Category Archives: Technology

Understanding how to find and parse data: Part 1

So in the past few days I have been asked by different people that I am aquatinted with about getting a hold of data from several sources and aggregating it into a central location. Now I have a varied background in development and IT so this is really something that should be covered in a case by case basis but I am going to craft a use case that I think will get the concepts across so you can start you work on your specific problem.

Data Mining, enter the E.T.L.

I spent a few years working with a very,  very large telecommunications company (you can probably guess who) and they collect a shit load of data. Network data, phone call data, internet activity, website activity, and many more things. Collecting this data can be a hell of a task, data formats are all over the place along with different connection protocols. This is where an E.T.L. Comes into play. It stands for Extract, Translate, and Load. You extract data from a target, translate it into a format that suits your need, and load it into your own database. This sounds simple in practice and in some cases it is. There are other times that this becomes a work of art as you have to learn how to reverse engineer a system just to get the data you need.

A Simple Use Case is a great example of a data rich target along with a structure that you have to navigate in order to get exactly what you are looking for. So lets start with a simple search: this will give you all the agents that are in the area of the 08052 zip code.

This is a clear, repeatable display. Now lets take a quick peak at the code behind it. I use a tool called firebug, its great if you do any web development (

This will give you a box like this:

Now if you look, you can see <div class=”agent-list-card clearfix” data-url=”–Ricci_CHERRY-HILL_NJ_4532_179994593″>. Now look at the pattern: class=”agent-list-card clearfix” is used for each of the agents in what they are calling “cards”. Also the data-url has the link to the agents direct page.

Now, with a little ingenuity you can build a little database…

Enter the Dragon (or Snake in this case)

Python is an extremely versatile and easy to use programming language. I am not going to cover Python tutorials here but you can find a good one here:


To be continued…

What I am going to show you in part 2 is how to connect to a site and work your way to building a comma separated list that we can eventually turn into a database.

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker Rebuild

So I was driving around the other day and I pass a Masterbuilt Eletric Smoker just sitting at someone’s curb. I stopped my car in the middle of the road and then pulled to the side.

It was a rusty, warn out, sad little thing that just needed a little love. Taped to the top of it was the original manual as well as a note that read; All parts inside. Heat coil needs to be repaired.

So I threw it into the back of my car and sped off towards my home.

I proceeded to begin cleaning it. It was an absolute mess. It was filled with cobwebs, rust, dirt, and even left over food residue.

I began cleaning the grates and the coil.

The coil was good, the wires had rusted and broke. I replaced the wire terminals and reattached the coil. I then touched up some rust spots.

Then came time to test this wonderful machine. I first ran it for 3 hours at 250 just to see if it would hold temp. It was working fine so I added a rack of ribs and was really happy with the result.

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How to make Sausage!

Awww yeah! I got the KitchenAid Food Grinder Attachment for Stand Mixer with Bonus Sausage Stuffer for Christmas! And we are going to learn how to make our own sausage and smoke it of course!


The grinder comes in pieces, so here is how to assemble it.

Putting the grinder together:

I will now show you step by step how to assemble the grinder.

Start by inserting the worm into the housing.


It should fit in snuggly and it should not be sticking out.


Then place the blade on the worm.


Then the plate over the blade.


Place the cap over the place and screw it on.


The grinder came with two plates and a basic blade.


I also got the extension kit that has 6 new plates and a bigger blade.


In order to attach it to the mixer you first need to remove the extension guard.


Unscrew the nob holding the plate on and it should just fall out exposing the gear inside.


When you attach the grinder to the mixer, you should line up the divot on the grinder with the hole where the nob screws into.

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You are now ready to make your own ground meat and sausage!

Sausage Mix (Part 1)

So this is the first time I am making this so we will see how it goes. We are going to try a beef / pork blend. I chose Chuck Eye which is basically Ribeye just a little further down the rib. I also used a pork roast which is pork center loin cut.

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Start off by breaking the meat down into cubes.

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Then put the mixer on setting 4 and run the meat through the grinder twice. You will get a nice ground meat mix like this.


Repeat the same process with the pork.


Then add your seasonings. I recommend my Meat Rub but if you don’t have that, try this mix out:

Sausage Seasoning Mix

Depending on the amount of meat, you may need to double this. Heck multiply times 10 and keep the extra around, it’s not like you aren’t going to use it…

  • 1Tbl Salt
  • 1Tbl Crushed Black Pepper
  • 1Tbl Fennel Seed
  • 1Tbl Oregano
  • 1Tbl Thyme
  • 1Tbl Sage
  • 1Tbl Paprika
  • (Optional) 1 tbsp of Cayenne Pepper for some heat.


Sausage Mix (Part 2)

Ok now take the seasoning and mix it in by hand with both the pork and beef. Also take this time to mix the two meats together as well.


Sausage Casings:

First things first. Lets clean out the grinder and remove the blade and plate. Now we can put on the sausage stuffing part of the grinder.


First put on this part, sorry I don’t know what it’s called…


Then put on the cone that the casing will go on and the meat will come out of.


I am using natural casing. They are made from pig intestine and they come packed in salt.




You want to pull one out and put it in a bowl of water that is heated to about 120 degrees.


The casing needs to sit in there for about 5 to 10 minutes. Once it’s soft, find the end and slide it onto the sausage stuffer. Run the mixer at setting 4 again and let the sausage fill the casing. This part can take a while and is a bit messy but is well worth it in the long run.

Sausage stuffing time!

Final Results



First Attempt:


Footlong “Snack”


So I added some oil to the pan and put it on medium heat.


I browned it on all sides and made sure it was properly cooked. This is how it turned out! It tasted awesome! I am going to try and smoke the next batch!