Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Web Secret 557: Baron Fig

I don't exactly know what I was looking for on the Internet when this article popped up in my browser: "The 100 Best Pens, As Tested by Strategist Editors."

I'm not sure what was more exciting - that the testing was rigorous, that I knew about or had owned 99 of the 100 pens tested, or that the pen that came in first place was unknown to me. My husband thinks it is indicative of a disturbingly profound degree of nerdiness. No surprise there.

Anyway, the pen that came in first place was the Baron Fig Squire Roller Ball. It was judged best for smoothness, low smudging, lack of bleed-through, feel, and looks.

The Squire was first introduced during a highly successful 2016 Kickstarter campaign that I somehow missed.

My only problem is that I can never remember the name of this company.

I keep thinking it's Fig Newton.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Web Secret 556: meal subscription plans

True confession: I hate to cook.

I have been on a mission to find a meal delivery service that is delicious, has an easy interface and meets the nutritional needs of the three people in my household. In addition, since the only kitchen appliance I will operate is the microwave, all meals need to be zapable.

This is not as easy as it sounds.

Here are all the programs I tried and ultimately rejected:

Sakara, promised "Life-transforming, plant-rich super meals delivered to your door."
My review: This is the meal plan if you are 5 feet tall and weigh 90 lbs - the portions are tiny. Delicious but tiny. And expensive given their tininess.

Fresh N Lean promised "Healthy Meals Prepared & Delivered To You." My review: Their breakfast muffins were great, as were their almond snacks. But the meals were mediocre and tasted the same. Unless you try their a la carte option - way too expensive - you get no choice over what they send you. And their user interface as quite frankly, a pain in the ass, usually requiring a phone call. And they got it wrong anyway.

The Good Kitchen promised "fresh, fully prepared meals delivered."
My review: not enough vegetrian options. Just not that good, kitchen.

There was a paleo plan that was terrible.

And a vegetarian plan that only offered meals that looked like wet dog food.

Currently I am giving Freshly a try. They promise a "flexible subscription with chef-prepared recipes and ingredients that not only come fresh (not frozen), but are ready to eat within 2 minutes of opening — no prepping, cooking, or cleaning required."

I'll let you know...

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Web Secret 554: Bandersnatch

I remember the early "choose your own adventure" video games of the 1980s.

Laborious and slow, black and white and pixelated, it could take half an hour to move a primitive character down a black corridor. You answered questions like: "Does Igor go left or right" by typing in "R-I-G-H-T."

So how does 30 years of technological advances impact an early video game?

You get Bandersnatch, the first ever interactive film. Thank you, Netflix.

Set in the 1980s, Bandersnatch centers on Stefan, an ambitious video game developer. Inspired by his favorite childhood choose your own adventure novel, Bandersnatch, Stefan sets out to create an innovative text-based game where the player's choices influence how the story unfolds.

Every so often, as you watch the film, a text field appears and you have what feels like 15 seconds to make a decision. Does Stefan eat Frosties cereal or the other kind? Does he spill tea on his computer or does he run out of the room? Does he bury the dead body or chop it up? You click on your choice. And your decision gets played out.

Now here is what is truly amazing: the film never stops while you make your selection, and whatever you decide unfolds seamlessly. I was blown away by the sheer technology of it.

The movie typically runs for about 90 minutes, depending on the choices you make at the plot's branching points. Bandersnatch has more than 1 trillion possible permutations of its story, but the piece has "five main endings" that viewers can eventually end up with.

Play Bandersnatch and you are experiencing the future.

Right now.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Web Secret 553: Snopes

In this age of fake news, who tells the truth?

Snopes promises to be "...the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation."

Take this statement: "18 Migrant Children Died in Border Patrol Custody During the Obama Administration."

Snope says the following about it:

"What's True

A 2016 Human Rights Watch report analyzed ICE death reviews of 18 adults who passed away while under detention by U.S. immigration authorities at various facilities between 2012 and 2015.

What's False

We found no documentation supporting the claim that any migrant children, much less 18 of them, died while in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol during the administration of President Barack Obama.

This is followed by an extensive discussion on the origin of the statement and a series of references that support Snopes corrected version.

Not all the statements Snopes dissects are political. Some are nutty social media stories like:

Was a Man Hospitalized After His Apple Airpods Exploded in His Ear? Short answer: No.

Ingesting "a tablespoon" of fruit syrup every 15 minutes for an hour can help someone dealing with vomiting or diarrhea.. Short answer: Unproven.

Snopes is bipartisan:

Did a GoFundMe Campaign to Fund a Border Wall Raise Millions of Dollars Within a Few Days?. Short answer: Yes.

We all need Snopes.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Web Secret 552: A Great F*cking Bag

I don't know what this says about our civilization, but there are endless Kickstarter campaigns featuring bags, backpacks, luggage, and packing systems.

So it takes genius marketing to stand out from the crowd.

Hello, Använda. A Great F*cking Bag.

Anvanda's 2 and a half minute intro video is inspired, simultaneously making fun of the backpack invasion and differentiating themselves from other products with the inspired use of humor and profanity.

Their copy follows in sync with their video and is hilarious.

Study the whole thing.