Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Home made cowberry chocolates

Well, Christmas is coming closer and its time I make some gifts. Last year I had some success with home made chocolates with cowberry filling. So I do the same over again this year. The picture shows my mould and a finished product. The mould is a Plastis ice cube tray from Ikea. I line the sides with melted chocolate, mix cowberry with sugar with a immersion blender and put some in the cavity, and cover it over with more chocolate.

I keep making mistakes, because I don't remember last year's mistakes, but hopefully I remember them next year. Anyway, I am happy about the result, and I plan to make a "Ikea style kit" for assembling a bowl with chocolates. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Marketing with ø

In Scandinavia we have som extra characters in the alphabet, namely æ, ø and å. Sø whåt dø thæy håvæ tø dø with mårkæting? Well, on a recent trip to Spain I stumbled upon Nørdic Mist, a Tonic Water from Coca Cola.

It surprised me to see the ø used in a brand name. So is association with Scandinavia a positive thing? As far as I understand, they never tried to launch this product where the ø is used, although we could do with competition in the tonic water segment. I find Schweppes tonic water too expensive (the price drops significantly if I go to Sweden), so I end up using products from my local Roma Mineralvannfabrikk.

But what about marketing on a larger scale. Well, I'm not a marketeer, but I remember back when I worked for the HPC company Scali (before they were acquired by Platform Computing, the fact that we were a Norwegian company was obscured.

The strange thing is that a later startup involving some of the same key people uses extensive imagery from Norway on their web-page. They may not be shy any more, but they haven't gone all thæ wåy in mixing in thæ speciål lætters.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tagging in Iceland

A couple of weeks ago I was in Iceland to run another RFID project. The contect was the same as this project. This time we had more tools available, like handheld RFID scanners with embedded software to compose XML for upload to the project EPCIS.

In the previous project we attached the RFID tags directly to the fish boxes, but this time we tried a different approach. The fish was stored on ice in big tubs. These were stored in a cold store, and they were wet. So instead of trying to get a piece of surface that we could fasten the tag, we attached them to handles in the corners of the tubs with the help of some extra paper tags. So here you see me, dressed up according to the rules of the processing company, giving a tub of Sebastes marinus identity.

These paper tags proved to be very convenient. As the project progressed we could take them off, make notes and so on. Of course, had the use of RFID been integrated into the production, then everything would be automatic. But this was a pilot in a type of chain that is not among the first movers. So we had to do a lot of manual operations, and then we could make notes on the tags that helped us fill in the holes in the traceability model later on.

To cover the different roles of traced items we employed both SGTIN and GRAI type RFID tags. The finished products, that were airlifted to markets in mainland Europe, were equipped with SGTINs, while the tubs with fish and similar vessels that were being used in the productions, were equipped with GRAIs. This way the proper XML can decommission the tags, so that they can be reused later without being related traceability-wise to earlier uses.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lutefisk is upon us

Before I travelled to Iceland for the last week in October my wife served me lutefisk for dinner. As you can see from the picture I have helped myself to potatoes, mustard, mashed peas and bacon, in addition to the fish. It is simply so good. I may be disgusted by all the Christmas decorations appearing at the same time, but lutefisk is simply too good to be missed.

To our surprise even the kids liked it. Maybe we have gotten better at preparing fish meals, or maybe it has something to do with them growing up. Anyway, serving them fish based meals seem to have changed from a duty to a pleasure. Lets hope it stays that way.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cowberry chocolate from Finland

On a visit to a tax free store on a recent trip I discovered that Fazer, the Finnish confectionery company, has sweets based on lingonberry, or cowberry as you and I like to call these jevels from the forrest. I had to buy and taste.

As you may suspect - I have tried to make something similar myself. Last year I was inspired by a TV program showing the process, and I ended up trying myself. Compared to the ones made by Fazer I prefer my own. But I am not very good at industrializing this type of production, so I guess my price per piece is much higher than Fazer's alternative.

Well, the ones I made last year ended up as Christmas presents. And I plan to to the same this year. So stay tuned for more!!!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hoe - hoe - hoe

Christmas is comming close! But this hoe is something different. In Norwegian it is called "krafse" and the tray under it is a "krafsebrett", i.e. a hoetray. Both of them are invaluable to a garden owner. The picture is from the other day when I was spreading a truckload of gravel in my driveway and other places around the house.

Too bad I agreed to share the gravel with one of my neighbours, since I discovered that I could have spent it all myself.

How fresh is the fish? - revisited

I gave a talk called How fresh is the fish? once. It didn't actually answer the question.

However, things have moved forward. Of course, an experienced fish buyer can judge the freshness of a fish by looking at it, feeling it and so on. But there are other sources of relevant information. For example, the Matis research institute in Iceland has made findings of "undesirable substances" available online. Another, similar resource is Mareano, run by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research.

Of course, fish moves around in the oceans, but if the fish we buy carried information about where it was caught, we consumers could look up what to expect in terms of harmful chemicals etc. But that wouldn't keep industry from polluting, would it?

Friday, October 15, 2010

The rain in Croatia stays mainly in Dalmatia

Have you ever seen? After a week of sailing in Croatia we had a night in the city of Trogir late in September. A heavy rainstorm happened to be visiting at the same time. From what I heard from the locals they weren't used to such intense rain.

I got thoroughly soaked in the narrow streets. The city was from long before cars etc. so the streets could just about let two people pass each other. When the water came flooding off the roofs, the streets turned into rivers, and there I was.

It all ended with a case of Bronchitis after comming home.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nordens ark

Nordens Ark near Gothenburg in Sweden is worth a visit. It is a non-profit organization aiming at improving the situation for endagerede animals through breeding and reintroduction programmes.

I went there with kids and wife and we had a fantastic day. Imagine the satisfaction of being rewarded for patience with the view of animals like this snow leopard.

Lets hope the next time is in the wild, and that it doesn't see me!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Red fish - red fish - red fish

In 2010 Greenpeace added Rose fish to its seafood red list because it is being sourced from unsustainable fisheries. Well, in the middle of August I did some project work in Iceland where they obviously process this fish. I think the ones on this picture were sorted away from production together with some friends.

But I don't think I have ever seen so much fish at the same time. I wouldn't be surprised if the Icelanders could keep us all with fish if they were given the chance, provided of course it was sustainable!

Anyway, given that my hosts keep the project going I expect other Rose fish to end up as EPCs in a EPCIS system before the end of the year.

By the way, in Norwegian Rose fish is called uer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The train in Spain stays mainly in the plain ...

Some weeks ago I took at trip to Spain to look at tomato harvesting and ketchup production. To get from Barcelona to Zaragoza I and my colleague travelled with the AVE, Spain's high speed train service.

It was breathtaking - home in Norway we have one of the crappiest train services I have ever encountered. And in Spain I travelled at 300km/t and more (I saw 301!).

I sincerely hope that Norway can start investing the profits from the North Sea in infrastructure. That may help the nation when we go back to being a poor country again, when we again depend on wood and fisheries. Nobody uses paper any more, and for how long will it still be advisable to eat fish? But with decent roads, rails, education and so on - who knows, maybe we have a future?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Washing cowberry clean!

I have found a new application of cowberry. In a shop at Fossheim Hotell they sold Cowberry soap (Tyttebærsåpe). I just had to have one. But will it ever be used or will it remain a weird thing to keep?

Anyway, the producer is Alveland (Elf-land).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Recycling a CRT for the third time

Remember my visit to Kenya. Well, one of the things that took place at CFSK was that computer CRT screens were given a third life.

Two lives comes from the use by the original buyer as a computer screen, and then recycling the same screen for kids in schools in Kenya.

But what happens when the circuitry is "burned"? Well, at CFSK they discovered that the CRT tube may still be functional. So they rebuild the screen to a television set. The cost of this can compete with buying a regular TV-set, so there even was an economic incentive!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Juvenile lizard

Isn't this cute? It is a juvenile lizard that fell into a ditch I was digging. I had to help it out, and it either found my hand pleasantly warm or was perfectly terrified. So it stayed in my hand for some time. Maybe I even got a new friend.

I tried to get some android footage, as in this post, but I wasn't any good at operating my mobile with one hand.

This happened at my cabin. They are all over the place when the weather is nice. I have handled adult lizards in the past, as have my kids and their friends, but this small one was a new experience.

Whale in Midsund

Eating whale meat is a matter of controversy. But when I grew up it was a frequent type of meal, it was cheap, nutritious and tasty.

So when on vacation this summer we stumbled across whale meat being served in Midsund, as we were driving from Molde to Ålesund.
My youngest and I tried it, and it was delicious. He liked it and I had flash back from my childhood days.

A can of DDT

I found this can of DDT - and it is full of a clear, water-like liquid. If it is the real stuff, I wonder why it was not used. Maybe the warning "feilaktig bruk av dette preparat kan medføre alvorlige forgiftninger og dødsfall" (wrong use can lead to serious poisoning and death) kept the owner from using it.

Discussing my find with other people I discovered that some younger people do not know DDT and its reputation. To find out more I suggest Wikipedia as a starting point.
As I do not want to remain responsible for this pesticide, I have contacted the proper authorities to find out how to dispose of it. One resource I found while googling suggested burying the stuff, but that was an outdated American approach.

I would like to keep the bottle though - it would look nice in a kitchen!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Architecture for EE-waste

Although ICT may be a cornerstone in our economy, it creates a lot of waste. Loaded with heavy metals, poisonous chemicals etc, this waste should be recycled responsibly to keep the harmful substances to pollute the environment.

On my recent visit to Nairobi I had the pleasure of visiting Computers for Schools Kenya in my capacity as a FAIR board member. CFSK is one of FAIR's partners, receiving shipments of equipment for schools. An important part of FAIR's strategy is to implement a so called take-back system, whereby we import the same amound of EE-waste back to Norway for recycling, as we ship out.

CFSK is also running their own recycling operation, and I was invited on a tour to look at their facilities.

The architecture of the site surprised me initially, but turned out to be an obvious solution. You see, shipping of goods generally uses shipping containers - CFSK receive these with equipment, and FAIR gets their take-back packaged the same way. So why not use these as building blocks to replace bricks and mortar. And as you see from the picture, that is exactly what CFSK did - shipping containers stacked ontop of each other formed the walls of the operation, and they also provided separate rooms inside the house. Add some internal stairways and roofing, and voila - you have a house.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What happened in Simrishamn?

A couple of entries ago I reported the knitted cover on lampposts in Simrishamn, Sweden.

So why was I there? Well, this was one of multiple visits to this fascinating town were I was participating in a EPCIS based traceability project on behalf of TraceTracker. That link just there covers the project highlights (and I'm the one facing the camera in the picture).

Another memorable thing was that I for the first time since I was in my teens had the pleasure of tasting
bøkling. Now I keep asking for it in Norwegian shops, but so far I have not succeeded.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Luggage blindness

A couple of days ago I landed at the international airport in Nairobi, Kenya. Once again I was on tour to help a local company with traceability solutions.

As I was waiting for my luggage to appear on the baggage carousel, I started to doubt whether I was looking for the right thing. Maybe I was using some other suitcase than what I was looking for, and that it was on the carousel all the time. Or maybe even my suitcase had gone missing.

Luckily, before I could declare that I suffered from luggage blindness my suitcase appeared, and all was well. But I coined a new term, didn't I?

Cowberry chocolate cake

My Captain Cowberry alias may need substantiation. Cowberry is an alias for Vaccinium vitis-idaea, and many know that better as Lingonberry. Through my work with traceability I have given a number of courses in implementing traceability solutions, and a key example in those courses have been an example traceability modell for cowberry jam.

But now to today's subject - cowberry chocolate cake. You can either use your favourite recipe for French chocolate cake and sprinkle
cowberry over it, or use the following:


• 0.3 liters of icing sugar
• 200 grams of chocolate (70%+ cocoa)
• 200 grams of butter
• 3 eggs
• 0.2 liters of flour
• 0.2 liters of cowberry
• heat oven to 175 degrees C,
• melt the butter, sugar and chocolate over moderate heat
• beat the eggs into the chocolate mixture one at a time
• stir in the flour
• pour the batter into a 20-24 cm springform cake tin
• sprinkle the cake with cowberry
• bake the cake for 25 minutes (add 5 minutes it the berries are frozen)
Serve with whipped, sour or ice cream.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dual RFID tags in Pack & Sea's fish crates

Recently I participated on a project that sought to create traceability on fish caught in Swedish waters. While we affixed GRAI RFID tags to fish crates on the go (this was a pilot), we also observed some of the characteristic green fish crates from Pack & Sea. So we decided to try if our standard RFID readers could read these as well.

Reading those fish crates turned out to be no problem. But to our surprise each of the crates from Pack & Sea contained two RFID tags, with different identities. So if we had a stack of, say, 10 crates and one was from Pack & Sea, then we would read 11 identifiers.

This seemed very impractical in harbors where fish crates from a number of sources may be used on the same vessel. So to avoid having different routines for the presence of such crates, we decided to avoid them.

Actually, I do not think it is according to EPCglobal's guidelines to have use two identities in this way.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

VLC in the garden

Arghhh! I thought I should try out the new MeeGo on an Acer Aspire One I had lying around. Worked like a dream, but lack of applications seems to be a problem. I was not able to read documents in µsoft formats - there was no UnclosedOffice around.

Anyway, I thought it was time to implement my plans for Internet radio in my garden. MeeGo wasn't the easy to use thing here either. So an Asus EEE 900 came to my rescue. It already had VLC installed, so once I located the streams of Danish radio (via dr.dk), I was able to share jazz, rock and other sounds with visitors that came by. I even had a set of PC speakers available, so neighbours could register my increased level of garden enjoyment.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Are Swedish lampposts cold in summer?

Check out the image on the right. It shows a lamppost with a knitted cover. I found a number of such lampposts on a visit to Simrishamn in Sweden in early May. They were nice, but why? Are the lampposts cold in summer, or had they just forgotten to remove them after winter?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Leucochloridium paradoxum in Strømmen

Last Sunday a movement caught my attention in my garden. It turned out to be an example of Leucochloridium paradoxum, that is a parasite in a snail trying to get the attention of a bird so that the bird can eat it! Well, I had my Android availabel, and the result is this short film:

As I showed my discovery to the neighbours I certainly reinforced their impression of me!

Welcome to Captain Cowberry's Kitchen

So I am creating my own blog. We'll see what happens here, but I expect a mixture of spare time, technology, curiosity and work related things.


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