Category Archives: Tip and Tricks

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Sous Vide Supreme – Cooking Experiment #1 – Beef Tenderloin

I recently purchased a Sous Vide Supreme cooker (“Sous Vide” is French for “under vacuum”), and my very first cooking attempt was Beef Tenderloin, which I will share here.

The end result was the most tender beef tenderloin I’ve ever had, perfectly pink all the way through, with a nice crust on the edges. The meat could be cut effortlessly with a fork, and just melted in my mouth. I will definitely be making this recipe again!

1. Salt and pepper the beef tenderloin

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2. Vacuum seal in cooking-safe plastic bags, with 1 tablespoon of butter

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3. Cook at 138 F for 3 hours

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4. Remove from bags and drain the juices.

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5. Preheat cast iron skillet to just under the smoke point for butter

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5. Briefly sear tenderloin on each side in butter (I used a cooking torch, too, just for fun)

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6. Slice, plate, and enjoy

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Resources:

demi
Sous Vide Supreme Demi Water Oven, Black, SVD-00101

31UjVZIqTCL._SL160_
Waring Pro PVS1000CGB 1-Gallon Pistol Vac Reusable Bags, 24 Count

41SdRtY-gkL._SL160_
Waring Pro PVS1000 Pistol Vac Professional Vacuum Sealer System

A Card “Force” Using Unintuitive Mathematical Odds

“A card force is one of any number of methods used in close-up magic to apparently offer a subject a free or random choice of card, when in fact the magician knows in advance exactly which card will be chosen. This can then be revealed later in the trick.”

Premise: We have a set of three cards, all of which are known to us. We attempt to force a specific card on the unsuspecting participant by instructing them to randomly point at one of three cards, which are all laying face down. Theoretically, they have a one in three chance of picking the correct card randomly. If they point at the desired card, we immediately instruct them to flip it, effectively “forcing” the card on them in one try. If this works on the first try, the trick will be especially impressive. However, if it doesn’t work on the first try, we still have a fall-back method:

If they point at one of the other cards, instead of telling them to flip the card, we pretend that they’re playing a game of elimination and we simply remove the card, instructing them to point again. If they point at the next incorrect card, we instruct them to remove it, leaving one final card: the correct one.

Potential downside: If they point at the desired card on the second step, then the “force” fails,
because when we remove it, the end card will actually be the incorrect one.

Cards used: Ace of Hearts (the desired card), Queen of Clubs, and 8 of Spades

Approximate Results After 2000 Simulations:
Times ended on Ace of Hearts: 1322 (0.661)
Times ended on Queen of Clubs: 339 (0.1695)
Times ended on 8 of Spades: 339 (0.1695)

Click here to run the simulations yourself using javascript

Explanation:
Odds of picking the right card during the first step: 1/3. If incorrect card is chosen on first step, we pretend it’s an elimination game and remove the card, leaving only two cards, the desired card, and the incorrect card. At this point, you might think there is an even 50/50 chance they will choose the correct card, but in reality, the odds of them choosing and eliminating the desired card are still 1/3 because it hasn’t been touched. The odds of them choosing and eliminating the second incorrect card, however, have increased to 2/3. This is unintuitive, but the simulation shows it to be true.

Verdict:
Because of the fact that we know which cards are which, we can effectively double our seemingly low 33% odds all the way to 66% simply by using this card force method.

The only unsolved problem is, how do you handle a dead end where someone chooses the wrong card, and then the right card on the second step?

Flash 10 Demo

Grant Skinner (gskinner.com) just recently posted this Flash 10 3D music visualizer demo on his “gBlog”. It’s crazy awesome, and even after examining the source code, I’m still not sure how it all works.

For what it’s worth, I went and edited it a bit, removing the music visualizer stuff and just making it spin according to your mouse position over it. Fun stuff. Check it out (P.S. Get Flash 10, Now!):

Boot up Windows before you even log in

If you don’t use any Windows XP login security, then you can skip this article. Otherwise, if you are like many Windows XP users who have to enter a password every time their computer sluggishly boots up, then read this!

Ok. Here’s the scenario:

You have to wait 2 minutes while your computer turns on. You have to sit in front of your computer during this whole time because once it finally gets to the login screen, you have to type in the password. The computer then crunches numbers for another 2 minutes while it loads a wide variety of programs (MSN messenger, your Norton Antivirus, your Microsoft Office shortcut bar, etc…). Finally, after like 5 minutes, you have access to your desktop.

How would you like your computer to load all those programs *before* you ever have to enter your password? You could press the button to power up your system and go get a cup of coffee. Five minutes later, you come to your desk and type in your password. BAM! Instantly dropped to the desktop! Your programs are already running and all systems are a go!

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Download Microsoft’s free TweakUI tool and install it.
  2. Click your Start button, go to your Programs menu, and select Tweak UI from the “Powertoys for Windows XP” folder.
  3. In the TweakUI window, double-click the “Logon” item in the left-hand column to expand it.
  4. Click on the “Autologon” item underneath the “Logon” section.
  5. Check the box that says “Log on automatically at system startup”
  6. Click the “Set Password” button and enter in your windows login password
  7. Click OK and close Tweak UI.
  8. Download this .reg file and run it. When it asks you if you want to merge it with your registry, choose “Yes”.NOTE: If you feel queasy about merging a reg file with your registry, you can also add it by hand. Go to Start > Run and type in “regedit” and press OK. Browse to [HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun] and create a new String Value. Name it “Lock Computer on Startup“, and set the value to “rundll32.exe user32.dll, LockWorkStation

Presto! You’re done!

Now, when you boot up your computer, it will automatically log you in to your desktop and start up your programs. However, it will still secure your system, requiring you to enter your password to access it.

Get rid of those pesky Windows XP temp files

I just recently stumbled upon a nifty way to make my windows xp machine run a little bit faster. Check it out.

If you search your entire computer for temp files, you may be surprised to find hundreds of megabytes worth of data that has been sitting around since God knows when. Windows is supposed to automatically delete these, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Now… supposedly when you boot up your computer or internet explorer, Windows will scan through your temp files (looking for recently viewed web pages, etc). So if everything is cluttered up, things might run a little bit slow.

So the goal here is to delete all temp files before we shut down the system at the end of the day. This way, everything is fresh and clean, come next morning!

  1. Open up a copy of notepad and paste in the following chunk of text:

    @echo off
    taskkill /F /FI “USERNAME ne SYSTEM” /FI “USERNAME ne LOCAL SERVICE” /FI “USERNAME ne NETWORK SERVICE” /FI “IMAGENAME ne explorer.exe” /FI “IMAGENAME ne cmd.exe” /FI “IMAGENAME ne taskkill.exe”
    RD /S /q “%HOMEPATH%Local SettingsHistory”
    RD /S /q “%HOMEPATH%Local SettingsTemp”
    RD /S /q “C:temp”
    RD /S /q “C:WindowsTemp”
    SHUTDOWN -s -t 01


  2. Save the file off as “C:shutdown.bat” (make sure you set the file type as “All Files”, *not* “Text Documents”)
  3. Browse to your C: drive using windows explorer and right-click on the shutdown.bat file. Select the “Create Shortcut” option in the context menu.
  4. Rename the shortcut file to “Clear Temp Files & Shut Down”.
  5. Right-click on the shortcut and select “Properties” from the context menu.
  6. When the properties window pops up, make sure you are on the “Shortcut” tab and click on the “Change Icon” button. If it gives you some kind of error about the file not containing any icons, ignore it and just click OK.
  7. Where it says “Look for icons in this file:”, make sure that it says, “%SystemRoot%system32SHELL32.dll”.
  8. Select the red, square icon with the circle and a vertical line in the middle. This is the shutdown icon that you see when you click on your start button and select “Turn off your computer”.
  9. Ok your way out of there back to your explorer window.
  10. Drag the shortcut to your desktop.

Now, whenever you want to shut down your computer, just double-click the icon on your desktop!
Windows will clear your temp files after killing all your programs (it can’t clear temp files if programs are currently using them), and then it will proceed to shut down.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are using Windows XP Home, you may not have the taskkill.exe file, as it only comes with Windows XP Pro by default. Click here to download it and extract it to your C:WindowsSystem32 folder.

Scary day at work

Wow. So I worked at the office for basically 12 hours today.

Our server’s hard drive crashed, losing all it’s data (months worth of work). One minute it was working fine, and the next, it was completely empty. No formatting or anything. It just all disappeared without explanation.

“Well, no problem. We made a backup a couple days ago!”

So we loaded the backup drive. Lo and behold, half the files were missing on it as well!

In desperation, I pulled up google and looked up disk recovery software. 3 hours later, in the midst of the plethora of useless junk out there I found a gem called “File Scavenger“. Within minutes, it somehow scanned the entire *empty*, *un-recoverable* hard drive and managed to extract every single file that had existed on it before. To top it off, it even found a bunch of long-forgotten, deleted files as well!

Needless to say, we learned our lesson. We immediately proceeded to the nearest Fry’s Electronics. $500 later, we had all the equipment needed to set up a redundant RAID data backup system and were back in business. Now we have two different 250 gig Serial ATA drives set up in a RAID 1 (mirrored) configuration. If one of the drives fails (or even simply becomes unplugged from it’s cable), all the data will still be accessible by the network users. Awesome.

To top it off, we also have a third 250 gig drive. But this one is external. So we can make a mirror image of our data and take it home every night just in case our office burns down or the server gets stolen or something.

The way it should be done.

Lawyers and spyware

Ok so I went and fixed a lawyer’s computer at his house the other night and then today I went and optimized his computer at his office. It’s weird how almost all my business is lawyers, doctors, and retired older people… Maybe it has to do with the fact that it’s all by word of mouth?

You know, I hate those spyware creators and what not, but I have to give them credit for about half my business. The irony of it is that I only know how to remove the stuff because of the fact that I used to be all into hacking when I was like 13. I would make trojans that used the same techniques that the spyware these days use to hide on people’s computers. So naturally, I usually know how to get rid of it as well…

Here’s how my average repair job goes:
1. Download Spybot Search and Destroy from http://www.spybot.info (a completely free, donation supported tool)
2. Download the latest spyware definitions
3. Reboot the computer into safe mode
4. Scan and remove spyware using Spybot, then Immunize it.
5. Look through registry using regedit and msconfig for any abnormal things that are starting up needlessly and disable them
6. Look through the Administrative Tools > Services console for abnormal services that are starting up automatically and disable them
7. Go into Internet Explorer brower options > Settings > View Objects and remove all foreign ActiveX controls
8. Reboot computer into normal mode
9. Install Firefox (http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/) as an alternative to Internet Explorer that is less susceptible to spyware.
10. Show person how to use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer

Now, of course there are many variations to that whole scenario, but you get the general gist of the idea.