The Brenner Group is 20

06/06/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Computers and Internet, Business

Last night, Clarise and I attended The Brenner Group's 20th Annual Networking Event. Their theme was then and now, celebrating the changes in technology that they've seen come out of the Silicon Valley over their remarkable 20 years of doing business, since Rich Brenner started the firm. Displays around the hall showed the 1984 Mac with the latest black MacBook laptop, an early PDA [poor Palm, not even mentioned by name] with a RIM Blackberry [which is such a pale imitation of the Palm as to be essentially useless - don't get me started], a portable CD player with an iPod, and, well, you get the picture. Door prizes from the various partner-firms/sponsors were things like a CD and an iTunes gift certificate, CDs and an iPod shuffle, and one particularly telling and generous gift of an 8-inch, portable black-and-white television with a modern 15-inch HiDef LCD television.

In very many ways, this was the best party, oops, networking event &#59;) that they've thrown in the seven years that we've been attending. It was marred by the absence of our favorite member of The Brenner Group, but he knows that our thoughts are with him. We met some great new people, chatted and laughed with old acquaintances, and had some thought provoking conversations, and really good food.

The most touching thing of the evening was on the way out. John Heath, another partner in The Brenner Group, was by the exit, giving away a copy of Core Memory "A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers" with page after page of photographs by Mark Richards and accompanying text by John Alderman. Another commemoration of 20 great years in the valley and of The Brenner Group. Congratulations to all.

On a side note, I did have a longer than expected drive home, as I was stopped by the tunnel construction on Devil's Slide. These two shots from my cell phone show the traffic and warning sign ahead and yes that is the ocean beyond the cleft in the mountain, and one of the reasons I live on the coast is the view to my right of the twilight sky over the Pacific.

The warning sign and traffic ahead when stopped for Devil's Slide tunnel construction

Sunset into the Pacific while stopped at Devil's Slide Tunnel Construction

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Mac meet PC I feel Old

05/31/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Computers and Internet

I'm sure that everyone knows that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates met on stage for the first time in 24 years at the D: All Things Digital 5 conference. Watching the videos of the conversation, I was very much struck by how much the industry has matured, and how much history there is to the computer industry now. A much more personal reminder than visiting the Computer History Museum.

I started using a key punch around 1975, and had a conversation recently, at the OSBC2007, with a fellow attendee about the magic market tricks one would use on all four edges of a stack of punchcards for "data recovery" after the inevitable spill while walking to the computer center. The first Apple product I used was an Apple ][ in the research lab of Þe Auld Elkton Rocket Factory, in 1978; at the same time I was using IBM mainframes and PDP11s. The first DOS machine that I had was my second personal computer - the OS that came with my Kaypro2000 in 1986; at the time I was using BSD Unix machines to access ARPANET and Vax/VMS machines watching software developers turning my Bayesian algorithms into Fortran programs. My first Windows was an upgrade package to that Kaypro2000. Oracle put a Windows machine on my desk next to a NEC X terminal in 1994, and at CapTech, in 1995 I had a MacIntosh, a WindowsNT machine and a Sun SPARCstation, with access to a wide variety of *nix servers. All of my personal and work laptop and desktop machines since then until recently have been WindowsNT variants including Win2000 and WinXP. In 2006, I bought an Apple MacBookPro, and - though not often - I can run Windows on it using Parallels. Though today, much of what I do is through a web browser [FireFox usually] accessing a [generally] Linux server.

Watching Steve Jobs and Bill Gates interact was like hearing the stories of empire from the founding fathers; an insider's view of how history unfolded. It was touching, and far more inspiring than the media controversy that's often linked to thse two men. Take the time and watch the videos. It will be a trip through memory lane for some, and eye opening for others.

 

Roman Pork

05/19/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Food and Drink

A few years ago, I read a story set in a fictionalized Rome, near the time of the fall of the Empire. At one point a feast was held, and while no recipes were given, some of the dishes were described, including pork roasted with oranges and cardamom. Here's my version of such a dish.

Petaso Romanum

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F
  2. Find a good shoulder roast of pork, with a good layer of fat on top, trimmed to about an half-inch thick. You'll need six ounces per serving, plus six ounces per sandwich that you intend to make later in the week.
  3. Butterfly it out while leaving that outer covering of fat.
  4. Arrange peeled cloves of garlic down the center, cover with cardamom seeds freshly removed from their pod, toasted and ground in a small mortar and pestle, and squeeze the juice and pulp of two Sicilian blood oranges over it all; close and tie with butcher twine.
  5. Cut the outer layer of fat into half-inch squares and sprinkle with ground cardamom and paprika; this will make a "crackling" which is very tasty, but not considered healthy. :>
  6. Place in an oiled roasting pan, and squeeze the juice and pulp of one or two blood oranges over the top, then pour a good glass of white wine - the same that you'll be serving later - over the pork, add enough vegetable stock or water to bring the liquid level about half-way up the side of the roast.
  7. Add one peeled cipollini onion for each half-pound of meat, and two twigs of fresh rosemary to the cooking liquor.
  8. Place in the oven and cook, uncovered, turning the roast over every half-hour, until a meat thermometer registers 185°F - for the last hour leave fat side up to brown, and just baste; remove from oven and allow to set for 15 minutes, then slice very thinly and serve with something like roasted yams and swiss chard.

From the leftovers, two great sandwiches can be made, both served warm.

Italian Porchetta Sandwich

At Italian street fairs, of which one can find almost every summer weekend throughout the Northeast USA somewhere, roasting pans of thinly sliced red onions and strips of roasted red peppers simmer all day long in low-temperature ovens, to be added to crusty rolls with hot or mild Italian sausages or slices of porchetta. Let's take that plan and make a great sandwich from the left over pork. By the way, my favorite street fair was held at Saint Anthony's church in Wilmington, DE held every year for one week in June, followed by the Greek and Jewish street fairs on nearby blocks - making June a most wonderful month. At least, that's how it was in the late 1970's when I lived in the area, and earlier in my life when I would visit the maternal side of the family who lived near the church, and Father Tucker whenever he was back from Monaco.

I make a soffritto using strips of roasted red peppers, thinly sliced red torpedo onions, garlic cloves that are peeled and crushed flat, and ground cardamom, by simmering in XV olive oil over a very low flame or even in a slow oven until the vegetables are almost melted.

I use Grace Baking Deli Rolls, sliced and hollowed out, brushed with XV olive oil, layering both halves of the bread with thin slices of the Roman Pork, piling the soffritto of peppers and red torpedo onions in the center. The sandwiches are placed in a 400°F oven, preferably one with a baking or pizza stone in it, and heated through for 5 minutes so that the bread is crusty and the meat is warm. Serve with a dill pickle and a glass of wine. And think of dancing in the streets of your nearest Little Italy.

Cubano Sandwich

Out of Miami, comes the Cuban Sandwich: slices of roast pork, boiled ham and cheese, piled high on delicate, crusty bread with mustard, mayonnaise, slices of dill pickle, tomato and lettuce, and lightly grilled, much like a panini. The exact bread is going to be hard to find, but use what you like, maybe a ciabata or slipper bread. Yellow mustard and white American Cheese is what you'll find on the streets of Miami, I use Sierra Nevada Stout & Stone Ground mustard and a good Monterey Jack or mild Asiago cheese. Jarlsberg cheese works well too. Visions of street festivals on warm tropical nights will dance in your head as you eat this sandwich too.

 

Pollo al Forno per La Festa della Mamma

05/13/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Food and Drink

Today, for Mother's Day, I'm cooking a chicken dish that I've been evolving over the years, from my grandparents' chicken spezzatino [or spitzad, as my family called it]. The chicken is cut into small pieces, something like a fricassee, though even a bit smaller, and then roasted in olive oil, herbs, spices and savories, until the chicken is very crispy. Sometimes my family would add potatoes and lima beans. I would use fava beans rather than lima beans. Sometimes white wine would be added. When I cooked at Pasta Moon, we made a dish that was somewhat similar. Here's what I'm making today, taking from one and adding from another.

This dish can be made in a roasting pan, but is best in a clay vessel, such as a Tagine, Romertopf clay baker, or the like.

First the savories. Clean and and cut into larger pieces, perhaps two inches or so, four fennel bulbs, two parsnips, two carrots, two stalks of celery and one large red torpedo onion; then add the peeled cloves from one bulb of garlic. Mix with 3 ounces of XV olive oil, a 1/4 teaspoon each of dried thyme, oregano and sage, a large pinch of paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon of toasted ground coriander seed, and a few grinds of peppercorns and sea salt. Mix until all the pieces are nicely coated. Pour into your cooking vessel and roast at 325ºF for 30 minutes.

While the savories are roasting, cut up the chicken into cubes, two-inches or so on a side - about 5 pounds - leaving the skin on. Remember to rinse and pat dry the chicken pieces. Put the pieces into a bowl, and mix with 1/4 cup of XV olive oil, two or three large pinches or shakes of sweet Hungarian paprika, and a few grinds of peppercorns.

Increase the over temperature to 375ºF. Arrange the chicken pieces with the skin side up, and try to keep it all in a single layer, on top of the roasted savories. Pour the oil from the bowl over the chicken. Roast for twenty minutes.

Boil water with a nice handful of sea salt. Remove the stem from six roma tomatoes, cut an X into the opposite end, put the tomatoes into the boiling water for a few minutes until the skin at the edges of the X begin to curl away from the meat of the tomato, remove the tomatoes and place in a bowl of cold water. Remove the skins from the tomatoes. Cut each tomato in half, cross-wise, and remove the seeds with a small spoon. Place the tomatoes in a colander and allow to drain.

Place cleaned, Italian green beans [the wide, flat ones] into the boling water, bring the water back to a boil and parboil the bean pods for no more than five minutes. Remove the bean pods from the boiling water and plunge into an ice bath [50/50 ice and water by volume]. Allow to cool, and then remove the bean pods to a colander to dry.

Clean and cut the ends off of six pattypan squash. I use a mix of green and yellow. Set aside.

Peel and cut lengthwise three yukon gold potatoes, into six wedges from each potato. Grind some sea salt over the potatoes.

Remove the chicken pieces from the roasting vessel. Add a glass of the white wine that you'll be serving with the meal [I like a Pinot Grigio] and 8 ounces of chicken stock to the cooking vessel with the savories; add the potatoes, tomatoes and squash to the cooking vessel, and stir around. If the chicken pieces need more cooking, mix them in as well. The juices from the chicken should be running clear. If there is no juice, even after pricking a piece with a fork, the chicken is either over done [oops] or not cooked at all [unlikely]. Add the liver, gizzard and heart from the chicken, if you have it.

Reduce the oven temperature back down to 325ºF, and cook for another 15 minutes. The chicken should definitely be done: crispy with clear juices just barely coming out. Remove the chicken pieces, leave the chicken innards, add the green beans, try to bring the potato pieces to the top, and place back in the oven for another ten minutes. Let the chicken pieces rest.

Arrange the chicken pieces around the rim of a large serving plate, pile the vegetables and savories in the center. Serve with some hearty bread and that fine white wine you so carefully picked out. Toast Mamma per esprimere il proprio affetto e dire parole gentili and enjoy.

 

Browsing with a Mac

05/08/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Computers and Internet

I've been using Safari, Camino and Firefox on my MacBookPro since I unboxed it last September. I find all three useful in their own way.

  1. For general browsing and learning more about web design, I like Firefox. It provides the most plug-ins for looking under the covers, more web sites work with it's underlying Mozilla/Gecko engine than Safari's WebKit engine, and it gives much more granular control over cookies and privacy than the other two
  2. Following the advice of the founder of PHP, Rasmus Lerdorf, I no longer visit secure web sites in the same browser in which I do general web browsing. It's amazing what crackers can do with iFrames and javascript. I use Safari for my banking, financial and other secure needs
  3. Camino is a great, fast browser, though I find that Firefox v2.x is just as fast, whereas v 1.x was much slower than Camino. I use Camino for my non-general, but non-crucial secure web browsing: shopping, for example, or sites that I might visit under one identity as a user in Firefox and as an account administrator in Camino - to keep the cookies separate. I also use Camino for secure sites that haven't been designed properly, and thus don't render correctly in Safari.

 

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I'm Joseph A. di Paolantonio and this blog has two main foci: my interest in food, and my interest in the future. This provides a look into my personal life, and is separate from my consulting work…though there will be overlap. I am an independent researcher, working as a strategic consultant and I'm an executive with over 20 years of commercial experience with a technical interest in the intersection of Internet of Things, with advanced data management and analysis methods. I view data science as a team activity, and I feel that the IoT must be viewed as a system. I am leveraging my past activities to understand the adoption and impact of the IoT; first, as a system engineer in aerospace, where I developed Bayesian risk assessment methods for systems within the Space Transportation System (including the Space Shuttle), Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer, Gravity Probe B, and many more, and second, as a enterprise data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics professional. Between my aerospace and IT careers, I indulged my hobby of cooking by starting a food company, Montara Magic, centered around my chocolate sauces. My education combined chemistry, mathematics and philosophy. I performed research into molten salt fuel cells in graduate school, and in photovoltaic materials for a short time in industry. The lure of bringing the human race into space was strong, and when I was offered the chance to combine my chemistry and mathematics skills to develop new risk assessment and system engineering methods for space launch and propulsion systems – I couldn't resist. I perform independent research and strategic consulting to bring value from the Internet of Things, Sensor Analytics Ecosystems and data science teams.I am a caregiver, a lover of science fiction and speculative fantasy, and my passion to learn has led me to a pilot's license, an assistant instructor in SCUBA, nordic and alpine skiing, sea kayaking, and reading everything I can, in as many topics as I can.

View Joseph di Paolantonio's profile on LinkedIn

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