Pew Pew Laser Blog

Code. Glass art. Games. Baking. Cats. From Seattle, Washington and various sundry satellite locations.

Past Blogs

Baking Lab: Cookie Customizations.


This blog continues on the topic of varying the gold standard chocolate chip cookie recipe to find a perfect variation for my tastes. I'm too sick to make any new cookies on my own this weekend, but I was able to watch T.V. and type. Here are Alton Brown's alterations on the basic recipe for different specific results - the thin and crispy chocolate chip cookie, the puffy and fluffy chocolate chip cookie, and the chewy chocolate chip cookie.

Thin & Crispy:

You can find Alton Brown's complete recipe for the Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip cookie here.

Puffy & Fluffy

You can find Alton Brown's complete recipe for the Puffy and Fluffy Chocolate Chip cookie here.


You can find Alton Brown's complete recipe for the Chewey Chocolate Chip cookie here.

Note - Alton uses kosher salt and extra vanilla extract (1 1/2 teaspoons) in each of these recipes. The recipe variations listed here should work on any kind of cookies, not just chocolate chip.

Baking Lab: Chocolate Chip Cookies.


I'd been disappointed by recent batches of chocolate chip cookies that I'd made. The "control" cookies (made using the recipe on the bag of chocolate chips) were too flat, and too gooey / greasy for us (the husband and myself). I thought that my problem might have been old baking powder, but for this experiment I had bought fresh chemicals.

Last month, I attempted to correct these imperfect cookies by dropping the standard recipe cookies into mini-muffin tins instead of directly onto the Silpat. This method did work to prevent spreading, but the edges of the cookies climbed up the side of the muffin tins, without cooking the middle to a more satisfactory consistency.

This weekend, I conducted another experiment in the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I replaced one of the two sticks of butter called for by the recipe with half a cup of shortening. This worked out quite well - the cookies are taller, with that lovely "baked" crust, and nice soft filling. Very satisfactory, but not quite perfect.

I will continue with experiments, and keep you updated on progress. The very day after my most successful experiment, cooking mad scientist / culinary Prometheus Alton Brown provided many deliberate substitutions for specific results on his Food Network show Good Eats. It was a prophetic show, and I'm looking forward to trying the variations. I hope the husband doesn't get tired of fresh baked cookies.

It Stays In Vegas Unless You Tell or Take Pictures.


We're back from Las Vegas. The real Vegas experience is a series of fake experiences - and I think we covered that base. We went to ancient Rome and Egypt and modern Paris. We had lunch in a back alley New York deli, and dinner in the the twilight of Venice. We encountered angry Klingon and Borg, tangled with one-armed bandits, and escaped relatively unscathed. We saw hotel/casino/resorts that ran the gamut from old and busted to expensively classy and understated.

We saw Penn & Teller, and it was a fabulous show. It was both delightfully hilarious, and an incredible display of skilled artistry. If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to see Penn & Teller - even if it means skipping one of the dozen Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas.

It's a Clinker.


Well, I'm going to have to buy a new hard drive. I want to buy this 500 GB SATA Western Digital hard drive from NewEgg - it's a heck of a deal. But I have a smidgen of a doubt that it'll work with my motherboard. It's an MSI K8NGM2, and supports SATA II up to 300MB/s. But the hard drive is 3.0Gb/s - what's the dealio? All the drives seem to have that spec, but it's an order of magnitude off from from my motherboards' spec. Unless there's an important difference indicated by the lowercase versus the uppercase "b".

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My desktop computer is giving me trouble again. It's the same trouble as early in the month - random boot failures, a couple of page fault BSODs, and now the dirty bastard won't boot. Lucky for me, I installed the Recovery Console on the hard disk after list time. Unluckily for me, CHKDSK is now saying that "The volume appears to have one or more unrecoverable problems."! At least now I have a suspect in the whole debacle. Sigh. Time for a new hard drive.

I'm really glad that the Macbook Air is still working perfectly. Otherwise I'd be in real trouble. Still, I'd much rather not deal with this at all. It's been quite a few years since I enjoyed dicking around with my computer. I just want to move on to writing web pages and wasting time on the internet.

Simple This.


"This" is a JavaScript keyword that can be used to reference "self" or "me", instead of using a more complicated getElementById() method. It's handy for adding simple actions to elements using an inline action. In this example, putting a mouse cursor over each image below will enlarge it.

Here is the code for one of those images:

<img src="/images/code_imgs/buildings.png" alt="buildings" onmouseover="this.width='64';" onmouseout="this.width='32'" />

For more information on "this", take a look at quirksmode's explanation of the 'this' JavaScript keyword.

Naked, Not Broken.


No, fair reader, my website is not broken. It's appearing exactly as I mean it to. For today is CSS Naked Day, where super-geeky websites all over the tubes throw off their styling and unabashedly reveal their content to you.

Also, I've released a lovely new tutorial in my articles that will walk you through creating a fancy content box using CSS and images. Ta ta!

Solicitation of Opinion.


I've spelled it "grey" for as long as I can remember. I do recognize "gray" as an acceptable alternate spelling, but my preference has always been to spell it "grey". Spell-checkers always complain about "grey", though. It turns out that "grey" is the British (and possibly Canadian) spelling. I must admit that I'm an American. What should I do?

I wouldn't consider writing "behaviour" or "colour" - those spellings are simply too obviously wrong. Do you think "Brit" when you read "grey"? Please share your thoughts.

April Fools' Day Round Up.


Here's a round up of all the April Fools' Day jokes that I found out about today.

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