Scientific contribution via Mozak

I have been occasionally playing a game called Mozak. It is similar to Foldit in that it is a crowdsourced scientific research game, except this one is about reconstructing neurons by tracing their axons from three-dimensional scans. The goal is to help researchers better understand the structure of the brain at the cellular level. (In case anyone's curious, this is my game profile page here.)

I recently received an email from someone at the University of Washington's Center for Game Science, which runs the game. The following is an excerpt from that email:

I’m writing to let you know that one or more of the neurons you contributed to in Mozak will be featured in an upcoming scientific paper. Our partners at the Allen Institute for Brain Science wish to acknowledge Mozak players that participated in the following reconstructions:

Mouse-V1-20, Mouse-V1-21, Mouse-V1-22, Mouse-V1-23, Mouse-V1-24, Mouse-V1-25, Mouse-V1-32, Mouse-V1-39, Mouse-V1-40, Mouse-V1-41, Mouse-V1-43, Mou…

My thoughts on the new Strawberry Soylent flavor

A while ago, I wrote a blog post in which I reviewed the Soylent Cafe flavors when they first came out. And a while before that, I wrote another blog post where I reviewed the Soylent Cacao and Nectar flavors. So, today's post can be thought of as a "Part 3" of sorts.

I received an email from Soylent not too long ago which announced a new Strawberry flavor coming out. No mention of this new flavor has appeared on their blog as of this writing, because apparently I'm to be "one of the first to taste Soylent Strawberry". The email contained a promo code to get 50% off the first case when ordering a new subscription of it, and claimed it is supposed to taste just like strawberry milk. Curious, I decided to do so.

My order arrived today, just a couple days after I placed it, arriving via FedEx.

It seems interesting to me that this Soylent arrived in a larger, more rounded bottle shape, instead of the new-ish "sqround" bottles they wrote about in a blo…

My thoughts on the Soylent Cafe flavors

This post can be thought of as something like a follow-up to my last post when I tried the Soylent Cacao and Nectar flavors (which were pretty good and pretty bad, respectively).

Soylent recently announced the availability of new flavors on their official blog. I'm guessing that the "Coffiest" variant of Soylent they've had for a while now, which seems at first glance to be a mixture of Soylent and coffee intended as a breakfast food, must have been doing pretty well. They now have a Soylent Cafe line of drinks, which the aforementioned Coffiest belongs to, as well as their brand-new Soylent Cafe Vanilla and Soylent Cafe Chai flavors. All three flavors are caffeinated, with Coffiest and Vanilla each supposed to have roughly the same caffeine content as a cup of coffee, and Chai on par with a cup of tea. The new flavors also have L-theanine added, which is claimed to somehow help with "jitters" from caffeine.

That all sounds great... But what does it actuall…

My first visit to the Microsoft Store

I consider myself first and foremost a fan of Linux, particularly Ubuntu. However, this is not to say I don't also use other solutions from time to time. In particular, despite all the flak that Microsoft gets from the Linux community on a regular basis, I myself still use quite a bit of their technologies and products in my own personal tech ecosystem. The rest of my family especially still turn to Windows for most of their own computing needs, and I still provide them free IT support.

My brother +Jonathan Horton is in a transition period of sorts right now. He will soon be taking up an extended residence in a hotel somewhere in Owosso, MI while he is in a seven-week internship. (He holds a bachelor's of science degree in microbiology from Michigan State University, and is pursuing a career in clinical laboratory.) During this time, he is expected to take weekly exams wherever he is staying at, which will be proctored via the internet.

The proctoring software strictly require…

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…