20 Most Read Articles of 2013

NAS Organic Lite

NAS Organic Lite

I don’t know why it would be surprising to me that this is the most read article on my site.  But, it is the most read, and it is a bit of a surprise.  Why?  I clearly state that the procedure was a non-scientific, personal experiment.  There is nothing about it that can be taken as anything more than my experience.  And yet, here it is, the most read article on the website.  In fact, it is more read than the next three articles combined.

My guess is that this type of anecdotal article is persuasive to those trying to understand the appeal of eCigs. Which is probably a good thing, at least from the experience I’ve had.

Player's Cigarettes Trading Card: Harvesting Tobacco

Player’s Cigarettes Trading Card: Harvesting Tobacco

I’ve said from time to time that I do watch the keywords that people use when searching for information on The CerebralRift. This article was in response to the most frequent keywords: wattage, voltage, setting, resistance.

I was surprised by the amount of information that it is necessary to explain in this area.  It is, by far, the most technical and complicated aspect of Vaping there is.  But, it is also the most important thing to understand, so I was happy to make sure I had good information to base the article on, and try to write a detailed but approachable explanation of the topic.

rssThis was a “strike while the iron is hot” situation.  When Google announced that it was going to shut down Reader it was obvious there would be people looking for information, commentary, and replacements for it.  While the information and commentary articles have fallen by the side now, there are still people looking for a replacement.  I am quite happy that this article is still getting a lot of traffic.  I think it’s important to look at these choices, and be able to weigh them against the options that most of the other media outlets are touting.

wpid-20130702_164658.jpgI really wish I understood why this article was this popular.  I don’t.  It was a simple, small post to indicate that I got some new things that I was anticipating playing with.  One of them has even become my top recommendation for anyone trying to move beyond an eGo style setup.

My guess is that it is similar to the “vape mail” posts that abound on Reddit, G+ and Facebook.  There is a fascination when someone gets something new.  But, personally, I don’t really go for the un-boxing types of articles.  But if people really want to know what I am buying, then who am I to argue with them?  Right? 🙂

CMP_News_BroadcastAs a general rule, my show posts don’t tend to make it into my top read articles.  Which is, in my opinion, something of a shame.  I know there are a few hundred people listening to the show, and I wish I could say that the website traffic reflected people looking up and going to the release pages for the music on the show.  But, I typically don’t see a lot of that activity.  However, this show was different.  It not only shows up in my top posts of 2013, but the number of hits it got was easily triple of what I normally see for show downloads.  But, even more than that, I know that there was a considerable number of people actually listening to the show.  Which I was really, really happy to see.  Now if I could just figure out what I did better, or differently with this show to make it attract a larger audience.

eCig / Vaping: Starter Kit Guide

eCig / Vaping: Starter Kit Guide

So this was a case where the idea for an article came from talking with people on Facebook, G+ and other places.  There were quite a few people that were starting out with vaping (using cig-alikes, or CE4 starter kits, etc.) that were curious to understand why a lot of people say that Vaping is cheaper than smoking.  I’ve been (at least mentally) calculating the cost of vaping since I started, mainly because I could see that it would be cheaper.  Amazingly cheaper.

By Stefan-Xp (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Stefan-Xp (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Another of the articles I wrote based on what people were searching for.  It was also partly based on my recent purchase of an Innokin iTaste MVP 2, which has a “puff” meter built-in.  That meter allowed me to gather some statistics to back up a theory that I had thought was pretty accurate: I vape at approximately the same rate as I used to smoke.  But there is more to the story.  Quite a bit more, and I’m glad there are people reading and getting some information from this piece.

I mean to do more articles based on this subject.  There are some things that people have gone through when switching from cigarettes to vaping.  I’ve even found there is now some controversial things that might be interesting to look at.  (For example, there are now eJuices that have additional components of tobacco in them.)  But I am still happy this article does get routine viewing, if even one or two people who have viewed it have come away with any real information, or found a solution to a problem they encountered, then the purpose and usefulness of this article has met my expectations.

Bitcoin_South_Africa_To me it’s funny that any of my Cryptocurrency articles even shows up in my top read articles.  This one probably made it based on the title.  The actual contents of the article are mostly a fun romp through then-current stories.  The thing that I keep trying to do with these articles is try to find some deeper meaning to the stories, and the reactions of the market.  It’s typically not an easy thing to do.  Wall-Street tends to have some rationality to the way it reacts, Bitcoin doesn’t seem to have as much of the same rationality.  Why?  I have several suspicions: it’s more thinly traded, and much more decentralized, and different stories have different impacts to a portion of the market – but what the impact causes for the rest of the market can be pretty wide-ranging.

But, nonetheless, I have some fun with them, and I think I can come up with some wild theories that are fun to read and think about.

rssIn the wake of Google deciding to shut down their Reader product, I set out to write some articles about replacements.  This was the last one, talking about some of the issues I’d had with making the transition to TT-RSS.  I don’t know it’s all that interesting to those that have found something that works for them.  But, if you were seriously considering something like TT-RSS, it’s a good way to get an idea about how to make it your own.  I know there are a few options out there, and some of them have newer interfaces that are pretty slick.  however, in my case, I need a tool that fits my work flow and needs, and this was about the best option I found.

G+ Multi-Column Community

G+ Multi-Column Community

Ahh, nothing like a reactionary article.  Google changed the user interface for G+ and made it a lot worse to actually use.  It seems like they are trying to make it more about images and visual stuff, and less about content and interaction.  And I couldn’t help but note all the things that I felt really sucked about the new interface. I wasn’t alone, there were a lot of people who had issues with the new interface.  So, this article was popular with people annoyed with the interface, and wanting to understand why it was annoying.  I had hoped that Google might have noticed, and maybe even done something to lessen the annoyance of their new interface, but they haven’t.

Common Mech Mod Batteries

Common Mech Mod Batteries

So, as I’ve gotten deeper into vaping, there are some topics that need to be talked about.  One of those articles came up earlier: Voltage vs Wattage settings.  This was kind of an extension to that piece, focusing more on the properties of batteries.  This information gets much more important if you start working with mechanical mods where is nothing to keep you from making mistakes that could damage the battery, your device, or worse yourself.  So, I decided it was time to gather some of the best information I had seen on this topic and put it in one place.

Old Skool Tweet

Old Skool Tweet

Another of my reactionary articles. There was a ton of press out there about Twitter’s new music service.  It was something of a surprise because very few people saw it coming.  And, from what I can tell, Twitter would have done better to consider it more carefully than they did.  It requires using another service to listen to music, and it doesn’t really allow doing any deep exploration if music that you can find on Twitter.  But that was just the beginning of the failing of Twitter Music from a Creative Commons / Netlabel advocates perspective: in order for music to be listed on Twitter Music, the artist needs to have a verified account.  And, that’s where this whole thing went completely down the toilet, in my opinion.

SmokTech Galileo Mech Mod

SmokTech Galileo Mech Mod

I’ve expanded the range of devices that I use, and decided that it was time to check out a mechanical mod.  I got a really nice one.  But, as I soon started talking about, the reason for getting into mechanical mods is not just their simplicity.  No, by being very minimal they allow the advanced user to do things that require a lot more precision and knowledge.  It was this discussion about mechanical mods, and sub-ohm vaping that lead me to write “A Few Words About Batteries”.

By Stefan-Xp (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Stefan-Xp (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

This was the first of a series of articles about how and why I tried eCigs, and eventually moved all the way up to vaping, and the things that I proved to myself about vaping.  I guess the thing to understand from this article is: I didn’t try it without having tried other things first, and when I did try it I had some advice that it might be worth a try, and the decision to do so was somewhat spur of the moment.  The thing is, I would have almost said it was a miracle for me.  From the moment I tried an eCig, I knew it was going to be my replacement for cigarettes, and that I was going to be a lot more healthy with them.  What I didn’t know was how far I would go with eCigs.

Bitcoin Logo

Bitcoin Logo

Ahh, sometimes it’s just necessary to shred a piece of bad writing apart.  This was born of a reaction to an article that I thought was one of the worst anti-Bitcoin articles I had read.  Believe it or not, I’ve read some even worse articles since then.  But, that doesn’t make a difference, I felt this article deserved a fairly detailed response.  Obviously the value of having my response available made my work worthwhile.

Cover: Amygdala - Pillars of Creation

Cover: Amygdala – Pillars of Creation

I am happy that at least one of my reviews from the past year managed to gain enough attention to be in my most read articles of 2013.  Yes, I write more than just music reviews, however doing what I can to support the Creative Commons and Netlabel community is the main focus of my work.  Most of the other things, like eCigs / Vaping and Bitcoins are more or less hobbies at this point.  Personally, I would have liked to have seen more reviews in the top 20, but such is life.  I have to admit, I was a bit surprised that this review showed up.  I really thought my Kris Roche review was more likely to make it onto this list.

Stog Filters

Stog Filters

I’ve mentioned the part one article above.  This was the conclusion of how I made the switch to vaping.  This article focuses on the “final” proof for me that vaping is more controllable than cigarettes was this: I could, if I chose, make the vaping fluid myself.  I was able to go out and buy the ingredients from stores and actually mix the ingredients myself.  And it worked almost as well as any of the fluids that I was buying.  And, more to the point: I could have control over the components in the fluids.  Imagine trying to control what is in your tobacco.  You would have to grow and process the plants yourself, and I doubt there are smokers out there that are likely do that, but vapers can easily make their own fluids.

Bitcoin Logo

Bitcoin Logo

Bitcoin has become a buzz word, and it seemed like an interesting topic.  I had no clue about it, and even after reading a few of the standard articles and watching a few videos, I felt like all the ideas hadn’t completely jelled in my mind.  So, when I don’t completely grasp something, I will write about it.  The writing process allows me to structure things and try find the points or issues that I don’t understand.  Filling those gaps is what makes an article interesting for me.  Obviously my pursuit of those answers were interesting to other readers as well.

Music Icon

Music Icon

I’m really glad this article has received enough attention to make it into the top twenty articles for the year.  I obviously do a lot of reviews of Netlabel and Creative Commons music releases.  One of the bigger reasons for doing so many reviews is to try to help people see that they can have a different relationship with their music than they have in the old days.  There are artists that are making this well-known, like Amanda Palmer.  This article was born from several things: (1) I saw a similar article that didn’t cover all the sources I knew were available, (2) some people have asked me how I go about searching for music, and (3) as an extension to my aforementioned reviews.

Vaping Review: 2 eJuices from VaporZX

VX-Watermelon-2TYou might think that I would know better by now.  I’ve been vaping for almost two years, and have gone all the way from using disposables to a mech mod, and have tried all sorts of liquids from really cheap Njoy liquids up to Halo, Alien Visions and FlavorZ By Joe.  But no, I still get curious when I see something new, like the Green Leaf Tobacco fluid, and have to try it.  Even if it is in a cigarette store or gas station.

So, it should be no surprise that when I saw VaporZX in a gas station near my house that I had to give it a try.  Well, as I said I should have known better.  Here’s a quick summary of the two fluids I bought at the gas station.

Before diving into the reviews, a quick word about how I tested these fluids out.  As I’ve stated before, I don’t like just dropping a fluid into a atomizer and taking a few hits.  Those first impression type reviews don’t really do justice to the fluids in my opinion.  So, in this case, I vaped a whole tank (in this case my Mini ProTank II) of each of the fluids over the space of a day or two, with a 1,8ohm impedance coil on my iTaste MVP 2, which is pretty much my standard setup (except that I use a full size ProTank II, instead of a Mini).

The only thing that was different about these fluids from what I normally vape is the 18mg of Nicotine.  My preferred level is 12mg.  But they didn’t have any 12mg fluids at the station, so I went with the 18mg instead.

USA Mix

Vapor: [rating=4]
Throat Hit: [rating=6]
Flavor: [rating=5]

So, this fluid isn’t the worst thing I’ve tasted.  Although it isn’t all that good either.  In fact, if anything, this is the fluid that has convinced me there is some manufacturer out there that is making a generic fluid that they call USA Mix and selling it as a generic fluid to be re-labelled by other companies.  This one has a light tobacco taste, and is pretty clean.  But it really doesn’t taste like a specific cigarette that you can put your finger on.

Desert Ship

Vapor: [rating=4]
Throat Hit: [rating=6]
Flavor: [rating=2]

If the USA Mix was disappointing, and tasted somewhat generic this one was even worse.  It reminded me of some of the early Njoy fluids that I tried when I was first starting out.  And, despite being named to indicate that it is supposed to be a Turkish tobacco style flavor, it doesn’t even come close.  It actually tastes oily / slimy.  It has a dark taste that lacks the bite and layers of a real Turkish tobacco.  It doesn’t even taste anything like a Camel cigarette.

Having said that, a few words about vapor and throat hit.  These did have a decent throat hit to them.  However, I think that was because they were 18mg, instead of 12mg.  If they had been 12mg I doubt they would have had much throat hit.

As for the vapor, they did produce something that might look like normal cigarette smoke.  I don’t know what the PG / VG ratio is (I suspect about 50/50, but I could be wrong), but as most of us vapers know, that isn’t a satisfying amount vapor.  Kinda funny isn’t it?  Most of us switched to eCigs and/or vaping to get off cigarettes and wanted some thing that was similar in experience.  Once we experience different fluids, one of the things that we want is more vaopr.

Oh, and a last comment.  The pricing on these fluids.  They were about average for what you would find in a gas station, a 10ml bottle was about $7-8 USD.

To summarize: nothing to see here.  These are fluids that I think are manufactured by a company and then distributed under a number of names.  VaporZX has just sourced their fluids from this company, and sell it under their name.

Bitcoin / Litecoin / Namecoin: Tier Coins or Market Coins?

Litecoin_PeruI’ve decided to go a bit off-script today.  I didn’t really feel like writing another cyptocurrency news summary article, so I’ve decided to do something different.  But, if you insist on a news summary, here it is:

The market is in turmoil.  It’s down in the $500-$600 USD range (on four different exchanges) as I write this.  The Chinese government has issued statements that their banks cannot transact in bitcoin, and that has led to a mass exodus on the chinese exchanges which is bringing the market down.  There’s a shortage of some video cards as people decided that litecoin’s increased value made it worth mining.  Of course, now that it has gone back down in value, that isn’t likely to hold for too long.  There are feel good stories: the guy that bought a Tesla using bitcoin, the addition of a job site for businesses paying in bitcoin, etc.  And there is all the usual back-and-forth bantering over whether bitcoin is a currency or not, whether it’s having a bubble, or even if it has a future.  Dogecoin had an explosion, and I’d bet the people behind it will be revealed to be a bunch of scammers soon and there will be major losses for some folks. (It was started as a sarcastic joke, after all, and when a joke goes to far it has to end somehow…)

Basically, week to week little is changing.  It gets kind of redundant to cover all the stories all the time.

Instead I want to lay out a few thoughts that I have one the overall X-coin market.  I read a statement in an article that made me stop and think about something, and come up with a couple of ideas or concepts about the future of the X-coin market.  I don’t recall which article I saw it in, nor do I recall the exact wording but it was something like this: there is an underlying un-truth to the concept that the number of bitcoins is limited, and therefore the value will stabilize based on availability.  The statement went on to point out that there were hundreds of alt and clone coins out there that were, in essence, expanding the amount of coin currency that is available.  And, taken a bit further, there is no way to control the number of X-coins, and therefore now way to control the complete circulation of coins.

Bitcoin_PeruThat was an interesting argument to me.  Not because it is based on a factual statement (it is, but only loosely), but it offers an insight into the current market that may or may not be recognized.  Basically it is this: the way things are working at the moment, it’s almost as if we have created a tiered set of currency systems.  The top-tier is Bitcoin, then after a substantial gap, it is followed by Litecoin, Namecoin and Feathercoin. Beyond those four are the others: Peercoin, et al.  Eventually you get to Dogecoin, but I won’t even go there.  One of the exchanges I am on trades in over 60 different coins – bunches of which I have never even heard of, and don’t hold any intrinsic value to me.

This started me thinking, is this the future of the X-coins?  Are they going to settle into the world as a tiered system of coins?  When Bitcoin reached over $1000 USD, it was time to shift to paying in mBTC instead of in BTC itself.  mBTC seems like a kludge to get around the limited number of Bitcoins.  Is it more likely that people who can’t afford to invest directly in Bitcoin are likely to start investing in LTC instead?  And, if it reaches a certain value level, then others are likely to invest in the next lower-valued coin?

In a way would this be a reflection of the income structuring of current societies or an economic class system, only in virtual currency form instead?  If you are personally valued in the top tier, you get paid directly in Bitcoin.  If you are  second tier you are paid Litecoin.  And so on…

Namecoin_PeruOr maybe we’ll have different coins for different types of transactions, and just exchange them as we need to make different types of purchases.  Need food?  Exchange part of a Bitcoin for some Foodcoins.  Want to invest in the stock market?  Trade some Litecoins for Stockcoins.  And so on.  You get the idea, it could be that we have different coins for each economic segment, and maybe those economic segments would be re-defined to fit a global scale economy better.

I am not thinking that any of these currencies would be controlled or held by any entity.  They would be distributed in the same way that Bitcoin is now.  It would just be that whatever segment of the economy you are in, you performed your primary transactions in a given coin.  The transfer from one coin to another could even be automated to a degree that you don’t have to concern yourself with the trading.  It would just happen seamlessly as you performed your transactions.

The other burning question is: would either of these structures be a reflection of our current social structures, or would society form a new social structure based around virtual currencies?

That’s just he tip of the possible ideas of what could happen with the new virtual currencies.  It offers the possibility for use to as a lot more questions about our social structure.  In fact, there are more questions than I can even start to ask at this point.  But, it’s something to start thinking about as, if the rise of bitcoin is a good reference, it may be happening more quickly than we are currently seeing.

eCigs & Vaping: FlavorZ By Joe Review

FlavorzByJoeLogoA quick review of a pair of eJuices from FlavorZ By Joe this week.

I’m going to start off by saying that I am disappointed with the website.  There doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of flavors of eJuice that are actually available.  That would include that two that I have here, which are traditionally on the outer edge of the flavors that I like to vape.  It doesn’t appear that any of the tobacco flavors are in stock.  And, of the ones that are in stock, the only one I would consider picking up is the Cup Of Joe.

I messaged the FlavorZ team regarding the website after noticing they were announcing new juices on their Facebook page.  They got back to me quickly, despite it being a Sunday to let me know that the website is undergoing renovation.  A new site is slated to be released in January.  I was offered the chance to take a look at the new site, and I have to say it appears to be a major improvement.  I couldn’t see the new shop interface yet, but the overall layout and structure were very nice.

The fluids that I am reviewing came by way of Sun Vapers.  I picked them up a couple of weeks ago when I was ordering some supplies and a starter kit as a present for a friend.  So, these haven’t been supplied to me for review.  On with the reviews.

All testing was done by vaping a tank in a ProTank II, with a 1.8ohm coil, on an iTaste MVP 2. Both of the juices in this review were 12mg nicotine level.

Now, the thing that makes Flavorz By Joe so unique is that they employ a master chef and a herbalist to help in formulating their flavors.  The advantage of employing a chef and herbalist becomes immediately apparent on the first vape  of any Flavorz By Joe eJuice, well at least the two I tried.

Mocha Joe

Vapor: [rating=10]
Throat Hit: [rating=10]
Flavor: [rating=9]

As I mentioned in my last review, I tend to stick with tobacco, chocolate and coffee flavor vapes (and sometimes a few other non-fruity drink) vapes.  So, I was glad that I was about to get ahold of this flavor, since I’ve been unconvinced by most of the coffee flavors I’ve tried so far.

First impression: the vapor and the throat hit were excellent.  While I would like to think this is something that should be a given these days as the knowledge and understanding of how eJuices are formulated becomes better, I can say that it isn’t always the case. (As future reviews will talk about.)

The flavor of this eJuice was dead on for what I’ve been looking for.  Too many of the eJuices I’ve tasted like chocolate milk with a splash of coffee.  Very sweet, and not well-balanced.

This is not the case with Mocha Joe.  Instead it’s a really smooth blend of a coffee flavor with a strong dark chocolate flavor.  Not too sweet, nice body.  Yes, there is a milk flavor that adds to the body of the flavor, but it’s not overwhelming.  Just the way I like it.

This was definitely good enough to become a daily vape for me.  I could easily see myself going through a whole bottle of Mocha Joe in the space of a week.

Cappuccino

Vapor: [rating=10]
Throat Hit: [rating=10]
Flavor: [rating=8]

Coffee flavors have typically been difficult to please me.  I can’t say that I’ve had one yet that I would make a daily vape.  Unfortunately, this cappuccino was not an exception.

Now, that being said, it was definitely better than most of the cappuccino vapes I’ve had.  It definitely has a bit more bite, and better overall flavor than the others I’ve tried.

One the first few vapes, I thought it was really dry tasting.  I don’t know if it was just a matter of taking some time to get it flowing through the ProTank coil well, or if I grew accustomed to the flavor, but it starting tasting a lot better after the first 5 or 6 toots.  My suspicion is that it was a combination of both.  Possibly there was some excess Mocha Joe in the coil that didn’t taste quite right with the Cappuccino, and I was just a little taken by how dry it tasted at first to really notice the rest of the flavor.

So this one isn’t quite what I would like for a daily vape.  But it’s something that I would definitely try again, or possibly keep around to break things up occasionally.

 

So, there you have it: a quick review of the two FlavorZ By Joe eJuices I was able to get.  I was definitely encouraged by both flavors.  They were far above average.  I want to try their tobacco flavors now, and will be watching for their new website to launch in January.  Maybe see if I can order some sample packs.

Bitcoin / Litecoin / Namecoin: Up, Down, Twist Sideways

Namecoin_ItalySo it’s been something of a roller coaster for Bitcoin lately, but then again when isn’t the market a roller coaster?  Most of the ride has been provided recently by the Chinese markets.  For the Chinese Central Bank was prohibited from dealing in Bitcoin as a currency, which lead to Baidu dropping Bitcoin payments.  This lead to a major downturn in the market.  Then someone noticed there was a significant discrepancy between the valuation of BTC/USD and BTC/CNY, which meant that it was profitable to arbitrage between the currencies.  Which lead to a new rise in value that appeared to be a recovery. Now that seems to have settled down, and the market is slowly (to my way of thinking) correcting itself.

I went ahead and pulled most of my money out during the initial downturn.  My thinking was that I wanted to get out while there was still a profit to be made, and I think there is a slightly longer term plan for buying back in that is worth pursuing.  But, that’s my personal take on things, not a strategy that I would discuss too widely at this point.

The humor of the week is that some people are actually giving more credence to negative Bitcoin articles like  Bitcoin Proves The Libertarian Idea Of Paradise Would Be Hell On Earth (Jim Edwards, BI).  Which Reason replied with The “It’s Libertarian So It’s Bad” Argument Against Bitcoin (Brian Doherty, Reason).  The irony?  The BI article by Jim Edwards was a complete throwaway, not even worth the time of a response, and in fact may have done more damage by being disingenuous to a couple of the arguments in the original article.  Primarily the argument that only 927 people own half of the coin out there — which is a comically perfect example of wealth inequality, already a major social an economic issue.  The fact is, it’s a very valid point, how can you have an economy that is robust and really market controlled when the majority of it is controlled by a minority.  But, instead of addressing the issue, they wrote it off by comparing it to our current market.  IMO – it would have been better to try to suggest some factors that might help to balance the distribution better.

Litecoin_ItalyAnd this week the second Inside Bitcoin convention was held in Las Vegas, and saw an increase in attendance from 100 to 600 participants.  The interesting thing is that Bitcoin has become the 75th most valuable currency in the world, in just a few years.  And, there seems to be a lot of speculation that Wall Street will find more of a role in Bitcoin.

But, when all is said and done, Bitcoin is still a thinly traded, low liquidity market.  These qualities are driving the differences in valuation between all of the exchanges out there.  However, the current fragmentation will likely be a factor how quickly Wall Street and major financial institutions are likely to move into Bitcoin as anything more than a put.  My hope is that there is some variation in the people investing in the Alt. Coins markets, especially since they are starting to gain some attention in the press now.  Of course, at least there is more of a likelihood of Bitcoin and the Alt. Coins succeeding than JP Morgan Chase has of ever capitalizing on their patents.

 

Ahhh fuckit.  We should all just be investing in Dogecoin, right?

 

eCigs & Vaping: A Little Alien Vision

My Recent eJuice Acquisitions

My Recent eJuice Acquisitions

I know I’m not the first to vape these fluids, nor am I the first to review them.  However, there can never be too many opinions so I thought I would write down my impressions.

First a a comment regarding the motivation for trying Alien Visions e-Juice.  I’ve finally gotten to a point where I am very happy with the devices I am using.  Between the SiD, MVP2, and Galileo I have a good assortment of things.  I am also extremely happy with the ProTank II and Mini ProTank II. I’m going to get into rebuild-able’s, but that s going to take me some time as it will be a new skill for me to master.

So, being happy with my current hardware, it was time to do something new.  In this case my curiosity had been piqued by the fact that Phil Busardo has called Boba’s Bounty one of his favorite eJuices.  The funny thing is, if you watch his original review of Boba’s Bounty it’s difficult to tell that this will be his favorite eJuice.  While he didn’t hate it, it wasn’t like he went crazy over it.  But, given Phil’s excellence in his hardware reviews, I knew that I wanted to try some of the liquids on his list.

Now, a few words about my taste in eJuices.  I tend to be somewhat conservative in my like with eJuices.  I tend to stick with: tobacco, coffee, chocolate and mint flavors.  I’ve tried some alcohol style flavors, but haven’t stuck with any. I’m not into candy or fruit flavors.  Although, if I can ever find a really good cherry flavor, I will jump for joy.

All of the juices in this review have 12mg of nicotine.  And, I’ve vaped at least a full tank or two of the juices. This is one of the things that I hope is noticably different about my reviews from others out there.  While a “first impression” vaping review is good, I think it is better to spend some time with the fluids.  Give them a chance to grow on me, and see if it is something that I can vape on a daily basis instead of just for a bit. This is also why I write my reviews instead of recording a video.  Video is good for a first-vape type review, not so great for a longer vape-in style review, in my opinion.

On to the reviews…


 

Blend 4

Vapor: [rating=10]
Throat: [rating=10]
Flavor: [rating=7]

I had some pretty high expectations for this flavor.  One of my mainstay flavors has been MadVape’s version of RY4 — aka Mad4.  The first thing that I noticed about the Alien Visions version is that it has a bit more bite to it.  I am used to RY4 being a very smooth, caramel / vanilla flavored tobacco.  Normally while the tobacco is the forefront flavor, the cramel and vanilla make for a very smooth vaping experience.

In this case, however, I get a tobacco flavor that is a lot stronger, with a lot of vanilla flavor, and not much of the caramel. That was fairly disappointing to me, I like the idea that the caramel and vanilla should blend, and be a combination of flavors that supports the tobacco. Unfortunately, that isn’t what I am getting from Blend 4. However, I did like the tobacco flavor itself.  I was able to vape this for three days straight, but found myself not quite being satisfied with it.


 

555

Vapor: [rating=10]
Throat: [rating=10]
Flavor: [rating=10]

Someone had told me I should try a 555 when I first moved from cig-a-like eCigs to an eGo with a ViVi Nova, so I was looking forward to this flavor.  Alien Visions describes this tobacco as “A sun-dried blend of tobaccos from the country”.  I cannot easily comment on that description as I don’t think I ever smoke any sun-dried tobacco, or at least none of the cigarettes that I used to smoke said they had sun-dried tobacco.  Closest might have been the Natural American Spirit cigarettes I used to smoke, but they didn’t have this flavor.

To me this was a very crisp and bright tobacco that has a mildly acidic quality to it — like an orange or a grapefruit, but without the orange or grapefruit flavor to it.  It is actually a nice, palette cleansing vape in the tobacco range.  I vaped this flavor for four or five days straight, I enjoyed it that much.  But, I think after five days I would want to vape something different, just to break things up a bit.

Unfortunately, based on Alien Vision’s version of a 555, I can’t see it replacing what I was vaping before I moved to an eGo. The flavor that I was vaping was something close to a medium dark USA blend, with more spice to it. The profiles of that eJuice and this 555 are not the same. However, on its own, this 555 is quite nice.


 

Boba’s Bounty

Vapor: [rating=10]
Throat: [rating=10]
Flavor: [rating=10]

Ahh – and here we get to the flavor that started me into this whole adventure in the first place. And, I have to say this: I understand why it is Phil Busardo’s go-to vape. It’s a really great, full-bodied tobacco flavor. It has a solid, satisfying feel when you vape it, kind of like vaping a Turkish tobacco. And yet, there is more subtlety and complexity in its flavor.

Yes, I can see why Phil Busardo is a fan of this flavor. It is wonderful, satisfying, and just the kind of thing you want for a daily vape. In fact, I had to stop myself from vaping it. I vaped through 20ml of the fluid before I realized it. I only backed off it because I knew I wanted to have a good assessment of the other flavors for writing this review.

I normally dont give out 6 star reviews. It takes a lot for me to do that. Boba’s Buonty is close. Very close to getting a 6 star review from me. The only reason I don’t give it 6 stars now is because (a) there is one eJuice that I know I like better and it is still only a 5 star juice, and (b) to leave space for some eJuice to blow my mind and earn that 6 star rating.


 

Gorilla Juice

Vapor: [rating=10]
Throat: [rating=10]
Flavor: [rating=7]

Now we are getting into the range of the juices that disappointed me.

The first of these was Gorilla Juice. While I liked the broad, flat taste of the tobacco (almost like a pipe tobacco) flavor of this juice. I also liked what I felt to be a bit of a nutty flavor to it as well, like walnuts. What I didn’t care for was the banana flavor. This is one of the reasons that I stay away from most of the fruit flavor eJuices.

In this case, the banana flavor is that of an over ripened or cooked banana — like in a banana cream pie. It’s very strong, almost over-powering and leaves a bit of an after-taste to the vape. Which is not what I think of when I think of bananas. I think of fresh, just ripened bananas – smooth, mild flavor that sits lightly in your mouth, and doesn’t have an aftertaste to it.

I struggled whether to give this a 3 or a 4 star rating. I’m staying with the 4 star rating only because I was able to completely identify what Alien Visions was attempting to do with this flavor. If the banana flavor had tasted more artificial or just plain bad, it would have been a 3 star (or maybe even a 2 star) rating.


 

Irish Cream

Vapor: [rating=10]
Throat: [rating=10]
Flavor: [rating=6]

This was to me the worst of the bunch. Alien Vision’s claims on their site “This blend passes the “Bailey’s Irish Cream” taste test. For those wanting a smooth flavored whiskey…”  I would take odds with that assessment.  Basiley’s ingredients aren’t just cream and whiskey.  Over emphasizing those ingredients often leads other Irish Creams astray, as it has with this eJuice.

The thing about Bailey’s is that they use specially sourced whiskey in their product, along with fresh cream, and two different types of sugars.  The effect is to have a well-balanced sweetened cream with an exceptionally smooth whiskey flavor.  So smooth is the whiskey flavor you can be fooled into thinking there is no alcohol to it.

And that’s where Alien Visions misses the mark.  The sweetness doesn’t have the same taste as Bailey’s.  And the whiskey flavoring leaves this odd after-taste that detracts from the cream flavor.  If that after taste was anything like Jameson’s Whiskey this would have been okay, but it isn’t.  In fact, the after taste doesn’t even taste like whiskey.

Just simply a “no” on this juice.  Giving it a 3 star flavor rating is being somewhat charitable.  The only reason I am leaving it that high is because it doesn’t approach the level of being un-vape-able.  It just misses the mark that Alien Visions set, which was a really high mark to try to hit.

 


To summarize: I’d say three of these juices are very vape-able: 555, Blend 4 and Boba’s Bounty.  Blend 4 only suffered a bit from comparison to Mad4.  Gorilla Juice just misses the mark for me in the banana flavor (but I am a harsh critic on fruit flavors).  While the Irish Cream totally misses the mark Alien Visions set for comparison.

That wraps up this juice review. Hope my notes have added a bit to the overall thoughts on these flavors. Of course each person is different, so what I don’t like you might like.

Bitcoin / Litecoin / Namecoin: Hell Freezes Over

Bitcoin_South_Africa_Yes, hell froze over this week in Bitcoin-land: Joe Weisenthal changed his opinion on Bitcoin.  At least somewhat.  He’s starting to understand the first tier of what Bitcoin can do: act as a store of value for digital transfer that is unencumbered by traditional financial institutions archaic systems.  And, he does see that as a disruptive technology for the current financial institutions.  However, he doesn’t seem to understand any of the potential in what I think of as the second and third tiers of what Bitcoin (or Namecoin) can do: form a currency system that has more aspects in line with Gold than with other fiat currencies, and the potential to make virtual assets more tangible.

But, even with Joe Weisenthal’s sudden, if limited, epiphany that there is more to Bitcoin than he first thought there are still a lot of questions and possible issues with the currency.  I don’t expect that onlookers will automatically just decide that Bitcoin is the greatest thing since sliced bread and jump into the market in droves.  I expect there will be a fair amount of skepticism for several years to come, and that is healthy.  it will also give the community around Bitcoin the opportunity to address issues head-on, and prove to people that this is a technology that is worthy of putting their trust in.

Litecoin_South_Africa_One of the more interesting things in the last week is that other crypto currencies seem to have been caught in the wake of Bitcoins meteoric rise over the last few weeks.  Litecoin, for example, shot all the way up to $48USD on BTC-e, and even Namecoin shot up to $10USD.  Several people are thinking that these currencies are getting ahead of themselves in riding out this wake from Bitcoin.  I would agree, personally, but I am happy to see them rising alongside Bitcoin.  I think they hold more promise in the longer term, especially Namecoin (as I’ve written before).

But, there are still odd things afoot.  Even coins that almost no one has heard of before are seeing rises.  For example, ever heard of Franko or Quark?  No?  Me either.  But, Franko has supposedly added a bunch of merchants, and seen a %500 rise in value.  I don’t know how much that is worth, honestly.  Quark also supposedly saw a %500 rise in value.  Seriously?  On what size market?  Quark has only been around since July.  But it is somewhat interesting that all the clonecoins are riding on the coat tails of Bitcoin.   I think the playing field will even out sooner or later, and it will be a major event. Possibly sooner.

A lot of the skeptics have used the Tulip Mania bubble when looking for a comparison for Bitcoin.  It’s not unreasonable.  The Tulip Mania analogy puts things in a perspective that the market analysts can understand.  It’s easier to use that analogy than it is to try to really wrap their heads around the fundamentals of Bitcoin, especially when there are so many competing alternative coins, and now the flooding of the market with what I am referring to as clonecoins.  (What’s the difference between alternative and clone?  To me it’s a matter of of this: alternative coins are addressing specifically defined problems or issues that are perceived to exist in Bitcoin.  Clone coins, on the other had, have a very thin veneer of attempting to do something, but haven’t really had the adoption level to compete with the alternative coins.)

Serious, there are literally hundreds of coins out there.  Even eWeek put together a slide show of 12 Cryptocurrencies That Compete With Bitcoin.  With so many alternative currencies out there, it’s no surprise that market analysts are having issues understanding what the fundamentals are, and why the first-mover is still the most likely to maintain its hold.

Namecoin_South_Africa_But, before I got sidetracked, I was about to espouse on the reason that I think there will be fallout from all these crypto currencies.  I don’t, however, think the Tulip Mania analogy is the best one to make.  I am thinking that it will be something closer to the Dot-com bubble.  Anyone remember that?  It was much the same as I see things now.  We are in a boom cycle with Bitcoin, Litecoin and Namecoin.  Other coins like Franko, Quark, Peercoin, etc. are riding on the coat tails of Bitcoin.  Namecoin and Litecoin are riding along too, but I think they have some real possibilities that will allow them to become their own markets, and really be competitors with Bitcoin.

The thing is, at some point, this boom cycle will end.  And it will come crashing down hard, just as it did in the Dot-com bubble.  I can’t speculate what is going to cause it, or when it is going to happen (there are still way too many factors out there that could set it off).  But I definitely think it will happen.

When it does happen, two things will likely occur: (a) most of the alt coins will be wiped off the field, and (b) we will be back to almost square one with the three primary coins.  And, this is where I think the analogy to the Dot-com boom / bust cycle will reveal itself: there will be a long term re-building of the market(s) around these coins, similar to how businesses had to re-build themselves around the internet after the bust.  During the rebuilding phase, the coin technologies are likely to merge, and we will end up with one or two coins in the end.  Maybe it will be called BLN coin — if some clonecoin hasn’t already grabbed that name.  So, enjoy the ride for now, and be on the lookout for signs that there is a backlash coming that threatens the market, because when it happens, it is likely to happen as quickly as it did with the Dot-com Bubble.