Ziploc V151 vs. FoodSaver for Sous Vide

Every time I find myself using water displacement to prep a Ziploc bag full of food, I fuss over whether the seal is going to hold. I know full well that my luck with conventional Ziploc bags will eventually run out. For instance, the other day, I used a gallon-sized Ziploc Freezer bag to contain pork spareribs that I left in the water bath for 72 hours. By the time that I pulled the bag from the water bath, I found that some of the cooking liquid had found its way past the seal.

This latest incident has led me to search for a suitable vacuum system. So far I’m surprised by the dearth of comparisons involving the Ziploc V151 and FoodSaver branded vacuum sealing systems.

The Ziploc V151 is attractive on paper because it comes in at a lower price point than any comparable FoodSaver model, is built in the USA, and features a manual sealing button, which allows for finer control.

FoodSaver is the reigning king of consumer-oriented vacuum sealers.

I expect that it will be an interesting topic to explore further.

Mac OS X: Smart Quotes

Both of my Macs at home are running OS X 10.9 Mavericks, and I’ve becoming increasingly reliant on the very popular, mostly quite good Evernote.

One issue that I never quite understood was why Evernote automatically changed quotation marks over to angled quotes (also called “book quotes”, or “curly quotes”). It’s a very subtle difference, but one that creates problems for anyone using Evernote as a repository for content before shipping out to a content management system. The notes that I was writing in Evernote and moving over to WordPress’s text editor were getting all sorts of nasty.

For example, see what happened to this snippet after it went into WordPress’s text editor with its lovely angled quotes:

Mac OS X Smart Quotes garbage in WordPress text editor
The garbage output because of Mac OS X Smart Quotes when brought into WordPress’s text editor

I tried using the Simply Formatting command, tried switching Evernote to produce documents in plain text, but nothing was working. Then I fired up TextEdit and observed the same behavior. It dawned on me that my misgivings towards Evernote in this department were completely misguided: the key lay in a feature new to OS X 10.9 Mavericks, “Smart Quotes”.

To disable or otherwise modify OS X’s handling of quotation marks, go to System Preferences and select Keyboard. From here, select the Text tab and uncheck Use smart quotes and dashes.

Use smart quotes and dashes unchecked
Uncheck “Use smart quotes and dashes” in the Keyboard settings under System Preferences

I’m sure that there is a time and place for these fancy quotation marks.

For enlightening reading on the subject of quotation mark glyphs, cop this Wikipedia article, which includes Unicode and HTML that you can use to reproduce the marks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark_glyphs

Want: Torch for Cooking Use

Now I’ve gotten a Sous Vide Supreme water oven (~$350, Amazon.com), I’m enjoying experimenting with proteins and strict temperature control. It would appear that a butane torch would come in handy for preparing meats, among other things. One that comes highly recommended is this Iwatani butane torch (reviews on Amazon.com, ~$27 US).

Iwatani butane torch for cooking use

Some fine points from my link to this product on Amazon.com:

  • Built-in pistol type piezo ignition
  • Use with Iwatani Cassette Gas
  • though it can also be used with butane canisters from other manufacturers, so long as the can has a ring profile that will fit it

  • Easy to use Push’n Twist gas cylinder attachment
  • Built-in Flame Size adjustment
  • Air regulating knob

I’ve not used one yet, but I like that it twists onto butane canisters instead of keeping fuel within an onboard tank. This seems like it would be one less thing to go wrong.

Maybe worth investigating for my use. Until then, I’ll be manning the skillet.

FreeNAS: First Boot Issues

As of yesterday evening, I’ve gotten FreeNAS installed and running.

I ran into a couple of issues that I was able to find answers for.

run_interrupt_driven_hooks: still waiting after xxx seconds for xpt_config

This message came up the first time that I booted from my FreeNAS 9.2.1.5 USB flash drive. I’d just started up the machine, set the boot devices in the BIOS, and watched a wall of text with various system information go flying past. Then I was left with this message:

run_interrupt_driven_hooks: still waiting after 60 seconds for xpt_config
run_interrupt_driven_hooks: still waiting after 120 seconds for xpt_config
run_interrupt_driven_hooks: still waiting after 180 seconds for xpt_config

I shut off the machine, waited, and turned it back on again. This time, it brought up a screen with:


F1 FreeBSD
F2 FreeBSD
F6 PXE

Boot: F1 ###

A new # appeared every second, or every time that I pressed a key on the keyboard. I tried pressing F1, and the # marks stopped appearing. Below, a new line, and a blinking _ (underscore).

Pressing F6 brought up a new prompt, which advised me that I ought to insert some boot media.

Background: Missteps?

I wasn’t able to get back to the first error, run_interrupt_driven_hooks, after my first boot. After seeing the F1 FreeBSD, F2 FreeBSD screen a few times, I got frustrated and rewrote the contents of the FreeNAS .IMG to my USB flash drive once more. This got me back to square one, though it probably wasn’t necessary.

Solution to run_interrupt_driven_hooks

The solution was to disable the onboard 1394 controller in the BIOS.

On my ASRock 970 Extreme4, I enter the BIOS, navigate to the Advanced tab, enter the South Bridge Configuration, find Onboard 1394 controller, and set it to Disabled.

Solution to F1 FreeBSD, F2 FreeBSD, or FreeNAS not booting successfully from USB drive

I read that this was attributed to using a USB 3.0 port. Guidance here was to switch from the USB 3.0 port to a USB 2.0 port. Sure enough, I removed my flash drive from the USB 3.0 port that it had been plugged into, relocated it to a USB 2.0 port, and was able to get my FreeNAS box to boot to the administrator menu.

More updates on this subject to follow. Until then, I’m diving back into the FreeNAS documentation and playing with the system.