Saturday, 14 August 2010

Relaxing with some snacks

On the way back from shopping and lunch, I stopped in at a corner store (it might have been Alldays). Here's what I picked up for 20 RMB or 4.2 NZD.

2010-08-14 - Shanghai - Corner store - 01 - Miscellaneous

You only barely get one of these things for that price at a corner store (or dairy as we call them) back in New Zealand. The carlsberg was pretty nasty and flat tasting, but then it was 20% off, which presumably meant not at its best quality rather than cheaper. The Tsingtao was not bad. I was planning to sit out on the apartment balcony drinking them, but I am pretty exhausted so I am sitting inside watching Survivorman with the air conditioning on.

Brasa Chicken Jing'an

Going by the expat forums I read, Brasa Chicken is a fairly popular food outlet. They've just opened a branch further down the street I live on.

2010-08-14 - Shanghai - Brasa Chicken - 01 - Storefront

I was walking back from a store I needed to pick something up at, and it was lunchtime, so I found myself walking in. Apart from the staff and a Sherpas employee, the place was empty. Sherpas is a food delivery service, which charge you 15 RMB and pick up a food order for you and deliver it cash on delivery. I imagine Brasas do a lot of their business through them. In any case, I sat down at a table and ordered a half combo which is half a chicken, two sauces, a side (garlic fries in my case) and a drink (a can of coke zero) for 68 RMB which is about 15 NZD.

2010-08-14 - Shanghai - Brasa Chicken - 02 - Half combo

The photo does not show how much food there actually was. The two sauces on the left were the ones that came with the chicken, with the green one I guess to be a mint and mayonnaise. The red one, well it tasted familiar and was pleasant enough. Otherwise, on the left are tomato sauce and a weak mayonnaise. When you have mayo, tomato sauce and fries.. then clearly you need to mix the first two and make cocktail sauce to have with the third. The left quarter chicken was nice and moist, and the right quarter chicken was a little dry. But overall, it was a very enjoyable meal in a clean and sharp looking restaurant.

On the downside, the staff sat down at a table behind me and talked and shouted away. They should have a place out back they can loiter so their lolling about doesn't get in the way of customers. And before that, while preparing the food, I could hear someone coughing up phlegm. Even during the meal, I occasionally heard the same. However, I would not hesitate to go back if I wanted a healthy filling meal.

Marks and Spencer junk food

I felt a craving for cheesecake, so I ended up at the food department of Marks and Spencer. They have a wide selection of their custom junk food brands, which are okay, but nothing special. This is what I ended up with..

2010-08-14 - Shanghai - Marks and Spencer - 01 - Chips, biscuits and cheesecake

The chips are pretty greasy and flavourless -- I am tempted to throw out . The dark chocolate jaffa cakes are a pale immitation of the other versions. And the cheesecake, I have yet to eat. It is interesting that often purchasing things in stores in Shanghai involves the attendent faffing around laboriously packing a few simple items into a fancy bag. In the meantime people are queueing and waiting.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Kangding street vendor "pancakes"

I get most of my urges to try food I see here, because I have seen it at work. One of the things they have in the morning are what they told me were called "pancakes." These seem to be some savoury egg/flour-based concoction. Now, I've tried them from several places, but they aren't always as nice as the ones at work. The Ayi at work who buys them told me she gets them from the closest street vendor to where I live, so I grabbed some on my way back from buying my organic veggies.

2010-08-13 - Shanghai - Street Vendor - 01 - Pancake

They seem to be a kind of omelette, maybe made out of flour and egg, with spring onion mixed in, and sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Whatever you buy from a street vendor, they seem to wrap in a plastic bag. It's different than back home where they would give you a paper bag because it was less likely that the hot food would get soggy. But anyway. I had a third more than what was in that bag, and it cost me 4 RMB which is around 0.9 NZD.

2010-08-13 - Shanghai - Street Vendor - 02 - Pancake

This was way too much for me. It was very filling. But extremely tasty. They have a variant which is made with chilli oil, but that seems a little greasy and is probably best eaten in even greater moderation - or with the cheap beers you can buy at the corner store next door to it!

Edit: A few hours later, and I feel nauseous. Definitely best to eat this in moderation. Maybe they use recycled oil..

Mr Pancake House

Behind my hotel on Wuding Lu, there are two reasonably cheap places to eat, and both deliver within a radius that my hotel falls within for free. One is Munchies, and the other is Mr Pancake House. On Wednesday evening I was recovering from a cold, so in a haze I stumbled out to eat there.

The waitress rushed to the door and opened it for me, and I entered to see there was one white other couple in the restaurant. The other day when I went in to grab a menu so I could order something to be delivered whenever a suitable occasion arose, there was also only one white couple present. But that's not important. What is, is that there were at least five staff members present to do whatever it was they do which includes making and serving me food.

I had gone in to order the spanish omelette, which comes with three pancakes and a variety of other bits and pieces. All for 30 something RMB. But hearing the special of a second burger for an extra 10 RMB, gluttony compelled me to order two burgers.

A BBQ bacon burger.

2010-08-11 - Mr Pancake - 01 - BBQ bacon burger

And a normal burger.

2010-08-11 - Mr Pancake - 02 - Normal burger

Seeing the two plates arrive made me realise I had ordered too much. But anyway, I gave it a shot.

The normal burger was tasty but greasy, it was like they put a whole lot of butter on the bun, or deep fried the meat patty. Something was too greasy about it. But as a burger, it had a lot more flavour than those that Munchies sell. The chips however were completely tasteless. No wait, that's unfair. They left a suggestion of soap in my mouth.

Looking a the BBQ burger, I wondered where the advertised barbeque sauce was. But no fear, I found an amount the size of the smallest coin in your pocket glueing the bacon to the meat patty. It didn't taste much different than the normal burger.

I plan to go back and actually have the spanish omelette. Or to get it delivered. At least I hope it won't come with chips.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Goblin Camp

People rave about Dwarf Fortress, and it all sounds well and good, but I just don't have the time to learn to decipher the arcane interface that immersion into it is given through. However, a new open source project called Goblin Camp has started up that aims to make a similar game.

Given that something like this is a world simulation of sorts, I wonder whether harnessing it to run a MUD world within, is possible or worthwhile.

Screenshot taken from this forum thread. Muds and Databases

Link: Muds and Databases

A few years ago, I started quoting especially interesting MUD posts in forums that I occasionally read. Unfortunately, I let it lapse, but reading the post I link to here reminded me I should get back into the practice.

Using a database on the backend of a multiplayer game, let alone a MUD, is not exactly a new concept. So the initial question this topic poses, is not very interesting. However, the replies are a valuable insight into the past efforts of MUD developers that would otherwise be overlooked due to the unapproachability of the projects in this day and age. Finding time to work on MUDs is hard enough, without spending it looking at what may be presumed to be ancient and dated projects.

Tyche: [link]

One of the interesting things is that in the distant past muds have been on the cutting edge of technology...sometimes even ahead of it.
For instance this one released in 1993 also features a language that uses run-time dynamic inheritance that's its own object database query language. I did research on this about 10 years ago and only found a total of one contemporary paper even proposing this notion of an OODBMS in the IBM archives, let alone implementing it. Not only that but you can set up multiple mud servers and walk your character around interacting with rooms and objects residing on multiple servers. Distributed mudding.

CoolMud 2.2.1
Author: White, Lambert
Valcados: [link]
Am I reading you right: the web server serves up rooms? As in, you can walk around the game universe through HTTP?

I tried to find more on this. The codebase seems abandoned. I was able to find one MUD online running this code, but it was closed to new players and appeared to be run through a standard telnet connection with no special HTTP support. Are there any working examples of the features you just listed?
Tyche: [link]
Yes, you can browse the rooms, traverse the exits, examine extra descriptions, examine objects and players by clicking on links. That much is the default library, ColdCore. If you want to do more, I expect you'd write more ColdC code. A commercial mud uses the engine, The Eternal City, but they either aren't using $web_daemon in their lib or perhaps don't expose it to the public.

The easiest way to see it is to download it, build it, get the ColdCore lib, compile it and run it. Then look in your browser at http://localhost:1180. The last time I compiled it was 2005, so it's certainly possible there's some bit-rot with newer compilers like gcc 4.x. Actually there's an easier way if you are running windows. Just get the two binaries at and then get the ColdCore lib.