Tag Archives: how-to

My bread recipes

[UPDATE 03.2019] added a Brioche recipe.

I recently bought a bread machine, an Unold 8695 Onyx, and I’m very, very happy with it. Simple machine, nothing fancy (whenever I hear of appliances that are “connected”, “internet enabled” or, god forbid, “on the blockchain” I run away) but great value for money and gets the job done, very well.

The manual is excellent, with detailed timing tables and recipes which I fully recommend. That said, I did get the recipes that I liked most -the humble white bread and the farmer’s bread- and customized them a bit.

These are the ingredients, in the order which I put them in the bowl:


Ingredient For 600 gr bread
White flour (Zopfmehl, type 405) 390 ml
Salt 3/4 teasp. (4 gr)
Sugar 2 tblsp. (40 gr)
Vanille sugar 1 pkg (8 gr)
Whole egg 1
Egg yolk 1
Yeast, fresh 1/2 cube
Milk 160 ml
Butter 80 gr

Important note: put everything in the bread maker bowl, in that order, except the milk and the butter. Then heat the milk and the butter just slightly (do not boil!) until the butter is almost melted. Then pour the milk-butter mix in the bowl over the other ingredients.

Use the Sweet (“Hefekuchen”) or Quick (“Schnell”) program, size 1 (“Stufe 1”) and light crust setting.

White bread

Ingredient For 500 gr bread For 800 gr bread
Water 230 ml 300 ml
Salt 3/4 teasp. (4 gr) 1 teasp. (6 gr)
Honey 2 tblsp. (40 gr) 2.5 tblsp. (52 gr)
Wheat semolina (or Corn polenta) 100 gr 126 gr
Whole wheat flour (Ruchmehl) or light whole wheat flour (Halbweissmehl) 20 gr 30 gr
White flour (Weissmehl, type 550, preferably with vitamins) 280 gr 356 gr
Yeast (if fresh yeast is used, use 1/2 a cube in both cases) 5 gr

7 gr (1 package)

Farmer’s bread

Ingredient For 800 gr bread
Water 320 ml
Leaven (Sauerteig; in CH, I can only find leaven powder in Coop) 10 gr (1 package)
Salt 1 teasp. (6 gr)
Butter or margarine 20 gr
Honey 2.5 tblsp. (52 gr)
Light whole wheat flour (Halbweissmehl) 400 gr
White flour (Weissmehl, type 550, preferably with vitamins) 100 gr
Yeast, fresh 1/2 cube

For both of them, I then use the “Quick” (“Schnell”) program, with light or medium crust. 1h 40min later, it’s ready.


Citrix on Ubuntu 18.04

I recently changed from Win10 to Ubuntu 18.04 as my main OS at home. I still have Windows in a few VMs, as I need to do the occasional development with Visual Studio.

But a problem I had was that needed to connect to the office when doing home office.

Now, at work we have Citrix Netscaler Gateway. And there’s a Linux client available. It worked, but not as smoothly as I hoped 🙂

Here’s what I did:

From Ubuntu’s Software Center, I installed Citrix Receiver.

Then it asked for the server and tried to connect, but I was getting an error: “An SSL connection to the server could not be established because the server’s certificate could not be trusted.”

So I opened a terminal and gave the following commands (source):

sudo ln -s /usr/share/ca-certificates/mozilla/* /opt/Citrix/ICAClient/keystore/cacerts/

sudo c_rehash /opt/Citrix/ICAClient/keystore/cacerts/

After that it connected, but it was still giving an error: “A protocol error occured while communicating with the Authentication Service”

So after some sleuthing, I opened my browser (Chrome) and connected to the my company’s Citrix server address (https://server). When I clicked the apps there, it worked.

Powershell & Microsoft Dynamics CRM: how to get results using a FetchXml

[Update June 2020] There’s a newer post that does the same as this and is more complete -it includes paging and updating records. You might want to check it out here.

If you’ve used Microsoft CRM as a power user (on-premise or online), chances are you’ve come across the standard way of querying CRM data, FetchXml.

You can run this by hand but of course the real power of it is using it to automate tasks. And another great way to automate tasks in Windows is, naturally, powershell.

So here’s a script I’m using to run a fetch xml and export the results to a csv file:

# Source: DotJim blog (http://dandraka.com)
# Jim Andrakakis, May 2018
# Prerequisites:
# 1. Install PS modules
#    Run the following in a powershell with admin permissions:
#       Install-Module -Name Microsoft.Xrm.Tooling.CrmConnector.PowerShell
#       Install-Module -Name Microsoft.Xrm.Data.PowerShell -AllowClobber
# 2. Write password file
#    Run the following and enter your user's password when prompted:
#      Read-Host -assecurestring | convertfrom-securestring | out-file C:\temp\crmcred.pwd
# ============ Constants to change ============
$pwdFile = "C:\temp\crmcred.pwd"
$username = "myusername@mycompany.com"
$serverurl = "https://my-crm-instance.crm4.dynamics.com"
$fetchXmlFile = "c:\temp\fetch.xml"
$exportfile = "C:\temp\crm_export.csv"
$exportdelimiter = ";"
# =============================================
# ============ Login to MS CRM ============
$password = get-content $pwdFile | convertto-securestring
$cred = new-object -typename System.Management.Automation.PSCredential -argumentlist $username,$password
    $connection = Connect-CRMOnline -Credential $cred -ServerUrl $serverurl
    # for on-prem use :
    #   $connection = Connect-CrmOnPremDiscovery -Credential $cred -ServerUrl $serverurl
    # you can also use interactive mode if you get e.g. problems with multi-factor authentication
    #   $connection = Connect-CrmOnlineDiscovery -InteractiveMode -Credential $cred
    # or you can use a connection string if you want to use e.g. OAuth or a Client Secret
    # but then the password must be plaintext which is kind of a security no-no
    #   $connString = "AuthType=ClientSecret;url=$serverurl;ClientId=$username;ClientSecret=$password"
    #   $connection = Get-CrmConnection -ConnectionString $connString
    Write-Host $_.Exception.Message
if($connection.IsReady -ne $True)
    $errorDescr = $connection.LastCrmError
    Write-Host "Connection not established: $errorDescr"
    Write-Host "Connection to $($connection.ConnectedOrgFriendlyName) successful"
# ============ Fetch data ============
$fetchXml = [xml](Get-Content $fetchXmlFile)
$result = Get-CrmRecordsByFetch -conn $connection -Fetch $fetchXml.OuterXml
# ============ Write to file ============
# Obviously here, instead of writing to csv directly, you can loop and do whatever suits your needs, e.g. run a db query, call a web service etc etc
$result.CrmRecords | Select -Property lastname, firstname | Export-Csv -Encoding UTF8 -Path $exportfile -NoTypeInformation -Delimiter $exportdelimiter

When you use your own FetchXml, do remember to change the properties in the last line (lastname, firstname).

For a quick test, the example FetchXml I’m using is the following:

<fetch mapping="logical" version="1.0">
    <entity name="account">
        <attribute name="customertypecode" alias="customertypecode"/>
        <attribute name="name" alias="company_name"/>
        <attribute name="emailaddress1" alias="company_emailaddress1"/>
        <link-entity name="contact" from="accountid" to="accountid" link-type="inner">
            <attribute name="lastname" alias="lastname"/>
            <attribute name="firstname" alias="firstname"/>

Have fun coding!

How to make an espresso / cappuccino freddo

So you went for vacations in Greece or Cyprus or southern Italy and liked the cold coffee they serve there? Or maybe you have a Greek colleague who’s busting your balls non stop about how great cold coffee is, and just want him to shut up? You’re at the right place!

Now you’re talking’

These recipe is for both espresso freddo and cappuccino freddo which are exactly the same thing; you just add cold foam milk on top of the espresso freddo to make the cappuccino version.

Over the years I’ve tried to simplify the recipe a bit. It’s not barista-level good, but anyone who’s tried it tells me it’s pretty decent.

You can see the video here:

To begin with, here’s the equipment you need:

  • A strong coffee mixer. This is an absolute must, you can’t do without it. Outside of Greece they are called “drink mixers” (you can find them in amazon.de for example). They look like this:
  • One or more suitable tall glasses. You need them to be around 200-250 ml for espresso freddo and 300-350 ml for cappuccino freddo. The ones from IKEA are fine.
  • Two cocktail shakers, one for the milk and one for the coffee. It’s ok if you don’t have shakers though, you can just use normal glasses. But you can also buy them from amazon.de.

Now let’s see the stuff you need to prepare every time before you make cold coffee.

  • I’m sure you’ll be surprised to learn that you need coffee! Basically you need a double espresso, around 100ml. What I usually do is use the Lungo capsules for my Dolce Gusto machine, and set it to 3 lines instead of 4.
  • You also need straws, medium or thin ones. Don’t get the thick ones, they’re good for smoothies but not cold coffee.
  • You need ice cubes. For every coffee, you need 5-6.
  • If you’re going to make cappuccino (not espresso) freddo, you need milk, and you need it cold. Let me say that again, because it’s really really important: COLD. Ideally it should be 2 degrees. That means that you need to put it at the back of the fridge, not at the door where it’s a bit warmer. I usually put it in the refrigerator about 10min before I start. Keep it in the fridge until the moment you actually need it.

    You also need to experiment a bit with the kind of milk you’ll use. I’ve found that the best one -at least from the ones you find in a regular supermarket- is full fat UHT milk, 3.5%. The one you get at the fridge of the supermarket isn’t as good –no idea why. If you find a “barista milk” get it; they have more proteins so they froth better.

  • One of the shakers, the one to use for milk, has to be really, really cold. Put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour before making the coffee.

The basic idea is that, in order to make the foam milk, the milk has to be cold and stay cold. That’s why you need its container to also be frozen.

Now that we’ve prepared everything, let’s get to work.

  • The first thing you need to do is prepare the coffee. If you also want sugar, you need to add it immediately afterwards, while the coffee is still hot, and stir it a bit with the mixer; that way it will melt nicely and you won’t get the awful crunchy feeling of unmelted sugar.
  • Now we need to get our coffee ice cold. Put 5 or 6 ice cubes in the shaker or glass. Pour the coffee swiftly over the ice cubes. Stir it a bit with the mixer, but too much, you don’t want it to turn into foam. 5-6 seconds should be enough. Then pour everything (coffee+ice cubes) in the glass. 
  • If you want an espresso freddo, you can add a straw and stop here, you’re done. Otherwise you have one more step to prepare the cold foam milk. 
  • Get the milk and the 2nd shaker (or glass) out of the fridge. Fill the shaker just below half full. Stir it with the mixer for some time (at least 30 sec, can be more) until the surface is smooth and free of bubbles. This part is exactly why the shaker has to be cold. If it’s not, it will warm up the milk and it will be impossible to turn into foam.

Pro (well, sort of) tip: when holding the shaker with the milk and stirring, try to grab it from the top, not the middle or the bottom. That way the heat from your hand will affect the milk as little as possible.

The result should, ideally, look like this:

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για καπουτσινο φρεντο

The water -always with ice cubes!- is mandatory. The beach isn’t, but it’s a very nice addition 😉

Creating graphs with Gnuplot… for dummies

As part of an investigation project at work, we had to create a number of graphs. Of course our first idea was using Excel; but it turns out that in a lot of scenarios it’s ambiguous, time consuming and sometimes outright frustrating. So we ended up doing it with Gnuplot, which provided a much better experience.

This article is not meant to give extended coverage of course; there are many FAQs and other documents available online for that (a small collection is given at the end of the article). It’s meant to cover basic usage and some common scenarios, namely:

  • How to download and install
  • How to plot a simple function
  • How to plot data points from a file
  • How to plot multiple functions and/or data points
  • How to setup the plot (axes etc.)
  • How to fill the area between functions
  • How to export the plot for MS Office
  • How to plot using batch files
  • Links and FAQs

Gnuplot is a really powerful tool. This article won’t cover many things, like 3D plots, polar coordinates, binary data, financial-style graphs and others; take a look at the demo library for that (link given at the end).

How to download and install

Download is provided from Sourcefourge. Go to http://www.gnuplot.info/download.html and get the current version.
After downloading, installation is pretty easy and straightforward. Just click “next” in every step and you’ll be ok.

After installation, start Gnuplot from the desktop icon. You’ll get a command prompt (gnuplot>).

How to plot a simple function

A major problem with MS Excel is that you cannot create a graph for a function; you have to create the data in cells, using a formula. And of course, the values will not be continuous but discrete.

So let’s say you want to make a graph of a function f(x)=x^2+10/x, for values of x between -10 and 10. Enter these commands to the command prompt, pressing ENTER after each line (lines that begin with # are comments):

# setup the x axis range
set xrange [-10:10]
# plot our function
plot f(x)

To change the line color, the easiest way is to use one of the available linestyles:

plot f(x) linestyle 3

In order to see the readily available linestyles, just enter:


How to plot data points from a file

For our example, we have two text tab-separated files, c:\temp\out1.txt and c:\temp\out2.txt, that look like this:


1	30
2	30
3	30
4	30
5	30
10	200
20	200
30	200
40	200
50	200
100	500
200	500
300	500
400	500
500	500
900	500

1	TS	5.3	3.5
2	TS	4.2	7.4
3	TS	6.1	7.3
4	RS	0.9	2.1
5	RS	1.2	2.2
6	RS	0.8	1.9
7	TS	4.9	3.1
8	TS	5.7	2.8
9	TS	4.4	3.4

The first has just two columns, x and y. The second has four columns: the second is labels on x, the third and fourth are measurement values (y) and the first an incremental number (for gnuplot to know which comes first, second etc.)

Let’s plot the first one:

# make sure we're in the correct dir
cd 'c:\temp\gnuplot'
set xrange [0:1000]
set yrange [0:1000]
plot 'out1.txt' using 1:2

Note the 1:2 here. This tells gnuplot that the 1st column of the file will be used for x and the 2nd for y.

If you want to connect the points, the last line would be:

plot 'out1.txt' using 1:2 with lines

If instead of simply connecting the points you would need to do a ‘best fit’ with a given function, say g(x)=a*x+c :

fit g(x) 'out1.txt' using 1:2 via a,c
# here you get a list of the calculations gnuplot is doing, the parameters used and the standard error
plot 'out1.txt' using 1:2, g(x)

Of course, that’s not a very accurate fit, but that’s not our point here 🙂

Let’s now plot the second file. Our goal here is to create a bar chart:

cd 'c:\temp\gnuplot'
# 'set autoscale' automatically sets ranges for x,y
set autoscale
set boxwidth 0.5
set style fill solid
plot 'out2.txt' using 1:3:xtic(2) with boxes

Note the 1:3:xtic(2). This tells gnuplot that the 1st column is ot be used for x, the 3rd for y and the 2nd (xtic(2)) for x-axis labels.

Now let’s try to plot two data series in the same bar chart:

cd 'c:\temp\gnuplot'
set style data histogram
set style histogram cluster gap 1
set style fill solid border -1
set boxwidth 0.9p
plot 'out2.txt' using 3:xtic(2) title 'Measurement 14-Feb-2014', 'out2.txt' using 4:xtic(2) title 'Measurement 17-Feb-2014'

How to plot multiple functions and/or data points

Actually we did that already in the example with the fit and bar examples. We just have to give multiple functions/files and separate them with a comma. As an example:

cd 'c:\temp\gnuplot'
plot f(x), 'out1.txt' using 1:2

Let’s add a line and a legend, shall we ? The last line will become:

plot f(x) title 'My function', 'out1.txt' using 1:2 with line title 'My data'

How to setup the plot (axes etc.)

Let’s see an (almost) all-inclusive example:

# Chart title
set title 'Workflow performance (AWTs/sample)'
# Get the legend out of the chart
set key outside
# place the legend
# here you can use 'left', 'right', 'center' and 'top', 'bottom', 'cent'
set key right cent
# Setup the axes range using, e.g.
# From-to
set xrange [1:500]
set yrange [1:1000]
# logarithmic
set logscale x
set logscale y
# axes titles
set xlabel 'Samples'
set ylabel 'AWTs per sample'
# let's see what we've done

How to fill the area between functions

What if you want to fill the area below a curve, or between two curves ?

First, let’s fill the area between a curve f(x)=x^2 and the x axis:

set xrange [0:10]
# c(x) is the same as the x axis
# '+' is the pseudofile, you can read about it in the documentation
plot '+' using 1:(c($1)):(f($1)) with filledcurves closed linestyle 3 title 'Filled area'

After this, it should be obvious how you can fill the area between two curves; just use a function instead of c(x)=0. Let’s say we use g(x)=x^1.8

set xrange [0:10]
plot '+' using 1:(g($1)):(f($1)) with filledcurves closed linestyle 4 title 'Area between two functions'

How to export the plot for MS Office

Although of course you can do a printscreen, the best format to use with Word, Powerpoint etc. is the Enhanced Metafile Format (.emf). The best thing about it is that it’s scalable. Surprisingly, if you have a .emf image and preview it (Windows uses Paint by default) it seems awful; but if you insert it in Word it looks great.

So, in order to create a plot and get it as an .emf you need to do something like this:

# output directory and file name
cd 'c:\temp\gnuplot'
set terminal emf enhanced
set output 'plot.emf'
# create the plot
set xrange [-100:100]
plot f(x) title 'f(x)=x^2-10x'
# because of 'set output' above, plot creates
# the file on disk instead of showing it on the screen
# NOTE: until you 'unset output', the plot file (.emf, .pdf, whatever)
# is locked and cannot be accessed
unset output
# normally you need to return the plot output to the screen
set terminal wxt

How to plot using batch files

Creating a batch file is useful in several scenarios. For example, you might have a data file (like out1.txt above) which changes every day; and every day you need to create the same graph, but with the fresh data.

So in order to do this, just write all gnuplot commands to a text file and execute it with gnuplot.exe. See the example below (the backslash means that the line is continued):

# Save as 'C:\temp\dailychart.plt'
cd 'c:\temp\gnuplot'
set terminal pdf enhanced
set output "plot.pdf"
f(x) = 980/x
c(x) = 650
plot \
f(x) title '980 limit' linestyle 1, \
c(x) title '2 sec limit' linestyle 2, \
'out1.txt' using 1:2 title 'External data' linestyle 3, \
'out2.txt' using 1:3 title 'External data 2' linestyle 4
unset output

The .plt extension is the gnuplot default, but you can name the file anything (e.g. .txt). Now open a Windows command prompt and type:

"C:\Program Files (x86)\gnuplot\bin\gnuplot.exe" c:\temp\dailychart.plt

Links and FAQs

By far the best resource is the demo scripts library. Here you can find almost anything and adapt it for your scenario.

Demo scripts for gnuplot (with images of output)

gnuplot Quick Reference (.pdf)

Plotting functions

A Brief Manual and Tutorial

gnuplot FAQ

Official gnuplot documentation

How to overload static methods in C#

Let’s say I have an abstract generic class and a descendant:

public abstract class AuditObject<T> : ActiveRecordBase<T>;

(yes I’m using ActiveRecord) and

public class Employee : AuditObject<Employee>

In both of them I define some static Methods, e.g.

public static DataTable GetLookupTable(String where, Int32 topRows)
  return doExtremelyCleverStuffToFetchData(where, topRows);

(in the Employee class you need public new static or else you get a compiler warning)

As the code is, when I call e.g.

DataTable myList = AuditObject<T>.GetLookupTable("inactive = 0", 100);

…and T is Employee, the static method is not “overriden” i.e. the one that is executed is the method in AuditObject, not Employee .So in AuditObject I modified the static methods (in this example, GetLookupTable) like this :

public static DataTable GetLookupTable(String where, Int32 topRows)
  DataTable tbl = null;
  Boolean hasOverride = hasMethodOverride("GetLookupTable");
  if (hasOverride)
    tbl = invokeStaticMethod<T>("GetLookupTable", new Object[2] { where, topRows }) as DataTable;
    tbl = doExtremelyCleverStuffToFetchData(where, topRows);
  return tbl;

Here’s how I find out if the static method exists :

private static Boolean hasMethodOverride(String methodName)
  var methodQuery =
    from method in typeof(T).GetMethods(
    BindingFlags.Static | BindingFlags.Public | BindingFlags.InvokeMethod)
    where method.Name == methodName
    select method;
  return methodQuery.Count() > 0;

And here’s how the “override” method is called :

public static Object invokeStaticMethod<T>(String MethodName, Object[] Args)
return typeof(T).InvokeMember(MethodName,
  BindingFlags.Public | BindingFlags.Static | BindingFlags.InvokeMethod,
  null, null, Args);

Voila ! When I call, say, DataTable myList = AuditObject<T>.GetLookupTable(“inactive = 0”, 100); and T is Employee, I get results from the static method defined in the Employee class.

How to make Visual Studio 2012 look (almost) the same as 2010

If you’re like me, you HATE HATE HATE the look of VS 2012. It’s not only ugly; it’s unergonomic.

So naturally, a number of people have worked to make VS 2012 look like 2010. VS 2010’s look, IMNSHO, was a lot clearer and developer-friendlier.

So here’s a list of steps that have been tested and work :

0. Close both VS 2012 and VS 2010

1. If you haven’t already, install VS 2012 Update 2 or later (here)

2. With Update 2 or later, a new theme called “Blue” is available alongside “Dark” (the default) and “Light”. Select this one (you can find it in Tools -> Options -> Environment -> General) and click OK.


3. Download the “Visual Studio Icon Patcher” from MS CodePlex (here)

4. Unzip it in a new folder

5. Open Visual Studio Command Prompt (use “Run as an Administrator”). In the command prompt, enter the following commands :

cd whatever-folder-you-have-unzipped-the-file-in


You’re now in the VSIP prompt. Continue typing (obviously you have to hit enter after each line –but you knew that already) :

backup -v=2012





Done ! The outcome looks like this :


Important note : The commands in step #5 assume that you have both VS 2012 and 2010 installed on your machine. If you don’t, you need to a) “extract” from a machine with VS 2010 installed b) copy the folder created (it’s called Images, and it’s placed under the new folder in which you unzipped Visual Studio Icon Patcher) and c) “inject” it in the target machine (i.e. the dev PC with VS 2012).