Matt Groening’s Artwork for Apple

I posted this to my Facebook, but thought it warranted the rare post over here.

This has been floating around the web (at least the Mac-centric side of the web), I thought I’d share it, too, since I have a personal connection to this.

VintageZen – Matt Groening’s Artwork for Apple

The personal connection I have?  I used to own that Akbar and Jeff poster:

Networking in Hell by Matt Groening

Networking in Hell by Matt Groening

I sold it (probably about four years ago) to someone who used to work for Apple in their networking/communications group during that time.  He told me he had been looking for it for years.  Apparently there are a few “in” jokes in the poster.

The buyer now has a top position with one of Apple’s biggest competitors (for privacy reasons, I won’t say who it is).  I like to think he has this poster hanging in his office there, but for some reason I kind of doubt it.

An Actual Useful Use for Google Docs

I’m not a fan of Google Docs. I never have been. It’s ugly, poorly organized, and lacking features. Web apps generally are.  I don’t use it.

However, I didn’t break my long, long silence on this site to bitch about all the things that are wrong with Google Docs (and Google in general lately). Because, I actually found a useful use for Google Docs.

I just had a user that couldn’t open a PowerPoint file. It was damaged. When trying to open the file, PowerPoint attempts to repair it, but cannot. It then gives the message that the “PowerPoint file may be damaged, or it may have been created in a pre-release version”. Web searches for the error didn’t produce anything useful.

(I ran a fsck with no luck.)

Long story short, since the file was damaged, but it still obviously had content (it was about 1.5 MBs, whereas sometimes corrupt files will show as being 0kb, or 4kb, or whatever the block size is, etc.), I knew there had to be a way to get at the data in the file.

Lightbulb.

I had the user upload the file to her Google Docs account to see if it would be able to convert it, even though it was damaged.  Surprisingly, it was able to.  Once in Google Docs, we were able to resave it as a .pptx file (you know, an actual usable, non-Google, format).

So, if you have an Office file (or pdf, or any other format Google Docs will handle) that won’t open, it might be worth a try uploading it to Google.

NOTE:  This was on a Mac. If the user had Keynote installed, I would have tried opening it in Keynote, which I’m sure would also have worked.

Beer Tour of Montréal and Chambly

Les bières de Montréal et de Chambly

As previously posted, we recently visited Montréal. Naturally, we checked out some of the beer scene. There’s an active craft brew scene in Quebec, notably in and around Montréal. I wouldn’t say it’s enough to plan an entire trip around, but there are plenty of options if you’re a beer aficionado who happens to be taking a trip.

The first really beer related thing we did was rent a car and drive to Chambly. Of course, Chambly is the home of Unibroue, so this was a natural destination for us. We went to Bedondaine et Bedons Ronds and Fourquet Fourchette (which is the restaurant associated with Unibroue).

Bedondaine et Bedons Ronds is a small brew-pub, (which did not seem like much of a tourist attraction – we were the only non-locals there when we went) that bills itself as a Musée de la Bière (Beer Museum). The walls are lined with display cases filled with beer bottles from around the world, the ceiling is covered with old serving trays featuring different beers and breweries, and there are other beer-related paraphernalia around the bar. (There was a space next door to the bar that presumably held more of the “museum”, but we didn’t end up going in there.)

The beer there was very good, and it should definitely be on your list of places to go if you’re visiting the area.

From there we headed to Fourquet Fourchette for lunch. It’s a lovely building with a great view of the Chambly Basin from the terrace (which is where we sat). The concept, according to the website, claims to be a “marriage between gastronomy and a love of beer”. We were, however, slightly disappointed in the food. Maybe it was because we were there for lunch, but the menu was very limited and the food was just so-so. (I didn’t realize until after our trip that there’s second location in Montréal – maybe the food is better at that location.)

The beer, naturally, being entirely Unibroue selections was very good. My only complaint, as far as the beer goes, is that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t get at any decent liquor store in Chicago. I was hoping they’d have selections that were only available there, but that was not the case.

In Montréal we went to Benelux and Dieu du Ciel! Both were worthwhile stops, but Dieu du Ciel! was our favorite beer stop during the trip.

The beers at Benelux were good, but nothing out of the ordinary. We didn’t eat there, but the menu seemed very limited.

We went to Dieu du Ciel! on our last day. I’m actually glad we didn’t go there sooner, as we might have just kept going back there and not checked out anything else. There beers are excellent, with a good variety and some not-very-oridinary selections.

We did have lunch there, but again, the menu was nothing to get excited about – limited selection, and good, but not great, food. This seemed to be the standard for all of the beer bars and brewpubs there. The focus is strictly on the beer, with the food menu being an after-thought. At least, coming from Chicago with places where the food is exceptional, and just as important as the beer – like Goose Island, Revolution, Owen & Engine, etc. – it seemed that way to us.

There were a few places on our list we didn’t get to. Le Cheval Banc was closed when we went (I didn’t notice on their site that they’re only open in the evenings, not during the day), and we just didn’t make it to Vices & Versa. However, that gives us more to explore next time we go.

Obligatory “It’s Been Too Long Post Since My Last Post” Post…

Wow. Five months since my last post. Yikes.

I’d like to say I’ve been too busy (which, recently is entirely true, but that’s another story), but honestly I just haven’t had much interest in maintaining this site/blog. Most of my spur-of-the moment thoughts end up on Twitter, pared down to 140 characters. In the past, some of that may have ended up here and expanded upon.

I do have a few things I want to share in the coming days/weeks, however, so I figured it was time to dust off the rusting, neglected blog.

One of the things I’ll be posting in the next few days is my experience with my first “all-grain” batch of beer. I’ve been brewing exclusively extract or extract with grains (or, very rarely, partial mash) batches, and finally made the switch (sort of), so I have a few things to write about that.

Also, we recently returned from Montreal, where we spent some time visiting local brew pubs. I have stuff I feel it would be worthwhile to share from that. (And photos. I always have photos to share from our trips.)

Oh, and tomorrow I start a mandolin class at the Old Town School, so maybe there’ll be some insight from the perspective of a guitarist learning mandolin (beyond the basic chords I already know).

Hopefully, these couple of upcoming posts will get me to change my habits and start posting more often. I make no promises.

In the meantime, here’s one photo from Montreal:

View from the balcony.

View from the balcony.

By chitowngeorge Posted in Personal

Brew Day – Vanilla Porter

We were in Binny’s last weekend (the one by Goose Island Clybourn) and noticed a sign advertising that they are going to be hosting a home brew competition event in April (for Sam Adam’s Longshot Home Brew contest). I’ve wanted to enter the competition for a few years now, but I always seemed to miss it. You have to brew 6 weeks to two months in advanced, depending on the style (sometimes even longer). I just never found out about it in time to have something ready to enter.

Since I have plenty of lead time, I decided to give it a shot this year. The recipe choice was obvious; The one original recipe that I brew that is universally praised by all that have tried it is the Vanilla Porter. So, I went to the home brew store today, got what I needed, and brewed up a batch.

I ran into problems the last time I brewed the Vanilla Porter: I deviated a bit from my normal procedure, and also used a yeast that I harvested from a previous batch, which didn’t work out too well (the fermentation never kicked off, and I ended up throwing some dry yeast I keep on hand for emergencies on it). This time I stuck to the script: I used my tried-and-true methods and bought some fresh yeast. I was also very careful with my sanitation procedures (as I will be on bottling day in a few weeks).

Hopefully, come mid April, I’ll have a top-notch brew ready to enter the competition. (At the very least, I’ll have a really good beer to drink!)

Finished Before it Started

So, in my last post (over a month ago – I really gotta get on the ball here), I mentioned a new music project I was working on. Well, that fell apart. We ended up playing one open-mic, then the singer decided he really didn’t have the time to devote to regular rehearsals and song-writing.

Oh, well.

It is a bit frustrating. I really miss playing in a band. Playing in the Grateful Dead ensemble at the Old Town (which I was doing for a while) is fun, but it’s not the same. I miss the creative input. The collaboration of developing an idea into a song. Just getting out and playing music is not enough.

I’ve got an ad out on Craigslist looking for musicians, and I’m thinking of seeing if any of the people who I played with in the GD ensemble are interested in starting a “real” band.

We’ll see.