Anova Precision Cooker Review

In the latest episode of Bad Voltage, I review the Anova Precision Cooker Sous Vide. While you should listen to the show (which includes discussion of the review), here’s the review text.

Anova Precision Cooker

As I mentioned in my Soylent review, viewing gastronomy as merely about sustenance is anathema to me. To say I enjoy food, food culture and eating is a prodigious understatement. It may come as no surprise then that I also enjoy cooking. While I’ve wanted a sous vide for some time now, there simply hasn’t been an affordable model I liked until a recent round of product launches. The Anova Precision Cooker seemed like a nice confluence of quality, price and technology and was the device that finally convinced me to plunge into the world of sous vide. For those unfamiliar with sous vide, it’s a method of cooking food sealed in an airtight bag in a water bath for longer than normal cooking times at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking. The intention is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, while retaining moisture.

The Anova Precision Cooker is an immersion circulator sous vide, that has a temperature range of 77-210 degrees Fahrenheit, is accurate to a tenth of a degree and can heat up to a 5 gallon tank for a maximum of 99 hours. The unit is Bluetooth enabled and can be controlled from a smartphone, although at the time of this review neither the iOS or Android official apps have been released.

With the technical specifications out of the way, it’s time to move on to using the device. You may be wondering how easy it is to cook sous vide and more importantly, how does the food actually taste. Operating the Anova is extremely simple. You fill a suitable container with water, plug the device in, scroll the large wheel to your desired temp and hit the start button. Once the water has reached the desired temperature, you place the vacuumed sealed food in and wait. One great thing about sous vide is experimenting with the time and temperature to create an end result that’s ideal for you. Once you have the two variables dialed in to your tastes, you can perfectly replicate the outcome over and over again. To give you an example, a steak cooked for 90 minutes at 136 degrees Fahrenheit results in a Jeremy approved medium rare . As for the taste; well, it’s delicious. But there’s science behind it all. At these lower temperatures, cell walls in the food do not burst. In the case of meat cooking, tough collagen in connective tissue can be hydrolysed into gelatin, without heating the meat’s proteins high enough that they denature to a degree that the texture toughens and moisture is wrung out of the meat. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to cook some cuts, such as pork belly or spare ribs, for 48-72 hours. Additionally, enclosed spices or ingredients added to the sealed bag transmit their flavor more intensely than during normal cooking. The end product truly is amazing. One downside of that process, however, is that the low temperatures used means no Maillard reaction.. and that means no char. That has a negative impact on both texture and taste. Enter the Searzall. Invented at Booker and Dax, the food science lab arm of the Momofuku empire, the Searzall is an attachment secured to the top of a blowtorch to create the perfect searing temperature without the noxious aromas that typically result when cooking with a blowtorch. By forcing the thin flame of the blowtorch through two layers of fine, high-temperature-resistant wire mesh, it produces a consistent, evenly spread flame that provides a professional quality sear. The end result of a piece of steak cooked in the sous vide and then finished with the searzall is one that will rival the finest steak you’ve ever had.

So, what’s the bad voltage verdict? At $179, the Anova Precision Cooker isn’t outrageously priced but do keep in mind you will also need a vacuum sealer, suitable container and optionally a searzall (although a cast iron pan also works quite well). The total all in cost can be significant, especially if you opt for a chamber vacuum. That said, if you consider yourself an epicurean who enjoys cooking and eating, I think you’ll be highly impressed with what this combination puts on your dinner table.

–jeremy

Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 35: One Plug Per Segment

Bryan Lunduke, Jono Bacon, Stuart Langridge and myself unleash all the Bad Voltage you can handle, this week featuring:

  • Live Voltage! The first Bad Voltage live show, on 20th February at SCALE. Come to it! Be part of the majesty! (2.13)
  • Jeremy reviews the Anova Sous Vide, and discusses the nature of gastronomy and culinary expertise (10.03)
  • We talk to Ilan Rabinovich about the upcoming SCALE conference in LA and the history of how it came to be (26.47)
  • Bryan is Wrong in 60 Seconds about… Wrong in 60 Seconds (42.04)
  • Mir and Wayland: what’s going on there, now? Now that the controversy has blown over, what’s the score with next-generation display servers? (43.10)

Listen to 1×35: One Plug Per Segment

As mentioned here, Bad Voltage is a project I’m proud to be a part of. From the Bad Voltage site: Every two weeks Bad Voltage delivers an amusing take on technology, Open Source, politics, music, and anything else we think is interesting, as well as interviews and reviews. Do note that Bad Voltage is in no way related to LinuxQuestions.org, and unlike LQ it will be decidedly NSFW. That said, head over to the Bad Voltage website, take a listen and let us know what you think.

–jeremy

Android Version Stats for LQ Mobile (2015)

With the recent news that Google will not patch the WebView vulnerability in versions of Android <= 4.3, I thought it would be a good time to look at the Android version stats for LQ Mobile. You can see stats from seven months ago here. Also, a reminder that AndroidQuestions.org is now a part of The Questions Network.

Platform Version
Android 4.4 33.14%
Android 4.1 16.82%
Android 4.2 11.18%
Android 4.0.3 – 4.0.4 10.11%
Android 2.3.3-2.3.7 9.69%
Android 5.0 9.44%
Android 4.3 6.96%
Android 2.2 1.82%

So, how has the Android version landscape changed since the last post and what are the implications of the WebView vulnerability in that context? Android 4.4 is still the most common version, with over a third of the market. Versions 4.2 and 4.3 are still common, but less so than previously. Versions 4.0.3/4.0.3 and 2.3.x are both very old and still fairly popular with roughly 10% each. That’s disappointing. Lollipop adoption among LQ Mobile users is significantly higher than Google is seeing generally (still less than .1%) which isn’t surprising given the technical nature of LQ members. Even with that advantage, however, roughly half of LQ Mobile users are using a version of Android that’s vulnerable. Given that data, it’s easy to understand why Google has broken out quite a bit of functionality/code into Google Play Services, which they can update independently of handset manufacturers and carriers

–jeremy

Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 34: Hidden Cities

Bryan Lunduke, Jono Bacon, Stuart Langridge and myself bring you all the Bad Voltage that’s fit to print, including a special feature where three of us record with good microphones and one moron doesn’t:

  • We give the second half of our predictions for where technology will go in 2015: this episode, Jeremy and Jono (2.30)
  • Christian Hergert talks about his crowdfunding campaign to make Builder, a Gnome IDE for building Gnome apps (27.25)
  • Wrong in 60 seconds: Jono on indicating in cars (46.48)
  • Skiplagged, a website for taking advantage of “hidden city” airline tickets through data analysis, is being sued by airlines. We discuss why, and what this indicates for this sort of air-quotes disruptive app (48.33)
  • Jono reviews the Logitech Harmony 650 all-in-one entertainment system remote control (62.35)

Listen to 1×34: Hidden Cities

As mentioned here, Bad Voltage is a new project I’m proud to be a part of. From the Bad Voltage site: Every two weeks Bad Voltage delivers an amusing take on technology, Open Source, politics, music, and anything else we think is interesting, as well as interviews and reviews. Do note that Bad Voltage is in no way related to LinuxQuestions.org, and unlike LQ it will be decidedly NSFW. That said, head over to the Bad Voltage website, take a listen and let us know what you think.

–jeremy

Soylent 1.3 Review

In the next episode of Bad Voltage, I review Soylent 1.3. I typically post the review text after an episode comes out, but as I did with the Kindle Voyage Review I’m going to post it ahead of time. Why? Well, during the show myself and the rest of the Bad Voltage team discuss the review and after reading this I hope you’re interested enough to listen in when the show comes out tomorrow. In the mean time, you can listen to our holiday episode (where we discuss how we got into technology, where we think tech will be in 2024 and review our 2014 predictions) here: A Hannu-pancha-festi-christ-wanzaa-newton-vent Story

Soylent 1.3

For some, food and the act of eating are merely about sustenance. That mindset is antithetical to the way I approach gastronomy. That said, when Soylent hit the crowd funding scene, I was intrigued. And I wasn’t the only one. They had over $2M in pre-orders using Tilt and have since raised roughly 1.5M from venture capitalists.

So, what is Soylent? Unlike its eponymous plankton-colored movie nutrition source; it’s not people. It is a meal replacement drink that aims to be nutritionally complete, low cost, easy to prepare and flavor neutral. For those like Soylent’s creator who “resented the time, money, and effort the purchase, preparation, consumption, and clean-up of food was consuming”, it can be used in lieu of food for all three meals. During the initial formulation of the product he even subsided on nothing but Soylent for 30 days and has been living on a 90% Soylent diet ever since. For those who actually enjoy eating, it can also be used to replace individual meals at your discretion. It has a 50/30/20 ratio of carbohydrates, fats and protein and a 3 serving pouch contains 2,010 calories if you include the optional oil mixture. A 7 pouch box is $85 as a one time purchase with the starter kit or $70 as a monthly subscription.

I placed my order on July 1st and received it on December 15th. That’s correct it took 5 1/2 months. Unfortunately, based on shipping estimates currently on the website, things haven’t improved much since I placed my order. Do note that reorders should ship in 1-2 weeks, which is much more reasonable.

So, now that I actually have Soylent, what do I think? I should note here that radically altering your diet in the way Soylent’s creator has could have potentially serious health ramifications. Before you consume nothing but a nutrient slurry you heard about on Bad Voltage, created by someone you don’t know on the Internet, you should definitely do a copious amount of research and probably speak with a medical professional. Realistically I don’t think we’ll know the true long term implications of something like this anytime soon. With that out of the way, let me say that as a tech guy, I really like what they are doing. While they’re happy to sell you the product, there is a huge portion of the site dedicated to DYI that allows you to access and tweak their recipe to your liking and make it at home. This is not your average company. Additionally, they actually version the product and are iterating on it fairly quickly. The shipment I received was Soylent 1.3, which replaced the primary source of potassium, tweaked the flavor and changed packaging. Soylent 1.2 replaced fish oil with algae oil to make the product animal free and removed the enzyme blend added in a previous version while Soylent 1.1 reduced the amount of sucralose, added the aforementioned enzyme blend to improve digestion and updated the packaging. I don’t know of any other food vendor that details the changes in their product in this manner, but it’s a trend I welcome.

On to the actual product. The taste has been described as purposefully bland and that’s not far off. Opinions seem to very widely, but to me it has a very mild vanilla flavor. I didn’t use a blender for my initial tests and the product is slightly gritty, but certainly tolerable to me. Others I had taste Soylent did not concur with my assessment. Leaving Soylent in the refrigerator overnight helped the consistency immensely. I had almost nothing but Soylent for breakfast and lunch over the last two days which resulted in me feeling sated and having normal energy levels. I ran three miles before dinner yesterday and can’t say I noticed any difference between how I felt during that and a normal run. I had none of the gastric distress, intestinal discomfort or soul-crushing flatulence that has been reported by some.

So, what’s the Bad Voltage verdict? I can’t imagine consuming nothing but Soylent for 3 meals a day every day. I just like food too much. Even if I didn’t, I think the impact of cooking, eating and sharing food have a profound impact on local culture. One I’d hate to see go away. But the openness and transparency of the company, their willingness to iterate and the nutritional completeness along with ease of preparation does mean I’ll likely use it to replace breakfast and lunch a couple times a week moving forward. Now, is Soylent right for you? That’s too dependent on your gastronomic proclivities and intestinal fortitude for me to say.

As mentioned here, Bad Voltage is a new project I’m proud to be a part of. From the Bad Voltage site: Every two weeks Bad Voltage delivers an amusing take on technology, Open Source, politics, music, and anything else we think is interesting, as well as interviews and reviews. Do note that Bad Voltage is in no way related to LinuxQuestions.org, and unlike LQ it will be decidedly NSFW. That said, head over to the Bad Voltage website, take a listen and let us know what you think.

–jeremy

Happy New Year & Browser and OS stats for 2014

I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year on behalf of the entire LQ team. 2014 has been another great year for LQ and we have quite a few exciting developments in store for 2015, including a major code update that we originally had planned for 2013. A few highlights: LQ ISO recently surpassed 55,000,000 Linux downloads. AndroidQuestions.org and ChromeOSQuestions.org continue to grow. Outside The Questions Network, I think we’ve really hit our stride on Bad Voltage.

As has become tradition, here are the browser and OS statistics for the main LQ site for all of 2014 (2013 stats for comparison).

Browsers
Chrome 45.34%
Firefox 39.00%
Internet Explorer 8.12%
Safari 4.57%
Opera 1.29%
Android Browser 0.56%

A big change here, as Chrome has finally supplanted Firefox as the most used browser at LQ (and has done so quite handily).

Operating Systems
Windows 52.58%
Linux 32.32%
Macintosh 10.62%
Android 2.42%
iOS 1.44%

Linux usage has remained fairly steady, while OS X usage is now over 10% for the first time ever.

I’d also like to take this time to thank each and every LQ member. You are what make the site great; without you, we simply wouldn’t exist. I’d like to once again thank the LQ mod team, whose continued dedication ensures that things run as smoothly as they do. Don’t forget to vote in the 2014 LinuxQuestions.org Members Choice Awards, which recently opened.

–jeremy

Kindle Voyage Review

In the next episode of Bad Voltage, I review the new Kindle Voyage. I typically post the review text after an episode comes out, but this time I’m going to post it ahead of time. Why? Well, during the show myself and the rest of the Bad Voltage team discuss the review and after reading this I hope you’re interested enough to listen in when the show comes out this Thursday. In the mean time, you can listen to the latest episode (where we discuss systemd, ChromeOS and more) here: Everything is Orange

Kindle Voyage

While not necessarily a voracious reader, I am someone who enjoys reading regularly. For a long time, I strongly preferred print books to reading on a screen. The Kindle changed that. While some may not mind reading entire books on a tablet or screen, for me the e-ink display makes all the difference. For reference, the Kindle Voyage is my third Kindle replacing the Kindle Keyboard 3G (2011), which in turn replaced the original OG Kindle (2008). So, how does it compare?

First, let me get a couple boring specs out of the way. This is the thinnest Kindle ever made. At just 7.6mm it’s actually thinner than a Samsung Galaxy S5. Its 16-level gray scale 300 ppi display sits flush with the bezel and delivers twice as many pixels as the previous generation Paperwhite, which my esteemed college Jono reviewed in episode 18. It has an adaptive front light which automatically adjusts to your environment, comes with 4GB of storage and a single charge lasts for over a month of average usage.

With that out of the way, let’s get to actually using the device. First, let me say that the Amazon frustration free packaging is absolutely top shelf. Every time I get an electronic device in Gordian Knot packaging, I wonder why some companies treat their customers with such disdain. I’m going to guess you aren’t going to purchase a device based solely on its packaging, however. The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the Kindle Voyage is that it’s very well constructed. The magnesium alloy unibody is light, durable and has an attractive design. It also feels significantly better in your hands than the more recent Kindle iterations. You can tell Amazon has put real engineering work into making this feel not only like a solid product, but having it be reminiscent of holding an actual book. The touch UI is a vast improvement over the last model I was using and is surprisingly intuitive, with specific regions on the device dedicated to specific functionality. For example you can turn pages by simply tapping the right or left side of the capacitive touchscreen. For those of you who prefer a more tactile approach, you can use the ‘PagePress’ system, which consist of two pressure-sensitive sensors positioned on either side of the screen bezel and result in some haptic feedback being added to your page turns. The footnote and dictionary functionally are both vastly improved and wikipedia integration has been added. A previous annoyance, there is finally no ghosting or lag when turning pages. Most importantly, the screen really is best in class; it’s a joy to read on and graphics are much improved.

So, what’s the Bad Voltage verdict? At $199 the Kindle Voyage may be a little pricey for those people who are not regular readers or have the most recent Paperwhite. That said, in my opinion it’s the best e-reader on the planet. If you’re a regular reader, it’s a Voyage that’s well worth the trip.

As mentioned here, Bad Voltage is a new project I’m proud to be a part of. From the Bad Voltage site: Every two weeks Bad Voltage delivers an amusing take on technology, Open Source, politics, music, and anything else we think is interesting, as well as interviews and reviews. Do note that Bad Voltage is in no way related to LinuxQuestions.org, and unlike LQ it will be decidedly NSFW. That said, head over to the Bad Voltage website, take a listen and let us know what you think.

–jeremy

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