Or, why floating point operations are slow, and how to avoid them.
Using a color scale to visualize output makes it easy to understand data, and see patterns that aren’t intuitive.
A simple 1 or 2-color scale is really simple to implement, but what if you want to use the whole spectrum?
STOP USING STICKY STICKERS AS PRODUCT LABELS!
We’ve all done this 1,000 times…
You purchase a piece of wood, or worse, a piece of fruit, peel the sticker, and it completely self-destructs, leaving bits of sticker, and a sticky residue.
They COULD protect your data… they CHOOSE not to…
[Updated 2019-06-12 – Additional Pictures and To-Do]
We just completed a big move from east of Dallas to south of Fort Worth. This is a big move for us, not just in terms of distance (about 70 miles), but in terms of house and property as well. The old house was a 1,900 sq ft 3-bedroom on a tiny lot, around 1/4 acre, and the new house is just over 5,000 sq ft, 5 bedrooms, on about 1.5 acres.
The front fence is about 300 feet from the house, and there is a big, steel gate at the front, operated by a Mighty Mule gate opener.
The gate controller uses coded remotes that have a very short range – only about 20 feet with a clear line of sight, which is not very convenient.
Which brings us to…
Using a highly-specialized set of rules and calculations, it’s possible to approximate the flow of gas from high-pressure to low-pressure, using cellular automation.
How to Prevent Freezer Burn
1. What is Freezer Burn?
Freezer burn occurs in meat and other frozen items (especially meat), where the water sublimates (goes from a solid to a gas) and then condenses as ice crystals. This leaves the food severely dehydrated, with a stiff, stringy texture that most people consider to be quite disgusting.
Especially in a zip-top bag, once the bag is frozen, the plastic becomes stiff and unpliable. Although the moisture content within the bag would normally be in constant equilibrium, once you start shuffling through the freezer, plastic zip-top bags can fracture and create tiny holes that allow dry air in, and moisture out. This is also the reason why most freezer bags leak once you pull them out of the freezer.
Once the zip-top bag has a few nicks and dents, freezer burn will quickly form in the vicinity of any holes in the bag, as moisture is allowed to sublimate and simply leave the bag through the tiny holes, to form ice crystals on the inside wall of your freezer!
As the moisture leaves, the food left behind is destroyed on the cellular level, making it tough, stringy, and unpalatable.
Typically, you either need to cut off freezer-burned portions, or throw away food that has become severely freezer burned.
Freezer burn can start to form in as little as 3 months, and by 12 months, the food in question is probably ruined.
2. Vacuum Sealing
If you vacuum seal your food, this removes air, reducing air pressure and preventing sublimation. The plastic liner used for vacuum sealing is much thicker and tougher than a freezer bag, and thus, the food will last a lot longer.
Vacuum-sealed food lasts much longer – up to 2 years.
3. How to Prevent Freezer Burn
Freezer burn forms when food is exposed to air inside the freezer, which allows the moisture in the air to sublimate and then migrate elsewhere, leaving behind stringy, nasty food.
This is one of the main reasons that the grocery store packaging for most meat products is not your friend. It’ s better to re-package them in a zip-top or vacuum-sealed bag before freezing.
3.1. The Trick to Keeping Food Forever
The trick is to pack your food, especially meat, in fat or liquid before it freezes.
This eliminates contact with the air, preventing sublimation.
- Make sure there are no internal air pockets. Even though the moisture level is kept in equilibrium, internal air pockets can allow food to shed moisture over time (ice crystallizes elsewhere), leaving the food with a tough texture and stale taste.
- Put the food in a zip-top bag.
- Add any of the following:
- Olive oil or some other fatty oil that will eventually congeal.
- Cover in butter or some other fat
- Make sure the food is covered completely, and squeeze out all of the air as you seal it.
- Cooking oil, vegetable oil, and other non-fatty oils remain liquid, even at freezer temperatures. This means that over time, your zip-top bag can take damage, and the oil can leak out, leaving a greasy mess in your freezer.
- If you use a brine or marinade, reduce the salt content. Everything freezes from the outside to the inside. As the bag of brined / marinated food freezes, the water in the brine crystallizes, forcing salt and other elements further in to the food, making the flavor much more concentrated. What you would consider to be a “normal” amount of salt for a brine or marinade can easily result in the food being way too salty when you thaw it later.
One trick is to simply add 50% water to a brine or marinade.
- As meat freezes, ice crystals form inside the meat, which destroys the cellular structure. Later, when you thaw it out and cook it, the meat can be dry and tough as a result. If you freeze meat in a bag of oil, brine, or marinade, the larger ice crystals form at the edges of the bag, in the liquid surrounding the meat, whereas the ice crystals that form inside the meat itself are much smaller, because the meat is further from the air interface, and the rate of freezing increases over time. This means that your meat, if frozen properly, will come out much more tender and juicy once thawed, drained, and cooked.
There are a few simple things we all do, every day, that can be very expensive over time.
Black Friday 2018 Wall of Shame
11/20/2018: Reminder! Black Friday starts on FRIDAY. BOYCOTT STORES THAT DISRESPECT THE AMERICAN TRADITION OF THANKSGIVING, by having Black Friday deals that start on THANKSGIVING.
WALL OF SHAME, 2018:
- Best Buy
- JC Penny
- Big Lots
- Cabellas / Bass Pro
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Dollar General
- Five Below
- Old Navy
- Fry’s Electronics
- Lord and Taylor
Instead of leaving the comfort of your home on Thanksgiving day, boycott the stores above, and hit the retailers online on Cyber-Monday. You’ll get the same deals, or better, and you can shop from home. Don’t be like the stores above. Don’t use the promise of cheap crap to lure people away from their families on Thanksgiving.
Unprofessional of the Year Award for 2019 Goes to Pizza Hut
- On 1/5/2019, placed an order at 8:00 PM Saturday evening
- Delivery time 9:45 PM. OK, they’re busy, but I’ll get my pizza eventually.
- 9:45 comes and goes, call the store multiple times for a status, and each time, they hang up on me.
- Pizza shows up at 11:15 PM. I bet THAT IS SOME HIGH QUALITY EATS. The driver offered to give it to me for free, but at this point, I don’t want whatever it is, that they managed to put in a box and send to me, so I refused the delivery.
It’s not the driver’s fault, obviously, but to show up at someone’s door an hour and a half late, and over 3 hours after I placed my order, with no call back, and no confirmation is completely unprofessional.
The driver alluded to the fact that the manager completely botched things up, but at this point, after multiple calls to the store, and multiple calls to their call center, I really don’t care.
- The manager needs to be fired for gross incompetence. There is no excuse for a 3 hour delay.
- The driver apologized. I should have told her that you SHOULD NEVER apologize for someone else’s mistake. She should be promoted, for at least attempting to handle the situation.
- Whoever was hanging up on customers needs to be summarily fired.
How to Turn a Bad Situation in to a Win:
Bad things happen.
Things can go from “OK” to underwater very quickly, but as the manager, you have to think about what outcome you want, and what swift action you must take to achieve that outcome.
- As soon as things started getting bad, the manager should have closed the store. This would have prevented more orders from coming in, and new orders could either be routed to another store, or the customers could simply be told that delivery service is unavailable at this time due to foreseen circumstances, rather than wasting the customers’ time.
- Any order delayed more than 15 minutes should necessitate a call to the customer. Most stores have 23 or fewer phone lines (the number of DS0 lines that can be carried on a T1/DS1 line), so it’s entirely possible that the phone system was overloaded… It’s up to the manager to take action! Use a cell phone to start calling customers and setting expectations. Tell the customer that there are unforeseen circumstances, don’t make excuses, set expectations, and then ask what the customer wants: Delayed delivery with a discount, or cancel the order. Give the customer the option. Empowering the customer, and then closely managing expectations is how to turn a losing situation in to a winning one.
Corporate Changes Needed
- There was no escalation path. Although you could call the call center, they were only empowered to take an order, and they have no ability to check the order’s status or cancel it. After a couple of phone calls, it became very clear that the call center is only able to transfer you to the local store…. which of course, was hanging up on customers. The call center should be 100% empowered to handle order changes, provide status, and cancel an order. Which brings us to the next problem….
- Complete technological failure.
- The Android app failed. The order was originally placed via the Android app, and the app is supposed to provide the user with a near-realtime status. However, the developers built the status function so that it ONLY runs on the newest versions of Android – I have 6.0, and the app simply tells me that my OS is out of date. There is no update for my device, for a newer OS, so the message you’re sending is that, to be a Pizza Hut customer, I have to go out and buy a new phone every year.
- The website failed. After an order is placed, there is no way to get a status or contact the store via the website. In the age of online, you have to call the store, on the phone to get a status.
- The store’s point of sale / order entry system doesn’t seem to integrate with the rest of their technology. How is it that, if by miracle I happen to be running the ordained version of Android, I can get a near-realtime status from the store, but neither the website, nor the call center can? The answer from the website, the call center, and the application was: “Call the store for a status.” Which would be OK, if the phones weren’t jammed. Wouldn’t it be nice for the manager to be able to post a status, so that everyone sees it instantly: “Due to unforseen circumstances, we are running behind. We are not accepting new orders at this time, and if your order is delayed more than 15 minutes, we will be contacting you.” BOOM, everyone is in sync.
Aside from being frustrated, I just wanted to get the food that I ordered.
After waiting 3 hours, which was an hour and a half PAST the delivery time, I had no idea if it was still on the way or if the order was cancelled, or if the store was on fire.
This is the point where some kind of escalation should have occurred, but there was no one to whom I could escalate.
After being hung up on, multiple times, and being told that the ONLY way to cancel my order is to call the store (and be hung up on), is extremely frustrating. There is no valid situation, save for life-and-death, that it’s acceptable to hang up on a customer.
I turned off my lights, locked my door, and the delivery driver STILL knocked on my door, over an hour later! How about a phone call?
The offer of getting the pizza for free was the right thing to do, but if things are going so poorly that you’re OVER AN HOUR AND A HALF LATE, how do I even know what’s in that box? I don’t want some half-cooked crap with the wrong toppings.
At this point, as a customer, this seems like a breach of trust.
From my perspective, I can’t trust your service, which means that I also can’t trust your product.
All it would have taken is someone in authority who was empowered to fix the problem, to change that perception.
Kudos to the driver, who at least tried to take care of the situation, but it’s the manager who miserably failed, and with a fairly severe technology deficit, there was no way that anyone could help me, except the manager, who was too busy hanging up on people.
Dear Pizza Hut:
I’m happy to have you hire me to fix these problems for you. I have a long track record of taking a complete train wreck like yours, and building a success story.
Short of that, I will no longer be a Pizza Hut customer.
Update – 2/6/2019
- The next day, the credit card charge still indicated ‘pending’, so my wife called the store to discuss the matter with the day manager. She explained that the delivery was refused, and was told “That sounds like a ‘YOU’ problem”, and the day manager hung up on her.
- We both submitted corporate complaints, which were simply referred back to local store (GALLOWAY AVE., MESQUITE, TX), and then summarily ignored.
- Fortunately, we disputed the charge with the credit card company, and got the charges reversed. My next stop would have been the BBB.
- It has been 30 days, and no one has responded to our complaints. This is an unacceptable way to treat customers, and a horrible way to do business.
Update – 4/16/2019
- I contacted the store on or about 4/13, just to see if they would be willing to discuss the matter.
- When I asked to speak to the manager, I was told I WAS SPEAKING to the manager (this was an obvious lie), and this so-called manager apologized profusely. He assured me that the entire previous management staff had been fired, and that there was all new management in place.
- When I asked for the district manager’s contact information, the so-called manager told me he couldn’t give that information out. I said, if he’s doing business, then surely he has a business contact.
- He hung up on me
- NO. In reality, this was just another sh##bag employee, willing to lie to a customer.
- ONLY AFTER I filed a complaint with the BBB (see below) did I get a half-hearted sorta kinda apology.
- Now, I’m starting to think that the problem is with Pizza Hut Executive Management, and that the problem is systemic.
Dear Pizza Hut:
WHEN IS IT OK TO LIE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS?
WHEN IS IT OK TO ISSUE A HALF-HEARTED APOLOGY ONLY AFTER I INITIATE A COMPLAINT WITH THE BBB???
I can fix this for you…. you need to hire me in an executive position, so that I can fire everyone in customer service, and everyone in technology, and rebuild both departments.
Oh, and ONE MORE THING. Let’s look at the tail end of that e-mail…
Disclaimer: This message (including any attachments) contains confidential information intended for a specific individual
and purpose, and is protected by law. If you are not the intended recipient, you should delete this message. Any disclosure,
copying, or distribution of this message, or taking any action based on it is strictly prohibited.
This is tacked on for the sole purpose of allowing Pizza Hut to bully me in to taking down any copy of this e-mail I may choose to post.
Well…. LET ME EDUCATE YOU.
- This entire communication is covered under the Fair Use Act, and I’m publishing it, accordingly
- I don’t use Facebook or Google for my blog. Go ahead. Threaten people. There are no robots out there to help you silence me.
- If you issue a cease and desist, I will be obliged to post it here. TRY ME.