Jun 25
How to cook perfect rice
icon1 techandlife | icon2 Cooking, How to | icon4 June 25, 2009| icon3No Comments »

I’ve always had a problem cooking rice the way I want it. Always turned out sticky, mushy and in clumps. I prefer it light, moist and fluffy and with the grains separate. Right I thought, the internet will surely solve my problem. Sure enough, trusty Google identified a number of sites explaining how to cook rice and all giving much the same kind of advice which can be summarized as:

First choose a quality long grain rice, for example, Basmati. Then wash the rice in cool water in a bowl. Swish your hand round until the water becomes cloudy, drain off the water and repeat two or three times until the water becomes clearer. Cover the rice with cold water and let it soak for about half an hour, then drain. Then boil twice the quantity of water to your quantity of rice, add the rice, bring back to the boil, cover tightly and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for a further 10 minutes with the lid still on.

Effectively you are steaming the rice in this process. This worked great for me the first time but was a bit inconsistent after that. I couldn’t rely on it for perfect rice.

Enter the electric steamer. Initially, we bought this to steam vegetables, but the instruction book said it would do rice as well. Right, I’ll give it a go.

The first steps of washing, and soaking the rice were the same. But then I added the rice (we find that 1/2 to 3/4 of a mug of rice is enough for 2 portions) to the steaming basket along with just about enough lightly salted boiling water to not quite cover the rice. Then add enough boiling water to the steamer to steam for about 30 minutes. (Time saving tip: If you don’t have the time to soak the rice beforehand, you can actually just part-boil the rice in salted boiling water before transferring to the steamer.) That’s it. When the time is up, check the rice is cooked by tasting a spoonful, fluff the rice with a fork and you have a fantastic basket of light, fluffy rice which goes beautifully with a curry or is great when cold as part of a salad.

Perfect rice

How do you cook your rice?

Jun 24

rss logos

I’m not one to be checking my blog stats on a daily basis, just happy to have some loyal readers who are getting something from my posts.

I added the Feed Statistics plugin a couple of months ago and was pleased to find I had 7 loyal readers then. To my utter amazement, I went back to check my feed stats a couple of days ago and it is now hovering around 400! That’s really exceeded all my expectations and a big thanks to all who have taken the time to subscribe to the RSS feed. I’ve just added the subscriber count below the RSS button on the top right of the blog.

For those who don’t know, subscribing to an RSS feed from a blog allows the content to be pushed to an RSS reader like Google Reader. It’s well worth doing and means that rather than having to visit blogs looking for new post, the posts are actually sent to you in your reader saving you loads of time. Just click on the RSS feed icon (like those shown above) and add the feed to your reader.

I’ve been blogging in my spare time for just 10 months now with 49 posts up – not a lot, but I hope there’s something for everyone in the content so far. I generally have 2 or 3 posts in various stages of readiness and I’m pretty happy with the next 2 or 3 in draft. Hope you will be too. Check out the recent posts on the right and click through some of the categories which might interest you or visit the archives. If you like what you see, subscribe to the feed if you haven’t already done so.

Once again, thanks for subscribing and hope you’re enjoying reading my take on tech … and life.

Image credit: Chesi – Photos CC

Jun 18

Ubuntu Logo Cristal

Photo credit: k40s

So you’ve installed Ubuntu and given it a quick test drive. What next?

For the first in our Useful Links series, I’ve chosen to gather together some recent ‘things to do after installing Ubuntu’ type posts which I’d bookmarked on Delicious. You’ll find there’s a bit of repetition in the tips probably because good ideas get passed on from post to post so that’s probably some kind of recommendation. And yes, it just goes to show how many of this type of post are floating around the net. Anyway, here’s the list:

10 tips for after you install or upgrade Ubuntu – Tombuntu

Top things to do after installing Ubuntu – Jam’s Ubuntu Linux Blog

9 things you need to do/install after installing Ubuntu 9.04 – Make Tech Easier

List of services you can shutdown for better system performance – Noobs on Ubuntu

5 things to do after installing Jaunty – Help for Linux

Ubuntu 9.04 post installation guide – My-Guides.net

19 things to do after installing Ubuntu Linux – eackouye

10 things to do immediately after installing Jaunty – OMG! Ubuntu!

To do list after installing Ubuntu and Linux Alternatives Applications – The Indexer

Five things I do with every Ubuntu installation – Linux Fanatics

10 things to do after installing Ubuntu Linux – Ubuntu Linux Help

How to setup the perfect 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope desktop – ChrisJohnston.org

Hope you find them useful. Any good tips I’ve missed?

Jun 1
Manage all your pdfs
icon1 techandlife | icon2 How to, Software, Tech tips | icon4 June 1, 2009| icon31 Comment »

I’m sure many of you have pdfs galore scattered throughout your PC hard drive. Just like your photos. But you can organize your photos into albums with programs like Picasa or Faststone Image Viewer so what about your pdfs? Well here’s your chance to organize them under a neat interface. Adobe Digital Editions is a free program for Windows OS for organizing all your eBooks (EPUB format) and pdfs onto digital bookshelves. I’m indebted to instant fundas for bringing this free app to my attention. It’s a bit like Adobe Photoshop Elements but for pdfs not photos, and with just the managing and viewing function. I don’t have an eBook reader yet so will concentrate on the pdf management features here as I really wanted a way to organize my pdfs just like my photos.

I already had most of my pdfs in folders in a separate directory but thought it would be neat to be able to view them all in one place as thumbnails, place them on bookshelves and read them all from within one app. Well with Adobe Digital Editions you can do just that.

Adobe Digital Editions

However, before you plunge in and import all your pdfs, there’s a couple of things to note. Unfortunately, the thumbnails aren’t displayed with the file name below them, but with title and author metadata held within the pdf. So, for example, if the title metadata had been filled out incorrectly, the thumbnails won’t display in the order you want. So how do you check and edit the pdf metadata? Well, I’m grateful to gHacks for pointing out one free utility for doing this – BeCyPDFMetaEdit. With this app, you can load up your pdf, edit and save all the metadata just the way you want them without affecting the text and layout in the pdf itself.


Now that you have your title metadata correct, when you load the pdfs into Adobe Digital Editions, they will all initially go into the All Items shelf. You then have to drag them to the bookshelf of your choice or make a new one. You can’t put them directly onto the bookshelf you want.

You can of course click on and view your pdfs within the program. Single or double page layouts are supported. You can search within a document, and bookmark pages. Unfortunately, you can’t view all bookmarks on a bookshelf at the same time which would have been nice. The bookmarks for each document only show when that document is being read. You can highlight text and save it as text notes. Like other aspects of this program, I didn’t really find it intuitive enough but eventually worked out that you click and drag to highlight text, then press Ctrl-B to save it as a bookmark. Not ideal, but well it’s a free program and doubtless all these shortcomings will be ironed out in updates if people shout loudly enough. At the moment, I’m enjoying reading the free Full Circle (Ubuntu) Magazine in this interface.

So if your pdfs are languishing all round your hard drive, here’s a neat way to organize them on digital bookshelves and view them all in one spot … just like your photos.

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