Archive - 2009

December 31st

2009 in Review, a Blogging Perspective.

Outside, the snow is gently falling as I think back over 2009. A lot has gone on this year, but for a moment, let me look at it strictly from the perspective of this blog. This is the 523 entry I will post in my blog this year. I have written over 280,000 words on my blog on a wide variety of topics.

The most popular blog posts I wrote during 2009 in terms of the number of times they were read were about technology, and technology posts took up the majority of my top ten blogposts. Graphviz and Matlab were the top technology topics.

Coming in third was a blog post I wrote about bills before the Government Administrations and Elections Committee. Another Connecticut focused blog post about bringing Colin McEnroe back to the airwaves was also in my top ten most read blog posts. Colin is now back on the air on Connecticut Public Radio. Even more locally, my blog post about the future of the Woodbridge Country Club made the top ten.

In terms of what I wrote, I wrote most often on politics, Connecticut news, technology, the future of media and social networks. I have been trying to make better use of categories and encouraging people to read or subscribe to those categories that are most in their interest.

According to Google Analytics, I have had over 70,000 unique visitors this year, visiting over 107,000 times, and viewing over 141,000 pages. The majority use Firefox and stay on the site for around a minute. People have visited from 167 different countries. The United States accounts for the most visitors, followed by the Philippines, Canada, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Netherlands, India, Singapore, Indonesia, and Germany. Within the United States, Connecticut accounts for the most visitors, followed by California, New York, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

Sites like EntreCard, Adgitize, Blogexplosion and CMF ads have brought a lot of visitors. Other social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Disqus and TableTalk were also important.

For Connecticut sources, the Journal Inquirer, CTNewsJunkie, CTWeblogs, The Courant Blog, CoolJustice Report, CTLocalPolitcs and the Journal Record’s blog page have brought many visitors.

In terms of topics that people have searched on, Graphviz was the most popular, followed by ’25 things about me’, ‘Smoking Jacket’, ‘Colgate Smile Second Life’, and the ‘Woodbridge Country Club’ were all popular searches. Another important set of popular searches have been names of people that I’ve written about including Kenneth Ireland, Sergey Aleynikov, Colin Mcenroe, Jim Amann, and Richard Roszkowski.

So, that’s a brief view of my blog for 2009. With all of this in mind, I’ll start preparing for 2010. How about you? How was your year? Do you blog? How did your blog do? What topics were popular and which weren’t? Share your ideas and let’s look forward to a great 2010.

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The Cider Year in Review

On this last day of 2009, I’m looking back and the successes and failures of 2009. In this post, I want to explore what has gone on with my Cider making. This was prompted by an email from an online cider making buddy talking about his experiences.

In his first batch, he used campden, champagne yeast, maple syrup and sugar tablets in the bottle. He described the outcome as having a lot of bite and high ABV. In his second batch, he used a Belgian yeast, maple syrup, cinnamon sticks and bottled it with a bit of dry malt extract. I like some of the ideas that he experimented with. He said he thought the second batch was a little nicer and that they were ‘way too drinkable’ with a little ice and raw apple cider.

At the Hynes household, I am just finishing making my fifth batch. The first batch was started in September and used a Belgian Trappist yeast. As with most of my batches, I bottle off a little bit of it after the first fermentation, and then do a second fermentation before bottling off the whole batch. In this batch, I added two cups of Maple Syrup to the second fermentation. For each bottling, I like to set aside three bottles as a reserve to taste sometime in the future to see how it ages. With that am down to eight bottles of the first batch left. It came out quite nicely.

The second batch was made with pear cider. Some people really like it. However, for Kim and I it is a bit bitter. I have fourteen bottles of the pear cider left. I’ve been kicking around the idea of mixing it with some of the other cider to see how it comes out as part of mix.

The third batch was very similar to the first batch. I started it in mid October, this time using an Oktoberfest yeast. Again, I added two cups of Maple Syrup to the second fermentation. This batch also came out very well and we have fourteen bottles left.

The fourth batch was interesting. We started it in the beginning of November using some special heirloom cider from Beardsley Cider Mill. The cider was more tart than most fresh ciders with some quince added. I wanted to keep this pure, so I didn’t add any Maple Syrup to the second fermentation. We used a Weissen yeast and the tartness survived the fermentation. It is still fairly new, and we’ll see how it ages. It is a little tart for my tastes, but Kim says it tastes good. I’m interested in seeing what happens if I combine it with some of the pear cider and perhaps a little maple syrup cider.

Yesterday, we racked off the fifth and final batch of cider. The first test seemed pretty good. However, this time, we’re looking at doing the second fermentation in a different carboy, so I haven’t bottled off any of the first fermentation.

So, have you made hard cider this year? What worked well? What didn’t?

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December 30th

Wordless Wednesday



Portrait, originally uploaded by Aldon.

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December 29th

The Woodbridge Burglaries

Today, I receive an email from the Hartford Police Department. Their Media and Communications Coordinator was responding to a request I had sent to be added to their distribution list.

Thank you for your email. I am always looking for new avenues/groups to get the HPD message and information out too - so I welcome your request and have added both Connecticut News Wire and your personal email as well. BTW, I also joined CT news wire. Happy New Year.

I set up the Connecticut News Wire earlier this year as a means for government agencies, elected officials, candidates, and advocacy organizations to get their message out to the people of Connecticut, especially to bloggers and citizen journalists.

I am pleased to find that the Hartford Police Department is interested in reaching out to the people of Connecticut to help make our State’s Capitol safer.

The importance of this sort of outreach was brought home to me this evening as I read an article in the New Haven Independent, After Burglary, Family Helps Find Suspects. It provides a great example of what happens when police departments and citizens work together. What is particularly striking is that suspects are believed to have been involved in the Woodbridge Burglaries that led to my request to receive press releases from the Woodbridge Police Department. The Woodbridge Police Department declined my request and several journalism organizations, freedom of information organizations and open government organizations have offered to assist me in gaining the public information I have requested.

Yet as the Hartford Police and the story in the New Haven Independent illustrate, there are better ways to promote community involvement in protecting our neighborhoods than police departments denying requests for public information from its citizens.

How are the police in your community trying to improve communications between citizens and the police department? What are you doing to help?

December 28th

Running Squeak, Etoys, Scratch or maybe even OpenCroquet or OpenCobalt on a Nokia N900

Recently, I’ve been writing a lot about the Nokia N900. This is Nokia’s latest cellphone or Internet Table, which is actually a pretty nice little computer. I’ve been testing out what works and what doesn’t, and one of the most interesting projects has been trying to get Squeak running on it.

Squeak is a modern, open source, full-featured implementation of the powerful Smalltalk programming language and environment. Squeak is highly-portable - even its virtual machine is written entirely in Smalltalk making it easy to debug, analyze, and change. Squeak is the vehicle for a wide range of projects from multimedia applications, educational platforms to commercial web application development.

One project for Squeak was Etoys.

Etoys is an educational tool for teaching children powerful ideas in compelling way, a media-rich authoring environment and visual programming system, and a free software program that works on almost all personal computers.

It is also the basis for Scratch,

Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web.

The other day, I downloaded the source code for Squeak and compiled it in my Scratchbox on my Linux laptop. It compiled cleanly, and I moved it over to my N900. It ran fine there, with the exception of the screen being so small that it was hard to get much of anything done. You can download my zipped tar file at http://www.orient-lodge.com/squeak/Squeak-3.11.3.2135-linux_armv71.tar.gz. If you unzip the file, change to the Squeak-3.11.3.2135-linux_armv71 and run ./squeak.sh passing a valid image file, you should get Squeak running on your N900.

The first image file that I tried was a copy of the Squeak3.9 image. You can get a zipped version of that from my site at http://www.orient-lodge.com/squeak/squeak3.9.image.gz. It should be a pretty clean image, but I was testing around in it, so if things are a little off, it might be a residual of my testing.

The second image that I tried was the Etoys image. As I write this post, the etoys website is down, so I can’t link back to the original source. My etoys image is at http://www.orient-lodge.com/squeak/etoys.image.gz. I was pleased to see the little car driving around on the front page, but again frustrated at the smallness of the font.

Today, I tried a third image, http://www.orient-lodge.com/squeak/Scratch.image.gz. I lifted this image from the Linux Installer for Scratch. This came up the same way that Scratch came up on my Linux laptop. In this case some of the font was small and hard to read, and some of the workspace spilled off of the screen.

The N900 is much more expensive than the OLPC, and there is still a lot of work necessary to get the Squeak/Etoys/Scratch, or even more interesting version in OpenCroquet or OpenCobalt running on N900s, but the potential is there, and it looks very interesting.

Are there others out there interested in exploring Smalltalk, Squeak, and the many different images available to see what can be done with it on the N900? Drop me a note if you’re interested.

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