A Boost of Energy: Reloaded?

Once upon a time i reviewed energy drinks. Then I didn’t. Now I might do it again.

Energy drinks have long been the source of great controversy. They’re being marketed to young adults, and thus the young and hopeful go ahead and kill themselves drinking too much. I covered this issue extensively in the post “Death by Energy Drink!” last year. Personally, I’m a big fan of energy drinks. I’m nowhere near the product’s target audience, though. Having just broken the magical Big Four Oh, I can’t say that I’m a young adult, neither mentally nor physically. Neither am I a particularly active extreme sports athlete, and I hope I don’t qualify as your stereotypical energy drink gulping douche.

Even though I’m not your average energy drink consumer, I enjoy a sparkling can now and then. I’m at my most creative early in the morning, after a couple of sips from one of the available brands, from Red Bull to Monster Energy. My love for the fizzy creative juice culminated in a series of energy drink reviews, seven in total. The series ran for about a year, in 2015 and 2016.

The reviews had two major problems, however. First of all, the format I chose was too strict, and therefore very limiting. Secondly, the energy drinks I reviewed were surprisingly boring. Most of them tasted like cheap Red Bull knock offs. Because of this, the reviews quickly started to feel stale, boring, and dull. So I simply stopped writing them.

But now, with unexpected inspiration from a popular Norwegian blogger, I might just give the series another try.

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Dump Google.

Google shows its true colors, and removes “don’t be evil” from the code of conduct. It’s time to dump Google.

For years, Google’s been the good guys of the internet. They’ve provided great services without showing a single stick up their customers collective asses. But when they decided to go to bed with the Pentagon war machine, those of us with an ethical backbone started to feel a tiny tingle in the pooper. I covered the utterly moronic decision in the post You Might Be Helping Pentagon Train Killer Dones back in March.

Even Google’s own employees thought playing with Pentagon was a bad idea, and several thousand of them petitioned the company to end the so called Project Maven. About a dozen employees even quit the company in the wake of information about the project surfacing. But that’s a tiny drop in the vast ocean that is Google. With its 85,000 employees, a dozen resignations don’t make a difference.

Now Google has decided to go full anal fist instead, removing the well-known “don’t be evil” from its code of conduct. For me, this is a clear sign the once beloved company is heading in the wrong direction.

It’s time to dump Google.

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The Uber Crash: A Cautionary Tale of Cause and Effect.

I can’t quite let go of the subject of self-driving cars. Let’s have a look at the cause of the deadly Uber crash that happened in March, and what everyone should take away from it.

You probably know the story, but let’s recap anyway: On March 18, a self-driving car struck a woman crossing the road in Tempe, Arizona. She was taken to the hospital, where she later died from her injuries. I covered the incident in my post Self-Driving Cars Must Be Banned Now!.

Since I wrote the thunderous entry, there has been some progress in Uber’s own investigation of the deadly March 18 crash. On May 7, The Information broke an exclusive story explaining what probably happened.

The Volvo XC90’s sensors detected 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she crossed the road, but the software decided it was a false positive. A “false positive” is a false alarm, i.e. the software decided that the sensors had detected something that could be ignored. As a result of that, the vehicle didn’t take evasive action, and Herzberg was hit by the car.

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Murderous Self-Driving Vehicles Strike Again.

For the second time in under two months, one of those deadly self-driving vehicles has been involved in a crash in Arizona.

On March 18, a female bicyclist was killed when she crossed the road in Tempe, Arizona. A self-driving car from Uber failed to avoid her, and she was struck by the vehicle. I covered this incident in the post Self-Driving Cars Must Be Banned Now!. A week ago, on May 4, another self-driving car was involved in a car crash in Arizona. This time, the incident happened in Chandler, and the autonomous car was not operated by Uber, but by Waymo.

Three cars were involved in the Chandler incident. The driver of the first car jumped a red light, and had to swerve to avoid the second car, which was moving into the intersection on a green light. That maneuver propelled it in to the oncoming lane, where it hit the third car, a self-driving van from Waymo. Here’s a video released by the company, showing how the incident was captured by the cameras attached to the Waymo.

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The Confederate Express Mess.

Over the years, I’ve backed over 40 Kickstarter projects. Most of the them have delivered as promised, but Confederate Express turned out to be a spectacular failure.

The Confederate Express campaign launched on Kickstarter way back in 2013. The game was touted as “a strategy-oriented tactical RPG”, and the campaign launched with an impressive tech demo showing off the pixel art graphics engine. Confederate Express got mentioned by high traffic gaming sites like PC Gamer, and Destructoid, which undoubtedly boosted the campaign’s popularity. When it ended, 2,386 backers had pledged nearly $40,000. Several of the stretch goals were met, some of which drastically expanded the scope of the game. A small venture capital investment firm also threw some money at the game. With the extra money, the developer decided to use to expand the scope even further.

While the extra money sounded like a good idea in theory, it didn’t work out very well in practice. Adding more features means adding more complexity, and the addition funding wouldn’t be available until after the developers helped the VC firm finish another project. After Confederate Express was successfully funded in November 2013, little was heard until July 2014. The developer, now using the company name Kilobite, announced Knuckle Club. With that announcement came also the news that the development of Confederate Express had been postponed, citing “recent restructuring of Kilobite” as the cause. Kilobite also tried to get Knuckle Club funded through another Kickstarter campaign, but the site suspended the campaign before it reached $1,000.

By now, most of the backers were screaming bloody murder, and they started to dig around in the dirt to try to figure out was really going on. The media also got involved, and what they discovered was quite fascinating.

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