I passed the CPE test!

Look what Cambridge’s exam results site just said to me:

![CPE Grade A](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/blog/files/cpe.png)

Whee! So now I may officially wield my stupefying linguistic prowess like a weapon. A weapon of *words*!

But seriously: Now Swiss employers will finally believe me when I claim to know English. In Switzerland, you’re not taken seriously without diplomas and certificates. If you mention your amazing handstand abilities in your CV but fail to provide written proof, no boss will ever believe that you can do a handstand. Even if you walk to your interview on your palms. In front of them.

Recipe: Pot au Fou (lactose-free)

My girlfriend went off on a work-related BBQ event, but not without leaving me two pieces of her bacon-wrapped chicken. Excavations in the fridge revealed an eggplant and vestiges of cheesy maccaroni. Interesting, but it doesn’t quite fit together. To rescue: the Pot au Fou!

– Take an **eggplant** and slice it up, equal thickness if possible:

[](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/album04/album52/potaufou/CIMG4159.JPG.html)

– Put some **olive oil** into a pot (with lid) that you can use in the oven. You don’t need much oil if you also use bacon, like me! Then add some **meat** that you’ve seasoned. Use more meat, less meat, it’s your choice.

[](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/album04/album52/potaufou/CIMG4161.JPG.html)

– Layer your **eggplant slices** on top of the meat and season them to taste. Don’t use too much salt as it would pull the liquid out of the poor eggplant. I recommend a bit of salt, pepper and paprika powder, plus some garlic. Sprinkle olive oil on every layer of eggplant, but not too much! If there are any holes consisting of non-eggplant, stick some **pasta leftovers** in there. If you don’t have leftovers, you can cook pasta fresh for this dish, but that’d use an additional pot. The horror!

[](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/album04/album52/potaufou/CIMG4163.JPG.html)

– Cover and stick in the oven for **20 – 30 minutes at 180 – 200 C**. The exact temperatures depend a bit on the thickness of your meat. You want the meat to be well done, especially if it’s chicken. If uncertainty overcomes you in the middle of cooking but the eggplant looks finished already, set your oven to only heat from below for a few minutes so the meat gets most of the heat. That rhymes!

– The result might look like this:

[](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/album04/album52/potaufou/CIMG4165.JPG.html)

– Not very yummy? Wrong! Look at it on its own little plate:

[](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/album04/album52/potaufou/CIMG4166.JPG.html)

Okay, it looks like brains, chimp fists and noodles. But don’t let that keep you from making this wonderful dish. The eggplant tastes almost like grilled, and the layers further down suck up delicious olive oil which further amplifies their flavors.

Magnifique!

Two Finnish kitchen implements everyone should have

The first is the [kuivauskaappi](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/holidays/tre2k6/CIMG3997.JPG.html). It’s a closet where you can put your dishes and other things to dry. Where you would normally find solid shelving, hyper glory magical kuivauskaappi has rubberized iron grills! You put your items-to-be-dried in there, the water drips from them onto the sink, and they (now hold your breath) dry!

How nobody else can have this is beyond me. Just think of it, never touch a towel again to dry the dishes! It saves time! If everyone in Germany or perhaps Spain had one of these, the EU’s GDP would take a jump of 30%.

The other thing is [built-in cutting boards](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/holidays/tre2k6/CIMG4000.JPG.html). No more lugging around thick slabs of wood and crumbing up the entire kitchen.

Please, kitchen builders of Europe, steal this stuff.

The .fi is the friend of the lactose-intolerant!

There’s barely any milk product that you can’t get lactose-free in Finland! We bought [pseudo-Emmentaler](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/holidays/tre2k6/CIMG3814.JPG.html) cheese yesterday, and there’s Gouda too, as well as all sorts of ice cream. Generally, most Valio products are [lactose-free](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/holidays/tre2k6/CIMG3806.JPG.html). Finland is like some sort of fairyland happy-place for lactose-intolerant people, only with considerably less fairies and more beer.

Happiness is me!

First photos from Tampere

I’ve started putting my holiday pictures into [an album](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/holidays/tre2k6). No drunken Finns in any of them yet, but I do have some snapshots of the amazingly scarce resource that is Finnish woods!

Random trivia: Took about 3 hours by plane from Zürich to Helsinki, where I had a [salad](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/holidays/tre2k6/CIMG3717.JPG.html) with Jon. Later I found low-lactose cappucino at a [Robert’s Coffee](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/holidays/tre2k6/CIMG3721.JPG.html) at the Helsinki train station. Quite yummy! From there I took the train to Tampere, another 2 hours or so.

I think the next 200 or so pictures will be of 1. GameCube gaming sessions, 2. drunken people and 3. trees. So if you have a vivid enough imagination, you won’t even have to look at that album anymore 🙂

Wars are created in the minds of men

As new wars are erupting in various locations on the globe right now, and old wars are continuing without any sign of letting off, I think it’s good to be reminded of these two sentences. I found both of them close to each other in a single publication, so I’ll quote from there:

[…] the UNESCO charter begins with the preamble: “Since it is in the minds of men that wars are created, it is in the minds of men that the fortresses against war must be erected”. This is almost exactly like the very first verse of the Dhammapada which states: “Mind precedes all wholesome and unwholesome states and is their chief; they are all mind wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts, misery follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox”.

Ven K. Sri Dhammananda in Buddhism for the Future

This server was unreachable during the last 24h

This host was cut off from the net for a while. I’ll tell you why, and I’m sure you’ll find it very funny, because geek humor is something *everyone* can relate to!

The story goes thus: There is a privilege escalation vulnerability in Linux kernels 2.6.13 to anything before 2.6.17.4, and terror has been running 2.6.14.something. The vulnerability explained:

“The bug allows a local user to gain root privileges via the PR_SET_DUMPABLE argument of the prctl function and a program that causes a core dump file to be created in a directory for which the user does not have permissions.”

Ah, yes, I can see how that can put a damper on your BBQ. So I innocently baked a new kernel and rebooted terror from at home, hoping it would cheerfully fsck its disks during the reboot and be ready for people’s wishes again in a few minutes. But half an hour later, the poor thing still hadn’t ponged my pings. So I thought I might have screwed up the initrd and left it at that, postponing any new discoveries until I could be physically present near the server today.

Come Monday: I energetically bounce into the server room, certain that a reboot to the old kernel and some poking here and there would bring back terror. But what dost my eyes see-eth? The thing is back up and blinking its login prompt at me. “Odd,” thinks I, “how did it manage to boot the new kernel?”

The machine was humming along and full of stored up servitude, because the network device hadn’t come up during reboot, so nobody could reach it and it couldn’t reach anybody. A quick manual try reveals that it doesn’t understand iptables anymore. Iptables! Its old friend! Suddenly a stranger! Looking at the kernel configuration system I saw a bunch of new options concerning “xtables”, and the IP filter config looked radically different. I manually brought up the network interface without iptables, and lo, it worked! I just hadn’t kept up with the kernel news and any migration/upgrade documentation, so I paid the price and now have a non-working iptables.

To make a short story not longer than it actually was, I’m now putting the patched Debian kernel in place. I don’t have time to research xtables and why my particular selection of modules wouldn’t mimic the old iptables functionality, so there. It’s not like I’m losing anything in the process. The moral of it all: Always read the kernel news.

See, I told you it would be funny! Now do you want to help me knit a man-size 12-sided die?

Forgotten Games: Maximo vs. the Army of Zin (PS2)

I’ve picked this up from a bargain bin because it was bestickered with good review ratings. It seems rather short (I’m 76% through the game after three not-so-long sessions), but I’m having a huge amount of fun.

It’s the successor to the spiritual successor to the successor to Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins. Everyone complained that the first part was too hard, so this sequel has a save function that’s accessible rather freely, more lives and less frustrating platform passages.

In essence, it’s like God of War, but with some substance instead of just graphics, and with less silly puzzles and dumb collision detection. You swing your sword, do your combos, slice through different enemy types and feel sort of oldschooly. Also, the music is surprisingly well made in some levels (am I hearing half an orchestra? Why, I am!) The story is totally forgettable, but that’s to be forgiven. At least you won’t have to endure hours of unskippable dialog.

Replay value? Not much, unless you want to get 100% on all items and all secrets in all levels.

I saw this on the American eBay site for USD 5 and on Germany’s for EUR 9, and it’s still in bargain bins here around that price. It’s an action-platformer that won’t require your undivided attention for several weeks but is still wholly satisfying. If you remember how games used to be and feel an urge to say “that, please, just more prettier”, give this one a spin.

[Screenshot 1](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/blog/files/Maximo-1.jpg)
[Screenshot 2](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/blog/files/ss_preview_screenshot004.jpg)

Lactose content of Zweifel snack products

I’ve asked Zweifel, the company that makes Switzerland’s most popular potato chips and snack products, whether they know how much lactose is in their food. Huge surprise: they know! Many companies don’t like to give you numbers, though, so I was very pleased to receive an e-mail from Zweifel/Pomy Chips’ Roland Zimmerli. He had gone and asked the specialists at Zweifel for their input, and they compiled a list of lactose percentage of *all* their products. Teh amaze!

I’ve [attached the list for all to see](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/blog/files/Laktose_in_g_pro_100g_Fertigprodukt_05.07.061.ods). This won’t do you much good if you’re not in Switzerland, but if you’re a visiting lactose intolerant from a place such as “Foreign”, it might be helpful.

Yay for Zweifel!