Apple pie & ice cream

We’re lucky enough to have an apple tree which is producing heaps of fruit at the moment. Here’s how to make an easy, traditional & crowd pleasing apple pie.

What to do with a glut of apples?

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Pastry

  • 250 g Plain flour
  • 50 g Icing sugar
  • 125 g Butter cut into small cubes
  • 1 Large egg, beaten
  • Zest of ½ a lemon

Sift the flour and icing sugar into a nice big bowl. Add the cubes of butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the lemon zest.

Add the egg and bring the pastry together fairly quickly. The egg will probably be enough liquid, but if it’s still too dry, add a splash of milk. Pat the pastry into a neat, flat circle and put it in a freezer bag or wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge to rest.

For the filling

  • 1 kg apples, cored & diced into 2 cm chunks
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 30 g butter
  • 50g honey

Melt the butter with the honey and cinnamon in a saucepan and add the apples. Give them a good stir and then cook slowly over a low heat until the apples are soft but still retain a little of their shape. Allow to cool while preparing the pie dish.

Assemble the pie

Butter a 20 cm diameter, sloping sided pie dish. Cut ⅓ off the pastry for the pie lid and roll out the rest on a floured surface until it is large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the dish and hang over the sides a little.

Fill the base with the apple filling and roll out the remaining pastry for the lid. Stick the pastry lid to the base by brushing the seal with either some beaten egg or milk. Crimp around the join with a fork and slice off any excess pastry with a knife. Brush the top of the pie with some milk or beaten egg, and it’s ready to go in the oven.

Bake the pie for around 25 mins at around 180 deg or until the pastry is golden and cooked through. Serve with some good vanilla ice cream and  enjoy the brownie points and praise from everyone who tries it.

Oldskool Wacom

At Aligent all our workstations are on CentOS 7, which is fine & dandy except for one thing. I couldn’t get my Wacom tablet to work.

Ever since I started using computers I’ve used a graphics tablet as my preferred input device and after 20 odd years I can’t stand using a mouse.

Why? Aside from the issue of RSI it just feels so slow and inaccurate. Using a mouse there is another step in the chain between brain and screen. You look at  the screen and know where you want the mouse, then you move your hand and the cursor moves closer to the target. Then you repeat those steps until the cursor is in the right place and THEN you can click. With a tablet, the pen is mapped to the screen. Your body is clever enough to quickly learn the exact position to move your hand  and touching the pen to the tablet is a click. Much quicker.

For the past few weeks I’ve been unable to get my latest Wacom tablet to work with linux. Today I found a solution. I dug out a 20 year old tablet I stole from a company I worked for in London back in the 90’s. Sure enough I plugged it in and bosh – it worked first time. Happy days.

I just love oldskool solutions to modern tech problems.

ANZAC Day

Anzac Day public holiday is awesome. It’s a nationwide holiday which everyone gets off work. But what is an anzac anyway? Some kind of small beetle? No, it’s a member of the Australian or New Zealand armed forces.

The day starts with a dawn service, especially for veterans, followed by a full day of drinking and remembering. If that’s not an oxymoron. For the next few years this is even more important as the Great War (1914-1918) passes out of living memory.

For the ANZACs the First World War is synonymous with Gallipoli. The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli, or the Battle of Çanakkale (in Turkish). The allied forces of Russia, Britain and France, which also comprised a lot of Australian and NZ troops attempted a Naval invasion and amphibious landing of the peninsular with the view of capturing the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople (Istanbul).

They failed. It took 8 months of bitter fighting and masses of casualties on both sides for the Ottoman Empire to win their victory. The attempt was abandoned and the allied forces withdrawn to Egypt, but not before over nearly 200,000 men were either killed wounded or taken prisoner.

Gallipoli casualties (not including illness)
Dead Wounded POW Total
Ottoman
Empire
56,643 97,007 11,178 164,828
United Kingdom 34,072 78,520 7,654 120,246
France 9,798 17,371 27,169
Australia 8,709 19,441 28,150
New Zealand 2,721 4,752 7,473
British India 1,358 3,421 4,779
Newfoundland 49 93 142
Total Allies 56,707 123,598 7,654 187,959

The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli, or the Battle of Çanakkale

Vagrant for frontend development

As a frontend developer you’ll often have to set up working environments for the websites you’re working on. It’s not too hard to set up a MAMP stack of Apache,  PHP , MySQL etc on a machine, but sometimes you’ll have different requirements for different projects. For instance one website might require PHP 5.6 on nginx and another 5.3 on Apache.

You could try setting up configurable environments and switch between them, but are you 100% sure that the environment you’re running is identical to the production server it will need to run on when you’ve finished?

What you need is a way of your team to easily create and work on a specifically configured environment that is identical, quick and easy. That’s where vagrant comes in.

Vagrant is a tool for building and managing virtual machine environments in a single workflow. With an easy-to-use workflow and focus on automation, Vagrant lowers development environment setup time, increases production parity, and makes the “works on my machine” excuse a relic of the past.

Who benefits?

  • Developers
    Vagrant will isolate dependencies and their configuration within a single disposable, consistent environment, without sacrificing any of the tools you are used to working with (editors, browsers, debuggers, etc.)
  • DevOps
    Vagrant gives you a disposable environment and consistent workflow for developing and testing infrastructure management scripts. You can quickly test things like shell scripts, Chef cookbooks, Puppet modules, and more using local virtualization such as VirtualBox or VMware.
  • Designers
    Vagrant will automatically set everything up that is required for that web app in order for you to focus on doing what you do best: design.

Installing Magento 2 on Red Hat Openshift

Openshift is brilliant. Mostly because it’s free, but also for it’s more advanced features like being able to deploy your website simply pushing your master branch from git.

Red hat Openshift

Getting back to it being free, there are obviously limitations in the scope of the gears (I think of gears as servers). In trying to setup Magento 2 I came up to those limitations. According to How to Install Magento 2 on Openshift;

  • Magento 2 requires PHP 5.5+ and OpenShift currently has official cartridges of up to PHP 5.4
  • Magento 2 requires shit loads of space, and OpenShift free gears are limited to 1GB
  • Magento 2 requires MySQL 5.6+ and OpenShift currently supports up to MySQL 5.5 official cartridges

After following this excellent set of instructions, we managed to launch a full fledged Magento 2 store, hosted for free here. All you’ll need is a free openshift account, and the OpenShift Client Tools.


# Create a new OpenShift app with NGINX as web server
# Replace "123" by your actual api key & secrets and
# $myapp with your preferred app name.

# Write down the “Git Remote” ssh url that will be shown once the command finishes.
rhc create-app $myapp http://cartreflect-claytondev.rhcloud.com/github/boekkooi/openshift-cartridge-nginx API_KEY=123 API_SECRET=123

# Install PHP 5.6 cartridge into the app
rhc cartridge add -a $myapp http://cartreflect-claytondev.rhcloud.com/github/boekkooi/openshift-cartridge-php

# Install mysql-5.5 cartridge into the app
rhc cartridge add -a $myapp mysql-5.5

# Clone our repository and push it to your app, we will take care of everything for you.
git clone https://github.com/javilumbrales/magento2-openshift
cd magento2-openshift

# Remember to replace $myapp by your app’s name and YOUR_GIT_REMOTE by your actual repository url, the one that you got when you created the app (ie. should be something like ssh://*******@magento2-mage2.rhcloud.com/~/git/yourappname.git/)
git remote add $myapp YOUR_GIT_REMOTE
git push $myapp master -f