Weights of baking ingredients -- Flour and Water

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Bread Recipe Books
When I don't have time to bake my own bread I love letting the Zojirushi BBCCX20 Home Bakery Supreme Bread Machine bake it for me.   It produces a full 2lb loaf, it can back bread with a wide variety of crusts and actually makes full wheat bread.  Unfortunately, the recipe book that comes with the machine gives all the recipes using cup measures.  Any baker worth their salt knows that you will get great bread much more reliably if you weigh your ingredients.  I got tired of trying to do the conversion in my head so I created this little chart in Excel that gives you the weight of both the flour and water in lbs and ozs.   Why do I go to one decimal place?  Simple, that's how accurate my little weighing machine is.

This little chart has eliminated all the silly mistakes that happen when I try to do the calculations in my head or when I try to measure cups (the phone rings or the dog barks and I forget how many cups of flour I put in).   You can download the chart for printing in PDF format.  Oh, a bonus tip one of the best baking blogs is www.realbakingwithrose.com

V178 AL DENTE 5 Piece Pasta Maker Review

The "V178 AL DENTE 5 Piece Pasta Set" is an all-in-one pasta maker that includes the main unit, two accessories that cut a total of 4 sizes of pasta and a 3rd accessory that cuts ravioli and lasagna.

I was concerned about getting the V178 AL DENTE because of the negative reviews on Amazon but took the plunge since Amazon is great on handling returns. After having it for a week I've made several batches of pasta and I am very happy with the quality and functionality of the device. It took 3 batches before I got the hang of it, but recent batches have been turning out good.

I'm guessing those with issues are putting too much in, not taking the time for practice runs or using dough that is too sticky. For someone, like me, that wants a pasta maker and knows it will only be used occasionally, the Price/Quality exceeds expectations.

Cleanup is easy if your dough isn't sticky (which it shouldn't be) and no have been no issues with metal/oil residue as reported by others.

The 3rd accessory (Ravioli/Lasagna) seems to be the least useful since Ravioli will be easier using a Ravioli cutter instead of trying to feed it into the machine at the same time the pasta is stuffed. The other accessories do a great job and look like they'll last as long as the other parts of the unit.

Kata 3N1-30--A thoughtfully designed sling style camera bag

Kata 3N-30 Camera BagWhy did I buy the Kata 3N1-30?

I've given up on the quest for the perfect camera bag and now realized that I need several camera bags just like I need several lenses.  For a short day trip a small camera bag suffices.  However, I needed a bag that let me safely carry multiple zoom lenses, a camera body, battery chargers, and a GPS for a 10 day trip to Maine.  The Kata 3N1-30 got great review, looked well built, and was a sling bag style I like.

Does the bag hold the equipment safely?

The bag's dimensions are 12.6" x 7.5" x 17.7"--it conforms to current FAA airline carry-on regulations.   On our full flight it fit easily under the seat.   There are basically two compartments in the bag.  The interior main compartment is 11.6" x 6.3" x 11.8".   The manufacturer claims that the bag will hold  A D/SLR with battery grip & long-range zoom lens attached as well as, 5-6 lenses, flash + personal gear.  Will it?  If the 5-6 lenses are prime lenses--definitely.  It is a bit harder if the lenses are professional zoom lenses.  However, I did manage to get a nice long (400mm f4) zoom and a wide angle in the bag along with a couple of prime lenses.  Of course with a bit of creative packing I also got a GPS and a couple of chargers into the main compartment.  The equipment is protected by padded dividers--Kata calls this its Modi-Vers System.  The system allows you to create compartments that meet your requirements. The divider can be cut with scissors to any desired size. Attach the newly cut divider to another divider or the walls of the bag with a Velcro connector. The top compartment is quite roomy and can hold chargers, memory cards, and even a paper-back book or two for the plane trip.  The two side pockets are easy to access and can be used to hold filters, and an extra set of batteries.  They do bulge into the top compartment and steal space though.  I truly wish Kata had put an easily accessible external pocket big enough for the paperback book, plane tickets, and maps.  I hate opening the top compartment everytime since I'm afraid I'll spill all the other items in that compartment.

A really neat feature is the removable Media Kit.  You can use it to store memory cards or batteries and remove it from the bag (it's attached with Velcro) when you need it. 

The Kata 3N1-30 does include a rain Cover is included to protect against rainy conditions.  The rain cover folds away into an integrated pocket.   Without the rain cover the bag is not 100% sealed against moisture.  There are a number of points where the zippers do not meet and leave a small hole through which rain could enter. 

Is the bag easy to carry?

The bag weighs 3.3 lbs--fully loaded a lot more.  It is made easier to carry by the well padded straps and the option to carry it three ways.  It can be carried as a sling bag on either the left or right shoulder or as a backpack to spread the load.   Frankly, getting in and out of the plane I used another option, grabbing the bag by it's top handle and walking along the narrow aisles.  I just had to be a bit careful about not tripping over the dangling straps.  In backpack position and "X" position you can comfortably carry your equipment for long distance walking when needed. The included chest belt and balancing hip strap helps take the load of your heavy equipment off your shoulders.

OtterBox Defender for iTouch

OtterBox DefenderThe OtterBox for iPod Touch Defender is a rugged case to protect your iTouch from bumps, shocks, and scratches.  It does add a bit of thickness and takes away the glamor from the iTouch but provides protection.  I recently tested it on a trip to Maine and it allowed me toss my iTouch into my camera bag with confidence. 

The OtterBox Defender for the iTouch offers three levels of protection for your device.   

  1.  It offers a high impact polycarbonate shell that snaps together to safeguard the device and an interactive
  2. A scratch-resistant polycarbonate membrane to protect screens from dust and light water intrusion.  The Touchscreen remains easy to use.  It did seem to decrease the screen sensitivity just a bit in the corners but overall it didn't change the functionality of the iTouch.  
  3. Rubber silicone outside that slips off.

The Otterbox Defender comes in three separate pieces: a front and back hard shell, a silicone sleeve.  I have to admit it took me a bit to figure out how to open up the case for the iTouch.   It does take a bit of time to place the iTouch into the case. 

Once this case is on your iPod, you shouldn't ever need to take it out. This design allows you to sync and charge your device right through the case via convenient Silicone plugs. This case allows for use of any headset with a standard 1/8" mini stereo plug.  The case provides access to the buttons, earphone jacks and ports.  All these sensitive openings are protected by rubber seals.  Do note that despite it's rugged looks the case is not protected against water intrusion.  When we went sea kayaking--the iPod Touch stayed behind. 

A nice little design detail, OtterBox crafted a crafted a small window just large enough to reveal the Apple logo on the rear of the iTouch. 

I have to admit that this has become my favorite case for the iTouch (even over the Longhorn Orange leather case).  I feel more confident using the iPod Touch in difficult environments with this case.

Free GPS Software

Own a GPS?  Own a GPS Datalogger?   www.Maps-GPS-Info.com maintains a list of free GPS software at http://www.maps-gps-info.com/fgpfw.html.

Out damn spot - cleaning your camera sensor

It is inevitable--if you use a D-SLR you will eventually see dark spots on your photos.   It is not caused by a defect in your CCD, rather a combination of the piston action of zoom lenses pulling in dust and the static charge of the CCD attracting that dust (in the same ways CRT's, remember CRT's, attracted dust).   Olympus pioneered self-cleaning CCD's but even self-cleaning CCD's eventually need cleaning. 

Most manufacturer's official line is that at most you should use a blower to blow the dust off the CCD.   That does help in a lot of cases.  Eventually, though you get welded dust--Thom Hogan's term for dust that is extra sticky dust.  At that point, manufacturer's recommend that you send the camera in.  This isn't really practical--at $40-$70/cleaning and if you don't live close to a center your camera will be AWOL for weeks.

Amazon Prime Shipping - Get your gadgets from Amazon quick

All of us at GadgetGuys hate going to stores and fighting for parking, looking for cool Gadgets that most stores that don't have and frequently talking to salespeople that don't have a clue about specs.  Amazon.com is one of our favorite places to shop but it used to take a while to get our toys.  Then Amazon added Amazon Prime.  

Amazon Prime is a membership shipping program available for addresses in the continental United States that gives you and 4 of your friends or family (living at the same address)  "all-you-can-eat" fast shipping for eligible purchases. For an annual membership fee of $79, you get:

locr: Free software to geotag your photos

locr Client

locr offers free PC software to geotag photos automatically and simultaneously. All you need is a GPS Datalogger and the locr GPS Photo for Windows software.  With a GPS-datalogger, go out and take photos.  When you get back home, just copy the GPS data and the photo files into the locr GPS Photo for Windows software.  The software geotags the your photos based on a shared timecode. 

The term geotagging is sometimes also referred to as geocoding.  Using geotagging e.g. photos, or videos, can be complemented with geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude, or physical address). This geographical identification data is saved together with the photos. Thereby photos can be assigned easily and explicitly to maps like GoogleMaps, or can be viewed on Google Earth.

What's your recommendation for a keychain knife?

What's your recommendation for a keychain knife?   I'd like omething small, light, and easy to open.

The current version of the Spyderco Ladybug has a few advantages over the old model:

Keykatcher: Easiest way to monitor your PC

KeykatcherKeykatcher is a unique solution for parents, employers and anyone that needs to know what is happening to the computer when they are not around. When plugged between your keyboard and computer the Keykatcher logs keyboard activity - no software to install, no system resources used, no software needed.

Installation

It took about 15 seconds to install the Keykatcher since all that has to be done is plug it into the back of the computer; making it not only the easiest way to monitor a PC but the quickest to install. The 2-inch device looks more like a keyboard adaptor then a sophisticated monitoring device. It's diameter is the same as a regular keyboard plug so it won't interfere with a PS/2 mouse, although it does sick out almost 2 inches from the back of the computer.

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