Soylent day 2

Strong feelings and opinions revolve around this experiment. A reader objects to my eating of solid foods at all, even though the instructions clearly state to slowly ramp up my ingestion of the product. Other readers believe that I am pumping my body full of harmful chemicals in spite of what the publicly available list of ingredients says. Ok, I admit the list of ingredients sounds scary, but it’s the same stuff listed on whatever you buy in the supermarket.

Breakfast

I sat down to “enjoy” my breakfast. I was a little hungry in spite of the gigantic Lebanese buffet of the previous night. I am not dreading this, which is both an improvement and a surprise. Interestingly, the glass of cold Soylent goes down easily, and I even enjoyed the “sandy” texture. Weird.

Lunch

The single serving kept me satisfied until lunch time. Timing couldn’t be better – there was an Apple Event to watch so it’s not like I would have gone to a cafeteria. Simple: pour and drink. Satisfied yet not full.

Gym

After work but before dinner I stopped at the gym. In spite of having had nothing but Soylent all day, I didn’t feel hungry and I was able to workout at the same level as usual – which is admittedly pathetic but still. I think this is worth noting.

Dinner

This time I will avoid the wrath of my readers: another full serving of Soylent for dinner. Unlike the previous day, I no longer detect the faint smell of fish oil in it.

On Ars does Soylent, writer Lee Hutchinson described one of the notorious side effects of the original Soylent 1.0 as follows:

It was bad. These weren’t mere ha-ha toot kinds of emissions; this was hair-raising. It was room-clearing, horse-killing, World War I mustard gas-type gas.

I am eating version 1.1. Its main improvement is the addition of “digestive enzymes” that ameliorate the aforementioned issue. I will say the following: when it comes to gases, it has not been the quantity but the quality. These are very high quality farts. Unless you are a person who’s not attached to my own nose, then they are horrendous.

Thankfully, the quantity is small and I’ve avoided displeasing my coworkers more than usual and have had no elevator incidents. I am still happily married and for the next few days I plan on only hanging out with my two friends who have no sense of smell.

But I will add this and I am not joking: given that 1.1 is having this effect on me, I would love to get my hands on some 1.0 just to see what that would be like.

The experiment continues tomorrow. I am now open to deviating from the plain Soylent and welcome suggestions for culinary improvements. Chocolate? Peanut butter? Sriracha?

ITESM in today’s Apple Event

ITESM @ Apple Event

Many of you may have heard about an Apple Event earlier today in which OS X Yosemite launched, new iPads were released, and an impressive iMac with a 5k Retina Display came out.

What you may have heard is the brief screen time my Alma Mater, ITESM (a.k.a. Tecnológico de Monterrey) got while Craig Federighi was talking about Apple’s new programming language Swift (they are also mentioned in this page if you follow the link).

I wonder who’s teaching the course.

Spotted by Nathan B.

Soylent day 1

Breakfast

Making Soylent for the first time was easy. Put powder in pitcher – it smells good, like pancake mix. Add water and shake vigorously. No problem.

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Add the oil which comes in a small hotel shampoo bottle. This is the part in which the product started losing its appeal. A little more shaking and I was ready to pour the thing for poor me.

This is how it compares to my almost daily breakfast:

Oatmeal Soylent
cost: cheap cheap
color: beige beige
texture: thick sludge watery sludge
benefits: helps me poop brings readers to The MKX®
temperature: hot and soothing cold and harsh
requires: a microwave a healthy dose of masochism

 

I must say that it was faster to prepare it than it was to eat it. It’s grainy, smells bad but tastes ok, and leaves behind a feeling not unlike having a spoonful of olive oil with sand… something I hadn’t done in years. I had to drink it in little sips.

I’ve read that eventually you get to crave this thing. We’ll see. It made me burp little soylent-tasting burps, but that may be because I am a little disgusted.

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Breakfast of champions. And lunch. And dinner.

Good thing I can wash it down with coffee.

Lunch

12:20 PM: It’s later than my usual lunch. I’m hungry but not terribly so. I am dreading this. I left 2/3 of a pitcher of Soylent in the fridge. Ok let’s do it.

12:59 PM: Done eating. I feel satisfied if not full. It took forever to eat because I am doing other things in parallel. And because it’s not super yummy.

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Happy and satisfied champ.

Dinner

I forgot about a prior engagement of dinner with friends. So… I had Middle Eastern food. It was glorious. What happened later was interesting: right after dinner, all hell broke lose on the gassiness front. Or back, I should say. This didn’t happen at all before. So the question arises: What caused it? The Soylent? The hummus? I have tainted the experiment.

At this stage, I feel good, strong, healthy, and my hair has a new sheen.

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Soylent

You may or may not have heard about Soylent. Not the science fiction green type, but the wildly successful Kickstarter project.

I first ordered the food substitute on 5/14/2014. On 7/24 I received an email update in which the original 10-12 week lead time was further pushed back another 8-10 weeks. On 9/19 I was asked to confirm my address, on 10/9 I got my shipping notification, and today I finally received my package. It only took exactly 5 months. You’d think this stuff was made of people or something.

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My one-week ration of Soylent came in this nondescript box.
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Pitcher and scoop in small box, Soylent pouches and fish oil in large one.

The idea is this: substitute food with this inexpensive, nutritious, delightful goo and save money and time. Great for important and busy people who aren’t important enough to have someone cook for them.

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Soylent nutrition facts: too much for me to read. But if you see anything I should be worried about, please let me know.

In the name of science and for the benefit of The MKX® readers, we will have one human being consume nothing but Soylent and coffee and maybe some snacks for a full week. The subject will be monitored and progress will be tracked on this website. There is an important caveat: if the subject is to suddenly become a father, the subject will get a deluge of foreign family members who like to do nothing but eat out. The subject will take a break from the experiment should that occur, although Soylent can be handy in some of the circumstances that may arise.

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The subject looking reasonably healthy and happy, behind the contents of the box, which include bottles of fish oil, the pouches, a neat pitcher, a measuring spoon, instructions.

One notable thing: I received version 1.1 of the formula. The biggest change according to my research is that it drastically reduces flatulence. Given the amount of beans I eat, I assumed any change in my diet would have the same effect. Who knows.

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Soylent 1.1. Shlomit’s nightmares did not materialize.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to post them below. Or just post whatever, as it will encourage me to carry on with the experiment.

Bonus:

A colleague ordered an unofficial Soylent knock-off (the formula is available for anyone to use) and traded a single meal with me. It came in a shady-looking ziploc bag. At some point during the experiment I will try it and compare.

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This is a panorama I shot of the line outside of the Apple Store at The Domain (left).

The MKX® iPhone 6 review

As the editor of a major technical news website (this one) I am forced to upgrade my iPhone every year so you can read my refined opinions. Let’s do it.

Getting the review unit

The pre-order process was rough. Not only did I have to wake up at 2 AM on a weekday in excruciating back pain (different story) but the Apple Store website was having trouble – flashbacks to trying to buy World Cup tickets. I almost gave up…

… but a helpful soul on Twitter caught wind of my whining and alerted me that the website was back up and I was able to place my preorder.

The phones went for sale on Friday. I was able to skip the line at shul The Apple Store, and that was good because it was rough:

This is a panorama I shot of the line outside of the Apple Store at The Domain (left).
This is a panorama I shot of the line outside of the Apple Store at The Domain (left) sometime around 8:30 AM. Click to enlarge.

Battery life

I’ve only had the phone for a few days and so far it seems like the battery lasts longer than the iPhone 5s, which was just fine. This is not going to be a concern.

Missing in Action

Apple Pay. I like my wallets to be thin. The added bulk of a credit card kills me. So anything that helps avoid carrying more stuff in my wallet is welcome. Unfortunately, Apple Pay isn’t out yet so I can’t test it just yet. And not every place will take it so I will still have to carry the credit card for the foreseeable future. Dang.

Camera

I haven’t used it that much yet! So I can’t tell. Instead I will direct you to some reviews about the camera. In summary: it seems to be better than the previous iPhone 5s which had the best camera of all smartphones, 42 MP Nokia fat-phones be damned. This is important to me because

  1. I care that my photos look decent
  2. For the most part I don’t want to carry a large dedicated camera
  3. I am going to be taking a lot of photos starting in late October

So read “Apple’s iPhone 6 Has Finally Convinced Me To Ditch My Compact Camera” and  look at this crazy photos taken in Iceland and watch this video taken in Disneyland which is impressive because of how there’s no shake and how quickly the video adapts to the changes in darkness and light.

The camera does have one big drawback: the lens sticks out a little bit. If you use a case, then it’s a non-issue. If you don’t use a case, the phone will wobble on it’s invulnerable sapphire lens. Me? I use a case.

Screen

It looks great, and it can fit more content in it’s 4.7″ than the old 4″ iPhones (duh!). I like reading from it. But adding a large screen it has a big drawback…

Size

Left: iPhone 5s. Right: iPhone 5
Left: iPhone 5s. Right: iPhone 5. Hand model: Marcos. I tried to make the scale of the photo roughly the same. The size difference is striking.

It’s big, and this is the “small” model, not the gigantic iPhone 6 Plus. I get it: the demand for a larger iPhone was huge. And then there is that dirty little secret every other phone maker hasn’t told you yet: making large phones is easier. Apple can’t keep doing both forever: competing in specs and make the phone smaller. The market has spoken loud and clear. The giant iPhones are upon us.

The phone is very thin though, even with the case. And since it has rounded corners it slides in and out of my pocket just fine and doesn’t bother me at all – which was a pleasant surprise.

But oh boy, one-handed use suffers big time. You can’t reach the top of the screen without some impressive hand calisthenics , and the phone feels top heavy, precariously close to tipping over.

In the past years while at the public restroom at work I’ve accumulated accolades from both peers and higher ups due to my ability to keep up with my RSS feed while I urinate. This is going to be a lot harder now, and just imagine the embarrassment when my phone falls into the urinal while I try to tap that out of reach button (note to self: look into this). Reputations take years to build up, but a mere instant to destroy. Reachability may help, but it’s not yet second nature to me and it still seems like an inelegant easy way out. The original iPhone was a pleasure to use with one hand – at the expense of screen real estate. The new iPhone flips the table. Perhaps modern medicine can come to the rescue?

Other

The phone with its A8 processor feels faster, which is cool but not in a way you notice right away. In my experience, jumps in performance were similar across iPhone generations with the notable exception of the 3GS which was a much faster than its antecessor. But the speed bump is definitely there, and when you go back to use the previous phone, it feels sloooow. Every small gain in performance makes the thing more pleasurable to use and it adds up over time.

The phone now has a barometer, so not only do you know how many steps you take in a day, but how many floors you climb. I will be testing this more this week.

And I am selling my old factory unlocked pristine 32 GB iPhone 5s. Great phone, usable with one hand anywhere in the world. Supplies are limited! Hurry up!

Additions (September 22)

  • The lock button was moved from the top to the right of the device. This is a good idea, because the top is hard to reach with one hand. But there’s a drawback: the lock button is now opposite from one of the volume buttons, so if you squeeze the phone to lock it, you may end up pressing the wrong button.
  • Touch ID (fingerprint sensor) seems to be a lot faster and a lot accurate. This may or may not be my imagination or due to the fact that I just programmed it – but my guess is that it’s a new revision of the hardware.
  • Apps that aren’t yet updated for the iPhone 6 look zoomed in. This makes everything look larger, means that the app doesn’t take advantage of the added screen space, and that the keyboard is larger. The last point is a big problem, since one relies on muscle memory for fast typing, and switching keyboard sizes is ver bad for that.

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