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.