James Crisp

Coding, calisthenics, book reviews, mind hacks and the occasional personal bit.

Month: June 2008

Wedding Reception in Sydney

On 10 May, we had our “second wedding” in Australia! It was awesome and we had a really good time with friends and family 🙂

More photos here:
http://flickr.com/photos/soosun_and_james/sets/72157605121741281/

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Just finished reading “The Long Tail – How Endless Choice is Creating Unlimited Demand” by Chris Anderson. In summary, the long tail is about selling small volumes of a vast variety of items instead of large volumes of a small number of “hits”. This possible when the cost of distribution to geographically distant customers is low and the cost of storage for stock is not a concern (eg, intellectual property in electronic format, JIT manufacture). Popular companies capitalising on the long tail include eBay, Amazon, Google Adwords and Lulu.

The book has a lot of interesting stories and statistics but tends to repeat itself often. The long tail idea is probably not new to most readers these days, and I think if you’re familiar with Amazon, there’s little that comes as a surprise. However, I did find an interesting section in the book about the tyranny of choice. Anderson suggests that choice is good, customers want choice, and choice is only a problem if you don’t know what to choose to suit your taste. Hence, an important part of a long tail business is helping people find what they want (ie, filter out noise) in all the vast array of choices. He suggests using user reviews, rankings, sorting etc as means to help people find the “best” choice for them. I also hadn’t come across Lulu before – looks worth checking out, a site for mini self-publishing.

Ginger Beer Recipe

Ginger Beer BottlesHome made ginger beer is awesome, and not hard to do at all. It takes a few hours to prepare all the ingredients, then several days fermentation, then another hour or two for bottling. Usually I make about 8 or 9 1L bottles of ginger beer in a batch, and I like to make it less sweet than the commercial stuff. It is slightly alcoholic (1-2% approximately) and has a really nice gingery bite the goes well with pizza, spicy food or just about anything else! I use a recipe adapted from the Ye Olde Ginger Beer Recipe. It is as follows:

Ingredients

  • 4 lemons
  • 900g sugar
  • 9L of water (enough to fill a demi-john)
  • 1 packet / 2 teaspoons of Ale yeast (you can use bread yeast if you’re desperate)
  • 200g fresh root ginger
  • 4 heaped tea spoons of tartaric acid (Cream of Tartar)

Equipment
Carboy

  • A large pot that can boil four litres of water
  • A jug
  • A glass
  • A coarse cheese grater
  • A wooden spoon
  • 10L carboy (10L water container does nicely) washed & sterilized with bleach
  • A bubble seal for the carboy
  • A lemon juicer
  • A lemon zester / fine grater
  • A fine sieve
  • 9 X 1.25 litre soft drink bottles, empty, washed & sterilized with bleach

Method

1. Fill pot with water and put on to boil

2. While the water is coming to the boil…

  • scrape the zest from one of the lemons
  • grate the ginger on the coarse cheese grater
  • add the sugar to the ginger and lemon zest in a bowl
  • cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the jug
  • add the tartaric acid to the lemon juice
  • put the yeast into some warm water with a little sugar in a glass

3. When the water has boiled ….

  • add the sugar, ginger and lemon zest to the water, turn off the heat and
    stir
  • allow the water to cool to roughly blood heat, stirring occasionally
  • add the lemon juice and tartaric acid to the water
  • add the yeast mixture

Carboy with bubble seal

4. Use the jug to pour the mixture into the carboy and top up to 9L with boiled water (cooled to blood temperature)

5. Seal the demijohn with the bubble seal (I use salt in the water to sterilize the seal)

6. Stand the demijohn in a warm place for 48 hrs or for several days in a cool place

7. After 48 hrs pour the mixture through the sieve into the jug and fill the bottles leaving an air gap for the pressure to build up in (1L into each bottle). Screw the caps tightly onto the bottles

8. Leave the bottles at room temperature for 24 hrs (to generate the C02 fizz)

9. Put the bottles in the fridge for 2-3 days to allow the yeast to settle

10. Drink and enjoy 🙂

Notes
If you ferment the mixture in the carboy for longer before bottling, it will be less sweet and more alcoholic.

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