Browser Choice In Microsoft Windows Ends

Browser Choice – What’s That About

In December 2009 the European Union obliged Microsoft to offer a choice of browsers to their European customers when they installed new versions of Windows. This browser choice was also delivered in updates to Windows and so the Browser Choice screen was born and has been with us ever since. See my featured image of Microsoft’s browser choice screen showing Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Mozilla Firefox and the Opera browsers.

Browser Choice Ends

It turns out that this requirement by the EU had a time limit of five years which has now expired. Consequently Microsoft have quietly withdrawn the option to choose other browsers and returned to providing Internet Explorer alone. People can of course continue to use other browsers with Windows as they see fit but Internet Explorer is now what comes out of the box.

This is what Microsoft have to say about it.

This is what the BBC have to say.

My View On The Browser Choice Situation

I have to deal with older people who need help with using computers but have very little experience of them or the internet. I have to deal with questions such as, “What is a browser?” So when my friends were offered alternatives all it did was add to the confusion. I would explain what it was all about and then remove the Browser Choice shortcut from the desktop. I didn’t want them to click on it and suddenly find themselves with a different browser which they were not familiar with. I would then have to try to explain its use over the phone, in emails or visit them to get them back to Internet Explorer with which they had become familiar.

Keeping A Nespresso Aeroccino Clean

Introduction

nespresso aeroccino
The Aeroccino with milk burnt on the bottom.

I’ve had a Nespresso Pixie since June 2012 and at the same time I acquired a Nespresso Aeroccino (otherwise known as a Milk Frother). These devices are very nice to have and work well even after 2½ years continual use. The coffee is very nice too.

However there is a slight problem with the Nespresso Aeroccino but it is not insurmountable. It’s very easy to burn milk on the bottom where the most intense heat is applied. You can see it burnt on in this picture where the whisk has been removed.

This article will show some pictures portraying the problem and discuss a solution. The featured image can be seen here.

First – How The Nespresso Aeroccino Works

The Aeroccino is coated on the inside with a very hard ceramic surface which is not a Teflon (PTFE) coating. It is easily cleaned unless the milk is burnt onto the surface.

The Nespresso Aeroccino has:

  • a bowl to contain the milk;
  • a heater beneath the bowl;
  • a spindle upon which a whisk can be mounted situated eccentrically within the bowl;
  • a backlit  electric button on the outside to control it;
  • a base With a buit in ON/OFF switch on which it stands to connect to mains power (similar to a cordless electric kettle).

There are two different whisks supplied:

  1. A Plain Whisk nespresso aeroccino made with a piece of wire encircling a plastic cross with a central hole which sits on an eccentric post coming up from the bottom of the bowl.
  2. A Spiral Whisk nespresso aeroccino made of spiralled wire wrapped around the points of the same type of cross. The use of spiralled wire causes the whisk to generate more froth.

The whisks have a knob on top to hold them with when inserting them in or removing them from the bowl.

Each whisk rotates because the cross has magnets in it which are driven by a rotating magnetic field underneath it or in the post. The milk burns on to the bottom of the bowl near the post. I suspect it is heated by eddy currents generated in the metal of the bowl by the same rotating magnetic field that drives the whisk. That would be a simple way to achieve both effects – rotation and heat. Please let me know if I have got it wrong. I’m not about to dismantle mine to find out.

Second – Using The Nespresso Aeroccino

Filling The Aeroccino

There are two level marks on the inside. The milk level must be at or above the lower level and at or below the upper level. If the milk level is above the upper mark it will overflow when it expands during heating or whisking. A transparent lid is provided so the action can be seen.

Frothing Milk Only

In order to simply froth the milk without heating it the button on the side of the Aeroccino must he pressed until the button backlight comes on with a blue colour. Then the whisk rotates but no heat is applied. The Aeroccino will automatically switch off after the milk is frothed.

Heating and Frothing Milk

To heat and froth the milk the button just has to be given a quick press and the backlight will come on with a red colour. The whisk rotates while heat is applied. The Aeroccino will automatically switch off when the milk is hot enough.

Switching Off Manually

If it is necessary to stop the Aeroccino whilst in operation the base can be turned off with a switch on the side.

Pouring The Milk Out

The Aeroccino has a nice lip formed all around the top edge so that milk can be poured out at any point. I find that if a large amount of milk is poured at once it doesn’t drip much when pouring stops, but if only a small amount of milk is poured when it is filled to the top mark it can drip when pouring stops.

Third – How to Clean The Nespresso Aeroccino After Use

Cleaning The Inside

nespresso aeroccino
Froth In The Aeroccino

After the Nespresso Aeroccino has been emptied the inside remains coated in frothy milk. If that was heated milk it may already have begun to stick to the heated area. So if it is refilled and more milk is heated there is a great tendency for milk to burn onto the bottom. The original frothy layer forms a congealed heat insulator on the bottom. Because of its frothy nature any air bubbles in the congealed layer give it a high thermal resistance and the heat is not so easily conducted away by the new liquid milk. This results in the bottom temperature rising too high and burning the old congealed froth to the bottom.

nespresso aeroccino
A Deposit In The Aeroccino

It is important therefore to rinse the Nespresso Aeroccino between uses and visually check that there are no deposits on the bottom. Wiping out any deposit after a single use is easily done since milk may be stuck on but not burnt on.

nespresso aeroccino
Green Fibre Scouring Pad

If milk is burnt on then a green fibre scouring pad may have to be used. I prefer to use my finger nails because they are less abrasive and I want to preserve the ceramic coating at all cost. I feel that loss of the ceramic coating may exacerbate the problem.

In my household the Nespresso Aeroccino produces enough warm milk for two cups of coffee and can be washed out after each use. I find I can just rinse out the old froth under the tap, fill it with warm water, give it a small squirt of washing-up liquid and leave it until the next time it is required (often 2 hours). By that time the washing-up liquid has usually dissolved any deposit on the bottom and all that is required is a good rinse out. I find this process suits me because I don’t have to spend much time doing it and I don’t have to get my hands wet.


I find this process suits me because I don’t have to spend much time doing it and I don’t have to get my hands wet,Helpful Colin.


 

Cleaning The Outside

The instructions with my Aeroccino tell me it must not be immersed in water. It can be sponged all over. Keep water away from the electrical connection underneath in the centre. If water does get in there then soak it up with a cloth or a piece of kitchen roll and make sure it is very dry before using it again. Leave it upside down to let the air get around it for a while.

Over time dirt can get deposited in a groove underneath near the edge. This can be cleaned with  an old toothbrush dipped in washing-up water. Run a piece of kitchen roll in the groove to dry it afterwards.

Chemical Evolution Controlled By A Robot

Chemical Evolution. It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.

Glasgow scientists studying chemical evolution have created a robotic system where chemicals can evolve. I read about this in Gizmag, but followed it up with a quick read from the horses mouth at Nature magazine. The featured image is a picture looking down at the heart of the researcher’s robot. The whole article is also encapsulated in this PDF.

Researchers Involved

The scientists involved and authors of the article in Nature magazine and the groups they represent are:

  • Juan Manuel Parrilla Gutierrez – WestCHEM, School of Chemistry, University of Glasgow,
  • Trevor Hinkley – WestCHEM, School of Chemistry, University of Glasgow,
  • James Ward Taylor – WestCHEM, School of Chemistry, University of Glasgow,
  • Kliment Yanev – Future Bits OpenTech UG, Cologne 51103, Germany,
  • Leroy Cronin – WestCHEM, School of Chemistry, University of Glasgow.

The Robotic Chemical Evolution System

Oily droplets are made of 225 combinations of the four chemicals:

  • 1-Octanol;
  • Diethyl phthalate;
  • 1-Pentanol;
  • octanoic acid or ​dodecane.

These are all placed, along with water, in a petri dish in groups called ‘populations’. This is done using a modified 3D printer. The chemicals are chosen for their motility, ability to divide, stability and a range of solubilities, densities and viscosities.

Behaviour of the groups is observed with a video camera. The ‘fittest’ groups are selected by a robot using a video camera according to various criteria. Those criteria are based on the droplet’s reactions within their environment.

Once selection has been made, as to which groups to use for the next stage of evolution, the petri dish is thoroughly cleaned and so are the 3D printer nozzles. Cleaning is all automatic.

The selected populations (new copies of the originals) are put into the cleaned petri dish. The robot then examines the new changes that take place, checks them again and makes a new selection.

A total if 21 iterations are performed automatically.

After 20 iterations the groups begin to mimic natural evolution (apparently).

There is a much more to be understood from the detail of the robotic process. Read about the detail in Nature magazine.

Links

  1. Center for Chemical Evolution
  2. Evolution of oil droplets in a chemorobotic platform – PDF file
  3. Gizmag Article.

Reference

  1. Chemical Evolution – Wikipedia
  2. Evolution – Wikipedia
  3. Evolution of oil droplets in a chemorobotic platform – Nature magazine.

Asteroid 2014 UR116 Will Cross Earth’s Orbit

Although thousands of asteroids have been discovered and their orbits determined there are thought to be many undetected ones. This is one of them called ‘Asteroid 2014 UR116’ recently discovered by a Russian professor, at Moscow State University, Vladimir Lipunov. It crosses Earth’s orbit every three years and is the size of a mountain (400m) – much larger than the 164 feet (50m) mentioned in my post about Asteroid Day.

Having read about ‘Asteroid 2014 UR116’ in The Telegraph I can’t determine how much of a threat it is. On the one hand NASA says this Near Earth Object (NEO) doesn’t pass near enough to earth to be a threat, but on the other NASA says it will be an impact threat for the next 150 years.

Reference

  1. Mountain-sized asteroid is heading towards Earth, says scientist – The Telegraph.

Asteroid Day

Asteroid Day Proposed for 30th June 2015

“Asteroids could wipe out humanity,” warn Richard Dawkins and Brian Cox. – The Telegraph.

There is a big call to establish Asteroid Day on 30th June 2015 by astronomers, scientists, astronaughts, artists, business leaders, and others, concerned for the long term safety of our species, our planet, and for all other species that could be wiped out by an asteroid strike.

The 10,000th Near Earth Object (NEO) was discovered in 2013 and by 30th November 2014 11,937 NEOs had been discovered. More are being detected all the time, but there are hundreds of thousands more undiscovered. When they are discovered their orbits can be determined. From their orbits astronomers can determine if and when they may collide with Earth. Continue reading Asteroid Day

Print Long Thin Calendars For 2015 and 2016

Introduction

My wife prefers a long thin calendar like this (see featured image) so that she has plenty of room to make notes on it. It hangs around the coffee table all the time. She doesn’t want to bother with an electronic one, although she has that option. Her mother has a similar one lying around in the corner of her kitchen worktop with a pen at the side. It’s very easy to scribble daily items down. There’s no shortage of room on it. Any extra notes can always be written on the back of the pages. As the months tick by the pages can be folded over at the top so that the next month becomes visible but the past is not thrown away. Do you want one? Continue reading Print Long Thin Calendars For 2015 and 2016

Backdoor Trojan Regin Spying Since 2008

A recently discovered Backdoor Trojan Regin is a computer bug found by the software security company Symantec. Its purpose is to spy on the activities taking place on computers. It can collect passwords, capture screen images and even recover deleted files.

The Backdoor Trojan Regin has been made to operate in five stages the last two being encrypted to make it very difficult to discover and understand. If any stage were to be discovered it would say little about the other stages. Two stages are specifically given over to loading each other and the other stages. You can see a block diagram of Regin’s stages of operation at this Symantec site.

Backdoor Trojan Regin appears to have been developed as far back as 2008 and by its sophisticated nature was probably developed by a nation state as opposed to criminals. It appears to have been withdrawn from use by its masters in 2011 and a new version reintroduced in 2013.

Regin infections have been found in the following countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • India
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Mexico
  • Pakistan
  • Russian Federation
  • Saudi Arabia

All Regin infections have been shared by these sectors thus:

  • Airline – 5%
  • Energy – 5%
  • Hospitality – 9%
  • Research – 5%
  • Small Businesses & Private Individuals – 48%
  • Telecoms Backbone – 28%

The Backdoor Trojan Regin has been made extremely stealthy so that it is very hard to determine what it is up to even after discovery. It could go undetected for years. For those interested it uses RC5 encryption which isn’t commonly used.

References

  1. BBC News – Regin, new computer spying bug, discovered by Symantec.
  2. Symantec Security Response – Regin: Top-tier espionage tool enables stealthy surveillance.
  3. Symantec White Paper on Regin.
  4. Wikipedia on Trojan Horse – Computer terminology.
  5. Wikipedia on RC5 encryption.

From investigation and reason comes understanding.

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