QUICK REVIEW SHOWDOWN! See’s vs. Trader Joe’s

20+ years ago, in a different lifetime, a good friend of mine brought me a tin of See’s Toffee-ettes from one of her trips to Los Angeles. And oh my God, I was instantly in love! On a recent trip to Colorado I was super-excited to learn that my hotel was close to a See’s shop! So of course I dropped in and got a tin of Toffee-ettes. But imagine my surprise when, just a few weeks later, I was at Trader Joe’s and found their almost-identical “English Toffee with nuts”.

Which candy will reign supreme? Let’s find out:

Quick Review Showdown!

The Toffee-ette is shorter but fatter, rounder and more irregular in shape. The almond bits are also much larger than the Trader Joe’s product, which looks like a “log” of toffee that’s cut to size (which, to be fair, probably is how its made, through an extruder, like pasta).

On taste, See’s kills it, you guys! The almond bits are great – with that crunch-forward bite – and then there’s the “candy shop chocolate” taste. You know what I’m talking about. You go to the beach or somewhere with a fresh candy shop… you know what that FRESH CHOCOLATE tastes like! Yeah, that… but then there’s ANOTHER crunch from the toffee, which is straight-up sugary, buttery heaven. The folks at See’s have been doing this for a long time, and they know what the hell they’re doing.

As mentioned, the Trader Joe’s candies have much smaller almonds on the outside. So, much less crunch. In fact, it almost seems like the almonds are there just to keep your fingers from melting the chocolate. Incidentally, I find it curious that almonds are the only nut listed on the ingredients label, but all the packaging just refers to them as “nuts”. You’d think ALMONDS would be a selling point. I mean, See’s mentions almonds TWICE on their label! The chocolate on the Trader Joe’s candy is commercial- grade chocolate – not terrible, not anything to get excited about either. And that’s when I notice a taste I don’t like. It’s a very faint, yet VERY THERE sour taste. It’s not the dreaded “Hershey’s Sour”, but it’s very close. It only lasts a second or two, but it takes me out of the dream. Just then, the sugary toffee hits. And it’s pretty good. Again, nothing to hoot or holler about, and maybe a bit too burnt for my taste? Where See’s toffee is a beautiful café au lait color, Trader Joe’s is quite obviously several shades darker.

But then there’s this: See’s are only available in their own shops (which don’t exist on the east coast) or via Internet. And they’re expensive: $25.99/pound (454g). Trader Joe’s gives you almost twice as much (30 ounces, almost two pounds, 850g) for over 60% less: $10.99.

When it comes to overall flavor, I’m ridin’ and dyin’ with See’s here. I don’t know if this is a year-round Trader Joe’s item (doubt it), but if it is, that could change the equation a bit. Getting a tin of these from my local TJ’s in the dark of February or for my birthday in March would be nice!

Realistically, though, either of these candies are something I’d only buy once or twice a year anyway. If this was going to be an “everyday” candy, I could see TJ’s being the better “bang for the buck” option. But as an annual treat, I say spend the extra for the good stuff.

One (minor) complaint about Toffee-ettes: you better eat them outside or over the sink, ‘cos almond bits are gonna fly everywhere when your teeth hit that toffee!

WINNER: See’s

ISSUE: Firefox and Microsoft Subdomains

UPDATE: According to Bleeping Computer, this should be fixed in Firefox 95.0.1, which should be available now.

So… I’m one of the last 25 people still using Firefox. And over the past couple of days, I haven’t been able to access my Microsoft Rewards dashboard. Any attempt to access rewards.microsoft.com gets me this error:

MS Rewards Error Page

For the search engines and people on mobiles:

Secure Connection Failed

An error occurred during a connection to account.microsoft.com. The OCSP response does not include a status for the certificate being verified.

Error code: MOZILLA_PKIX_ERROR_OCSP_RESPONSE_FOR_CERT_MISSING

  • The page you are trying to view cannot be shown because the authenticity of the received data could not be verified.
  • Please contact the website owners to inform them of this problem.

Learn more…

I did some googling of “OCSP Firefox” and found some bug reports from 2015. They didn’t seem to help much. I tried all the usual stuff, but that didn’t help. On a hunch, I opened Firefox’s hidden settings, changed a setting and.. HOORAH! It worked again!

I normally would have left it at that, except I was reading Google News on my phone a few minutes ago and saw this post by Vishal Gupta at AskVG. He was having the exact same issue with docs.microsoft.com and other Microsoft subdomains. Like me, Vishal tried all the usual fixes: dumping the cache, loading the page in “Troubleshoot Mode”, etc. It worked fine in Chromium Edge, just not Firefox.

Vishal and I had the same idea. He also went to Firefox’s deep settings and  turned off two options. I’m sure he knows far more than I do about it, so I’d hope you’d trust his work over mine. But I only set this setting to false:

security.ssl.enable_ocsp_stapling

And that fixed the issue for me. At least until Microsoft fixes the issue with their cert, or Firefox fixes the bug that’s triggering the warning.

If you’re having this issue, please go to Vishal’s page and read his thorough instructions (if you know what “about:config” does in Firefox, you’re halfway there already).

Local Time

For thousands of years, timekeeping was kind of a loose thing. When the fastest anything can travel is on horseback, exact times aren’t, strictly speaking, necessary. So in England, as in most places across the globe, someone in a village or town – the local priest maybe, or a prominent citizen – would use simple instruments to figure out when the sun was directly overhead (a.k.a. “noon”) and set up a sundial or clock accordingly. And the rest of the town would be synced to that. And if it wasn’t 100% accurate, or if the village 5 miles away decided to make their clocks an hour earlier – or 20 minutes earlier, or 14 minutes later, or whatever… it just didn’t matter all that much.

Then one day the railways came, and it was nigh impossible to schedule trains using every tiny village and town’s version of “local time”. Thus, the concepts of “standard time” and “time zones” were born.  And then the Statutes (Definition of Time) Act 1880 was passed by Parliament, making Greenwich Mean Time the one official time on the island of Great Britain:

Whenever any expression of time occurs in any Act of Parliament, deed, or other legal instrument, the time referred shall, unless it is otherwise specifically stated, be held in the case of Great Britain to be Greenwich mean time, and in the case of Ireland, Dublin mean time.

Because the Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom, GMT wasn’t adopted in the Isle of Man until 1883, Jersey in 1898 and Guernsey in 1913. Ireland, then a British colony, didn’t switch until 1916.

Interestingly, there are a handful of public clocks built in Britain during the transition period between the two systems. The clock pictured behind Victoria and Jimmy on this QI screencap is in Bristol. It has two minute hands. The black hand is for Greenwich Mean Time. The red hand is for the local “Bristol Time”, which was 10 minutes behind GMT:

QI Bristol Time

 

Why the Weird Dates on Windows Drivers?

A Redditor recently asked why Windows Update was trying to install Intel drivers from 1968 on his PC:

Intel Driver Date

There’s actually a good reason for this, and it’s the same reason every Microsoft driver in Device Manager is dated June 21, 2006 – even for devices that were invented long after 2006.

Microsoft’s legendary Raymond Chen explains:

When the system looks for a driver to use for a particular piece of hardware, it ranks them according to various criteria. If a driver provides a perfect match to the hardware ID, then it becomes a top candidate. And if more than one driver provides a perfect match, then the one with the most recent timestamp is chosen. If there is still a tie, then the one with the highest file version number is chosen.

Suppose that the timestamp on the driver matched the build release date. And suppose you had a custom driver provided by the manufacturer. When you installed a new build, the driver provided by Windows will have a newer timestamp than the one provided by the manufacturer. Result: When you install a new build, all your manufacturer-provided drivers get replaced by the Windows drivers. Oops.

Intentionally backdating the drivers avoids this problem. It means that if you have a custom manufacturer-provided driver, it will retain priority over the Windows-provided driver. On the other hand, if your existing driver was the Windows-provided driver from an earlier build, then the third-level selection rule will choose the one with the higher version number, which is the one from the more recent build.

So basically, Windows Update downloads the driver, sees if you have a better one installed, and, if so, either discards the driver or keeps it in its driver library just in case. If not, it installs the driver and waits for a reboot.

But why those specific dates?

In Microsoft’s case, June 21, 2006 is the day Windows Vista was released. This is relevant because Microsoft made major changes to how Windows drivers work in Vista and also (if I’m remembering correctly) required digital signing of drivers, for at least x64 Vista.

As for Intel, July 18, 1968 was the date Intel was founded.

Hope that helps!

 

A Salute to Netgear’s FS105

A shout-out to Netgear for the FS105. Those little switches were BULLETPROOF. It was a beautifully functional steel chassis that people could (and did) walk on. You could drop them on concrete floors, or forget they were there and yank a network cable and slam them into a wall. I had one client where I found a still-working FS105 under a pile of fabric that, as far as anyone knew, hadn’t been touched in years. They just wouldn’t die. They were just built… ya know? At one job we sent almost 650 of those things to clients, and I think we got 1 back DOA.

There’s no telling how many hundreds of thousands of these are stuck behind bookcases and filing cabinets in offices worldwide, still silently doing their jobs 15-20 years later. Hell, I noticed that my county’s voting setup still uses FS105s. And why wouldn’t they? If there was ever a device that’ll genuinely last forever, the FS105 beats even some of those late 1990s HP laser printers, or some of those old HP JetDirect boxes.

They’re the Voyager space probes of small office networking.

Netgear FS105

I still proudly use their successors – a 5-port (GS305) and an 8-port (GS308) gigabit switch – on my home network today.

QUICK TAKES: Time Immemorial

“Time immemorial” is usually used poetically today, often in travel shows. So: “men have been fishing in this small Greek village since time immemorial”.

What you might NOT know is that “time immemorial” has an actual start date: June 6, 1189.

The Statute of Westminster of 1275 was the first attempt to codify the laws of England. As part of this, the idea of “time immemorial” was introduced – a time which was declared “the extent of human memory”. The date chosen was Richard I’s accession day. That’s “Richard the Lionheart”, or “Richard Cœur de Lion”, since he spent most of his life in France. The same Richard who left for the Crusades, leaving his brother John to run England… the same King John of Magna Carta and Robin Hood fame.

So the idea was, if there was some kind of land dispute, if a family could find local witnesses to prove that their goats had been grazing on the land since June 5, 1189, then it was generally accepted to be “your land”. You might think of it as a kind of “ultimate statue of limitations”, if you will.

A Record-Breaking Game

On December 9, 1973, the Atlanta Falcons played the St. Louis Cardinals in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Falcons quarterback Bob Lee and Cardinals quarterback Gary Keithley ended the game with 0.00 passer ratings. This is the only NFL game in history where BOTH quarterbacks ended with a “perfectly bad” rating. Lee went 3 of 16 for 27 yards with two interceptions; Keithley went 2 of 10 for 9 yards with one pick. Both teams had five fumbles, although St. Louis only lost 1 while the Falcons lost 3.

The Cardinals won 32-10.

UPDATE: For those of you who don’t follow NFL football, quarterbacks are the “field generals” of the game. They read the defense and arrange players like chess pieces, then decide whether to: hand the ball off to a running back, who tries to carry the ball downfield before getting tackled; or to throw it to a receiver, who can be as far downfield as the quarterback can throw; or keep the ball and run himself. Or, he can chose to simply “throw the ball away” if there’s no one to throw it to.

So here’s the thing: quarterbacks are given a rating based on several factors: pass attempts, completions, passing yards, touchdowns passes and interceptions.

A perfect score is 158.3 (weird, I know).

If either team’s quarterback had simply thrown every football at the closest beer vendor in the stands every single time the entire game, they would have ended up with a 39.9 rating (I think – someone please check my math). To get all the way to a zero rating, you have to throw the ball to the other team almost as much as your own team. That is, to be especially awful.

For two professional quarterbacks to end up with zero ratings – when playing each other! – is extremely rare. Which is why I wrote this!

Windows 10’s “New” Clipboard

Did you know that Windows 10 has a multi-clip clipboard built in?

Most people know you can press CTRL+C to copy text and CTRL+V to paste that text. But in most versions of Windows 10 you can press WINDOWS+V to get a list of all the stuff you’ve copied in a session (the time between reboots or shutdowns):

Windows 10 Paste

This is super-handy when you need to copy multiple bits of text. For instance, imagine needing to copy an address from a web page, but need to copy it individual blocks: name, street address, city, zip. Instead of flipping back and forth between the webpage and whatever you’re pasting into, you can copy them all then use WIN+V to paste the right text in the right place. That’s neat!

To use this, you must be on Windows 10’s October 2018 Update (1809) or higher. Go to Settings > System > Clipboard and enable the “Clipboard History” option. If you like, you can also enable the “sync across devices” option for having a unified clipboard between your desktop and laptop computers, or click the “Clear clipboard data” to flush the cache completely (you can click the three dots on any individual entry to delete just that one, if you prefer):

Windows 10 Paste 2
Click to Enlarge

 

The THREE! Flags of France

In this post from 2016, I talked about France’s two official flags.

The first is the traditional tricolor everyone’s familiar with:

But there’s also the civil and naval ensign:

In this version the red stripe is larger – specifically, the ensign’s stripes are at a ratio of 30:33:37, versus 33:33:33 on the original flag. This is because this flag looks more “correct” when viewed from a distance, especially if constantly flapping in the wind, as it would on a ship. This flag is also used in some places like seaside military cemeteries or memorials, again because it looks “normal” in the wind.

In my original post, I said that the ensign was also used on TV, for press conferences and the like. Well, I was wrong. There’s actually a third flag for that:

French Presidential flag

Informally called the “Presidential Flag”, it’s used by French presidents in televised communications. And it works, too. Check out this pic of the flag behind two former French presidents:

French Presidents
Click to embiggen

In contrast, here’s a picture of current French president Emmanuel Macron at the White House with President Trump:
The French must have left their special flag at home (and the White House stocked only with “regular” French flags) because there’s an ocean of white in the flag that photograph.

And it’s not just the French who do something like this. Here’s a picture of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing in front of special flags that have been altered so that the Star of David appears in correct (upright) orientation:

Benjamin Netanyahu
(click to embiggen)

Compare this with regular Israeli flags, where the Star of David is crooked when hanging from a flagpole:

Benjamin Netanyahu
(click to embiggen)

Neat.