Monday, January 30, 2012

It's not often I flip for something...

Last week I spent some time catching up on my reading list.  Specifically the few blogs I read I had gotten quite far behind.  After spending time reading in from of my computer I looked down to my desk and saw the most interesting little device... "Maybe THIS can help me keep up with all these blogs" I pondered aloud, much to the irritation of my co-workers.  That device: my iPhone.

So I'm an idiot - I hadn't thought of using my phone to read up on my blogs.  I do a quick App Store search for an RSS reader (most blogs provide an RSS feed) and WHAMMO!! I was dramatically underwhelmed at the options.  Either too clunky, ugly or expensive (expensive in this case is anything > $0).

Enter Flipboard

Quite possibly the most beautiful app on the iPhone, both in it's simplicity and design, Flipboard is an information centre where you can flip (literally) through all the info you want.  What info? Anything you choose.  Twitter stream? Check. Facebook? Check. RSS feeds of blogs? Local newspaper sports section? Instagram feed? Check Check Check.  Coupled with my google reader account, I could literally add any updating page to my Flipboard and get my news/info fix in once app.  All in one place.  Check it out:

Other features include Cover story, basically it picks what type of info is popular at the time, either Facebook photos or tweets or blogs or news stories, and bunches them all on the from page for you to flip through.   One of my favourite features is that any tweet or post with a photo or video link is automatically displayed,  thus the pretty flipping you see in the demo.  It's fast too, no waiting for additional data to load.  Plus you can post tweets, FB updates and comments right from Flipboard.

There are a couple of quirks, getting all the pages you want on there took a bit of figuring, also  the updates from Facebook seem to skip a few once in a while (admittedly it's a bug, but I'm not much of a FB guy, so if I miss a post about someone's kid's new PJ's, I'll live). Also you won't be able to put EVERYTHING on there unless you use Google reader, therefore needing a (free) Google account.

All your info in one place, fast, looks great, and well designed layout.  All for the low price of $0.00.  Sorry to be pitching an ad here, but it's really changed the way i use my phone, which is saying something indeed.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Brew Year!

Even though it's now mid/late January and most people have already broken their New Year's resolutions, (and those that haven't are probably realizing that it's not going to last) I figured I'd take a second to let you know my own Brew Year's Resolutions - essentially my goals for this upcoming year as far as brewing goes.  Here we go....

  • Sour Beer - I aim to make at least one batch of sour beer this year.  I'm eyeballing a Berlinerweiss, and hopefully soon so it will be ready for the summer barbeque.  For those that don't know, sour beers are fermented (either wholly or in part) with bacteria instead of yeast.  It yields a sourness to the beer, as well as massive depth of flavour.
  • IPA - The more traditional homebrew: I want to brew up a batch of REALLY hoppy pale ale.  I haven't figured exactly what I want yet, but it'll be hoppy for sure.  I've already secured a couple pounds of hops for this beer (Amarillo and Columbus)
  • Solara Brewing - I have a 54L demijohn (two in fact) from my grandfather sitting in my basement, and my goal for them is to fill them with beer, and each year bottle a portion of it, while brewing another batch of the same beer and topping it back up.  The goal is to have essentially 'aged' beer fresh every year, while not having to wait so long to get the last year's batch to age. What beer you ask?.....
  • Westvleteren 12 - I've never had it, (I have tried the 8 however, and it was incredible) but if I am going to brew a beer to drink all year long, THIS would definitely be worthy of my time.  Look up any top 10 list of greatest beers, it's there.  I've come across a group who worked out a recipe quite close to the original, and my goal is to brew this beer for the demijohns.
  • Competitions - Lastly, I'd like to enter at least one of my beers in a competition, big or small.  It just would be nice to get some feedback on how my brewing compares with others.  I'm not in it for the recognition, just to better my beer by knowing how it stacks up against others.
So there it is, hopefully by putting it in print I will be more motivated to make these happen.  If I don't get around to them all I won't be disappointed, just maybe a little thirsty.