Monthly Archives: April 2006

Brewing: Father’s Day Cream Ale

I bottled my latest brew the other day, a Cream Ale. Basically it’s a Canadian Draft mix with some Northern Brewer Hops. I also have a Vienna Lager maturing and which I plan to drink next weekend.

The only reason I’m posting about it is that after I was done bottling, I tried some of the yeasty flat leftovers at the bottom of the keg. By god, that stuff was delicious. It’s going to be a quality beer. I just hope I didn’t screw up the carbonation like I think I did. I keep waiting to hear a loud popping sound from one of the bottles exploding. Fortunately, I use a cooler for the storage, so it won’t hurt anything if it does blow.

My next brew is going to be a Dopplebock. I’ve already got the ingredients, I just need to make bottle room. It looks to be a hell of a beverage, with three different kinds of malt extracts, a whole ounce of hops (instead of 1/4 ounce as per usual), and my first attempt at using liquid yeast. It also takes 6 months to bottle condition, so I’ll have it around October or November. But it’ll be about 9.2% ABV, so at least it’ll have a good kick to it. )

Some inventions are just pure genius…

Check this one out: The Lazydrinker

It’s a modified portable cooler that is designed to hold, cool, and mix up to 16 bottles of beverages. Basically it pressurizes the bottles and uses that to pump the liqour out, which then goes into your drink. It therefore produces whatever drink you want on command. The mixer device is reprogrammable via a PC to put in your favorite mixed drinks, and the thing uses a CO2 tank to pump out the sweet, sweet candy.

Some pictures:

Lazydrinker interior Lazydrinker mixing output

At $750, it’s a bit too expensive for my tastes. However, they offer a $550 DIY kit, which seems like it would be an excellent addition to a home bar. )

30boxes Widget

Narendra Rocherolle asked me to convert the Google Calendar widget into a 30boxes capable widget. No problem, it only took like 10 minutes.

So if you use 30boxes and want a nice and simple WordPress Widget for displaying events on your calendar, well, here you go: 30boxes Widget

This is, of course, a first stab at it only. I can and probably will add more functionality to it (like start and end dates). But that can wait until later. Right now I need BBQ! D

Coastr Widget

Ran across Coastr yesterday while I was reading some blogs about beer. It’s kinda nifty. Very simple app. It lets you put what beers you like to drink and where you like to drink them and tells you other people who have similar tastes. The idea being that maybe you can find some new beers by looking at what other people who are similar to you like.

I made a post on the guys blog about adding RSS feeds for the individual users, and to my surprise, he had it up and going the next morning. Very cool.

So naturally, I made a widget for it. You can see it in my ever-growing sidebars somewhere (bottom right, at the moment).

And so here it is: The Coastr Widget.

Update: Version 1.1 adds some code to handle the beer names and such properly, so it won’t cause validation errors on your blog anymore.

Google Calendar Widget

Note: This widget does NOT work with WordPress 2.1 and up. Don’t bother trying.

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I created a new widget for my blog. It’s a simple little thing that shows stuff from my Google Calendar. You can find it as my “Upcoming Events” sidebar, bottom left. Okay, so it doesn’t have much there yet, I need to add stuff to the calendar. )

Anyway, here’s a link to it: gcalendar

If anybody has any suggestions on improving it, I’d love to hear ‘em.

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Note: I’ve updated the widget to use Google’s Calendar API properly. But in order to do that, I had to modify WordPress’s built in MagpieRSS functions rather heavily. So read the readme.txt file for installation instructions before attempting to use it. Failure to install correctly will break your blog. Heck, it might do that anyway. So read carefully. )

iTunes Explicit Lyrics tagging

Over in the comments of my EvilLyrics post, somebody asked for this script. It seems like people might find it handy, so here you go: explicit.txt

It will search the lyrics of all the songs in iTunes for “bad words” and flag those tracks as Explicit by adding the word “Explicit” to the end of the comments in the track.

Now, I have no use for this personally, but I can see where some people might. One thing you will have to do in order to use it is to edit it and define what you consider to be a “bad word”. Just after halfway through the script, there’s a section that looks like this:

badword1|badword2|badword3

Change that to define everything you consider to be a bad word. To use George Carlin’s famous example: shit|piss|fuck|cunt|cocksucker|motherfucker|tits

Just add as many words as you like, then run it like all the rest of these iTunes Javascripts. It’s reasonably smart and won’t tag a track as Explicit if the word Explicit is already in the comments.

You could use this for Smart Playlists, to make “clean” playlists, or to make “not so clean” playlists. Whatever you like. You could do that without this script too, but this makes it a bit easier.

Fun with Widgets

Note: The ExecPHP widget does not work in the upcoming WordPress 2.5. Therefore, if you upgrade to 2.5, you will need to install the updated version of this widget. It can be found here, now and forever more: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/php-code-widget/

A new plugin for WordPress came out that’s kinda cool. It’s called Widgets, and the general idea of it is to make the sidebars on your blog a bit more configurable, a bit more easily.

So, I decided to spend an hour or so converting my sidebars to Widgets so I could manage them a bit simpler. Editing PHP code is easy but time consuming, while dragging stuff and dropping it to rearrange the blog, well, that’s quick and easy.

Few things I learned:

  1. The Widgets Plugin does not like Windows. Since I run this site on a Windows box (edit: I did then, I don’t anymore, and anyway, they have fixed this problem since then), it needed some tweaking to make it work. For those who want to know, the problem is in the sidebar_admin_setup() function in widgets.php. More info on this problem is in the comments of this post.
  2. Text boxes are extremely useful when converting from your existing customized webpage to a widgets based one, as you can simply cut and paste chunks of HTML into them and voila, you’ve got a sidebar widget. However, there’s not a lot of text widgets available. If you need more text widgets, you will need to edit these functions: widget_text_setup(), widget_text_page(), and widget_text_register(). As it turned out, I didn’t need but 4 text widgets because:
  3. Despite how useful text boxes were for a quick migration, they were not enough.

So, I ended up writing two plugins of my own.

The first one is a Google AdSense plugin. You can download it here: gadsense.zip. It’s exactly the same as the Text widgets, but with (very) minor tweaks specifically for inserting Google Ads in the sidebars. Also, it shows a name of “Google AdSense” in the widgets panel, which is nice. Like the Text widget, you can have more than 1 of them, but unlike the Text widget, you can only have 4 of them, since Google’s TOS only allows 3 ads and 1 link block on a page.

The next one is also like the Text plugin, however it will also let you put PHP code into the text and have it actually work. Here’s the download: execphp.zip. Like the Text plugin, you can have up to 9 of them (more if you want to tweak the code). Note that any PHP code you put into the widget MUST be surrounded by <?php and ?> tags, just like writing PHP normally. Also note that this is isn’t exactly safe, as it’s just doing an eval() on whatever you put in there, so you have complete and full access, as does anybody else who can get to your admin screen. Still, it’s very useful.

Both of those are plugins. Just drop them in the widgets folder under the plugins folder, and activate them on the plugins screen. Then the widgets will be available for you to use on the widgets screen.

Hope these help somebody. They sure helped me. )