Archive for July 2008

“The Mojave Experiment”: Bad Science, Bad Marketing

Great essay by Wil Shipley. Hilarious.

Hi-Ball Caffeinated Mineral Water is Nice

A couple of weeks ago, I ditched coffee. I was generally a one-iced-mocha-in-the-morning guy with the occasional refresher towards the end of the day.

Bad.

Coffee as part of a routine is kind of like cigarettes as part of a routine. It’s not exactly good for you, and once you’re used to it, you need it just to feel “normal”.

Quitting coffee, however, doesn’t mean I never want an occasional dose of caffeine. There are all sorts of alternatives out there like Red Bull, Jolt, hot tea, or iced tea, but I think I found my favorite:

Hi-Ball Sparkling Energy Water

Hi-Ball tastes like San Pellegrino or Perrier, is available in plain or lightly flavored, and contains no sugar, sucralose, or other sweeteners. Its caffeine comes naturally from guarana berries and it also contains 120% of your daily B vitamins (whatever those do).

So if you’re looking for a reasonably harmless caffeinated drink to try, see if you can find Hi-Ball at your local store. Most places around Seattle don’t have it but I’ve found a few that do.

2008 Typophile Tee Battle

Some great tee-shirt entries here.

Essential WordPress plugins

A good list of WP plug-ins, including mine!

When Your Neighbor Builds a Jackass Home

While out on the lake this weekend, I came across this sign:

So nice. I love how the neighbors not only call out the homeowner but the architect as well. Wrecking a neighborhood is a team process.

Here’s a shot of the offending house. It’s tough to tell how overbearing the concrete wall is from a straight-on angle, but it’s pretty awful:

UPDATE: Below is a better (worse) shot of the prison wall –

In a line about 50 deep for roasted corn. Am glad there are people who share my lust for the golden ear.
Neighbor below me is drunk. How do I know? He is playing Dionne Warwick full blast with all windows open.

The Growing Sucralose Infestation

Whatever happened to the good old days when you could glance quickly through the beverage aisle and tell the diet beverages from the good beverages? We’ve had such a great system for so long: if it says “diet” or “sugar free” it’s DIET, and if it doesn’t, it has some form of super tasty sugar derivative in it, whether it be cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or something else awesome.

I used to be so good at telling the two drinks apart.

Lately, however, I’ve found myself repeatedly hoodwinked by the chemically synthesized impostor known as sucralose… or “Splenda”, its Christian name. The substance is 600 times sweeter than table sugar, and although it’s not as bad as saccharin, aspartame, or any other past cancer-powder, it’s still not sugar, and it still tastes like crap.

As such, I humbly request of beverage companies that you please quit trying to be sly about these DIET drinks and label them just as previous DIET drinks were labeled: with the letters D.I.E.T.

When I see those letters, I know that purchase of the beverage in question will result in palate-shriveling aftertaste and lack of drinking satisfaction. When I see those letters, I know to move right along.

Instead, however, these sucralose-tainted drinks often use small, subtle terms like “lower sugar”, “lower calorie”, and sometimes no marquee labeling at all. This is confusing as there are plenty of legitimate “lower sugar” drinks on the market that simply removed some of the sugar (see Paul Newman’s Lightly Sweetened Lemonade). Often times, you need to read the entire label to know the difference. And to make matters worse, a lot of these drinks contain sugar near the top of the ingredient list and sucralose near the end… so it’s not even sufficient to just “look for the sugar” anymore.

“Noni Berry” for metabolism and “Goji Punch” for immunity. Can you tell which one is the diet one?

To be clear, I have nothing against sucralose itself. It could very well be the best artificial sweetener ever invented. I just resent that marketers, by not clearly labeling it, have blurred the representation of what is and what isn’t a diet drink; and as a front-line soldier in the weekly quest to discover and sample new beverages, I’m just sick of getting hit by all this repackaged, remarketed diet shrapnel.

UPDATE: Literally the very nanosecond I pressed the Publish button just now, a Splenda television commercial came on. It’s everywhere.

Big ideas are in the air

Great Malcolm Gladwell article about about the origins of scientific vs. artistic invention, using Nathan Myhrvold's firm as a case study.

I swear, 9 out of every 10 real estate agents might as well just be Saturn dealers. Rare is the agent who is worth anything close to 3%.
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How to travel around the world for a year:

Great advice for when you finally find the time.

LiveSurface:

A fantastic app for prototyping your design work onto real world objects like billboards, book covers, and coffee cups. This seems like just as great of a tool for people learning design as it does for experts.

50 problems in 50 days:

One man’s attempt to solve 50 problems in 50 days using only great design. Some good startup ideas in here…

How to Do Philosophy:

If you’ve ever suspected that most classical philosophy is a colossal waste of time, Paul Graham tells you why you’re probably right.

TIME: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Stephen Brill follows the money to uncover the pinnacle of corruption that is the U.S. Health Care system. A must-read article if there ever was one.

DIY Dot Org:

A beautifully designed site full of fun and challenging DIY projects. I could spend months on here.

The Steve Jobs Video Archive:

A collection of over 250 Steve Jobs videos in biographical order

Self-portraits from an artist under the influence of 48 different psychoactive drug combos.

Water Wigs are pretty amazing.

David Pogue proposes to his girlfriend by creating a fake movie trailer about them and then getting a theater to play it before a real movie. Beautiful and totally awesome.

Jonah Peretti's letter to BuzzFeed’s employees:

If you’re wondering what a excellent blueprint for a modern media company looks like, look no further than Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti’s latest email to his employees. In it, Peretti explains a lot of his company’s virtues, the most important being a relentless focus on always providing what’s best for the user. Vox Media (operators of The Verge) is the only other company I can think of which approaches this level of reform and execution.

The Covers Project:

I love this so much: a cross-referenceable database of cover songs, searchable by song or artist. Slowed down, acoustic covers — no matter the song — are so enjoyable to me that I wish it was a requirement to play one at every show. If you like them as much as I do, make sure to check out M. Ward’s Let’s Dance or Sun Kil Moon’s entire album of Modest Mouse covers.

“More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”
- Tim Kreider’s denunciation of the cult of busyness is excellent. (via jimray)
The iPhone and Disruption: Five Years In:

Take your pick of about 20 great quotes from this Daring Fireball article. My personal favorite:

The iPhone is not and never was a phone. It is a pocket-sized computer that obviates the phone. The iPhone is to cell phones what the Mac was to typewriters.

sirmitchell:

Challenges of Getting to Mars: Curiosity’s Seven Minutes of Terror

The precision and innovation that is required for space exploration just blows my mind. I did not realize that Curiosity will have to basically land on Mars completely unaided by man, but it’s so much more complicated than that.