Vegetarians, Get Excited: Fake Chicken That Tastes Like Real Chicken

Though I am not a proponent of vegetarianism, I find technological advances of any kind to be very interesting. The latest advancement in food tech brings us a mixture of soy, pea and protein isolates (among other ingredients) that tastes like Chicken.

What makes the product particularly amazing, however, is not that it tastes like chicken, rather that it feels like chicken. 

Meat substitutes have long suffered from a lack of appetizing texture. Substitutes made out of tofu, for example, come nowhere close to the mouth-feel of a good ol’ fashioned piece of meat. Beyond Meat is now making the texture problem a thing of the past.

Though I cannot personally vouch for the fake meat, according to Alton Brown, a chef and host on the Food Network, the new product is pretty impressive. Alton Brown has this to say about it:

I tear it and watch the break, the way the material separates. It’s more like meat than anything I’ve ever seen that wasn’t meat. Looking closely I can see a repeating pattern, like a subtle honeycomb, that reminds me a bit of tripe. I close my eyes and smell, but since the strip hasn’t received any flavoring at this point, I detect only subtle hints of soy.

I take a bite. While the unflavored product tastes distinctly vegetal and still has a bit of what I’d call tofu-bounce, a hint of the spongy, the tear is … meaty.

Read his full experience here

The new food product comes to us from Beyond Meat, based out of Missouri, where they utilize specialized machinery to fold vegetarian ingredients in a unique way to produce the meat-like texture and given the rise in vegetarianism, particularly in California, the product will be a sure-hit (assuming they can keep the price within reason, though vegetarians are probably used to paying a premium for good meat substitutes).

A call out to meat-eaters and vegetarians: what do you think about this new fake chicken?

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What is AC Wi-Fi? How fast is 802.11ac Wi-Fi?

What is AC (802.11ac) Wi-Fi?

802.11ac is a new standard of Wi-Fi that is quickly becoming available with new devices. The previous standard, that most new devices are currently using, is 802.11n. Wireless “N” has a typical transfer rate of about 100 Mbps, while 802.11ac increases the current rate by more than 4X to 450 Mbps (practical, single antenna limit).

AC Wi-Fi also introduces several amazing new features:

  • It operates on the 5 GHz frequency instead of the 2.4 GHz frequency. Since many other devices and appliances operate on 2.4 GHz, operating in the 5 GHz band will reduce interference with these other devices. I relay music from my phone to my Bluetooth sound system (Bluetooth operates on 2.4 GHz) and I have N Wi-Fi, so I get significant interference whenever I am downloading something. 802.11ac Wi-Fi will prevent this interference.
  • Beamforming — allows the router to identify the locations of devices and intensify the wireless signals in those directions (see image below). With beamforming, AC Wi-Fi can maintain a good range — otherwise lost due to the nature of the 5 GHz frequency (it doesn’t penetrate walls as easily).
  • It will accommodate more devices connected to the same router.

AC Wi-Fi Beamforming

So how fast is 802.11ac?

450 Mbps is not the theoretical maximum transfer rate for ac, but rather a practical rate that users can actually expect outside of a laboratory. This works out to over 50 MB per second, or the rough equivalent of downloading 16 songs every second (assuming a 3MB mp3 song size).

Non-techies need not worry about specific transfer speeds, just understand that your internet downloads can finish up to 4 times faster with AC Wi-Fi. Of course, users will always be restricted by the speed of the internet actually reaching their house. My internet package, for example, only grants me speeds up to 10 Mbps, or 1.25 MB per second (yes, I know, that’s terrible but faster packages quickly get much more expensive!). That means that AC Wi-Fi is technically overkill for any downloads over the internet for me, and likely many others. However, users without blisteringly fast home internet can still benefit from AC Wi-Fi if they transfer or stream large files over their home network.

Should I worry about AC Wi-Fi right now?

No, probably not. For the most part, AC Wi-Fi may still be overkill. With a fast home internet connection and a good Wireless N router and compatible devices, you probably aren’t really in need of it. However, there are several scenarios where AC is useful today:

  • If you are like me and use Bluetooth devices around your home while simultaneously downloading heavily, AC should eliminate any interference you are currently experiencing.
  • If you are buying new devices that you plan to keep around for a long time (i.e. a desktop or laptop), it may be a good idea to pick up an AC-compatible device so you don’t get left behind, since AC will become the new standard — though this is not likely to happen for another year or two at least.

Are you looking forward to AC Wi-Fi? Do you find your current wireless setup to be sufficient? Leave your responses in the comments below. Continue on to learn more about wireless standards.

Learn More About Wireless Standards

802.11 is the name of the first Wi-Fi standard that was created back in 1997 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Since that time, each new iteration has added a letter to denote the change to the standard (speed, features etc.).  The order is as follows: 801.11, a/b, g, n and now, ac.

Below is a summary of the major advancements made with the 802.11 standard:

  • 802.11 — up to 2 Mbps, 2.4 GHz, can interfere with other appliances
  • 802.11b — up to 11 Mbps, 2.4 GHz, can interfere with other appliances
  • 802.11a — up to 54 Mbps, 5 GHz, less interference, reduced range, lower penetration
  • 802.11g — up to 54 Mbps, 2.4 GHz, can interfere with other appliances
  • 802.11n — up to 100 Mbps, 2.4 or 5 GHz, can interfere with other appliances
  • 802.11ac — up to 450 Mbps, 5 GHz, less interference, beamforming, reduced range, lower penetration

Learn more about 802.11 Wi-Fi  standards.

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Best RSS Reader / News Feed: Feedly Review

There was a time, eons ago, when people got all of their news from two primary sources: newspapers and television. Although I remember that time, the world had already moved on by the time I was an adult and I do not miss it.

These days, there are interesting articles spread out across thousands of blogs and sites across the internet.

The question is: how do you consolidate your favourite news sources for daily consumption?

The answer is: Feedly!

Feedly is an RSS-reader, a type of news aggregator, that uses the RSS web feed standard. Don’t be scared by the tech-speak, Feedly is very easy to use. Simply install the addon and search for your favourite sites and blogs that support RSS (most do) and Feedly will automatically check those sites for new content and present them to you in a visually appealing way.

You can think of it as your own personal newspaper / magazine for the web and since you don’t need to visit those sites manually anymore, it can help you clean up that pile of bookmarks you have in your browser.

You don’t have to follow strictly news sources, of course. I follow a variety of content such as:

  • Blogs (Science, Technology, Business, Sports etc.)
  • Web Comics (Perfect for lunch breaks)
  • News (Science, Technology, Business etc.)

Feedly is available across devices (desktop, Android, iOS) and automatically keeps everything in sync. It’s perfect for reading up during lunch or digesting articles on your phone whenever you have some downtime. I swear by it.

I have been using Feedly for several years now and, although I have tried other RSS-readers, I have always stuck with Feedly because it is simple, convenient and it just works. Feedly allows you to search for sources directly from their search bar — for example, typing in “Wired” to automatically pull up any Wired magazine site and blog feeds  — as well as allowing you to manually add RSS feeds.

For those new to RSS, adding feeds manually, while not necessary in most cases, is very easy. Simply visit your favourite site or blog, look for an RSS icon or text, and copy and paste the feed URL that typically looks something like:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/smbc-comics/PvLb?format=xml

RSS feed button

You may have to click through a secondary FeedBurner page if the feed was setup that way and click “View feed XML”. To keep it simple, however, just search using Feedly’s search box and you should be able to immediately add all but the most obscure feeds.

If you aren’t already a devoted Feedly fan like me, give it a shout and let me know what you think!

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Facebook Messenger vs. BBM — Why BBM Sucks

BBM was just released for iOS and Android and a number of people are quickly jumping onto the new-old messaging platform. Before you hop on the bangwagon and add to the messaging fragmentation problem, let me explain why Facebook Messenger is better than BBM.

First off, BBM sucks is a bit harsh. BBM is actually great, it’s just unnecessary and worse than messaging from within Facebook.

1. Everyone* already uses Facebook.

This first point should be obvious but many people still miss just how amazing Facebook is. Until Facebook came along, there was no platform that could single-handedly connect you with everyone you would ever want to speak with (and even some you probably never will want to speak with, but that’s okay).

Facebook Messaging allows you to instantly connect with anyone on your Facebook, no PIN required (more on that later). You can message your closest friends, or reach out to an acquaintance for a very random and specific conversation.

* there aren’t many people left unreachable via Facebook, especially for younger generations.

2. Choice

You can use Facebook Messenger, the dedicated app, or you can message people right from within Facebook. Since many people are already on Facebook throughout the day, it just makes sense to pull up the message box and start typing away!

3. No need for PINs.

Tired of updating people’s phone numbers? Adding PINs? Dealing with phone changes? No worries! With Facebook Messenger you don’t have to worry about any of that. Simply log into to Facebook on any connected device on the planet and you can pick up where you left off in conversations, instantly!

4. Facebook Messenger can be used on a plethora of devices including the desktop.

Apparently BBM will eventually be releasing a desktop application, but as it stands Facebook Messenger has an enormous advantage since the platform remains exactly the same whether you are on desktop or mobile. This is a huge benefit to Facebook. When you’re on the go, use your phone. When you are at home, however, you have the option of typing much faster at your desktop, should you choose to do so.

5. BBM will lead to more fragmentation.

The biggest problem with BBM, the thing that truly does suck, is that it will lead to more fragmentation. Facebook was slowly starting to take over as the default communication platform for many people. Sure, people still text and use iMessage, but Facebook Messenger was always a reliable backup used for connecting you to anyone — especially good for conversations that contain close friends and acquaintances.

6. Facebook Messenger has all of the features of BBM.

Read receipts? Check. Send pictures? Check. Send emoticons? Check. Facebook Messenger has all of the desired features of BBM and none of the undesired ones (like requiring PINs, gross).

7. BBM is unnecessary.

By now, you have probably figured out a fantastic way to keep in touch with your friends. Maybe it’s WhatsApp, texting or iMessage, or even better, you’re messaging through Facebook. Either way, BBM will only complicate the communication with your friends.

Please stop this fragmentation nightmare. Don’t jump on the bangwagon!
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Google X Project Loon — Wireless Internet via Balloon!

Google Loon BalloonHave you ever wondered what Google does with its abundance of cash? The answer: incredible moonshot projects.

As of Jun 30th, 2013, Google had over $54 billion in cash and short term investments. With that kind of moolah, there is very little you can’t do and, unlike Apple that likes to horde its cash, Google likes to put that money to good use, investing in moonshot projects.

So what is Project Loon?

Project Loon is the latest extreme project to come out of Google X, Google’s secret facility for futuristic (sci-fi-like) development. Loon is Google’s attempt to bring internet access to everyone on the planet via a series of special balloons that will create a wireless network from up in the stratosphere.

Other notable Google X projects: self-driving cars and Google Glass,

Google makes money from people using the internet, so it makes sense that they would try to bring more people online. Nonetheless, there are few companies out there that are willing to spend as much money as Google on these “extreme” projects. Loon even gets its name from the fact that the idea was initially seen as “loony”.

The idea behind Loon is very simple: many people around the world lack internet access because they live in remote areas where it is difficult to run traditional networks. Loon aims to solve this issue by floating high in the stratosphere and providing 3G-like internet speeds over a wide area from far above.

The best part of projects like this is that even if they fail, they push the envelope and drive radical change. Google’s self-driving cars, for example, have stimulated competition from a number of companies including Mercedes-Benz, GM, Toyota and Nissan, among many others. They took an idea that seemed downright loony, and turned it into a major innovation that has the auto industry struggling to keep up.

Apple may have redefined the mobile phone space with the iPhone, but Google is silently revolutionizing several industries with innovation previously thought of as sci-fi. This, while simultaneously dominating search and becoming the front-runner in the mobile OS space. What can’t Google do?

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Freemium Apps Suck | Candy Crush and Other Abominations

Candy Crush sucks - Freemium apps suck
Candy Crush Sucks

Sometime within the last year or so, freemium has taken a dramatic turn for the worse; app designers are now beginning to ditch the “free” and focus on the “premium”.

The best example is the abomination that is Candy Crush; a game that has taken freemium to a frustrating extreme. The idea is simple: instead of offering the game for free with a reasonably-priced premium version (read, full version), they make a small portion of the game available for free with many purchases required in-game to proceed. You never buy the full game, you know have to continually pay-to-play.

Freemium apps suck

From a business perspective, it is brilliant, but the users are the ones that lose out — financially. Previously, you could try out a game or app for a while, and if you liked it, you could opt for the premium version — usually priced between $0.99-4.99. Many new apps, however, are now forcing you to cough-up money at regular intervals to progress through the game and charging a dollar or two each time.

The result of this nonsense, is that many users are spending much more than before on their apps, many without realizing it. Other users, like myself, become extremely frustrated with the game, never to play it again. There’s no option to purchase the app in its entirety anymore, so you either have to commit to a continual stream of purchases or stop using the app altogether.

The real problem is this: users are spending much more money with this new freemium model, but unfortunately, there are too many users that do not realize this and add to the problem by lining these businesses’ pockets. The market needs to wake up and start boycotting these apps to prevent a deluge of new freemium apps that will drain user’s pockets.

I am personally boycotting apps like Candy Crush and looking for alternatives so I don’t contribute to this problem. Will you join me in helping to fix this before it gets out of control?

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iOS 7 Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The internet is absolutely loaded with 2 things right now: iOS 7 traffic as people download the latest iOS update and a billion blog posts reviewing iOS 7. I feel it is my job to fuel the fire with my own iOS 7 review.

Firstly, it is worth noting that there are a variety of opinions out there about whether or not iOS 7 is good or bad. Like many, however, I see the OS as taking a number of steps forward and several steps back (as well as some unnecessary side steps). Here’s the breakdown:

iOS 7 InterfaceThe Good

iOS 7 brings about the biggest visual change that Apple has ever put forward. Apple has redesigned just about every single interface and application — I can’t think of anything that hasn’t been redesigned. For those that embrace change (I fall into that camp), the update is very welcome and seems refreshing. For everyone else, many changes will seem arbitrary and frustrating. The good news is that after a week or so, most users will have adapted.

Upgrading was as easy as usual, not including a delay because of overwhelming traffic to Apple’s servers and almost all settings and app data made it across safely to the new OS. Unfortunately, for some reason, my apps did not. A quick visit to the “purchased” section of the App Store app allowed me to re-download the apps painlessly and thankfully all of my app data made the transition.

The best addition to iOS 7 is the introduction of Control Centre for quickly changing phone settings. Of course, this functionality has existed via jailbreak for several years now, but it is great to finally see it baked into the OS as a standard feature.

Based on this, I can finally say that a jailbroken iPhone is no longer an absolute necessity. I still miss my 5-icon dock though.

The Bad
iOS 7 App SwipeThe bad news is that many changes are not just visual and may have gone a step in the wrong direction. Apple decided to rethink many system-wide gestures — some that have worked out for the better and others that add prolonged confusion. Take the new swipe gestures in the default “Mail” application, for example. Apple has decided to change the “swipe for options” functionality from a left-to-right swipe to a right-to-left swipe. This was done, presumably, because of the new OS-wide left-to-right swipe “back” function. However, it just doesn’t feel natural to swipe right to left and is a harder action to perform.

The notification center, by default, has also been made worse. The new “Today” view has been declared terrible by many. Thankfully, you can return the notification center to the way it was by changing some settings.

The Ugly

Call me shallow, but one of my biggest issues with iOS 7 is the overall colour scheme. I call it rainbow unicorn vomit. The fact that Apple got rid of skeuomorphism is fantastic, and most of the menus are dramatically improved visually. However, most of the new stock icons look like off-colour candy and make the overall OS feel more like a children’s toy than a serious new OS.

Some of the biggest problems that you can immediately fix are outlined in a recent Lifehacker article: fixing iOS 7’s biggest annoyances. Some of these frustrating items are:

  • Parallax — the unnecessary, constantly shifting of home screen apps when you move the phone. Distracting and useless.
  • Disable Control Center when in applications — for some apps that require interaction towards the bottom of the screen causing users to accidentally pull up Control Center.
  • Improving battery life by disabling background app refreshing
  • Returning notification center back to its superior old self

iOS 7 Album Artist AnnoyanceAlso, a small but particularly annoying change has been made to the Music app. Instead of selecting an artist and then being presented with a list of albums to drill-drown on, you are given a list of all songs for all albums instead. This makes it much more difficult to get to a specific album since you may have to scroll through every other album before reaching the one that you want (see the screenshot on the left).

Overall, iOS 7 is refreshing seeing as the OS has retained the same look for so long. However, Apple has overdone some of the visual changes and made a number of changes that are unnecessary. Despite some on-going annoyances, most users will quickly come to terms with the new OS and enjoy some of the best features like the Control Center.

What do you think about iOS 7?

Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

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3-Sweep: Mind-boggling 3D Modelling Software | Turning 2-D photos 3-D Automagically

Image manipulation software has been improving at a phenomenal pace — It seems that each week I discover new software performing what seems like magic. The latest software to enter this “super-ridiculously impressive” software category is 3-sweep.

I am no stranger to powerful software such as Photoshop’s new Content Aware features, and yet, as impressive as these new features are, they pale in comparison to 3-Sweep. 3-Sweep allows you to almost instantly create 3-D models of 2-D photos. A few clicks are all that is required to define 2 key dimensions and then a simple mouse drag automagically fills in the 3 dimension, dynamically creating the 3-D model.

You can see 3-Sweep in action below:

As you can see, it appears to be a live demo with 3-D models being created in seconds. I have no idea when this software will be available for public use, and who knows how much it will cost, but one thing is for sure: this software will be a game changer. When powerful tools like this end up in the hands of everyday users, it will be a game-changer.

The “maker movement” has already begun with many people (mostly in Silicon valley for now) building their own products and items using products like the MakerBot. Soon, people will also be able to create elaborate digital items, diagrams and models with minimal effort. This could change everything.

On a scale of 1-10, how impressive do you think 3-Sweep is?

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What happened to the Discovery Channel and TLC? Trash TV, the New Norm

Television has been on a steady decline for many years now — not just fewer eyeballs watching glowing rectangles, but also due to a severe drop in content quality. There was a time, believe it or not, when there was intelligent and educational programming on TV. Unfortunately, those days have come and gone.

What happened to the Discover Channel and TLC?

Both the Discovery Channel and TLC have seen dramatic changes to their programming over the last decade or so, a dramatic shift from stimulating and educational to low-brow, sensationalist “reality TV”. There was a time when you might refer to TLC as The Learning Channel. Alas, that time is no more.

I grew up watching these channels, learning about the diversity of wildlife, history, science and technology and can honestly say that a good portion of what I know about the world came from these two channels that I used to watch religiously with my father. I cannot imagine what would happen to a child that were to grow up watching these channels now. Would they end up as a societal travesty like Honey Boo Boo?

TLC is undoubtedly the winner of the “Biggest Drop in Content Quality” award but Discovery comes in a close second with the History Channel as an honourable mention. While TLC has completely discarded any semblance of its former self, Discovery has tried to camouflage its content decline. While Discovery has kept a select few reasonable shows like Mythbusters, it has largely abandoned quality content as well with few shows that are not reality shows and car modification train wrecks.

Hilariously, Discovery will occasionally air a documentary to try and maintain this camouflage, however it recently blundered badly. Last month, on August 4th, 2013, Discovery aired a fake documentary about the Megalodon, a prehistoric shark that is believed to be extinct for the last 1.5 million years. They eventually confessed by adding a disclaimer at the beginning of the mockumentary the next time it was aired.

I still haven’t answered the main question posed in this post but the answer should be obvious. Discovery and TLC used to be extremely popular with intellectuals that love to learn about the world around them. Unfortunately, it seems intellectuals are too “niche”. So they have ditched their old high-brow content for something that appeals more to the “average” person.

What is truly unfortunate, is that they must be making more money as a result because they have not gone back to their previous ways yet. They pursued the dollar to the detriment of everything they used to stand for.

Thankfully, there is still one way out: Discovery World. It seems to have taken the place of the original Discovery Channel. It is still not the same, but the content is much closer to the way it used to be.

Unfortunately, it looks like intellectuals will be left to suffer in the new world of television. It’s okay, just close your eyes and do your best to block out the Honey Boo Boos and Jershey Shores in this new hell.

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Twist Jar Innovation! The Jar-with-a-Twist

Every once and a while a product comes along that seems so obvious, yet has inexplicably not hit the market. On that note, I introduce to you, in all it’s glory: The Twist-Jar, called Jar-with-a-Twist.

This product does not need much of an introduction as everything you need to know about it is in its name. It is a jar with a twist mechanism. That’s it.

As simple as it is, it is not yet on store shelves and I can only hope that it will be soon.

The Jar-with-a-Twist works just like deodorant — as you use up the product you twist the bottom and it pushes more up to the top. Very practical packaging that has, for some reason, been used almost exclusively for deodorant. The twist jar can be used for a variety of foods that are difficult to get out of their containers once they are nearly used-up, like peanut butter and salsa.

It seems like a small thing but as far as mild inconveniences go, trying to dip a chip in salsa left at the bottom of the container is one of the worst! Sure, you could pour the salsa into a bowl, but think about the dishes! The dishes I tell you!

Amazingly, the creators of the twist jar are claiming that they have been able to manufacture it for a mere 3 cents more than the traditional jar, which means that there’s a decent chance we will end up seeing it on store shelves soon. Hopefully the profit-hungry corporations will see it as an opportunity to stand out (in the short term), and they can easily pass on 3 cents cost to the consumer if they want. I would gladly pay an extra 3 cents per jar for this convenience. The creators are bound to get stinking rich if they can license the product too. At 1 cent per jar they will quickly be rolling in cash as these jars come off the line by the millions.

To top it all off, the jar supposedly keeps food fresher too, since the contents are exposed to less air as the product is used up.

What do you think? Brilliant idea, or what?

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