2006-07-17

Green Tea

Green Tea and LimeGreen Tea contains all sorts of good things, like ... green. And tea.

Well apparently there is bunch of catechin polyphenols, notably epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is a powerful anti-oxidant that can prevent / cure / who knows what for:
* Cancer
* Alzheimers
* Rheumatoid arthritis
* High cholesterol
* Cardiovascular disease
* Impaired immune function
The FDA of the USA hasn't done any research to confirm any of this. However an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol 83, pp 355-361) stated that drinking more than 2 cups of green tea a day prevented cognitive impairment in the elderly. So if you don't want to go crazy when you're old then drink lots of green tea. However, don't drink it if you're pregnant. A study published with the same journal (Vol 136, pp 1043-1047) showed that rats had improved reference and working memory-related learning abilities. So green tea is also good for rats.

Green, oolong, and black teas are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Steam the leaves and you get green tea, ferment the leaves and you get black / oolong. The fermentation process apparently depletes the catechins, which is bad. Black is bad, green is good.

When I was in China, everyone was drinking green tea. This wasn't the sort of green tea that I was used to in Australia, although the taste was similar. The Chinese (at least in Jiangxi where I was staying at the time) dump this stuff that looks akin to a bunch of finger length stems of grass leaves into a huge cup of steaming hot water and then begin to sip. This was quite strange to me because they were basically drinking hot water. I would grab some chop sticks and begin dunking and swirling the tea about, trying to get the flavour through the water ... and make the grass sink to the bottom. There was a lot of spitting out or chewing and eating of the grass by my Chinese compatriots. After some minutes of stirring and prodding I would have sunk all the grass and have the brew a nice green-yellow shade. It tasted quite nice.

Liptons make some excellent iced tea, and the green tea is reasonably good, but check out how much sugar they put into that thing.

In the Philippines I consumed a large amount of calamansi, which is like (but NOT actually) a kumquat with a hint of lime flavour. And I love it! Nothing better than hot calamansi juice (plus water & sugar) for a sore throat. Liptons was kind enough to produce Honeymansi iced tea, which is tea with calamansi and honey and quite delicious. My partner's mother grows her own calamansi tree and I have been lucky enough to obtain some of the fruits. I have found that green tea, juice from one calamansi and a touch of sugar or drop of honey is an absolutely awesome drink.

Unfortunately, calamansi is not easy to come by, so substituting the juice from quarter of a lime is also quite nice. I don't know if the calamansi/lime juice destroys the catechin goodness of the tea, but hot damn if that aint a nice refreshing drink.

Perfect for sitting in front of the computer all day.

Coffee


Coffee used to make me ill because of an unfortunate association with sea sickness. I have not had coffee since I was very very young. Due to an ordering mistake and dire thirstiness, I had some coffee recently and found that I was not totally repulsed by this beverage anymore. I found that I was more awake. However, after some very limited experimentation with a sample size of 1, I also found that I was less focused, more skitish and possibly depressed somewhat afterwards. Enough effects that I decided I would continue to avoid consuming coffee in the future.

Chai


My Aunt introduced me to Chai a number of years ago. Chai is an awesome blend of tea, milk, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, cloves) and love. Refreshing and goes exceedingly well with toasted fruit bread. I had never heard of it before, but recently I see the stuff available in most coffee shops. Can't keep a nice beverage down. I encourage everyone to try Chai, but don't expect tea or coffee type flavour - it is really different.

2006-07-09

iTunes AppleScript Podcasts, Skip and Bookmark

iTunes Multiple Song Information settingsI have moved all of my iTunes content over from my laptop, which was mostly podcasts, and all of my music from my home desktop to my iMac. The podcasts I listen to have taken up a huge amount of room (16Gig) because I don't like deleting things, so my laptop thanks me for the free space, and my iPod is now connecting directly to another piece of Apple hardware to get it's updates.

I have found that my iPod Nano has vastly changed the way I listen to music. Basically I don't anymore. I will visit the iTunes store and very rarely I will spend some of the iTunes voucher money my sister got me for Christmas on music that sounds good. I will play this music a bit and think that all is not lost in the music world. I may even burn the music to CD to play in the car. Which I generally don't. I will not listen to the music again for quite a while. However I will make lots of use of the iPod. "How is this possible?!" I hear you scream, the answer is: Podcasts.

Podcasts, for the uninitiated, are audio shows published on the net that you can download using free software like iTunes. They can be about anything and are almost always free. Radio has taken to podcasting, often making shows available over the internet very quickly after their initial airing (Thank you ABC for Dr Karl, Science Show, Health Report, Spirit of Things etc). However there are also a number of home grown podcasts created by technical people and others who have some of the most interesting stories to tell, or inside insight into industry news.

So now the sole purpose of my iPod seems to be playing podcasts while I am in transit.

With the copying over from the laptop to the Mac, iTunes recognised the podcasts for what they were, but messed up some of the settings. Most notably "Skip when shuffling"(Shufflable) and "Remember playback position"(Bookmarkable). Shufflable means that on the rare times that you want to listen to music and you have the shuffle set on - then you might get one of your podcasts. Bookmarkable refers to the ability for you to stop a podcast mid way, do something else then return to that podcast where you left off.

iTunes allows you to select a bunch of tracks and change all their settings in one go (Right Click or Ctrl+Click), as the dialogue shows (reproduced above), but you don't get to change the key "Skip when shuffling" and "Remember playback position" settings (and a bunch of others). Fortunately you can script this easily enough and even have the option show up on the iTunes menu bar under the nifty little scripts icon if you save the AppleScript in the appropriate library folder ($HOME/Library/iTunes/Scripts).

Select the tracks, then run the script (either by running the script below in the AppleScript editor or straight from within iTunes if you saved the script in the right folder).
tell application "iTunes"
if selection is not {} then
repeat with this_track in selection
try
set shufflable of this_track to false
set bookmarkable of this_track to true
end try
end repeat
end if
display dialog "Selected tracks: skip when shuffling & remember playback position active." buttons {"OK"}
end tell
Yes, this is all relatively easy stuff, but someone may find this useful and also be inspired to investigate AppleScript a little more.

2006-07-08

Refresh Finder Plug-in AppleScript

Refresh for OS X FinderI find there are plenty of annoyances with Finder, which is the very limited file browser that comes with OS X. I have already mentioned the bug about changing the colour of the background in a previous post. There are far more usability issues I have with Finder that I ever had with Windows Explorer (or File Manager).

One issue that I have contended with recently was finding "Refresh", the equivalent to Windows F5. I had software generating output and was watching in Finder to see how large the output file was over time. You can Ctrl-Click and select "Get Info" but the one tap function key for refresh does not seem to be available.

After some browsing I found a nice script offered by Eric "Heavyboots" which I reproduce below. His suggestion was to save as an executable apple script app, but I have gone one further and placed the script directly into an Automator plug-in.

Automator > Library(Automator) > Action(Run AppleScript)
tell application "Finder"
tell front window
update every item with necessity
end tell
end tell
File > Save As Plugin >
Save Plug-in As: Refresh
Plug-in for: Finder

Now when you want to refresh in finder you can right click (Ctrl+Click) anywhere (so far as I have tested) in Finder:
Finder > Right Click > Automator > Refresh

Path Finder has solved nearly all of these problems, however it is quite crashy on my system; so much so that it is really cheesing me off to the point where I often just use the basic OS X finder because I need something to work right away. Consequently, when I had a refresh issue with Finder ... I considered using Path Finder only for a second or two before I decided to continue with Finder. Path Finder has its own list of bugs but the added functionality is excellent. Once they iron out the crashing, and get some of the silly errors out of the software I will highly recommend Path Finder as a complete replacement for finder. But definitely not now (July 2006).