Moving Home …

Not physically of course, but the server that hosts the blog & my email is moving away from Linode and on to a dedicated server in France.

This isn’t happening because of any problems with Linode. Indeed their service has been excellent both in terms of support and getting upgrades over the years despite still paying $20 a month like I was in 2010 when I started using them. (Before that I used Slicehost, still paying roughly $20 a month for slightly fewer resources)

The reason I’m moving is that for the same amount of money a month I can have a dedicated box that is mine and mine alone. “Old” is the specs from Linode and “New” is the specs on the dedicated box from Online.net:

Old: 2GB Ram, 2 virtual CPU’s which I can use a bit, 48GB storage on SSD and 3TB of bandwidth

New: 8GB Ram, 1 CPU with 8 Cores, 1TB storage on HD (not RAID’d) and unlimited Bandwidth.

Quite the leap in terms of Hardware features. That said I lose in terms of software a little, Linode’s web interface is very slick compared to Online.net. Support is also a little tricky as English is not the primary language of the Online.net staff; which is fair enough given they are in France. The other loss is in terms of bandwidth, or rather access to bandwidth. On Linode with the 2GB plan, you get 40Gbit download speed and 250Mbit up whereas with Online.net its 1Gbit in and 150Mbit out. For me it isn’t an issue, but it might be for others.

Last but not least moving away from Linode I lose out on having easy backups. For $5 a month you basically had 4 snapshots of all of your data (3 automatically, 1 manual). With the dedicated server I get 100GB FTP space, just a 10th of the HD storage, and I have to set up backing up manually. I always paid for the backup on Linode for peace of mind, though I never had a hardware issue that force me to use a copy of the backs. Thinking about it I only ever used a backup once after I messed up upgrading something in Ubuntu.

Having 1TB of storage is very useful, it means that I can have online backups of various bits of data from my home computer (like photos, my music) so that if there ever where a disaster that wiped out my comps and my external HD backups, then I would still have one online backup. It also means that I can run OwnCloud to have access to bits where ever I am in the world rather than relying on Dropbox / whoever.

In terms of access being in France makes little difference to me from a Latency point of view and shouldn’t make too much difference to any one visiting the site / sending me email. It’s not like I have many visitors or a thriving website or anything :)

I should add that it may not be the last move in the coming future. I have since discovered the world of Low End Boxes, where you can pay next to nothing yearly for a box that would cover me email/website needs. Seriously, for instance with DireVPS £12 a year will get you a OpenVZ SSD VPS with 256MB RAM, 3.25GB SSD Storage, 1.6180339887TB monthly data transfer @ £12.00 GBP per 12 month(s) or $26.75 a year with XVMLabs for 1GB RAM, 100 GB SSD, 300 GB monthly data transfer.

With some of the deals out there it is really hard to justify spending $20 a month, trust me I spent a week agonising over the choice.

— Edit

Just a quick note I will post some details later about the setup as I ran into a couple of things setting up DKIM/DMARC/ADSP where I was unclear where exactly they go in the DNS Records, particularly using DynDNS’s interface.

As of now every email leaving my system is digitally signed using DKIM. Which any email server can check, and discard any messages that claim to come from Tarasis.net that don’t have a valid signature.

I am not dead

I continually think about blogging, but never actually get around to it. Too many other things I want to do when I have spare time (play a computer game, read a book, listen to music, watch something, play a board game and so on) that this never happens. I have a few things I do want to post so hopefully soon I’ll have something new here :)

Miracles can happen!

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The Perfect Pizzas (for us)

We eat pizza pretty much once a week, these days it tends to be homemade though we occasionally still order from Smileys. (more when the kids pester for Smileys pizza brotchen or when guests) There is something nicer about making it yourself as you can control the amount of sauce, how thick the base is, the quantity of toppings and the amount of cheese.

For me I’ve always preferred a thin base, I’m not eating pizza to eat a wodge of bread so I want as thin as possible and while I like a ton of sauce I don’t like a lot of cheese. The only thing I miss out on is the nice beef that Smileys use, I haven’t worked out what sort of spice they add to it but it sure is tasty.

We use two recipes that are available of the Thermomix forum, the first for the tomato sauce is easy as pie:

Garlic Pizza Saucesource

For the ingredients you’ll need:

    Around 425g of tomatoes (or a bit more, we used 490g today)
    2 cloves of Garlic (we tend to use 3-4)
    8 dessertspoons tomato purée
    4 dessertspoons brown sugar

Then to make the sauce

    The blitz the garlic for 5 seconds at speed 7.
    Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    Again blitz for 5 seconds at speed 7.
    Add tomatoes, tomato purée and brown sugar to the bowl.
    Set timer for 20 minutes, temperature to Varoma and speed to 1.
    As one of the kids is now eating the sauce I tend to blitz the final sauce for 10 seconds at speed 7-8 to destroy any pieces of tomato that might still be there
    Scrape the sauce out of the Thermomix bowl into a different bowl to cool

While the sauce is cooling, assuming you don’t have a second TMX bowl, give the bowl a quick rinse and make the dough. (or cheat and make it earlier. We now have a second bowl so I make the dough first, switch bowls and make the sauce)

Thin and Crispy Pizza Doughsource

Ingredients

    170g of Water
    1tsp salt
    1tsp sugar
    7g of packet yeast
    260g plain flour

Making it is a breeze

    Add 170g of water to the Thermomix bowl, set temp to 37°c for 1-3 minutes on speed 1 (depends on outside temp how long it takes to hit 37°c)
    Add the salt, sugar and yeast avoiding the blades. Mix together on speed 1 for 1 minute.
    Add the flour, mix for 20 seconds on speed 5. You may need a dash or two of water to get the right consistency.
    Set timer for 2 minutes, and select the knead function.
    Finally turn the dough out of the bowl and roll to your desired pizza size. To quote

    One mix makes 2 really big bases or 3 medium bases. I use this recipe for pizza pockets as well and it easily makes 10.

    We use it two make 4 pizzas: two larger and two smaller for the kids.

When your ready, spread the sauce onto the bases, add your toppings and cheese and cook for 5-8 minutes in the oven. (we use the Fan function, 230°c, and put it in towards the bottom) There you have it, yes a little effort but scrumier than store bought and a fraction of the price.

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In the off chance your interested, our tastes on toppings are a bit varied:

Toby has no sauce, with minced beef, bacon and grated mozzarella
Mareike has sauce, cheese and occasionally salami
Bob has sauce, red and yellow peppers, minced beef, grated mozzarella & Italian herbs (sometimes chicken)
Rob has sauce, grated mozzarella, sometimes a little bacon, sometimes spiced minced beef, plain chicken or chicken tikka, or prosciutto and pizza spice

A bit quiet

It’s been a bit quiet here I know, I tend to find other things to do than blog even if they are time wasting affairs like reading the Internet :)

It’s been a mixed up year for me, the year started badly, or rather last year ended badly with a week in hospital, then improved a little for a few weeks and then I was back in hospital again by the end of January so that they could remove my spleen (and decide the I had pneumonia, which of course had to be cleared first before the op). This led to 3 weeks in hospital and a few months of recovery.

I’m better now, indeed seemingly much better than I was before the spleen was removed. In years gone by whenever I got a cold it tended to knock me for 6, since the op I’ve had a couple and they’ve barely registered which is a big win despite the loss of the organ (which on removal was a whopping 20cm and 680g in weight). In part my immune system was nerfed by my blood condition and with my spleen working overtime killing my blood so colds had more effect than they should have. The only downside is that since the op where I dropped to 72.7kg, I’ve gone up to 82.7kg which isn’t good.

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I had been editing a book, which I then took over writing duties for and then stepped away from as I was struggling to find the time I needed to write with the kids, cooking and other house activities that needed to be done. Also from a financial standpoint it wasn’t going to work out worth the time involved as I would no longer be covered by my wife’s health insurance so we would need to pay for my own. Maybe the fates will conspire to give me another chance down the line, but I think if i am honest I prefer tech editing / reviewing.

Now we are racing very quickly towards Christmas, with a birthday party to organise for Mareike who will be turning 6, a house to decorate for Xmas, guests coming (in theory) for 10 days and lots of food to cook. Here is hoping the 2013 will start off better than 2012 did :)

The iPhone Screens

Now that my wife is back from a couple of days away I ended up comparing some bits between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S, particularly download speed wise (with the SpeedTest app) and I noticed that the screen on the 4S was yellower/murkier than the iPhone 4 I used before.

Part of this evening I’ve been comparing the two screens and I struggle a bit over which I prefer, some colours look better on the yellower screen, at the cost of some detail in photos as its a bit more washed out, and others look better on a bluer screen, for instance I looked at the same photo on both a iPhone 4 and 4S screen and a purple/pink was much more striking on the bluer iPhone 4 screen than the 4S. However the grey and greens looked more natural on the yellower 4S. The other cost with the yellower screen is that the text of the App Icons isn’t quite as clear

I kind of forget the difference when I don’t look at the iPhone 4 but there is a part of me that is bugged knowing that some of the detail in pictures is lost / washed out and icon text is a bit harder to read.

Its not an unknown issue and also occurred when the iPhone 4 was released. Its quite varied, some like the yellower tint, some the bluer tint and the chances of getting exactly the one you want is slim unless you somehow convince Apple to let you swap lots of times.

Have a look at this photo by Jason Yeaman in the AppAdvice thread, which shows the variation in the iPhone 4 screens.

— PHOTO REMOVED – was no longer viewable —

When I got my original 3GS I loved its screen to death (I honestly think it was on the yellow side of neutral), but the casing (dock connector area) cracked and I ended up taking it to the Apple Store and they kindly replaced the phone. Then began a nightmare of 6-7 replacement phones which had varying degrees of problems (dead pixels, vibration unit and so on) including quite different degrees of screen colours; none though had as good a colour as my original 3GS had and I ended up with one that was quite blue, too blue even and so I gladly upgraded to the iPhone 4 when I could.

When I got the iPhone 4, the first one was quickly replaced because the phone had a strong green aura when taking photo’s of white surfaces and I had struggled with it compared to the 3GS; while camera shots were great outdoors I couldn’t trust the camera indoors; I still don’t. The replacement 4 was yellower than the original 4 but I went with it with the intention that I could change it down the line if I didn’t get on with it. Since then I’ve gotten used to the yellower look of the screen, but had to constantly ignore the fact that the top part of the screen (status area) was dimmer than the rest of the display (most noticeable on white pages in Safari, particularly if rotated horizontally). In the end I didn’t exchange it again as I didn’t want to go through what I went through with the 3GS.

And now we come to the iPhone 4S which is yellower again than the iPhone 4. At the moment it stands like this there is a:
2G which is reddish
3GS quite blue(red)
4 most neutral (to my eyes)
4S yellow

Excuse the photography, it is an iPad 2, but it shows the difference in the screen colours well enough in both this first side on shot. The dimist, on the left, is the original iPhone, then the 3GS, 4 and then finally the 4S.

Side on shot of our iPhone family. It shows the difference is the display panels.

Then we have a face on shot of the phones, again 2G, 3GS, 4 and 4S and it again shows the variation in the screens.

Face on shot of the iPhones, all on full brightness and auto Brightness off.

I’m not entirely sure how i will leave it, whether I will waste my time and Apple’s and try and change out the phone, part of me definitely wants to as I find the screen that little bit more yellow than the 4 and it makes the text a bit harder to read. On the other had, its not a big issue and I should learn to live with it how it is; particularly as I have no idea what the replacement will be like, it could be yellower or bluer. Its a lot of money, even subsided, and it irks when its not “right”.

There is the note that was said when the iPhone 4 came out, the part of the yellowing was actually the glue which hadn’t dried yet and that basically you just need to use the phone for a week, ideally at full brightness to help it finish the drying process. I will try that out but really that was suggested more for people who had yellow splotches on their screen, rather than their screen being yellower overall compared to another iPhone. (As some have noted in this thread)