Jan 12, 2018

Happy Friday

Impossible is just a word. What matters is if you pronounce it with a short I or a long I.

It is not impossible that Impossibly happiest on a Happy Friday!

Agatha Christie

 On January 12, 1976, Agatha Christie died at age 85 at her home in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England. At her death, she was one of the most popular writers of all time, the author of more than 100 novels, including a legendary collection of murder mysteries that featured the fictional detectives Miss Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot. Her books have been translated into more languages than any other author in literary history, including Shakespeare.

Christie also wrote nineteen stage plays, including The Mousetrap, a 1952 play that premiered at London's West End Theatre and is still currently being performed elsewhere. It is the longest continuously-running stage play in history, with more than 27,000 performances during 65 years. The play has such a surprising ending that, after the final curtain goes down, patrons are asked not to reveal it.

Interesting Tidbits

Eliminate static buildup in the dryer by crumbling up aluminum foil into a ball, about the size of a tennis ball and toss in with the clothes. When it wears out, add another layer of foil.

Tear sticky notes off the pack from left to right or right to left. This will reduce the curl that happens when you pull of the paper from bottom to top.

Echo is the name of the device, but Alexa is the name for the artificial intelligence assistant that listens and speaks back to you. Amazon controls 75 percent of the AI smart speaker market.

Slowing a Windows Update

There will be no limit on the number of times you can delay a Windows Update. Each time you hit the Snooze button, you'll be able to push it out three more days, until 35 days have passed. After that, you will still be able to press a new "Remind Me Tomorrow" button to push it out again and again, one day at a time.

Restart now, pick a time, and snooze can be accessed through the Settings > Update and Security menu to display how your device will encounter and install future updates.

Postponing the Windows 10 Creators Update requires the activation of a ‘Defer feature updates’ service. The download can then be delayed for up to 60 days, or you can pick a specific date to continue. To postpone Windows 10 Creators Update, access the Update and Security menu, then under "Update settings,” click Advanced options, then select the ‘Defer feature updates’ option.

New Winter Olympic Sports

Next month we will be treated to the Olympics with four new events during this Winter Olympics: big air snowboarding and freestyle skiing on the slopes, and mass start speed skating and mixed doubles curling on the ice.

Artificial Sweeteners Compared

All sugar substitutes are not created equal. Here are a few facts about the most widely known sweeteners.

Equal (Aspartame) was discovered in 1965 and first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1981. It is the only FDA approved nutritive sweetener, meaning it adds caloric value to a meal. It loses its sweetness when heated and therefore is not used in baked goods. It is a mixture of aspartic acid and phenylalanine) that is 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Newtame - (Neotame) It was approved by the FDA during 2002 and is 7,000 to 13,000 times as sweet as table sugar.

Splenda (Sucralose) was discovered in 1976 and first approved by the FDA IN 1998. It is molecularly bonded sucrose molecules with chlorine and is 600 times as sweet as sugar by gram. It is chemically modified to have zero calories. It keeps its sweetness when heated and therefore is used in baked goods.

Sweet’N Low (saccharin) was discovered in 1879. It was removed from the FDA’s caution list in 2000. It is made from benzoic sulfimide, a coal tar derivative that is approximately 300 times sweeter than sugar and also contains dextrose and cream of tartar. It contains 4 calories per packet, but the body cannot metabolize it, so it adds no caloric or nutritional value to a meal. Cyclamate was the original ingredient in Sweet’N Low. It is a chemical 30 to 50 times sweeter than sugar. By 1963, cyclamate was America’s favorite artificial sweetener, then the sweetener was proven to cause bladder cancer in rats, resulting in an immediate ban by the FDA that is still in effect. In response, Sweet’N Low swiftly became a saccharin-based product.

Stevia is a sweetener and sugar substitute marketed most familiarly as PureVia and Truvia, extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana. The active compounds of Stevia are steviol glycosides, which have up to 150 times the sweetness of sugar. It is  heat-stable, pH-stable, and not fermentable. The legal status of Stevia as a food additive or dietary supplement varies from country to country. In the United States, high-purity stevia glycoside extracts are generally recognized as safe and allowed as ingredients in food products, but stevia leaf and crude extracts do not have FDA approval for use in food. The European Union approved Stevia additives in 2011, and in Japan, Stevia has been widely used as a sweetener for decades.

Sweet One - (Sunett) was discovered during 1967 and approved in 1988. It contains Dextrose, Acesulfame-K, Cream of Tartar, Calcium Silicate (an anti-caking agent), and natural flavors and is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is soluble in hot and cold beverages and remains stable when heated, so it can also be used in cooking and baking. It adds no caloric or nutritional value to a meal.

According to the FDA, high-intensity sweeteners add few or no calories to the foods they flavor and they generally do not raise blood sugar levels.

The FDA during 2014 approved a new high-intensity sweetener called advantame, which does not yet have a brand name. It has been approved as a new food additive for use as a sweetener and flavor enhancer in foods, except meat and poultry.

Incidentally, notice how many months/years it takes for FDA to approve.

Improbable Research

YouTube shows a fun look at the world around us, including the Ig Nobel awards. It is even more entertaining if you watch it on your TV.  LINK

Size Envy

For those who like things bigger, this week Samsung announced  (with a demo screen) an enormous 4K TV it is calling The Wall. The Wall measures 146 inches and uses MicroLED technology to produce its picture. The set compares to regular size TVs in quality and color. Luckily it is not available in stores yet, or I might need to consider re-mortgaging my house.

Alexa, Flush My Toilet

The annual CES show is in full swing with new technology that will surprise many. Filed under the "I never knew I needed that" is new Kohler and Moeller lines of bathroom appliances that include smart shower heads, toilets, faucets, and a smart mirror powered by Alexa.

You can monitor your water usage, set a certain lighting profile on the mirror, fill the bathtub to a specific level, warm the toilet seat, and ask the toilet to flush itself. All this 'must have' stuff will be available this year. Cost is estimated in the thousands of dollars.

Red Hair Trivia

Lucille Ball was born a brunette, but dyed her hair blond for her early days in Hollywood. When she was about to make her first film for MGM in 1942 (“Du Barry Was a Lady”), Sydney Guilaroff, the studio’s chief hair stylist, made a discovery that would change her for the rest of her life. “The hair is brown,” he said after looking at the 31-year-old rising star, “but the soul is on fire.” So he dyed Ball’s hair Tango Red (a shade between carrot and strawberry), which it remained until she died.

Incidentally, Betty Boop's original hair color was red.

Jan 5, 2018

New Best Friends

Here are the countries that visited my blog last month. Welcome to all my new BFFs around the world.

United States, France, United Kingdom, Canada, South Korea, Seychelles, Russia, Norway, Israel, India, Hong Kong, Australia, Brazil, Ukraine, Spain, Philippines, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Romania, Netherlands, Indonesia, Turkey, Tanzania, South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, Lebanon, Japan, Iceland, Finland, Belarus, Bahrain, Austria

Happy Friday

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

It is always good to share your joy and smile, especially on a Happy Friday!

Happy New Year

So we begin a new year, full of anticipation and hope. It is my desire to have everything good come to you this year. 

A Month by any other Name

Historical names for January include its original Roman designation, Ianuarius, the Saxon term Wulf-monath (meaning wolf month), and Charlemagne's designation Wintarmanoth (winter / cold month). In Finnish, the month is called tammikuu, meaning month of the oak, but the original meaning was the month of the heart of winter, as tammi has initially meant axis or core. In Czech this month is called leden, meaning ice month. In Ukrainian it is січень meaning cutting or slicing, perhaps referring to the wind.

Purse Light Hack

For those of you who have large purses and cannot find things at the bottom, add one of those small battery button lights that you just tap to turn on.

Now you can reach in, turn on the light and find whatever you are looking for without dumping the contents.

Free Football Viewing

This year, you will not need Verizon Wireless service to watch free NFL games on your phone. Instead, you can watch in-market coverage, playoff games, and the Super Bowl for free, regardless of carrier.
The live games this season will stream on the NFL Mobile app, Verizon's Go90 video app, and Yahoo. Starting next season, Verizon will no longer provide a free stream of the NFL Network or an optional $2-per-month stream of NFL Redzone on mobile devices. If you want to keep watching Redzone without cable, even on your phone, you will have to subscribe to an entire streaming bundle such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, or FuboTV, as NFL and Verizon greed kick more fans to the sidelines.

Naturally, there is a catch. As with Verizon's existing NFL streams, you will be forbidden from watching live games on your antenna-less television. The carrier will not offer full games on streaming TV devices, and will continue to block screen mirroring from your phone through Chromecast and Apple TV's AirPlay.

If you have DirecTV Now with bundled AT&T wireless service, you no longer have to miss any NFL Network games. If you have strong TV antenna coverage, you will also be able to watch many games free.

Wooden Spoon Myth Debunked

Wooden spoons do not stop pots of water from boiling over. Placing a wooden spoon across a pot of water to prevent the water from spilling over may help some with a simmering pot, but not boiling.

How Wireless Charging Works

Wireless charging, inductive charging, or cordless charging, are all the same thing. It uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two objects through electromagnetic induction, so it will work with any wireless charger carrying the same standards of technology. The Qi wireless charging standard from the Wireless Power Consortium has been around for over five years. The basic technology has been used for consumer products like razors and toothbrushes, plus a variety of non-consumer tools for a while.

Many smart phone companies use wireless charging for high end devices. In addition, a growing number of restaurants, airports, hotels, etc. now provide wired and wireless charging.

Electromagnetic fields are created and allow the current to pass between the charging and the surface of the charging pad. The charging base station needs to be connected to a power outlet. There is a transmitting coil in the charger circuit and power from the source is supplied to the coil. Phones and other devices have a receiver coil attached to the battery, which picks up the magnetic field.

Productive coupling between the coils requires accurate positional alignment. This can be accomplished in different ways. The charging pad or base station can have visual or tactile signifiers of the optimal position for the phone; this is cheap and easy, but it presents challenges when dealing with phones of different sizes and configurations. Alternatively, a charging station might have a coil that moves to align with the coil in the device, allowing you to place it wherever you want. Another way is using an array of coils, where specific coils are activated in proximity to the device’s placement.

The base station does not activate unless a compatible device has been placed on it. The station determines this by sending an intermittent test signal to check if a compliant device is present. The mobile device responds to this ping by communicating the received signal strength. When the device’s charge is complete, it tells the transmitter to go inactive.

One ongoing problem to widespread adoption is competing standards that fracture the market and make adoption less attractive for both consumers and manufacturers.

Wireless charging may be fun and whiz-bang, but it is slower than the traditional form of charging due to less energy transfer.

New technology may let you charge your devices from a distance of three feet or more without any pad involved. The Federal Communications Commission, during December 2017 approved technology from Energous using radio frequency energy to recharge multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, smart watches, headphones, speakers, keyboards and fitness trackers from up to three feet away.

Mattress Myth Debunked

Many have heard that a normal mattress doubles in weight each eight to ten years, due to accumulation of mites, dead skin, etc. It is totally false and the story was made up long ago by a Wall Street Journal reporter.

Robo Calls Getting Worse

Does it seem like we are getting more unwanted calls on smart phones? We are, and they are more and more difficult to stop. We are now in the phase where bad technology leapfrogs good technology and until that changes again, it is something to deal with.

US Federal Trade Commission data released during December 2017 shows a massive 4.5 million consumer complaints about robocalls in 2017, up from 2016's 3.4 million. For every single month of the year, robocalls topped the list of "Do Not Call" violations.
The six most common ones in no particular order include:
Reducing your debt (credit cards, mortgage, student loans)
Dropped call or no message
Vacation and timeshares
Warranties and protection plans
Calls pretending to be government, IRS, businesses, or family and friends
Medical and prescriptions.

In addition to all the complaints, use of the "Do Not Call" registry hosts 226 million active registrations.
The reason for the increase is the cheap new telephony equipment, ease of placing millions of calls without a person needed to do the dialing, and  digital calling systems that make it simple to automatically spoof caller ID numbers. Robo calls are becoming the 'Nigerian Prince' scam for phones.

Incidentally, the worst thing you can do is respond. The bad guys have no do not call list to put you on and no reason to stop calling. Also, once you respond, your number goes into the bank of live persons and your number will be sold to other scammers. Robo call apps help blocking, but cannot keep up with the ever shifting use of numbers used, including what appear to be local numbers.

Tongue and Taste Myth

Your tongue does not have independent zones for different types of flavor, sweetness, or saltiness. The confusion comes from the mis-translation of a German study. Actually all of the tongue is more or less equally capable of detecting different flavors, although there are different patterns of strength.

What is generally categorized as “taste” is basically a bundle of different sensations. It is not only the qualities of taste perceived by the tongue, but also the smell, texture, and temperature of food.
Incidentally, “hot” or “spicy” is often described as a taste. Technically, this is just a pain signal sent by the nerves that transmit touch and temperature sensations. The substance “capsaicin” in foods seasoned with chili causes a sensation of pain and heat.

Do Not Recycle These

Ribbons, bows, Styrofoam and the glue that sticks them to the gift are not to go in the recycling bin.

You cannot recycle wrapping paper that has metallic, glossy, glitter, or velvety flocking on it.

Plastic bags, twine, and anything else that is long and stringy cannot be recycled.

Shiny Christmas cards printed on photo paper, have metallic embossing, or glitter cannot be recycled.

Disposable plates, cups, plastic tableware, napkins, and paper towels should not be recycled. Some plastic cups may be recyclable, but read the bottom for recycle symbol. (Many people think that rounded arrow symbol means it is recyclable, but that is the resin code. Different municipalities can recycle different resins, but only number one and two plastics are recyclable in most places.)

Do not recycle candy wrappers or the bags that coffee comes in.

Pizza boxes and fast food carryout bags may include the additional message, “Recycle if Clean & Dry,” since pizza boxes and bags dirtied by a significant amount of grease or food residue are often not accepted for recycling.

Chip bags cannot go into the recycle bin, since most chip bags are made from aluminum laminated with polypropylene.

The popular K-Cup® pod as a whole cannot be recycled.

All is not lost as cardboard boxes are great to recycle, even with some tape on them.


Pantone is the self-proclaimed global color authority. It has released its 2018 color of the year. The color is Ultra Violet 18-3838, a dark blue violet, halfway between cobalt and periwinkle. I do not understand why they cannot just call it purple.

2017 Word of the Year

The field is crowded, and the fight for Word of the Year will be fierce. The American Dialect Society will chose the winner during January 2018. For 2016, the word was 'dumpster fire'. Here are some contenders for 2017:
    Fake news
    Alternative facts
    Reclaiming my time
    Taking a knee

According to the Oxford University Press, use of the word "Trump" has increased 839 percent. It analyzed over 100,000 short stories written by British children for a competition, and has already declared "Trump" to be the Children's Word of the Year 2017.

Feminism ranks as Merriam-Webster’s 2017 word of the year. It is defined by Merriam-Webster as: “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests.”

'Complicit' is Dictionary.com's word of the year - "Choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having complicity."

Recent past Words of the Year were not so overtly political: The American Dialect Society gave us "Dumpster fire" for 2016, An emoji was used during 2015, and 2012 brought us "hashtag." Back in 2009, "tweet" was word of the year.

During 2016 snollygoster was voted the first Haggard Hawks Word of the Year. It is a word for an unscrupulous politician

'Whatever' was voted the most annoying word of the year for the ninth year in a row.

Six Benefits of Parsley

Parsley is full of vitamin C, an essential nutrient and best known for giving the immune system a boost.

Parsley can actually improve kidney functionality by helping the human body do away with excess fluids. It is a diuretic and according to Livestrong.com, it plays an important role in the process of removing unnecessary fluids from the body.

Parsley contains ample amounts of folic acid and research from Harvard Medical School shows that foods high in folic acid can help the body regulate blood pressure and produce and maintain new cells.

Parsley Contains Vitamin K an important nutrient in helping the body respond to injuries. It helps in the clotting process, giving the body a chance to stop the damage and begin the healing process. Vitamin K has also been shown to help reduce the risk of bone damage and build bone durability.

Parsley contains compounds that can aid in digestion, according to research from WebMD,

Parsley contains anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation around the joints and ease the pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis.

Wordology, Obdormition

It is pronounced ob-dor-MISH-uhn. It means numbness in a limb, usually caused by pressure on a nerve. Also known as falling asleep. From Latin obdormire (to fall asleep), from dormire (to sleep). Earliest documented use: 1634.

Incidentally, there is a good word that comes after obdormition: paresthesia, known as pins and needles.

Cord Cutters

Cord cutters are people who have decided to give up cable TV and find another way to watch TV and movies. The main alternatives have been streaming TV over the internet (OTT) and subscribing to services, such as NETFLIX, YouTube, Amazon Video, etc.

Another alternative gaining a growing following is using a TV antenna. The antenna technology is much better than the traditional antenna service and is extremely cheap, with no monthly fees. Recent studies have shown that over 90% of the US population is within range to stream free over-the-air HD television. Antennas do not lose stations like satellite subscribers suffer from during bad weather. In addition the signal is not compressed, so there is a noticeable improvement in picture quality vs. cable and satellite. In addition, usually there are 30 to 60 free channels available. Many find that an indoor antenna is sufficient, so no need to climb up on the roof for installation.

As of November, the latest analysis by Kagan indicates that another 1.2 million Americans cut the TV cord during the past quarter, lured away from expensive traditional cable TV bundles and by the rising availability of cheaper, more flexible streaming alternatives. The losses once again broke records for the industry, contributing to a net loss of 2.9 million traditional pay TV subscribers so far during 2017, after a loss of another 2 million during 2016.

Since 2015, TV watching growth has been in the number of antenna-equipped homes with broadband access. These increased 36 percent.

Quick Food Tip

It is safe to eat the stickers on fruit, both the paper and glue are food grade.

Free TV Trials

Now you can try some of the streaming deals for free, before or after you cut the cable cord. Sign up for any or all of the following. Some require a credit card, but do not bill unless you go past the trial period. Many begin to automatically bill at end of trial, so it pays to be diligent and watch the end date of your trial period.

Amazon Prime Video: 30 days (Movies and TV shows)
Amazon Channels - As a Prime member, Amazon Channels has additional services with free trials from 7 to 30 days (includes HBO, Showtime, and Dove Family Films)
CuriosityStream: 7 days (Documentaries & Educational)
DIRECTV NOW: 7 days (Live TV)
Fubo TV: 7 days (Live TV with sports)
HBO NOW: 30 days (Movies & TV shows)
Hulu: 30 days (Movies and TV shows)
NETFLIX: 30 days (Movies and TV shows)
PlayStation Vue: 5 days (Live TV)
PureFlix: 30 days (Family-friendly Movies & TV shows)
Showtime Anytime: 30 day (Movies & TV shows)
Shudder: 7 days (Horror movies)
Sling TV: 7 days (Live TV)
Sundance Now: 7 days (Independent movies)

Browser Honey

Honey is sweet, especially when it can save you money. Honey is a browser add-on that automatically applies coupon codes at checkout, and now it also finds better prices on Amazon immediately.

Honey brings the best final prices to the forefront after automatically comparing every top-rated seller in the Amazon marketplace.

It also lets you know if you can save money just by waiting a couple of days for delivery. Quick shipping is awesome, but so is having options, especially if those options save you money.

Shop on Amazon as usual. If Honey finds a better deal, a little tag will appear showing you how much you could save by buying the same item from a different seller. It takes into account the final price of the item (including sales tax and shipping), seller rating, delivery time, and Prime status , so you can still get Prime deals. Here is the link to add it to Firefox. LINK  and Chrome LINK.