My thoughts on Soylent Nectar and Cacao flavors

Earlier this week, I ordered a 12-pack (the smallest available order size) each of Soylent Nectar and Soylent Cacao to sample it.

People who know me will recall that I drink Soylent (and, in fact, have a monthly subscription) because it simplifies tracking my nutrition, and is cheap and convenient. I don't live entirely off of it (yet), but it does come in handy replacing the expensive or unhealthy food that I would otherwise have to choose for lunch at work.

Up until now, I've only ever consumed the Original version. I usually tell people who ask me about it that it has a taste somewhere in between a vanilla milkshake and thin pancake batter. It's perfectly palatable, if purposely bland, and I have no trouble with drinking it day in and day out. But what if I wanted a little more variety?

Rosa Foods, Inc., the company which produces Soylent, somewhat recently came out with three additional variations on the Soylent drink:

Coffiest: Has coffee mixed in and is intended as a b…

My review of the Nexus Live Case

I recently received a Nexus Live Case I ordered from Google for my Nexus 5X smartphone. My thoughts on my purchase are below.

The picture I chose to have printed on mine (I chose the Photos version, not the Places one) was my old Schefflera Arboricola (umbrella plant) photo taken back at the University of Michigan in my dorm room. Sometimes I still miss that plant...

Anyhow, the case came in great packaging, as I've come to expect from Google. The case itself has a matte finish (a glossy variant should also be eventually available, but wasn't yet at the time I ordered mine). It's a fairly stiff plastic shell, and took a little bit of effort to get onto my phone.

Once installed, the case fit snugly. Installation of the accompanying My Live Case app from the Google Play app store went smoothly, despite asking me twice to press the button to set it up (once from the packaging's instructions, and once more after installation of the app).

I like that my phone now slides mor…

Live sample of an inheritance scam: A dissection

I recently received a spam email in my inbox, and some aspects of it interested me enough I figured I would write a blog post about it. It's basically the 419 scam you all know and love, but with some minor twists to it that seem new (at least to me).
The email claimed to be sent from a Mrs. Rose(mary) Williams, although the actual email address behind it is I was blind carbon-copied on this, presumably to keep it looking like a direct communication and without tipping off any potential victims about the existence of others. The body was a sole JPG image file with no other text; the file is reproduced below for the reference point of my analysis. Let's go over this message bit-by-bit.
First, let us note that it actually tries to look like a formal-ish letter (although a serif font would have been probably better suited for this purpose). Also, a letterhead and footer are used to establish the name and professional title of Mrs. Rosemary Williams. C…

My new System76 Lemur laptop

I will be starting graduate studies at Lawrence Technological University next week, and one of the things I needed for the upcoming semester was a new laptop. My school does not supply the nice Lenovo Yoga machines to graduate students for free like it does for undergraduates (graduates have to pay $95/credit hour, which as you might expect adds up quickly), and my beat-up Toshiba Satellite which I've had since starting my studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as a freshman is starting to show its age.

This time, I felt confident enough in my experience with Ubuntu to leave behind Windows-based systems for good, at least for my personal machines. I could get just about any laptop nowadays and replace Windows on it with Ubuntu (then pray that it works with all the hardware and Secure Boot doesn't give me any issues), but I decided to do it right and get an Ubuntu machine from a reputable OEM. Thus, I decided to order a Lemur laptop from +System76 back in December, …

End of summer 2015

The summer of 2015 is drawing to a close for me. I had a very productive software development co-op with MAG Automotive, and I will probably return there in a permanent capacity after I graduate with my bachelor's degree at the end of this year. I will be taking the following courses this fall semester:

Game Design (have to fill technical electives somehow)Network System AdminIntroduction to Computer SecuritySenior Project Not sure how this schedule will impact +Joseph Kielasa and I eating lunch together, carpooling or going to the gym, but we'll work something out.

I still don't have the results of my degree audit, but I will be visiting the head of the department tomorrow to find out what's going on. I will likely also take care of re-imaging my school laptop at the same time. We're not going to Windows 10 yet at LTU, unfortunately, but I can understand they need time to test everything and make sure it works before deploying it. If I wanted to run it myself, mayb…

Meet Zorro!

A couple days ago, my mom and my brother went and adopted a new playmate for Shimmer from the Michigan Humane Society. He is a 10 week-old male black kitten, whom we have decided to name Zorro.
Zorro is currently being confined with almost constant watching in either the bathroom or my brother's bedroom, since he is still getting acquainted with our house and he is still recovering from the neutering surgery he underwent shortly before we adopted him. Also, introductions with any other cats already in the house need to be done slowly, so he will not be able to directly see Shimmer for another week or so. They do get to sniff each other under the doors, however.

Of course, Shimmer is still getting lots of love and attention during all of this. After all, we adopted Zorro to give her a playmate closer to her own size.

Learning VBA for getting Excel work done fast

I've been recently picking up another programming language: Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), specifically for working with Microsoft Excel.

I'm not going to be coding any hobby projects in VBA any time soon, but it is useful for a few specific things. Basically, VBA is good for automating things within Excel, so if you find yourself needing to do anything within it, VBA could give you some extra power if you already have a programming background.

My first taste with VBA came from my current employer, where it is used often in their spreadsheets. VBA can be used to used to script normal user actions, which is the kind of coding I first encountered, but this can often be slow if working with large amounts of data, or doing some external file I/O. Using my more conventional programming tactics, I produced some very large gains in macro execution speeds. I'm now getting requests from co-workers to speed up some more VBA code they have, so I'm feeling pretty good about …