Double-blind cola test

The final analysis

Two of my coworkers decided today after lunch that it was time to solve the age-old question: Is it possible to actually detect different kinds of cola just by tasting them.

In the spirit of true science (and a hefty dose of Mythbusters), we decided to do this the right way and to create a double blind test. The idea is that not only the tester has to not know the different test subjects, but also the person administering the test to make sure that the tester is not influenced in any way.

So here’s what we have done:

  1. We bought 5 different types of cola: A can of coke light, a can of standard coke, a PET bottle of standard coke, a can of coke zero and finally, a can of the new Red Bull cola (in danger of spoiling the outcome: eek).
  2. We marked five glasses with numbers from 1 to 5 at the bottom.
  3. We asked a coworker not taking part in the actual test to fill the glasses with the respective drink.
  4. We put the glasses on our table in random order and designated each glasses position with letters from A to E.
  5. One after another, we drank the samples and noted which glass (A-E) we thought to contain what drink (1-5). As to not influence ourselves during the test, the kitchen area was off-limits for everyone but the test subject and each persons results where to be kept secret until the end of the test.
  6. We compared notes.
  7. We checked the bottom of the glasses to see how we fared.

The results are interesting:

  • Of the four people taking part in the test, all but one person guessed all types correctly. The one person who failed wasn’t able to correctly distinguish between bottled and canned standard coke.
  • Everyone instantly recognized the Red Bull Cola (no wonder there, it’s much brighter than the other contenders and it smells like cough medicine)
  • Everyone got the coke light and zero correctly.
  • Although the tester pool was way too small, it’s interesting that 75% of the testers were able to discern the coke in the bottle from the coke in the can – I would not have guessed that, but then, there’s only a 50% chance to be wrong on this one – we may all just have been lucky – at least I was, to be honest.

Fun in the office doing pointless stuff after lunch, I guess.

New MacMini (early 09) and Linux

The new MacMinis that were announced this week come with a Firewire 800 port which was reason enough for me to update shion yet again (keeping the host name of course).

All my media she’s serving to my various systems is stored on a second generation Drobo which is currently connected via USB2, but has a lingering FW800 port.

Of course the upgrade to FW800 will not double the transfer rate to and from the drobo, but it should increase it significantly, so I went ahead and got one of the new Minis.

As usual, I entered the Ubuntu (Intrepid) CD, hold c while turning the device on and completed the installation.

This left the Mini in an unbootable state.

It seems that this newest generation of Mac Hardware isn’t capable of booting from an MBR partitioned harddrive. Earlier Macs complained a bit if the harddrive wasn’t correctly partitioned, but then went ahead and booted the other OS anyways.

Not so much with the new boxes it seems.

To finally achieve what I wanted I had to do the following complicated procedure:

  1. Install rEFIt (just download the package and install the .mpkg file)
  2. Use the Bootcamp assistant to repartition the drive.
  3. Reboot with the Ubuntu Desktop CD and run parted (the partitioning could probably be accomplished using the console installer, but I didn’t manage to do it correctly).
  4. Resize the FAT32-partition which was created by the Bootcamp partitioner to make room at the end for the swap partition.
  5. Create the swap partition.
  6. Format the FAT32-partition with something useful (ext3)
  7. Restart and enter the rEFIt partitioner tool (it’s in the boot menu)
  8. Allow it to resync the MBR
  9. Insert the Ubuntu Server CD, reboot holding the C key
  10. Install Ubuntu normally, but don’t change the partition layout – just use the existing partitions.
  11. Reboot and repeat steps 7 and 8
  12. Start Linux.

Additionally, you will have to keep using rEFIt as the boot device control panel item does not recognize the linux partitions any more, so can’t boot from them.

Now to find out whether that stupid resistor is still needed to make the new mini boot headless.