Sunday, December 25, 2011

Homemade BIG Ferrero Rocher

After my BIG Ferrero Rocher post, my Brother in-law and Niece decided they would try and create a "proper" big version of this popular chocolate, seeing as the shop bought one is filled with air.

Homemade BIG Ferrero Rocher 1

They let me in on their method for this DIY version.

First to collect the ingredients. Problem number one, you can't get an oversized hazelnut, so they decided to create a clump of nuts for the center, by sticking them together with melted chocolate. This was then enrobed with layers of Nutella, freezing each layer to get if firm to work on the next one.

Now to find the right wafer, they decided to remove the wafers out of a Tex bar, by melting them and scraping the chocolate off. These were then cut into small squares and stuck onto the side with melted chocolate.

Hazelnuts were then crushed and mixed with a melted dark and milk chocolate mix, to create the outer layer.

After tasting this, I must say that it is really good, and exactly matches the taste of the small version.

The finished product weighed around 600g.

They are already constructing a second one, which they feel needs more wafer to get the ratio of chocolate to wafer correct, so expect that one to be bigger.

Homemade BIG Ferrero Rocher 2
Homemade BIG Ferrero Rocher 3
Homemade BIG Ferrero Rocher 4
Homemade BIG Ferrero Rocher 5
Homemade BIG Ferrero Rocher 6

Saturday, November 26, 2011

BIG Ferrero Rocher - Unboxing

Curiosity got the better of me, I had to buy one of these new "Big" Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Have a look at my Flickr stream for the "Unboxing"

Step 1

In short it's like a luxury Easter egg, the same chocolate and hazel nuts that you find on the small versions, but unfortunately minus the Nutella inside. I shudder to think what that would cost, seeing as this is R80.00

Anyway it tasted real good, worth it as a "spoil someone" gift with a difference, but for the money you can get a whole lot more value with other chocolate.

Friday, October 07, 2011

R.I.P. Steve Jobs - February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011

So sad to see a person who has changed the world so much, pass on at such a young age. Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Steve Jobs has touched your life in some way or another.

(Photo credit: Johnathan Mak)

I know I have probably become an Apple fanboy, but in a world of technology, a place I really enjoy being, it was a profound moment when I purchased my first piece of Apple technology, an iPod Touch 2, and I didn't have buyers remorse.

I had owned so many pieces of crappy technology, that I was literally stunned when to coin a Steve Jobs phrase that "It just works", and has been till now.

It just shows you what can be achieved when you follow your passion and do things right.

I think the world is going to miss you Steve.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Apple iPhone 4S Release

On October 4th 2011, Apple announced the replacement for the iPhone 4 as the iPhone 4S. The much talked about iPhone 5 was not released "yet". This continues a trend set when the iPhone 3G was replaced with the 3GS, looked the same on the outside, but was all new on the inside. The same happened now with the iPhone 4S. Looks the same on the outside, but in my opinion quite an update to the inside.

Image by Apple

  • Apple A5 chipset, dual core Cortex A9 for 7 times faster graphics.
  • Longer batter life – 8 hrs talk time on 3G, 9 hours browsing on Wi-Fi, 10 hours video, 40 hours music.
  • New intelligent switching between antennas
  • HSPA+ 14.4
  • CDMA + GSM World phone
  • 8mp rear-facing camera, CMOS backside illuminated sensor, 73% more photons! High end IR filter. Wide f2.4. Super fast photo taking chip. 1.1 seconds for first photo.
  • 1080p, real-time video stabilization, real-time temporal noise reduction.
  • SIRI artificially intelligent voice control.
  • 16GB, 32 GB, 64GB
This breakdown from

The decision to release iPhone 4S rather than an all new iPhone 5 has met with some disappointment, but if you think about the fact that most of these high end phones will be financed on a 2 year cellphone contract, then those that got the iPhone 4 still have around 12 months to go on their contract, ready for the 2012 release of the iPhone 5. But those sitting with the iPhone 3GS, are ready for an upgrade, and are over the moon with the iPhone 4S release.

Apple - Introducing the iPhone 4S

Apple- Introducing Siri on iPhone 4S

Apple - Introducing iOS 5

Siri Artificial Intellegence

Apple acquired Siri, and this is the outcome of integrating that technology into iOS. It's like "voice command" on steroids. You can do all the normal stuff like calling and playing music with voice commands, but the real power comes with the ability of the system to understand what you are saying and respond with answers.

You can ask "what is the weather forecast for tomorrow" and it will bring up the weather info, but you could say "will I need an umbrella tomorrow" and the answer would be "no" or "yes just in the morning".

Siri will also connect to Wikipedia and WolframAlpha to get answers, so you can ask any question really.


Now with 8 mega pixels and 1080p video recording, Apple is saying this is the best camera you have likely owned. They are probably right, but iPhone is not the first to offer this level of specification. I must say, there is really no point any more owning a compact digital camera, at least you will have your cellphone with you all the time.

A5 Chip

This is basically the iPad 2 chip, which improves the speed over the A4 chip in the iPhone 4, but vastly improves the graphics processing. Games will obviously work much better, but Apple says even browsing a website will be quicker.

I do think this is a great phone, if you are in the market for a smart phone, I would add it to the short list. If you are upgrading from an iPhone 3G or 3GS and you have invested quite heavily in the Apple universe, then it's a no brainer, just get it. But if you have an iPhone 4, then maybe wait for the iPhone 5, iOS 5 will be available for free on October 12. The update will add some very nice features to your iPhone 4, so you could probably live without Siri, the extra power and the awesome camera for now.

By the way iOS 5 will update your iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch 3 and 4, as well as iPad 1 and 2. Look forward to testing that out.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Sony BDV-E370 BluRay Home Theatre Review

The Sony BDV-E370 is one of Sony's entry level Blu-ray Home Theatre systems. A 5.1 850W sound system, with passive sub woofer. HDMI, Component and Composite outputs, with audio only inputs, for Analogue, Coaxial and Optical. There are also connections for LAN, FM antenna, Calibration Mic, 2 USB ports and a EZW-T100 port for an S-Air signal transmitter, for wireless surround speakers.


Included in box with the main unit and 6 speakers are, speaker cables, remote control with batteries, FM antenna (just a short piece of wire), calibration microphone and a coaxial audio cable. Plus a bunch of manuals.


Now this system won't compare with a system like the Sony STR-DH510, but considering that it costs just a bit more, before you add speakers and a Blu-ray player, the BDV-E370 gives you good bang for your buck. What it does lack is HDMI inputs, or any video inputs for that matter. So that might sway you towards a bigger system if you have a bunch of equipment to connect.

Connecting up

Once unpacked the whole system is pretty easy to connect, the speakers, wires and connection ports are all colour coded, so it's just a connect and plug in affair. This method does seem to work quite well, but I do prefer having terminal connections on both ends, if you need to connect your own wire, which you would probably need to do for the rear speakers, because the wire is a bit short. This is only really an issue if you plan to run the wire up and along the wall to your speakers. I found that they were long enough if you plan on running them under your couch (sofa) to the speakers right behind you.


With 3 audio inputs, 2 of them digital, you do have ways of connecting equipment that outputs 5.1 sound. I have my media player connected via the optical audio in, and the TV via the analogue audio. The coaxial could then be connected to a satellite or cable box (DSTV). I have mine connected to a Squeezebox for audio.

I hooked this system up to my Sony KDL-40EX400 LCD TV, which matches the system very well. Because both components are made by Sony they support the Sony Bravia Sync technology. This essentially means the systems communicate with each other over the HDMI cable. So the TV is aware that the audio system is on and will feed the audio to the BDV-E370 and mute it's own speakers. The volume control on the remote is then used to change the volume on the audio system. This all works very well with one problem though, the BDV-E370 assumes that the audio from the TV is coming in via the optical port, so when you switch the TV on, it will auto switch to this input. Thats all fine and well if your TV decodes DTS and Dolby Digital. But that is not the case with the KDL-40EX400. So a suitable work around is to plug the media player directly into the optical in. This just results in an extra button push to switch to the Analogue input in my case, in order to get audio from the TV into the audio system. Once you do that, it works fine, and still operates the volume control as explained above.

The BDV-E370 also has a network port on the back, connecting it to your LAN will initialise the network on DHCP, so if you are internet connected it just runs through 3 steps and you are on the net. At this point my unit popped up a message saying there was an update, and do I want to install it. The update was downloaded and installed in a few minutes and we were up and running again. If you use fixed IP, this can be set manually in the settings menu.

Calibration and Sound Test

After using the calibration microphone supplied to set up all the channels, which just takes a few minutes, I used some test media to check the decoding of Dolby Digital and DTS input signals. All the speakers operate correctly for both types of input. The sound is not booming, but loud enough. The sub channel does go to quite a low frequency, but won't shake your teeth out. One thing I did pick up right away was how clear the signal is, the sound coming from the 3 front speakers is spread wide and clear, but you can pick up each channel when you need to. I found this great for watching movies at a lower volume (don't wake the kids upstairs). If your audio input is only stereo, then all the speakers are used by the system, and a nice spread of sound fills the room. This improves the sound when watching TV dramatically. One last thing, I would prefer the calibration microphone connection to be on the front, once you have the unit all connected up in your cabinet, it's a pain to connect the mic at the back.


Playing Blu-ray and DVD

Insert a disk in the tray and close and the system will start the disk automatically, and take you to the disk menu. At this point you can hit the "home" button on the remote, and a new icon will have appeared in the video menu. If you click on it, you can find additional information on the disk in the player, such as actors producers etc. If you click on an actors name, you can see their bio and what other films they have been in etc. This is all done via your internet connection. The disks load quite quickly too.

BluDVD's with Blu-ray disks just to get better picture.

Bravia Internet Video

Bravia Internet Video is a gateway to internet content. By using your broadband connecting you can stream video content from a variety of sources to your TV. The content available is quite large and diverse, but you are locked into what Sony provides, you cannot connect to a stream of your own. Each feed shows you the latest media available, and there is a search function that will search across a subset of the "channels" available. You can really just search for something that you are in the mood for, and you are bound to find a few shows to watch.

Youtube is one of the available channels, but it has it's own search facility, as well as allowing you to log into your Youtube account. Once logged in you will see your personal content, such as subscriptions, favourites and playlist. You can display search results in different orders, and the searches are saved.


The time taken to load media is all dependent on your internet connection, but for a service like this a fast connection is a must, to prevent frustration. On my 4Mbps line, all the standard definition content loaded within a few seconds, and would start playing as soon as the buffer had a enough given the download speed. Videos would then play without stopping. HD content did take a bit longer to load, and stopped along the way to buffer. You can pause playback, and wait for the whole video to load if you want.

The content available is US centric, but the concerning part is that some of the dedicated channels have their latest update as far back as 2009. I really hope Sony updates the service more regularly, and removes channels that are dead.


The BDV-E370 supports DLNA, so if you have a DLNA server you can serve up media content via your network for the device to play.


I tested this from Windows 7 via Windows Media Player, and from Linux via MythTV and miniDLNA. MythTV seems to support an outdated DLNA specification, so it would not display any working files. Windows Media Player and miniDLNA worked fine and provide a viable solution to streaming media to your BDV-E370. I tested a few file formats, with the following working fine, AVI (DivX and XviD), MKV, VOB. MOV and MP4 would not work. I did pick up a problem when playing the MKV in that it hung the player for a few minutes while I attempted to fastforward. The Sony did recover on it's own.

JPG and MP3 work well too, MP3's do pass the ID3 metadata via DLNA. If you have a large music collection, this is a nice way to stream audio to your system. Viewing pictures works quite well as a slideshow too. But watching video is limited to the content supported, I think a dedicated media player still works best for all content.

The BDV-E370 does announce itself on the network as a DLNA Renderer, so you can control it from a DLNA Control Point. I tested this with Windows Media Player (Win7) and PlugPlayer for iOS.

iPod via USB

You can plug your iPod into the USB port, and it will play audio content from the device. The interface is not replicated on the TV, so you cannot navigate and find the music you want. But once you have a playlist running, you can use your remote to skip tracks. The remote will in fact navigate on the screen of the iPod, so if you can see the display, you can use the remote. I can verify that an iPod Nano, iPod Touch and iPhone 3GS worked fine.

Media Remote for iPhone

Media Remote for iPhone 1

I installed the Sony Media Remote for iPhone application, and I must say this really is a nice addition to the system, and it's free. One big plus is the ability to use the App to input text. This is really useful when needing to key in your username and password for Youtube. As well as making keying in search strings in Bravia Internet Video real easy.


I found using the "Simple Remote" part of the app perfect for the Sony XrossMediaBar navigation, just a swipe of your finger navigates you through the menus effortlessly.


The Sony BDV-E370 is a fantastic system for the price. If, like me, you would love to have an all bells and whistles system, but can't bring yourself to spend R30,000.00. This system delivers enough of everything to make you smile, and then some, for a fraction of the price. I recommend the Sony BDV-E370.

Have a look at my Flickr feed for a bunch more pictures

DVD Menu
Bravia Internet Video
iOS Media Remote