December 24, 2014

Coca-Cola Life - Review

Coca-Cola Life is a new variant of Coca-Cola's classic soda, made with cane sugar and Stevia, to reduce calories while still being tasty.  Beside its familiar logo and design, this beverage's taste is similar enough to the real thing, I'd say it works.

First things first, I have always been a Pepsi fan over Coca-Cola, so this review may come with some Pepsi fanboy bias.  I also must admit, for the past few years I haven't been drinking sodas like I was before, trying instead to live and eat more healthy by reducing my sugar intake and almost completely removing soda from my diet.   But on to my review.

The look.  You'll notice the familiar logo and swooshing line on the packaging.  Although the famous red is green for the Life variant, it's unmistakably a Coca-Cola beverage.  The bottle too is the classic shape, but with a hint of green in the glass.

The taste.  My initial pour was odd.  The carbonation filled the glass as though the beverage was still warm and being poured into a cold glass of ice. It was not however, having sat in the fridge overnight to chill.  And, I'm not sure if this can be attributed to the first thing I noticed about the taste, but it seemed flat.  There was not the extra bite and tickle of the carbonation I attribute more to Coca-Cola than Pepsi.

I started over, drinking my next one straight from the bottle.  It was good, really good actually.  The flavor notes were typical to Coca-Cola Classic, with just a hint of the aftertaste that accompanies Stevia.  And while I use Stevia in my morning coffee rather than sugar or artificial sweeteners, I think others will not mind the mild aftertaste.  I think this is a really good alternate version of Coca-Cola.  But for what reason was this made?

The verdict.   Coca-Cola mentions on their site that Coca-Cola Life has 35 percent less calories than other sodas.  Although they also say they have a nutritional information section somewhere on the website, I couldn't find it to compare Life to the classic variant.  The Internet seemed to have a lot of differing nutrition labels for Classic too.  It's too much work for me, when I don't get paid to write this stuff.  I'd say, Classic is probably really close to that 35% mark, having around 33 more calories per 8 oz container than Life.  In my opinion, any reduction that doesn't sacrifice taste is a good thing.  I think this soda is a step in the right direction for soda drinkers, as it still tastes really good and is close to the original, while shedding a third of its calories; however, I also think this will not go anywhere as a product, as the classic version's market share is way too strong for much money to be spent on marketing Life.  Also, those that are looking to be more health conscious and who are willing to change from the classic version, are either going to be looking for a bigger reduction in calories and will be willing to sacrifice taste for the caloric reduction or will be looking for healthier options altogether by cutting out soda or find more natural options to fill their caffeine and soda taste buds.

Final thoughts.  I enjoyed Coca-Cola Life.  It was really close to the original to me, with only a hint of Stevia aftertaste.  While I don't see myself becoming a soda drinker again, this was a great soda, a nice change from the classic version, because there is a caloric reduction benefit.  And while I don't see Life lasting, I don't see it getting the negative press of Coke II or other flops that try to pass themselves off as Coca-Cola.

November 28, 2014

My Bright Idea #19 - Google Messaging, Calendar, and Other Features

My Bright Idea #19 - November 28, 1014

Google Hangout (Google's messaging and video chatting app) should become more like a super version of iMessage, by managing all SMS, MMS, and Hangout messages, and have the video and audio sharing features added.  Besides a possible rename to something like "Google Messaging" or "GMessage" the app should include the management of regular text messaging to gain more customer usage (if you look at iMessage's implementation, most iPhone users have it set-up).  The Google messaging app should be available on both iOS and Android devices, as well as, in Chrome and desktop software.  Again, this will increase customer usage.

The purpose for better integration on multiple platform is to add additional features for users already using Google's other apps.  One example I imagined is a smart recognition feature that automatically creates suggested calendar events from the content of text messages.  A text like, "Do you want to go see a movie tomorrow?" could create a possible calendar event for the user to review (similar to iMessage's manual ability to create calendar events from keywords like "today" or "tomorrow").  The event could be added to a "Suggested Events" section of the calendar app or be accessible right in the messaging app to confirm as a calendar event.  Additionally, subsequent text that may include other information about the movie, such as which movie, the time and location, could be added to the "suggested calendar event".  Friend(s) involved in the text (such as group texts or mentioned within) could automatically be added as suggested invitees.  Once the event is confirmed, all invitees who choose to accept then have it added to their own calenders.

The messages could also (with permission granted by the user) be reviewed by Google's server to add related content suggestions like where a particular movie is playing or where tickets can be purchased.

Additionally, the Google Calendar App could be updated with other social features, such as, the option to share certain types of events with certain groups (say from your Google+ Circles).  With a feature added to select particular calendar 'event types' in the creation of the event, a particular event could be shared with a select group(s).  A "Social Events" calendar event, for example, could be shared with your "Friends Circle" so they know about upcoming movie nights or dinner parties.  A "Work" calendar event could be shared with your "Coworkers Circle" so your daily schedule could be used for scheduling other work events or meetings.

Additional management of your Circles should also be added to the contacts in your Gmail, for easier access and modification.  Or a Google Contacts/Address Book App and/or website should be created for managing all a user's contacts, groups, circles, etc.  All features should have management capabilities from either the messaging app or the calendar app, with integration with all other Google Apps.

November 26, 2014

Why I Love Thanksgiving More Than Other Holidays

There are so many people who trash Thanksgiving for various reason.  Some attribute it to the taking of land from the Native Americans, while others post things like this.  Anyway, I love Thanksgiving more than other holidays because of a few F-Words.

1.  Food.  Of course this tops my list because I love to eat.  I love to mix my mashed potatoes with butter and gravy along with my buttery and salty corn.  I love brown sugar and butter mixed with yams to make sweet potatoes (slow and low simmer style).  I love homemade rolls with more butter.  Maybe it's the B-Word, BUTTER.  Turkey is okay too, but it's not really about the turkey.  Later, I love the pumpkin pie and a second round of all the fixings.  And maybe even later, I'll have a third round of the fixings.  And don't get me started on the leftovers on Friday.

2.  Family.  I actually do love my family.  The annoying ones are fun to watch and silently judge.  I'm such an ass, it doesn't bother me when they demand their way.  The loved ones I get to be with and enjoy.  The funny ones make me laugh and laugh along with my humor.  I just love family.

3.  Football.  There's always a game or two on Thanksgiving (or three this year).  What's great about the role football plays is how it prevents awkward silences.  It keeps things moving throughout the day.  Whether it's that time after the family sports competition or between meals or desserts, there's always a game on somewhere to break-up those times where we all run out of things to share with our family.

4.  Freedom.  This F-Word is a stretch, but it stands for the freedom in Thanksgiving to just enjoy the day without the stresses tradition brings in other holidays, where gift giving is required and expected.  Thanksgiving beats Christmas out in my holidays ranking list because I don't have to work on gift ideas for everyone I'm going to see.  The freedom to just enjoy the day and the people and the nourishment is what I love about Thanksgiving.

So here's my point:  ENJOY THANKSGIVING.  Be thankful for food, family, football, and freedom.  What more can we all be thankful for than these things.  What a great holiday.  What a great time of the year.

(For my Christian friends worried I'm not thankful for God's provision and in love with Christmas because we can celebrate Christ...settle down ya zealots.  The Father and Faith are also F-Words.)

November 17, 2014

Gymkhana Seven and the 2015 Shelby GT350 Mustang by Ford

Although Ken Block heads DC Shoes, and I'm not a fan of the company anymore after their poor handling of our shoe issues (times three, as seen in the tweet below), he is an amazing driver.
I've posted other Gymkhana videos, but this might be my favorite.  It features a super modified 1965 Ford Mustang, with all wheel drive.  Some of the highlights of the video include a reference to the OJ Simpson chase, the Los Angeles low-rider scene, the concrete river, and the Hollywood sign.  Check it out.

This is also a cool day to post this video, because the 2015 Shelby GT350 Mustang by Ford was announced.  See the picture above or watch the video in Ford's tweet below.

Thanks Ben, for the alert to the Gymkhana video.

November 11, 2014

Due To Time...Twitter vs Jimmy the Gun Site

I used to enjoy blogging...a lot.  I loved sharing my finds and expressing my thoughts.  But these days I just don't have the time.  Instead, I use 140 characters to share and express.  My Twitter feed is really where all my time and effort is spent now.  It's quick and easy.

October 19, 2014

My Bright Idea #17 - GetGot App (UPDATED)

My Bright Idea #17 - November 26, 2013
I had this idea a long time ago, but finally put it into my Notes on November 26, 2013.  There should be an app, I call it "GetGot", that allows you to create a shopping list and share it with others.  The idea is for one person to create a list of needs (like a grocery list) to "GET".  Then, another person, one the list is shared with, can go to the store and purchase the ideas on the list, marking the items as "GOT".  The listed items can be moved back to the "GET" list as needed, helping create your next shopping list as you need the items.

UPDATED to Idea - July 19,2014
This seems like a pretty basic part of the app these days, but the app should use the GPS in your device and allow the device to direct you to the store and ultimately the aisle in  the store where you can purchase the item.  Additionally, the app should be smart enough to offer suggestions of where to buy the item and where it may be the cheapest.

My Bright Idea #18 - Predictive Punctuation

My Bright Idea #18 - March 4, 2014
I originally came up with this idea in March, but only recently (after the latest iOS 8 release) thought I'd document it here on the site.  Also, the original idea was specifically for the double space bar tap at the end of a sentence.  I thought it should be smart enough to add a question mark when the sentence is structured as a question, rather than always defaulting to a period.  Words like when, what, which, where, how, who, why, are could be add to the predictive punctuation algorithm.  Now I think, with a little nerdy grammar knowledge and some sentence structure know how, coding and algorithms could be written to incorporate better comma usage.  Maybe we can even fix some of the incredibly awful uses the Internet and its minions have of the run-on sentence.  Perhaps Predictive Punctuation can evaluate a paragraph of text and add all the missing commas, periods, and other missing punctuation to make reading more intelligible.

Drum Battle, USA vs Korea

This is great on a few levels.  I love the respect for each other and the amazing performances of each drum line.  I also love the USA Marines taking it to a whole different level.

July 19, 2014

My YouTube History...Because I Don't Have Time To Blog 3 (Vacation Tweets Edition)

I was on vacation this last week and I got through a log of reading from the blogs I follow.  I also saw a lot of funny videos, I thought I'd share.  Here we go with another installment of "My YouTube History".

July 5, 2014

I Got To Drive a Tesla Model S

I got to drive a Tesla Model S.  And what's amazing to think about is the fact I was trying to figure out how to come up with $80,000+ dollars for the base model car immediately after the drive.  I want one of these brilliant cars.

First, I'm not a share holder, I'm not a rich man, and I'm not an employee of any kind.  I'm a car nerd...or at least I used to be.  Now you can tell, I don't blog about anything anymore.  Second, I'm not an environmentalist, nor do I focus on what "my part" is in protecting our planet.  Third, I'm not really an early adopter.  It took me a model to finally get into the iPhone because I wasn't sure I could deal with the first generation bugs.

I will admit, I have a level of respect for Elon Musk that is probably beyond most of his followers.  I'm a fan of this genius because he makes sense with what he does.  He's obviously about making life better.  Tesla, led by Musk, is working to sell cars better and with more control over product quality and price than traditional auto dealers.  Space X, also led by Musk, is working to offer the government a much cheaper option for space travel.  Here's a tweet about it from April:

Then there are the following other stories by Musk and companies:

You get the point.  This is more about the test drive, not the tweets about Musk and his companies anyway.  Find more tweets and retweets on my Twitter profile @jimmythegun.

So the car.  The first great thing about it was the door handle.  It slid out from being flush with the door as I approached with the key fob in my pocket (or in the dealer employee's pocket).  I sat down into a sporty and supportive seat, which I was about to find out is needed.  At that point all the computer systems lit up.  The massive screen that acts as the control center for everything from the A/C to the way the car handles a corner was beautifully laid out, simple but smart, clean and clear.  The control center was done, in a word, "Right".  The way the rest of the automotive industry tries to do intelligent car computers is not done by people who think about the user experience.  Telsa obviously did.

Okay, so the A/C kicked on and that was the only noise in the car.  The salesman turned it off for a bit, to show me the car was virtually silent.  He told me to press on the brake, move the lever into drive, and go.  No start up, no initiation of the motor, nothing.  Have you ever sat in a golf cart and hit the gas (or the "go pedal" as I'm going to call it, because there is no gas in this car)?  Yeah, it was like a really nice, powerful, version of the immediate response you get from a golf cart.  And if you think about it, it's a similar idea, with nothing more in common to a golf cart than a battery powered motor.  I silently leaped off the lot.  With the A/C turned back on, I literally only heard the noise of the air moving within the cabin.  It was weird and cool at the same time.  I pressed down firming on the "go pedal" as I turned onto the street.  The Tesla Model S quickly got us to 60mph, faster than I think I've ever really least in a sedan.

We headed toward the freeway, where I was going to really "open her up".  As we approached the on-ramp, I realize I had a fairly sharp 180 degree challenge for the car.  The salesman agreed that I should push it a little to "experience the car's low center of gravity" thanks to the battery design and placement along the bottom of the length of the car.  I actually chickened out of the speed I was pushing the car to because it was that fast.  There was no roll, no sloppy handling, no feel of sliding.  The Model S hugged the curve and we reached 80mph the legal speed limit in no time.  This car can keep up with anything on the freeway and can work over probably 99% of them.  It was fast, powerful, and silent.  Also, as we approached the rear of a slower and weaker vehicle, I didn't have to brake.  As I let off the go-pedal, the regenerative braking feature kicked in.  This is a designed battery recharging system that uses the cars forward movement to recreate energy to recharge the batteries, naturally slowing you down as it steals that energy.

After the freeway test, the salesman took me into the winding back-roads of the county.  The quick and powerful motor, along with the regenerative braking, made driving this road hugging sedan a cool and sporty experience.  I was able to power through and out of corners with the lower center of gravity and the amazing performance that comes from the car's standard 302hp (which I'm sure is outrageously fast and powerful if you get the performance upgrade to the 416hp version).  I tried pushing it to its limits, but didn't find them.  The car handled everything I asked of it, even keeping the power on the road when I tried to break the back-end loose.  The salesman did tell me later, they were not allowed to turn off the traction control, which is the only reason I wasn't able to smoke the tires on this rear wheel drive sedan.

As we returned to the dealership, which really isn't a dealership where I live, but a service center with a small showroom, I couldn't help but sit and design my Telsa Model S.  And that's where I learned, the base model with only the upgrade of the battery and the technology package pushed this impressive car north of $80,000.00.  And, while this is standard pricing for a luxury car like the Model S clearly is, it was out of my price range.

So, what's next for Tesla?  Well, Musk laid it out in Telsa's share holders meeting.  Next up is the Model X, a crossover, SUV type with all-wheel drive and falcon wing rear doors.

After that, the company will begin its mass production Model "E" (which is not really the name, since Ford told Telsa they'd sue over it).  This mass production model should be a $30,000.00 vehicle for the rest of us.  I'd be willing to bet, however, that Musk and the Tesla team do it with many of the same features found on the most amazing all electric vehicle, the Model S.  Someday, I hope I can drive something from this amazing car company and it's CEO and our generation's Albert Eisenstein level genius, Elon Musk.

I did borrow all the photos from Tesla's website, since I forgot to take pictures of my own.  Next time I drive a Tesla or go by the dealer, I'll get some of my own images.  For now, hopefully, they are cool with me using their stock images. 

May 29, 2014

My YouTube History...Because I Don't Have Time To Blog 2

I had to start with this one, I tweeted on May 18th.

This is cool.

Acapella done acapella.

A little "pick me up" sent from @techyted

I may be getting a little tired of Nataly's voice, because there is a little too much of the same muted sound, but I feel like this sound she sounds really good.

Because it's funny that these guys did this.

These guys are just such talented musicians.  They make me want my piano back so bad.

"With the growing trend..."

Lucky or Unlucky?

Engrish is hard.

Are you kidding me?

This is stupid and crazy.

February 26, 2014

My Bright Idea #16 - Bluetooth Wearables and the Assistant (Updated)

My Bright Idea #16 - November 20, 2013
Apple should come out with a Bluetooth device that connects to Siri and works with notification center.  The wearable devices, like a watch, would be perfect.  The addition of Siri as part of the device would make the device a step above Samsung's Galaxy Gear.  Star Trek's communicator or Michael Knights' watch used to call KITT were devices where information could be accessed from their computers' resources.  In the same way, as Siri get's smarter, a wearable device like the iWatch or a magnetic lapel pen could work as a Bluetooth device that allowed for voice commands and notifications.

Admittedly, this bright idea is sort of happening with some of the wearable devices that are out.  Pebble and other watch devices do some of the notifications visibly.  My idea is to take it to the next level with the assistant features of Siri (or for Android, Google Now).

Samsung is really starting to make nice looking wearables. Apple needs to get on it.