Saturday, January 25, 2020

Sourdough, the adventure

I'm not sure really when, or why, I stumbled across this recipe -- but I found myself reading it...

  Rustic Sourdough bread, from King Arthur Flour

I've been making pizza dough for a while, and reading the ingredients -- flour, water, salt, some yeast -- seemed pretty straightforward...   and then there was one more ingredient.

 the starter

 The fine print on the recipe, " Don’t have any starter? Here’s a recipe for  homemade sourdough starter . If you're making it from scratch, you'll need to feed it for 5 to 7 days before it’s ready for baking. " And so, the adventure begins...

I started this back in January, my love of bread (and salad) goes back many years--   at the time, there was no flour shortage or group of home bakers stuck at home..   The building of the starter process I've only done once, so I don't have much advice other than what I've read -- but if you have a friend or a bakery nearby -- that may be the way to go to get you started faster and wasting less flour...

I keep a small starter in the fridge -- its usually about 20-40grams, it really doesnt matter on the size, and honestly I feel like smaller takes up less fridge space and wastes less (that being said, I rarely toss starter discard). 

The process, is weekly, take it out and leave it out for 12ish hours, weigh it, and if you want to double the volume of it a few times before baking, add in equal parts starter/flour/warm-water.  A whole wheat or hearty flour usually works best.  My typical bread recipe calls for 200g's of starter, and I usually like a bit extra to put back in the fridge...

When its time to 'discard' starter, I just put it in another jar for Discard Recipes (waffles/crackers are my goto). 

 the ingredients

        1. flour (any, but a hearty fresh flour best or blended with all-purpose)
        2. water (warm, unchlorinated)
        3. salt (I have been using sea-salt)

 the tools

kitchen scale
wooden spoon / glass jars

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Northeast Radar - February 2018

Ok, so I follow the radar in winter-- Blue is snow -- pink -- ice, green -- RAIN, boo.. 

I decided to first write a bash script with curl that grabbed the radar hourly, I kept it going for a few days/weeks/months.... 

I've never really shared my private stock radar until now -- but here I stitched together those 600+ animated radar gifs, dumped some frames, sped it up with imagemagick... exported it to video with ffmpeg -- and here you go -- the month of February thus far as a 2 minute youtube video.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sense home energy monitor api

I saw today that Sense is supporting IFTTT --  which means there may now be an API available.

I haven't had a chance yet to dig in too deep, but it looks like there is no documentation yet for it.

Looking at some network traffic --

Some initial endpoints{auth code}
{"status":"error","error_reason":"client_id is required, response_type is required, scope is required, state is required"}

client_id is ifttt when authorizing IFTTT
scope is ifttt in this case
response_type is code
state looks like a session state value

Sense home energy monitor

So after using the sense product for over a year now, the most valuable insights are ones where the appliance is too big to hook up an electrical meter like I had been using with the Kill-A-Watt.    I knew my electric hot water tank was an energy hog, but really -- its 30% of my bill/usage!

a nice 4000w spike every time that water gets heated up

luckily the solar generation offset most of my annual use--  nice to see the sun's bell curve of generation over the longer spring-summer days

Monday, December 28, 2015

DefaultKeyBinding.dict (Mac OS X - Home/End keys like a PC)

With my new Mac Mini, took a few lines of editing code to realize how much I use 'Shift+End', 'Shift+Home' and Home, End keys to move around and modify/select code...

Add these snippets to your ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict file (may need to create KeyBindings directory)

/* remap Home / End */
"\UF729"  = "moveToBeginningOfLine:";                   /* Home         */
"\UF72B"  = "moveToEndOfLine:";                         /* End          */
"$\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfLineAndModifySelection:"; /* Shift + Home */
"$\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfLineAndModifySelection:";       /* Shift + End  */


(you won't need the open/close braces if modifying an existing dictionary)


Monday, December 21, 2015

El Nino?

Is it almost winter? is the water south of mexico along the equator warmer than usual this year?  We are in an El Nino weather pattern.

What does that mean for us here in the Northeast United States?  The warmer weather impacts the typical storm path and wind directions.  Typically, meaning a warmer/wetter winter than usual.

Well this year, that snow/rain line has been much further north than any skier would want to see --and has meant a warm fall and no snow for Christmas for most of us.  The line is starting to fall south, and there is hope that as that line goes south of Massachusetts for the coldest portion of the year -- we could see some activity in our mountains and backyards.

Enjoy the last day of fall, bring it on winter!   If you have to fall in the mountains and keep our driveway shoveling to a minimum, I'm ok with that!


Disclaimer:  I'm not a meteorologist, but I do like nice weather that supports my hobbies and interests!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

SALT - money knowledge for college and beyond (

Part of the reason for working for a non-profit organization, is the benefit of feeling like I am helping out my fellow man instead of working to help out a shareholders pocket.  Don't get me wrong, I am a shareholder and need those publicly traded companies that I help to support continue to do well too-- The 'student debt' problem in our country, is a big one though -- and few companies are really trying to take the issue head on.   Our countries youth signs away far too much of their future before truly understanding the debt they are taking on.

ASA has created a website called and its primary purpose is to help you out with financial education and handling student loan debt.  In a few years, the site has grown a lot -- from a content and tools perspective, from number of users, and from a usability perspective.  

The site is now mobile friendly, thanks to mobile-first design decisions, and our talented development team worked hard to ensure the site works well in many screen resolutions (responsive design) on a multitude of devices.  The site will mature even further and become the  go to resource for student loan and basic financial topics lessons and tools.

I have been working for the last few years on this noble endeavor, and wish ASA and the best in the future.  Keep on innovating, and always remember -- your users need you now more than ever.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Simply Organized -

My wife Avery is an entrepreneur!

She has started her business of helping people organize their homes, closets and lives.  She has a new website that we put together (Simply Organized  She is starting to use social media to advertise her business as well and has put up a Facebook page for her business and has a Pinterest page as well.

Like Simply Organized on Facebook
Follow Simply Organized on Pinterest

She has already done wonders with our home in Norfolk, MA.  We have been here for a few months, and folks visiting assume that we have been here for years.

Please check out the site, and spread the good word!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Solar - it's probably better than you think

Can solar panels save you money on your cost of electricity?   If you have a sunny roof that preferably faces south-- I think the answer is yes!

I've been researching solar panels now for a good amount of time and am about to pick the installer and sign a contract...    

My findings, for a smaller roof - Sunpower makes the top of the line most efficient panels and also the best warranty on the market.  They also have a really nice looking all black panel..    If you have a larger roof and maybe don't care as much about aesthetics, you could alternatively maybe consider more of the cheaper panels (the ones with grey lines in them). 

First steps-- understand your usage. Look at your prior bills, preferably over 12 months and figure out your average monthly usage.  The energy goal with solar: produce about or slightly above what you will use.   It's also good to know what your total electric cost over the last 12 months was, and the price per kWh you paid.  The financial goal, spend less annually on panels/electricity...

Incentives: currently there is a federal tax credit (30% of total cost) which is currently set to expire on installations not completed by the end of 2016 2019.  Massachusetts also gives you 1k.

Additional income: for every 1000kwh you generate, you earn an SREC, which you can sell on the market, currently I believe around 250-300$ each.  If you get 6-12 SRECs per year, it's really going to help out your annual cost.  The SRECs value is going to go down as more people enter the market and get solar panels.

Buy or not:
I'm looking to buy my panels, getting a loan at about 3%, for 70% of the total cost.  My monthly payment will be higher than my current electricity bill, but my annual cost of electricity should be about half what it was, and when the loan is paid off, I should be getting most of my homes energy from the sun, resulting in no electric bills.   It looks like buying offers the best longer term savings, while a lease option provides better monthly cash-flow options on the short term.

If you just want to save money each month for say the next 20 years...  There are many companies that will be happy to use your sunny roof space, deal with everything (including receiving the incentives) and you won't have to do too much aside from pay less per month.  It's attractive as it's less out of pocket cash flow wise, but longer term has less of a benefit.

That's the high level-- I'll give you some more details if you want to hear them.  Here is a link to the company I used and it includes my referral.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ariens 927069 - Rear Engine Rider Lawn Tractor

Buying the house included a neglected 2005 Ariens 927069 lawn tractor, that looked like it hadn't run in years and was outside through a bad winter or two....

I saw some potential there, and always like a good challenge--

After blowing out the mice nest, spider webs, bee hives and moving her to my garage... I started with some basics. Cleaned out the carb, changed the oil, dumped that nasty old gas-- put on a new fuel filter, a shutoff switch, and replaced the carb gasket... Oh, and a new battery. I had a nice running Briggs and Stratton 14.5 HP motor!

 Now the tricky part... the belt. Took 3 parts until I finally got it right (Owners manual and Part manual had wrong parts). 07242200 is the belt it needed. Took the blade off and got it sharpened at the local hardware store, and I was in business cutting grass! Only took most of the summer to get that far :) The guys down at the local tractor store, Norfolk Power were great and sympathetic to my issues... my two year old son really enjoyed the multiple visits to the parts counter and tractor showroom...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Norfolk, MA - Moving Day

We now live in Norfolk, MA!

After selling my condo in Gloucester, and not being a homeowner/landlord for a bit -- its back to the 'joys of home ownership'. Like many things in life, there are pros/cons of every choice and decision... Our new home has many of the things we were looking for, but falls short on a few as well. I now have an acre of land, and more than enough garden space! The land was once farmland and does appear to have a nice layer of topsoil.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Stephen Ellis Amante

The easter bunny brought us a surprise today!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Guide to AJAX crawling for webmasters and developers

After reading some of this guide, looks like my work is not done yet...

You've built a site with AJAX-- its dynamic, snazzy, and great -- but?  Google isn't indexing it!

Ensure you use google webmaster tools and try a Fetch as Google (with rendering) to ensure you see the page the way a Googlebot would -- and you like what you see....

Pinnacle Landscape & Design

Pinnacle Landscape & Design ( is starting to really show some nice work on their website , facebook, and flickr pages.   I had the opportunity to help Keith out with his page, and update the way his pictures were being brought in through flickr.  I got to play around with flickr api and jquery/lightbox, ensure that each of the images descriptions came through as alt tags -- and I really like how nice it works in mobile/tablet devices.  I'll probably update my own page to go this route instead of the way I did it last.
Pinnacle Landscape and Design logo

Hoping that someday I can hire Keith to do some nice work on my own home!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Windows 7 - hide a user account from login

The user you want to disable from seeing on windows 7 login, is "Username".

Copy and paste the below registry snippet into notepad or your favorite text editor, change "Username" to be whatever user account you want to not see on windows login screen, save it as a file with .reg extension type. (ie disablelogin.reg).  After saving, just double-click to import the setting and you are done.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\SpecialAccounts\UserList]

Monday, October 27, 2014

2010 Toyota 4Runner

Very happy to be the proud owner of a 2010 Toyota 4Runner!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pebble Watchface - til Friday - my first watchface experimenting with the sdk

My first simple watchface for the pebble watch, i call it 'til Friday'.  It was a pretty simple app, but I hit a few gotcha's on the learning curve and getting the sdk / development environment up and running before developing this simple watchface.

[pbw] watchface download
[src] source code

Friday, March 29, 2013

Matthew Joseph Amante

7lbs, 11oz - 20.5"

Welcome Matthew!

good news of a long-awaited event will arrive soon

My sister received this fortune, and shared it with me--

Which could mean one of two things, 1) My wife of 8+ months pregnancy could soon be going into labor and we would welcome our new son into the world.  2)  My Pebble watch would soon arrive, I had received notification that it would be shipped within a few weeks.

When I got home, guess what was in my mailbox...

Which meant that the watch has arrived, but could it also mean its time to go to the hospital?

That night, my wife woke me up...  after the initial charge, it was go time.  3:03 am, March 29th. 
We headed to the hospital.


Friday, March 01, 2013

the Melrose chapter

We moved out of our Gloucester place and a bit closer to the city.  We found a nice old Victorian home in the Wyoming Hill area of Melrose, and are starting to get settled.   We'll surely miss Gloucester and all of its natural beauty, but then again we'll probably still go up to the beach about as often as we want to.   Melrose will be closer to Boston for our daily grind, and in the end it should mean more time at home and less time commuting.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Miike Snow - Animal

Checking out Miike Snow next week at the Orpheum!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

SVG conversion with Vector Magic

The power of scalable vector graphics, is the image is represented with math instead of pixels, which allows the image to be resized without losing quality.

Today I came across this site, Vector Magic, which can be useful for converting versions of pixel images into SVG, it works best with a logo or something drawn versus an image like a  photograph.