Friday, September 27, 2013

Foodie 5: College Cooking, Fish Friday

This quarter I wanted to get away from having pasta on the weekend. Don't get me wrong, I make a good pasta (in my humble opinion), but I realized at the end of this summer that I have never cooked fish before. I hadn't even eaten any fish that someone else cooked the whole time I've been at Cal Poly. So when I made my weekly menu, I turned regular ol' Friday into Fish Friday.

Spicy Breaded & Baked Cod with Garlic & Butter Asparagus
Let's get an opinion, shall we?

Troy "Jesse, if there was one thing you could change about this meal, what would it be?"
Jesse: "Hold on, I haven't tasted the fish yet. I'm still eating my asparagus." *
Okay, so Jesse likes to eat things one at a time. We'll let him finish and then come back to him. In the meantime, let me discuss the recipes I worked from.

Now, mind you, I don't follow a recipe 100%, especially not if I'm in experimentation mode. In fact, most of the time I cook from the gut, but since I've never cooked fish before, I needed some temperature and time parameters to compare against. For the fish, I used this recipe, and for the asparagus, I used this recipe.

Fish Modifications:
Everything else was the same except for the following:

  • Instead of croutons, I used bread crumbs from Trader Joe's
  • I omitted the Parmesan cheese, as much as I would have liked to include it
  • Instead of paprika, I used Kay's Best Spicy Garlic Seasoning (
  • I substituted lime juice for the lemon juice

Asparagus Modifications:
I actually followed this recipe almost exactly. The only thing I changed was to add a fourth clove of garlic. I also let the garlic get a bit crispy near the end.

Peer Review:
Okay, back to Jesse.
Jesse: ~takes a bite of the fish~ "Okay. First, I liked the asparagus. The first... is spicy. It's quite sudden. But overall its good. Especially with the lime juice on top."
There you go. A peer reviewed recipe! Enjoy.
*Quotes are paraphrased, but accurate enough to portray the sense of the conversation.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Animating the Cal Poly ME Logo

There was a point this summer at which I decided to learn something a bit new. I had seen other people include animated GIFs in their email signatures, so I decided I wanted to animate Cal Poly's Mechanical Engineering Department Logo. Figure 1 shows the original image, taken from
Figure 1: Original Mechanical Engineering (Cal Poly) Logo
A gear in motion is a perfectly simple way to add a little "cool" factor to your email signature. This blog post aims to introduce you to some of the (free/open-source) tools I used to animate the logo. However, if you merely want to use the animated GIF in Figure 2, skip to the Using The Animated GIF section.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Project MoodJar: Aluminum Solder Joints

In my last post, Capacitive Touch Testing Platform, I experimented with soldering to aluminum. I had read about all kinds of tricks for such soldering: solder under oil, scratch the surface with a wire brush first, etc. I cheated and scratched the surface of the aluminum with the iron under a ball of solder. This post is just about the resistances of those joints, as well as some finishing touches on the CTTP.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Project MoodJar: Capacitive Touch Testing Platform

I've been working on a project for a while now... about a year or more. Originally, I was going to call it SunJar, but that concept has already been developed and sold, and I intend to incorporate more functionality. And color. So it is going to be called MoodJar.

Anyway, the last post I had on it was quite some time back, when I talked about solar cell characteristics. This post is going to be about the capacitve-touch I intend to incorporate.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tracking Project Hours with Spreadsheet Magic

When I was growing up, I remember wanting to learn how to use spreadsheets. So I asked my dad to show me how to use Excel. He did, and eventually that is how I first started managing my money. Of course, a lot of people will use spreadsheets to make simple lists or just a few small calculations, which is perfectly fine. But there is also so much more to take advantage of with spreadsheets.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fear Research No More - Zotero

All through elementary school, middle school, and high school, I dreaded the infamous research paper. All of the emphasis on plagiarism, paraphrasing, and citing your sources scared the graphite out of me.

I used to rely pretty heavily, therefore, on websites such as Citation Machine or EasyBib. After all, let's be honest: who is actually going to read the ever-changing manuals on APA or MLA style (aside from the individuals who wrote it, I mean)? Not to mention, there are now more than a half-dozen other organized ways of citing one's sources thrown into the mix.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bash Script: Timing a Hard Refresh


The Cal Poly Robotics Club has a slideshow that runs 24/7 on a computer (we call it halftop) in the club window. The half-of-a-laptop is hooked up to a screen so we can bombard any (and all) lucky Bonderson visitors with information about CPRC. Eventually they will join us or at least think we are awesome.

The slideshow is actually available on Google Drive, which is really convenient for editing purposes. However, the fullscreen slideshow has to be restarted manually if any edits are made. Sure, that's not that difficult if there is someone in the room all the time, but the more autonomous the better!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Foodie 4: Grape Pie

I have never in my life had nor heard of a grape pie. Then pie-day (3/14) came along, and I was looking around for an interesting pie to make, and behold, I found the the Concord Grape Pie!

Of course, I couldn't find concord grapes at Food-4-Less, so I used red seedless grapes instead. You can see the results below.

Completed red-seedless grape pie, fresh out of the oven
A note to the individual who is going to take my path and make this pie with red seedless grapes: you probably don't need to squeeze the innards out of each and every grape because they are already seedless; you can probably just cut them in half and boil them like that.

It was worth the work, though.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Foodie 3: Rice-Noodle Potstickers

There are two dishes in this life I cannot go without: potstickers and a bean-burrito-with-green-sauce-and-no-onions from Taco Bell. The story with the pot-stickers is that my mother would go across the street from her work when she was pregnant with me to get them for lunch almost every day. Or something like that. I legitimately think my hemoglobin depends on potstickers these days; I still have them once a week and never tire of them.

The problem is that my mother has gluten allergies now. The good 'ol store-bought Ling-Ling chicken potstickers from Costco just won't cut it. I can still have them, but perhaps one day I'll suffer similar food allergies as she does. Anyway, I wanted to eat potstickers with my mom last Winter Break, so I experimented and made nice-noodle potstickers. You can see the finished product below.

Rice-noodle potstickers piled high on a white plate
Rice-noodle potstickers with a healthy portion of broccoli and brown rice
I didn't take extensive notes on how to produce the end result. Honestly, I used some leftover Italian sausage and leftover ground beef from a few previous meals, and then mixed that in with a standard potsticker filling recipe. You're on your own with that one. However, I can pass on some tips regarding the rice-noodles, which I had never worked with before this.

I bought the rice-noodles from Raley's supermarket. They come as hard, flat circles. To make them workable, heated some water on a plate and dipped each side of a noodle on it and then the noodle aside on some wax-paper to soak up the water. Too much water and they're too slippery, not enough and they will crack when you try to roll them.

Damp rice noodle on wax paper
Next, I spooned in the filling close to one side. At first, I tried making potstickers in the traditional shape, but I quickly found out that didn't work very well. Eventually, I resorted to rolling them up like an egg roll.

Spoonful of filling on top of the rice-noodle

Noodle folded over the filling in thirds in one direction

"Potsticker" completely rolled up in the second direction, prior to cooking
My only tip after that is to find a way to double up the ends if you roll them, because when we were cooking them, they wanted to burst open the sides. For cooking, though, I just pan-fried them with some cooking oil in a pan just the way I would if I were cooking Ling-Ling potstickers. The ones we didn't use got rolled up in wax paper and frozen for future meals.

If you try this out, I'd like to hear your experience.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Returning to Fourier Transformations with Maxima

The last time that I worked with Fourier Transformations was in Linear Analysis, nearly 3 years ago. Now I am taking a class in Mechanical Vibrations, and we are returning to this theory. The other week, while learning to use a spectral analyzer, we had to derive the first 3 Fourier coefficients for a sine wave, square wave, and triangle wave. All of that aside, after lab I played around with some fourier theory in Maxima.


Maxima is a symbolic math program (similar to Mathematica) that I ran into last quarter in order to supplement Octave (Matlab equivalent). Like Octave (which does only numerical analysis) Maxima is completely free. I like the version of Maxima called wxMaxima, and I have that installed on Ubuntu.
You can define an equation in maxima such as:
s: a^2 + 7 = b*4 + a/3
Then you can solve for b in one step:
And it simply returns b = a^2/4 + a/12 + 7/4. You can do other cool things such as summation, integration, and differentiation, of course, as you will see below.

Fourier Transforms

Another cool thing you can do with Maxima is define a symbolc function with one or multiple inputs. For example:
f(a) := a^2 + a
Typing in f(3) after this will return 12.

I used this fact to construct some functions that use summations to return the first several orders of a Fourier transform for a square wave, triangle wave, and a few others. I'll just get to the images of what happened when I graphed those functions.

Figure 1 is a square wave approximation. I entered the formula and the plotted it in Maxima:
square(x,n,omega) := expand((4/%pi)*sum(1/(m*2-1)*sin((m*2-1)*x*omega),m,1,n));
Figure 1: Square Wave Fourier Approximation (50 terms)

This triangle wave approximation in Figure 2 was made with the commands:
triangle(x,n,omega) := expand((8/(%pi^2))*sum((((-1)^((2*m-2)/2))/((2*m-1)^2)*sin((2*m-1)*omega*x)),m,1,n));plot2d(triangle(x,50,2),[x,0,2*%pi]);
Figure 2: Triangle Wave Fourier Approximation (50 terms)
This saw-tooth wave approximation in Figure 3 was made with the commands:
sawsymmetric(x,n,omega) := expand(2/%pi*sum(((-1)^(m+1))/m*sin(m*omega*x),m,1,n));
Figure 3: Saw-tooth Wave Fourier Approximation (50 terms)
You'll notice just how approximate these functions are, especially on the square and saw-tooth waves, around where there are the greatest discontinuities. The triangle wave looks nearly perfect because while it has a sharp peak, it is changing rate from the same point rather than jumping from 0 to 1.