for this game we were allowed to pick from all three sourcebooks — and that includes Jedi characters!
I wanted to play a Jedi, and I came up with Chunlade, a young female Twi’lek Jedi Seeker — with the Ataru Striker specialisation, which means her style of lightsaber combat is one of relentless attacks, using athletics like leaps and somersaults to close the distance. It’s the style that Yoda preferred. Twi’leks are the aliens with the two ‘tentacles’ on their head — I think the first time we see them is as the slave girl dancing for Jabba the Hutt.

The GM wanted to make a cool “title page” for our game, using concept art for our characters. But it turned out to be quite hard to find a depiction of a female Twi’lek that’s not all boobs, thighs and exposed midriffs. Not something a Jedi explorer would wear — and certainly not how I’d want to play a character. I guess that initial impression of Twi’lek’s as female, exotic, submissive and accessible has left its echos in the way they are depicted. Meh.
But after some extra searching we did manage to find the right concept art!


Left to right: Balar Dash, the Toruga Pilot; Chunlade, the Twi’lek Jedi; IG-N0BL3, the assassin droid; and Sikh Sikh L’est, the Cerean Jedi. Click to embiggen: we look absolutely bad-ass!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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UN Spacy
Jan. 14th, 2018 @ 09:22 pm Map fun
Current Mood: curiouscurious

To give you a bit of a breather from all the anime reviews, here’s three articles about maps that I recently found, and that are very interesting to people who like cartography, language and technology.
Which lines of longitude and latitude pass through the most countries? An interesting read, with ample map diagrams to back things up.
How far ahead Google Maps is on Apple Maps, and how they achieved that. A thorough analysis of Google and Apple Maps, and some shrewd deductions on how Google has been combing (and combining) the data available to them to achieve their vast superiority in the online mapping space.
There are two words for tea, and depending on how you got your tea, you use one or the other. Tea was for very long a monopoly of China. So obviously you’d use the Chinese word for it back home, because there simply wasn’t a word for it in your own language. And the word you used depended on where you went to get the stuff!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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kodama
Jan. 14th, 2018 @ 09:12 pm More new anime
Current Mood: calmcalm

Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion: Hayato is a total railway nerd — not that strange given that his father works at the Railway Museum. But when he finally gets to ride on a shinkansen bullet-train, his father is called in for an emergency! And Hayato ends up at the steering wheel of a shinkansen that transforms into the mecha Shinkalion, to battle a monstrous mecha made out of railway bits and bobs!
It’s a series for young kids, and it’s kind-of ridiculous. The mecha are hilarious, being transformations of actual shinkansen trains. It’s even sponsored by the railway company!

Sanrio Danshi: Kouta attends highschool, and he carefully hides his love for a particular cute Sanrio character ever since he got laughed at as a kid because he took his plushie of it everywhere. So when he finds part of a Sanrio-character keychain from a schoolmate, he is reluctant to return it in plain view. But he tells him liking Sanrio’s brand of kawaii is nothing to be ashamed of.
I can’t think of any way to explain this series other than that it’s a bit of propaganda to get more market traction among boys for Sanrio’s goods. I mean: if you like the cute characters, then by all means, go for it. But apparently in Japan, they need an anime series to tell them.

Citrus: Yuzu is starting her new school and wants to make quite the impression with her entrance. Unfortunately for her, her new school is a super-strict rich-girls school, and they react.. poorly… to her attempts to stand out. When she gets home, she meets her new step-sister, who turns out to be the school council president, granddaughter of the school board chairman!
Yuzu is clearly a fish out of the water, but I also felt bad for Mei: she is basically abandoned by everyone, and the only path left for her is to conform to the expectations others have for her. That includes her already having a fiancé, and all of her agency has been taken from her. That also explains why she reacts to Yuzu the way she does. But of course, Yuzu doesn’t know this and reacts accordingly. I do hope it gets better, because they deserve it.

Slow Start: Hana spent a year getting into the school of her choice, which makes her a year older than the others. And people know others from gradeschool or middle school, and she knows nobody… But during her first day, she manages to make some friends after all.
It’s cute and inconsequential, and manages to pull in some of the usual stereotypes. We thought it was nice, and the voices aren’t that squeaky either.

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card-hen: Sakura is starting middle school, and meets up with her old friends (or talks to them over the phone). Everything seems to be ok, but then she has a dream that all of the magic cards turn transparent. And wouldn’t you know: they do! Now Sakura has to re-catch the cards!
As Tomoyo exclaims: it is the triumphant return of Cardcaptor Sakura! She is a bit older, and the setting is more modern (cellphone conversations with people in England are not something out of the ordinary), and yet it is still unmistakenly Cardcaptor Sakura. Yes, it’s probably derivative of the original series, but who cares, really?

Mitsuboshi Colors: Three gradeschool girls created the “Colors” club somewhere in Ueno Park to “protect the peace”. What it really comes down to is to be a nuisance to the police officer manning the koban, and the old man running a general goods store in the shopping street.
It reminded us of Ichigo Mashimaro, mostly because of the loud and super-energetic girl in the cast. Inconsequential, short-form, episodic fun.

Gakuen Babysitters: Ryuichi and his little brother Kotaro become orphans when their parents’ plane crashes. They are taken in by the chairwoman of a school — but she has a condition: Ryuichi has to join the Babysitting Club, where students look after the little kids of the teachers. Of course, they don’t have a choice, but in return, they now have someone to look after them.
A workplace with a daycare? That’s pretty progressive for Japanese standards. I’m not sure about this one: is this setup really enough to create a whole series of?

Kokkoku: When Juri’s brother and nephew are kidnapped, her grandfather reveals a magical artefact that stops time — except everyone who touches the artefact can still move normally. They go to rescue their kidnapped family, but what should have been really easy turns into a panicked situation when a group of attackers pops up who are after them!
Just… wow. So much mystery. What are the mechanics of the artefact? What are the rules? Who are the people that attacked them, and what are they after? How does this work out? At least Juri has a good head on her shoulders, so I have every confidence in her.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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Bishoujo squad!
Jan. 13th, 2018 @ 08:45 pm More new anime
Current Mood: okayokay

Let’s continue with the new anime.

Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san: Misa is very interested in her classmate Koizumi, an elegant beauty who just isn’t interested in socializing. But she really, really loves ramen. Misa tries to be a part of that, and Koizumi will lecture her about the different types of ramen and the ingredients used. But immediately after, she turns into her usual cold self.
It’s fun, and you’ll learn something about ramen. The food is rendered with special attention to detail, which is fun to watch. But in the end, while we did have a good time watching this first episode, we’re not convinced that you could make a whole series out of it. We’re not going to be around to find out.

Yuru Camp Delta: Rin cycles up a long hill to go camp all by herself somewhere in autumn, with a lovely view of Mt Fuji. It’s kinda cold, so she builds a campfire. And then she meets Nadeshiko, who also rode her bicycle but didn’t come as prepared. Rin helps her out, and then it turns out they both go to the same school.
It’s laid-back and cute, and it’s surprisingly funny: the talking pinecones had us snickering. The camping advice is good, and the scenic backgrounds are really great. It’s going on the list.

Toji no Miko: The aratama are monster that have plagued Japan since ancient times. Young girls who have an affinity with magic katana are the only ones capable of exterminating them. And of course, there is a tournament for the best swordfighter — like it’s some kind of after-school club. During the tournament, one of the girls attacks the head of the sword-fighting agency, instead of her opponent!
It has a surprising amount of sword-fighting techniques called out and demonstrated, which is kind of cool. But it’s also very bland: we couldn’t really care what happened to any of the characters. And supposedly the swords are for fighting monsters, but we don’t see any of that.

Ito Junji: Collection: “Horror” stories (more gruesome than horror, though). The first is about a deeply unpleasant boy, and the second is really short, about a girl turning into a doll. Unpleasant to watch.

Grancrest Senki: Chaos has entered the world, bringing demons with it. Lords with Crests can absorb the chaos and protect the land, and they can contract a magician to help them. The Lords have split into two factions, fracturing the fight against chaos — only by combining the two crests, one could make the Grancrest. Siluca is a young magician who manipulates the young Lord Theo to form a contract with her, and sets him up to shake things up!
It’s fun and action-packed. The setting is intriguing: I want to know more about the mechanics of chaos and how to prevent demon incursions, and what those crests exactly are. Siluca’s uniform raised my eyebrows, but otherwise it seems like an interesting fantasy setting with some tactical thinking thrown in.

Pop Team Epic: Anime based on a four-panel comic. It’s weird, odd and ugly, and I don’t think I can drink enough to find it funny. Oddest thing is that the characters are girls, but they are voiced by men. And then the whole half-episode is repeated, but with the characters voiced by women. I don’t think I can appreciate the mindset needed to enjoy this series.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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hand-eye coordination
Jan. 12th, 2018 @ 09:08 pm New January anime
Current Mood: okayokay

The new season has started in Japan on January 2nd, and you know what that means: we’ll be watching the first episode of (almost) everything that we can put our grubby mitts on, and I’ll be typing up reviews! I’ll all tag them with ‘first episode review’ (like this entry), so if you have no interest in anime and don’t want to read about it, then feel free to mute that tag!

With that out of the way… let’s go!
Itsu Datte Bokura no Koi wa 10 Centi Datta: A highschool romance: a popular boy from the movie club, who even won some prizes with his work, and a girl from the art club. They always go home together, and they find it hard to see the other with others from the opposite sex, but they’re not official dating. Somehow, they can never bring themselves to being less than 10cm apart…
Technically not a new series: it started halfway the fall season, so we never watched that first episode. We really liked it: they’re kinda cute, and the art is pretty. I also like the character designs.

Uchuu yori mo Tooi Basho: Mari feels that her highschool life is slipping away from her without anything happening. But she is too risk-averse to even take an unplanned trip into the city for one day, so nothing actually ever changes. That is, until she meets Shirase, whose goal it is to travel to Antarctica, where her mother disappeared. She works a lot of side jobs, and saved up a lot to make her dream come true. Mari recognises her as the adventurous and driven spirit that she needs to latch onto to have the adventure she craves.
I really empathise with Mari, being risk-averse myself. I mean, how would a highschool student go about travelling to Antarctica? But I’m also certain that it can be done, with enough resources and determination. The series is also funny, and I want to see more.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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Bishoujo squad!
Jan. 12th, 2018 @ 04:47 pm Work arcade cabinet
Current Mood: bouncybouncy
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One of my colleagues bought an old arcade cabinet. He stripped all the electronics and bought a “Pandora Box”, a small machine containing 815 arcade games that you just hook arcade controls and a screen on. He even got a coin slot, which has to be fed with guilders (the currency we had before we switched to the euro 15 years ago! That was, back in the day, indeed the price for a single credit, so extra nostalgia!). It turned into a really cool two-player machine, and today he installed it in our break room.
There’s an interface to select the game you want to play. Unfortunately, it’s not in alphabetic order, so there’s some poring over a printout needed to find something if you’re looking for something specific. My eye fell on the Super Macross game: a vertical shooter (my favourite arcade genre) based on the Superdimensional Fortress Macross anime. Of course, I couldn’t resist.

I have been limiting the number of sessions at the cabinet, because otherwise I’d spend all day in the breakroom, trying to better my highscore. I have started to take a cellphone pic of my highscores, because every time you choose a different game, the highscores have been reset!
I now have roped a colleague into my sessions, too. With two players, it’s both easier (there’s another player to take care of enemies elsewhere on the screen) and harder (it’s more chaotic and it’s harder to ‘know’ your place on the screen), but great fun!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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UN Spacy
Jan. 6th, 2018 @ 07:34 pm More spaghetti
Current Mood: fullfull
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The cooking store in town has the molecular cooking kits on stock, so we swung by yesterday to get an additional spaghetti kit: twice as many tubes means that producing the spaghetti is twice as fast! Turns out they had a sale, and the kits were 50% off. So we got two! (When we got home, we found out why: the kits had a best-by date of mid-2016… I guess they’re not the big moves in the store.)
I had also been thinking about the bland taste of the white chocolate spaghetti. Adding all that water just diluted the taste of the chocolate (which doesn’t have a strong taste to begin with) — so what would happen if we’d make spaghetti from something that’s a liquid itself? Then we wouldn’t have to add water as a ‘carrier’ for the agar-agar, and we wouldn’t be diluting the taste.

Hence: coffee spaghetti. I made a cup of really, really strong coffee, we added some sugar and a packet of agar-agar powder. With our tripled capacity, it took only three “runs” to use all of the liquid for spaghetti.

And with the second syringe we could work in parallel: one of us would pump air through the tubes to get the strands out of the tube, the other could then immediately fill that tube up again.


This is all of the coffee spaghetti that we made. We tasted a single strand, and it was really bitter (like strong coffee). So we needed something to go with it…

We also wanted to experiment with spherification. We had bought honey to make honey caviar.

This is our honey-with-agar-agar at the bottom of a cup of cold vegetable oil. Next time, we need to let the liquid cool down before dripping it into the oil. The spheres were still so warm that they got stuck together. Not everything, but it was noticable.


Spoon of honey caviar! We had to add some water to the honey, but it still had that delicious honey taste with no discernable dilution.


So we thought of a way to build up a dessert of four layers. This is the bottom layer: vanilla custard.


The bitter coffee spaghetti on top of that.


On top of that, baked whipped egg whites (that we had left from making the custard) with a little sugar.


Honey caviar on top of that. The uneven surface of the baked eggwhites makes little ‘nooks’ that the caviar can collect in.


A cross-section of all the different flavours and textures. Next time, we’ll make the baked eggwhites proper merengues, so that they are crunchy instead of the marshmallow-like consistency they had, to add a more pronounced texture to the mix.

Interesting experiments, and I can see us using this as a ‘grand dessert’ in the future.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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eten
Jan. 3rd, 2018 @ 06:48 pm Streaming again
Current Mood: bouncybouncy
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I’ve written about streaming games here before. Watching and interacting with streamers and their community on Twitch.tv has given me a lot of good moments. One streamer and his community even became good friends, and we did meet up and had a good time. Some of the people in his community have (re-)started streaming themselves, and watching them is a lot of fun too: no matter what the game, it’s good to hang out in chat.
So I got that itch to stream too. I used to, but the only machine that is capable of running games is in the living room (it’s an AMD A10, with integrated graphics), and that means slogging a lot of infrastructure to and fro. And I couldn’t add a face-cam to the feed, because it would also show the living room (with klik on the couch behind me).
And then I realised that I still had an A8-based system, complete with motherboard and memory, just collecting dust in the attic. The A8 is the smaller sister to the A10, but it’s powerful enough to play videos, which is what we use the living room computer for mainly. So why not swap out the A10 for the A8, and build up a small system to sit on my desk? That way, I can have the infrastructure semi-permanently in place, and I can use a webcam to more directly interact with my viewers (if there are any…) and hide the rest of the house behind a chamber screen.

So in between the Scylla of Christmas and the Charybdis of New Year’s, I ordered some parts, build up a system, ordered some more parts, returned another part, installed, installed and installed some more software, ordered some parts again… The things never seem to work out the way you intend — though perhaps I could have been better prepared by comparing several measurements.
But in the end, I built up a small little desktop with the A10 and a fanless(!) GTX 1030 card. I need to do the streaming itself through klik’s laptop, but after configuring it all (mostly syncing the facecam and the microphone up with the video feed from the game machine), I have a neat little setup from which I can stream.

It’s a lot of fun, especially with the usual suspects dropping in and hanging out in chat, commenting on the gameplay or on general occurrences. I don’t have a schedule, but I’ll stream when the fancy strikes me. If you’re wondering what it’s all about, you could drop on by on my Twitch.tv channel and follow me there.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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display
Jan. 2nd, 2018 @ 02:03 pm Adventures in making spaghetti
Current Mood: goodgood
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So of course I had to test out the molecular cooking kit! I decided to go for the chocolate spaghetti, to make a dessert for four, to be served at the new year’s eve festivities at our home.
I followed the recipe in the video I linked to in my previous entry. I had some reservations on just throwing chocolate into hot water: the two don’t mix, and chocolate ‘seizes up’ when it comes into contact with water. But whether it was because of the agar-agar that had already been dissolved into the water or because white chocolate is not ‘proper’ chocolate and thus has a different composition I do not know — but it worked out nicely. We are lacking in coconut liqueur, so I substituted Drambuie for that.

The mixture.

Then you have to suck up the warm liquid into the syringe, attach one silicon tube, squeeze, put into a bath of cold water, and repeat with the second and third tube. The kit came with only three tubes, so you can do only three ‘strands’ at a time, and each ‘batch’ (if you can call it that) takes three minutes…

The three tubes in the bath of cold water.


In the end, this is (part of) a single portion. It took about an hour, and you had to be in the kitchen every three minutes! It looks cool though, but because there is a lot of water added to support the agar-agar, the taste of whatever you’re using is diluted too! And white chocolate doesn’t have a strong taste of itself to begin with… In part this should have been compensated by the booze, but that was only partially. Next time, I think I’d add a generous splurge of vanilla extract or something like that to give the otherwise bland taste a bit of a kick.

With that first batch done, we got some more white chocolate and did three batches in one go. This took us the better part of a day! Of course, if you have more tubes (and we will look into getting more!) you can do bigger batches. But we didn’t have such narrow tubes of food-grade(!) silicon lying around…
Because the going is so slow, the liquid will also cool and solidify. This can, of course, be easily remedied by cooking it up again: agar-agar is solid when cool, but liquid when heated.


Of course, this spaghetti should come with a red sauce! We cooked up a batch of “summer fruits” and ran that through the blender. The slight sour note of the fruit complements the taste of the white chocolate quite nicely.


We served individual portions in lacquerware Japanese-style soup bowls, with whipped cream and a blackberry on top!

I’m really pleased with the end result, but it’s too much work to do casually. And the tastes have to be improved too. Still, fun to do, and I’m sure we’ll experiment with this again!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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curry ga dekita!
Dec. 27th, 2017 @ 08:42 pm Molecular cooking
Current Mood: excitedexcited
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We regularly go to a culinary wholesaler: we got a card from klik’s company, and we regularly get supplies there that are cheaper than at the grocery store, or things that you can’t even get at our regular grocery. The previous time we were there, I saw a molecular gastronomy kit to create ‘pearls’ of foodstuffs using agar-agar, and There are two more of those little kits: one to create foam and one to create ‘spaghetti’. I put it on my Sinterklaas wish-list, because it looks really cool! Ever since, we have been checking out videos from that brand with cool recipe ideas.
I didn’t get any of the kits (I’m not complaining: I got lots of good things off my wishlist!), and today we had occasion to visit the wholesaler again. I got the ‘combined kit’ as a gift for myself.


The packaging.


The contents of the kit! It contains everything to make pearls, spaghetti, foam and for reverse spherification!

I really look forward to experimenting with it. Here’s some videos of the things you can do with it: make honey caviar, or chocolate spaghetti with the agar-agar. Or make some foam like Curry Wind. Or combine the gelling of the agar-agar with reverse spherification like with the Coco-almond Fondant!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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curry ga dekita!
Dec. 25th, 2017 @ 10:20 pm Bearer Seek Seek Lest
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I really like the Dark Souls series of games — especially to watch people play them, because the gameplay is simple to learn but hard to master. It’s a sword-and-sorcery setting, and you play a human who has been afflicted with the curse of undeath. The curse can be undone, and for that purpose you travel to a ruined land, filled with other undead and assorted monsters. If you die, you revive at your last checkpoint (bonfires): you’re undead after all! But every time you rest at a bonfire to replenish your health and restorative items, all the adversaries you’ve bested are respawned as well! You also have to get back to the place where you were killed to retrieve your souls, which serve as both XP and currency for the merchants.
Your main restorative item is the Estus Flask, which you can ‘drink’ from to replenish some health. The Estus Flask gets refilled when you rest at a bonfire (but at the cost of respawning all the enemies).

My favourite of the series is Dark Souls 2. This is a very unpopular opinion: DS2 is widely regarded as the weakest of the series — it is also the only game in the series that was not overseen by the original director. It is a bit of a mish-mash, but that doesn’t really bother me: I’m there for the gameplay, and DS2 had some innovations that I really like.
In DS2, you encounter the Emerald Herald at the ‘main’ bonfire in Majula, the central spot in the ruined world you’re exploring. Only through her can you spend your souls and level up to improve your stats. Whenever you engage with her, she launches into a four sentences. You can skip the sentences, but you’ll hear the first word from every sentence, so you’ll hear “Bearer Seek Seek Lest”.

So when I was watching someone play it on Twitch, she linked to her online store for an Estus flask pin, which even has the “Bearer Seek Seek Lest” banner! Being a fan of DS2 and a collector of pins, this is right up my alley. But then the postage turned out to be three times as much as the pin itself, and that killed it for me. USD 40 for a single pin is just too much, and I don’t need more than one!

I fondly remember the days of the USPS flat-rate international envelope: everything you could cram into there was shipped for about USD 10! I got some DVDs from the US with really cheap postage: a single envelope would hold three or four DVD cases. One time I even got a stack of arcade tokens in such an envelope — it weighed a ton, but still: flat rate!
It is kind of weird that with more and more webshops, our ability to purchase things from afar has increased dramatically. But the shipping costs spiralling out of control kind of kills it. Especially for small items.

(Also: new userpic!)

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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bonfire
Dec. 13th, 2017 @ 08:57 pm Release macarons
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
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Seven months ago, we released version 5.1 of our software. I can’t recall how we came to it, but I ended up treating the team to home-baked macarons. That was so popular that a tradition was born.
Monday evening, we released version 5.1.1, so that evening we were very busy baking up two batches of macarons so I could bring them to the office the next day. This worked out especially well because two colleagues who have been away on sick leave for a longer time had announced that they would swing by the office for a little while that day — so I could give them the macarons as well!

How to make macaronsCollapse )


The finished result! As always, they were a huge success. The vanilla ones more so than the green tea — though I actually preferred the green tea, because the bitterness of the matcha really complements the sweetness of the shells and buttercream.

And with the release now done, I should have lower stress levels too, which is a nice added bonus.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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curry ga dekita!
Dec. 12th, 2017 @ 09:43 pm Five years of kitties
Current Mood: lovedloved
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Today, this cute kitty has been living with us for five years now.


…as well as her sister. But she obviously didn’t get the memo that she is supposed to be a companion animal!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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kitty tongue
Dec. 3rd, 2017 @ 08:15 pm Sinterklaas chocolate
Current Mood: fullfull

It’s the season for Sinterklaas again — and that means chocolate initials. We’ve had some random initials given to us: last weekend we went to shop at a wholesaler, and at the cash register we got a chocolate initial ‘S’ (the generic default, from ‘Sinterklaas’) gifted to us.

It is (or rather: was) a 600 grams monstrosity of kruidnoten (with a slightly almond-like bitter taste, almost like cantuccini) glued together with milk chocolate and little chocolate crispy balls. It took us two weekends to work our way through it!

At work, we get a Sinterklaas treat every year. This year, it was a package of mini chocolate initials. So this weekend, our desserts have been…

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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eten
Nov. 25th, 2017 @ 09:09 pm New release
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
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Boring stuff about boring business softwareCollapse )
As product manager, it is my task to introduce our new releases to our colleagues. And because this thing is completely new, I went all in: first an extended demo to introduce all the functionalities and to explain why you would use it, and then a second video that shows how to configure a freshly installed system to do the things I showed in the demo. All in all, it turned into just under 3,5 hours of video!

Me behind my desk, ready to start recording! I brought my own microphone, because it has so much better sound than the headset I have at the office, and I care about those things.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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ADM3A
Nov. 20th, 2017 @ 08:29 pm Printer support weekend
Current Mood: calmcalm

Saturday I went to my parents’, to help my father with his printer — or at least, to try again to get it to work with his laptop after a Windows 10 install.

Windows 10 driver fiddlingCollapse )
It was fun to see my parents and have lunch with them and the like, but this whole thing was seriously un-fun! At least it’s resolved now.

Yesterday we went to visit klik’s mother, to help her with her printer. We advised her a cool double-sided printing colour laserprinter, because she sometimes has to do large print runs. However, it was very slow to print — we’re talking 12 hours for 20 pages!
She lives at the north side of the Veluwe, the most forested area of the Netherlands. It started all off with pines being planted to provide struts for the mines in Limburg, but after those were closed down, the forests remained. It’s now slowly transitioning from “production forests” to more natural forests, with more diversity. It is also the area with the most wild deer and boars.
What with the fall colours, it was beautiful driving through the forest lanes!

Here’s two crappy cellphone pics through the windscreen of a moving car to give you a little impression.

The printer issue was ultimately ‘solved’ by using a USB cable instead of printing over wifi. We also had a great dinner at the Greek restaurant in town.

When we drove back home, through the dark, we talked about what would happen if we were to hit a deer or a boar on the road. Surely the car would be a total loss! To alert drivers to the wildlife, wooden cut-outs of boar and deer have been placed next to the road — but since we drive over that road often, we’re not impressed by that. So when we saw a boar rooting through the mud next to the road, we almost assumed that it was one of those cutouts! It stayed clear of the road, though, so there was no harm done. First time I saw wildlife there!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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ADM3A
Nov. 15th, 2017 @ 08:12 pm The “interbellum” of Middle-Earth
Current Mood: okayokay

You might have seen the announcement that Amazon is going to create a multi-season “TV” series based on the Lord of the Rings. (If indeed it can be called ‘TV’ because it will be on their Prime video-on-demand service.)

What I find interesting is that the series will be set after the events portrayed in The Hobbit, but before Frodo sets out in The Fellowship of the Ring. Because that is exactly the default setting for the The One Ring RPG, one of my favourite RPGs at the moment. They have brought out some excellent sourcebooks with background information, as well as some collections of scenarios.
Most notable, there is The Darkening of Mirkwood, which is a really epic campaign about the events in Mirkwood during that time. There’s lots of good stuff in there, and if Amazon is smart, they’ll do something like that.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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the one ring
Nov. 13th, 2017 @ 08:14 pm Believable maps
Current Mood: excitedexcited

A few years ago, I invested heavily in the software from Profantasy, mainly their Campaign Cartographer product, the add-ons for creating cities and dungeons, and a lot of their Annuals which introduce new styles and techniques. At the base it is a CAD program, with some map-focused drawing tools, an art library and some effects to make really pretty maps. Not having any appreciable artistic talent, having the art part of making maps being automated really works for me.
But I never was able to produce a map that felt believable to me. I lack the geography knowledge for that. I mean, I know that rivers flow downhill from mountains to the sea and that they very rarely split, and all that. But making a mountain range that is believable with respect to its location on a continent and things like that? Nah, I don’t know how to do that.

So when I saw an article in my feeds about how mountains affect rainfall, I was very interested. I mean, I do know every fact laid out in that article, but to combine it all into a ‘rule’ for planning out your map is what’s new for me.
The author of the article has published/is publishing a set of books on worldbuilding, and the second volume is about making maps. I’ll be picking that one up as an ebook very soon!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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hand-eye coordination
Nov. 12th, 2017 @ 09:37 am (no subject)
Current Mood: festive
Happy birthday, anemoona!
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eten
Nov. 7th, 2017 @ 07:21 pm Gisho
Current Mood: amusedamused
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Saturday was klik’s jukai, her layperson’s initiation into buddhism. It was part of the closing ceremonies of the zen retreat: there were three people getting their zen teacher diploma and two people doing jukai. As part of the initiation, klik got a buddhist name. I already knew this for weeks (which got me into trouble once she found out), and I had put it in silver foil on the box I made for her to store her rakusu: Gisho.

Gisho means “good start”, and is a reference to the concept of the “beginner’s mind”. That is the idea to approach everything with an open mind, never rely on routine. It is also a reference to a figure in a book of zen stories that is also called Gisho. It’s quite fitting.

When I visited friends in Groningen while klik was on her retreat (and I’ll write about that at a later time), I waked past a store selling decorations. Normally I’m not a fan of ‘decorations’: it’s all just stuff that simply accumulates — that doesn’t make my life any better. But I saw this excellent christmas tree ornament, and I had to get it! I mean, who thought it would be a good idea to mix buddhism with christmas? The two don’t have anything in common! But it’s a proper buddhist depiction of the Buddha: the right ‘curls’, the right ears, the right robes, the right meditation posture. And it’s large as well: 17 cm in height!

It will be the proud centre piece of our christmas tree come December!

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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Glowing LED