I’ve been privileged, both directly (with financial and material support from family) and indirectly (in that I’ve been able to work to earn some extra cash). I’ve used those resources for the great credo:

Spend your money where you spend your time

And so I’ve spent significant amounts of money on PCs. I find it enjoyable to keep a record of my previous rigs, so here it is. Older entries were constructed from memory, newer ones are more reliable as they’re created from a “paper” trail.

  • 2017: Intel Core i7-7700K + 32GB RAM + GeForce GTX 1080
  • 2013: Intel Core i7-4500U (Laptop – Dell XPS-12)
  • 2012: Intel Core i5-2500K + 16 GB RAM + GeForce GTX 560 Ti
  • 2009: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 + 4GB RAM + Radeon HD 4870
  • 2005: Intel Pentium M740 (Laptop – Acer Aspire 1692)
  • 2001: AMD Athlon XP + ?? RAM + GeForce 2
  • 1998: AMD K6-2 + ?? RAM + 3Dfx Voodoo2
  • 1994: Unknown brand 486 (66 MHz) with co-processor + 16 (?) MB RAM
  • 1990: Tulip 286 (10 MHz) + 1 (?) MB RAM

My most recent (2017) build was actually the trigger for this post: I’m very pleased with how it turned out and how well it works (and I’m hoping it will continue working so well).

If you care about the details of the various builds, and some of the backstories: check out my extended PC List.

And you, dear reader? Do you remember your old rigs too?

Hawai’i Intermission

So a short intermission in my coding efforts was “caused” by a three week vacation to Hawai’i (Oahu, Big Island, and Maui). What an amazing place! Enjoy some pictures while I get over jet lag and back into my coding hobbies (updates forthcoming!).

Diamond Head Crater
Diamond Head Crater
Heleakkala Observatory
Heleakkala Observatory
Heleakkala Sunset
Heleakkala Sunset
Kapalua Trail
Kapalua Trail
Kapalua Trail
Kapalua Trail
Kilauea Iki Trail Crater
Kilauea Iki Trail Crater
Kilauea Iki Trail
Kilauea Iki Trail
Road to Hana
Road to Hana
Road to Hana
Road to Hana
Waipio Valley Lookout
Waipio Valley Lookout
Seven Sacred Pools
Seven Sacred Pools

If you can save up the money to do this trip: highly recommended! If my crappy Nexus 5 camera can capture the above visuals, then the actual experience surely promises to be something…

Maestro: organize!

I organize. I tweak. I optimize. I categorize. And I love music.

For a few months now I’ve been feeling more and more annoyed by the anarchy reigning in my Spotify library. Time for some action! However, I need a system.

Why do I bother my handful of readers with this? Heck, I don’t know; feel free to skip this series of short posts about my playlists. Why do I bother at all writing this? Because I have no clue yet how to organize my music. Perhaps writing down my options will help…. organize my thoughts.

First things first: which feature to use for organizing things? The “Your Music” feature of Spotify is useful and useless at the same time. It is just one big bucket for all your saved songs and albums, to be browsed only by artist or album. With 1000s of “my songs” this won’t be all too useful. I will be using that feature some 10% of the time for finding music, but for the other 90% I need a different system. Why? Because I tend to decide on a “type” of music before I choose an album or a song.

Playlists” are the other option, as Spotify so humbly tells us:

Playlists are collections of tracks you can build for moods, events, etc. And since you can make as many playlists as you like, the only limit is your imagination.

Currently, my setup for playlists is along these lines:

Spotify Playlists

There are several minor problems with this system:

  • The “divider” playlist is an ugly little hack.
  • The duplication (every genre appears twice, once as “songs” and once for “albums”) bothers me.
  • The names for others’ playlists are not at all informative.
  • The list can become quite long (20+ genres times 2 makes 40+ entries).

Then there are some bigger problems with this system:

  • This system lets me find an album by genre, but still requires me to scroll through a lot of songs to find an album I want.
  • Within a genre there can be big differences (some broader genres are more prone to this problem), so just randomly playing songs from a certain list is not an option.

Or, let me put it more bluntly:

  • I can’t quickly find shit.
  • The effect of a shuffled playlist is shit.

Okay, that helped. Now I know what my problem is. Time to try a new system for size. Or perhaps, given that I have two problems, I should have two systems?

Ragù Bolognese part 2 of 2

After researching the heck out of Bolognese Sauce in part 1, here are the results.

Ragu Bolognese (result)

This is, in hindsight, the general recipe we followed (based on the “official” recipe).


For the sauce:

  • Ground Veal / Pork (50/50)
  • Pancetta
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Tomato Paste
  • Dry White Wine
  • Beef Stock
  • Extra-virgine Olive Oil
  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the tagliatelle:

  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Extra-virgin Olive Oil

And to finish off:

  • Parmezan Cheese


Part 1 is preparing and making the sauce:

  1. Cut the OnionsCarrots, and Celery brunoise.
  2. Stir-fry the three of them in some oil for about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the Pancetta and Ground Meat and stir-fry for another 8 minutes.
  4. Add Tomato Paste, some Extra-virgin Olive OilDry White Wine, and Beef Stock.
  5. Let it simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Add a splash of Milk.

Part 2 is letting the sauce get it’s flavor:

  1. Turn down the heat such that the sauce is simmering very slowly, leave it at that for about 4 to 6 hours, adding beef stock whenever it would get too dry.

Part 3 is making the pasta (the basics only, below won’t serve as a detailed pasta recipe):

  1. Mix Flour and Eggs and a little bit of Extra-virgin Olive Oil.
  2. Knead until mixed well (when pressing the dough it should bounce back a bit).
  3. Tightly wrap in foil and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Use the Pasta Machine to roll out Tagliatelle.

Finishing up is as simple as:

  • Cooking the fresh pasta in a lot of very salty water;
  • Adding some Cream to the sauce and let it simmer along for a few minutes;
  • Draining the pasta, plating up, and grating some Parmezan Cheese on top.

So, how did the finished result turn out to be? Great, actually. Very different from “Spag Bol” indeed. We did decide that plain ground beef would’ve been nicer than veal, and that perhaps it would be wise to fry off the beef seperately. Oh and the fresh pasta makes quite a difference too.

Bon appetit!

Ragù Bolognese part 1 of 2

Apparently, northern european countries were doing it all wrong! There is no such thing as Spaghetti Bolognese, at least not in the country we think spawned the dish. Here are the main things that are wrong with “Spagbol”:

  • It is not served with spaghetti, but with tagliatelle (or if not that, with some other broad type of pasta).
  • It has no herbs or garlic in it. It’s a meaty sauce with some vegetables, but no herbs.
  • There are no fresh tomatoes in it. Instead, either paste or canned tomatoes are used.
  • It is not a quick dish. It has to sit on the stove for several hours.

Wow. I’ve been sinning against Italian cuisine for a long time!

So it’s time to set things straight, time to try out the real Bolognese Sauce. First things first, I needed to check if there’s an official recipe. The Wikipedia page is usually a good start. However, I’d rather be sure that I have a recipe as authentic as possible. So I went back to my old favorite and asked what the key ingredients are.

The answer I accepted links to an “official” recipe by Accademia Italiana della Cucina. However, this didn’t hold me back from creating my own answer. I compared several prominent recipes, which led me to the following ingredient summary:

Must Haves:

  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Ground Beef
  • Tomato Paste
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Should Haves:

  • Olive oil (usually extra-virgin, but the “official” source mentions regular oil)
  • Pancetta
  • Milk
  • Ground Veal and/or Pork †
  • Dry White Wine (incidentally recipes mention red wine instead)
  • Beef Stock (incidentally chicken stock instead)

† The only ingredient not in the “official” source’s recipe, that is found in most other recipes.

Honerable mentions:

  • Cream (the only “official” ingredient not found in most recipes)

Ingredients usually not mentioned:

  • Bacon (instead of pancetta)
  • Tin crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh tomatoes (never mentioned!)
  • Sieved tomatoes
  • Butter
  • Cloves
  • Bay Leaves
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Parsely
  • Sugar

So, armed with that knowledge, and a basic recipe, I’ll soon be attempting to make a classic Ragù Bolognese. With fresh tagliatelle.

To be continued…


I can get curious about many things. Very different things, too. I’ve wondered whether our bodies can loose fat cells at all, why drop caps look different across browsers, and whether you can cook fish in a dishwasher. The list goes on.

The most recent item to be added to this list is about Smileys. While chatting with one of my friends I used this emoticon:


I used this thinking it stands for “Surprise” or “Gasping” or “Jaw Dropping”. Instead, Google Hangouts presented us with this:

Smiley visual for :O

What the fuck is going on here!? Something’s not allright with that guy, possibly multiple things!

Turned out quite a few smileys I tend to use have rather strange visuals, with big differences between major platforms too. So I set out to do some research. Here are the results:

Smileys Overview

In the end, not too many big surprises, though there are a few. I’ve subtly highlighted the ones I’d more or less expect and which ones are not what I’d expect from the particular emoticon.

On to more useless research, I say!

World of Guild Wars

Asura in Guild Wars 2
Asura in Guild Wars 2

Recently I mentioned there’s just so much to do (in a good way). One of the items on that list I didn’t even pick up, even though I was expecting to be sucked into the thing: Mists of Pandaria, the new World of Warcraft expansion. Instead, the alotted time for WoW went into Guild Wars 2, just because it’s more fun than I expect the new WoW expansion to be.

The game’s even diverted my attention from Stack Exchange (and my corresponding challenge) to Reddit. After helping out my wife converting a Reddit post into a browser bookmarklet, I decided to post it on Reddit as a reply. A few days later I had an encouraging 50+ Reddit Karma. As you can imagine it was with lifted spirits that I decided to start another undoubtedly great post, bound to draw hundreds of Karma points. So I asked about Missing Guild Wars 2 Features, and harvested … a wopping zero points!

Lesson learned? Not so much, I guess. That is, the post wasn’t really meant for Karma-grinding, but more to start a uservoice kind of thing: let ArenaNet know what things they should steal from WoW. Maybe the I didn’t even so much wanted to ask the question, as I wanted to answer it. So for your reading pleasure, here are some things I’d love for them to steal from WoW:

  • Dueling. Not for the top of a prioritized list, but still one of the first things that comes to mind.
  • Proper teamwork, especially in dungeons. Asked about it on Gaming Stack Exchange, and apparently instancing is mostly “soloing together”.
  • Would be nice to be able to mail your own alts, but apparently this isn’t possible (yet?).
  • Addons, plugins, and macros.
  • If the above isn’t possible I would love to see an official DPS Meter or something similar. Just for personal use, I just love optimizing my own playstyle.
  • More emotes! I find myself typing “/palm” and “/violin” just way too often.
  • A way to easily see map progress when you’re not on that map.
  • More different spells available. I loved having 40 different buttons to press when playing WoW.
  • Be more clear on the different roles players can fill. Currently this is too meager, and even though I don’t want or need the classic tank-healer-dps setup I still think GW2 can be clearer about its intentions here, in skills, the UI, etc.
  • End game raiding.
  • Monthly subscription fee and the horrific addiction level. No wait, the other way around of course.

“Wow”… glad I got that off my chest. Now back to enjoy the damn game!


Shredder, nemesis of the TMNT!
Shredder, nemesis of the TMNT!

Trading my three year old PC for a bottle of whisky (or is it whiskey?) to a friend seems like a great deal. With several work-related files left on my computer, it felt like a great opportunity to try out a shredding tool. So I figured I’d just Google for the popular choice and try it out.

Then I got submerged in a whirlpool of information. Some folks linked to “non geek perspectives”, for example this article on 4 file shredder tools. Others gave walls of text on the technical details. I was in fact hoping to find some article on the Dutch site on this topic. In the end the Stack Exchange site for “power users” gave me the most info through a dedicated file-shredding-tag.

And there, finally: a great list of shredding options! Options all around: bootable CDs, hidden Windows 7 tools, as well as a  great post on Scott Hanselman’s blog. For some reason one of the answers with almost the least amount of answers caught my attention.

So I downloaded a bootable ISO of Ubuntu and fired it up. First I tried the “basic” suggestion:

The terminal screen just sat there, with a blinking caret. Apparently I’d entered a staring contest. After some time I decided to hit the enter key a few times in the console: the caret moved. After a minute of pondering I tried CTRL+C: and the operation got cancelled. I’d lost the staring competition, that’s for sure.

Now, this staring contest had taken about one hour. So I decided to try the second suggestion:

No dice. Utterly confising console error messages. Since I’m mot quite a Linux guru like these guys, I did some more searching around. Finally I found some more detailed instructions on hdparm. First I had to unfreeze my drive, and I had to set a password (though I don’t quite grasp why). Then the moment of truth…

Ever since I’ve been in yet another staring contest with Ubuntu. Only this time I’m gonna win, or die trying!

Update: after over two hours the staring contest is over… and won! The console returns to normal. At first, it seems Ubuntu can still browse the drives. But, after a reboot, there is not a single file, folder or partition to be found anymore!