chumby: day 0

Posted in gadgets, hardware hacking on March 30th, 2007 by fabienne

there's the chumby!

it is with great reverence that i present you with the first unboxing photos of my Chumby, whom i have dubbed Tzitzak. she arrived yesterday, day 0 of my Chumby adventures if you will.

before booting

a few minutes after the unboxing, i powered Tzitzak up:

boot sequence

she booted with a few bleeps and blurps as the cute octopus swam around her screen.
swimming chumby

soon i set the date and the timezone using the touchscreen interface:
set the date with the touchscreen

and thus the cute, cuddly, hackable, open source, open hardware, alarm clock came into my life. My significant other can’t stop saying “Chumbaaaaaaaaaah” every time i mention how happy i am to have this momentous hacking opportunity.
ahhhhh, chumby.

we don’t have wifi at our place due to paranoia (yes every room including the kitchen has wired ethernet *smile*), but i will set up a special chumbaaaaaah access point for her. in the meantime i browsed her file structure. she came only with the bare minimum of flash widgets:

preinstalled widgets

i will be posting much more about Tzitzak’s adventures here so stay tuned to my rss.

pear tart: a non-dairy recipe

Posted in food on March 20th, 2007 by fabienne

pear tart

I made the pear tart again last weekend (picture above), and I promised I would share the recipe last time, but I never got around to it (I always see the round shaped wooden TUIT above my father’s desk when I say that). It is modified from a few of the Joy of Cooking’s recipes.

Non-Dairy Pear Tart

First prepare a pate sucree (sweet dart dough) for the crust:

Pate Sucree:
1.5 cups flour
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons non-dairy margarine
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cold water

Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and then cut in the margarine, working the dough with your fingers or two knives until well blended. Add in the egg yolk and the vanilla and blend. Drizzle in the cold water a few sprinkles at a time, just enough until the dough binds together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour. Preheat your oven to 450F. When the dough has sufficiently chilled, grease a tart pan with removable bottom and roll out the dough being sure to patch all cracks and holes so the filling stays in the tart. The edges should be at least up to the top rim of the tart pan or higher as they will shrink in baking. Save a small bit of dough for patching after pre-baking. Prick the tart in only a few places or weigh down with parchment paper and dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes or until just crisp, not brown. While baking, make:

Custard + Pear Filling:
3 ripe pears
2 eggs + 3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup rice milk or soy milk
1 cup rice cream or soy cream (non-dairy cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Cointreau

Beat the eggs a bit then add the remaining ingredients (not the pears) and mix until blended. Slice three peeled pears into long slender slices. Take out the completed tart crust from the oven, discard the beans and parchment if you used them, turn down the oven to 325F. Make sure no cracks have developed in the crust, if so patch a bit with saved dough. Place the tart pan on a large piece of aluminum foil to catch drips from the custard. Arrange the pear slices on the tart crust and then gently pour the custard over the slices until just below the rim of the tart crust. Any leftover custard can be baked in the oven in a small ovenproof bowl. Bake the tart for 30 minutes in the 325F oven or until golden on the edges. Let the tart cool slightly before unmolding from the tart pan. Serve warm or cool.

Pictured below: The first attempt of the tart holds the custard better if you don’t prick the crust too much.

pear tart

green, as in gross

Posted in fashion, knit on March 16th, 2007 by fabienne

Betsey Johnson fall 2007 ready to wear

Fall 2007 fashion shows have come and gone, but there are a few things I would have rather not seen from the designers. The onslaught of black, while tedious at times, was classy compared to some of the hues of green and yellow designers chose. The kelly mohair or angora number above by Betsey Johnson is really tame compared to Prada’s vomit-inducing green skirt/olive socks combo topped by the drab grey, shapeless cardigan pictured below. I love green, please don’t make me change my mind.

Prada fall 2007 ready to wear

While Dries Van Noten’s previous collections were probably an inspiration for the somber Fall 2007 palette seen from other designers, Mr. Van Noten barfed up the yellow number pictured below.

ew yellow

crypto + hippeastrum

Posted in books, crypto, math on March 15th, 2007 by fabienne

crypto and hippeastrum

bruce schneier’s applied cryptography isn’t a new tome to many of you who follow this blog, but i had never cracked it open. i started with Chapter 11: Mathematical Background, mostly because i knew the familiarity of the math would draw me in faster than starting from the beginning. there was a time where i wouldn’t touch a book that included the word applied in the title, i fancied myself a pure math girl, one who didn’t dally with the banalities of real world problems. my old purist approach seems hilarious to me today as what i enjoy now is extremely hands-on and rarely theoretical in nature. i was worried the math included in the book would be too flippant or too mired in algorithmic code for me to enjoy it, but schneier’s writing is fantastic. even though i didn’t come across any math that i hadn’t studied, he includes a boatload of references for deeper reading. if nothing else, one should purchase the book for the 1,653 references listed. (is schneier an a.i.? how can one person possibly read that much?)

the author’s tone is relaxed, but precise. with talk of aliens and supercomputers, even the math chapter reads like science fiction. let’s just say i’m now inspired enough to absorb the other chapters, even the non-prime ones.

p. 515 – The color of monotony is blue

Posted in books on March 14th, 2007 by fabienne


I read a recommendation of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell somewhere online as good modern science fiction, but I can’t remember where I saw it. The book has some fantastic writing, and in my typical manic fashion I mark the page numbers of my favorite quotes with a pencil at the front of the book so I can read them later.

p. 96 – She’s a born physicist with a better head for mathematics than I ever had, rather to her mother’s chagrin.

So I won’t give away the book’s clever structure entirely, but it isn’t completely science fiction, in fact the science fiction chunk is the smallest. That, however, didn’t deter me from devouring it chapter by delectable chapter.

p.52 – So I sat at the Bosendorfer and played the syphilitic crank Three Blind Mice, after the fashion of a mordant Prokofiev.


Self-Spiraling RPM Socks

Posted in knit on March 11th, 2007 by fabienne

rpm socks in wollmeise am kalten polar

now that my blaggity blog is back up and running I can show you my first pair of finished socks for myself: Self Spiraling RPM’s. the pattern on the left foot spirals up and to the left, and the pattern on the right foot spirals up and to the right. in the original pattern on knitty, there is this caveat:

Note: The spiral pattern will appear slightly imperfect at the end of the round; as the next round of the stitch pattern begins, there will be 7 k sts or 4 p sts in a row.

me being the ever pragmatic math geek that i am decided i would figure out a way to get around that imperfection at the end of each round. it’s not that hard actually, when you knit in the round, you are making spirals already. i decided to knit these toe-up so my spiraled knitting is already going up and to the left. to achieve an auto up-and-to-the-left-spiral when knitting toe-up you only need to have the number of stitches all the way around minus one to allow the pattern to auto spiral up and to the left by one stitch. so basically, my pattern for the ankle of the left sock turns into:

step 1: start with a multiple of 9 minus 1 (in my case 63-1 = 62)

step 2: there is no step 2

step 3: p3, k6 until you are done

the right sock is therefore:

start with a multiple of 9 plus 1 (in my case 63+1 = 64)

p3, k6 until you are done

voila! auto-spiraling achieved. if you were to concoct a new pattern where the offset in your spiral was more than one stitch, you would just use:

start with (multiple of x) stitches

subtract y to spiral up and to the left

or add y to spiral up and to the right

where x = multiple of stitches in pattern

and y = number of stitches offset in spiral

the toe-up magic cast on toe in a smooth arc is another issue entirely. i really don’t like pointy or sharply angled toes on socks. toe up is fun, but i wanted the arc of the increases to be elliptical in nature so here is what i did for each foot (note: the increases are make ones that are located on the edge of the sock and are distributed as evenly as possible on the two sides of the sock):

cast on 30 stitches with magic cast on (15 on each needle of a circular needle)

round 1: increase by 6 stitches to 36

round 2: increase by 6 stitches to 42

round 3: increase by 5 stitches to 47

round 4: increase by 4 stitches to 51

round 5: increase by 3 stitches to 54

round 6: increase by 2 stitches to 56

round 7: knit to end of round, no increase, remain at 56

round 8: increase by 2 stitches to 58

round 9: knit to end of round, no increase, remain at 58

round 10: increase by 2 stitches to 60

round 11: knit to end of round, no increase, remain at 60

round 12: increase by 2 stitches to 62

round 13: knit to end of round, no increase

next round: start desired pattern on foot of sock

a shorthand notation of the left foot is thus:

30 36 42 47 51 54 56 58 58 60 60 62 62

i will let the reader extrapolate the right foot with the following numbers that represent the total number of stitches at the end of each round:

30 36 42 48 52 56 58 60 60 62 62 64 64

underneath: fuchsia stripes

some final notes about these socks:

Yarn: incredibly gorgeous Rohrspatz und Wollmeise superwash sock yarn in colorway “Am kalten Polar” in medium-deep

Pattern: RPM from knitty

Needles: Addi double pointed 2.0mm (US size 0)

Modifications: Pretty much everything was modified. Knit toe up using magic cast on, increases were made so the toe sloped gently, stitch count was a multiple of 9 minus 1 for the left foot, multiple of 9 plus 1 for the right foot to allow for auto spiraling, short row heel with double wraps, knit one purl one sewn bind-off from Vogue Knitting.

sp10 or what knitters want

Posted in knit on March 11th, 2007 by fabienne

bumble bee

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

Well I’ve just gotten back into knitting after a two year hiatus, and I have fallen in love with sock yarn, superwash notably and anything
sportweight superwash. I love Wollmeise yarn and etsy hand-dyed yarn.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

A ratty plastic bag with all my yarn stash and a cleaned out olive tin
on my desk for double pointeds.

3. How long have you been knitting and how did you learn? Would you
consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I have been knitting since I was about 8 I believe, I learned from my
mom with a really crazy purple and yellow garter stitch monstrosity.
Shortly after that I fell in love with knitting pattern books and made
an intarsia bumble bee (pictured above, I must have been about 10 when I made it) and then I forgot for a long while. Much later I got on a scarf kick with really huge needles and
luscious mohair from La Droguerie in Paris, I made a ton and gave them away. Now I guess I’m a beginner that likes to tackle tough projects.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

I have an Amazon list that is up to date.

5. What’s your favorite scent?

Max Mara perfume.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Yes, but I can’t eat milk products even in trace amounts nor gelatin so
I tend to make my own desserts.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do
you like to do? Do you

I am building my own bed frame from scratch, so woodworking. I sew with
my refurbished vintage Singer
featherweight 222K, and I make hardware
circuits and hardware embedded in clothing. I don’t spin.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s?
(if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

My music tastes are fairly varied, I love‘s stuff, indie rock
and indie pop and punk. Yes I can play CD’s, mp3s, ogg, anything you throw my

9. What’s your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can’t stand?

I am in my blue period right now and I love black. Teal blue, green, purple, grey and black are always safe bets. I’m not a big fan of
light pink or pastels or yellow by itself or red by itself. That being said, I like something that
packs a punch or has some great contrast.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I live with my significant other and we don’t have any pets.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I wear all of those except ponchos.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

For the moment, socks and scarves. I would love to get a sweater under
my belt this year.

13. What are you knitting right now?

Baudelaire socks in superwash fingering black, and a secret item in orange not for myself.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Oh yes.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

I just started using aluminum double pointeds a few months ago along
with addi turbo circulars, before that I just used the straights that I
got passed down from my mom + grandmother.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

Nope but I’m planning on getting both.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

A few weeks old.

18. What is your favorite holiday?


19. Is there anything that you collect?

Vintage electronics, cheap hackable toys with audio, gadgets.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get
your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I don’t have any knitting books besides one: the hardback of Vogue Knitting
and I do not have any subscriptions. I am hankering after some of the designer
books coming out this year: Runway Knits, Twinkle’s Big City Knits, etc.
I love following the ready to wear fashion shows and the couture ones too.

21. Are there any new techniques you’d like to learn?

Oh yes, stranded color knitting for an overly ambitious sock project is
next and I’ve started learning lace work pattern reading.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes I am a newly-addicted-to-sock-knitting fiend. My left foot is a US
women’s 8.5, my right foot is almost a 9.

23. When is your birthday?

Just ask.