If you tell enough stories, perhaps the moral will show up.


Absolutely the Last Apple Entry this Year

It's been an astonishing year for fruit, but there's a price to pay. In ordinarily heavy years, plum tree branches can easily break with the weight of fruit. This year has had so much water that the damsons were the size of plums and edible straight off the tree while the table plums have needed props, to hold up the masses of disappointing bland fruit. And while the flavours been fine, we've had apple branches broken to create more challenges for the winter pruner. I drove past this old orchard today and saw trees pulled over or split in two -- it'll take more than pruning to fix that.


Proxy Access for Services

Of course you want to use a web proxy, but some of your services need web access. Proxy settings are per-user, and if you run services as specific users you can log on and set them. But for the built-in anonymous accounts SYSTEM, SERVICE, how can you tell them where to find the proxies?

The obvious need for this is to get Windows Update working behind a proxy server. It's needed even if you are using the web interface, because WU still depends on the BITS service.

Well there are a number of ways. But what's easy is proxycfg, a command-line program that will create the appropriate entries in

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\Connections\WinHttpSettings

The program is in the XP build, but it runs fine on W2K -- just copy it over. Running it with the -u option will copy the current user's settings in to the service default and you're done.

Of course, you still need to ensure that the requests will be permitted by the proxy: The service can't authenticate. On our Bluecoats, you make a combined destination object that precedes authentication and is accepted on the first rule.



Last weekend I picked a lot of apples: 50% Bramley, 30% James Grieve, 20% Spartan with oddments of John Downie crabs and Conference pear, and screwed it down to a bit over four gallons of juice. I'd say there was a ratio about three gallons of loose apples to one of juice, but that may be optimistic, They were all fresh off the tree and hard, so I don't think I mashed them as well as I should have. Anyway, after a rather slow start, it's fermenting nicely with whatever Wilkinson sell as wine yeast at this time of year.

It was extremely hard work. The book had been rather lyrical about the benefits of community endeavour with everybody helping to get the work done. Mrs U left me to it, driving off to visit her parents, and I pounded out the whole lot using the boss on a 17lb fence post digger and a six liter screw press myself.

Since I set that lot going, I've learnt that 80% cookers is a bad thing (too acid), that using fresh apples reduces the juice yield (too hard, and too tart), and basically I've done it all wrong. So today I filled the mower trailer with 60% eaters and the balance mostly Bramleys and I've hidden it in the shed. In a fortnight's time I'll see whether they've softened up, and perhaps make myself some less acid cider to blend. For certain the Spartans had the dullest juice so I'm afraid the cider will be bland, but we'll have to see how that goes.


Idle Sods

I've just been through my spam, and I'm disgusted. Where are all the Northern Rock "After the difficulties on our website, please re-enter your details to restore your access..." or "The bank has been nationalised. Please provide details to validate access to your deposit...." ?

Don't these people read the news?


I know a secret

And it's a surprise: the best juice comes from crab apples.

Admittedly they were ripe red John Downie, but straight off the tree they were still a lot more like hard red berries than proper apples, and they were the devil to crush. I got three pints from a gallon of mush, and it was sweet and appley with a lot of the puckering richness which I think is malic acid. Drinkable - delicious - running off the press.