Mozilla Bespin

UPDATE: Mozilla released Bespin today. Their post is at http://labs.mozilla.com/2009/02/introducing-bespin/.

I was at a conference today, and heard about a new software program or something that's coming out: Mozilla Bespin (pronounced like "best pin", but without the "t" at the end of "best"). It's essentially an online IDE, and a dang good one at that. From what was shown at the conference, it has integrated syntax highlighting and formatting.

The editor was shown editing javascript. I don't know how it's syntax highlighting and editing features are supported for other languages.

Bespin has an integrated file explorer, used for exploring files within the project to be edited. It looks similar to Mac OS X's Finder when it's set to show each nested folder in a pane, with deeper levels to the right. (if someone knows mac's name for that type of view, post a comment and let me know.) You can open files and edit them, and then save them.

Bespin also has an integrated command line, which supports a lot of standard commands (such as rm and mkdir).

Bespin either has or will have support for integrating with version control systems. I can't remember if they said that it would integrate with CVS or Subversion, or both, but it was one of those.

Bespin is going to be officially released in a week or two, according to Mozilla, so let's see what happens. Until it officially comes out, take everything that I say here with a grain of salt, since I completely forgot a pen and paper (and my computer), so I couldn't take notes during the presentation.


Wood Puzzle

I've been looking for a particular wood puzzle at stores and such for the last few years, and haven't been able to find it, so I finally decided to create a 3D model of it. Has anyone seen a puzzle that looks like this?

Click to see a larger version

The puzzle is roughly the height of an electric outlet, maybe a bit taller.
There's a loop of string with a wood ball on the end (the wood ball on the string is about the same size as the one attached to the end of the dowel in the puzzle), and the string loops around the lower end of the dowel with the ring on it. The objective is to try to remove the loop of string. I'll probably create a 3D model of the string as well, but string is so much harder to create than rigid objects.

By the way, if anyone really cares, the image was modeled in Google SketchUp 7, and rendered in Kerkythea. A Google search should turn up the location to download and install those, if you're interested them. It took me about a half hour to model the puzzle, and it took the computer (no work by me during that time) about 10 minutes to ray-trace the image. If anyone wants the SketchUp source file, I'd be happy to provide it. Post your request as a comment, and I'll upload it.


Cookie Recipe

NOTE: I'm continually improving this recipe, and I'm keeping this post up-to-date with the latest changes. So if it's different than the last time you saw it, that's why. Anyway, on to the original post...

I've frequently taken cookies to places that I'm going, and I've had a ton of people ask me for my recipe. I'm beginning to tire of writing it down over and over again, so I decided that I'd post it.

The recipe takes some of it's ingredients from my Grandma's cookie recipe, but a lot of things are different. For example, hers uses shortening, while this one uses butter, and less butter than the amount of shortening in her recipe.

My recipe uses powered eggs, which I've found turn out a lot better than using regular eggs. At the end of the recipe is a note on how to use real eggs. Be forewarned that I haven't made it with real eggs in over a year, so your results may vary. Also, I mention a specific brand of powdered eggs. You can try using other brands, but I've never used them, so, again, your results may vary.

When I make the recipe, I typically make it in a Bosch mixer, using the hook (if you use the Bosch mixer with beaters, they will snap). You can make it using just a wooden spoon, but you'll probably have to mix some of it together with your hands when it gets too thick to use a wooden spoon with. Don't try making it with electric beaters, as it gets so thick that it will burn them up.

Anyway, here's the recipe.

Group 1:
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 6 cubes (3 cups) butter (works best if softened to the point that a tiny bit of it has melted)
Group 2:
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup vanilla
Group 3:
  • 4 1/2 cups flour (white only; whole weat will cause the cookies to fall apart)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1/3 cup Honeyville Powdered Eggs (1/3 cup of the actual powder; do not reconstitute them)
Group 4:
  • 6 cups rolled oats
Group 5:
  • 4 cups chocolate chips (typically 2 bags)
Makes 120 cookies.

In a Bosch mixer (see note above for how to mix without one), mix together Group 1 until thoroughly mixed. You'll want to make sure that there aren't any lumps of brown sugar, or they will end up as crispy chunks in the cookies. Once you've mixed this together, mix Group 2 by itself in a cup. Slowly add this to Group 1 while mixing. It's a good idea to get out a rubber spatula and scrape the dough from the middle of the bowl toward the edges as the liquid from Group 2 has a tendency to pool in the middle of the bowl and not get mixed in. After you've done that and mixed a bit more, mix Group 3 by itself in a separate bowl. Make sure that all ingredients are evenly mixed together. Add this to the Group 1 / Group 2 mixture. Add Group 4, then mix slowly. Then add Group 5 and mix again, but not longer than about 30 seconds or the chocolate chips will start to fall apart.

Set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a piece of Bakery Pan Lining Paper on a cookie tray (you can get some from Orson Gygi in Salt Lake City), or grease with butter. I've always used paper, so your results may vary with butter. Drop onto the cookie sheet in balls of dough about 1 1/2 inch in diameter, or slightly larger if you want. These should be spaced about 3 inches or so apart from each other. If you want square cookies, you can place them closer. Bake for about 8 to 12 minutes. (I bake mine for exactly 7 minutes 35 seconds, but your oven is likely to be different than mine. Try different baking times and see what works best.)

If I've forgotten anything, feel free to leave a comment. I once forgot to mention the temperature to bake them at when I was giving the recipe to something, and I hope I haven't done anything like that here.