November 6, 2013

Does Bacon Really Make Everything Better? Here's The Math

Okay, maybe bacon isn't a "miracle food", but bacon bits are the fairy dust of the food community.

November 3, 2013

Out With the Old Fitbit, In With the New Fitbit

My old Fitbit, which I think they call the Fitbit Classic, but looks like the Fitbit Ultra, started being problematic at least 6 months ago. Even though it had a full charge, it would randomly and suddenly not track steps and I would have to plug it back into the charger to have it work again. Once or twice I even had to press a button on the charger to get the Fitbit to "reset" itself. Then, starting in September, the Fitbit would constantly not track steps, even though plugging it into the charger would show that the Fitbit was charged. It was becoming annoying. Plus, the holster for the Fitbit had chipped off a bit a few months before hand and had a sharp edge. It was time for a new Fitbit.

A friend of mine has the Fitbit Flex, but as I already wear a watch, I really didn't want to wear more than one thing on my wrist. I could have gone with the Fitbit Zip, but was more inclined to go with the Fitbit One, as it would also track the number of stairs that I take. The sleep tracking capability really isn't important to me. I used it once on the old Fitbit, but trying to wear something on my wrist as I sleep is too annoying.

The Fitbit One has some improvements over the Fitbit Classic that I like - the charger is a shorter dongle that is much easier to pack than the old one. The holster is more of a soft rubber sort of material - similar to the OtterBox I used on my old Samsung Droid Charge phone. It can be a bit challenging to get the Fitbit completely in there at times and I wonder if the holster will become very loose to where it does not hold the Fitbit as well as it does now. Removing and reinstalling the OtterBox on my phone caused it to become looser. So far, after a month of use, I have not seen that problem.

The Fitbit One is supposed to sync via the Fitbit app for various Android phones. I haven't gotten it to work yet on my Moto X or Nexus 7, but another page (which is not easy to find) listed a problem with the Bluetooth drivers on Motorola devices and that a bug was submitted for Nexus devices. I hope this gets remedied soon, as it will be nice to sync my steps if I am away from my computer for days at a time.

November 2, 2013

A Look Back - eWEEK's Look at Turbo Pascal and BASIC

eWeek did a look back at Turbo Pascal and BASIC from 30 years ago.

It sure brings back memories for me - working with GW BASIC on the DOS side of things (as well as having played with BASIC on the Apple II and Atari 800). I started with Pascal on an Apple III, which was painfully slow when it came to compiling. I eventually got Borland's Turbo Pascal for my home DOS computer and wrote numerous little programs for it.

August 22, 2013

Experiencing the Nissan Leaf

I was given the opportunity to use the Nissan Leaf that is in my employer's car fleet for some travel that I have to do tomorrow.  Curious as to how it would drive compared to a Toyota Prius that is also in the fleet, I went ahead and got a quick training on using it and drove it from where the fleet cars are located to the electrical charging station that we have - a short drive that is maybe a tenth of a mile.

Instead of a key, the fob that also locks and unlocks the car doors is used.  Unlike the Prius, where the fob is inserted into an ignition like you would insert a key, the fob just needs to be nearby (in my case, in one of the drink holders) and then press start.

I'm not too crazy about shifting into reverse, drive, the "eco" mode, and back to park.  Instead of a normal stick, it's more like a flattened knob that you shift to the left and then up or down, depending on what you wanted to do, which then went back into it's original position.  Setting park consists of pushing a button.  The emergency break is a small latch instead of a lever that I am used to in other cars.

Otherwise, it felt like a normal drive.  I'll have to see how I feel about it after a 6 mile round trip tomorrow.

July 12, 2013

A Sudden Drop in Available Hard Drive Space

My Gentoo Linux desktop suddenly went from the usual 138 GB or so of free space to about 65 MB. As I had not downloaded any large files recently to explain such a big loss, I went about hunting for the culprit. A usage of du -sh in various folders eventually found that a Plex log file in "/var/lib/plexmediaserver/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Logs" was taking up all of that space. Apparently some Plex users found this issue with version, but I was experiencing it with as well and that it caused some heavy CPU usage as well. I upgraded to using the megacoffee overlay, but I am unable to connect to Plex/Web, even after re-starting Plex. I'll have to see if a reboot of the computer fixes that and if the upgrade fixed this problem.

May 13, 2013


ShaoLan Hsueh describes the basics of Chineasy in the following TED presentation:
It reminds me of similar methods used for learning Japanese, though this one does seem a lot easier. On occasion, the Sinfest comic will feature a strip that slowly transforms people and/or objects into a word as well as a method to learn to read a foreign language.

March 10, 2013

Shamrock Shake Ice Cream Recipe

Shamrock Shake Ice Cream


An attempt to make an ice cream version of McDonald's Shamrock Shake. Recipe is for a 2 quart ice cream maker.

Prep time:

Ice cream maker time:

Total time:

Yield: About fourteen 1/2 cup servings

Serving size: 1/2 cup
Calories per serving: 255
Fat per serving: 20g

Whole milk:
1 1/2 cups

Granulated sugar:
1 1/8 cups

Heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized):
3 cups

Pure vanilla extract:
1 1/2 tablespoons

Mint extract (not peppermint extract):
1 teaspoon

Green food coloring:
16 drops


You can substitute a lower fat milk instead of using whole milk and half and half for the heavy cream. The cream/half and half should not be ultra-pasteurized. Remove the green food coloring if you do not want the ice cream to be green in color like the Shamrock Shake.

In a mixing bowl, combine the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, vanilla, mint, and green food coloring. Place into your ice cream maker for 25 minutes (times for your ice cream maker may vary). Once complete, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place into the freezer.

The mint may seem a bit strong for the ice cream that comes from the bottom of the ice cream maker, but mellows out as you get further into the ice cream.