Sichuan peppercorns

I read about Sichuan Pepper in Cooking for Geeks a long time ago. I have been wanting to try a dish with them for a long time. Recently there was a post on the Winnipeg SubReddit that mentioned that the Golden Loong restaurant uses them. Yesterday I finally got to try their Kung Pao Chicken with fresh sichuan peppercorns. The basic taste is lemony. More importantly, they are tingly and change the flavour of everything in the part of your mouth where they burst, including the water you drink after. Of the four of us there, one hated the sensation, one didn’t much like it, and the other two liked it at least for the intensity of the sensation. I’d have it again. Very neat experience, and one thing gone from the geeky bucket list :-)


An organization I am involved with does its internal communication and broadcasts exclusively through Slack. In my mind, Slack is “evil” because it lets communication in but doesn’t seem to provide tools to let communication out. For example, they don’t provide RSS feeds. I do most of my daily surfing through RSS feeds.

Today I figured I should look into this further and posted the question on the Slack Reddit.  Someone suggested I could do this through Zapier. I had never heard about them: they provide integration between different web apps. Sure enough, 15 minutes of tinkering later I now have an RSS feed from that Slack channel.

Things should not be so complicated, but when they are, it is good to have a tool like that!

More remote switching on the backpack

I have had a remote switch for the light on my backpack for a long time (holding up well!). I thought it would be nice to add a remote switch to the garage door opener.

So, I opened the heat shrink up and solderedIMG_20160920_153503 another switch on the remaining two leads in the USB cable. Some more surgery on the other end to attach two connectors. Then open up the garage remote and add wires to each side of the IMG_20160920_152807momentary push button that opens the door. Taped a block over the original button so it doesn’t get pushed by other things pressing into it.

Connect, and open the garage door. Should have done this ages ago.

electronic circuit simulator

I have messed around with electronics for a long time, but a lot of it is still a mystery. So, I was thrilled to realize that free, online circuit simulators exist. My favourite one is . It gives examples of dozens of circuits, you can modify them, or you can make your own. Better yet, no login required, if you want to save your work it will spit it out as a text file you can import again later. Thanks, Paul Falstad & co, for putting this together and hosting it!

Two computers, one set of speakers

We have two windows computers in our kitchen. For a while now they have been set up so that you have to plug the one you sound in listen tabwant working right now into the external speakers. Today I finally looked into a better way. Turns out there is a free one, or free as long as you already have a male-to-male audio cable.
Plug one PC’s audio out into the second PC’s audio in. On the second PC (Windows 7), go into control panel, sound, recording, pick the plug you used, and click properties. Click the “listen” tab and check “listen to this device”. I had to set the levels way down to 5/100 to not get any distortion and just get a full volume output from the first PC.
No more plugging around!