Saturday, 19 February 2011

Subway train

As a foreigner and therefore taller than most Chinese people, I can look down the subway train through the joined carriages and see a curving sea of heads. On the metro today, I remembered to take a picture. Of course, even if the resolution of an iPod Touch camera wasn't too limited to show anything, I really needed to take a video to capture the experience.

2011-02-04 - China - Subway train

Friday, 18 February 2011

Feels like China

There are many things that make China seem especially interesting to me. From the street vendors, to the overloaded motorcycles to the overloaded bicycles.

2011-02-07 - Chinese bicycles - 01 - Cardboard guy

I wish people biked around delivering and carting things like this back in New Zealand. It'd be good for them healthwise, it'd be good for the environment and it'd be much more aesthetically appealing and interesting than a field of blandly metallic vehicles.

Quiet Spring Festival

During Spring Festival or Chūn Jié (春节), Chinese people go and spend time with their families, launch fireworks and stuff. I wasn't planning to go home to New Zealand, and didn't feel like travelling, so stuck around Shanghai. One of the unfortunate things (for me) about Spring Festival, is that the street vendors go home and there aren't many about. Anyway, I did a longer than usual walk along a path I mostly hadn't been before and took some photos along the way.

Earlier in the morning before I headed out, people would have let off strings of crackers leaving the remnants you see below. Would have liked to have seen it, but never mind.

2011-02-07 - Spring Festival - 01 - Firework remants

The roads were very quiet, as to be expected.

2011-02-07 - Spring Festival - 03 - Quiet roads

An empty river along the roadside. Looks quite nice, wonder if anyone uses it for anything.

2011-02-07 - Spring Festival - 02 - River

I found one street vendor on Kangding in Jing'an, but I am not sure they really knew what they were doing and weren't filling in for someone else. Normally these folded into a sandwich pocket and the filling can't fall out the bottom. Not so, in this one here.

2011-02-07 - Jian Bing - 01

I eventually made my way downwards to Changshou subway stop area, and found another vendor as I took care of some stuff. In this case, they'd run out of herbs, and it was a mostly crispy pancake as they used up the remaining ingredients they had.

2011-02-05 - Jian Bing - 01

Finally, the quiet subway on the way home.

2011-02-07 - Spring Festival - 04 - Quiet subway

Rice balls

February 17th is Chinese Lantern Festival. People eat yuánxiāo dumplings (元宵) to celebrate it, and probably do stuff with lanterns. I would have liked to go out and see some lantern and fireworks action, but wasn't feeling up to it, so someone dropped around with some dumplings to my place.

2011-02-17 - Rice balls - 01 - Packet

These have sesame filling, which you can see further below. You can buy a variety of these in the supermarket, perhaps all year round for all I know.

2011-02-17 - Rice balls - 02 - Packet contents

My guest boiled them in a pot, added cold water to cool it, then boiled it again. I presume that's a timing thing to ensure they are cooked, and that it's a pretty standard approach. Interestingly she used tap water, which I would never cook with due to it not being safe.

2011-02-17 - Rice balls - 03 - Cooked ball

She overcooked them and the outer rice coating had the texture of chewing gum :-)

2011-02-17 - Rice balls - 04 - Ball innards

They were pretty tasty, but were so rich I could only eat four. The chewy rice coating was not so bad forcing me to eat slowly.

Would consider buying again, but I'm more of a savoury flavouring kind of guy.

The licensing situation of Greenlet

In order to use Stackless Python and gain what it offers, a custom version of Python needs to be installed. You may know about Greenlet which offers part of what Stackless does, and which can be installed as an extension module for your normal Python installation.

The MIT licensing of Greenlet

When it was extracted from Stackless Python, it was checked into the Py or PyPy repository or something. Py and PyPy are licensed under the MIT license, but as an oversight the licensing of the Greenlet code was never clarified. From there, it was handed off and maintained by Bob Ippolito. And from there, it made its way to the bitbucket repo. Along the way it inherited the MIT license.

The actual licensing of Greenlet

Greenlet contains parts of Stackless Python, specifically the assembler code related to switching between coroutines. Stackless Python as a derivative of regular Python has always just gone with the license of Python itself, so these files are still licensed under the Python license. Ideally the easy solution would be to get Christian Tismer to relicense them under the MIT license, but its not that easy. Between the time Christian wrote the original set of these files, and the time when they were extracted for Greenlet, other people (including myself) contributed both additional files and patches. To really relicense the code, all of these people would need to give approval (as I understand it). Who are all these people? I don't know.

So despite the MIT license that comes with it, and the declaration that it is MIT licensed on the Pypi page and elsewhere, to my understanding the project is effectively licensed under two licenses. For the files which came from Stackless, the Python license applies. And for the files which came from Armin Rigo, the MIT license implicitly applies.


There's a bug on it.

A double licensing mish-mash isn't desirable for the project, and the easiest step forward is relicensing to the Python license to work around that as broached in the bug. I was going to offer to do the work of tracking down all the contributors and sorting this out.. but due to circumstances beyond my control I no longer have the time.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Black forest Tim-tams

People used to rave about Tim-tams. I would hear stories about how people would have them sent from Australia to whatever other country they were living in. Maybe there was a time when Tim-tams were a quality product. On the packet, they certainly do look like a tasty chocolate biscuit.

2011-01-26 - Expat snack - Black forest timtams - 01 - Packet

They definitely have some semblance of a resemblance to a chocolate biscuit.

2011-01-26 - Expat snack - Black forest timtams - 02 - Biscuits

The filling looks tasty, and should make for satisfying eating.

2011-01-26 - Expat snack - Black forest timtams - 03 - Biscuit innards

They just don't taste like a chocolate biscuit. Sure they resemble one, to some degree. I suspect when they were first made the business was aimed at making a quality chocolate biscuit. Then the business expanded and layers of management accrued and the work began to reduce the quality of the biscuit to increase profits. I wouldn't be surprised to see cocoa butter had been replaced with vegetable oil in the list of ingredients. Tim-tams these days are just one more form of faux-colate.

Do not buy these again.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Chinese Christmas cake

I went into Marks and Spencer many times over Christmas, but only the first time a week or two before Xmas day, did I see and buy an iced Xmas cake from a stack of them. Every visit after that was in the hope of seeing more. Unfortunately, they must have received only one shipment and quickly sold out.

Having mentioned my desire for a Christmas cake to Chinese people, and saying how I would get someone to send one over from New Zealand I would get comments about how it would go off. With no idea of what a western cake was like, they perceived it as something perishable. A friend who I met with the day before Christmas gave me some cake as a gift - now, this being what they saw as Christmas cake it isn't a surprise they thought it would go off.

The cake was sold in this carry box.

2010-12-24 - Xmas present - Cake - 01 - Box

Here's the cake. It's more like a chocolate bready thing with fruit and whatever "not-cream but looks like it" thing they use these days. To be honest, it wasn't very satisfying. But it's always nice to be given presents that aren't useless objects you'll never use that just sit around.

2010-12-24 - Xmas present - Cake - 02 - Cake pottle

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Samko chilli puff biscuits

These look pretty appealing on the packet, a nice lively yellow colour and with a tempting chilli flavour graphic. Can't wait.

2011-02-02 - Samko chilli puff biscuits - 01 - Packet

In reality, these are pale and lifeless. And unsurprisingly, they taste of commercial butter substitute. In fact, eating them is an activity that is only slightly less nauseating than actual chunks of commercial-grade margarine.

2011-02-02 - Samko chilli puff biscuits - 02 - Biscuits

Do not buy these again.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Supermarket baozi

We have steamed baozi for breakfast at work, while not the healthiest of foods, they're light and tasty with a nice savoury sauce. So seeing these in the supermarket, I decided to buy them and have them for dinner.

2011-01-13 - Supermarket food - 01 - Beef baozi

Greasy and flavourless, unfortunately. I had half one, then biffed the lot.

2011-01-13 - Supermarket food - 02 - Beef baozi innards

Another reason to stay away from the in-house cooked goods table.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Breakfast staples

Everyday, we have the same food laid out for breakfast at work. Hard-boiled eggs, jian bing and baozi. The baozi range from mystery meat (pretty tasty), to vegetable, to sweet bean. Not being raised on it, the whole bean flavour thing just passes me by. The vegetable flavour doesn't have any zest, so the meat option is the only candidate.

2011-01-12 - Work breakfast - Baozi and jian bing