Whole Wheat Biscotti

I’m having a lot of success baking with whole wheat flour these days. In fact, I am rather thrilled that I haven’t needed to make any sacrifices transitioning from regular white flour. Working with nut flours is still giving me some odd results though. I recently made cookies with almond flour and… well… it was like eating ground almonds pressed together. I suppose that should make sense.

Anyhow, here’s my recipe for whole wheat biscotti. Perfect with a hot coffee and not super bad for you. Toss in chopped dried fruit that you have on hand to give it some flavor and texture. When you make it, don’t get discouraged by how sticky the dough is. Remember that you are going to twice bake this cookie. Hence… Biscotti 🙂

Discord YAGPDB Custom Role Commands

A few of my friends asked me recently if I could help them with the Discord bot, YAGPDB, that they use to help organize server roles for people that they play games with. I do love chat bots so I opted to throw some code their way.

Specifically, what they were asking for were two commands for assigning and removing a given role to a list of users. The documentation for YAGPDB isn’t the greatest and their code samples use a function that they developed, userArg, which limits you to 5 calls per custom command execution; not ideal for bulk assignments. Below are the custom commands that I created which do not use userArg so they aren’t restricted to this limit. I got around it by simply parsing out the user id.

Give Role

This custom command gives the specified role to all listed users. When I deployed it to YAGPDB, I called it give-role which is why I refer to it as such in the usage instructions I wrote.

{{ if (gt (len .CmdArgs) 1) }}
	{{ $role := (reReplace ">" (slice (index $.CmdArgs 0) 3) "") }}
	{{ range $x := seq 1 (len .CmdArgs) }}
		{{ $userId := (reReplace ">" (slice (index $.CmdArgs $x) 3) "") }}
		{{ giveRoleID $userId $role }}
	{{ end }}
{{ $role }} given
{{ else }}
Usage: give-role \@role \@user1 \@user2 ...
{{ end }}

Take Role

This custom command removes the specified role from all listed users. Like the give role command, I called this one take-role when I deployed it.

{{ if (gt (len .CmdArgs) 1) }}
	{{ $role := (reReplace ">" (slice (index $.CmdArgs 0) 3) "") }}
	{{ range $x := seq 1 (len .CmdArgs) }}
		{{ $userId := (reReplace ">" (slice (index $.CmdArgs $x) 3) "") }}
		{{ takeRoleID $userId $role }}
	{{ end }}
{{ $role }} taken
{{ else }}
Usage: take-role \@role \@user1 \@user2 ...
{{ end }}

Closing thoughts

I love how vibrant the Discord bot community is and how it is helping people spend more time gaming and less time doing administrating and coordinating. I was a little surprised that these commands were not already built into YAGPDB since bulk role management is a pretty common task. I hope others find these custom commands as useful as my friends do.

Noom Friendly Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Muffins

Veggie cake is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to bake. You can make something low cal and healthy that also satisfies that cake craving. Sweet potato followed by carrot are my veggies of choice. Sweet potato I find has a natural sweetness to it just like carrot but it is softer and easier to work with. Zucchini in general is popular but I don’t really get it. It is super wet and doesn’t have much flavor. It is kind of just all filler. Check out my recipe for sweet potato muffins. You can whip a batch up in a flash especially if you bake your potato using a microwave.

My Favorite Quick Bread: Irish Soda Bread

I have to say that by far, my favorite quick bread is Irish soda bread. It is something that you can whip up as soon as you wake up in the morning and have with a coffee for breakfast. It takes less than 10 minutes to make the dough which doesn’t need to prove. 35 minutes in the oven and your done. It is honestly one of my favorite ways to start the weekend.

Here’s my recipe for it on Cookpad. There are very few ingredients that go into soda bread. Buttermilk is quite critical though as its acidity in combination with the baking soda is what causes the bread to rise in the oven. I like adding in some sort of dried fruit or berry. Soda bread is generally pretty dense so having something that provides a strong flavor makes it more interesting.

Automatic Updated At Fields In Google Sheets

When working on Google Sheets, especially with others, it is often quite useful to have fields that capture when a cell, column, row, or even an entire sheet has been updated. In order to do that, you need to use Google Apps Scripts. Don’t worry if you haven’t really coded before; the sample script below is quite straightforward and can be easily altered to meet your needs.

Step 1: Open the Sheets script editor

In your Google Sheets, you first have to open the script editor. It is in Tools -> Script editor. That will start a new Google Apps Script project with a single script: Code.gs. Be sure to set a project title at the top of the page.

Step 2: Create the script

Replace the contents of Code.gs with the script below. It gets the selected cell on the sheet being viewed. If that cell is in a column after B and row after 1 and it is on Sheet1, then the current date is set in the first cell of the same column.

function onEditSheet1(e) {  
  var sheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSheet();
  var cell = sheet.getActiveCell();
  // The edit is done in any column after B and row after 1 and the sheet name is Sheet1
  if (cell.getColumn() > 2 && cell.getRow() > 1 && sheet.getName() == "Sheet1") {
    sheet.getRange(1, cell.getColumn()).setValue(new Date()).setNumberFormat("yyyy-MM-dd");

Step 3: Add a trigger

To execute the script on edits to your sheet, you need to attach it to a trigger. To view your project’s triggers, click the clock symbol on the script editor’s tool bar. That will open up the project’s triggers dashboard. Click the Add Trigger button at the bottom left of the page. Use the following settings:

  • Function to run: onEditSheet1
  • Deployment: Head
  • Event source: From spreadsheet
  • Event type: On edit

Click save. You will be prompted to grant permission to run the script with your Google account and informed that the app has not be verified. That is fine since you are the person that created it.

Now go back to your sheet and on Sheet1, try editing some cells. You will see that the cells at the top of the columns you edit get set to the current date.

Closing thoughts

Well now you know enough to be dangerous 🙂

Google Apps Scripts is incredibly powerful. Here, we are just doing simple cell updates but where things can get crazy is when you start making calls to 3rd party APIs. That means you can set triggers that will make calls to Webhooks. At that point, the possibilities with what you can do with these little scripts is limitless. The reference documentation for Google Apps Scripts specific to Google Sheets can be found here.

My First Imperfect Foods Box

I finally decided to give Imperfect Foods a try, a grocery delivery service with an interesting twist. Basically, I got tired of going to the store especially with the COVID crisis going on. The lines and social distancing have made getting groceries take so long. In fact, before the crisis, I was getting pretty annoyed having to deal with parking. Even with all that, I have been hesitant to use a delivery service but then I found Imperfect Foods.

What makes Imperfect Foods interesting is that by and large they sell the produce that grocery stores won’t. There isn’t anything wrong with their fruit and veg aside from them being a little misshaped or scarred. As it is all food that doesn’t make the cut for the shops, they can sell it at a really good price and if you spend over $60, easy enough to do for a week’s worth of groceries, you get free shipping.

I’m super happy with this first box I got from them and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they do with my next. It might just be good enough to keep me from going back to my grocery store.

Local Kubernetes using Docker Desktop

Kubernetes is really starting to be a de-facto standard in how we deploy things to the cloud. It provides a ton of functionality around docker images that it deploys while at the same time making optimal use of the hardware that it is running on. Having worked with traditional servers and then VMs, I have found Kubernetes to be quite refreshing. A lot of the tedious things that you had to deal with are just handled by default.

Running kubernetes locally is really quite simple. You only need to have docker desktop installed. That should be almost an automatic these days if you are developing software for the cloud. Now if you are someone that has docker desktop installed but hasn’t messed with kubernetes, don’t worry. A lot of folks do write apps and build docker images for them without needing to play with it. They are either leveraging a hosted service, like AWS ECS, to run and manage their containers or they have someone on their team that is hogging all the fun. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to start a container on kubernetes locally.

Step 1: Create a docker image

You might already have an image kicking around for an app you are developing. Let’s assume that you are starting from scratch though. Create a file called Dockerfile with the following contents. alpine is a minimal linux distro and we are going to install HTTPie on it. The working directory is set to be /opt/. The image opens a shell using the command /bin/sh.

FROM alpine:edge

RUN apk add httpie


CMD /bin/sh

Build the image using the following command:

docker build --no-cache -t hello-world:docker-desktop .

You can verify that the image is built and working as expected by run it in interactive tty mode. That will allow you to interact with the shell as you would through a console.

docker run -it hello-world:docker-desktop

In the shell, you can run httpie from the container. That basically proves that your simple docker image was built correctly.

http https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/todos/1

No need to clean up. As soon as you exit the shell the container will stop running.

Step 2: Create a kubernetes pod

Now that you have a simple docker image, let’s create a kubernetes pod for it. A pod is a group of one or more containers. In this tutorial, it is just going to be one container that has our small image with HTTPie installed.

Select the docker-desktop context from the docker desktop kubernetes drop down menu. That is the locally running kubernetes instance that you get with docker desktop. You can confirm that you have that context selected using this command:


Let’s create a namespace in your context called hello-namespace. Namespaces let you group together pods. In fact, you can create multiple pods with the same name as long as they exist in different namespaces.

kubectl create namespace hello-namespace

That gives us the kubernetes infrastructure needed for deploying our pod. A pod is defined using manifest files like the one below. They can either be JSON or YAML but virtually everyone uses YAML. This manifest says to create a pod named hello-pod with a single container called hello-container. This container will use the hello-world image and runs the command sleep 15m which means it will run for 15 minutes before completing. Copy this manifest into a file named hello-manifest.yaml

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: hello-pod
  namespace: foo
    - name: hello-container
      image: hello-world:docker-desktop
      imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
      workingDir: /opt/
      command: ["sleep"]
      args: ["15m"]

We can deploy the pod using this command:

kubectl apply -f hello-manifest.yaml

We can now see that our pod has successful been deployed using get pods.

kubectl get -n hello-namespace pods

Step 3: Shell into your pod

Let’s jump into that pod you just deployed. The command below should look very familiar as it is almost the same as the one we used to shell into your docker container from step 1.

kubectl -n hello-namespace exec -it hello-world /bin/sh

Just like in step 1, let’s run HTTPie.

http https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/todos/1

The pod will complete after 15 minutes but we should still clean up and remove it. Use the command below to delete the pod:

kubectl delete -f hello-word.yaml 

Closing thoughts

This tutorial has walked you through how to deploy a kubernetes pod with a docker image you built. The image that we used is really quite basic but you should be able to see that with a little effort, you can use it to deploy any image you are working on. There is more that you need to tinker with if you are going to setup a Web app or service but what we covered in this post is a good first step in that direction.

Nocking Point Coffee Club April Shipment

My Nocking Point Coffee Club shipment has arrived for the month and this time it has come with a lightweight backpack. As a coffee club member, you always get a lifestyle item with your monthly coffee. It’s a nice perk as the beans are already great.

I really like this backpack. As a runner, I’ve collected a bunch of them from races I’ve done. I use them all the time but they always have draw strings which I find super annoying. Fortunately this Nocking Point pack has zippers so I can be confident that it will stay closed as I am bopping around on the weekends.

Pre-order Quarantine Pinot Noir from Nocking Point

I’ve become a rather big fan of the Nocking Point winery. I’ve now made several purchases from them and have been quite happy with their wines and coffees. This month, they are putting out a pretty cool collaboration with The Kutcher Family, the Quarantine Pinot Noir. It is an Oregon based Williamette Valley wine. The important bit though is that all the profits go to charities, a combination of support for food banks and EMTs.

The wine is on pre-order currently with a ship date early in May. I’ve already reserved 3 bottles and I am tempted to get a few more. I am sure that the wine will be fantastic as it always is from Nocking Point but it is nice that with this one the money is going to a good place. I mean, I personally love putting my dollars into a local Washington business but it is great that they are able to do this fundraiser during the COVID crisis.

Still doing long run reverse splits

With the weather getting better, I am doing more running outdoors. That and my gym is still closed. I am following the social distancing guidelines so that means doing my runs first thing in the morning before there are too many walkers out and sticking to less crowded routes. It is kind of amazing how there appear to be a lot of “first time” walkers who don’t really understand how to share sidewalks or pathways. On my last time out, I literally had someone hold out his arms to try to block me from running on the path. I’m not sure what that was all about but at least I got a pretty good 9 mile time for myself breaking the 1:20 mark.

I’m continuing to do negative splits on my long runs and it is boiling down to a combination of me still not quite being used to running at my current low weight and … taking forever to warm up. My first mile times have been terrible lately. I don’t know if I can bring myself to do a warm up beyond just walking out to the main road but I guess that might have to be a thing for me. I’m also wondering if it will go away as it gets warmer in the mornings.

I can’t wait for us to get past the social distancing and have our lives return back to relative normal. I’m quite eager for a half marathon though there are a lot of discussions about how we are going to have new social norms to prevent the spread of viruses like COVID-19. I wonder how that is going to impact running events. We all certainly pack in pretty tightly into those starting corrals. I get it if that stops being how we start races but part of me will also be a little sad.