Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bagels FTW!

Sourdough bagels, that is.

Had one this evening with dinner.

Had a decent dinner, so was feeling quite full when I was done.

But I still wanted another bagel...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sourdough #3

I'm getting the hang of this...

This week, I didn't want to waste a lot of flour/water by feeding the starter every day, so I fed it on Sunday night & plonked it in the fridge. Left it there until Friday, when I pulled it out and give it another feed. It had developed plenty of fine bubbles over the five days, but not quite as many as it had previously developed in a 12-hour period. 4-5ºC will slow things down a bit, which was the intended outcome.

After a day out on the bench (in some much cooler weather for Brisbane, ~15-20ºC), it was nice and bubbly again, so I gave it another feed to bulk it up on Saturday night, and made the loaf on Sunday morning.

It's still a bit time-consuming to make a sourdough loaf, but it's satisfying at the same time. Flour, water, and salt were the only ingredients, plus some sesame seeds scattered on the top. (Yes, I remembered the salt this time!)

So, without any further ado, here's loaf #3, 100% pure sourdough.

Two comments:
1) you've probably noticed I baked this one in a tin - thought I'd try it out, see how it goes - the shape is much better for toast / sandwiches, but maybe I'll buy a narrower tin, this one is pretty wide, and a higher-but-narrower loaf would be even better;
2) you've probably also noticed why it is sourdough loaves are usually slashed on the top - that oven spring is wicked! :-D

Tastewise, it's nice bread - a bit 'heavier' than commercial bread (this loaf was over 1kg, compared to a commercial loaf of bread that's a bit bigger weighing in at 700g), but with a nice texture and chewy crust. Makes great toast. A very mild flavour on this one, though, not very sour.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Quote of the week

"But [scientific] journals have lots of big words, and lots of small print, and very few illustrations to make it easy for me. You can see why climate deniers don’t like them."

From the enlightening Climate Denial Crock of the Week.

I thought Viscount Christopher Monckton was getting it wrong, I just didn't know *how* wrong...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mobile data rates

Here's a bit of a rant.

Device A connects to the internet via a 3G (UMTS) cellular network. So does Device B. Same carrier, same cellular network, same UMTS technology used to transmit & receive data.

For Device A, a $30/month plan includes 2000MB of data.
For Device B, a $30/month plan includes 500MB.

For Device A, when you exceed your quota, you pay $0.06 per MB for excess usage.
For Device B, when you exceed your quota, you pay $3.00 per MB for excess usage.

Same network, same data, from the same websites. But Device B pays 50 times more per MB for excess usage.

Device A is a 3G wireless internet modem you plug into a USB port on your PC or laptop.
Device B is a phone - which is why I'm not objecting too much to the different included data, because that $30/month also includes a fair amount of voice calls.

However, if you consider voice calls to be yet another form of data, it gets much, much worse.

GMS voice calls use about 30kbps worth of bandwidth for a digital voice signal. That's 1800 kilobits per minute, or 225 kB per minute. 0.225 MB per minute. At the $0.06/MB rate, that's 1.35c/minute. At the $3.00/MB rate, that's a princely 67.5c/minute. The actual call rates on the plan for Device B are 80c/minute.

If we priced voice & other internet data at the excess usage rate of Device A's plan, it would cost Device B $5.23 for the included voice data, and $30.00 for the included internet data.

Not too bad, $35.23 of value for $30!

But it would cost $120 for the data included in Device A's plan, which suggests the *real* cost of data is something less than the $0.015/MB that the included data for Device A is charged at.

That would price Device B's plan at something more like $8.81 for the included data.

However, I can live with paying a bit more for the GSM voice data, if it's given priority transmission to ensure good audio (having bits of lag here & there is bad for voice call quality). So I can live with paying $30/month for something that costs the carrier less than $9.

The worst bit, though? If you actually used a combined total of 2000MB of data on the phone, you'd pay a minimum of $4,500.00 in excess usage fees.

If both devices use 3000MB, Device A gets charged $90.

Device B gets charged $7,530.00.

For the same data. On the same network.

How is that even legal???

Monday, May 10, 2010

Further Adventures in Bread-making

Sourdough FTW!

Absolutely delicious, and, if I do say so myself, pretty bloody good for a first attempt, even if the shape isn't quite there.

Sourdough loaf #2 worked out pretty well, too - if a little bland, because I forgot to put in the salt. D'oh!

And here's a pic of the starter. Flour, water, and time. That's all! :-D

Here's the dough for the first loaf, being folded after rising, just about to go into the floured banneton.