Cooking experiments: cook: 1; cooking disasters: 1

upsidedown red bowl
Today’s experiment: use Skyr (icelandic yogurt) instead of water to cook instant oatmeal. Not good at all. I didn’t even try to eat it. After the fact, I see that wikipedia suggests there’s a dish “hræringur” that might be similar to what I was hoping to make although it appears that for hræringur the Skyr is added after cooking the oatmeal, not before.

My first mistake was not stirring it before microwaving it. With water, the boiling action does good enough at mixing with the oatmeal. Skyr is pretty viscous and there was dry oatmeal at the bottom when it was supposed to be done. I tried to recover by stirring and using more time in the microwave. However, there was no hope of success.

I tasted like unpleasant sour pasty mush.

Hopefully it hasn’t hardened in the sink. Gotta do dishes tonight anyway so I’ll clean it up one way or another.

The lesson is, don’t substitue sour dairy products for water with something that you normally add sugar too.

Running score to date is: cook 1, cooking disasters 1. (The first win was documented at Mac n Cheese)

… let’s hot wire the chip

My dad worked at IBM in Essex Junction, Vermont in the late sixties/early 70s. He was developing a dynamic RAM chip which was a new technology. He says that university researchers weren’t working on a dynamic RAM chip at the time so it was cutting edge hardware. The chip that he designed had a whopping 32kbits of memory–32,768 bits. His patent is US Patent 3,811,076.

The process they were using was originally called SAMOS for self-aligned metal oxide semiconductor, but I understand that later the acronym had a different meaning.

I just learned a new story about the project that I think is pretty astounding.

The first silicon that they were testing had a power trace that didn’t go to everywhere that it was needed. My dad had left out a power connection in the layout. Rather than go back to the drawing board and make a new wafer, they simply put a jumper connecting the two sides of the power network together with a couple of probes. It was good enough for them to complete the testing.

That is so clever to me. I’m sure there are very few stories of a chip design flaw that was worked around by hot wiring the chip.

It was possible because the dimensions of circuit components were much, much bigger than they are now. Also, the chip layout didn’t have as many layers as current circuits.

What an awesome engineering stunt!

Original image: 64-bit Chip. By Steve Jurvetson [Image license]

Review: Collins Dictionary online

A green thought bubbleThere are many online dictionary sites. Some that come up near the top of search results include, Merriam-Webster, The Free Dictionary, Wiktionary, Your Dictionary,

One that is not so easy to find is Collins

The popular dictionaries are really wannabe encyclopedias. They have detailed explanations of each word. Rather than defining the term in succinct form, they attempt to be general and all-inclusive. For example, searching the noun form of the word “blog”, these dictionaries can use 20 – 40 or more words to define blog. In addition” their definitions have lengthy “or” and “and” clauses so that they cover all the bases and then some.

Although most have a sample sentence, the ones they offer don’t have any context. For example, Merriam Webster uses the sentences “She writes a blog about travel. I enjoy reading her blog.” From this I know “you can read a blog” and “a blog has a subject.” Collins dictionary gives “When Barbieux started his blog, his aspirations were small; he simply hoped to communicate with a few people.” This lets me understand it better, it gives me an example of the why and who that Merriam-Webster’s example doesn’t reveal.

Collins Dictionary has many other useful features such as definitions in both British English and American English. Along with the conventional definitions, parts of speech and derived forms of word, this dictionary has audio pronunciations of the different forms of English. For the language nerd, it provides a graph of word-use frequency over time.

There are full dictionaries of Portuguese, German, Italian, and Chinese. It appears to be missing a dictionary of French, Arabic, Hebrew and other world languages.

One unique feature that it has is a Learner’s English section that include each definition with a less complicated sentence using the word.

Frequently, when I search for words in a search engine, I add “” to limit my search to this source.

Check out. I believe you will be appreciate it as much as I do.

[Edit 2018-03-02] I discovered that my comment about missing dictionaries is not correct. Collins contains dictionaries for Hindi, French, Spanish, English, German, Italian and Chinese. However, I have not found Arabic and Hebrew dictionaries.

An additional feature is access to audio pronunciations for dozens of languages.