2014: eating @ Bar della Crocetta in Milano

I used to eat at Bar della Crocetta since I was in my highschool days and the place was managed for almost 30 years by the same crew.
It was the best sandwich place of the entire city without any doubt: rich, creative, balanced in the mix of tastes.
Just fantastic.
But two years ago the owners have sold it.

three days ago, as I arrived at the door with my wife, I immediately noticed that something had changed: cleaner place, more light, no more sausages in display, female waiters.
In theory all good changes, but I had a negative gut feeling.

The place was almost empty, but it was the day of the soccer world championship final so it was reasonable.

The list of sandwiches got axed: about 70% less choice than in the past.
Also the list of different types of sausages halved.
I went for a classical sandwich (cipollata) that I had dozens of times in the past with the previous owners while my wife got something new based on Praga ham.

Then we started to wait.
More waiting.
After 30 minutes (with 12 customers in total in the place) we finally got the sandwiches and delusion with them.

The taste of my sandwich was just a pale memory of the original one and using the same name is absolutely inappropriate
Cipollata refers to the fact that it is based on onions (cipolle in Italian) but the quantity was so little and the onions so sweet that their contribution to the overall taste was minor.
The melted cheeses were too hard and not well amalgamated.
The thickness of the sandwich interior was about 60% of the old one while price adjusted with inflation was constant. Ans this was the XL version.
My wife complained tha the ham was sliced so thin that is was almost ethereal in her mouth and about the overall lack of taste. This never happened with the old owner.

To summarize: maybe now it is a healthier place, but it is no longer a place worth visiting.
The Bar della Crocetta si dead and anyone that experienced the place in the past should avoid it to avoid getting the same delusion I had.

Incubo a cinque stelle by Roberto Dal Bosco

At the last national political elections in Italy a relatively new party got about 30% of the votes.
While it was not uncommon in Italy in the past to have a relevant percentage of “protest” votes it never went to such a high percentage.

The author digs into the details of what is the vision of this party and of the people who lead it.
While the content is interesting the book is too stretched and with many repetitions of the same concepts and quotes.
While each time they are in a different context, appropriate and well documented this still makes the reading at times boring.

I’m fairly sure that the same exact content could be delivered in 30% fewer pages with similar or better overall effect.
For this sole reason I’d not advocate this book: people’s time is precious and authors need to value it when writing.

DSM 5.0-4493 update 2 on Synology 411slim

A while back I was suggesting to avoid the upgrade to DSM 5.
Unfortunately I did already take this step some time ago and now I have to live with it and try to make the best possible with the 411Slim

Earlier today, after a complete backup of the critical data (300GB) to an external USB drive, I’ve made the upgrade to the latest release.
It took, as is usually the case with the “update” releases, two rounds of firmware upgrade: one to the base version (5.0-4493) and one to the “update 2″ version.
The process worked smoothly and without hiccups and now the speed seems slightly improved, but still far from the 4.3 performance.

I keep my finger crossed hoping that future releases will give me back the old performance and that I’ll find no nasty surprises in this new release.

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes

I love food.
A lot.
Really.

It is too bad that this usually goes together with consequences: extra weight and all the rest that then, in most cases, follows.

According to the author this is not necessarily always the case.
He explains in the book that it is more about quality of the food rather than about quantity: insulin production is the pivotal factor in storing energy as fat.

To support his point he shows several cases of populations with high fat ingestion that are not fat and that start to become fat once they start to use the “western diet”, groups of people with limited amount of available daily calories that become obese anyway, experiments with mice in laboratories.
His conclusion is that the foods that drive up the insulin production are the ones that will increase the fat buildup in a person.

On the basis of his findings the author suggests a diet that goes in the opposite direction of the ones promoted by the national health advisory councils in the western world: skip cereals (even unrefined), vegetables with high amid content and sugar while getting all the desired proteins, non-caloric vegetables and fat.

Sooner or later I’ll give a try at this shift of eating habits: most of the food I like better already falls in the categories he suggests hence I should be keep up with the change at least for a while.

My first (long) trip in the far east

I recently came back home after spending 20 days on a business trip that touched Bangkok, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo.

The limited time available and the need to carry over my business objectives severely limited my ability to fully appreciate the different cities.
I only had some time during the week ends (when I was not using them to move from one country to the other) and after the office time.

Walking around in Bangkok and Beijing was very easy.
Thanks to the availability of the city maps for my Nokia phone I never had issues to find specific places and the public transportation (boat, skytrain and tuctuc in Bangkok, subway in Beijing) was very affordable and not difficult at all to use for a foreign person.

Moving around in Seoul and Tokyo was more problematic, mainly because of the lack of offline maps on the phone (I had both a Symbian Belle and WindowsPhone8 devices).
I hoped to use an online service, but it turned out that the prepaid sim card available in Korea work only for local people or foreigners with a permanent or long stay visa.
Having no offline nor online map led to a limit in the freedom of walking around in Seoul and this got worse in Tokyo as the rain season had just started when I arrived thus making random searches for places very inconvenient.

Language was a barrier in many cases because only a small percentage of the people was able to communicate in english: this is not uncommon in Italy either; it is not a specific issue of the far east.
Yet communication somehow happened: pointing at items and using google translator (when there was some wi-fi coverage) helped a lot.

Even with all the limits of not being a full-time turist it was a very interesting and exciting experience and I would be happy to be able to get in that area again in the future.

Dayton DTA-100 amplifier died on me

After 14 months serving me well with almost daily utilization my secondary amplifier decided to go south.
It was something unexpected: it had loud “bumps” when turned on the last couple of times and then ceased to output anything.

I’ve brought back on of my old T-amps to drive the Indiana Line Arbour 5.04 of my desktop audio setup mentioned here: it was a good idea to keep the T-amp around.

Hopefully the Dayton will be back soon and in the meanwhile my neighbours will be happy with the lower volume.

DSM5 on Synology 411slim: avoid the upgrade while you can or until fixed

Today I’m doing a bit of cleanup and new backups on the NAS after my recent upgrade  of the firmware and I’ve found the speed to have decreased (almost halved) in comparison to DSM4.3 when transferring large files (about 8GB in a 9 files)

The web interface shows a very high CPU usage, but no errors.

Going through the ssh interface top shows that the SMB demon is responsible for this:
Mem: 228728K used, 20560K free, 0K shrd, 11452K buff, 157692K cached
CPU: 6.1% usr 21.9% sys 0.0% nic 0.9% idle 1.1% io 0.3% irq 69.3% sirq
Load average: 3.08 1.94 1.12 2/178 31877
PID PPID USER STAT VSZ %MEM %CPU COMMAND
12426 6493 root R 31948 12.7 88.9 /usr/syno/sbin/smbd -F
31028 2 root SW 0 0.0 5.7 [flush-253:3]
128 2 root SW 0 0.0 1.1 [kswapd0]
2903 2 root SW 0 0.0 0.9 [md2_raid1]
31390 31387 admin R 4348 1.7 0.4 top

In non-synology-related posts around the web it looks like the issue could be tied to the very high CPU consumed for sirq.

I hope that a new firmware will bring back the old performance, in the meanwhile I suggest to other owners of this NAS to refrain from upgrading.