Thursday, September 14, 2006

Perfect Iced Tea

Today I'm going to reveal the secret family recipe for making perfect iced tea. I figure it's just not fair to keep it a secret any longer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 water-boiling kettle, 1.5-2 quarts, needs to have a whistle
  • 1 steeping kettle, also 1.5-2 quarts, should have a hook on the lid
  • 1 gallon jug or pitcher
  • 1 long-handled wooden spoon, NEVER used for anything else
  • 1 tea strainer. A tea strainer has a very fine mesh, to trap tiny tea leaf particles. Note that a coffee filter will not work, as tea is partly a suspension, and the extremely small particles must NOT be filtered out. Try it, and you'll see the coffee filter clogs right up.
  • 1 cup sugar or 1.9 tbsp liquid saccharin sweetener
  • 6 regular tea bags, or 2 jumbos, or a tea ball filled with black tea

Fill up the boiling kettle, and boil. Drop the tea bags, or tea ball into the steeping kettle, and pour the boiling water in. Cover. Wait until it reaches room temperature, at least 3 hours, preferably no more than 10. More than 24 hours is right out.

Put the gallon jug or pitcher in the sink. Pour the brewed tea into the gallon jug/pitcher. Add the sugar or the saccharin. Not both, for God's sake! Stir with long-handled wooden spoon. Fill the pitcher with water, and stir some more. Pour at least one glass over ice. Place the rest in the refrigerator. The peak flavor is reached after 24 hours in the refrigerator. If made with sugar, it will last 3-4 days before it starts getting a little funky. With saccharin, it'll go a week or more.

If it gets too old, you'll see some weird stuff form and settle out. That would be a good time to dump and start over. But generally, it won't last that long.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Stupid website tricks, part III

Here we have a 2-bagger. First, an old and very popular stupid trick. The given URL shows only a transfer page that redirects to a more complicated URL. So, typical unsuspecting user bookmarks that page. And without fail, in a few months, someone will redesign or just update the site, and change the landing page, and boom! All bookmarks are broken.

Second, another popular stupidity (well, you think the state government is going to show any creativitry?). To register at this site, you must first enter your soviet socialist security number. Which is logically illegal, as I'm not talking to socialist security here. But anyway, while I live in a totalitarian country, I would like to avoid torture and imprisonment for now. So I entered the number, like this: 999-99-9999. The way it is always printed. For good reasons. This bone-head webform just clears it out, and spits out an error:

Please correct the following validation error(s) before proceeding:

  • SSN must be filled in

Yeah, I can guess what they are expecting. But why should I? If their incompetent web programmer doesn't know how to process hyphens out of an input field, can't he at least spit out a meaningful error message? Can't he at least put some information on the form?

How can it be that so many websites are managed/programmed by dumbasses? I realize that this is a government operation and therefore they have no need to care what I, or anybody thinks about it.

Remember, "What government does, government f**ks up."