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:"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


In the mode of Yoni's post from earlier this week, I will post a couple of random things.
 The contraption on the right used to fill that nook.  It was placed there about five and a half years ago.  I had honestly forgotten what was behind it.
You know its time to buy new sneakers when you go finger spelunking in your footwear when bored.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fire, RV, Sierra Nevada, Snow

This post is just about a few old photos
From my family's great California RV trip (long exposure photo where I blew on the coals).

From the parking lot where I work last winter. Lets hope we get that much snow again!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Aryeh Doesn't Cook: Blue Fin Tuna Sashimi

This isn't really an Aryeh Cooks post, mainly because if it was I would have mobs of angry Japanese with pitchforks trying to kill me for cooking Sashimi grade Bluefin Tuna.  Some friends of mine told me that they where planning on going to a Japanese food mart called Mitsuwa where a few times a year they bring in a whole tuna.  In this case a 600 pound Tuna.
You can really get a feel for the size of this fish from the pieces on the board.
This is my friend Ayaka with the head and tail of the fish, you can see how big the head of the fish is in comparison to her.
And finally the piece of fish I got.
Just look at that color.
Thin slice, consumed raw.  Up to this point I have never actually eaten raw fish, so I have gone from nothing to a ton in no time flat.  As it turns out I am not a huge fan, but the texture of the fresh fish is literally melt in the mouth.  So for all of you Sushi lovers, go drool, for all you others, you can do whatever you like.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Multipurpose spoons

In the JetBlue terminal at JFK, they had amazing spoons:
I'm not sure what makes them "multipurpose" since they basically looked like normal plastic spoons:
Notice that the knives, however, are not multipurpose. So, maybe you are only allowed to use the knives for cutting, but you can use the spoons for stirring tea (or coffee!), eating soup (or chili), launching peas (or grapes), as guitar (or banjo) picks, backscratcher...

This was my first time flying JetBlue, and I must say: They have the most amazing planes:
0 mph, parked at the gate, and yet the plane was still at 5 feet of altitude! More incredible, though, was our plane back from Texas:
It reached 420ft while parked at the gate! If they have worked out the secret to antigravity hovering planes, no wonder they can afford to provide multipurpose spoons instead of those cheap single-purpose ones the other airlines have.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Combustion Man

This semester I am taking a class called Combustion.  It is a fascinating class that I am very much enjoying, however I seem to have a problem with writing my name on thing for the class.  This is what I found when I had my midterm returned to me.
I did it completely by accident, I guess I was so focused on the subject matter.  I also have a habit of not writing my name on the weekly quizzes we get in class.  When a recent quiz was returned to me my professor wrote in my name as such.
There are only four people in the class so its not difficult to figure out who didn't put there name on something.  Last Friday I remembered to put my name on the quiz (although I remembered just before I was handing it in).  I wrote "Mr. Combustion Man."  I think I am not going to write my actual name on anything more for the class except maybe the final project (but I will probably add, AKA: Mr. Combustion Man).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Biochemies DNA Molecule Plush Dolls

A friend of mine from KGI invented some cool magnetic DNA plush dolls. There are little magnets inside which are arranged so that they only fit together when you arrange them the correct way.

She started a "Kickstarter" to actually manufacture them - which I hereby endorse! Note that my plushies will go directly to Moshe.

See, and support the kickstarter campaign here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Conference and a paper

Last week I attended the OSA Renewable Energy and the Environment conference in Austin, TX to give a talk. It was a good conference, and the weather was a pleasant change from the wacky power-outage inducing snowstorm which hit NJ just before we left. I have a couple of things to blog from the trip, but that will happen over the next few weeks.

Additionally, I just had a paper accepted to the Journal of the Optical Society of America B. It's currently listed on the Early Posting page on their site, and the full paper can be found on my website.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Four years ago I committed a single act of graffiti in the Rutgers Engineering building.  In pencil I wrote a message on the top of a display case.
As is clear from this picture it is still there.  For those of you who need glasses.
Help I am Stuck in A Display Case.

The thing I find surprising is that no one has let the poor guy out of the display case.  Also, if he was inside the case how did he write on the outside, I guess only those of you who read this will know.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Why Are People No Longer Interested In Amazing Things Around Them?

I was walking to class today when I noticed something totally fascinating.
This is cool and beautiful.  A melding of nature and man made.  The water is flowing on the inside of the drain pipe and when it turns the corner is doesn't separate from the pipe it sticks with it until it reaches the end and then arcs out into the air.  I decided this was so cool that I would take some pictures of it.  While I stopped to take out my camera and take the pictures a number of people walked passed without even stopping to see what I was looking out.  Are people so jaded in the world after all the 3D special effects in movies that they can't see incredible beauty in their day to day lives?

Wherever you go look around you, there will be something to marvel at, don't miss it!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Single digit license plate

I passed a cab the other day with a single digit license plate.

Is this the second car in Massachusetts?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Extra wheels

Check out this "Magic Sliders" package:
Note the trademarked "Slide everything as if it had wheels" slogan. And be sure to note their demonstrated application on the bottom right corner.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pretty in Pink: The Lost Track

I listen to Pandora all the time.  My main channel is called Lumps Random Radio, it contains an eclectic mix of styles.  From Classical to Heavy Metal, from New Age to Electronic, from Game and Movie Soundtracks to Celtic Music and everything in between including blends (there are some genres of music I do not listen to such as Rap and R&B and a few others but not many).  Yesterday I happened to notice the ads that where showing in my Pandora window.
For those of you who don't feel like opening the image.
The song playing is Hit The Lights by Metallica on the album Kill 'Em All.  Next to this are ads for Feeding your craving for CUTENESS (with an incredibly pink dress) and for Free Knitting Patterns and JUST FABULOUS high heel shoes.  Now ignoring the fact that I am male, the juxtaposition of these kinds of ads with a Metallica song is just bad programing for associating ads with music.  My mother noted a similar poor juxtaposition of song and ad in her post Bluegrass and Tony Bennett?

As a side note I am in fact listening to Pandora right now and since I started this post I have had a song from The Lord of The Rings soundtrack, a Celtic piece by the McDades, A track from the recent Star Trek sountrack, and trance songs from Thomas Newman, Sophie Sugar on an Armin Van Buuren album, and a remix of a song by Paul Van Dyk.  My channel is on a trancy trend at the moment. 

If anyone is interested in listening to my channel I am more than happy to share it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Credit Card Image Designs

I have previously attempted to make a controversial credit card design ... only to have it rejected. I have tried once again:

For every $1 spent ¢3 will be donated
to the Gilbert- Syndrome Foundation.
That particular disease has no harmful symptoms at all (but there is a decreased risk for heart disease!) Unfortunately this image was initially rejected ...

Capital One® what’s in your wallet?

Sorry, we were unable to approve the image you submitted
Sorry the image you submitted for your Capital One® Image CardSM has been rejected. We will not approve any images that contain the following: 
Commercial solicitation or promotional material 
If you believe that you have been declined in error, please call us at 1-866-381-0451. 
This is an automated message.
I called them though and now have an appeal in progress ...

In case this fails I may try to make a meme-based credit card image ... any ideas?