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Cornbread | Basics with Babish

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From: Binging with Babish
Duration: 09:40

First 100 people to sign up will get $60 off over their first 3 weeks of Blue Apron! Click here to redeem: https://cook.ba/2YWOlUZ. Valid for first-time meal plan subscribers only. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Big thank you to Blue Apron for sponsoring!

Cornbread, as it turns out, wears many hats: essential barbecue side, thing-that-makes-chili-worth-eating, cultural mainstay, even dessert when it has to be. However you want to enjoy it, a few simple tricks will keep your crumb light and and your crusts crunchy, no matter upon which side of the Mason Dixon Line you lie.

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jepler
15 hours ago
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now I really want cornbread
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I Made My Shed the Top-Rated Restaurant on TripAdvisor

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This convinced me that TripAdvisor was a false reality—that the meals never took place, that other people like me wrote all the reviews. However, they're not, of course—they're almost all completely genuine. And there was one other factor that seemed impossible to fake: the restaurants themselves. So I moved on.

And then, one day, sitting in the shed I live in, I had a revelation: Within the current climate of misinformation and society's willingness to believe absolute bullshit, maybe a fake restaurant is possible? Maybe it's the kind of place that could be a hit?

In that moment, it became my mission. With the help of fake reviews, mystique, and nonsense, I was going to do it: turn my shed into London's top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor.

Setting Up "The Shed at Dulwich"—April, 2017

First of all, let me introduce you to my site: a shed in a south London garden.

To get started, I need to get verified, and to do that I need a phone.

One $13 burner later and "The Shed at Dulwich" officially exists. Now, I need to list an address—but doing so makes easy work for any skeptical fact-checkers. Plus, I don't technically have a door. Instead, I just list the road and call The Shed an "appointment-only restaurant."

Onto my online presence: I buy a domain and build a website. Hot spots are all about quirks, so to cut through the noise, I need a concept silly enough to infuriate your dad—a concept like naming all of our dishes after moods.

Now, some soft-focus images of those delicious dishes.

You'd eat this, wouldn't you?

Probably best not to.

No, OK, how about—

This sponge covered in paint, with quenelles of shaving creaam.

You’re getting it: This isn't what it looks like.

It's an egg resting on my foot.

With the concept, logo (thank you, Tristan Cross), and menu nailed down, it all comes together.

I submit my TripAdvisor forms; the rest is up to God.

On the May 5, 2017, I wake up to an email:

Hello,

We’re excited to tell you that your listing request has been approved and is on our site for everyone to see.

[…]

Thank you for giving us this opportunity to let the TripAdvisor community know about The Shed at Dulwich.

Best Regards,
The TripAdvisor Support Team

No, TripAdvisor, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to let the community know about The Shed at Dulwich.

Getting The Shed to Number One

I start out ranked at 18,149, the worst restaurant in London, according to TripAdvisor. So I'm going to need a lot of reviews. Reviews written by real people on different computers, so the anti-scammer technology TripAdvisor utilizes doesn't pick up on my hoax.

I need convincing reviews, like this one:

(I've mocked up all the screenshots from TripAdvisor by the way, because our legal department told me to.)

And not like this:

The celebrity endorsement photo Shaun Williamson sends me after I meet him in a pub, thoroughly explain my concept, and ask him for a photo of him eating fancy food in a fancy place, but instead receive one of him eating a roast dinner with a side of chips.

So I contact friends and acquaintances, and put them to work.

Climbing the Ranks

The first couple of weeks are easy: We crack the top 10,000 in no time, but I don't expect much in the way of inquiries quite yet. Then, one morning, something extraordinary happens: The Shed's burner phone goes off. Startled and hungover, I pick up.

"Hello? Is this The Shed?"

"…Yes?" I sound like a radiator that needs bleeding.

"I've heard so much about your restaurant... I know it’s a long shot, as you get booked up so quickly, but I don’t suppose you have a table tonight?"

Panicking, I abruptly respond: "Sorry, but we're fully booked for the next six weeks" and slam down the phone. I'm stunned. A day later, I feel another vibration: a 70 birthday booking, four months in advance for nine people.

Emails? I check my computer: tens of "appointment" requests await. A boyfriend tries to use his girlfriend's job at a children's hospital for leverage. TV executives use their work emails.

Seemingly overnight, we're now rated at #1,456. The Shed at Dulwich has suddenly become appealing. How?

I realize what it is: The appointments, the lack of an address, and general exclusivity of this place are so alluring that people can’t see sense. They’re looking at photos of the sole of my foot, drooling. Over the coming months, The Shed's phone rings incessantly.

Things Are Getting a Bit Out of Control

By the end of August, we’re at #156.

And things are starting to get a little out of hand.

First, companies start using the estimated location of The Shed on Google Maps to get their free samples to me. Then people who want to work at The Shed get in touch, in significant numbers. Then I get an email from the council, which wants to relocate us to a site in Bromley it's developing. Then an Australian production company gets in touch, saying it wants to exhibit us across the world in an aircraft company's in-flight videos.

The author during his Skype call with the PR agency

And then, finally, I have a Skype meeting with a "results-hungry" PR agency that promises to get The Shed onto the Mail Online with a Batman-themed launch and a $260 Lizzie Cundy appearance. The representative calls me "obviously pretty cool," which is nice, but ultimately I decide to handle promotion myself.

The Final Push

Winter has arrived, and we're at number 30.

But that position won't budge, no matter how many reviews I throw at it.

Otherwise, though, things have taken a turn.

People approach me on my road to ask if I know how to get to The Shed, and the phone rings more than ever before.

And then, one night, I get an email from TripAdvisor. Title: "Information Request." Fuck—the game is up. I've been rumbled. My fingers tremble as I open it: 89,000 views in search results in the past day, dozens of customers asking for information.

Why? Well, on the November 1, 2017, six months after listing The Shed at Dulwich online:

It's London's top-rated restaurant.

A restaurant that doesn't exist is currently the highest ranked in one of the world’s biggest cities, on perhaps the internet's most trusted reviews site.

On TripAdvisor's website, the company says it dedicates "significant time and resources [to] ensuring that the content on TripAdvisor reflects the real experiences of real travelers." So I get in touch when the whole process is finished to ask how it is that I've managed to sidestep the rigorous checks.

"Generally, the only people who create fake restaurant listings are journalists in misguided attempts to test us," replies a representative via email. "As there is no incentive for anyone in the real world to create a fake restaurant, it is not a problem we experience with our regular community—therefore this 'test' is not a real-world example."

That statement is fair enough; I can't imagine this happens often.

The representative adds that "most fraudsters are only interested in trying to manipulate the rankings of real businesses," so the "distinction between attempted fraud by a real business, as opposed to attempted fraud for a non-existent business, is important." To catch these people, TripAdvisor uses "state-of-the-art technology to identify suspicious review patterns" and says, "Our community too can report suspicious activity to us." It then quotes a 2015 study that found "93 percent of TripAdvisor users said they find the reviews they read to be accurate of the actual experience."

So there you have it.

Lonely at the Top

Only, it doesn’t stop.

I leave The Shed's phone at a friend's house over a long weekend, and when I get it back, it has 116 missed calls. So I start answering again. "We’re booked up," I lie. "We have a christening." Another lie.

"Hello, The Shed at Dulwich."

"Oh my goodness," a frustrated woman says. "I’ve actually got through. I first contacted you back in August. I’ve heard nothing back."

Now I've created this reality, I think, the only thing left to do is make it a reality. In just four days, London’s best restaurant will come alive. I'm going to open The Shed at Dulwich.

The Big Night

But how? I've never even had more than three people over at once, let alone provided dinner and drinks for 20. There's only one way to do it: recreating the exact location people have been describing in reviews for the past six months.

The food reminds people of home? Well, I'll serve them what I grew up eating: frozen dinners.

People like the rural yet classy vibe? Well, see that playhouse? It's going to be filled with chickens, like lobsters at an expensive restaurant, so people can pick their chick.

Our success is down to the gaming of TripAdvisor? I'll fill half the tables with people I know, talking loudly about how delicious everything is.

How are we going to achieve the unmistakable ambience of a real restaurant? By getting a DJ to play the sounds of a real restaurant on CDs.

To work I go. Playhouse?

Chicken House. Lawn?

Tidy. Subzero temperatures?

Thawed. Extra seating?

Done.

Soon, Joe—my friend and the chef for tonight—shows up. He's spent the past decade traveling the world, working in fine restaurants. A man worthy of The Shed, even if it's fake. Now, we’ve got produce to source.

Done, all for the price of $40.

Back at The Shed, Phoebe has arrived. She's an intuitive waitress who can really get across the nuances of our menu, like how—by serving pudding in mugs—we're aiming to replicate the experience of what it's like to eat pudding out of a mug.

For the starter, it's Minestrone di Verdure. For the main course, a choice of Truffle Macaroni and Cheese or Once-in-a-Lifetime Vegetable Lasagne. For dessert, The Shed Chocolate Sundae. One last thing I ask of Phoebe is for her to ask the opinions of every guest, privately, so they’re honest.

And with that, my vision has come to life.

Guests sit on the roof, sipping mugs of wine.

Chickens cluck happily in the playhouse, ready to be slaughtered.

Actors chomp away on spruced-up $1 frozen dinners.

A DJ pumps out the sound of a restaurant.

It looks, sounds, and smells beautiful, and we're ready for our first two guests. I head to the meeting point up the road and, on time, are:

Joel and Maria, all the way from sunny California, vacationing in Europe for the first time. Last night they were in Paris, and tonight is their first night in London. A Pokémon convention tomorrow brings them to the city, but they want to spend their first evening at The Shed.

I ask them to put on blindfolds, and they look terrified, but after the two actresses who’ve arrived at the same time agree, they nod.

I lead the four, hand in hand, into the garden. As we approach the house, Maria says, "I can hear the sound of a kitchen!" No, Maria, you cannot. The blindfolds come off. The Americans are silent.

"We serve moods here. I’ll interpret yours and bring a dish that suits. Maria, I get a homely energy from you. Joel? I’m feeling "cool," right?"

I rush into the kitchen and grab two main dishes off Joe. As per my request, the DJ triggers "ding" sounds frequently to disguise the noise of our microwave.

I place the pair's dishes down, move away, and, observing from a distance, watch them stare at their macaroni and cheese. Maria takes out her phone for a photo, looks at the meal through her camera, pauses, then puts her phone away without taking a picture.

The evening crawls by. Joel spots the two on the roof above him and can’t stop looking. After 40 very quiet minutes, the couple leaves. Joel looks furious.

In the meantime, two locals arrive, full of questions about the place. I let Phoebe take the lead with them, as I've got a table of four to deal with.

After seating them and disappearing to grab drinks, I hear a scream from the kitchen. Outside, a lady runs across the restaurant, squealing. Trevor—oh, good time to introduce Trevor, the man I hired the chickens from—is following her, clutching a chicken flapping its wings.

I snatch the chicken off Trevor and stuff it in the playhouse. As things calm down, the woman's friends begin to laugh. "Why do you have chickens?" they ask. "It’s pick your chicken! We cook the one you like the look of." Their expressions sour. "But I thought you were a vegetarian restaurant? I found you because you’re the top-rated veggie restaurant in London."

My heart skips a beat—I hadn’t thought of this. "Top in all of London, you mean!" I smile. We’re fucked.

People seem to be enjoying the food, but I can’t stop thinking flapping chicken. We need to make a good impression on the table of four.

I feel a tap on my shoulder; it’s one of them, a man, who informs me it’s his friend's birthday. An opportunity to impress arises.

I have a quiet word with my friend and comedian, Lolly Adefope, who's going to privately sing "Happy Birthday" to the birthday-haver. Lolly begins, shushing people who join in until it’s just her. It’s truly beautiful.

But probably not enough. The other real table of two leave, and I see out our foursome. I apologize as we go, bumbling about new menus and difficult circumstances. In the midst of my wittering, I'm stopped. "Yeah, so about availability," the lady says. "Now that we’ve been once, is that easier?"

"What?"

"Yeah, is it easier for us to book a table now?" her husband jumps in.

"Yeah, it would be nice to come again."

I’m absolutely speechless.

"Uh, that’s certainly something we can look at."

They wave goodbye and disappear into the night.

By this point, the restaurant has slipped considerably in the rankings (the page has now been deleted, but an archived version is available here), but we were in the top spot for almost two weeks, and that's obviously had an effect.

I barrel down the garden and scream the news: "They want to book again!" Joe, Trevor—all the crew—look at me. We erupt into laughter. "I’m not surprised," says Phoebe, showing me the customers' feedback, which is roundly excellent—possibly because I didn't charge any of them for anything (the whole evening was free because "we were documenting it for a TV show"), but also possibly because they really did have an excellent time.

So there we go: I invited people into a hastily-assembled collection of chairs outside of my shed, and they left thinking it really could be the best restaurant in London—just on the basis of a TripAdvisor rating. You could look at this cynically—argue that the odor of the internet is so strong nowadays that people can no longer use their senses properly. But I like to be positive. If I can transform my garden into London’s best restaurant, literally anything is possible.

UPDATE 12/6/17: After an eagle-eyed reader spotted that each mocked-up TripAdvisor screenshot contained the same number of reviews, we have edited the images so that the number of reviews match those in the actual screen shots and also replaced two of the images.

Follow Oobah Butler on Twitter.

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jepler
16 hours ago
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double, triple, 100x checks this is not theonion or something
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
acdha
2 days ago
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Via metafilter
Washington, DC
vitormazzi
15 hours ago
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Brasil
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Feeding Both Filament And Electrons Through A Custom D-Sub Connector

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We sometimes forget that 3D printers are just CNC platforms with a hotend attached, and there a whole range of alternative tool heads to use. [Jón Schone] has been doing exactly that, and needed a way to quickly disconnect his hotend completely from his printer, so he 3D printed his own custom D-sub connector for both filament and wires. (Video, embedded below.)

[Jon] has added a number of upgrades for his Creality CR10 3D printer, including a quick change tool mount to allow him to also use a laser engraver and even a small spindle. When the hotend is removed there’s no way to quickly disconnect the wiring , so the print head is usually left connected and placed to one side of the printer. For a quick detach solution for both wiring and the Bowden tube, he first modified an off-the-shelf D-sub connector. The connector was relatively expensive, and the tube had a tendency to pop out, which led to some failed prints.

[Jon] wanted to use proper Bowden tube fittings inside the connector, so he designed and printed his own D-sub connector and bought loose contacts. Pushing the contacts into the housing turned out to be quite difficult to do without breaking them, so he’s working on making that process simpler. This is just one of many examples of 3D printing 3D printer upgrades, which has been a core feature of the RepRap project right from the beginning. Check out the video after the break

We have no shortage of 3D printer hacks and there will be many more to come. Some cool recent ones includes the Jubilee CNC that was built from the start with automatic tool changing in mind, and a printer that fits in your backpack.

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jepler
16 hours ago
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why didn't I think of that!
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Microsoft is About To Start Aggressively Advertising Windows 10 To Windows 7 Stragglers

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Mark Wycislik-Wilson, writing for BetaNews: Having already started to notify Windows 7 hangers on that support is due to come to an end, Microsoft is now ready to get a little more aggressive. If you haven't moved on from Windows 7, soon you will see full-screen notifications warning you that "your Windows 7 PC is out of support." The messages are due to be displayed from the day after support ends. So when January 15 rolls around, anyone who has doggedly stuck with Windows 7 will find that they not only have no support and no security updates, but also that they are pestered by an invasive message delivered by a program called EOSnotify.exe.
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jepler
1 day ago
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no security updates, but a new invasive ad channel ... hm
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Mini Sander Box

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Bruno Costa shared on Thingiverse:

Mini Sander Box

Mini Sander Box for 18650 batteries and bms. I use in sander, but you can use in another thing. Size: 119.9mm x 89.8mm x 31mm. Super rigid with 3.1mm Wall thickness


649-1
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!

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jepler
1 day ago
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wait, a mini sander is a thing?
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Sony Announces Plan To Publish PlayStation Games On Non-PS Consoles

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Sony has announced plans to launch PlayStation games on "additional console platforms beyond PlayStation platforms as early as 2021." The first announced series for the change is Sony's long-running baseball sim series MLB The Show. Ars Technica reports: The gazillion-dollar question, of course, is which other console platforms we might expect the series to launch on. Neither Sony nor MLB had any answers to that question as of press time. Sony also didn't hint to doing the same thing for any other current PlayStation-exclusive series. Since the series began life in 1998 on PlayStation 1, simply titled MLB '98, Sony's baseball games have launched exclusively on PlayStation platforms -- and, in fact, they've launched on every PlayStation-branded device. While other multi-platform baseball sim series have fallen by the wayside in the years since, most recently 2K Sports' MLB 2K13, Sony's PlayStation-exclusive take on the American pastime has persisted as an annual release.

"Sony" at large has published games on non-PlayStation consoles in recent years, mostly in the form of Sony Music Entertainment's UNTIES entertainment publishing group. But those games are rarely marked with "Sony" or "PlayStation" branding, let alone temporary exclusivity on PlayStation platforms. Today's news marks the first time a series from Sony Interactive Entertainment with loud ties to the PlayStation brand has been announced for other competing consoles.
There are still way more questions than answers: "Might Sony go so far as to launch MLB The Show on Xbox, thus creating a tangled love triangle of who publishes on whose consoles? Or will this become a bizarre move on Sony's part to support Google Stadia, even though Sony has its own complicated sometimes-streaming subscription service? And either way, how far might Sony and the MLB milk this cloud of mystery, assuming that 'as early as 2021' could mean one, two, or even 4,000 years later?"
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jepler
2 days ago
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Trying to figure out how Sony benefits from this announcement. Just being ahead of an inevitable leak?
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tingham
2 days ago
Fits right in with their low-key next-gen release marketing so far, I think
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