The random musings of a software developer

Ada Lovelace Day 2014: Honoring Brianna Wu, Giant Spacekat

This year I’m recognizing Brianna Wu from Giant Spacekat. She and her team of women software developers created the iOS game Revolution 60. Bri has been in the forefront promoting women in gaming – both as game developers and as game players – in a predominantly male environment. I had the honor of getting her interview on the App Stories for Girls site last year and am in awe of her technical knowledge in computer graphics and her drive to succeed in the gaming business. She wrote a very emotive article for The Magazine entitled Choose Your Character – it was a very heartfelt and insightful look into a part of the development of Revolution 60. And so I celebrate Bri’s achievements, commend her contributions to the field of technology and for being a great role model for other women, not only in STEM, but also in gaming, and business. Thanks Bri!

KickStarter – Nock Cases

Just received my set of Nock pen / pencil / notebook cases. The workmanship is superb with excellent fabric. Do check out their site. Their offering on KickStarter is archived here

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Kirschen’s Carbonara

Servings: 2


3 eggs
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
6 ozs pasta
3 strips turkey bacon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


Boil water for pasta per directions on packet.

While water is boiling:

Cut stacked bacon strips in half across the long edge. Cut halves lengthwise into strips. Further cut across into small bits.

Fry bacon in the olive oil till crisp, reducing heat.

While bacon is cooking:

Grate cheese in a bowl. Beat eggs in cheese till well combined. Set aside.

When water boils, put pasta in, reduce heat and cook pasta per time on packet or 1 minute less if you like al dente.

When pasta is cooked:

Drain pasta or remove pasta with tongs, and pour out water from pot. Put pasta back in pot and pour cheese / egg mixture on top and stir till cooked with a wooden spoon, under low heat. Pour bacon and olive oil onto pasta / egg / cheese and mix till well distributed.


Nutritional Info: 461 calories per serving

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Olive-Butter Spread

I bemoaned the lack of availability of OliveIt – an olive oil and butter mixed spread. Decided to try my hand and whip up my own rendition. It’s essentially half olive oil and half butter and very easy to make.

Soften two sticks of butter in a mixing bowl. Measure one cup of olive oil into the bowl. With a hand mixer, whip the butter into the olive oil until smooth and uniform. Pour the mixture into containers, such as spread tubs. Put the tubs into the fridge to set overnight. Next day, spread and enjoy!

That’s a great way to get olive oil into your diet. The mixture remains soft in the tubs and is very spreadable. A little goes a long way and it tastes heavenly!

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Orange-Chocolate Muffins With Almonds

Indeed a sumptuous muffin, half orange and half chocolate, that certainly will charm any guest.

2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup toasted, chopped blanched almonds
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup orange juice
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Grated rind of 1 large orange

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush twelve 2½" muffin cups with melted butter or coat with vegetable spray.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the almonds, leaving ¼ cup to sprinkle over tops of muffins. Combine the eggs, orange juice and butter. Stir into the dry ingredients until just well mixed. Remove half the batter to a second bowl. To one-half the batter add the melted chocolate, mixing rapidly until smooth. To the other half of the batter add the grated orange rind, mixing well. Holding the muffin tin slightly tipped, spoon in the orange batter on one side of each muffin cup. Fill the other side with chocolate batter. By lightly touching the batter you can keep each under control — and they certainly do not have to be perfect. Sprinkle tops with remaining almonds. Bake muffins 20 minutes.

To toast almonds, spread the nuts in a cake tin and place them in a 300° oven. Toast about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Watch carefully to avoid burning.

From Mary Gubser’s “Quick Breads, Soups, and Stews“, Publ. Council Oak, ISBN 0-933031-33-5

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Ada Lovelace Day 2013

This year I’m choosing to honour Adele Goldberg. Her team developed Smalltalk-80 which is the precursor to all modern Object Oriented Languages, and in particular inspired the syntax for Objective-C. I acquired Digitalk Smalltalk/V for Mac OS back in 1989 and tried to understand how it all worked. I marvelled at the simplicity and uniformity of the language constructs in Smalltalk: everything is an object, even integers, and you make objects do things by sending them messages. One thing which stuck in my mind was that you could make changes to the system objects and the environment would morph to the changes you made. The illustration given was painting yourself in a corner with the changes but in Smalltalk, the paint dried instantly! Fortunately you could save virtual machine snapshots and go back to a previous version. Smalltalk lives on as Squeak – do check that out!

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Grand Marnier Orange Nut Bread

The aromas of orange and Grand Marnier will float through the kitchen as this lovely bread bakes. Serve it plain or with a soft, creamy Brie at room temperature.

2¼ cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Grated rind of 2 large oranges
1 cup orange juice
4 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Curaçao liqueur
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup golden raisins, scalded and dried

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a 9x5x3" loaf pan with melted butter or coat with vegetable spray.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl, blending together. Set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the two eggs and orange rind until well mixed. Combine the orange juice and Grand Marnier. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the orange and Grand Marnier, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the sides of the bowl and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth. Fold in the nuts and raisins. Pour the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake one hour and test for doneness. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn bread out on the rack to finish cooling.

From Mary Gubser’s “Quick Breads, Soups, and Stews“, Publ. Council Oak, ISBN 0-933031-33-5

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NosillaCast CCATP – Should there be Art in STEM?

Allison Sheridan, Ashlyn Anstee, and I got together to record an episode of Chit Chat Across The Pond entitled "Should there be Art in STEM?" Link to the podcast. Excellent discussion! Ashlyn is an enthusiastic and dynamic animator for JibJab and has posted several animations online. Here’s her website. Go listen!!

Queen of Sheba Cake

Dense gateau-style chocolate cake with ground almonds.

Serves 8 to 10


125 grams semisweet chocolate
125 grams unsalted butter
3 eggs-separated
125 grams granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla 125 grams ground almonds


50 grams white wheat flour-sifted
100 grams semisweet chocolate
50 grams unsalted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).

  2. In a small pan, melt chocolate over low heat. Cool to room temperature.

  3. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and mix in melted, cooled chocolate. Add egg yolks, one by one, and half of the sugar, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Fold in ground almonds and then flour.

  4. In another bowl, whip egg whites just until they are stiff. Add remaining half of the sugar and beat until egg whites are glossy, about 30 seconds more.

  5. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into chocolate mixture and then fold in the rest of them. Pour mixture into a 20-cm (8-inch), buttered and floured cake pan.

  6. Bake until cake shrinks slightly from sides of the pan and the top springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip, about 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan for a few minutes before turning it out onto a cake rack to cool completely. At this point, cake can be stored in an airtight container for a week.

  7. For the glaze, a few hours before serving, melt chocolate with butter over very low heat. Stir gently.

  8. Put cake on a rack and spread warm glaze over its top and sides, working quickly to finish before glaze sets.

To make ground almonds, cover them with water, bring to a boil, drain, and then slip each almond out of its skin by pinching between your thumb and forefinger. In a 175°C (350°F) oven, toast almonds until they are light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool. In a food processor, grind almonds with a few tablespoons of the sugar by turning machine on and off.

Banana-Nut Bread

Just made this tonight. Enjoy!

A perennial favorite when banana ripening outstrips consumption.

Makes 1 loaf (Serves 6 to 8).

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup butter
2 eggs
1 ½ cup mashed bananas-very ripe (about 3 to 4)
1 tbl. lemon juice
2 cup sifted white wheat flour
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a large loaf pan. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Cream the brown sugar together with the butter, then mix in the eggs. Thoroughly mix in the bananas and lemon juice, then mix in the flour mixture as quickly as possible.

Fold in the chopped nuts, then pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

(Cook’s Magazine, courtesy of Mangia, the Mac OS 9 recipe application)

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