The Super PAC App!

As I previously mentioned here and here, my good friend Dan Siegel has been hard at work developing the Super PAC App, an iPhone app that helps people who are interested in researching election-related commercials funded by Super PACs identify (1) which organizations are paying for the ad, (2) what other political initiatives they support, and (3) what research has been done to substantiate their claims.

Today the app was officially released in the Apple App Store. I’m obviously a bit biased, but I must say I’m very impressed. The first thing I did was pull up an election ad on YouTube and try out the Shazam-like tagging feature. While the ad was playing, I pressed the tag button in the app, and it took what seemed to be less than 10 seconds for the app to identify the commercial. It then brought me to a screen that very simply laid out the name of the super pac that created and funded the ad, a few details about the super pac, how much money they’ve raised, as well as how much they’ve spent. At the bottom of the screen the app also asks you to rate the ad as ‘Love’, ‘Fair’, ‘Fishy’, or ‘Fail’.

Once you rate the ad, you can then see the overall ratings for it by all app users. Additionally, if there are specific claims made in the ad, there are links to publications and news sources that have evaluated and/or researched claim credibility and honesty.

While I initially thought this would be the focus of the app, I found the Super Pac ad database to be surprisingly useful. It contains just about every ad released to date, and allows the user to search based on certain criteria (e.g., popularity, political party, ratings), and then you can watch and rate the ad right in the app. As far as I know, this is the most complete database of super pac ads available. With the included links to research about ad claims, I wouldn’t be surprised if this database becomes a valuable resource for journalists, commentators, and researchers over the next few months.

I spoke with one of the developers this morning and learned that they’re in the process of making the database available on their website to facilitate more ad reviews, research, and commentary from a broader audience. I think that will be extremely useful, as I’d be much more likely to watch and evaluate ads on my computer than on my phone.

If you have a few minutes, give the app a try by downloading it here. Also, please review it in the app store. Dan and his team are very interested in hearing feedback so that they can make updates and improvements as quickly as possible.

Congrats to Dan and his team on a very impressive product launch.

Hazelnut Brown Ale Homebrew (2012 Batch #2)

I brewed a Hazelnut Brown Ale the other night. It’s an original recipe I put together after reviewing a few similar brew recipes online. I’m shooting for about 6% ABV and something a bit hoppier than a traditional brown.

Here’s the recipe summary:

7 Pounds Light Liquid Malt Extract
1 Pound American Crystal 20
1 Pound American Crystal 80
1 Pound English Brown
.5 Pounds Chocolate
.5 Pounds Light Munich

1 Ounce Perle (7.5%) @60min
1 Ounce Saaz (3.5%) @20min

White Labs American Ale Yeast
1 Whirfloc Tablet @5min
4 Ounces Hazelnut Extract at Bottling
5 Ounces of Priming Sugar at Bottling

Original gravity reading: 1.06

And here’s the detailed recipe.

Who’s Curiosity? Bleep-Bop.

I just discovered that NASA’s curiosity rover, which who landed on Mars last night, has its own Facebook and Twitter pages where it posts updates about its mission in the first person. It seems a bit over the top, but why not? I guess NASA thinks they can gain more media attention if they pretend their robot likes Carly Rae Jepsen. What’s funnier is that it’s probably actually pretty effective. Here are some highlights from the Facebook page:

  • FYI, I aim to send bigger, color pix from Mars later this week once I’ve got my head up and Mastcam active.
  • No photo or it didn’t happen? Well lookee here, I’m casting a shadow on the ground in Mars’ Gale crater.
  • Call me, maybe? All the ways I could phone home after landing on Mars.
  • Timeline activated. Bleep-bop. I’m running entry, descent and landing flight software all on my own. Countdown to Mars: 5 days!

I also came across a Popular Science article where the author’s have taken to NASA’s personification of the rover:

A few seconds before landing, about a mile up, the spacecraft performed the most daring maneuver of its life, dropping out of its backshell with no supports or airbags. Eight retro-rockets fired up to bring Curiosity to a slow hover, to about 1.7 MPH. Then four of the engines shut off as nylon cords began spooling the rover down on a bridle. This “sky crane” lowered the rover slowly until its six wheels hit the fulvous sand, and then Curiosity sliced its umbilical cord.

And here’s this morning’s xkcd:

Apricot Ale Homebrew Update

It’s been just over two months since I brewed an Apricot Ale, and it was finally ready to drink earlier this week. Overall, I think it came out well. It tastes a lot like a slightly hoppier and more bitter Magic Hat #9, which I attribute to the dry hopping. The apricot flavor is a bit stronger than I’d like, but my experience is that it’s strength will fade as the beer ages for a few weeks. It spent ten days in primary, six weeks in secondary with the dry hops, and about ten days in the bottle before I opened the first one. I had originally planned to only keep it in secondary for a week or two, but I changed my mind and decided to let it age for a bit with the dry hops.

Here’s a picture of a half gallon growler of the ale:

And here’s the recipe:

7 Pounds Light Malt Extract
1 Pound American Crystal 60

1 Ounce Amarillo (9.2%) @60min
1 Ounce Amarillo (9.2%) @30min
1 Ounce Columbus (13.2%) @ 10min
Dry hop with 1 Ounce Cascade (5.5%) in Secondary (six weeks)

White Labs California Ale V Yeast
1 Whirfloc Tablet @5min
4 Ounces Apricot Extract at Bottling
5 Ounces of Priming Sugar at Bottling

Original gravity reading: 1.056
Final gravity: 1.014

Alcohol by Volume: 5.9%

Feel free to contact me with any questions.