Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Trans fat and You

You know trans fat is really bad for you, so you only buy packages that have 0g of trans fat in it.  You're safe right?  In most of the world, yes, but sadly not in the United States of America.  In the United States, Trans fat can be listed as 0 grams, as long as there is less than half a gram present per serving.  In our cake mix to the right, there are 12 servings.  Therefore, there could be up to 5.99 grams of trans fat in the mix.  The tip off is in the ingredients list.   The last ingredient in the picture shows Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil.  Anytime you see partially hydrogenated blank Oil, you are looking at trans fat.

I know some of you are going to jump on the "everything is bad for you, so what does it matter" bandwagon.  Yes there are a lot of unavoidable things in life that are bad for you, and you can't avoid everything, but you might want to make an exception for trans fat.  According to the National Academy of Sciences, trans fat increases bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol while providing no known benefits.  What that means is that trans fat increases your risk of coronary heart disease more than anything else you can eat.  Furthermore a study running for 14 years following 120,000 people found that for each additional 2% of your calories that come from trans fat you double your risk of coronary heart disease.  That's not good at all, since if you live in a civilized part of the world, coronary heart disease will most likely kill you.

As if that was not bad enough studies have also linked trans fat to promoting the development of Alzheimer's Disease and infertility in women.  Both of those are pretty bad as well.  There hasn't been enough evidence to prove it conclusively yet, but I wouldn't want to risk either of those conditions.

I don't want anyone to think I'm picking on Betty Crocker, I found trans fat in every cake mix I saw at the store.  Let me know if you encounter one without it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Urban Rivals: Levels 1-15 and making clintz

Since I've seen a few of my readers on Urban Rivals, I thought I'd post up a few tips and ways to make money.  If you haven't heard of it, click here to read my initial review or just scan the article for typos.  The first few levels go very quickly, and the first goal is to get to level 7.  Once you are there you can make clintz a lot faster.  As you work your way to level 7 keep these things in mind:

General Tips
  • As soon as possible, try to narrow your deck down to one or two clans.  This will allow you to have active clan bonuses every game, which can greatly help your chance of winning.
  • If you are playing on the website, you should see two modes available, non-random and normal.  I suggest switching your game to non-random as soon as possible.  This will make it so that whoever has the highest attack always wins.  I can't really write a strategy guide for random mode other than kiss the blarney stone, keep a fish scale in your pocket, or whatever you kids do these days.
  • As you level up more game modes open up to you, and more ways to make clintz to buy better cards.
  • Make sure you check out any new cards your opponent has.  There are a few cards that can do 12 damage in one shot, so don't be taken unaware.
  • If you are playing in non random, and the two cards end up with the same attack, the one with less stars wins.  If the stars are equal, whoever played first wins.
  • The player with the most stars out plays first.
  • Completing missions is a good way to get going.  Missions can give up to 2k clintz, 15 credits, or rare cards!  Check out mission details on this wiki.
  • Remember to use you bonus XP frequently, as it refills fully when you level up.
  • There are some useful posts on the general help message board as well.

Level 7-Daily Tournaments
Every other hour there is a tournament that lasts for one hour.  If there isn't one currently going on, that means the next one starts at the top of the next hour.  Joining a tournament is simple, simply join the Fights Type 1 or Fights Type 2 rooms and do a quick challenge.

As a beginner, you are unlikely to win the Tournament, but there is a 50 clintz prize for participating.  The tournament is based on how many points you score in a game.  A loss is worth a base of 3 points and a draw is worth a base of 4 points.  A win is worth a base of 8 points.  You get extra points for defeating a higher star card with a lower star card, for winning by KO with pillz left over, and for winning with more than 12 life.  (Tests have shown that gains from having extra pillz or life may be limited to 2 extra points per battle).  Most of the points come from beating high star cards with low star cards.  A 16 star deck will rack up a lot of points for every win.
If you withdraw or get timed out, you will be hit for a -20 point penalty and if you finish with a negative Tournament score, you get no clintz!

If you can finish in the top 1/3rd of a Tournament, you get an automatic credit added onto your account.  Additional winnings go out to the top 150 places in the tournament as follows:

Clintz jackpot:
Starts at 10000 Clintz and increases after each battle by adding the double of the Clintz won in the battle.
1st - 5th: 2% each (example for a 350 000 Jackpot: 7 000 Clintz)
6th - 10th: 1% each (example for a 350 000 Jackpot: 3 500 Clintz)
11th - 25th: 0.4% each (example for a 350 000 Jackpot: 1 400 Clintz)
26th - 50th: 0.3% each (example for a 350 000 Jackpot: 1 050 Clintz)
51st - 100th: 0.2% each (example for a 350 000 Jackpot: 700 Clintz)
101st - 150th: 0.1% each (example for a 350 000 Jackpot: 350 Clintz)
Higher than 151st: 50 Clintz each
The 1st player will also receive a bonus of 1 000 Clintz

Certain times of day are more active than others, this means a higher jackpot, but harder to place.  A few are really easy to place in, during late night/early morning for Europe and America.  You can see all this information by clicking the game tab, Game modes, Tourney, History.

Level 15-ELO Tournament
ELO is a week long tournament, with the highest winnings in the game.  Its a point system that resets every Monday.  You start on Monday with 1k points, and that increases or decreases based on how you win or loose fights in the ELO room.  ELO uses the same basic deck as Type 1, with certain overpowered cards being banned.  In order to take home any winnings, you must play at least 5 games and finish over 1k points.  That will net you 2 credits and 150 clintz.  The rewards get good quickly though, for finishing with 1200 exactly I won 707clintz and 5 credtis.  The rare cards that are given out are usually worth at least 1k clintz, and the collectors are worth 10-1000 times as much!  The competition can be rough, but as I said, a lot of the overpowered cards are banned from this mode, so it is much safer than Type 1 and 2.

ELO Tournament prizes:
* [Cards] 1 Collector card(s) for 12 random players from the ELO Tournament Top 100
* [Cards] 1 Rare card(s) for 50 random players with more than 1200 ELO points
* [Credits] the 1st wins 50 Credits.
* [Credits] the 2nd to 25th win 20 Credits.
* [Credits] Players beyond 25th, over or equal to 1300 ELO, win 10 Credits.
* [Credits] Players beyond 25th, over or equal to 1200 ELO and below 1300 ELO, win 5 Credits.
* [Credits] Players beyond 25th, over 1000 ELO and below 1200 ELO, win 2 Credits.
* [Clintz] 1st wins 4% of the Clintz Jackpot.
* [Clintz] 2nd wins 2% of the Clintz Jackpot.
* [Clintz] 3rd wins 1% of the Clintz Jackpot.
* [Clintz] 4th to in 0.5% of the Clintz Jackpot.
* [Clintz] 11th to in 0.25% of the Clintz Jackpot.
* [Clintz] Players beyond 25th and over 1200 ELO split the remaining 86.25% of the Clintz Jackpot according to their ELO scores.
* [Clintz] Players beyond 25th and over 1000 ELO with at least 5 games played receive 150 Clintz (not taken from the Clintz Jackpot).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Angry Birds

Do you like swiping your finger across your iPhone, Palm, Android or Nokia smartphone but lack a compelling reason to do so?  Well then I might have the game for you.  Angry Birds is a very addictive puzzle game that has you swiping your finger to slingshot birds at the pigs that stole their eggs.  Along the way you'll most likely have to destroy various structures built of wood, glass, and stone.

I'm angry that I can't aimThe story plays out through cut scenes after certain levels.  The gist of it is an epic adventure of a group of limbless birds who have somehow managed to produce eggs.  Naturally, the are upset (angry) when some (equally limbless) pigs steal their children.  The main goal is to pull your finger back and release to send the birds flying towards the pigs.  Although you start out with the plain red bird, you eventually get birds that split into three, explode, boomerang and have other skills.  Also the puzzles get more and more complicated as you progress.  In the screenshot you can see me whiffing on my first shot.  The bird in flight was launched from the slingshot at the left, and the two red birds on the bottom are my last two shots.  The game starts off just that simple.  Hopefully you can aim better than I can when trying to screenshot something.

The game costs $2.99 on the iPhone, although there is a lite version to test it out.  The beta version is free for the android and has more levels than the lite version.  That's not fair!  Try it out for yourself, but it is probably worth the price for the amount of game-play you get. This game seems to have the Tetris effect; many people who rarely play games will happily play this for hours.

If you want a walk-through for each level and the locations of the hidden golden eggs click here, don't buy one of the several pages of apps that offer the same thing.


  • The game has been updated several times at no cost, providing more birds, and more levels.
  • You can play a round in less than a minute, making it ideal for a mobile game.
  • There is an achievement system that lets you share your level of obsessiveness with your friends.


  • Can kidnap you or a loved one for months.  Its that addictive.
  • Not a lot of variety in game play.

Final Thoughts:
Angry Birds is well worth the price.  It is fun to play, and that's not just my opinion.  Angry Birds is the #1 paid app in just about every country that has the concept of money (and some that don't).  This game is a lot of fun and if you are a perfectionist, will keep you busy for months.(Seriously)  If you don't have a smartphone and want to try the game, Rovio plans to port this game to the Computer, Playstation Portable, Playstation 3, possibly the Nintendo Wii, and DS, and perhaps certain deli-meats.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Movie Review: Little Hercules

Many people have made movies and television shows about Hercules, the son of the Greek god Zeus and a mortal woman.  We've seen Hercules joking around with Bruce Campbell, we've seen him beating up James Woods.  Last year, Hollywood gave us a fresh take on the legend.  What if the Greek Gods lived to this day, but didn't know it was the current day?  Also what if Mount Olympus was right over Burbank, California?  Then you would have a pretty bad movie, all things considered.

The movie picks up with Hercules sitting around Mount Olympus, talking with his fellow gods. It should be noted that Socrates is now a Greek God.  All of the sudden Marduk (played by Paul Wight aka The Big Show) arrives and starts trying to pick a fight with Zeus.  Marduk is a Babylonian god who feels the need to hang around Mt. Olympus constantly.(We later find out his house is a flaming crap-hole.)

Hercules takes advantage of the fight to escape to Earth.  Once in Burbank, he begins to have a series of wacky adventures.  He has trouble fitting in, but eventually is befriended by a boy about his age. The kid's mother decides that she should take care of Hercules and send him to school, despite him throwing her date into their swimming pool for some reason.

Soon Zeus realizes the only way to contact his son is by toilet phone.  No really.  Anyways, Hercules answers the call on the tele-john and finds out that he can only waste his strength three times before he's only as strong as a normal person.  He must choose to be a mortal or a god.  Also there's a bet with Marduk and Olympus is at stake, but no pressure.
Do you think the Liquid Plumber can take out the Hulkster? 
Marduk cheats on the bet by becoming a private coach for the school Hercules is going to, and creating teams consisting of Hercules versus the rest of the school.  There's a competition, a conspiracy, and some really bad special effects.

I won't spoil the secret ending of the movie, but I will give you a final warning not to buy or rent this unless you are planning to give it the MST3K treatment.  If you are looking for a good Hulk Hogan movie (and I can't imagine that you are) you would be much better off watching his cameo in Gremlins II.

Bonus clips(There is sound but its very quiet):
Hulk Hogan flushing.

Final rating:
7/876 Toilets

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Food: Chobani Greek Yogurt

Today on Random Task we have a special investigative report on Chobani's Greek Yogurt.  Is it made in Greece?  Is it healthy?  Tune in to find out.

Chobani yogurt is made in New York State, not in Greece.  They call it Greek because of the straining process. This process removes most of the liquid, concentrating the protein.  This also removes the vitamin D, but that's not a big deal since you can get that from the Sun.  (Our vampire readers are encouraged to try a different brand of yogurt.)

As you can see on the packaging, the yogurt is stated to be bursting with fruit.  Now when I read that, I expect that if I open the lid too vigorously, fruit will "burst" out of the container with such force that my face will be covered in  blueberries.  That's not quite the case.  I don't mean to be overly critical here; the product has a good amount of fruit and it is sweetened with unrefined sugar.  What gets me is the false advertising.  Had they not built up my expectations with these ridiculous bursting rumors, I would have been more than pleased with the ample amount of fruit provided.
As you can sort of see, there is about half an inch of fruit, and no evidence of Fruit Bursting.

The yogurt contain a ton of protein(28% of what you need for the day) which makes it filling.  The protein has all the amino acids that our body can't produce, and several communities of happy bacteria.  Chobani Greek Yogurt has no fat, no cholesterol, and less sodium than the other brands I used to eat, (Yoplait, Activia, Stonyfield farms).  It also has no artificial sweeteners which is good, because those are deal-breakers for me.  Finally, it is gluten free (for the non-bread eaters), gelatin free (for the non-meat eaters), and not made near nuts or soy (for those who are allergic).  They really covered their bases here.

Three flavors were tested in our lab, and by lab I mean my mouth.  Make sure you stir well before eating.
Strawberry - Strawberry contains enough fruit so that you can have a piece in each bite if you mix it well.  One of my favorites, the strawberries taste very good.
Blueberry - This was my favorite one, it tastes slightly better then the strawberries, and Blueberries are on the list of foods to have everyday if you can.
Peach - The peach was my least favorite, but still good.  The taste seemed slightly bitter, and the flavor of the peaches didn't seem to go as well with the flavor of the yogurt itself.

They also have Vanilla, Honey, Plain, and Pomegranate, which all sound great to me.

Final Thoughts:
Chobani is tasty, filling, and very good for you.  If you want to try it, you can print out coupons on their website.  According to Eat This, Not That, its a "this".  It seems like most other yogurt is sugar and flavor in a container.It costs a bit more than other yogurts, but it is worth it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

iPhone Apps: MotionX GPS

I used to do a lot of hiking, and I still like getting out there when I can.  Although the main goal is having fun, exercise, and whatnot, we seem to like gathering data.  It can be very entertaining to see how far you went at what speed, and how much elevation you gained.  Also not getting lost is usually a plus as well.

Motion X GPS currently costs $2.99 in the app store.  I think it initially was almost ten dollars.  Despite the price it quickly became the most downloaded GPS app on the iTunes store.  There are rumors that this will be published as an android application as well.  Like most paid apps, you get free updates once you buy it.

MotionX can let you know a variety of information very quickly, as well as provide graphs.  Below is the stopwatch screen, which you use to start and stop the recording of data.  If you scroll down from the main screen pictured on the left, you are given a few graphs, as shown on the right picture.

Looks Like a lake to me, but that's why I need a GPS app
At any time during your path or once you've finished, you can overlay where you walked onto a google map of the area as shown to the right. Once you have completed your walk you can save these tracks and send them to your friends via twitter, email, or facebook.  You can even set it up to automatically send out updates on your last current position. This could be used to avoid panicking when one of your friends or family vanishes into the woods in another state.  (Not that that's ever happened in my life repeatedly).

It includes a feature to have a voice randomly tell you how you are doing as far as pacing and other stats without taking it out of your pocket.  It also will let you access your built in iPod through the program.  You can also import GPX formatted locations.

In fact there are a ton of features, so many that it might take some heavy use for you to find out the ones you will use.

  • Easy to use GPS.
  • Three ways to acquire your position. (Manually, GPS, or through a wireless network).
  • Many good features.
  • It can take a minute or longer to get a GPS signal if you are under trees.
  • It can take some reading to figure out all of the different features.
Final Thoughts:
This is a great application if you like hiking, geo-caching, running, or walking.  It is very powerful for the $2.99 price tag.  (Again, much more use per cost then EpicWin.)  I try to use it every time I hike or walk an area for the first time, so I get the statistics.  I'm not sure why it interests me, but there you have it.  There is a free version if you want to try it out.  If you are going to be outside and moving, try it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


With a long weekend here, I feel like I should review a game so you all can have something to do if there is  rain.  Clearly your choices are do something outside or be locked in a room with only a computer to entertain you.  Also you have no ability to use search engines and no games on the computer.  Also you like whatever I like.  Also you read my blog.  Well that narrowed things down a bit.  Moving on...

Urban-Rivals is another online trading card game although it is nothing like Elements.  You get a deck with at least 8 cards, and in every game you draw 4 at random.  These 4 cards go up against your opponent's 4 cards.  Each card represents one of the 600+ characters in the game, divided into 21 clans.  All matches are against other people, so some of the matches get quite intense.  As you play the cards gain experience, and level up, somewhat similar to that popular Nintendo series... (Warning, the linked song may become lodged in your head.  I'm sorry.)

Each card has a power(the blue number) and a damage(the red number).  You and your opponent take turns playing cards, and which ever card has the higher power wins and does its damage to the other player.  The catch is that every battle both players get 12 pills that they can use whenever they want.  Each pill multiplies the characters power.  Playing one pill would make this guy have a power of 12, 9 would give him a power of 60.  This means that you can really win against anyone, not matter what kind of cards they have if you can out-bluff them.  It really is a lot of fun.
Roger and you!
The cards also level up as I mentioned before, although each card has a maximum level.  Cards usually unlock their ability when try reach maximum level, indicated by all of their stars being filled in and the experience bar turning purple.  In the case of the card above, he gets an extra 8 attack added after the pill multiplication phase.  Finally he has a clan bonus on the bottom, this only activates if you have at least two characters of the same clan in your hand at the same time.

Urban-Rivals has a variety of different modes you can play in, twelve system run tournaments every day, a daily lotto, and a week long tournament are all free to enter.  Players are free to create their own events at any time with any rules they want.  Another nice thing is that in the week long tournament, players get to vote on which cards should be banned for each week.  So if you feel a card is overpowered, strike it down!

As you play you earn clintz, which can be used to buy currency on the player market, credits which are used to buy new characters or clintz, and experience which allows you to play in new game modes.  The game has a large achievement system, with each achievement unlocking new cards, credits, or clintz.


  • Its Free!  It has an iPhone App, which is also free.
  • There is a ton of things going on in the game, and as you level up by playing, you gain access to a large amount of new game modes.
  • There are millions of players around the world.  There are usually 5-10 thousand games going on at any  given time, so its not hard to find someone to play with no matter what game type you are interested in playing.
  • There are frequent updates.  In the month I have played this game, they have introduced 4 new cards, and retired 2 to collector status.
  • It gives you practice with those multiplication tables.  If you need that sort of thing.


  • The beginner instructions leave a bit to be desired, especially in the browser version.
  • There is no starting player guide.
  • Math could be useful here.  Some people don't like that.

Final Thoughts:
This is probably my favorite game right now.  I found it a month ago through a banner ad, and it is very entertaining.  It also costs you nothing to try it.  The massive amount of game modes, characters, and other players make it always interesting to play.  A lot of the cards are pop culture references and are fairly funny if you get them.  Oh if you do decide to play, send me a friend request or list me as your sponsor, I'm playing as 38thdoe there too.