Soylent 1.4 Review

So, I decided to take the plunge and order Soylent 1.4. This is my review of it.

First, some interesting background. Anyone who has watched the movie Soylent Green is probably thinking the obvious thought right now. Fortunately, Soylent shares nothing in common with the fictional ‘food’ beyond its name. It’s not a wafer, it’s not green, and above all, it’s not made of people. 🙂 Instead, it’s made of a mix of oils, carbs, and proteins, with vitamins and minerals added, designed to be a well-balanced nutritional shake that is designed to stand in as food. It is a creamy-white color liquid with a consistency of a smoothie, with a vaguely flour like smell and a taste that is quite distinctive. The makers claim you can survive on nothing but this without health issues. Whether or not this is true is beyond my level of skill analyzing, but I can tell you, anyone who eats this stuff will quickly appreciate real food in their diet simply because of the taste.

Soylent was made by software developers as a side project to a software project they were working on. Frustrated by how much effort it took to make the food, and the cost of poor-quality food, both on the pocketbook and at the doctor’s office, these developers sat down to design the perfect food, and have been refining their formula ever sense. As they are software developers, it is no surprise that they refer to their updated formulae using version numbers, and Soylent has seen four revisions since it ‘went live’ at version 1.0. Earlier versions of the shake had some…issues, including what has been called the ‘horse-killing fart’, which you can imagine is rather disturbing. This problem took two revisions to solve, and all but disappeared in version 1.3. However, I got in at 1.4, after they solved their supply problems. That will be the version I review.

Ordering Soylent is remarkably easy. Head over to Soylent.me, place your order, cough up to $300, and then wait. It used to be that that wait was a multi-month affair, but Soylent seems to have fixed their ordering problems, and what was a month-long wait is now a week long wait, and within the week, we had four boxes of brand-new soylent mix. The items were shipped to us in a giant, heavy box, so that may be an issue for you, but once the box was opened, a stack of smaller boxes, each with a week’s supply of 7 bags of Soylent, plus a box containing measuring implements, ended up stacked in our kitchen. A relatively painless process, costing about as much as you’d pay for a month of food, ready to be mixed with water. And this leads to the next part, preparation.

To prepare Soylent is as simple as emptying a bag of the stuff into the stylized pitcher, adding enough water to fill it to the top, and then shaking it up real good. This is a drawn out process and an excellent arm workout. Alternatively, you can just pour the stuff in your handy blender and then add water, and let the mains do all the work. End result? A beige concoction that smells strongly of flour. Previous versions of Soylent depended on a vial of liquid oil to add the necessary lipids for a balanced diet, but they managed to package the oil in the powder this time, eliminating the need to have both a powder and an oil vial. This vastly simplifies the process of making the Soylent, especially if you are making sub-day portions.

Now that we’ve talked about ordering and making the stuff, let’s talk eating the stuff. The first time I made the Soylent, I did so exactly by the instructions. What I got was a barely tolerable concoction that had a strong taste going down, and left a strong after-taste. I’d describe it as oily and pungeant, and others have pointed to the sunflower oil as the culprit. Initially, it has a gritty taste, but as the oils dissolve into the drink, the grit is replaced by an oily aftertaste. Regardless, you need a nice bottle of water handy.

So, I quickly hit the internet to find out what other people were doing. The answer seems to be the peanut butter or banana smoothie — add in PB or Bananas and blend the stuff together. This makes the Soylent lose much of its taste, and be easier on the aftertaste as well. Peanut butter seems to work well for this, so that’s what I’ve been using.

Soylent has been a good replacement for the unhealthy quick food that plagues the American diet. It gives decent levels in Vitamins and Minerals that are hard to get in most diets. It is not perfect (obviously, the perfect diet is a well balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other wholesome foods), but for someone who can’t afford the time to fix his own meals, this is a better replacement than McDonalds. I’ve noticed my energy levels to be healthier than eating out, and while it’s too early to know what this stuff’s health impact is, I have noticed a slow decrease in weight. Where 1000 calories of SlimFast left me a wastrel by the end of the workday, 1000 calories Soylent leaves me feeling energized. Instead of binging a 1000 to 1500 calorie dinner, I feel much better on 600 to 900 calories of dinner on Soylent. I don’t feel dead at the end of the day, which is good.

I’ll update as I can.

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Technology and Asshattery, Disrespect of a Different Sort

Late last week, rumblings began on the Internet of an issue that would explode within a week into a massive shit-storm of epic proportions. What is it? A piece of scumware installed on Lenovo computers that not only annoys you with ads in every place, but does so by installing a certificate that allows for Man in the Middle Attacks. If you have a Lenovo computer, you might just want to either take it back or blow away its OS for something clean.

I’ve mentioned a few things about respect and the lack there-of. But this takes the cake. Because they want to inject ads _everywhere_, including into your HTTPS traffic, they have poked a massive hole into your security framework and exposed you to scummy jerks out there who want your HTTPS traffic for lots more than just shoving ads in your face. Lenovo has put all of their customers in jeopardy, forcing them to either spend money to undo the damage or risk exposing themselves to threats on the web. And for what? To shove a crappy ad in your face? Lenovo saved how much on the cost of their laptops for this shit?

Once again, we get screwed by utter disdain for each other.

DLC and games

Kotaku has an interesting article on DLC and how it’s a hated aspect of modern gaming. That spurred some interesting thoughts on DLC in my own mind.

DLC for those not familiar with the term is ‘DownLoadable Content”. DLC happens when you buy a game, and find that something that’s part of the game has its own charge. Gamers tend to rile against this, with terms like ‘pay to win’. It’s most common with Free to Play games — you can play the base game for free, but if you want the best gear, you either grind for hours upon hours, or you drop cash and play immediately.

Recently, Star Trek Online has been in the crosshairs for F2P/P2W shenanigans. A pack of 3 ships, for instance, can cost upwards of $60. On one hand, I don’t mind subsidizing a game’s price with DLC. A new ship breathes new life into a game I might put down, and new ships are new strategies and new things to learn about. But ship design takes effort, and it will cost money that might not have been spent if the ship was just added free to the game. On the other, $60 is a new boxed game. I should be getting a whole new game, clean out of the box, with whole new stories, for my $60, in addition to a set of shiny new Command Cruisers.

Scale? What’s that?

DLC doesn’t kill a game. Ridiculous DLC. That is what kills a game. And given how the PVE queues struggle to put together a single team for the vast majority of queues? STO is suffering that fate. Sad for a game that I paid for a Lifetime Sub to…

Reputation Management

Reputation Management is the process of manipulating social media systems to present yourself or your product in a different light. For most of us, Reputation Management is as simple as climbing through the internet and deleting previous posts you’ve made and cleaning up your online image. For developers, however, it extends to the products you make. Here’s one example of how Chinese developers are manipulating the app market.

So, next time you see a program that’s 5 star 1 million download good, yet when you install it, it’s craptapolistic, well, now you know how such a crappy app got such a good review and download count.

Ignorant Gits And Pedestrians: A Solution For Our Ongoing Car-On-Pedestrian Violence

Another day, another pedestrian being run over in the city of Denver. Again, the perp decides she’s gonna run from the consequences of her actions, forgetting that in today’s world, it’s all to easy to catch her.

As a pedestrian and bicyclist, this of course worries me. Getting hit while on a bicycle is a real problem, and I’ve had assholes cut me off, blow stop signs, and so on. So, I see this article this morning, before they caught her, and I’m like, “here we go again.” Then the article is updated as the perp got caught.

Vehicular Homicide (the hit victim died).
Leaving the scene of an accident.

All things she must answer for. If it’s proven she did leave the scene of an accident, I’d love to see this punishment enacted, and enacted against anyone who hits someone then flees. Here’s to her, standing on the corner of Colefax Avenue and Fox Street, holding up a sign that reads, “Hi. I’m the assholish git that hit someone at this intersection and then fled the consequences of their action. Don’t leave the scene of an accident, because if you do, you’ll be the next assholish git holding this sign.” Let’s bring on the public humiliation for this…see if that stops it.

Subjecting myself to a stupid video, so you don’t have to.

Hi, everyone. How about a little analysis of this video.

First, what is it? It’s a piece of work done by a wireless consortium representing the likes of AT&T and Verizon to cloud up the issue about the recently released proposal to leverage Title II to undo some bad behavior by wireless companies.

Let’s examine the claims point by point.

Point 1: Next Gen Networks are ‘Totally at risk.’ 

At risk, how? The video never goes into details. The claim is made, and not substantiated, that the wireless providers would just walk away from their 4G infrastructure and investments in wireless spectrum. No details are given on how, or even why, such a thing would happen. We, here in the IT industry, have a phrase and acronym for this. Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. FUD. Microsoft is old hat at FUD, and I’ve grown very adept at recognizing it. FUD on, guys. FUD on.

Point 2: You’ll pay more in taxes. 

72 dollars more, according to the suave announcer. And note they’ve got a black lady to talk to. And she’s TOTALLY not a paid shill…I mean, she didn’t have a shocked look before he told her. But what? What’s this? Is this a lie? Why, yes it is. In fact, the FCC has clearly stated that no new taxes will be required, due to a law exempting internet service from taxation.

Point 3: Free access to music/other data is going away.

Hmm. So if I don’t pay anything, I can connect to my favorite music service? No, I have to buy an internet plan? Here’s what the shill video didn’t tell you. T-Mobile (the best of the bunch) gives you 5GBs of data every month for your monthly service plan. Most sources of data consume that bit bucket, and when it’s all gone, your service is degraded to dialup speeds. However, a few ‘preferred partners’ can deliver you data that doesn’t count against that cap. It’s not getting free data. It’s being exempted from a restriction on your paid use of your service.

AT&T and Verizon are worse in this regard. They give you less data (1 to 2GB) and instead of limiting your speed charge you extra for overages.

Title II will eliminate this ‘perk’, by stating that all data must be treated equal. 5GB is 5GB, and 20Mbps is 20Mbps. You can’t exempt services you like (your services, services that pay you extra) from the limits, which is equivalent to imposing onerous limits on services you don’t like (say, Hulu or Netflix…).

CTIA supports an open internet.

They do? Then they should support net neutrality, which states that, to an ISP, data is data, and you can use your bits the way you want to. If they give you a 5GB bucket every month, then let you use that 5GB any way you want — to listen to your choice of music provider, watch your choice of video, download your choice of data, and use your preferred connection method to the internet (this means, use your phone as a gateway for your laptop if you so choose). But they don’t support this. What they support is an Orwellian turn on ‘Open Internet’, if you will, a ‘Free Internet’, where they are free to suck you for your last penny, force you into services of their choosing, and pick winners in the internet that support their goals. Title II is a threat to that vision, so they’ll throw out FUD, and outright lies, to stop it.

HoloLens, what Google Glass SHOULD have been…

So, recently, Microsoft unveiled a whole slew of new technologies. Windows 10 was there, as expected. So were Spartan (a web browser to replace Internet Explorer) and Cortana, which was to be integrated heavily with Spartan (Microsoft, I see what you did there….). There was also talk about XBox Live integration into Windows 10, which I am surprised took this long. But the thing that had people stop and go ‘Woah!’ was Microsoft’s entry into the Augmented Reality battle.

HoloLens. It’s a set of over-sized shades, including enough computer smarts to drive an Augmented Reality interface built into the shades. You can see a full augmented reality view, theoretically across your field of view, with the AR glasses also letting you see the world easily. The glasses look like something you would expect to be north of $500 (unlike Google Glass which does not show its $1500 price tag _at all_). The feature set has left the handful of people to actually demo the things awestruck, and phrases like “We live in the fucking future!” get bandied around quite easily around this thing.

We do live on the cusp of the future. The year 2000 was supposed to be the beginning of the future age, and yet, it just felt like 1999 and 2001 after it (at least before September of 2001). But thanks to serious advances in computer technology from the early 2000s to now, we’re packing computers in our pockets that make the machines we used a short 15 years ago look positively primitive — I was using a dual Celeron 450 system when Y2K passed, which was the typical desktop system including large white tower. Today, 2048GB of RAM, 16GB of ‘Hard Drive’ (plus a 32GB ‘CDROM’) and a full 1080p AMOLED display lives in a device that sits in my pocket. And thanks to that device and the technology it made possible, Microsoft has designed a true Augmented Reality, Wearable Virtual Interface.

Google? What Microsoft wants this to be is what Glass should have been. Specifically, Glass should NOT have been a $1500 (at least 3x to expensive, if not more!) tiny viewscreen with an obtrusive camera slapped on the side, and not enough battery to run any of it for a decent amount of time. We’ll see if HoloLens lives up to the hype, but for now? Google, you should be on your way back to the drawing board, or at least on your way to Washington to negotiate licensing with Microsoft to borrow their patents.