Hershey’s Classic Milk Chocolate Tastes Like Vomit!

January 20, 2009
If you have ever been unlucky enough to open a regular bar of Hershey’s milk chocolate (or Hershey kisses for that matter) you will know what this blog post is all about.
The second you unwrap some of the Hershey Corporation’s “finest” you’re nostrils will be assailed by the faint but distinct aroma of what can only be described as baby’s vomit. Hold your nose and take a bite, but beware, it doesn’t get any better!

The stuff tastes positively vile. Rank even. The aftertaste is so reminiscent of having thrown up in your own mouth that you are quite likely to do just that.

Refrigerating this ‘chocolate’ does little to stave off the nausea brought on by smelling and tasting this uniquely American candy. If you’re unlucky enough to try it for the first time at room temperature, or worse, out of a warm trouser/pant pocket, you’ll be in for a real treat. Not.

There is a good reason why Hershey’s chocolate has this distinct aroma and flavor, they use soured milk (instead of buttermilk or cocoa butter) and have done for decades, all the way back to the Second World War. That’s right, soured milk. How many people do you know love to chug-a-lug on a lumpy, cheesy carton of soured milk? None that I know of, but many Americans and devotees in many other parts of the world lap this stuff up by the million.

Chocolate + Sour Milk = Fail?

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Hershey’s Milk Chocolate has a ‘unique’ smell and flavor. Tell us what you think about this American classic!

Here’s a good link for starters. Lots of people have posted on this page with similar views regarding Hershey’s traditional milk chocolate. http://www.cybercandy.co.uk/aaasmt/index.php/url_indprod?ltrev=72&xlc=77


U3 USB Smartdrives – The U3P Format

December 6, 2007

I recently came across an application that ended in a .u3p I had absolutely no idea what this was but after doing some research I came to find out that it is basically a means to make applications (as well as data) portable via the use of new USB devices called “U3 Smartdrives”.

You can read a very good “Newbie Guide” here at EverythingUSB.com and if you wish to learn more you should visit the home of U3 Smart Technology at U3.com

For people using Windows Vista you should be aware at the outset that there are some current issues, namely many existing U3 smart drives will not work with Microsoft Vista without an upgrade to the U3 Launchpad. You can read an article here that explains in more detail. Only applications that are specifically developed for the U3 platform may be installed and run through the U3 Launchpad. You can browse and download U3 smart applications from U3 Software Central.

This new technology intrigued me because I have tried “being portable” by taking applications and data with me on USB sticks in the past, including an entire (cutdown) version of my WindowsXP on a 2GByte stick.

Sadly Google searches bring up a lot of geek-style sites when you do searches for expressions like “Where can I buy U3 (USB) Smartdrives?” and the reality is that this technology is still under early adoption. The number one manufacture appears to be Sandisk, a dominant manufacturer of flash drives, USB memory sticks and other memory devices and readers. This makes sense seeing as Sandisk and Microsoft seem to be working together in regards to U3 and its potential for enterprise deployment.

At the moment, there really are only a few locations on the web where you can look at purchasing these new U3 smart devices and two of these are the U3 Website and directly from Sandisk themselves.

This technology is definitely worth keeping an eye on. I can see it taking off fairly soon, especially with two industry heavyweights behind it. Developers interested in mobilizing their own applications and/or developing U3 smart applications for mobilization and deployment should look at getting started with the U3 Developer Kit.


Eliminate 85%+ Of All Email Spam in Forté Agent

November 30, 2007

I’ve been using an outstandingly good email/news reader program called Forté Agent for over 10 years now. I still consider this program to be one of the absolute best email/newsreader combos out there and it has single-handedly helped protect me from greater than 98% of all email-bound virus, trojan and worm threats for that entire time.

How can I possibly arrive at a figure like this? According to the software security industry, greater than 98% of all such threats are written to exploit the weaknesses in Microsoft’s software, principally Outlook, Outlook Express etc. Forté Agent is an extremely solid, well written, non-Microsoft application which, until recent versions, forbade the display of html formatted email messages and never puts you in the accidental position of auto-opening/launching any attachments you may receive which is by far the most dangerous thing that Microsoft email readers have been guilty of.

However, there is a threat to our sanity and privacy out there that surpasses viruses and the like by a factor of a 1,000,000:1

SPAM!

I doubt if there is a single individual out there with more than 1 month email experience under their belt that _hasn’t_ had to deal with unwanted email promising anything from enlarging the size of your genitals to winning a million bucks and everything inbetween. It has become increasingly difficult to fight off this deluge of garbage that finds its way in to our virtual mailboxes and I want to offer here a small selection of custom email filters that you can implement in Forté Agent which will radically reduce the amount of spam your inbox receives.

Forté Agent uses a priority system for actioning its filters based upon a simple numeric order from 1000 to 1. The higher the number applied to the filter rule, the earlier it will be executed by Agent. For example, a filter created with a priority of 800 will be executed before a rule with a priority of 600.

Step 1. Create two new email folders in the folder view (we’ll use these later). For sake of argument we will call them:

i) +Super Spam+

ii) +Known Large Spam Domains+

Step 2. Open your Email Filters view. In older versions of Agent it will be under the ‘Window’ menu dropdown. On newer versions of Agent, it will be under the ‘Tools’ dropdown.

Step 3. Creating email filters – Click the icon for creating a new email filter (in later versions select New Kill Filter), you will be presented with the standard email filter profile editor applet. This will be the same no matter whether you are creating a ‘Kill Filter’ (a filter that kills/deletes the email) or a ‘Watch Filter’ (a filter that keeps an email and/or marks it as read and/or moves it to a specified folder of your choosing).

Step 4. Create our first rule. – This rule will be to target email spam for immediate deletion, specifically spam that ‘appears’ to come from known spam domains such as .biz and .info Are there legitimate emails from domains such as these? Yes, but we can create specific rules for those only when we know an address to be legitimate and then apply a higher priority to it.

In the Filter Expression window, enter in this exactly: Any-Sender: {@?.+\.biz}

In the Kill Action section below, select the Delete radio button

In the Options section, enter 900 in to the Priority box

Select the ‘Do not leave on server’ checkbox.

OK you’re done with your first rule. Click OK.

Step 5. Duplicating the above rule – Select the rule you just created in the filter list window then click on the icon called ‘New Copy of Filter’ and you will now open a clone of the filter you just created. This saves a lot of time. We are now going to edit the domain in the Filter Expression window to change the ‘.biz’ in the existing expression to ‘.info’ so that it now looks like this Any-Sender: {@?.+\.info}. Save this new email filter by clicking OK once again and you now have two email filters, one for .biz and one for .info

Now repeat the process twice more for .name and .tv – You will now have 4 new email filters that will reduce a considerable amount of spam from spammers who utilize these domains for fake commercial spam (.biz, .tv and .info) as well as spam from fake individuals (.name)

Step 6. We are now going to use the same basic filter to create four new filters that help remove system mailer related emails both fake and legitimate. Only do this if you really have no idea what a mailer subsystem or daemon is and have no desire to learn. Basically, some domains will return certain system message emails back to sender when something goes awry. Although these can contain valuable data for system administrators and tech-heads, they are pointless for the rest of us. Sadly spammers also utilize mailer system terms to try and get through spam filters.

We are still going to keep all the other settings, including the priority of 900. We are only changing the Filter Expression field once again. Create your 4 new filters with each of the following:

Any-Sender: @mailer*
Any-Sender: @daemon*
Any-Sender: MAILER-DAEMON*
Any-Sender: Mail Delivery Subsystem*

Step 7. Now we are going to use the same expression used in step 4. but this time to filter out spam that originates from those countries that generate the most. However, this time we are going to create ‘Watch Filters’ instead of Kill Filters. In other words, we are going to retrieve these emails, mark them as read and put them in a pre-existing folder, specifically the +Super Spam+ folder we created in Step 1.

Follow the steps to create a new filter and this time do the following:

In the Filter Expression window, enter in this exactly: Any-Sender: {@?.+\.rr}

In the Kill Action section below, select the Mark Read radio button

In the Route to Folder dropdown box select the +Super Spam+ folder

In the Options section, enter 900 in to the Priority box

Select the ‘Do not leave on server’ checkbox.

OK you’re done with your first rule. Click OK.

You are now going to repeat this process 5 more times using the Create Filter Copy as described earlier and you are going to replace the .rr at the end of the Filter Expression with the following (one per filter instance obviously):

.ro
.pl
.gr
.be
.nl

Respectively these letters represent Russia, Romania, Poland, Greece, Belgium and the Netherlands. As you can see from this simple repeatable process, you can add more as necessary, or remove as necessary. If you reside in the United States or the United Kingdom, these six countries account for a large percentage of some of the more dangerous spam, particularly those that include dangerous attachments and/or code exploits.

Step 8. This step is a repeat of Step 7. except we are now targetting known U.S. domains that generate huge amounts of email traffic, and hence huge amounts of spam. Tens of thousands of legitimate email addresses exist for each of these domains but you should add each one individually when you know the individual and their address is legit, let this set of filters handle everything else.

Follow the steps to create a new filter and this time do the following:

In the Filter Expression window, enter in this exactly: Any-Sender: @aol.com

In the Kill Action section below, select the Mark Read radio button

In the Route to Folder dropdown box select the +Super Spam+ folder
In the Options section, enter 900 in to the Priority box

Select the ‘Do not leave on server’ checkbox.

OK you’re done with your first rule. Click OK.

You are now going to repeat this process 5 more times using the Create Filter Copy as described earlier and you are going to replace the .rr at the end of the Filter Expression with the following (one per filter instance obviously):

@msn.com
@yahoo
@hotmail
@att.net
@earthlink.net
@biz.net
@verizon.net

You my wish to add more such as @comcast.net or @wowway etc., depending upon your circumstances. However the rule of thumb is that it is better to block ALL and let through what you want to let through individually rather than trying to create hundreds or thousands of individual filters/rules for every person you know.

Step 9. Ok the last three filters we are going to cover are the most powerful. These ‘power filters’ will catch the majority of the most irritating spam you are likely receive, namely garbage (junk) mail, advertisements and fake subscriber mailings.

The first of these is a ‘subject’ based filter that targets email containing non alphabetical characters in the subject line. This is particularly common in junk mail:

Follow the steps to create a new filter and this time do the following:

In the Filter Expression window, enter in this exactly: subject: {^[^a-z”]}

In the Kill Action section below, select the Mark Read radio button

In the Route to Folder dropdown box select the +Super Spam+ folder
In the Options section, enter 900 in to the Priority box

Select the ‘Do not leave on server’ checkbox.

OK you’re done with your first rule. Click OK.

Step 10. The second power filter is to target common ad terms and fake subscriber terms used in spam:

Follow the steps to create a new filter and this time do the following:

In the Filter Expression window, enter in this exactly: subject: ($ | $$ | $$$* | free* | percent* | $money* | money* | win* | sex* | porn* | xxx* | university | degree | venture* | invest* | opportunity* | offers* | deal* | e-centive* | loan* | casino* | erection* | libido* | formula* | debt* | accounting* | mortgage* | weight* | Hot-Fare* | Selected* | FREE -* | credit* | gift* | ($) | approved* | insurance* | address* | automat* | unverif* | verific* | verify* | require* | postmast* | unsolic* | respons* | returned* | notificatio*)

In the Kill Action section below, select the Mark Read radio button

In the Route to Folder dropdown box select the +Super Spam+ folder
In the Options section, enter 900 in to the Priority box

Select the ‘Do not leave on server’ checkbox.

OK you’re done with your first rule. Click OK.

Step 11. This last power filter is a big one. It targets the most undesirable types of spam, namely the sexual orientated spam. In addition, I have included dupe terms from the previous filter but what makes this filter different is that it targets spam that utilizes these terms in the sender field, not the subject field. Due to the nature of this type of spam, it deserves only to be ‘killed’ so we use a kill filter only:

Follow the steps to create a new filter and this time do the following:

In the Filter Expression window, enter in this exactly: Any-sender: ($ | $$ | $$$* | free* | percent* | $money* | money* | win* | sex* | porn* | xxx* | university | degree | venture* | invest* | opportunity* | offers* | deal* | e-centive* | loan* | casino* | erection* | libido* | formula* | debt* | accounting* | mortgage* | weight* | Hot-Fare* | Selected* | FREE -* | credit* | gift* | ($) | approved* | insurance* | address* | automat* | unverif* | verific* | verify* | spam* | antisp* | nospa* | postmaster* | warning* | request* | confirm* | christmas* | shopping*)

In the Kill Action section below, select the Delete radio button

In the Options section, enter 900 in to the Priority box

Select the ‘Do not leave on server’ checkbox.

OK you’re done with your first rule. Click OK.

That is it folks! There are many other types of filters you can create as well as all the individual filters you will want to create with a higher priority (say 950) for your Mom, your Aunt Molly, Uncle Bob and your CPA. However, I have spent the last 6 years fine tuning these filters and they catch more than 85% of all spam that hits my mailbox. Good luck and enjoy.


Adding your site URL to Google

April 17, 2007

I manage several websites, all of which are fun projects for the most part, nothing serious or commercial.

However, times have changed a great deal in the last 7+ years when it comes to getting your web site spidered and indexed by the big search engines so that it can appear in search results when someone types in your URL (address) or keywords that apply to your site.

For one thing, in the last 7 years Google has come to the fore and now dominates the search engine business. Why it became so popular I am not sure, but the term “Googling” is synonymous with “searching” these days when it comes to web searches.

Back in the day, it was relatively easy to submit your site to the many search engines around at that time. All the sites, Google included, used to include a link on their main page that webmasters could follow for submitting their website URL to that particular search engine.

These days however, the placement and ranking of a website on a search engine is very big business indeed. As with most things in life, if its free at first and holds merit, it will eventually become commercialized and costly.

The easiest way to see if your site has been indexed is to type your URL e.g. http://www.mywebpage.com in to the search field and hit search. If results come up, you have been indexed. Google chooses not to add every site that it indexes to its mammoth search engine database, however, even if you don’t know about Google, Google knows about you! Google’s spidering web-bots, the AI software it uses to index and spider websites, can land on your domain and look at your pages whether you are aware of it or not.

For example, four days ago I launched a new website. I had not announced it and there were no links on my new site that linked out of my domain to any other websites. Yet, less than two days later I was monitoring IP addresses and noticed not one, but two Google bots examining my site, and not just the homepage either, they were 3 levels deep. How do they do this? I have no idea but Google is like the silent big-brother of the web.

Now to the point of this post. I had a need this morning to submit a site of mine to Google as I wish it to be indexed. A simple task I thought. After spending 15 minutes following links on Google’s website I finally found what I was looking for, buried deep in their site. “My dear Google, one could be forgiven for thinking that you really don’t want people to manually submit their sites to your search engine any more? Is there something you are not telling us?”

Anyway, to save others the time and frustration, here is the URL submission page for submitting your site to Google (at least until they decide to move it again):

Add your URL to Google here!



Pull This!

April 15, 2007

Tag from a toy horse’s butt.So, for Christmas this year, my wife’s young cousin (a girl) received a new toy horse as one of her gifts. However, after getting help opening the box, the girl’s parents were somewhat amused after unwrapping the gift to find a tag hanging from a rather unusual location about the horse’s person.

They took a photo before their daughter had a chance to notice, and then removed it.

Not wanting to keep this to ourselves, here it is for your enjoyment.


Gandalf versus Gandalf

April 13, 2007

OK I have had these two figurines sat atop my desk now for a long time. Here they are:

Gandalf the Grey - Tolkien - Lord of the RingsGandalf the White - Tolkien - Lord of the Rings - Ian McKellen - Peter Jackson

What struck me is how the general public’s visualization of the character Gandalf, from J.R.R.Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ has been greatly impacted since the release of Peter Jackson’s staggering movie adaptation of the book trilogy starring Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf.

Prior to this movie, and Ian McKellen’s portrayal as Gandalf, the typical mental picture painted by the Gandalf character, both from reading the books and seeing past artists renditions of their interpretation, led us to see him much more in the traditional ‘wizard’ style.

Note the first picture which is a figurine produced many years ago, long before Peter Jackson’s adaptation. The figurine depicts Gandalf the Grey with his staff and sword and the traditional wizard’s hat. Note the basic design of his flowing robes. Nothing fancy there. If my memory serves me correctly, these robes changed little (other than colour) after Gandalf ascended to become Gandalf the White.

Now look at the second picture and we see what is clearly a replica of Ian McKellen from his movie portrayal as Gandalf the white. However, the fundamental changes here are a) the absence of the hat, b) a more youthful interpretation of the Istari and c) a noticeably shorter beard.

This all means absolutely nothing, of course, except for the fact that it suddenly dawned on me that even in my own mind, my mental interpretation of the Gandalf character has gone from the old to the new. Which is remarkable considering I had read the trilogy 3 times before I was 20 years old and my mental picture remained the former interpretation until the release of Peter Jackson’s movie.


eHarmony.com

April 13, 2007

I’m Sorry! How many dimensions?

OK this is a really short rant.  I just have to say that if I hear Dr. Whatshisface say one more time “Discover the beauty of being matched across 29 proven dimensions of compatibility.” I think I am going to call him out on it.

I have no idea what irritates me so much about this statement.  Somewhere in my brain my mind is telling me “fictitious, contrived, manufactured, cooked-up”.  I have no doubts that the service has helped couples find one another but the rose-tinted picture of perfection that is painted by the good Dr. makes me wonder just how many of these couples end up splitting up that we don’t hear about.

I’m sorry, but the only person that matches me in 29 dimensions, is me!