Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guess the serving size

I noticed the following informative label on a bottle of vegetable oil I recently purchased:
I imagine that Stop & Shop's marketing team has enforced plastering of similar nutritional information on all products, but this one in particular probably could have left off some details. See if you can figure out the serving size:
On the other hand, it does allow us to calculate the mass energy density: 35.86 megajoules/kg. For what it's worth, gasoline has a mass energy density of 47.3 megajoules/kg, so you can figure out how far a car will go with it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Google Revives Frames, Hogs Screen

Google has recently been overhauling the look of the user interface across many of its products, like Gmail, Google Docs and Blogger. While some of these changes might be good, they all seem to have one markedly un-Google side effect - wasted screen space.

The old Google left no pixel un-turned in their zealos march to higher screen utilization. They innovated ways that seemed impossible, like saving 5-10 pixels of space by doing away with the historic windows bar that all old-fashioned programs have at the top of each window. They shaved a few pixels more with extra-thin scroll bars and other tricks that worked so well they soon became industry standard. All of those efforts are wasted by the new user interface designs.

As an example, see my screenshot of Google books below.
Notice that the actual page of the book is about 1/4 the total available screen area, while the description of the book gets a little more than 1/8 of the screen. You can set the page to "full screen" but even then half the screen is still wasted by all that vertical whitespace. What is really preventing you from increasing the amount of screen you can use is a trick from the old days of the web, called Frames.

Without too much trouble, I demonstrated with a geometric proof that there is far more blank whitespace on the screen, than there is actual book. Honestly I think it is nothing less than tragic for this to happen on what used to be the screen-saving hero of the Internet.

If enough people send in their complaints, Google will listen! Please send feedback saying that you want your screen space back again!

To give your feedback about Gmail 
  1. Login, click the gear in the upper right corner
  2. Select "Report a bug"
  3. Highlight some unnecessary whitespace
  4. Preview -> submit
To give feedback about Google Books:

See my feedback below:
Google books has recently implemented Frames with wide wide vertical margins in the Google books page. This is a huge problem because frames are confusing to navigate and they hog precious screen space.
Please revert back to using modern designs rather than frames, that horrible monster slayed towards the end of the wild-west days of the internet.
Know any other ways to give feedback? Post in comments.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Authentic blog post: Insect edition

I believe I have found the most disgusting candy ever:
I would like to point out a few things. First of all - WORM! Second of all, WORM! Third of all, this candy has a genuine worm, but artificial flavor. Priorities, right?
In fact, check out the complete ingredient list:
In case you can't read it: Malitol syrup, Insect Larva, natural and artificial flavoring. That's right, INSECT LARVA! What's next, crunchy frog?!? Here's a closeup of the "insect larva:"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Authentic blog post

I recently came across this package of guacamole which is made with an authentic recipe. I suppose that means they don't make it up as they go along like my recipes; they have an authentic recipe.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Awesome Foundation

I have recently become a trustee of The Awesome Foundation, Boston Chapter. See the introductory post and a very old photo of me here. See recent news about it from NPR's Marketplace segment here.

From our website:

The Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences is an ever-growing, worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe.
Created in the long hot summer days of 2009 in Boston, the Foundation distributes a series of monthly $1,000 grants to projects and their creators. The money is given upfront in cash, check, or gold doubloons by groups of ten or so self-organizing “micro-trustees,” who form autonomous chapters around geographic areas or topics of interest.
The Foundation provides these grants with no strings attached and claims no ownership over the projects it supports. It is, in the words of one of our trustees, a micro-genius grant for flashes of micro-brilliance.
Since its humble beginnings, many Awesome Foundation chapters have sprung up globally to conserve, sustain, and support the worldwide ecosystem of awesomeness. Projects have included efforts in a wide range of areas including technology, arts, social good, and beyond.

Any Ideas folks? Send them over! (cc me).

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Austin is Weird

Austin is a weird city. On one hand, it's the capital of Texas, which is a pretty weird state. These were two random houses we saw:
I can't imagine anyone in New Jersey flying its state flag (without trying to be ironic), yet this seems to be pretty standard fare in Texas.

On the other hand, it seems to be the hipster capital of Texas, too. Austin is also the home of the Whole Foods mothership:
Inside, they had these really cool electronic price stickers on the shelves which I assume lets them adjust the pricing on a shorter time frame than most grocery stores.
There were also some pretty funny signs and garbage can options outside:

This is one particularly cool-looking building I noticed:

Finally, Austin's famed bar/music scene starts quite late:

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Verizon Change address Hidden Fee

When changing your address with Verizon high speed internet, they will tell you there is no charge. What they don't tell you, is that there is a $110 hidden fee for the technician to come out to your apartment and do "wiring" even if the previous tenants of your apartment had Verizon.
To put the $110 in perspective, my monthly charge was only about $20 so this one charge was worth almost 6 months of internet. I called them as an irate customer and they said the charge was "valid" because the technician came by, no matter what they told me on the phone. When I insisted, spoke to a supervisor, and  threatened to blog -> they were able to lower the charge by $20. I told them that this wasn't enough to stop me from blogging, but I would mention this courtesy in my post.
And now to complete this post with some more internet Verizon stories:

from imur/reddit and from xkcd below:

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Smoked Turkey

Last Thursday, for Thanksgiving, in addition to the regular roasted turkey, I decided to do something different and smoke a turkey. You may recall that last January, Aryeh and I built a cold smoker. The smoker can also be operated in hot smoker mode by putting the hotplate inside the main chamber.

After a quick surface blowtorch treatment as a special precaution (to instantly kill any salmonellas which may have been hanging out), I loaded the turkey into the crate and got it all smoked up:

Nearly 10 hours later, after a quick trip under the broiler to finish, the turkey was done.