Showing posts with label Product Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Product Review. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

OK, Coke got me...

Coca-Cola is always coming out with new products.  Sometimes they make mistakes that turn out to be brilliant blunders.  Sometimes, they just make duds.  Sometimes you don't know it's Coke at all.  And, sometimes they make a winner.

Coca-Cola Life could be a winner.  I only found the new beverage by accident at a nearby Target.  The odd color caught my attention, so I got a 2L bottle to try it out.  It is a drink that about matches the taste of Coke, but having only 63% of the original caleries (90 vs. 143 calories of Coke Classic).  They acheive this improvement by using cane sugar and Stevia instead of corn syrup.  Some people claim cane sugar has a better taste than corn syrup.  (I'm one of those people.)

I think the timing for this improvement is very important, as medical field is just now beginning to understand that sugar is the real culprit in heart disease.  Even though there is still substantial sugar in Coca-Cola Life, there is less than Coke Classic.  Not only that, Stevia has been showing promising results that suggest it might help lower blood pressure.  (If someone is taking blood pressure medication, this may have unintentional compounding effects with their medication.  Moderate risk of interaction between Stevia and a few mediations has been asserted.)

For myself, although I find the name a little awkward, I like Coca-Cola Life.  It pretty much tastes like Coke Classic.  There is a slight difference, but certainly much less difference seen from diet drinks.  It certainly doesn't have the annoying aftertaste that I experience with every other sugar substitute. I'm on the lookout for more packaging options, such as those tiny cans that seem to popular these days.

Friday, January 16, 2015

It finally happened

Its Trouble blog is 13 years old.  It had one major facelift in 2002, just before Blogger.com's buyout by Google (2003).  Its Trouble has had a subtle renaming; I had to remove the apostrophe in "It's" because it was bad for linking.  As a result, the name looks fine, but has a drastic typo that should bug me more than it really does.

The 2002 facelift for Its Trouble was created by Jennifer Szabo, who has since renounced all things webdesign.  The design of pretty cool for its time.  It was certainly unique, with the curled parchment theme.  I had my website loaded up with services, custom pages, and moderately useful functionality.  Everything worked nicely.  However, as time went on, stuff stopped working as old services went away and external websites died off.  For example, there are a lot of really good comments on my early posts which are lost due to the original comment service going away.  I was not able to maintain the overall website because Google shutdown FTP access for blogspot accounts, only allowing me to edit my home page.  As a result, I have several dead pages which I will never be able to change or remove.  Images, services, and weblinks stopped working on these pages many years ago.  Its Trouble has been on a slow decline in terms of presentation, all the while having new content with 1000+ posts.

Well, I finally bit the bullet.  I embraced the new Blogger.com stuff and updated my website with the biggest facelift in over a decade.  The problem with Blogger.com is that everything is canned.  You have only so many layout styles, and only so many templates, and only so many useful widgets.  It is way more limited than Wordpress.

Even still, the new design is cleaner.  There's noting broken.  Its functionality is limited to the bare basics allowed by Blogger.com. I was able to keep a similar color scheme and background image as before. It's not half bad.    I'm fairly happy with the result, if not a little disappointed that I cannot do much more.

Use in good health!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Awesome hall of shame devices - Interesting link

There's a cool article with ten hall of shame automotive devices that are/were supposed to do something or another to improve your vehicle's gas mileage, performance, and even ectoplasm removal (because I guess ghosts are slowing your car down؟). Popular Mechanic Gas Saving Gadgets covers it all.  My favorite is the magnets used to "straighten" fuel molecules to improve ignition efficiency. (If anything, the magnets would add more weight to your car, thus reducing fuel efficiency).

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Everyone's got different tastes, but soy milk? Yuk!

Silk brand has had an advertizing campaign for a little while now where they blatantly state that Silk Soy Milk tastes better than real milk.  They initially even quoted some bizarre statistic like 4 out of 5 people say their product tasted better.  Really?  4 out of 5 people who try soy milk like it better than milk?  I won't argue that soy milk has its fans, but 80% of the population?  Umm, no.  Maybe if they compared vanilla flavored soy milk with bland shim milk?  No, not even then for me.  I'd rather drink water.

I've heard additional caveats added to this claim, like a reference to it tasting better on cereal.  Again, no.  If you want to ruin a perfectly good bowl of cereal, by all means dump some soy milk on it.  Yuk. Yuk.  Blagghh!

I have found that the vanilla flavored soy milk does taste better than regular soy milk, but the texture varies so much between brands, it doesn't make a good substitute for milk, and most brands still do not present an enjoyable experience when drinking straight from the glass.  Even as chocolate flavored, I just don't enjoy the drinking soy milk.

Almond milk is better than soy milk.  Almond milk is drinkable.  I've found that Almond milk actually works well with hot cereal both for consistency and taste.  It's OK with cold cereal, but not as good as milk.  It is good enough to be a backup in the fridge.  This is because it generally lasts longer than milk when unopened.  My advice is to buy milk and almond milk at the same time, and keep the almond milk closed until the milk is gone.  It can extend the length of time that you need to return to the grocery store (assuming that milk is your deciding item in such matters).

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

epinions.com is soon to end as we know it

I wrote a highly critical article about epinions.com in September 2013 where I stated they have made themselves irrelevant in 2013.  epinions.com used to be a great site where anyone could go to get high quality and unbiased user reviews of just about any type of product.  It wasn't polluted with shills and ads.  

Then, it did started getting polluted with ads. Soon, it became hard to tell links to ads from genuine content.  Then, it became hard to find genuine content at all.  Ads ruled.  (Though, shills never really seemed to be able to take hold.)

Even still, I used epinions.com frequently enough until 2012.  Thru no conscious action, I just stopped using the site.  Eventually, I realized this and wrote my critical review as to why.

Well, today, epinions has announced they will be ending its community and reviews system.  This is no surprize to me.  They lost their way, and eventually people just stopped using the site.  The site fell into the trap of trying to sell ads to generate funding rather than offering a superior product that people flock to.  Their focus became monetization without understanding how to generate income from their product without losing its soul.

Their email to members stated,
After a challenging 2013, Epinions will no longer maintain community related operations of its website. We are proud that we were able to serve as a facilitator of shared experiences and thoughtful dialogue over the past 15 years. However, several obstacles, such as declining participation, have deeply affected our business and forced us to make this difficult decision. 
Yeah, 2013 is when I stopped using the site, so this makes perfect sense.  The site stopped being a repository for high quality reviews, and just became a poor quality online mall.

Community submissions ended today.  Reviews can no longer be added.  Last payments to reviewers will be issued on March 6, 2014.  Access to online accounts and message boards will end on March 25,2014.  The suddenness of this suggests a poorly planned shutdown, which means they prolly just ran out of money.

Farewell, epinions!  Whatever form you eventually take, I'm sure I will not be apart of it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Yahoo's Blunder with unnecessary changes to their services is well explained on slashdot.org

Yahoo's blunder with unnecessary changes to their services such as Yahoo! Groups is well explained on slashdot.org by anonymous poster.

If you have no userbase, the Agile concept of ship (garbage) early and ship (garbage) often even before you really have an MVP actually makes some sense. If you have a 6-month runway of capital before you go belly-up and start over (oh, I'm sorry, "pivot"), there's no point in wasting another month to get it right.
But if you already have a userbase, the developer-centric attitude of leaving what, to users, is core functionality in the backlog while you release half-assed stuff that merely shows off how good you are with AJAX, or how quickly your UX people can change the design from one week to the next, doesn't work. It's bad for your customer base, it alienates them, and it eventually drives them to your competitors.
More of this person's comment can be found here. If you are interested in exploring the topics brought up by this person, click on the links I added to their quote above.  That will take you to Wikipedia articles that will explain each of the terms.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Opinion about epinions.com decline

epinions.com used to be a great resource to get real world, vetted and high quality customer reviews for all sorts of products from books to cars.  Contributing to epinions.com was actually minimally lucrative, as you got compensated for your product reviews.  Fellow members of the website would critique submitted reviews to help others improve the quality and review writing skills.  The higher quality reviews earned a larger share of whatever earnings were made.

I was never really sure just how the compensation worked, but over the years, I made less than $100 total from my nine posted product reviews.  My first review was posted in 2002 about my old Acura TL Type-S, for which I earned the coveted "Very Helpful" rating.  Over a period of one decade, that review has earned me a whopping total $20.

In the past, I've endorsed and recommended the use of epinions.com.  I frequently went there for reviews of products in which I was interested.  Then something starting changing in 2012.  I stopped using epinions.com.  I didn't really know why at the time.  It just happened.  Looking back, I believe it may have been because reviews were getting harder to find.  It was not that there was less of them, but rather the structure of the website had started changing for the worse.

Sometime this summer of 2013, I was writing a review for another product on Amazon.com and figured it was good enough to add to epinions.com.  I thought I might as well make my 3¢ a year. So, I went back to the epinions.com website and searched for the product.  It was a book.

I searched for the book and found a webpage that listed a bunch of sites that sold the book.  There was no product page.  In the past, the product page would come up as the search result.  This is where one would go to add a review.  But now, there was just a listing of other websites.  Sure, older products still had product pages, though you'd have to surf through the myriad of links to other websites in order to find them.  Much to my dismay, epinions.com had become an inferior online mall.  There isn't even a rewards program, like with higher quality online malls such as MyPoints.com.  epinions.com made itself completely irrelevant.

I guess some areas on the website are still maintained, such as electronics, where it appears to be a little easier to find the product pages for newer products.  It's just not enough to justify giving the website a second thought anymore.

Monday, September 02, 2013

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope hits stores

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope is a thing. Someone thought it would be funny to convert the first Star Wars movie into a William Shakespeare style play.  Old style prose is included, including the rather annoying "o'er".  It took me years to learn "o'er" is a contraction for "over".  Really?  Just say the "v".  It's not like you are actually shortening the word by not saying the "v".  It's still two fully pronounced syllables.  But I digress.

The book is is pretty funny (including the use of o'er). They really nailed the R2D2 dialogue!




Monday, August 12, 2013

The River of No Return book review

The River of No ReturnThe River of No Return by Bee Ridgway
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Though the concepts introduced in this book are an inventive twist on the time travel idea, the character dialog and motivations are dreadful.  In this story, there are competing time travelling organizations struggling for control of time travel throughout human history.  Nick, an English nobleman who fought in Spain in the early 1800's finds himself in the 21st Century just before he is about to die.  This is the story of his struggle to dance between these two organizations while sorting out his own role both in the 21th Century and the 19th Century.
I did enjoy reading much of the book as the plot unfolded, but found myself suffering through some dreadful character interactions. Some of this was due to character development that was somewhat engaging, but drowned out by the chorus inauthentic thoughts and experiences. The leading male character, Nick, was a noblemen from the 19th Century and only spent 10 years in the 21st Century, but somehow seemed more in tune with 20th Century social and entertainment elements than us normal people that lived through that time period, even though he did not. His experience with the 20th Century would've have been more authentic if it had been taken from the approach of a child growing up in the Aughties (2000-2010). Also, the characters of British origin often felt more like Americans, often using Americanism and seemed both out of place globally and chonologically.  Additionally, the writing of the characters while in the 19th Century felt more like rejects from Jane Austin novels rather than real people.
This book appears to be the first of a new series. Will I look forward to the next book? Eh. The author has to polish her skills of writing for characters with more authenticity, as her first attempt to do so is a distraction from an otherwise good concept and plot.


View all my goodreads.com reviews

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Radioactive, radioactive radio edit controversy


There's a bit of a controversy about a popular song right now called Radioactive by Imagine Dragons.  There's a lot of complaints by fans who bought the album about how the song quality on the album is inferior to what's been playing on the radio and in trailers for movies and on commercials for new TV series.  (Seriously, this song is everywhere right now.)  The complaints are pretty consistent by fans, not even haters.

Distortion was noticeable on digital format as well as CD. Very poor quality on car stereo really drives home the point.
Somehow, producer Alex da Kid thought that intentionally introducing that awful, cheap sounding distortion (several tracks, most notably beginning on 'Radioactive'), was somehow "artistic". What a stupid idea.
What's this about distortion?  The bass in the song Radioactive has been distorted to sound like subwoofers maxed out.  It's a rough and gravelly sound that doesn't sound good on good stereo systems (such as the stereo systems in the average car these days).  I got the CD, and I agree with the criticism.  It's OK, but not good.

Theres something called the radio edit version of the song, which I like, but it also seems like it's distorted too much too.